Archives for FUBAR

How an insurance company targets cancellations

Shortly after they were diagnosed with breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled. There was Yenny Hsu, who lived and worked in Los Angeles. And there was Patricia Reilling, a successful art gallery owner and interior designer from Louisville, Kentucky. Neither of these women knew about the other. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders — more than any other health insurance company in the United States. The women paid their premiums on time. Before they
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Bad economy equals drop in motorcycle deaths

After a decade of steady increases, motorcyclist deaths nose-dived last year, possibly due to bikers watching their budgets in a sour economy. The study, set for release Thursday, indicates a 16 percent drop in U.S. motorcycle fatalities through the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same period in the previous year. It projects at least a 10 percent decline in fatalities over the entire year, or about 530 fewer deaths. The 5,290 motorcyclist deaths in 2008 was the highest ever. The study — authored by safety consultant James Hedlund, a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official —
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Clinton: Demonizing leaders is dangerous

Former President Bill Clinton, following up on comments that warn against the threat posed by extremist groups,  warned Sunday that angry anti-government rhetoric has led to a worrisome increase in threats against the president and other elected officials. Anger easily translates into violence, Clinton said, and people should be careful that the language they use to criticize officials don’t demonize them and make them targets for violence. Clinton, speaking on ABC News’ “This Week,” said he not only worries about threats against President Barack Obama and the Congress but by “careless language,” citing examples like leaked memo from a New
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Former Blackwater execs charged in arms deal

The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the king of Jordan. Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shake-up, was charged along with four of his former colleagues, according to the federal indictment. The prosecution opens a new front of the government’s oversight of the sullied security company. Several of the company’s contractors have previously been charged with federal crimes for their actions in war zones, but the company’s executives have
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Clinton: Anger can breed domestic terrorism

Former President Bill Clinton warned of a slippery slope from angry anti-government rhetoric to violence like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, saying “the words we use really do matter.” The two-term Democratic president insisted he wasn’t trying to restrict free speech, but in remarks Friday he said incendiary language can be taken the wrong way by some Americans. He drew parallels to words demonizing the government before Oklahoma City. On April 19, 1995, an anti-government conspiracy led by Army veteran Timothy McVeigh exploded a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. “What we learned from
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E-mails document destruction of CIA torture tapes

Internal CIA e-mails show the former agency head, Porter Goss, agreed with a top aide’s 2005 decision to destroy videotapes of the harsh interrogation of a terror suspect, a controversial action that remains the focus of an FBI investigation. The documents show that, despite Goss’ apparent agreement, CIA officials almost immediately began worrying they’d done something wrong. The e-mails also indicate that President George W. Bush‘s White House counsel, Harriet Miers, hadn’t been informed of the tapes’ destruction and was “livid” to find out later. The videos showed CIA interrogators using waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that’s widely considered torture,
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Foreclosure surge sets another record

A record number of U.S. homes were lost to foreclosure in the first three months of this year, a sign banks are starting to wade through the backlog of troubled home loans at a faster pace, according to a new report. RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that the number of U.S. homes taken over by banks jumped 35 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. In addition, households facing foreclosure grew 16 percent in the same period and 7 percent from the last three months of 2009. More homes were taken over by banks and scheduled for a foreclosure
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Mike Huckabee’s homophobia

Mike Huckabee, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, says the effort to allow gays and lesbians to marry is comparable to legalizing incest, polygamy and drug use. Huckabee also told college journalists last week that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt. “Children are not puppies,” he said. Huckabee visited The College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J., last Wednesday to speak to the Student Government Association. He also was interviewed by a campus news magazine, The Perspective, which published an article on Friday. Huckabee told the interviewer that not every group’s interests deserve to be accommodated, if
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LaHood’s bike policy hits GOP potholes

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a weekend bicyclist, might consider keeping his head down and his helmet on. A backlash is brewing over his new bicycling policy. LaHood says the government is going to give bicycling — and walking, too — the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money. The former Republican congressman quietly announced the “sea change” in transportation policy last month. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” he wrote in his government blog. The blog was accompanied by a DOT policy statement urging states
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Tea partyers use wrong video to refute racism charges

Three Democratic congressmen — all black — say they heard racial slurs as they walked through thousands of angry protesters outside the U.S. Capitol. A white lawmaker says he heard the epithets too. Conservative activists say the lawmakers are lying. What does the video show? Not much. Indeed, new interviews show that a much-viewed YouTube recording cited as evidence by conservatives was actually shot well after the time in question. It was March 20, near the end of the bitter health care debate, when Reps. John Lewis, Andre Carson and Emanuel Cleaver say that some demonstrators, many of them tea
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