TSA Screeners Sleeping, Officials have fired eight screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey after they were captured by surveillance cameras sleeping or violating other standards.
The Transportation Security Administration had suspended the employees after they were videotaped in a baggage room in December.
The TSA would not say how many of the firings were for sleeping on duty.
Their union tells The Star-Ledger of Newark all eight would appeal their dismissals.
Meanwhile, the newspaper reports the TSA also is looking into photographs of screening supervisors who appear to be sleeping in front of monitors used for detecting explosives and other threats. (AP)
Supreme Court Healthcare Ruling, In a landmark ruling with wide-ranging implications, the Supreme Court today upheld the so-called individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, the key part of President Obama’s signature health care law.
The court ruled that the mandate is unconstitutional under the Constitution’s commerce clause, but it can stay as part of Congress’s power under a taxing clause. The court said that the government will be allowed to tax people for not having health insurance.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the ruling. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
In a speech today, Obama said from the White House that he wanted to move on, even as House Republicans vowed to vote symbolically to repeal it, and as his main opponent argued that the best way to ditch the law is to kick Obama out of office.
“The highest court in the land has now spoken,” Obama said. “We will continue to implement this law. And we will continue to improve on it where we can.”
Obama insisted that the debate over the political benefits from the court’s ruling “completely misses the point.”
“It should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics,” he said. “I did it because I believed it was good for the country.”
The ruling is a clear victory for the Obama administration and a defeat for Republicans, who had anticipated that at least some of the law would be struck down. But it also means the debate will continue.
“It actually settles nothing. By shifting the debate to the tax arena, and with a four-justice dissent, the decision guarantees only that the broader fight over a suitable national health policy will continue,” said Richard Saltman, a professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. “In effect, the court decided this was too hot to handle. The focus will (has already) shift back to the political arena, where a deeply divided electorate will have to decide which policy path they want the country to pursue.” (ABC News)
Obamacare Healthcare Bill, In a decision that marks the end of months-long legal debate, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, including its controversial individual mandate.
The healthcare bill, more widely known as “Obamacare,” has faced scrutiny since its initial passage in 2009. The individual mandate, which required citizens to either purchase healthcare or face fines, was among the most controversial of the law’s provisions.
Ferdinand Schlapper, director of Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota, said that in keeping the law the federal government now parallels Boynton’s belief in the importance of the healthcare safety net.
The University’s own mandate, which Boynton COO Carl Anderson says has been in effect for 25 years, was not subject to change regardless of the court’s ruling.
He said he feels now that the Supreme Court has come out in favor of Affordable Care, “our rationale feels like it’s being recognized on a much bigger level.” (AP)
Chief Justice John Roberts, Chief Justice John Roberts turned out today to be not quite the person then-Senator Barack Obama voted against for the Supreme Court in 2005.The conservative who President George W. Bush tapped not just to serve on but lead the nation’s highest court delivered the crucial vote – and wrote the opinion for – the decision upholding the constitutionality of the key provision of now-President Obama’s health care law.
In upholding the law’s individual mandate, Roberts handed the incumbent Democrat a political victory as Obama tries to fend off a reelection challenge from Republican Mitt Romney.
It’s a long way from their rocky start, when Roberts botched Obama’s 35-word presidential oath of office, forcing the nation’s newly minted leader to ask the chief justice to come to the White House for a do-over after some conservatives claimed he technically was not president.
It also was not the result some liberals and Democrats expected before the decision was unveiled this morning.
Little more than 12 hours earlier, the Senate candidate for whom Obama campaigned in Boston on Monday – fellow Democrat Elizabeth Warren – was on MSNBC saying the ruling would be a telling gauge for assessing the politicization of the Supreme Court.
“We need to use this moment to reflect on the importance of the Supreme Court and who sits on the Supreme Court,” Warren told liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow.
Noting the justices ruled earlier this week to uphold their 2010 Citizens United decision that has unleashed unprecedented spending on this year’s presidential election, the Harvard Law School professor issued a warning and made a pitch for her election to the upper chamber of Congress. (Boston Globe)
Stockton Bankruptcy In 2012, Stockton could become the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy after a deadline to make a deal with its creditors passed and the city’s mayor said Tuesday she did not believe a settlement had been reached.
Mayor Ann Johnston told KCRA-TV that a formal bankruptcy filing now appears “very likely.”
In the past three years, officials in the city that was slammed by the collapse of the housing market dealt with $90 million in deficits through a series of drastic cuts.
They eliminated one-fourth of the city’s police officers, one-third of the fire staff, and 40 percent of all other employees. They also cut wages and medical benefits.
To plug next year’s anticipated $26 million budget shortfall, a proposed budget to be considered Tuesday night would suspend payments for debts and legal claims; reduce payments for retiree medical benefits; further cut some pay and benefits; and increase revenue through code enforcement and parking citations.
The proposed budget includes no major service reductions, City Manager Bob Deis said.
“The whole purpose of filing Chapter 9 is to avoid an uncontrolled chaotic situation,” Deis said previously. “Bankruptcy provides the equivalent of a pause button. It retains services and provides structure so you don’t have a bunch of lawsuits.”
A formal bankruptcy filing could come as soon as Wednesday.
City officials did not immediately return a request Tuesday by The Associated Press for comment about the mayor’s remarks. City spokeswoman Connie Cochran has said the negotiations with creditors, which carried a deadline of midnight Monday, were confidential, and nothing would be announced until the City Council meeting Tuesday.
City officials say the river port city of 290,000 in the Central Valley has run out of options. In recent years, thousands of new homes mushroomed in Stockton, part of a suburban housing boom that attracted buyers from the San Francisco Bay area and beyond. (AP)
Michael Jackson Death Anniversary, Guided by a thumping bass line from their backing band, the Jackson brothers strut forward to a row of four microphones, thrusting their pelvises along the way, before launching into “Can’t Let Her Get Away,” a song their superstar sibling released on his “Dangerous” album. If they had afros and matching powder blue suits, it might feel like 1977 again.
It doesn’t. They’re casually sporting sunglasses, workout gear and a few more pounds than when they, along with the future King of Pop, were simply known as the Jackson 5. (Also, “Can’t Let Her Get Away” was released in 1991 after the group fizzled out.)
Nearly three years since Michael died while preparing for his comeback tour, four of his brothers – Marlon, Jermaine, Tito and Jackie – are set for their own return to the stage as The Jacksons. It hasn’t been easy.
“The brothers don’t know this, but I’ve broken down several times and cried during rehearsals,” said Jermaine during a recent rehearsal break on a soundstage in Burbank, Calif. “I’m so used to Michael being on the right and then Marlon, Jackie, on and on. It’s just something we never get used to.”
The brothers are launching their “Unity” tour on Wednesday, five days ahead of the third anniversary of Michael’s death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009.
“For me, this cycle that comes around every year – this day, that day – that doesn’t affect me because it affects me every day,” said Marlon. “When that day comes around, it’s the same. You learn to live with it. I still wake up sometimes and go, ‘Jeez. I can’t believe my brother’s not here.’”
Following Michael’s death, the four brothers appeared in the A&E reality series “The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty,” which chronicled their loss and attempt to stage a comeback before their brother died. (AP)