Archive: March, 2012
Now it’s time to nervously take a seat in the waiting room while the Supreme Court decides whether to perform misguided elective surgery, or worse, on President Obama’s health-care overhaul.
Last week’s historic, three-day argument over the challenge to the landmark 2010 law by 26 Republican-led states made one thing clear: Everything’s on the line in deciding the legality of the law’s requirement that most Americans must acquire health insurance by 2014, or pay an annual penalty.
Along with that provision, designed to fairly spread the cost of health care and rein in runaway costs, the reform assures no one will be denied coverage. Those aspects, plus expanding government-run health care and creating subsidies so the working poor can buy policies, will mean coverage for 30 million of the uninsured.
A federal court has given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a legal push to stop the overuse of common antibiotics in animal feed and make the food supply safer.
The overuse of antibiotics has been linked to the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections among humans that are more difficult and costly to treat. It poses a growing problem in the food supply, putting the health of Americans at risk, especially children and people who are prone to chronic illnesses, experts say.
Those serious concerns were cited last week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz in New York in ordering federal regulators to start proceedings to halt their use, unless drug makers can provide evidence that they are safe.
Even though a congressman boasts that his bill signed into law in January will assure steps are taken to safeguard new shale-gas pipelines snaking across Pennsylvania, safety regulators surveyed nationally say they still need convincing.
The state regulators’ fears, expressed to federal auditors about the public-safety threat from badly built or shoddily maintained pipelines, stand as a continuing concern for residents living amid Pennsylvania’s gas boom.
At issue is whether thousands of miles of pipeline stretched across rural areas will be subject to safety checks to safeguard against flaws or lax upkeep, given that federal law now exempts these lines from safety rules.
In a pilot program so small it is little more than symbolic, Bank of America is handling some of the trouble it and other lenders created: an overabundance of empty houses.
The bank will pick fewer than 1,000 families in Arizona, Nevada, and New York on the verge of foreclosure. They will be asked to surrender the titles to their homes to have their debts forgiven, and then pay rent.
This is no acknowledgment of the hurt that the mortgage industry put on the nation’s economy, individuals, investors, and entire neighborhoods. It does not erase the egregious behavior of Bank of America and its subsidiary, Countrywide Mortgage.
Congress will look like a bunch of blowhards who are all talk and no action if it doesn’t pass the DISCLOSE Act in time to have an impact on the November election, and the clock is running out.
The bill, expected to be brought before the Senate rules committee Thursday, would have a sweeping effect on the congressional and presidential elections. It requires any group seeking to influence an election to disclose its spending and donors within 24 hours of a $10,000-or-more expense or contribution.
The legislation reacts to widespread anger over a pair of ill-conceived Supreme Court rulings that allow corporations, unions, and other special interests to spend unlimited funds on elections, with minimal disclosure.
Prospective employers typically ask job applicants for references. But in the age of the Internet, some want much more. In a chilling disregard for privacy rights, some companies are requiring job seekers to turn over their Facebook passwords during the hiring process.
And in a competitive market amid a sluggish economy, many job seekers may feel that they have no choice but to share access to personal information on the popular social media site. The disturbing practice violates a basic Internet principle: Never disclose your password.
The demand may be perfectly legal, though that’s questionable. It’s a total invasion of privacy that should be prohibited. Toward that end, some members of Congress have correctly asked the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether the practice violates federal laws.
The death of yet another apparently malnourished child who ultimately succumbed to abuse has Philadelphians once again asking how these tragedies can be avoided.
For all the improvements made within the city’s Department of Human Resources since 14-year-old Danieal Kelly starved to death six years ago, there are still children who end up dead. The latest is Khalil Wimes, 6, who died last week of blunt-force trauma to the head. He weighed only 29 pounds. Medical examiners said he had suffered tremendously before being taken, unconscious, sunken, and sallow, to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The child’s parents, Tina Cuffie, 44, and Latiff Hadi, 48, have been charged with murder. The mother said Khalil had slipped in the bathroom, but she could not explain the scars on his arms, face, back, and neck. How do such people retain custody of a child?
The political corruption conviction of State Sen. Jane Orie stands as another broadside against Pennsylvania’s system of electing judges, and it leaves a cloud over Orie’s sister, state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
The jury Monday convicted Orie, a Pittsburgh-area senator, on 14 counts involving the use of her legislative staff to perform campaign work for herself and Melvin, then a Superior Court judge, who was elected to the high court in 2009.
Melvin, while not charged with any wrongdoing, reportedly has been named a target in a grand-jury probe. The understandable calls for Melvin to step back from hearing cases at least temporarily — or for her suspension under court disciplinary procedures — are unlikely to go away.