White House resorts to Biden gifs, BuzzFeed to sell you on ObamaCare
OMG LOL WTF? That may be your first thought when you head over to BuzzFeed and notice this odd post from the viral site's latest community member, the White House. Yes, with only days to go before the end-of-month deadline to obtain insurance or face a fine, the Obama administration is launching a full court press — with gifs — to encourage you to get covered in time.
The decision to advertise with humor on a popular website may seem puzzling, but it's actually a pretty smart idea. ObamaCare needs a big pool of young enrollees, and pitching the law this way almost guarantees it will get plenty of visibility among that demographic. As President Obama's recent appearance on Between Two Ferns showed, humor and viral marketing can be very effective tools to generate buzz and boost enrollments.
Now, critics will probably complain that Obama has once again degraded the office of the presidency, as they did when he went on Ferns. But really, a little sense of humor is refreshing in Washington. And this is, after all, a crucial marketing blitz. The White House would be foolish to not utilize the most engaging means possible to achieve its goals.
In Seattle, residents who throw away food will be fined
In Seattle, a new city law makes it illegal to put food in trash cans, and violators will have to soon start paying up for their transgressions.
If a garbage bin is filled with more than 10 percent food, a red tag will be placed on it for public shaming. The goal is to keep food out of landfills while helping Seattle increase its recycling and composting rate to 60 percent of all its waste, NPR reports, and Seattle is the first city in the U.S. to fine people for not sorting their trash properly.
Seattle Public Utilities estimates that each family in the city tosses out about 400 pounds of food annually. To keep food out of landfills, households receive a bin for food and yard scraps so they can compost it themselves (or, for a fee, the city will do it). Right now, offenders of the sorting law are just being warned, but starting in July, they will have to pay $1 per violation at a house and $50 at an apartment, condominium, or commercial building.
Melissa Rivers sues clinic over the death of her mother Joan
Melissa Rivers has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the doctors and clinic where her mother, comedian Joan Rivers, suffered a medical emergency that led to her death.
In late August, Rivers was at the Yorkville Endoscopy Center so doctors could check her esophagus in an attempt to see what why her voice was changing, the New York Daily News reports. Court papers say that after the endoscopy started, Rivers' blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, and oxygen levels plummeted and doctors did not cut her trachea in order to restore oxygen flow to her brain. Rivers died seven days later at the age of 81.
"The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly almost incomprehensible," Melissa Rivers said in a statement. "Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better."
Sheriffs speak out against popular app that tracks police
Citing safety concerns, sheriffs from across the United States are asking Google Inc. to turn off a feature in its Waze app that warns users where police officers are located.
The app — which Google bought in 2013 for $966 million — has 50 million users in 200 countries, and provides real time traffic conditions as well as notifications of car accidents, traffic cameras and construction zones; the locations of officers are marked with a police icon. Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, said this feature is a "police stalker," and Google needs to "act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application."
Nuala O'Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Associated Press she doesn't think it's a legitimate request to disable this part of the app, and privacy advocates are actually more concerned over how much information Waze, which monitors the locations of its users as long as the app is open, gives to law enforcement about customers.
Argentine president calls for intelligence service reform following prosecutor death
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is calling on the nation's Congress to dissolve and reform intelligence services, The Associated Press reports.
Her comments come after the mysterious Jan. 18 death of a federal prosecutor. Alberto Nisman accused Fernandez of working with Iranian officials to cover up details of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
Earlier this week, Fernandez suggested Nisman's death was potentially an intelligence-services initiated plot against the government. She said reforming intelligence services is "a national debt" the country has had since 1983.
Keystone bill stalls in Senate
The first successful filibuster of the new Congress was bound to happen eventually. The victim? Keystone XL.
The Senate voted 53-39 on the procedural vote, Politico reports. That's seven shy of the number needed to proceed to the bill's final passage, which would approve the construction of the oil pipeline running from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Earlier this month, the House passed a similar Keystone bill, but it's expected Democrats could have enough votes to prevent Congress from overriding a presidential veto, should President Obama reject a bill that reaches his desk.
Crash at Spanish air base kills 10, injures 21
At least 10 people are dead after a Greek F-16 fighter jet participating in a NATO training exercise crashed at Spain's Los Llanos base.
— TEN Eyewitness News (@channeltennews) January 26, 2015
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that eight of the dead were French and two were Greek, The Associated Press reports, and 21 people were injured. The jet lost thrust as it was taking off, and crashed into an area where other aircraft taking part in the exercise were parked. The Spanish Defense Military said at least five jets and "numerous" helicopters were damaged.
In a statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the incident "a tragedy that affects the whole NATO family."
Watch the domestic violence PSA the NFL will air during the Super Bowl
As Super Bowl XLIX approaches, you might recall the NFL hasn't had the best track record on domestic violence this season. Ray Rice was caught on video hitting his then-fiancee (now-wife) in an elevator. Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges of child abuse.
So it's not surprising the league is trying to change its image.
Check out this public service announcement for No More, an organization combating domestic violence and sexual assault. It was made by the NFL's own ad firm, and will air during the big game Sunday night. —Julie Kliegman
Study: Siblings with autism don't share genetic mutations
The largest autism genome sequencing has produced an unexpected finding: Siblings with autism only share the same genes 31 percent of the time, according to a study published Monday in Nature Medicine.
A third of the relevant mutations seemed random to researchers. Lead investigator Stephen Scherer, who runs an applied genomics center at Toronto's Hospital For Sick Children, suggests "autisms" is a more accurate name than "autism."
For some families, "it’s like lightning striking twice in the same family," Scherer told The Los Angeles Times.
Air Force Academy cadets actually want to eat their vegetables
Michelle Obama would be proud: Cadets at the military's largest dining hall can't get enough fresh broccoli and asparagus.
Mitchell Hall, the Air Force Academy's legendary dining facility, remains the "Defense Department's reigning champion of the military meal," according to Stars and Stripes, and the meals are getting a makeover.
"We are seeing an increase in cadets wanting healthy foods," said Shelly Morales, the dietitian who plans the school's menus weeks in advance.
A focus group of cadets is used to test new recipes. Classic comfort food favorites like mac and cheese and chicken fingers are still being served, but items like fresh salmon and veggies have been added to the lineup, options which Morales says the cadets look forward to.
The menus are prescribed by the Pentagon to provide between 3,200 and 4,000 calories to sustain cadets through the demanding training they face on a daily basis.
Koch brothers plan to spend $889 million on 2016 election
A political network overseen by the billionaire Koch brothers plans to spend a staggering $889 million on the 2016 election.
Announced Monday during an annual winter meeting hosted by Freedom Partners, the total would more than double the $404 million the Republican National Committee spent on the 2012 presidential contest. The nearly $1 billion outlay would be financed by a staple of wealthy donors and the brothers themselves.