It took 900 pages to create Obamacare as law, but it may take only four words of that bill to cost millions of Americans their healthcare subsidies and raise their health costs. Those four words opened the door to this legal challenge to Obamacare, but it seems to be something of a mystery as to how they got into the law in the first place. Former Sen. Jeff Bingaman said the words appeared to be a “drafting error,” while Sen. Olympia Snowe called it "inadvertent language." read more
“The decline reverses a historical pattern, researchers say, with public sector employees typically holding onto their jobs even during most economic downturns,” The New York Times wrote. “Roughly one in five black adults works for the government, teaching school, delivering mail, driving buses, processing criminal justice and managing large staffs. They are about 30 percent more likely to have a public sector job than non-Hispanic whites, and twice as likely as Hispanics.” read more
Two-thirds of all the birds killed included brown-headed cowbirds and red-winged blackbirds. Some of the birds “are struggling to cope with habitat loss, climate change and other threats," reported Reveal. Birds are killed under the program to protect farm fields, vineyards, air traffic, golf courses, and other locations. Recently, a federal judge in Portland, Ore., denied a motion to try to stop the killing of more than 10,000 double-crested cormorants in the Columbia River estuary. read more
The boom in luxury units has been great for the affluent, while “many middle-class and young workers are straining to rent the units, in part because they have few others choices,” wrote Wall Street Journal's Laura Kusisto. Now some cities and states are working to make rental housing more affordable not only for lower-income people, but those in the middle class. Atlanta, for instance, is considering a requirement that developers reserve some units that those of average incomes can afford. read more
Described as a “quiet revolution in compensation,” bonuses are now a hot thing in the private sector, and not just for executives. More ordinary employees are getting bonuses at the expense of annual pay raises from companies to cut costs. “Employers like one-shots precisely because they are temporary,” wrote the Times' Patricia Cohen. “They save money over the long run because they don’t lock in raises, giving managers greater control over budgets, particularly during downturns.” read more
Boasberg, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, appears to be the go-to judge if you don’t want something released to the public. Judicial Watch filed an FOIA request in 2011 to force the release of images of Osama Bin Laden’s death and burial, but Boasberg ruled against the group. In his latest ruling, Boasberg said letters sent to the CIA by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), the former Senate intelligence chairman, revealed Congress has not relinquished control over the report read more
Holder had six years to build cases against key people at banks like Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. But the only charges filed have been against those at small and medium sized banks. "It is not for lack of trying,” said Holder. But former U.S. Asst. Attorney General Gurulé countered: “Nonsense. Charges for white-collar crimes are filed every single day by U.S. attorneys. Just because they’re more difficult with banks is not a legitimate excuse for bringing zero charges against individuals.” read more
Under the MEDEA program, about 60 scientists had security clearances to receive classified climate data gathered by Navy submarines and spy satellites. Scientist Marc Levy says the CIA’s closing of MEDEA is a step in the wrong direction. “The climate problems are getting worse in a way that our data systems are not equipped to handle,” he said. “There's a growing gap between what we can currently get our hands on, and what we need to respond better." The CIA didn’t state why it shuttered MEDEA. read more
From Columbine to Sandy Hook, the many high-profile incidents of violence in U.S. public schools have changed the face of many of these educational institutions. More than ever, schools have become places watched by surveillance cameras, and where children practice what to do in the event a gunman appears on campus. However, some "active shooter" simulations have been so realistic that they have produced severe emotional trauma in the participants. read more
The legislation would also ensure that these companies can mine and drill asteroids “without harmful interference,” and requires the White House “to facilitate commercial development." Should the bill become law, it could ensure a potential goldmine for corporations with the means to extract minerals from those giant flying boulders. Platinum-group metals, for example, are so highly concentrated on asteroids that some may contain more of them “than have ever been mined in human history.” read more
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on May 18 signed a bill that would preempt municipalities’ right to regulate fracking within their borders. Other states’ Republican-controlled legislatures have seemed just as eager to comply with the wishes of their corporate donors:
Missouri’s legislature passed a law banning local ordinances that outlaw plastic grocery bags.
Forty-five states have, at the behest of the National Rifle Association, preempted local ordinances governing gun safety.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend marijuana as a therapy for their patients in states that allow medical use of the drug. The House of Representatives voted down a similar amendment last month so it’s questionable whether the Senate amendment will make it to the final bill presented to President Barack Obama for his signature. read more
Myrna Arias of Bakersfield, California, sued her employer, claiming she was fired two weeks after turning off a company-required GPS app that tracked her movements during off-hours.
According to the lawsuit, Arias’ boss, John Stubits, “admitted that employees would be monitored while off duty and bragged that he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she installed the app on her phone.”
The Department of Defense never asked for the provision involving the sage grouse. Dealing with the sage grouse has not “resulted in unacceptable limits on our military readiness activities,” Mark E. Wright, a Defense Department spokesman, told The New York Times. The real reason why Republicans want to deny the bird federal protections is because the listing could prevent oil and gas drilling on large tracts of land where the grouse lives. read more
In 2011 Pisan was named ambassador to India, serving there for two years. He then took over the Thai embassy in Canada.
Since taking over in Washington, Pisan has spent much of his time attempting to improve relations between his country and the United States in the wake of a May 2014 coup, after which the Thai government tightened restrictions of freedom of expression in their country.
Out of 40 names given to the 6,902 university students in 37 countries who participated of the study, Bush ranked 37th, ahead of only Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler. Josef Stalin, who was responsible for up to 50 million deaths, was ranked 36th. The most popular people on the list were an interesting mix of those of reason and faith. Leading the list was Albert Einstein, followed by Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Isaac Newton. read more
The Air Force has two X-37Bs that, like the Space Shuttle, take off like a rocket and land like a plane. They’re unmanned, about a quarter of the size of the now-retired Space Shuttle. When asked by 60 Minutes’ David Martin if the X-37B will become a weapons system, Gen. Hyten replied, “I cannot answer that question. I’m not going to say what it’s going to become ‘cause we’re experimenting.” read more