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New Bill Would Ban Public NOAA Weather Data

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the privatization-overkill dept.

United States 567

ckokotay writes "Here we go again. Apparently for-pay weather companies (specifically Accuweather) have lobbied Senator Rick Santorum to introduce a bill to ban the National Weather Service from 'competing.' The NOAA just made data available for free on the internet in XML format. Essentially, that means no more free data, and the possible elimination of the NOAA web presence all together. Nothing like being able to buy off a clueless Senator - lets hope the rest do not fall in line, as I for one, do not like to pay for my information twice." This debate picks up where the last one left off. According to the article, the bill's biggest critics are complaining of the bill's vague wording which makes it unclear what exactly is being banned.

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567 comments

My own private army... (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308176)

Ok, here's how it'll work. I'll contract the US Dept. of Defense to do some guard detail for me, somewhere, where I contract out their services. once the DoD enters into these sorts of contracts, the next time the US invades some country I'll write Senator Rick Santorum, complaining bitterly how they've giving away their services for free and unfairly competing with my private business interests, (especially if I've contracted the DoD to guard the country they are invading.)

Once the bill motors through the Senate and House, and has the signature of the prez (Hey, the GOP loves private businesses, right?) I'll be able to direct when and where war actually takes place.

This should undoubtably improve my popularity gasp and maybe get me a gulp date with that cutie gosh I've had my eye on for a while!

Ok, Kim's check bounced, you can invade now.

You're too late (4, Funny)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308447)

Halliburton has beat you to it (and might hold the patent).

Re:My own private army... (4, Informative)

secolactico (519805) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308454)

It'll never work, unless you are a political contributor to Senator Santorum's political campaign.

The good news is, it's cheap! Only $3550.00 [nictusa.com] for the favor.

(Thanks to BooBoo at Fark for the link)

XML (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308181)

XML is like violence. If it doesn't solve the problem, use more.

Bwahahaha! (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308244)

Someone mod that post up!

My god... (4, Funny)

Junta (36770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308352)

I think I have a new sig...

Re:XML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308396)

XML is like violence. If it doesn't solve the problem, use more.

Holy cow that was funny! Just don't tell that to the NOAA.

Sure! (5, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308184)

... just as soon as they build their own space launch facilities.

If I'm not allowed to see the benefits of what my tax dollars are paying for, than neither should they. That means no more access to NOAA satellites and no more help paying for Kennedy Space Center and the heavy-lift rockets they need for their geosynchronus launches.

I'm feeling generous, I'll let taxpayer-funded NORAD tell them if and when Something Bad is about to happen to their satellites, but beyond that...

Without my money going to NOAA, these for-pay services would still be stuck with nothing but ground-based radar, to the point where I doubt they'd even spring to pay for off-shore buoys (where'd the profit be?). And that means things like not being able to see hurricanes until it's too late.

They shouldn't be allowed to have it both ways, but I'm sure they'll get it anyway. Thanks, Congress!

Re:Sure! (2, Insightful)

Bluesy21 (840772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308383)

The parent is absolutely correct!

Americans don't want to pay "extremely" high taxes for real public services like national health care, but they have no problem paying out twice for things like this. Or even worse when our wonder elected officials hide some other agenda within a bill which most of them don't read all the way through anyway. /rant

Re:Sure! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308532)

You are spot on here. The simple fact of tha matter is that a multibillion dollar private weather industry has sprung up that is 95% dependent on NOAA resources to provide their most basic products. The Doppler radar that your local TV station bought and raves about is completely useless for forecasting, and things like mesoscale computer models and wind profiler networks that actually can provide useful data cost billions to maintain.

The notion that all the companies whose existence is indebted to NOAA would lobby for something like this just makes my head hurt.

Accuweather's crusade (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308185)

In response to:

Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, said the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector.

Ed Johnson, the weather service's director of strategic planning and policy, said:

"If someone claims that our core mission is just warning the public of hazardous conditions, that's really impossible unless we forecast the weather all the time. You don't just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is."
And then this gem from Accuweather:

Myers argued that nearly all consumers get their weather information for free through commercial providers, including the news media, so there's little reason for the federal agency to duplicate their efforts.

"Do you really need that from the NOAA Web site?" he asked.


Um, gee, if everyone already doesn't get their weather information from the National Weather Service, then what the fuck are they so worried about? Incidentally, the stated mission [weather.gov] of the National Weather Service is:

The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.

Clear, timely, comprehensive, accurate - and now open [weather.gov] - weather forecasts are critical for many, many sectors of public and private society. The new, open formats of weather data also make its integration into myriad other services and tools trivial. It's only good for the public. I don't think Sen. Santorum realizes how critical the NWS's weather, climate, and marine data is to so many sectors of US society.

The National Weather Service is funded for this mission, among others, by the taxpayers of the United States.

I hope Rick Santorum realizes that in a world where this bill passes, there should also be a corresponding reduction of funding to the NWS, in addition to a wholesale change of its mission. In fact, what would its mission be?

The best part of all of this is that in order for the NWS to effectively be able to gather the necessary data to still predict and warn against life- and property-threatening dangers, it still has to do almost all of the continuing data collection it does now. Removing the public access to this does absolutely nothing for anyone.

Except for-profit weather forecasting providers like Accuweather, of course.

For now, at least, Johnson of the NWS notes his agency is expanding its online offerings to serve the public.

Remember, too, that a "bill" is just that. Time to remind your elected [house.gov] officials [senate.gov] of what you think...

The Obvious (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308292)

Um, gee, if everyone already doesn't get their weather information from the National Weather Service, then what the fuck are they so worried about?

Clearly you're being rhetorical, but I'll fire off a response anyway:

Accuweather: For $20 I'll tell you whether you're in danger or not.

Me: I don't want to pay $20, that's crazy.
Accuweather: Oh, your safety isn't worth $20? How about you watch a bunch of commercials before we show you if you're in danger or not?
Me: I shouldn't have to sit through a bunch of ads to see that I'm in danger! Next it'll be the emergency sirens, won't it? "Emergency bulletin regarding public safety, but first, theses messages from our sponsors..."
Accuweather: We have a right to make a buck.
Me: Sure, but not at the expense of my safety!

Re:The Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308519)

"Eyewitness NEWS: Three common household items in everybody's kitchen could be placing your children in immediate danger... after the game"

elected representative?? (2)

rainmayun (842754) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308342)

It's times like this that I really hate the fact I live in DC.....

Re:Accuweather's crusade (5, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308429)

Wow! You make it sound like the National Weather Service promtes the general welfare or something.

Where does it say that the government should do that??!

Oh - wait. Maybe someone should send Santorum a copy of the #%!#@!!? Constitution!!

Re:Accuweather's crusade (4, Insightful)

OneOver137 (674481) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308451)

Unless I'm totally wrong, most of the weather data the commercial companies use is derived from public owned--and taxpayer funded-- assets like GOES and the myriad NEXRAD sites around the country.

IMO, the NWS is one of the few examples of a sucessful government entity. I think this is one of those examples, like the military, that a public agency is far superior than a for-profit corporation.

Contact the senator (5, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308187)

here [senate.gov]

Re:Contact the senator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308214)

Who all is on that committee? (commerce committee, I believe) - thanks

Soylent Green may be people, but... (4, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308256)

Santorum is "analubepoo" [urbandictionary.com]

a coordinated, but funny effort (2, Informative)

cheezus (95036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308457)

made that happen. Just do the google search on santorum" [google.com] and see what comes up.

Re:Soylent Green may be people, but... (3, Funny)

ehiris (214677) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308509)

Please don't add an image to urbandictionary.com for this definition.

Re:Contact the senator (1)

JeffMagnus (133746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308267)

His form doesn't appear to support FireFox. Anyone have a real email address for him?

Better yet... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308309)

...write him a letter or give him a call:

Santorum, Rick- (R - PA) Class I
511 DIRKSEN
SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6324
Web Form: santorum.senate.gov/contactform.cfm [senate.gov]


Source [senate.gov]

Re:Contact the senator (4, Interesting)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308424)

My comments:

I've heard about your bill to limit access to weather data.
please research what this has done in Australia and look to how many people have been killed already because of this type of plan. A good place to research is the "sydney to hobart race 1998." That was a boat race but the organizers running the race relied on private weather information since the government had just started privatized the Bureau of Meteorology. The result was that 6 people died, several boats sank and the coast guard spent over 10 million dollars on rescue of the 115 boats. The total bill for "user pays weather" was $700 million dollars.

A second example of why this is wrong involves aviation weather and its resulting deaths. I don't want a small plane falling out of the sky because the pilot didn't get a good weather briefing. Australia also provides evidence that people will not properly check weather if it isn't free and therefor endangering other people.

That sucks (4, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308207)

Seriously: tough luck to weather companies! If this is a public service for Americans given by their government, then the American public should be allowed to use that service. Considering they paid for it with their taxes, I don't see how this bill could be passed!

Re:That sucks (5, Interesting)

ottergoose (770022) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308333)

I'm a developer for a small weather software company and we rely on the NWS for a lot of information (forecasts, etc.) for one our products [alertmepro.com] [/shameless plug]. If this becomes law, our software won't work anymore. 2 people cannot write 7 day forecasts for every county in the USA.

Write to your senator then! (4, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308415)

Seriously, either write to them or call them up explaining that you are about to go out of business because of this proposed bill. Unless they know about you (they most likely won't), then they won't be able to lob this little bomb on Rick Santorum, who then will be unable to say that his bill is designed to protect businesses. After all, it's a bit hard to say this when other senators are giving examples of companies his bill will put out of business!

Re:That sucks (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308474)

American public should be allowed to use that service. Considering they paid for it with their taxes, I don't see how this bill could be passed!

America seems to have this stupid tradition of "EVerythingShouldBePrivate". I suppose the for-pay weather companies would want to ban the public service because they "believe" that private-only comapnies will improve competence.

Which is stupid, services should'nt be just public or private, they should be public if they benefit the consumer being public and private if they don't. Wheater looks to me like something that americans should have right to access freely. What will be the next stupidity, trying to supress the congress by a bunch of private congresists?

Re:That sucks (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308517)

"What will be the next stupidity, trying to supress the congress by a bunch of private congresists" - uh, I believe they are called "lobbyists" :-)

Google Santorum (4, Informative)

myheroBobHope (842869) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308212)

He is an extremley conservative senator, and so Dan Savage of Savage Love decided to name something horrible after him and try to overtake Santorum's official site as the number one site on Google. He succeeded... Hilarity Ensued. Check it out!

Re:Google Santorum (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308251)

And it worked so well for me that all I think about when I hear Rick's name is what Dan got it named for .. lol

Prolly NSFW (1)

doormat (63648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308320)

You might want to indicate that googling Santorum (or at least clicking on the links in that search result) is probably not safe for work. I already knew what it meant, just thought the rest of the community should know..

MOD DOWN - NSFW! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308538)

Thanks, jerk.

That set off an alarm with our corporate IT and I had to explain to my boss why I was looking on the internet for something related to fecal matter and anal sex.

You must really love that stuff so much that you want to impose it on everyone else.

Doesn't make sense... (1)

poofyhairguy82 (635386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308216)

Doesn't seem to be any motivation for this. I don't get it. Who benefits from this? News outlets like the weather channel?

I love how now I can get the weather report everyday on my Gnome panel without paying. If the free ride ends (without a Linux client in sight) I guess I'll have to buy a thermometer and look outside (shudder)...

Re:Doesn't make sense... (3, Interesting)

E-Rock (84950) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308288)

Accuweather does.

Why would anyone pay for accuweather's data if they can get the (probably) superior data from the NWS?

They're also based in the same state that has elected this blight on Congress.

Re:Doesn't make sense... (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308316)

Seems like if a bunch of us got pissed off enough we could simply throw together some weather stations [melhuish.info] and provide RSS feeds through a single private web site for free.

Free as in Taxes (4, Insightful)

Drubber (60345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308217)

Uh...free? I think I just paid for some of that data. Maybe Accuweather could compete the old fashioned way--in the marketplace.

Re:Free as in Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308399)

They can feel free to raise capital and launch their own more numerous and superior satellites while their at it. In fact they should. They're such good capitalists they should be kicked out of the government trough and learn to fend entirely for themselves.

Personally, I would like to see the various government agencies do their own digest of data which is published to the people on the .gov sites we know and love. And *then* sell the RAW data to interested parties. The revenue could go to funding more and better data. All those hubble pictures could have bought two more hubbles.

Hold on... (2, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308489)

... are you saying that they don't pay for all their own equipment? They use government equipment, yet they want to stop the government (the providers of infrastructure to run their business!) to stop giving out that information?! wtf? How can they make demands at all?!

I agree with the AC. Stop them from gaining access to all the government satellites if they feel that the government is competing with them!

In other news.... (5, Funny)

Monf (783812) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308224)

the Weather Channel is asking cable companies to add a surcharge based on the number of windows in a subscriber's household, to recoup lost revenues due to subscriber's looking outside to see what the weather is like...

hypocrites (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308230)

If accuweather is so concerned about the national weather service undermining private companies, this bill should also forbid the national weather service from providing their data to accuweather itself. By providing all this data to accuweather, they are undercutting the ability of private comapnies to set up their own weather monitoring instruments and SELL the data to accuweather.

Re:hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308307)

I bet Accuweather wouldn't mind paying for the weather data -- if they are one of a handful of companies willing to pay the wholesale rate, they can jack the retail price of weather up, Up, UP! The sky is the limit! (Sorry)

Well (4, Interesting)

computerme (655703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308243)

Well Senator M-O-D Santorum had better hurry up and pass the bill because he is about to have his lunch handed to him in his 2006 relection efforts:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/21/11132/98 65

He's dropping faster than a rock so if this bill is stalled or set aside Accuweather will have to find some other "go to" guy...

Not that would be too difficuly unfornataly...

Re:Well (-1, Flamebait)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308404)

Not that would be too difficuly unfornataly...

Jes, yust lique joor spehling.

Politicians and the weather (1)

thewiz (24994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308249)

Like my grandfather used to say, "Politicians change their minds as often as the weather changes, except a bribe won't make the weather change."

Is it just me, or do others think that we need to give politicians a common sense quotient test before they're allowed to run for office?

If I pay taxes and those taxes are allowed to fund a bureau like NOAA, that data better stay accessible to the public.

Weather Radio? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308261)

Should we shutdown the wonderful NOAA Weather Radio [weather.gov] system also? After all, the competes directly with all those commericial radio stations out there. (Never mind that we get alerts in the event of severe weather.)

Good god. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308266)

Someone just pay Rick Man-on-Dog Santorum off to just sit down and shut up already?

Democrats can't capitalize on this and go after Man-on-dog Santorum? !@#!@

nickels (1)

jwind (819809) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308280)

Ugggh, talk about nickel and diming... It's like driving the Jersey Turnpike.

Re:nickels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308521)

I think your're thinking of the Garden State Parkway.

What everyone... (1)

Keamos (857162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308282)

should be doing is stop bitching to a bunch of 14 year olds on Slashdot, head over to here [senate.gov] and find your Senators; write them, and complain. Explain to them why sponsoring this bill is bad and that doing so will cause them a loss of your vote--enough of these and they -will- listen.

Re:What everyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308467)

What was the result when millions of people protested the war? Nothing! You really think writing letters to our senators will make those fascists change their minds? Haha, you live in a dream world. They stopped caring about what people think long ago. Now it all depends on who bribes them the most with "donations." Wake up people.

Re:What everyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308478)

...find your Senators; write them, and complain.

Congratulations. If your letter doesn't include a large check, you just wasted 37 cents.

Didn't we taxpayers pay for that data? (1)

CatGrep (707480) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308285)

I think that since we've paid for that data through our taxes we should get to see it for free.

There are several reasons why NOAA exists, but one of them is to protect the public: think tornados and hurricanes. The public deserves to see that data.

Public Good (5, Insightful)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308290)

Dad gummit. I PAID for NOAA....with my TAXES. I have EVERY right under FOIA to all that data. The nly reason this is being brought up is the Accuweathers, the DTN's and to a lesser extent, the Weather Channels of the world.

The bill doesn't go far enough (5, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308294)

If the basic idea of this bill is sound, we should consider the benefits of:
  • Restricting access to economic reports
  • Restricting access to research results
  • Restricting access to USDA food safety data
  • Restricting access to FDA drug approvals
  • Restricting access to laws, including the tax code
  • Restricting access to Congressional records, including proposed legislation
  • I'm sure there are others

The Congressional part especially has a lot of merit, since I'm sure Congress would prefer that we not find out about stuff like this except as duly authorized sources see fit to pass it along.

Definition of Santorum according to Dan Savage (5, Funny)

Laconian (578463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308298)

Santorum (n.)

1. That frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

2. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Many senators are just conduits for corruption. (1, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308299)


There are many, many senators and representatives who are just conduits for corruption. Most people in the U.S. are overwhelmed and just don't want to know how corrupt their government is.

I wrote a short article that discusses a small percentage of that corruption -- Unprecedented Corruption: A guide to conflict of interest in the U.S. government [futurepower.org]

You're going to have a lot of angry pilots... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308301)

You're going to have a lot of angry/annoyed pilots once they find out they can't use websites such as aviationweather.gov [aviationweather.gov] , duats.com [duats.com] , and duat.com [duat.com] just to name a few.

Yet another stupid bill brought to you by Corporate America(R).

My only question is: (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308305)

Who the fuck votes for this guy?

Yeah, this is flamebait, trolling, whatever. The number of bad ideas this guy supports is mind boggling. /boggle

What an unbelievable coincidence! (5, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308312)

Accuweather is headquartered in Pennsylvania. And Santorum is a senator from PA. I mean, come on, what are the odds of that? ;)

Bill text (5, Informative)

Goobergunch (876745) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308314)

Here's the text of S. 786 [loc.gov] . Thankfully, no co-sponsors yet. Here's hoping that most Congresspeople see this bill for what it is - lunacy.

Why does he hate our sailors and pilots? (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308336)

Not only do we pay for those satellites, but the NOAA weather data is used extensively in the shipping and aviation industries.

Without that data, we'd be risking the lives of all those sailors and pilots, not to mention their passengers and cargos.

Why does Mr. Santorum hate our brave sailors and pilots? Why does he hate cruise ship passengers and people who fly in planes?

Maybe one should thurn that one around?? (1)

northwind (308027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308337)

How about if I make a company that generates BS?
Could I then ask the congress to NOT supply the public with free BS?
Seriously - these guys are basically robbing the patent office. Next up is probably the public school system. As private schools provide this service for a fee, then public schools must close in order not to compete????????

Ban Libraries (5, Funny)

Catamaran (106796) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308338)

The government should just get out of the information business. The free market is the best way to ensure that we get the most [foxnews.com] unbiased [cnn.com] information [theonion.com] .

Re:Ban Libraries (2, Funny)

northwind (308027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308369)

You must have been watching MXC to much :-)
"Who thinks that cable and broadcast channels supply ample and unbiased new - show hands - now".... :-)

Re:Ban Libraries (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308445)

"Well, you're wrong!"

Ban public schools (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308349)

In accordance with the current trend public schools should be banned because they compete unfairly with private schools. Similar bans should of course be enacted on public transportation, public roads, public utilities, and public management.

This is not good. (1)

Patrick Mannion (782290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308359)

I use this to make my school's weather center, if this bill goes through, I'm screwed, pretty much. Ironically, I do use AccuWeather for some of the maps.

This is not good-Alternatives. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308485)

Well you could get the information through other means. Like building your own dish. Picking up weather transmissions. Plugging into universities.*

*Incidently, has anyone noticed that TV stations are getting their own weather resources? Bypassing the monopoly?

Why not the Big Co-op Model of Buying Weather Data (2, Interesting)

ivi (126837) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308360)

We pay taxes... so, collectively, we are
- in effect - like members of a cooperative
(analogy: farmer's co-op), and - for part
of our "co-op fees" (ie, taxes) - we get
services, such as weather data, etc.

C'mon, lawyers in the /. audience (L Lessig?)
help us get value for our "co-op fee" bucks,
here. ;-)

blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308362)

Lets not forget that most of these pay and private services SUCK and make it difficult to obtain the data you are looking for...let alone in a easily usable format like XML....Funny thing is you can bet that most of this data is collected at government sponsored weather stations...why should we publically fund data collection for private companies?

Our government is one step away from complete corporate dominance of its policy...weakening the judiciary..the one thing that stands in the way of our corrupt legislative branch...god have mercy on our souls.. =P

Weather wants to be free (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308363)

I do realize that if I can step outside and look at the thermometer, lick my finger and test for wind direction, look to the sky for clouds and inhale to see if my allergies are activated, I shouldn't have to pay a company for that. In fact, no individual should be denied getting weather updates or forecasts for free. It is a part of our advanced civilization. No one owns the freakin weather!
If some company wants to make money off the weather, let them charge other companies foolish enough to pay for it. If a governement agency is doing its job and is participating in open government by sharing the data it collects, guess what, that's everyone's info.
If you want to compete with that private firms, start investing in weather control technology. Or, shut the F up!

Santorum not clueless... (1)

RonVNX (55322) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308376)

Just unethical, immoral and without a soul, having sold it to Satan in exchange for the support of the religious right and the business lobby.

Re:Santorum not clueless... (1)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308444)

Please be more logical. I work for a LARGE business and am I member of the religious right. I think most of what this senator does is immoral, as well as your bigotry against the right and business. Your comment is imflammatory, inappropriate and offensive.

Re:Santorum not clueless... (1)

RonVNX (55322) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308544)

Live with it, it's called free speech. I am a businessman and conservative (to the extent that it's visibly so), I know exactly what I'm talking about.

Weather Data Without Popups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308385)

And one of the biggest reasons I almost exclusively use weather.gov is that I don't have to deal with annoying pop-ups and cute little qasi-spyware apps to view weather data.

The last time around (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308387)

The military pointed out that if NOAA didn't do weather forecasts, the DoD would have to hire all of the NOAA forecasters just so that the military wouldn't be left without mission-critical information.

Add to that that other government agencies (both Federal and State) would have to staff up, duplicating the no-doubt-now-classified military work. Bottom line is that shutting down the NOAA forecast role will be a sizable net cost to the US, along with some unknown harm to both the economy and national security.

Great move, Senator.

Don't Worry (5, Insightful)

ET_Fleshy (829048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308395)

Aviators everywhere depend on NOAA for weather [aviationweather.gov] all the time and AOPA [aopa.org] will never let this bill get passed. AOPA has a long history of protecting the citizens from stupid laws like this so I'm not worried at all.

What about GOES? (4, Informative)

Patrick Mannion (782290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308402)

I wonder this will include GOES satellite data. This will be a major blow to me becuase I run my school's weather center. This is stupid if you ask me? Hopefully this won't spell the end for the NWS.

What about West Law (2, Interesting)

intelsquirrel (877995) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308409)

You have an even bigger problem with Westlaw. you cannot cite a case w/o using a specific case by what volume and page, etc that it is in from one of their publications.

It would be nice if all of this sort of thing were taken into account throughout all agencies, and that information that should be free was really free.

Workaround: Learn to read FAA weather reports (3, Funny)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308412)

Workaround: Learn to read FAA weather reports. It will be a little difficuly to take away access through that channel.

The proper response... (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308413)

Is for me to get out my pen and paper and neatly write my senator a letter asking him to oppose this bill. I notice (at least in a quick read) that TFA does not state the bill number. Can anyone provide it?

What can you say to this? (4, Insightful)

saforrest (184929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308417)

"It is not an easy prospect for a business to attract advertisers, subscribers or investors when the government is providing similar products and services for free," Santorum said.

Perhaps we can we expect Senator Santorum to next intervene on behalf of the unjustifiably repressed legions of private firefighters, police, water safety testers, and maintainers of roads?

After all, it's hard to compete in the market when the government does it for free!

This is also a good time to mention Spreading Santorum, a personal crusade by the advice columnist Dan Savage to popularize the use of the word 'santorum' to describe a (mostly) gay sex act, with the intention of embarrassing the anti-gay senator: spreadingsantorum.com [spreadingsantorum.com]

As someone feeding data into CWOP... (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308433)

...it had damn well better stay public. But the internet routes around damage --- if noaa can't do it, it'll just become another open source project, as it partially is now...

My weather station [rdrop.com]
(the flatline yesterday was a power outage)

Citizen's Weather Observer Program [wxqa.com]

Here's a wild guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308437)

According to the article, the bill's biggest critics are complaining of the bill's vague wording which makes it unclear what exactly is being banned.

My guess: anything that could be provided by a for-profit commercial service.

OK, I RTFA after the post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308518)

And I was right.

NOAA != NWS (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12308469)

Just so everyone understands, we here at NOAA provide many other products and services that have nothing to do with the National Weather Service. Check out noaa.gov to see the eight major areas of work, of which weather is just one. :)

The tragedy of the French Revolution (0, Flamebait)

olderphart (787517) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308476)

Liberté, egalité, fraternité - choose 1.6, tops.

Santorum is Latin for... (1)

xactuary (746078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308481)

asshole.

Not a trend I hope... (1)

JChris (29377) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308488)

Makes you wonder how much longer Rand McNally will let this [nationalatlas.gov] go on...

International agreements. say it must be free (4, Informative)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308495)

Now, I only worked (past tense) for the NZ MetSvc for 10 months so I've probably got this stuff wrong. :)

My understanding is that by agreement national weather services share data with each other without charge - other than data distribution charges.

If the US started to charge for this, they might run into problems with (say) the UKMO.

It is standard practice for met organisations to make their model data freely available, Environment Canada does this:

http://weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/grib/index_e.html

The WMO lays it out pretty clearly:
http://www.wmo.ch/web/pla/Res40Cg-XII.do c

If the US govt decides not to offer XML anymore, that's fine, they'll probably have to provide the grib... Grib is a lot bigger than the XML...

Google for "free grib data". GRIB is the file format used by the computer models.

So, if we really wanted to, we could parse the GRIB data and relay it as XML for everyone else.

Jason Pollock

Call the representatives and senators... (1)

stalefries (860068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308496)

...'cause we need to stop this dead in its tracks. If every Slashdotter sent a form letter to their Representative and their Senators, Washington would be swamped!
Is anyone out there legalistic enough to be able to write a good form letter?
Just leave blanks for our name, and our Representative/Senator's name. Then we each print off a few (I would need three, but Californians need ~60 or so, I think), customize them, and send 'em off! I would do it!

NO! NO! NO! (3, Interesting)

sk999 (846068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308499)

I actually had an Accuweather account for years, dial-up (paid for long distance bill plus $10 per month). I stopped using it once weather via internet (both gopher and later http) became available because the internet product provided vastly more information (like satellite .gif images, radar maps) and in a much more usable format. The cost was only secondary. Remind me again, how will this bill better serve the public?

Next on the chopping block (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308515)

  • The US Postal service competing with private shippers...
  • Courthouses providing free access to public records which some companies charge for...
  • Nasa competing by providing cool free pictures from space that book publishers could charge for...

What? effing morons.. (2, Insightful)

k4rm4_p0l7c3 (583281) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308516)

Screw that, I'm not going to have a harder time next hurricane season because this jackass wants to protect the interests of private companies. One of the benefits of living in a modern rich-as-hell country is having public programs like this.

My last home got destroyed by hurricane Charley. I have NOAA/NWS to thank for giving me the data I needed to make a decision to take what was important and LEAVE. I got to study (and freak out over) model-generated charts, tables of probabilities, storm surge/pressure data from off-shore buoys and a host of other stuff. The Weather Channel had static pics that ... didn't even include us in the warnings. They were focused on its conical path, yet the storm turned and hit us directly. Even then, their data is momentary and fleeting because of the methods of TV. Their web site has some more info but it can't compare with what I got w/ NWS

This prick wants to make me have a harder time next year? For the gain of WHO ?

Santorum is an Economic Traitor (4, Interesting)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308520)

Our constitution defines treason as aiding and abetting the enemy. Clearly our greatest enemies are the corporations. I call for Santorum to be tried as a traitor. If he is convicted, he should be sentenced as harshly as possible.

Corrupt politicians (1)

distantbody (852269) | more than 9 years ago | (#12308523)

i hate corrupt politicians. but remember, in a democracy ('demos' is greek for 'people'), if you dont like whos running the show, you can put yourself up for election (with a bit of hard work, of course)...well, before a corrupt politician changes that anyway, i smell a dictatorship ;)
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