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January 23, 2012

A New York school district is combating obesity by making overweight students wear electronic activity monitors. The devices measure heart rate, physical movement, and sleeping patterns, so Bay Shore school officials can track whether fat students are physically active. "A program like this should only be voluntary," said Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union. "There are key privacy interests at play." The Week Staff

9:58 p.m. ET
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Thursday that being publicly berated by President Trump multiple times over the last week has been "kind of hurtful."

Trump has been blunt in his criticism, saying he is disappointed in Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation and saying "time will tell" if Sessions gets fired from his job, but Sessions told Carlson he still thinks he "made the right decision." Sessions said he doesn't plan to resign, but knows he serves "at the pleasure of the president. If he wants to make a change, he can certainly do so and I would be glad to yield in that circumstance, no doubt about it. But I do believe that we are making tremendous progress."

Sessions was one of Trump's earliest and most vocal supporters, and he told Carlson the pair have yet to sit down and work things out, but "people have talked about it at the White House." Catherine Garcia

8:33 p.m. ET
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released a statement Thursday evening saying the House is open to working with the Senate to come up with a health-care bill to repeal ObamaCare, but the "burden remains on the Senate to demonstrate that it is capable of passing something that keeps our promise, as the House has already done."

His statement came after Republicans Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Ron Johnson (Wis.) shared their concerns over the Republicans' "skinny repeal" bill, which it is believed would get rid of ObamaCare's individual and employer mandate and medical device tax; the text has not been released yet. The senators said they were worried if the bill passes in the Senate, it would go to the House without the two chambers coming together to amend it.

This week, Senate Republicans tried to pass a bill that would immediately replace ObamaCare and another that repealed it over two years, and the "skinny repeal" is their latest attempt to get a bill through without needing to have the House approve it as well. Catherine Garcia

7:37 p.m. ET
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On Thursday, the Senate voted 98-2 to impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

The House passed the bill earlier this week, 419-3. The legislation would force President Trump to consult Congress before he lifts any sanctions, and he has not indicated if he will sign it. Incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said on CNN Thursday morning Trump "may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are, or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians."

The bill is in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and comes amid several investigations around alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m. ET
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The man tasked with leading the communications effort out of the White House isn't apologizing for his vulgar, expletive-laced rant against two of President Trump's closest advisers.

During a phone conversation Wednesday night, Anthony Scaramucci, the incoming White House communications director, unleashed on unsuspecting New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza his uncensored opinions on Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and chief of staff, Reince Priebus. The conversation was not off the record, Lizza said, which is why he published an article Thursday evening with details of the call — at one point, Scaramucci said, "I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own c—k," and called Priebus a "f—king paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac."

Not long after the piece went up, Scaramucci tweeted, "I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump's agenda. #MAGA." Scaramucci may not want to tell Priebus and Bannon he's sorry for what he said, but he needs to apologize to the American people for putting certain images in their heads. Catherine Garcia

5:56 p.m. ET
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Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Ron Johnson (Wis.) held a news conference Thursday evening about their party's health-care efforts, expressing their concern that the House will pass the Senate's "skinny repeal" of ObamaCare this week without bringing the bill to conference.

Senate leadership has been toying with a "skinny repeal" plan that would focus on eliminating ObamaCare's individual mandate, employer mandate, and medical device tax, while largely leaving the rest of the health-care law in place. Votes on a straight repeal of ObamaCare with a two-year window to replace, as well as a repeal-and-replace bill favored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), failed earlier this week, prompting senators to take up the "skinny repeal" plan.

Graham called the bill a "fraud" and "terrible policy," stating that unless House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) can assure him that the "skinny" bill "will not become the final product," he will vote against it. McConnell has indicated the bill would simply serve as a way for the Senate to pass a lowest-common-denominator piece of legislation that would pave the way for conference with the House, and has reportedly been in communication with Ryan about that strategy. Still, Graham said he would like a more solid guarantee. "It's like pornography, you know it when you see it," Graham said of what would be a sufficient pledge.

McCain called for a bipartisan approach to create a better health-care bill. "Right now I am voting no," McCain confirmed, and he joined Graham's call for the bill to go to conference with the House. Johnson said that "virtually nothing we're doing in any of these bills" would properly address the underlying problems of the health-care system.

Given the existing opposition to the bill by Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), if any one of the three senators were to vote no on the "skinny repeal" bill, it would not pass. Shivani Ishwar

5:34 p.m. ET
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Newly minted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci directed some very interesting communications at The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza during a phone conversation Wednesday night. On Thursday afternoon, Lizza published details of his conversation with Scaramucci, after Scaramucci had called into CNN earlier in the day to interrupt an interview Lizza was giving.

Lizza said Scaramucci initiated their Wednesday night phone call and never requested it take place off the record, and said the bombastic new White House employee called to ask Lizza to reveal a source. Lizza had tweeted that Scaramucci was dining with President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and former Fox News co-president Bill Shine, and Scaramucci was apparently convinced White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had given Lizza the information.

The details Lizza published of their conversation are ... colorful:

"I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I'll fire tomorrow. I'll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he'll be asked to resign very shortly." The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn't been invited. "Reince is a f--king paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac," Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: "'Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the f--king thing and see if I can c--k-block these people the way I c--k-blocked Scaramucci for six months.'"

[...] Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. "I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own c--k," he said, speaking of Trump's chief strategist.

[...] "Okay, the Mooch showed up a week ago," he said. "This is going to get cleaned up very shortly, okay?" [The New Yorker]

Scaramucci also told Lizza that he had to end their call so he could "start tweeting some sh-t to make this guy crazy," referring to Priebus, Lizza said. Minutes later, Scaramucci sent the tweet about leaks in which he cryptically tagged Priebus.

Read Lizza's entire recounting at The New Yorker. Kimberly Alters

4:41 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Thursday floated a new idea for fixing New York City's beleaguered subway system: corporate sponsorship. Speaking at a breakfast for the Association for a Better New York, Cuomo announced a new "adopt-a-subway" program to allow private business to flood individual subway stations with cash, which would then be used to make improvements at those stations.

Joe Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city's subway system, clarified that it's "very possible" Cuomo's adopt-a-station plan would grant naming rights to the businesses. Businesses could sponsor general subway improvements starting with contributions in the "hundreds of thousands of dollars," Gothamist reports. To sponsor improvements on the individual station level, businesses would need to contribute up to $600,000, depending on the size and location of the station.

Per Gothamist, Andrew Albert, a non-voting member of the MTA board, said relying on private companies to infuse money for improvements would "run the risk of having improvements only made in specific areas. ... I could name far-flung stations throughout the system that would be a hard sell." Lhota apparently told reporters that details of the adopt-a-station plan were still being finalized.

In the meantime, anyone interested in pooling some funds to sponsor 42nd Street-Bryant Park-Tweet Angrily at Gov. Cuomo Station should contact me immediately. Kimberly Alters

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