Record troubles: Electronic medical records aren’t just costing the nation billions of dollars, causing burnout among doctors and reducing patient concerns to a point of data entry. They’re also, in the most extreme cases, hurting people. Fred Schulte of Kaiser Health News and Erika Fry of Fortune explain how. They catalog cases in which incomplete or inaccurate records led to injury or death. In one, a 12-year-old boy was discharged from the ER after doctors reviewed incomplete lab results. The boy later died of sepsis. “The systems are often so confusing (and training on them seldom sufficient) that errors frequently fall into a nether zone of responsibility,” the reporters write. “It can be hard to tell where human error begins and the technological short­comings end.”

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A gusher for oil drillers: The Trump administration last week lifted environmental protections on nearly 9 million acres in the West to make way for oil, gas and mining, just one day after a senior official in the Interior Department signaled that the Eastern Seaboard would very soon be open to oil exploration. Drilling hasn’t been allowed there for half a century, write Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post. Joe Balash, assistant secretary for land and minerals management, told fossil fuel industry leaders that the administration is working to approve permits for seismic surveys, which involve repetitive blasting sounds that some scientists believe are harmful to whales, dolphins and other species. Balash praised Trump’s “knack for keeping the attention of the media and the public focused somewhere else” so that those permits could be processed without much scrutiny. The land in the West had been restricted under protections for the greater sage grouse, a bird whose health scientists say is an indicator of the wider health of species in the so-called “sagebrush sea,” which includes lands in 11 states. With those protections lifted, authority for considering that habitat protection shifts to the states.

  • Also: Wes Siler of Outside magazine takes a look at what the Trump budget proposal would mean for the Interior Department: a nearly half-billion cut for the National Park Service, $267 million lost from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation down by $462 million and the U.S. Geological Survey cut by $165 million. 

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Extremism on the internet: The murder of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, broadcast by the gunman on Facebook, was horrifying. It was also different than other mass murders to date, because of how it was explicitly born from and tailored to the internet. Kevin Roose of The New York Times explains how the the internet is not simply providing another forum for extremists but nurturing them in an entirely new way: “The internet is now the place where the seeds of extremism are planted and watered, where platform incentives guide creators toward the ideological poles, and where people with hateful and violent beliefs can find and feed off one another.”

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New gun laws coming in New Zealand: Leaders of New Zealand’s coalition government have agreed “in principle” to make significant changes to the country’s gun laws, following the massacre in Christchurch. Details of the plan are expected to be released later this week but likely will focus on the availability of semi-automatic weapons, reports Matthew S. Schwartz of NPR. New Zealanders now have to jump through many more hoops to obtain a firearm license than people in the United States do. But once they have one, guns of all varieties are available to them, and most gun purchases are not tracked, Schwartz writes. Another difference between New Zealand and the United States: Lawmakers there, responding to unthinkable horror, have offered action rather than thoughts and prayers.

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A sky filled with butterflies: Across California, nearly 1 billion painted ladies are flying north, offering some passing joy in an otherwise very bad year for butterflies. The painted lady population experiences boom and bust cycles depending on how the rain falls in the desert where they breed. It rained long and hard this winter, writes Deborah Netburn of the Los Angeles Times, and now the butterflies are everywhere. Still, butterfly populations have declined precipitously, with one monarch count along the coast down by 85 percent since last year. “It was a terrible—perhaps even catastrophic—butterfly year at all elevations and no, we don’t know why,” wrote UC Davis ecologist Art Shapiro.

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Trouble mounts for Boeing: On the same day that investigators said there were “clear similarities” between the two 737 Max 8 plane crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, that together killed 346 people, Boeing CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg issued a statement saying, “our hearts are heavy.” He pledged that a software update for the plane, which was developed in response to the Lion Air crash in October and which pilots have been waiting months for, would be issued soon. Investigations in both crashes are still underway, but the information to date suggests they were caused by software problems and inadequate pilot training. The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department’s criminal division is looking into the development of the Max 8 and an investigator with the Department of Transportation has sought information about how the Federal Aviation Administration certified the safety of the aircraft. The crashes have raised questions about that review process, with critics saying that the FAA has put too much trust in manufacturers and in Boeing in particular. James E. Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board writes in The Times that the FAA’s oversight trouble dates to 2005, when the agency decided to allow Boeing and certain other companies to have their own employees certify the safety of aircraft they make, as a cost-saving measure for the industry. “Therefore, the manufacturer is providing safety oversight of itself.” Since then, just two new aircraft types have been introduced. First came Boeing’s Dreamliner, which was grounded in 2013 for battery fires. “In that case, the agency quickly recertified the safety of the aircraft, even before the exact cause of the Dreamliner problems had been determined,” Hall writes. Then came the Max 8.

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A history of neglect: Regulators regularly identified safety issues with Pacific Gas and Electric transmission infrastructure and company officials themselves noted problems in need of urgent attention, often after one disaster or another. Yet, a team of New York Times reporters found, California’s largest utility maintained a pattern of delayed maintenance, running its equipment to the brink of failure rather than working aggressively to prevent tragedies like last November’s Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. The company has acknowledged that its equipment likely sparked the fire, the most destructive in state history. “They have simply been caught red-handed over and over again, lying, manipulating or misleading the public,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told The Times. “They cannot be trusted.”

  • Also: The New York Times looks at what the PG&E bankruptcy could mean for many wildfire victims, even those with whom the company has already reached a settlement: less money and a very long wait.
    San Francisco is considering buying the company’s transmission lines within the city and establishing a public utility, something Sacramento did many years ago. 

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‘A perfect storm for flooding’: At least four have died as a result of severe flooding in the Midwest that has prompted Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin to declare a state of emergency. Levees were breached across the Mississippi and Missouri flood plains. The flooding was triggered by higher than average rainfall that came during a historic “bomb cyclone” event. The rain fell on snowpack that lay over ground that was already saturated by water from heavy fall rains that remained frozen underground, leaving no way for the water to be absorbed. “The ingredients were in place,” Mindy Beerends, a senior meteorologist at the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service, told The New York Times.

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Deadly chemical, limited ban: The Environmental Protection Agency has banned the manufacture and sale of consumer products containing methylene chloride, a component of paint strippers that has been linked to dozens of deaths, reports Claire Hansen of U.S. News & World Report. The ban does not apply to commercial uses. The Obama administration had proposed a full ban on the chemical, saying it posed an “unreasonable risk.” Safety advocates said the lesser ban is a good step but not enough to protect worker health.

Chelsea Conaboy is a FairWarning contributor and freelance writer and editor specializing in health care. Find more of her work at chelseaconaboy.com.