Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "The federal government will soon treat married same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was preparing to issue policies aimed at eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the federal criminal justice system, according to excerpts from a speech prepared for a Saturday event organized by a prominent gay-rights group."
David Sanger & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "Intelligence officials investigating how Edward J. Snowden gained access to roughly 1.7 million of the country's most highly classified documents say they have determined that he used inexpensive and widely available software to 'scrape' the National Security Agency's networks, and kept at it even after he was briefly challenged by agency officials. Using 'web crawler' software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden 'scraped data out of our systems' while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official.... Mr. Snowden's 'insider attack' ... was hardly sophisticated and should have been easily detected, investigators found." CW: Fascinating. I liked the part about the NSA "granting anonymity" to the Times' sources.
Dana Milbank on "immoral" conservatism.
CW: This Washington Post story, by Sandhya Somashekhar, features two people who quit their jobs & are now getting subsidized health insurance. Somashekhar presents them as nice people who quit because of (1) a change of job duties & (2) a family illness. I'm just waiting for the Fox "News" stories about deadbeats & layabouts.
Sharon Begley & Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters: "Hundreds of people with HIV/AIDS in Louisiana trying to obtain coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform are in danger of being thrown out of the insurance plan they selected in a dispute over federal subsidies and the interpretation of federal rules about preventing Obamacare fraud. Some healthcare advocates see discrimination in the move, but Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana says it is not trying to keep people with HIV/AIDS from enrolling in one of its policies under the Affordable Care Act...." ...
... CW: This seems like one of those inevitable glitches -- though obviously it doesn't feel like a mere glitch to the people affected -- that the bureaucrats & insurance companies should be able to work out. The question is, is there a mechanism for dealing with these kinds of problems? If so, it hasn't worked here yet.
Follow-up. Ha! Jia Lynn Yang of the Washington Post: "AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong told employees in an e-mail Saturday evening that he was reversing the company's 401(k) policy and apologized for his controversial comments last week.... The policy change would have switched 401(k) matching contributions to an annual lump sum, rather than being distributed throughout the year with every paycheck.... Armstrong tried to explain the changes Thursday but instead stirred up more bad publicity when he blamed the new federal health-care law and medical expenses associated with two 'distressed babies.'"
Slate has a world map showing Obama's 2nd-term nominees for ambassadorships which indicates how much many of the nominees contributed to Obama's campaign coffers.
Here's a reminder from George Will that George Will is creepier than David Brooks.
CW: This New York Times story, by Adam Nossiter, about the harsh treatment of gays in Nigeria, is hardly news (though a new, horrible anti-gay law just went into effect last month). I wonder why the U.N. & countries like, say, the U.S., don't sanction Nigeria in the same way we did South Africa during apartheid days. After all, the apartheid government didn't imprison or stone people for being black. According to the Nossiter story, a Pew Research survey found that 98 percent of Nigerians say homosexuality is "unacceptable." (Yeah, I guess they would say that or fear being "suspect.") You don't have to "accept" someone else's sexuality to treat him humanely. ...
... BTW, this story provides a good example of what happens when a country allows religious beliefs to trump human rights. Those self-righteous Little Sisters who won't even sign a form saying they object to contraception should give a little thought to the consequences of their fervor.
... Steve Benen argues that Republicans aren't necessary ignorant & loony; they just tell pollsters they hold ignorant & loony views because of "political tribalism in a period of stark polarization."
Kaitlynn Riely of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "A nun who worked for five years as a registered nurse at the Allegheny County[, Pennsylvania] Jail infirmary was fired last week for spearheading unionization efforts, an organizer for the United Steelworkers union said Monday. Sister Barbara Finch, a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, had her security clearances revoked and was dismissed from her job Thursday after she expressed concerns about staffing, safety issues and patient care during meetings at the jail, said Randa Ruge, the union organizer.... The Steelworkers union on Friday filed an unfair labor practice charge against Corizon Health Inc., the Tennessee-based firm that manages county jail health services. The charge, sent to the National Labor Relation Board, is that Corizon dismissed her in retaliation for participating in union activities." Via Steve Benen. CW: Also, Finch appears to be another victim of privatization. This is not to suggest that Allegheny County loves public unions, but they have one. And another one.
Reuters: "A Tennessee judge who ordered a baby's name changed from Messiah to Martin, saying the former was reserved for Jesus Christ, has been fired, court officials said on Tuesday.... O. Duane Slone, presiding judge of the state's fourth judicial district..., did not give a reason in his order, but [Lu Ann] Ballew had previously been cited by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct for an inappropriate religious bias. A hearing is scheduled for March 3.... The parents appealed [Ballew's order], and another judge held that Ballew's ruling was unconstitutional." Also via Benen.
CNN: "Two [Brooklyn] men behind bars for more than half their lives over a triple murder walked free this week after DNA evidence tore holes in their convictions. Antonio Yarbough and Sharrif Wilson were teenagers when prison doors clanked shut behind them."