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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 08:39 AM
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Bloomberg News Graphics: A Timeline of Governor Christie’s Unfolding Scandals

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A Timeline of Governor Christie’s Unfolding Scandals

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 51, is facing scrutiny over his staff’s involvement in the closing of traffic lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which connects the state with Manhattan. The September closings caused miles of backups in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a town of 37,500 just before the bridge. Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor didn’t endorse Republican Christie in his re-election bid. Christie has denied knowledge of his staff’s involvement, which threatens his possible presidential ambitions. The following is a timeline of events. RELATED CONTENT >>

Aug. 2013. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. 2014


US Sues KBR in Connection With Army Work in Iraq

Source: Associated Press


Jan. 23, 2014 7:57 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government is suing Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc., charging that the defense contractor submitted false claims and took kickbacks in connection to a U.S. Army contract in Iraq.

The government alleges that KBR employees took kickbacks from two Kuwaiti companies that it hired as subcontractors in 2003 and 2004, then filed claims for reimbursement for inflated costs.

The Justice Department said Thursday that it filed the lawsuit in federal court in Illinois.

Houston-based KBR said it could not comment on the lawsuit Thursday because it had just been filed.

KBR had a contract to provide transportation, maintenance, food, shelter and other services to support the Army in Iraq, and it used local subcontractors to perform some of the work.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-sues-kbr-connection-army-work-iraq

Breaking: Dinesh D'Souza Indicted for Violating U.S. Election Law

Source: Reuters

Dinesh D'Souza indicted for violating U.S. election law

Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:03pm EST

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative commentator and best-selling author, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

According to an indictment made public on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, D'Souza around August 2012 reimbursed people who he had directed to contribute $20,000 to the candidate's campaign. The candidate was not named in the indictment.

Attempts to reach D'Souza and a lawyer representing him were unsuccessful.

D'Souza was charged in the indictment with one count of making illegal contributions in the names of others, and one count of causing false statements to be made.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL2N0KX1S220140123

U.S. Privacy Board Says NSA Phone Program Illegal, Should End

Source: Reuters

U.S. privacy board says NSA phone program illegal, should end

By Alina Selyukh
WASHINGTON | Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:57am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records provides only minimal benefits to countering terrorism, is illegal and should end, a federal privacy watchdog said in a report to be released on Thursday and reviewed by Reuters.

The watchdog agency's report could further complicate efforts by both President Barack Obama and Congress to come up with possible reforms to NSA eavesdropping programs, which have been under harsh scrutiny in the wake of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which produced the new report, is an independent government agency within the executive branch that advises the President and Congress on how to ensure that counterterrorism operations also protect Americans' privacy.

In its report, the board called on the government to end the NSA program that collects U.S. telephone records in bulk and to purge the data it had collected, adding ammunition to efforts by privacy advocates to win new restrictions on government surveillance programs.

"The Section 215 bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value," the board said in its report.

The board's conclusion that NSA's bulk collection of Americans telephone metadata lacks legal grounding goes further than both the president and an ad hoc panel he created to review NSA eavesdropping activities.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBREA0M0TI20140123

"I Have To Acknowledge U.S. Falls Miserably Short When It Comes to Support Systems for Family Life."


Pressing Issues
Greg Mitchell & Barbara Bedway on media, politics, film, music, TV, food & finance.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Left Behind: Parental Leave in the USA

I very much love and miss my stepdaughter Jen, who decamped for Europe almost a decade ago and is now a full-fledged PhD--and mother of grandson Jules. But much as I long for them to live in the States, I have to acknowledge that the US falls miserably short when it comes to support systems for family life. As Bloomberg reports, "the US and Papua New Guinea are the only nations out of 185 that don't provide or require a paid maternity leave. That lack is one reason the U.S. is falling behind other advanced countries in the share of women in the workforce." Women working in countries such as Germany (where Jen now lives; German mothers can take up to a year off from work and still receive 67 percent of their pay) and Spain surpassed the U.S. over the two decades ending in 2010.

Is there hope for the bill introduced last month in Congress that would enable workers to take a partial paid leave of up to 12 weeks for the birth or adoption of a child, and for serious health conditions affecting themselves or family members? It took nearly 10 years' debate to get unpaid leave passed back in 1993, despite the research on how parental leave is an economic boon. “When women have access to paid leave after the birth of the child, they are more likely to return to work, to the same employer, and at the same or higher pay level. We’re one of the only countries on the planet that doesn’t already offer this. It’s kind of embarrassing.”

Bloomberg quotes Sarah Jane Glynn, associate director for women’s economic policy at the Center for American Progress: “When women have access to paid leave after the birth of the child, they are more likely to return to work, to the same employer, and at the same or higher pay level. We’re one of the only countries on the planet that doesn’t already offer this. It’s kind of embarrassing.” --B.B.

Attorneys: Brain-Dead Woman's Fetus is 'Distinctly Abnormal'

Source: CBS News

Attorneys: Brain-dead woman's fetus is "distinctly abnormal"

Jan 22, 2014 9:00 PM EST

DALLAS - The pregnant, brain-dead Texas woman being kept on life support over her family's protests is carrying a fetus that is "distinctly abnormal," attorneys for the woman's husband said Wednesday.

Marlise Munoz remains hooked up to machines in a Fort Worth hospital, while her husband and the hospital are locked in a court battle about whether to retain life support.

The case has raised questions about end-of-life care and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus. The case has gotten the attention of groups on either side of the abortion debate, as anti-abortion groups argue Munoz's fetus deserves a chance to be born.

Erick Munoz said his wife, a fellow paramedic, was clear with him before he found her unconscious on Nov. 26: If she ever fell into this kind of condition, pull life support. But John Peter Smith Hospital says it's bound by state law that prohibits the withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant patient, although several experts interviewed by The Associated Press have said the hospital is misapplying the law.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/brain-dead-pregnant-womans-fetus-is-distinctly-abnormal-husbands-attorneys-say/

Carl Lewis: Christie Wanted Me Out of Senate Race

Source: Associated Press


— Jan. 20, 2014 5:01 PM EST

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis says Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped a plan to appoint him the state's first physical fitness ambassador when he launched a political campaign against a Christie friend.

Lewis said Monday the governor called to dissuade him from running as a Democrat for state Senate in 2011 against Republican Sen. Dawn Addiego (ah-dee-AY'-goh). Lewis says he was told the fitness program they'd been developing wouldn't materialize if he ran. Lewis says the governor felt the post "was a carrot he could pull away."

Lewis withdrew from the Senate race after a court ruled he didn't meet a residency requirement. He now lives in Houston.

Democrats have said recent scandals involving traffic jams and Superstorm Sandy aid are more evidence Christie is a bully.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/carl-lewis-christie-wanted-me-out-senate-race

NJ Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno Incident: 'This Was Way This Administration Worked: To Smear and Bully'



In the Matter of Kim Guadagno

January 20, 2014
One of the interesting and bittersweet aspects of the burgeoning Bridgegate-plus scandal in New Jersey has been the centrality of local newspapers. The original story wasn’t broken by the crack investigative reporters at the New York Times, or the fake-scandal-chasers at 60 Minutes. It was broken by the transportation reporter of the Bergen Record.

- snip -

So I thought I might do a public service by drawing attention to another super-local report that I suspect hasn’t gotten on the radar of many big-paper reporters. I mean, unless you live right here, who reads US1, a weekly that mainly covers sports, movies, and restaurants in the Princeton area? But the current issue has an account of one person’s interactions with Kim Guadagno, the lieutenant governor now accused of threatening storm-wracked Hoboken — and it fits the narrative perfectly:


Long before the bridgegate scandal that has recently embroiled Governor Chris Christie's administration, U.S. 1's Dan Aubrey -- working in 2011 as a contractor for the state Council on the Arts -- had his own run-in with Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. He shares his saga:


What's New in Princeton & Central New Jersey?
Reprinted from the January 15, 2014, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper

Defending the Arts Amid a Culture of Fear


- snip -

The decision to bury the site was linked to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. The Republican former federal prosecutor and Monmouth County sheriff had become the state’s first lieutenant governor in January, 2010.

In November, 2010, she announced that she was “to refill the area next to the Statehouse as soon as possible to improve the grounds.”

- snip -

As part of ending my involvement with the projects, I contacted a state official with whom I normally communicated with and related what had just transpired. The reply was that this was the way that this administration worked: to smear and bully people — just as the lieutenant governor had done with the arts council. Hmm.

- snip -

As the Star-Ledger noted, “Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno told lawmakers that the council improperly awarded three contracts for public art projects, including several involving the state’s 9/11 Memorial at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The contracts ‘exceeded $300,000 and were awarded to a sole contractor,’ Guadagno said. They ‘were not publicly bid, nor were state procurement practices followed.’”

The article added that “Guadagno blamed the council’s staff for the mistake and expressed frustration that her office, the Department of State, had ‘no oversight authority’ over the arts council or its activities.”

However, “a Star-Ledger review of the contracts and other Department of State documents — including the arts council’s own internal report — shows that the contracts were actually green lighted by the State Department itself,” and that “documents show that the contracts were complex management agreements for three public art commissions and that most of the funds were targeted to artists and fabricators. The ‘sole contractor’ mentioned by Guadagno could only earn about $12,000, according to the terms of the agreements,” said the article.

When the reporter asked the lieutenant governor to respond to the findings, she was told that Guadagno “would not discuss the newspaper’s findings, according to her spokesman, who added that the lieutenant governor would have no further comment until a final audit report is released,” although she was willing to use incomplete findings to smear the council and others.

- snip -

Upon asking me questions and looking over the contracts and clear financial reports — I used separate bank accounts for projects to provide absolute transparency — one of the attorneys summed the situation up with, “This would be ludicrous, if the person making the claims wasn’t so powerful.” Right.


Dad Gets OfficeMax Mail Addressed 'Daughter Killed in Car Crash'

Source: Los Angeles Times

Dad gets OfficeMax mail addressed 'Daughter Killed in Car Crash'

January 19, 2014, 8:34 p.m.
An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company's junk mail for years. But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different.

It was addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash."

- snip -

Seay, who is unemployed, said that he isn't interested in suing OfficeMax, but that since his wife was "traumatized" by the letter, he wants an apology from the company's chief executive.

He also wants to know how OfficeMax got the information. The last thing Seay remembers buying at OfficeMax since his daughter's death last February is some paper.

"Why do they have that?" Seay said of the information about his daughter's death. "What do they need that for? How she died, when she died? It’s not really personal, but looking at them, it is. That’s not something they would ever need."

The nation has recently been riveted by the debate over how Americans' personal data is gathered by government agencies, and corporate data-mining has drawn concern as well.

Read more: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-78961735/

Or not.

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