Tag: Up With Chris

Mar 31

What We Now Know

As you know Chris Hayes will be hosting a new MSNBC show beginning April 1 at 8 PM EDT that he promises will be the same format as Up. Up’s new host Steve Carnacki takes over as the Saturday and Sunday host of the new “Up with Steve Carnacki” on April 13. This Sunday and next the best segments of the last two years will be aired.

Best of ‘Up w/ Chris Hayes’: SOPA and the future of the Internet

by Meredith Clark, Up with Chris Hayes

Before his January suicide, Aaron Swartz was a leader in the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.  The groups with which Swartz worked-Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and many others-continue to fight for information transparency and reforms to the laws currently used to prosecute individuals for alleged crimes committed online.

Swartz’ death shifted debate from piracy and regulation to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the government’s attitude towards what it deems cybercrime, and hackers continue to be arrested and prosecuted. On March 26, the Justice Department announced that it had arrested a Wisconsin man for his alleged involvement in a Dedicated Denial of Service attack on two websites owned by Koch Industries. This arrest comes only a week after another hacker, Andrew Auernheimer, was sentenced to more than three years in prison for exposing a security hole in AT&T’s iPad user database.

Cases like these and actions like those of Operation KnightSec, the group of hackers who leaked information about the Steubenville rape investigation are sure to become more common, which means that over the issues SOPA raised will surface again.

Debating Sopa: January 15, 2012

Chris leads a debate on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) with NBC Universal Executive Vice President and General council Richard Cotton; Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian; former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA); and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

SOPA is gone but it’s ugly twin is back. Meet the “Patriot Act of the Internet“, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which the House is expected to vote on in mid-April:

The House is expected to vote on a set of cybersecurity-focused bills in mid-April. One of those bills would include the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) by Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), which is aimed at removing the legal hurdles that prevent companies from sharing information about cyber threats with the government.

The bill boasts support from a broad swath of industry sectors – including the telecommunications, banking and tech industries – but has stoked criticism from privacy and civil liberties groups.

Privacy advocates charge that CISPA lacks sufficient privacy protections for people’s personal data and would increase the pool of Americans’ electronic communications that flow to the intelligence community, including the secretive National Security Agency.

The bill passed the House last spring but went untouched in the Senate, largely because it was working on its own comprehensive measure.

CISPA’s Problem Isn’t Bad PR, It’s Bad Privacy

by  Robyn Greene, Washington Legislative Office of the ACLU

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) made the argument last week that the privacy community’s significant concerns with CISPA, the privacy-busting cybersecurity bill, don’t stem from actual problems with the bill language, but rather from a misunderstanding of the bill itself. Speaking on behalf of himself and his co-sponsor, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), he told The Hill, “We feel that the bill clearly deals with privacy, that the checks and balances are there, but [we] know there’s still a perception and we’re still trying to deal with that.”  

The ACLU, along with a coalition of 41 privacy and civil liberties groups, are very concerned about the real-world impact that the authorities proposed in CISPA could have on Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. President Obama, along with top administration officials including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, have echoed many of our concerns. CISPA, in its current form (pdf):    

  • Creates an exception to all privacy laws to allow companies to share our personal information, including internet records and the content of emails, with the government and other companies, for cybersecurity purposes;
  • Permits our private information to be shared with any government agency, like the NSA or the Department of Defense ‘s Cyber Command;
  • Fails to require the protection of Americans’ personally identifiable information (PII), despite repeated statements by the private sector that it doesn’t want or need to share PII;
  • Once shared with the government, allows our information to be used for non-cybersecurity “national security” purposes – an overbroad “catch-all” phrase that can mean almost anything;
  • Immunizes companies from criminal or civil liability, even after an egregious breach of privacy;
  • Fails to implement adequate transparency and oversight mechanisms.

In a recent article in Wired, Chris Finan, former White House director for cybersecurity, urged Congress to fix CISPA by amending the bill so as to require companies to strip their customers’ PII before sharing it with the government; restrict information sharing to civilian agencies; restrict the further dissemination and use of information to cybersecurity purposes; place reasonable limits on companies’ liability protections; and establish a non-profit to act as an “independent ‘watchdog'”  over any information sharing program to enhance oversight and transparency.

It will would be great if Congress amended CISPA to address all of our privacy concerns, but it’s hard to hold out hope for sufficient changes so long as its chief sponsor thinks that it doesn’t have a privacy problem so much as a PR problem. Everyone, from the privacy community to the president, agrees that CISPA is bad on privacy – the problem isn’t our perception.

Violating Our Privacy Is Not An Option

Sign this petition and send Congress a message that our rights are not negotiable.

For Aaron and for us.

Mar 23

What We Now Know

This week on Up with Chris Hayes we learned about the extreme impact climate change on our coastal cities. New research show storm surges like the one from Hurricane Katrina could become ten times more frequent. Host Chris Hayes and his guests Rashid Khalidi, professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University; Noura Erakat, adjunct professor at Georgetown University; Matt Duss, policy analyst at American Progress; and Ann Lewis, former advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discuss what they have learned this week.

More hurricane surges in the future

by Aslak Grinsted, Nils Bohr Institute

By examining the frequency of extreme storm surges in the past, previous research has shown that there was an increasing tendency for storm hurricane surges when the climate was warmer. But how much worse will it get as temperatures rise in the future? How many extreme storm surges like that from Hurricane Katrina, which hit the U.S. coast in 2005, will there be as a result of global warming? New research from the Niels Bohr Institute show that there will be a tenfold increase in frequency if the climate becomes two degrees Celcius warmer. The results are published in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, PNAS.

NFL passes new helmet rule, eliminates ‘Tuck Rule’

by Jim Corbett, USA Today

The most controversial rules change passed at these now-concluded owners meetings will ban players from delivering forcible blows with the crown of the helmet. It was the biggest step aimed at making the game safer, particularly in regards to concussion prevention in these meetings that approved three new rules related to player safety. [..]

Wednesday’s other changes included passing a rule to fix the Thanksgiving Day challenge faux pas when Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz tried to challenge a Justin Forsett 81-yard touchdown run and his challenge negated the official’s ability to review the scoring play. Now a challenge of a play like that will result in a 15-yard penalty with the original play getting reviewed.

The other notable change? The infamous “Tuck Rule” is no more. The New England Patriots abstained from voting, as did Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, who was an Oakland Raiders executive in January 2002 when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s seeming fumble when his throwing arm came forward was ruled an incompletion. The Patriots went on to win that playoff game and eventually the Super Bowl.

No More Drones for CIA

by Daniel Klaidman, The Daily Beast

At a time when controversy over the Obama administration’s drone program seems to be cresting, the CIA is close to taking a major step toward getting out of the targeted killing business. Three senior U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast that the White House is poised to sign off on a plan to shift the CIA’s lethal targeting program to the Defense Department.

The move could potentially toughen the criteria for drone strikes, strengthen the program’s accountability, and increase transparency. Currently, the government maintains parallel drone programs, one housed in the CIA and the other run by the Department of Defense. The proposed plan would unify the command and control structure of targeted killings and create a uniform set of rules and procedures. The CIA would maintain a role, but the military would have operational control over targeting. Lethal missions would take place under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which governs military operations, rather than Title 50, which sets out the legal authorities for intelligence activities and covert operations. “This is a big deal,” says one senior administration official who has been briefed on the plan. “It would be a pretty strong statement.”

Mar 17

What We Now Know

In this week’s segment of MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes “What We Now Know, Up host Chris Hayes discusses his new show week nights at 8 PM on MSNBC. He tells us the that “Up” will continue with a new host to be announced in the next few days. Congratulations, Chris, kick butt.

What we have learned this week is discussed with guests Ben Jealous, president and CEO of NAACP; Nancy Huehnergarth, nutritional advocate and policy consultant, contributor to the Huffington Post; New York City Council Member Letitia James, a member of the Working Families Party representing parts of Brooklyn, and a candidate for public advocate; and Monifa Bandele, campaign director with MomsRising.org.

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FDIC Secretly Settling Bank Cases For Years With ‘No Press Release’ Clause: Report

from Huffington Post

At the request of rule-breaking bankers, a top U.S. regulator has for years settled bank cases in secret, raising the bar on just how far regulators are willing to go to help the industry they regulate.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures bank deposits in the U.S. and shuts down failing banks, has since 2007 repeatedly settled charges of banker wrongdoing by agreeing to “no press release” clauses that keep the settlements a secret, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In one particularly glaring example, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $54 million to quietly settle charges that its New York mortgage-banking subsidiary, MortgageIT, sold bad loans to another mortgage bank, Independent National Mortgage Corporation, a/k/a “IndyMac.” IndyMac collapsed under the weight of bad mortgage loans in July 2008, a notable milestone in the financial crisis.

In exchange for the settlement, the FDIC agreed not to announce the deal unless it was asked about it, the LAT writes. That was just one of “scores” of such settlements the LAT discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request that turned up 1,600 pages of documents.

State Department report OK’ing Keystone XL linked to oil industry

by Natasha Lennard, Salon

Consulting firms with ties to oil giants provided the basis of government document

The State Department study published last month OK’ing the Keystone XL pipeline was partly compiled by “oil-industry connected” firms, according to new reports.

The Environmental Impact Statement, as Salon noted on its release, angered environmentalists for its assessment that the project was sound and would have limited negative consequences. As DeSmog Blog’s Steve Horn noted Tuesday, however, “Unmentioned by State: the study was contracted out to firms with tar sands extraction clientele, as revealed by InsideClimate News.”

InsideClimate News reported that two firms, EnSys Energy and ICF International provided the State Department that basis for their claims:

   The State Department’s recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline “is unlikely to have a substantial impact” on the rate of Canada’s oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project.

   EnSys Energy has worked with ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries, which own oil sands production facilities and refineries in the Midwest that process heavy Canadian crude oil. Imperial Oil, one of Canada’s largest oil sands producers, is a subsidiary of Exxon.

   ICF International works with pipeline and oil companies but doesn’t list specific clients on its website. It declined to comment on the Keystone, referring questions to the State Department.

NFL’s Sexual Orientation Concern Must Be Addressed, Says NY AG Eric Schneiderman

by Michael Gormley, Huffington Post

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urged the NFL on Thursday to investigate whether possible draft picks were improperly asked about their sexual orientation during the league’s combine, which he said would be illegal in New York.

“We ask that the league immediately issue a statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or players against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and, in some cases, contractor law and will not be tolerated,” Schneiderman said in a letter dated Thursday and released to news organizations.

Schneiderman asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to call him by next Wednesday to schedule a meeting on the matter.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was already looking into the issue and would discuss it at its meeting next week in Phoenix.

Mar 10

What We Now Know

In this week’s segment of “What We know Now” of MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes“, host Chris Hayes tell is that there has been a dramatic rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Since last year, CO2 levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million, the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959. Joining Chris to discuss what they have learned this week are Jeff Smith, assistant professor at The New School for Management and Urban Policy, former Missouri State Senator (2006-2009); Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice; Maya Wiley, founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion; and Dan Baum, author of “Gun Guys: A Road Trip.”

To serve and protect … banks?

by David Dayen, Salon

With mega-banks illegally foreclosing on active duty members, the penalty is jail. But, as always, there’s a catch

Wrapping themselves in the American flag is a popular pastime among our nation’s prominent institutions. But is it secretly possible for them to commit crimes against active duty members, and pay no price? [..]

This has happened at least 700 times to service members on missions overseas since the beginning of the foreclosure crisis in 2008. And it’s actually illegal; it violates the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a statute that carries criminal penalties. The nation’s biggest banks have admitted to the conduct before Congress and in regulatory filings, and they only recently acknowledged that they illegally foreclosed on 10 times as many service members as they previously claimed. Any serious effort to hold banks accountable for routine abuse of homeowners should include prosecutions of this execrable behavior. But the government rolled out settlements years before the true depth of these violations ever began to come to light.

I will let the ever eloquent Charles Pierce of Esquires have, hopefully, the last word on the pimply faces little turd, James O’Keefe:

The week ended with the journamalism moon passing retrograde into the House Of Moron. First, James O’Keefe, the noted guerrilla yacht perv, settled up a “meritless lawsuit” for $100K with an ACORN person he’d ratfcked back in the days when Democrats took him seriously enough to defund organizations for the crime of being ratfcked by a ratfcker. (H/t to the lovely Wonkette for being all over O’Keefe on this one, which is not what it sounds like, dammit.) Also, again, nice job, congressional Democrats for ratfcking yourselves on this.

Mar 03

What We Now Know

In this weeks “Now We Know” segment, Up with Chis Hayes host Chris Hayes notes a new study from Brandeis that shows how the wealth gap between black people and white people in American has not only remained vast, but has grown massively over the last quarter century. Discussing what they have learned this week with Chris are Saru Jayaraman, author of “Behind the Kitchen Door,” co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center; Andrew Moesel, spokesperson for the New York State Restaurant Association; Victoria Bruton, restauarant worker and member of Restaurant Opportunities Center; and Tom Colicchio, renowned chef, executive producer of the new documentary “A Place at the Table.”

Study shows racial wealth gap continues to widen

by Christine Dugas, USA Today

Years after the civil rights movement, racial inequality continues to deepen.

The wealth gap between white and African-American families has nearly tripled over 25 years, according to a study (pdf) released today by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. [..]

Many Americans still believe that racial inequality is related to individual behavior, choices, character, marriage and child bearing, says Thomas Shapiro, IASP director. But homeownership has been the biggest cause of racial wealth disparity, followed by income, the study found. In the past 25 years, education has failed to be the great equalizer that many expected.

Sequestration Repeal Pushed By Progressive House Democrats

by Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced a one-sentence bill on Thursday entitled the “Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013,” which would eliminate the $85 billion in cuts looming at week’s end as part of the $1.2 trillion in defense and non-defense cuts that Congress imposed on itself over the next decade with the Budget Control Act of 2011. According to Conyers’ office, Reps. Sheila Lee Jackson (D-Texas) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) will co-sponsor the repeal bill, and many members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are expected to follow suit.

“If Congress can’t or won’t come together to craft bipartisan agreement, I believe we have a duty to avert these catastrophic cuts by any means necessary,” Conyers told HuffPost in an email. The repeal bill “would give the leaders of both parties the time needed to reach some consensus on budget issues without forcing the average American to pay the price for Washington’s dysfunction.”

State Department Paves Way for Keystone XL Approval, Ignores Reality of Climate Change Impacts

by Gabe Elsner

This afternoon, the State Department released its Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, claiming that the pipeline will “not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects.” The SEIS paves the way for President Obama’s approval of the pipeline despite widespread concern over the climate impacts of tar sands oil.

The State Department assessment does acknowledge that excavation of the Canadian tar sands oil would result in 17 percent more climate change emissions than the average barrel of heavy crude oil. But the report continues to say that the KXL pipeline would have no adverse impact on climate change because if the pipeline were not approved, companies would ship tar sands oil via railroad.

Christie Says He’ll Take U.S. Money to Expand Medicaid

by Kate Zernike, The New York Times

Gov. Chris Christie, one of the most strident Republican critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul, announced on Tuesday that he would accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program in New Jersey.

The expansion, which the governor described in his annual budget address to the Legislature, would provide health insurance to 104,000 of the poorest 1.3 million residents currently living without it, though some groups say the number could be higher.

Mr. Christie emphasized that it was a financial decision, not a philosophical shift; if New Jersey did not take the money, he said, the federal government would give it to other states.

Taliban Attacks Drop Reported By ISAF Was Incorrect

by Robert Burns, Huffington Post

In response to Associated Press inquiries about its latest series of statistics on security in Afghanistan, the coalition command in Kabul said it had erred in reporting a 7 percent decline in attacks. In fact there was no decline at all, officials said.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is among the senior officials who had publicly repeated the assertion of an encouraging drop-off in Taliban attacks last year, was disturbed to learn of the error, said his spokesman, George Little.

“This particular set of metrics doesn’t tell the full story of progress against the Taliban, of course, but it’s unhelpful to have inaccurate information in our systems,” Little said.

Covert Malaysian Campaign Touched A Wide Range Of American Media

Outlets from Huffington Post to National Review carried pieces financed by the Malaysian government. An international campaign against Anwar Ibrahim.

A range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there.

The payments to conservative American opinion writers – whose work appeared in outlets from the Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner to the Washington Times to National Review and RedState – emerged in a filing this week to the Department of Justice. The filing (pdf) under the Foreign Agent Registration Act outlines a campaign spanning May 2008 to April 2011 and led by Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit, who received $389,724.70 under the contract and paid smaller sums to a series of conservative writers.

 

Feb 23

What We Now Know

In this Saturday’s final segment of Up with Chris Hayes, host Chris Hayes and his panel guests share what they have learned this week. Chris’ guests are John McWhorter, professor of Linguistics and American Studies at Columbia University and New York Daily News columnist; Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer to Newsweek/Daily Beast; Avik Roy, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, former member of Mitt Romney’s health care policy advisory group; and John Nichols, senior editor at The Nation.

Steinem’s Support for Quinn as Mayor Depends on Sick-Leave Bill

Gloria Steinem, the feminist author and activist, said this week that she would withdraw her support for Christine C. Quinn in the New York City mayor’s race if Ms. Quinn, speaker of the City Council, did not allow a vote on sick-leave legislation that is a cherished cause of liberal groups. [..]

Underscoring the depth of the disappointment with Ms. Quinn among some left-leaning activists, Ms. Steinem said in a statement that she viewed passage of the sick-leave legislation as more significant than electing the first female mayor of New York City.

China to introduce carbon tax: official

BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — China will proactively introduce a set of new taxation policies designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

The government will collect the environmental protection tax instead of pollutant discharge fees, as well as levy a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, Jia Chen, head of the ministry’s tax policy division, wrote in an article published on the MOF’s website.

It will be the local taxation authority, rather than the environmental protection department, that will collect the taxes.

The government is also looking into the possibility of taxing energy-intensive products such as batteries, as well as luxury goods such as aircraft that are not used for public transportation, according to Jia.

Missouri City, Texas, To Impose ‘Crash Tax’ On Drivers

Missouri City, Texas, will impose what’s being called a “crash tax” on drivers that are at fault in accidents in order to pay for the cost of first responders, KHOU 11 reports. The fine will range from $500 to $2,000 depending on the severity of the crash.

Missouri City plans to bill insurance companies for the fine, according to KHOU 11, but some drivers are worried that insurance companies won’t pay for it.

Florida Atlantic Football Stadium Will Be Named For Private Prison Company

The public university on Tuesday announced an unconventional partner: the nation’s second-largest operator of for-profit prisons, the GEO Group Inc. The newly christened GEO Group Stadium came as part of a $6 million donation from the prison company’s charitable foundation, which will be paid out to Florida Atlantic over 12 years. [..]

“It appears to be a charitable gift that is trying to be a marketing vehicle, and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon’s business school. “To link themselves with an athletic department when their business is locking people up, it just doesn’t connect to me really well.”

Critics of the private prison industry said the donation to a public university in Florida falls in line with efforts to gain influence with state and local public officials who decide whether to hand out contracts.

Feb 17

What We Now Know

MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes host, Chris Hayes discusses what we have learned this week with panel guests Dedrick Muhammad, senior economic director for the NAACP; Goldie Taylor, MSNBC contributor; Diane Schansenbach, Northwest University; and Derrell Bradford, executive director of Better Education for Kids.

Marco Rubio’s ‘Working Class’ Home Is For Sale For $675,000

Rubio failed to mention his “working class” pool home in West Miami is on the market for a whopping $675,000 — and he’s moving his family to Washington, D.C.

West Miami is indeed less posh than its southeastern neighbor, Coral Gables. But public records show Rubio and his wife paid more than half a million dollars — $550,000 in fact — in 2005 for their two-story, four-bedroom, 2,649-square foot pad, which features a double-height living area, stainless steel appliances, manicured lawn, and outdoor entertaining space. As Ameriblog points out, the surrounding streets contain more quintessentially blue collar homes, but Rubio’s cul-de-sac of 5 pool homes is a “luxury enclave,” a “little white-collar heaven” in blue collar Miami.

Stop using the “wives, mothers, & daughters” rhetorical frame that defines women by their relationships to other people.

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama said: “We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence.”

This “our wives, mothers, and daughters” phrase is one he routinely employs, but it is counterproductive to the women’s equality the President is ostensibly supporting.

Defining women by their relationships to other people is reductive, misogynist, and alienating to women who do not define ourselves exclusively by our relationships to others. Further, by referring to “our” wives et al, the President appears to be talking to The Men of America about Their Women, rather than talking to men AND women.

Please embrace inclusive language, Mr. President.

Italy ex-spy chief sentenced to 10 years over CIA ‘extraordinary rendition’

Milan –  Italy’s former military intelligence chief was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday for his role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian Muslim cleric in an operation organized by the United States.

An American former CIA station chief was this month sentenced in absentia to seven years in jail after imam Abu Omar was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation during the United States’ “war on terror.”

The Milan appeals court sentenced Niccolo Pollari, former head of the Sismi military intelligence agency, to 10 years in prison and his former deputy Marco Mancini to nine years.

Feb 10

What We Now Know

In this week’s segment of What We Know Now, Up host Chris Hayes gives his take on this winter’s infamous norovirus that was spread by restaurant workers who do not have, or did not know they had unpaid sick leave. to discuss what they have learned this week, he is joined by panel guests Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy), columnist and public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues; Rangina Hamidi, president of Kandahar Treasure, the first women-run business in Kandaha; Laura Flanders (@GRITlaura), founder of GRITtv.org, contributing writer to The Nation; and Mallika Dutt (@mallikaduttv), founder of Breakthrough India/Breakthrough U.S.

Norovirus spreads across nation.

by Branden Largent, Minnesota Daily

Typically called “stomach flu,” it has no relation to the flu.

A new strain of the norovirus  – typically misnamed the “stomach flu” – has been spreading throughout the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Symptoms for norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, and sometimes fever, headache and body aches that last up to three days. [..]

Norovirus is a food-borne illness, Kelley said, and can spread quickly through nursing homes, cruise ships, restaurants and residence halls.

Paul Allwood, University director of Occupational Health and Safety,  said statewide food industry regulations mandate that people with norovirus symptoms cannot come to work until they are symptom-free for 72 hours.

Food service workers are also restricted from handling kitchenware and ready-to-eat foods for an additional 72 hours.

Sick leave bill pressed by workers’ groups, citing flu

by Ramiro S. Funez, Queens Chronicle

Labor rights activists across the borough are pressing lawmakers for passage of the long-delayed sick leave bill, after a local deli worker who was sick with the flu was fired for taking a day off work to visit his doctor.

Members of Make the Road New York and the NYC Paid Sick Days Campaign rallied outside the former employer of Elmhurst resident Emilio Palaguachi on Jan. 31 to urge City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) to finally bring the Paid Sick Time Act to a vote. [..]

“No one knows when the bill will pass. It can be in a few days or in a few years,” Palaguachi said. “We’re trying, and I know it’s not easy, but we are continuing to try to get people to pass the bill.”

The proposed bill is supported by the Working Families Party, the state Paid Family Leave Coalition, Make the Road and A Better Balance, a family legal center.

Pennsylvania Medicaid Expansion Nixed By GOP Gov. Tom Corbett

by Jeffrey Young, The Huffington Post

Pennsylvania won’t make Medicaid available to more of its poor residents, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) told state legislators during his budget address Tuesday.

By rejecting the Medicaid expansion under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, Corbett becomes the 11th Republican governor to turn down federal funding to provide health benefits to low-income residents. Pennsylvania now joins Idaho, Maine and a swath of states from Georgia to Texas in refusing to add more people to Medicaid, which is jointly managed and financed by the federal and state governments. [..]

Corbett’s announcement comes a day after fellow Republican governor John Kasich of Ohio became the fifth GOP state executive to back the Medicaid expansion. In contrast to Corbett’s claims about the affordability of adding more people to Medicaid, Kasich, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and others have cited the high level of federal funding as a key reason to participate. The chief executives of 20 states and the District of Columbia now support the Medicaid expansion.

Feb 03

What We Now Know

In his “what we now know” segment of Up with Chris, host Chris Hayes talks about Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) who will be investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee for allegations that he took free flights with a political donor and prostitution in the Dominican Republic. Discussing with Chris what they have learned this week are panel guests Hilda Solis, former Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration; Aaron Pena (@AaronPena), founder of The Hispanic Republican Conference of Texas; Jim Antle (@jimantle), senior editor of The American Spectator; and Lorella Praeli (@lorellaluciana), director of advocacy and policy for United We Dream.

Sen. Robert Menendez under growing scrutiny over ethics questions

by Joseph Tanfani, The Los Angeles Times

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is under scrutiny over his ties to a Florida doctor under FBI investigation.

WASHINGTON – Sen. Robert Menendez, the powerful New Jersey Democrat who this week was named chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is facing a Senate ethics probe into whether he accepted inappropriate gifts from a wealthy Florida eye surgeon who is under FBI investigation.

The Senate Ethics Committee is conducting a preliminary investigation of two trips Menendez took to a luxury beach resort in the Dominican Republic in August and September 2010 as a guest of Dr. Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend and political donor.

The review comes on the heels of an FBI raid on Melgen’s medical offices in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday night and Wednesday as part of an investigation into what sources called possible Medicaid fraud.

Israel admits Ethiopian Jewish immigrants were given birth control shots

by Katie McDonough, Salon

An Israeli journalist also found that most of the women given the shots say they were coerced

Israel has admitted that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth control injections, according to a report in Haaretz. An Israeli investigative journalist also found that a majority of the women given these shots say they were administered without their knowledge or consent.

Health Ministry Director General Prof. Ron Gamzu acknowledged the practice – without directly conceding coercion was involved – in a letter to Israeli health maintenance organizations, instructing gynecologists in the HMOs “not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

Depo-Provera is a hormonal form of birth control that is injected every three months.

Treasury approved big pay raises at bailed-out AIG, Ally and GM, report says

by Danielle Douglas, The Washington Post

The Treasury Department ignored its own guidelines on executive pay at firms that received taxpayer bailouts and last year approved compensation packages of more than $3 million for the senior ranks at General Motors, Ally Financial and American International Group, according to a watchdog report released Monday.

The report from the special inspector general for the Troubled Assets Relief Program said the government’s pay czar signed off on $6.2 million in raises for 18 employees at the three companies. The chief executive of a division of AIG received a $1 million raise, while an executive at GM’s troubled European unit was given a $100,000 raise. In one instance, an employee of Ally’s Residential Capital was awarded a $200,000 pay increase weeks before the subsidiary filed for bankruptcy.

“30 Rock” finale: Comedy series comes to an end

You wanted resolution on the “30 Rock” finale?

You got it. Sort of. At least, the sort befitting “30 Rock,” with its loopy storytelling mixed with joy in spoofing the culture of TV.

Closure, if that’s what it is, came in a two-minute postscript on this hour episode Thursday on NBC. Which, among other things, included this sly touch: a reference to the snowglobe revelation with which the medical drama “St. Elsewhere” famously concluded a quarter-century ago.

But there was more. Just before the final fade-out, NBC President Kenneth the former Page (Jack McBrayer) was pitched a new comedy series taking place right there at network headquarters, 30 Rock.

Hmmm. This was no ending. It was a Mobius strip.

Jan 20

What We Now Know

Up host Chris Hayes has what we know now since the week began. Joining him to discuss what they know are Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)(@repdonnaedwards); Bill Fletcher (@BillFletcherJr), racial justice, labor and international activist; Ben Jealous (@BenJealous), president and CEO of the NAACP; and economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux (@drjlastword), president emeritus of Bennett College for Women.

Aaron Swartz Prosecutor Defends Charges, Days After Activist’s Suicide

by Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz on Wednesday defended her office’s prosecution of Aaron Swartz as “appropriate,” days after the 26-year-old Internet activist took his own life.

Ortiz, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, broke her silence for the first time since Swartz killed himself on Friday. His family and supporters have blamed the government for playing a role in his death, while members of Congress have questioned the Justice Department’s aggressive prosecution of Swartz on computer fraud charges.

But Ortiz maintained it was appropriate for prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts to bring the case. She said her office was prepared to offer a deal that would have put Swartz behind bars in a low-security prison for six months. Ortiz said prosecutors never said they intended to seek the maximum punishment.

Introducing ‘Aaron’s Law’

by Diane Sweet, Crooks and Liars

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced “Aaron’s Law” on Tuesday night, announcing it via the user-generated site Reddit. The piece of legislation would modify the the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to exclude terms of service violations. “There’s no way to reverse the tragedy of Aaron’s death, but we can work to prevent a repeat of the abuses of power he experienced,” Lofgren wrote. “The government was able to bring such disproportionate charges against Aaron because of the broad scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute.” Read the full bill here (pdf).

Residential Segregation Contributes to Health Disparities for People of Color

by Kenneth J. Cooper, America’s Wire

Segregated black neighborhoods tend to be poor-poorer, in fact, than impoverished white neighborhoods. Recent research, however, has begun to show that race, not class, adversely affects the health of African-Americans in racially isolated communities.

Hope Landrine, a researcher for the American Cancer Society, reviewed the latest studies on residential segregation and black health, and compiled the findings last year in the journal “Ethnicity & Health.” Among them:

 

  • Two to three times as many fast food outlets are located in segregated black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods of comparable socioeconomic status, contributing to higher black consumption of fatty, salty meals and in turn widening racial disparities in obesity and diabetes.
  • Black neighborhoods contain two to three times fewer supermarkets than comparable white neighborhoods, creating the kind of “food deserts” that make it difficult for residents who depend on public transportation to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables that make for a healthy diet.
  • Fewer African-Americans have ready access to places to work off excess weight that can gradually cause death. A study limited to New York, Maryland and North Carolina found that black neighborhoods were three times more likely to lack recreational facilities where residents could exercise and relieve stress.
  • Because of “the deliberate placement of polluting factories and toxic waste dumps in minority neighborhoods,” exposure to air pollutants and toxins is five to 20 times higher than in white neighborhoods with the same income levels.
  • Regardless of their socioeconomic status, African-Americans who live in segregated communities receive unequal medical care because hospitals serving them have less technology, such as imaging equipment, and fewer specialists, like those in heart surgery and cancer. The predominantly white doctors in those communities are also less likely to have certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties, an accepted standard of professional competence.

Foreclosure Review In New Settlement Leaves Homeowners In Banks’ Hands

by Ben Hallman and Eleazar David Melendez, Huffington Post

For more than a year, housing advocates and their allies worried that a review of foreclosed loans managed by banking regulators was vulnerable to mortgage industry interference.

On Monday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Board — the two regulatory bodies that had taken the lead in making the nation’s largest banks accountable for rampant foreclosure fraud — announced that homeowners no longer need worry about the independence of the reviews. The regulators, essentially admitting that the reviews were too difficult to conduct, and that assigning appropriate compensation to those most harmed by the banks was no longer a priority, said the mortgage companies themselves will determine how to distribute $3.3 billion to more than 4 million homeowners forced into foreclosure in 2009 or 2010.

Housing advocates, while acknowledging that the foreclosure reviews were flawed, said they don’t understand how turning the process over to mortgage companies improves a system already insufficiently independent.

Foreclosure Review Insiders Portray Massive Failure, Doomed From The Start

by Ben Hallman and Eleazar David Melendez, Huffington Post

Last January, dozens of independent contractors showed up for their first day of work at a large, single-story Bank of America building in Tampa to right the wrongs of a foreclosure crisis that many had witnessed firsthand. Or so they thought.

They were lawyers, paralegals and other mortgage industry veterans. Along with thousands of other contractors working at banks and auditing firms like Deloitte and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Tampa crew was to comb through the mortgages of people whose homes were in foreclosure at the height of that crisis, in 2009 and 2010. They were looking for lost paperwork, overcharges, botched loan modifications — evidence of the kinds of errors and misconduct widely alleged by foreclosed borrowers.

It was called the Independent Foreclosure Review, and it was one of the most ambitious and costly auditing projects in U.S. history.

It was also, some of the contractors soon came to believe, a fiasco in the making. At Bank of America, contract employees were to answer more than 2,000 questions written by Promontory Financial, the consulting firm the bank hired to audit its mortgage loan files. Those questions, the contractors said, were confusing and open to interpretation. Training was spotty and mistakes were frequent, they said. Sometimes, when they noted bank-caused mistakes, they were told by Bank of America managers not to believe their own eyes.

Jan 13

What We Now Know

Up host Chris Hayes discusses what we now know since last week began, including how NFL linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest preserving his brain for scientific study. His panel guests are George Saunders, author of “Tenth of December;” Michael Chabon, author of “Telegraph Avenue” and Pulitzer Prize-winner; Victor LaValle, author of “The Devil in Silver” and Assistant Professor and Acting Fiction Director at Columbia University School of the Arts; and Ayana Mathis, author of “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.”

Seau Suffered From Brain Disease

by Mary Pilon, New York Times

The former N.F.L. linebacker Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma when he committed suicide in the spring, the National Institutes of Health said Thursday.

The findings were consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease widely connected to athletes who have absorbed frequent blows to the head, the N.I.H. said in a statement. Seau is the latest and most prominent player to be associated with the disease, which has bedeviled football in recent years as a proliferation of studies has exposed the possible long-term cognitive impact of head injuries sustained on the field. [..]

Since C.T.E. was diagnosed in the brain of the former Eagles defensive back Andre Waters after his suicide in 2006, the disease has been found in nearly every former player whose brain was examined posthumously. (C.T.E. can be diagnosed only posthumously.)

NFL concussions lawsuit: 2,000 former players to file class action suit

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A concussion-related lawsuit bringing together scores of cases has been filed in federal court, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries.

Lawyers for former players say more than 80 pending lawsuits are consolidated in the “master complaint” filed Thursday in Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs hope to hold the NFL responsible for the care of players suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. Other former players remain asymptomatic, but worry about the future and want medical monitoring.

Australia Adds New Weather Map Colors for Extreme Heat

by Brooke Jarvis, Rolling Stone

Climate change is causing ‘catastrophic’ danger in much of the country

Australia is facing record-breaking temperatures in next week’s forecast – a heat wave so intense that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to make new charts.

For the first time, the century-old agency’s forecast map now includes a gauge for temperatures up to 54° Celsius (129.2° Fahrenheit), complete with new colors – deep purple and hot pink – to indicate areas experiencing heat above 50°C (122°F).

Though Australia’s existing heat record, set in 1960, still stands for the moment, officials believe it may soon be surpassed. The nation’s Bureau of Meteorology has been open about the impact that rising greenhouse gases are already having there: The agency’s website declares that Australia is “experiencing rapid climate change,” including more frequent heat waves and changing rainfall patterns.

The current heat wave has produced above-average temperatures for 80 percent of the country – the nationwide average on Monday was 104 degrees Fahrenheit – and scores of wildfires. The state of New South Wales, home to Australia’s most populous city, Sydney, is facing its greatest fire danger ever, officials say. In some areas of the state, the official fire danger rating is “catastrophic.”

2012 Hottest Year On Record For Lower 48 States, NOAA Confirms

It’s official: 2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states, as the country experienced blistering spring and summer heat, tinderbox fire weather conditions amid a widespread drought, and one of the worst storms to ever strike the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 had an average temperature of 55.3°F, which eclipsed 1998, the previous record holder, by 1°F. That was just off Climate Central’s calculation in mid-December, which projected an expected value of 55.34°F, based on historical data.

The 1°F difference from 1998 is an unusually large margin, considering that annual temperature records are typically broken by just tenths of a degree Fahrenheit. In fact, the entire range between the coldest year on record, which occurred in 1917, and the previous record warm year of 1998 was just 4.2°F.

Jan 06

What We Now Know

Up host Chris Hayes discusses what we have learned since last week with guests Oliver Stone, award-winning director, producer and screenwriter; Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author; and Suzy Khimm, reporter for the Washington Post.

2012: A Safe Year To Fly

By Daniel Politi, Slate

Fear of flying may soon be a thing of the past as 2012 was a great year to get on a plane. Air travel is now the safest it has been “since the dawn of jet planes,” reports the Wall Street Journal, noting that the industry is set to mark the lowest rate of fatalities in 2012 since the early 1960s. Before Saturday’s crash near Moscow that killed four people, there were a total of 22 fatal crashes across the world in 2012, a decline from the 28 seen in 2011 and far lower from the 34 fatal accidents per year that is the average over the last decade. Of the 22 crashes, only 10 were of passenger aircraft, and just three were larger jetliners built in the West. The other seven were turboprops built in the West or Russia.

Secrecy of Memo on Drone Killing Is Upheld

by Adam Liptak

WASHINGTON – A federal judge in Manhattan refused on Wednesday to require the Justice Department to disclose a memorandum providing the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

The ruling, by Judge Colleen McMahon, was marked by skepticism about the antiterrorist program that targeted him, and frustration with her own role in keeping the legal rationale for it secret.

“I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret,” she wrote.

“The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me,” Judge McMahon wrote, adding that she was operating in a legal environment that amounted to “a veritable Catch-22.”

A lawsuit for the memorandum and related materials was filed under the Freedom of Information Act by The New York Times and two of its reporters, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane. Wednesday’s decision also rejected a broader request under the act from the American Civil Liberties Union.

David E. McCraw, a lawyer for The Times, said the paper would appeal.

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