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FIRST POST: To Your Health

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, March 23 2012

Image: Shutterstock


  • Friday is the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Healthcare Act. The controversial healthcare law is headed to the Supreme Court next week, where the Justices will hear arguments about its constitutionality. The landmark arguments next week are sure to once again raise the profile of the issue on the 2012 presidential campaign trail, and so both the White House and President Obama's re-election campaign have been busy publicizing the landmark legislation's impact on ordinary Americans.

    On Wednesday, the White House blogged about how the Affordable Healthcare Act helps 2.5 million young adults under the age of 26 because they can stay on their parents' healthcare plans as a result of the legislation.

    Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has been producing emotionally-loaded videos about the Affordable Healthcare Act, focusing on telling the stories of the people it's helped. The campaign on Wednesday also put up a blog post on that showcased a short video with footage of Obama's promises about healthcare on the 2008 campaign trail.

    On Thursday, the site posted a video about the law and Obama defiantly pushing the initiative forward. The video shows footage of previous presidents discussing healthcare, as well as Obama saying: "I was not going to allow another decade to pass by where we kicked the can down the road because it was politically convenient." In addition to a dramatic soundtrack, the online video featured lots of pictures of babies and small children. One shot shows a close-up of a pale infant with stitches on its chest as a voiceover from Vice-President Joe Biden talks about how the law prevents insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing condiitions.

  • Organizations critical of the Obama Administration's health care law are planning a march on Washington, D.C. March 27 under the tag line Hands Off My Health Care, with the hashtag #HandsOff, and will be livestreamed on the event's website established by Americans For Prosperity.

  • The Obama campaign has created an online health care app to illustrate the effect of the Health Care law on individuals.

  • Privacy

  • The Obama Administration intends to remove restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts can retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats, the New York Times reported.

    The guidelines will lengthen to five years - from 180 days - the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and "data mining them" using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.

    Wired had earlier reported that at a House Armed Services subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, NSA chief General Keith Alexander had faced questions from Members of Congress about reports of the construction of an NSA spy center in Utah.

    Congressman Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, asked Alexander whether the NSA could, at the direction of Dick Cheney, identify people who sent e-mails making fun of his inability to hunt in order to waterboard them....Alexander responded to questions about the program, saying the NSA did not have the capability to monitor, inside the United States, Americans’ text messages, phone calls and e-mails.

  • Online Campaign Trail

    On Google, "romney etch a sketch" and "etch a sketch romney" continued be trend in searches. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, brandishing an Etch-a-Sketch, said the incident illustrates Romney's routine lying. Stock in the company that produces the toys was up 212.5 percent today. Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who made the original unfortunate comment, wrote on Twitter in response to that news "Etch A Sketch stock is up? Psst, I'll mention Mr. Potato Head next. Buy Hasbro."

  • Even though there is no definite nominee yet, the Republican National Committee is still soon "rolling out the new platform by which we will engage voters across the country, erase geographic boundaries and really harness the power of social media."

  • Elizabeth Warren, Senate candidate in Massachusetts, is running online ads asking supporters to provide donations before the March 31 fundraising deadline to "Help Elizabeth Warren win."

  • Other News of Note

  • The Federal Communications Commission is working with internet service providers to outline the steps the ISPs must take to combat botnets.

  • A re-design of New York City's 911 emergency call system is $1 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule, according to NYC Comptroller John Liu. Sources in the 911 workforce told WNYC that "there is considerable concern that even after the project is completed it will still be vulnerable to a system meltdown in the event of a high volume call event."

  • PDM Publisher Andrew Rasiej says in the New York Times, in response to skepticism about social media expressed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "he is expressing the difficulties and the challenges of using social media in an effective way in governing. But I also want to encourage him to say that technology also offers an opportunity to build a better and more robust democracy.”

  • Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman says he will remove an old campaign ad from his Facebook page attacking the opponent he defeated in 2010, if she turns in her low number Red Sox plate, a coveted license plate.

    "If Karyn Polito does the right thing -- nine years later -- and takes RS 2 off her car, then I'd be happy to take the ad off our Facebook page," said Grossman in an interview....Grossman's ad mocked one of Polito's ads in which she pledged to be a watchdog on Beacon Hill. His ad suggested she would be more like a lap dog.The Grossman ad, however, misstated facts in the story by saying the plates given to Polito and her associates were "supposed to be auctioned off to benefit the Jimmy Fund."...Polito Wednesday renewed her call for Grossman to take down the ad, which she said "continues to perpetuate a falsehood against me almost a year and a half after the campaign is over.""You should be asking him why he continues to post a false ad on his public Facebook page," she said. "I'm a private citizen. I have a business. I have a family. I have young children and I don't deserve to be defamed long after the campaign is over."..."He is creating a distraction and a diversion from the issue at hand," she said. "You Google my name and it comes up. How would he feel if it was him or a family member? It's not right."

  • A Marine is facing dismissal for statements he made on Facebook that indicated that he would not follow the unlawful orders of the commander in chief. He had also started an Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page. According to Pentagon directives, military personnel in uniform cannot sponsor a political club; participate in any TV or radio program or group discussion that advocates for or against a political party, candidate or cause; or speak at any event promoting a political movement.

  • Goldman Sachs is reportedly scanning internal emails for the term "muppet" after the highly publicized resignation of an executive who wrote in the New York Times that "he saw five Goldman managing directors refer to clients as "muppets," at times over internal email. In the United States, "muppet" brings to mind lovable puppets such as Kermit the Frog, but in Britain "muppet" is slang for a stupid person." The New York Times also reported on the tight policies Wall Street firms have in place for the use of social media -- Morgan Stanley has a library of 140-character messages that had been approved by the compliance department of Morgan Stanley and sent out by financial advisers at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

  • Jeff Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, answered questions on Twitter about the Republican budget plan and the Obama Administration's budget plan.

  • The police chief in Sanford, Florida, has temporarily resigned following rallies in New York City, Florida and elsewhere criticizing the policed department's handling of the shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

  • After the killing of a suspect in racist and anti-Semitic murders in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for the prosecution of " people who regularly consulted jihadist Web sites or who traveled abroad for indoctrination. "Any person who habitually consults Internet sites that praise terrorism and call for hatred and violence will be punished under criminal law," he said, as well as anyone who travels abroad for "indoctrination into ideologies that lead to terrorism.""

  • Conservative activist Jason Mattera has removed a purported interview with Bono from and his YouTube channel, after it emerged that the person he interviewed was an impersonator.

  • Forbes has created a map showing which news sources are most read in which states based on an analysis of referrals from links.

  • A proposal for the Knight News Challenge called DifferentFeather would "Build an engaging tool that helps readers discover previously unexplored news items that their "opposite" (politically, demographically, geographically) reads instead of news stories endlessly aggregated across their own narrow social networks."

  • Google has launched a new spell-checking function in Google Docs that incorporates information from the web, and not just from a fixed dictionary.

  • Facebook has hired a director of public policy in its Washington D.C. office who will lead outreach efforts to the House of Representatives.

  • Several negative studies of antipsychotic drugs were never published in professional journals, but were "buried on the FDA website, where only a specialist with a background in statistics could understand what they meant," reports The Washington Post.

  • ABC's 20/20 is reporting on a man who obtained the I.P. address for a poster who was harassing him on the news community site Topix.

  • NBC News' Rock Center detailed how a university professor helped the FBI bring down a $70 million cybercrime ring.

  • Several dating websites have agreed to check subscribers against national sex offender registries, according to the California attorney general.

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released a SaferBus application to allow bus riders to check the safety record of a bus company and make a complaint about the bus they are riding.

  • Allen Stanford, the financier convicted of running an estimated $7 billion Ponzi scheme, is asking for a new trial citing the media's use of Twitter in the courtroom and a lack of time to prepare his defense.

  • Young people in the EU are suffering from a shortfall in computing and IT skills that could hurt the Union's competitiveness, according to a study by the EU Commission.

  • China may be issuing new regulations that require government agencies to only purchase Chinese cars. Many Chinese people have been critical on microblogs of public servants driving in fancy chauffeur-driven cars.

  • Google is expected to come under criticism in Britain next week from a parliamentary committee set up by Prime Minister David Cameron over the search engine's response to complaints about links to inappropriate content.

  • A Bangladesh court has ordered the authorities to shut down five Facebook pages for blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed, the Koran and other religious subjects.

  • A court in Zimbabwe has decided not to imprison six activists who had been arrested for watching news videos about the Arab Spring, sentencing them instead to community service and fines.

  • A quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation (quango) in Britain which provides grants and loans to UK students has apologized after accidentally releasing the e-mails of 8,000 students to other customers when it sent out a message in which all the addresses in a distribution list were visible.

  • A British law student who sent several racist tweets to a football commentator has been sentenced to two years community service.

  • A man in Belfast was fairly dismissed from a call center for posting sexual comments on Facebook, an industrial tribunal ruled. He had argued that the firm's policy didn't cover Internet use outside of work.

  • In the French Department of Correze, where French presidential candidate Francois Hollande is President of the General Council, "every child entering secondary school now gets an iPad. So far, more than 13,500 laptops and tablets have been handed out to schoolgoers and their teachers at a cost of around 1.5 million euros a year, according to local documents."

  • The establishment of the temporary BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin has been cancelled for the moment in light of opposition in the proposed neighborhood after "police had only concluded there was a risk of danger, following their analysis of a number of websites where individuals attacked the project using at times "very strong words."

  • with Sarah Lai Stirland