It’s time to look into the “what’s up with that?” actions of our government again.
The other day nearly 1,000 flights were cancelled or delayed on the East Coast, causing chaos in the entire air traffic system. Was it weather? A bomb scare? Bad equipment? None of the above.
It was new software purchased by the Federal Aviation Administration to help jetliners get to their destinations faster. The FAA explained that the software caused a memory overload that shut down the Washington, D.C., area air control system. Some astute observers noted that at least it was August and didn’t affect members of Congress.
But it recalls the messy start of Obamacare when thousands of Americans couldn’t get on websites designed to help them sign up for health care insurance.
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It also recalls the Environmental Protection Agency’s hiring of contractors who let loose a torrent of toxic mine waste causing a state of emergency in three states and the Navajo Nation.
There is good news in the graduation of two women from the Army’s tough, prestigious Ranger School. Also, women now may apply to join the Navy Seals. Of course, women have been in combat for years but have been forbidden to serve in certain units. Now there’s hope that by the end of the year women will be approved to serve across the board.
The bad news is that the people in Congress who want to go to war against Iran have cut military budgets so much that equipment, ammunition and other essentials of modern warfare are lacking. Let’s hope the women are not expected to equip their units with bake sales.
Speaking of women, the Food and Drug administration approved a new drug designed to get women in the mood for sex. This reportedly would help about 10 percent of women. However, there are caveats. No drinking. And a risk of low blood pressure and fainting. At least the FDA is recognizing that Viagra is not the end of the libido discussion.
The FDA also has made news by approving OxyContin as a painkiller for children 11 and over. With the addictive and costly drug a major reason for the rise in heroin use, some people have expressed dismay. Marijuana advocates point out that medical cannabis oil remains illegal for children.
The ever-popular IRS has disclosed that twice as many taxpayers were hit by identity thieves as previously thought because of the agency’s ineptitude in protecting sensitive data. Such as hundreds of thousands of Social Security numbers. This is on top of sensitive personal data lost by federal employees.
That other popular institution, the U.S. Postal Service, which has been pondering ending Saturday service and closing a lot of post offices, is now saying it will make more same-day deliveries of such commodities as fresh fish. Not surprisingly, this is because a woman has taken the helm.
Postmaster General Megan Brennan also told The Wall Street Journal she wants Congress to approve the delivery of alcohol and groceries by your mail carrier. (This, alas, will be of no comfort to low-libido women excited about the new FDA pill.)
Finally, the National Labor Relations Board has put the kibosh on unions for college athletes. This caused great rejoicing among colleges and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which said piously that it only has the interests of its young athletes at heart.
It is hoped that this litany of federal foibles has not depressed you. But at least you had a few moments without considering two politicians named Hillary and Donald.
Ann McFeatters is a columnist for Tribune News Service.