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Year in Space Starts for One American and One Russian

Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m. EDT Friday (1:42 a.m., March 28 in Baikonur).

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Dianda Sponsors Bill Banning Powdered Alcohol

LANSING – State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced House Bill 4416 today to ban the sale, distribution and possession of powdered alcohol, which is marketed as Palcohol. Palcohol is sold in a 4×6 packet that weighs less than an ounce, and creates an alcoholic beverage when it is mixed with water.

“The federal government has cleared the way for state liquor commissions to prevent the sale and distribution of Palcohol, but I believe that the Legislature should take action and ban this substance now,” said Dianda. “I believe that allowing powdered alcohol sale and possession in Michigan would cause an intolerable public health risk because it opens many possibilities for both intentional and unintentional abuse. Simply put: we don’t need this.”

Powdered alcohol is created by freeze-drying alcohol with a host compound that keeps it from turning back into a liquid at room temperature. Because it is a powder that only has to be mixed with water to create alcohol, someone could go into a bar or restaurant licensed to sell and serve alcohol and mix the powder into a glass of water and consume it without the server or bartender knowing. Under Michigan law, establishments that serve alcohol are liable if their customers become dangerously impaired and cannot allow people to bring in their own drinks. Predators could slip Palcohol into someone’s drink greatly increasing its alcoholic content. And it also could increase the chances of accidental or intentional misuse by children and young people.

“Powdered alcohol that is made to taste sweet and marketed under names like ‘lemon drop’ and ‘powderita’ in a packet that looks a lot like Kool-Aid is a cynical attempt to target young people and downplay the seriousness of alcohol consumption,” said Dianda. “At a time when we are trying to better educate our children and young adults on responsible alcohol use, the easy availability of Palcohol if we don’t ban it could undermine our efforts and pose a real danger to our children.

“I look forward to working with my House colleagues to ban this substance before it becomes a serious problem facing Michigan families and law enforcement officials,” said Dianda.

ALG urges votes to protect the Internet with Sen. Mike Lee amendments

March 26, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today urged the U.S. Senate to hold up or down votes on amending the budget resolution to include S.Amdt. 751 and S.Amdt. 856 offered by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah):

“The Internet is the great democratizer of speech around the world. The amendments offered by Senator Mike Lee are about protecting the free and open Internet from two separate but equally important threats: foreign domination and excessive government regulation.

“The first amendment will guarantee that any proposal to transition Internet governance over the domain name system from Commerce Department oversight will require Congressional assent, giving proper oversight to any administration proposal. This will protect the domain name system from any potential foreign capture and protect the free and open Internet — everywhere.

“The second will roll back the Federal Communications Commission’s alarming change to the Communications Act, applying Title II to Internet broadband, and assure that only Congress has the power to make such a change to law. Whatever the merits of so-called net neutrality, it is not up to the executive branch to regulate the Internet at will, which is what happened here. It’s an awful precedent, and it is up to Congress to assert its legislative prerogatives here.

“The Internet may be free but that freedom is also quite fragile, and it would be naïve for this Congress to ignore these obvious threats to it. Votes should be allowed on Senator Lee’s amendments.”

Dianda Wants MDOT Accountable for Issues Found in State Audits

LANSING – In a joint meeting yesterday of the House Transportation Committee, Oversight and Ethics Committee, and Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee, state Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) demanded that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) be held accountable for problems concerning unused railcars and road work warranties. The committees brought MDOT Director Kirk Steudle in to answer questions about two recent state audits questioning the railcar purchase and the lack of oversight on warranties.

“We need answers from the department on what I consider their lack of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, but we didn’t have time to really go in-depth on this in our meeting yesterday,” said Dianda. “The unused railcars are costing MDOT millions of dollars, and their lack of oversight on road work warranties has cost money that arguably should have been paid by those companies who did the work. The department needs to do a far better job of managing taxpayer dollars.”

The Michigan Auditor General recently issued two audits of MDOT that took the department to task for the railcars and the warranties. The railcars were purchased as part of a plan to create a commuter rail system between Ann Arbor and Detroit, but that project has been delayed because of federal decisions. MDOT has kept the cars and has so far been unsuccessful in efforts to sublease them. The audit on road work warranties found that the department hadn’t always monitored warranties, so costs that belonged to companies that did the work instead had to be covered by the state.

“I felt that we were rushed through our hearing this week and that’s not what my constituents want from me as their elected official. I’m in Lansing to work, and if that means meetings early in the morning or into the night then that’s what I want to do,” said Dianda. “I was ready for our hearing on Wednesday to go into the evening, and failing that to schedule a second hearing with MDOT to get to the bottom of the problems found in these audits. These audits are in possession of the House Oversight and Ethics Committee, so I strongly encourage the chairman to schedule a second joint hearing quickly so that we can come to some resolution on what the department is going to do to manage these situations, and taxpayer dollars, better.”


Source: Rep. Scott Dianda

NASA Asteroid Hunter Spacecraft Data Available to Public

Millions of images of celestial objects, including asteroids, observed by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft now are available online to the public. The data was collected following the restart of the asteroid-seeking spacecraft in December 2013 after a lengthy hibernation.

Read more here:: NASA Asteroid Hunter Spacecraft Data Available to Public

NASA’s Hubble, Chandra Find Clues that May Help Identify Dark Matter

Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found that dark matter does not slow down when colliding with itself, meaning it interacts with itself less than previously thought. Researchers say this finding narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.

Read more here:: NASA’s Hubble, Chandra Find Clues that May Help Identify Dark Matter

Sequestration would force involuntary separation of combat vets

Dropping the Army’s end strength to 450,000 would require the involuntary separation of about 14,000 Soldiers, Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the Army’s vice chief of staff, told lawmakers, March 25.

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Leaders meet to discuss Bagram security operations

Key leaders met in Bagram District, March 26, with district governor, Abdul Qadusi, to discuss coordination and synchronization efforts for future security operations.

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Horoho warns of damage to MEDCOM under sequester

Another sequestration could mean the loss of more than 6,000 medical personnel from the Army, Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, Army surgeon general told senators, March 25.

Read more here:: Horoho warns of damage to MEDCOM under sequester

Army science advisors review technology priorities

Army science advisors, from around the world, convened at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., March 24-26, to discuss Soldiers’ technology needs and priorities.

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