If you find you're on the fence about Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, this rather exhaustive article entitled "Rex Tillerson Could Be America's Most Dangerous Secretary of State" may persuade you to hop off it. It starts with human rights and environmental abuses overseas and at home, and goes on to analyze why Mr. Tillerson would take a job that's a "step down" from what he's currently doing; none of it bodes well for our country or our future. (And I have to say that the Exxon subsidiary doing business with Iran while our government imposed sanctions on Iran isn't a good look, either -- their rationalizations may get them off in court, but they won't win hearts and minds here in America.)
Upwards of one-thirds of donors who've given $5,000 or more to Sen. Jeff Sessions have known matters (including lawsuits and contracts) before the Department of Justice, which Mr. Sessions would head, if confirmed as Attorney General. If you're quick to respond BOTH SIDEZ DO TEH THINGSZ!!!!, you would do better to respond "is this right?" or "should campaign donations give you more access to our government than the vast majority of American citizens who don't poop money?" But it sure is a good thing Mitch McConnell demanded the President make sure his Cabinet appointees get their ethical and financial house in order before the Senate held any hearings! Oh, wait, that was 2009.
In other Trump nominee-related news, Rep. Tom Price has apparently established quite the record of bringing the bacon home to his big campaign donors. That includes battling certain Medicare cuts, apparently -- but only the ones that would affect his biggest donors in the medical device industry. He's also written letters to the FDA on behalf of some of his biggest donors, begging exemption from clinical trials for these "pillar(s) of the community," which is a surprise, given that the FDA hasn't lately been a stalwart defender of the public interest to begin with. At any rate, I'm sure he'll tell us he was "helping out his constituents," though why a big donor rates as a constituent and all the other folks in his district don't is a question well worth asking.
Bad news, folks: the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood informs us that the National Park Service has largely ignored the popular will and decided to dramatically ramp up corporate advertising in our national parks. And here we all thought we went to our national parks to get in touch with forces that existed long before mass media and commercialism -- and will exist long after. Wow, that statement just gave me a great deal more comfort than it ever has been before! But CCFC tells us that nearly 80% of public comments opposed more corporate advertising in public parks, and I do recall Newt Gingrich telling us once that if 70% of the public want something, they should get it.
Far better news: the city of Seattle has met with enough success in establishing three tiny-home encampment sites for homeless folks that they're going to establish three more. Kudos to Seattle for using publicly-owned space for the encampments; too many cities hold on to unused public space like grim death, hoping to make a killing or give it to a big donor as a favor. Putting homeless folks up, as we know from several recent studies (and from the state of Utah's efforts), actually costs less than providing services to the homeless on an emergent basis. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, tiny homes are typically so small that they can evade the bureaucratic processes that would slow their production -- not that I oppose these processes, necessarily, but you can move into your dream home now or later; homeless folks need somewhere to sleep right now.)
Finally, some potentially outstanding news: Indian scientist Manu Prakash has developed a device based on a whirlygig that can spin biological samples over 10 times faster than other similar machines -- and he built it with about 20 cents of art store supplies! The Paperfuge can get plasma out of a blood sample in 90 seconds, which beats the industry standard by about half a minute -- and, thanks to its inexpensiveness, can do the most good in the world's impoverished areas: "(t)here are a billion people on this planet who live with no electricity, no infrastructure, no roads, and they have the same kind of health care needs that you and I have," Dr. Prakash says, and they deserve the same kind of health care that you and I have, too.