Wednesday, October 30, 2013

From the Washington Examiner

Too Big To Manage: Feds invoke 'privacy' toshield public employees while snooping on the rest of us  Even as Washington gets heat for snooping on ordinary Americans and warning them that they "have no reasonable expectation of privacy" on Healthcare.gov, federal officials are increasingly using the “personal privacy” exemption in the law to shield their employees from scrutiny, according to open government advocates. Information about pay bonuses, disciplinary actions and severance packages are being withheld by federal agencies citing the personal privacy concerns of their employees. That is in vivid contrast to the privacy warning buried in the source code for Healthcare.gov, according to the Weekly Standard. "You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system," the warning reads. It can only be seen by using a web browser's "View Source" function.
Feds push hiring quotas for women andminorities Here’s something to think about: It’s against federal law for any private employer to make a hiring or promotion decision on the basis of either race or gender. But it’s not against the law for the federal government to do so. In fact, the reality of the federal workplace is that political appointees and career civil servants do it routinely in hiring new government employees. And if a group of federal departments and agencies have their way with a new regulation they’ve proposed, it will soon be routine among private employers as well.
Arrival of Obamacare puts focus on IRS tax-credit scandal There's no doubt congressional investigators have their hands full probing allegations the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative nonprofit groups. But now a different IRS scandal -- involving the chronic, ongoing, mind-bogglingly wasteful mismanagement of a popular tax credit program -- demands Congress' attention because it has taken on new importance with the arrival of Obamacare. The program is the Earned Income Tax Credit, through which the federal government gives out between $60 billion and $70 billion to low-income working Americans each year. It's known as a "refundable" tax credit, but it is basically a transfer payment, in which the IRS sends a check — perhaps even $5,000 every year — to workers who have little or no tax liability.
CitizenAudit exposes the funding behind Big Green'sColorado 'netwar'  Second of two parts. See Part One here.  Another salvo was fired last week in the Great Colorado Fracking Netwar.  It was a TV buy of anti-fracking attack ads by a phantom “engagement center” unknown to the Internal Revenue Service, led by a political flack and funded by an obscure philanthropy strategist, all based in Washington, D.C.  For the naive who may still believe that Colorado’s anti-hydraulic fracturing turmoil is a local fight by Frack-Free Colorado and friends, let me tell you about netwar. That's a new word coined to describe a new kind of conflict, coined and developed by RAND researchers John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt.  You can’t expect the attackers to know the word or technology of netwar, so don’t be surprised by their denials — to them, it’s just what they do. Google can explain things to them..... These netwar groups have resorted to exploitation, deceit and outright lies for their ideology, self-satisfied that they fight not for selfish ends, but for a worthy cause.  Unfortunately, what they cannot -- or will not -- see is that their cause is itself a selfish end.
Rep. Ed Whitfield, Sen. Joe Manchin take aim at EPA regs New legislation being floated would require new coal-fired power plants to use carbon capture and... A pair of lawmakers is pushing legislation that would handcuff forthcoming Environmental Protection Agency rules on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.  Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., say their bill would give electric utilities more flexibility in meeting the carbon emission regulations.  A draft of the bill the lawmakers floated Monday takes aim at a provision of the EPA rule that would require new coal-fired power plants to use carbon capture and sequestration technology.  Whitfield called that technology, which involves trapping carbon emissions and pumping them underground, unproven and “totally economically unfeasible” for power plants to install.
Issues dog 'other contractor' as House panel convenesfirst hearing on healthcare.gov's many troubles  Since its Oct. 1 launch, healthcare.gov has crashed, failed to save information, sent erroneous... Executives from QSSI, the information technology firm that designed the data hub behind healthcare.gov and tested the site before its launch, won't testify at the first congressional hearing on the many problems with the troubled web portal.  Instead of getting testimony from QSSI executives Kawaljit Singh, Tony Singh and Bikram Singh Bakshi, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear from Andy Slavitt, executive vice president of Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group and the parent of health insurer United Healthcare. Optum owns QSSI.
EXography: LEED certification doesn'tguarantee energy efficiency, analysis shows  A high rating in the prestigious LEED certification program may bear little relation to actual greenhouse gas emissions of New York office towers, according to a Washington Examiner analysis. The Examiner compared actual energy use statistics collected by New York City officials to the certifications distributed by the LEED group. The LEED certification — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a product of the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. Planners gauge a building's power usage using a metric called "energy use intensity," where a lower number indicates less energy use per square foot. It's measured in British thermal units.
Three more veterans die after improperVA medical treatment  Improper care in the emergency room led to three patient deaths at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Memphis last year, part of a growing pattern of preventable deaths at agency hospitals nationwide. The latest report from the VA's Inspector General found one of the patients was given medication despite a documented allergy to the drug, and had a fatal reaction. Another died after being administered multiple medications without proper monitoring, and the third died after delays in getting proper treatment for very high blood pressure, the IG said. The deaths occurred between April and September 2012. Recent IG reports have linked patient deaths and infections at other veterans' facilities to improper care, unsafe sanitary practices and poor maintenance.
Super Bowl champ gets big bucks to promote Obamacare  The reigning Super Bowl champion has agreed to promote Maryland's Obamacare exchange, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch. The nonprofit government watchdog said the Baltimore Ravens will get $130,000 to help state officials promote the Maryland Health Connection. The deal was made official Sept. 9 between the Ravens and Maryland health officials despite an earlier NFL statement saying its teams wouldn't participate in the official public relations campaign for Obamacare. When the partnership was announced, Judicial Watch filed a Maryland Public Information Act request for a copy of the contract and other details. According to the sponsorship agreement between the Ravens and the Maryland Health Connection, the team will be paid to tout the Maryland Obamacare outlet on television, radio, the official team website, the team's newsletter and via social media.

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