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“Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?” Steven Wright


“The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information. While the agency says that the goal is to streamline the security procedures for millions of passengers who pose no risk, the new measures give the government greater authority to use travelers’ data for domestic airport screenings. Previously that level of scrutiny applied only to individuals entering the United States.

The prescreening, some of which is already taking place, is described in documents the T.S.A. released to comply with government regulations about the collection and use of individuals’ data, but the details of the program have not been publicly announced.

It is unclear precisely what information the agency is relying upon to make these risk assessments, given the extensive range of records it can access, including tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information. The measures go beyond the background check the government has conducted for years, called Secure Flight, in which a passenger’s name, gender and date of birth are compared with terrorist watch lists. Now, the search includes using a traveler’s passport number, which is already used to screen people at the border, and other identifiers to access a system of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.

Privacy groups contacted by The New York Times expressed concern over the security agency’s widening reach.

“I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” said Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.”

The T.S.A., which has been criticized for a one-size-fits-all approach to screening travelers, said the initiatives were needed to make the procedures more targeted.

“Secure Flight has successfully used information provided to airlines to identify and prevent known or suspected terrorists or other individuals on no-fly lists from gaining access to airplanes or secure areas of airports,” the security agency said in a statement. “Additional risk assessments are used for those higher-risk passengers.”

An agency official discussed some aspects of the initiative on the condition that she not be identified. She emphasized that the main goal of the program was to identify low-risk travelers for lighter screening at airport security checkpoints, adapting methods similar to those used to flag suspicious people entering the United States.

Anyone who has never traveled outside the United States would not have a passport number on file and would therefore not be subject to the rules that the agency uses to determine risk, she said, although documents indicate that the agency is prescreening all passengers in some fashion.

The official added that these rules consider things like an individual’s travel itinerary, length of stay abroad and type of travel document, like a passport. If an airline has a traveler’s passport number on file, it is required to share that information with the T.S.A., even for a domestic flight.

The agency also receives a code indicating a passenger is a member of the airline’s frequent-flier program and has access to details about past travel reservations, known as passenger name records. This official could not confirm if that information was being used to assess a passenger’s risk.

The effort comes as the agency is trying to increase participation in its trusted traveler program, called PreCheck, that allows frequent fliers to pass through security more quickly after submitting their fingerprints and undergoing a criminal-background check.”  To read more, click here.


Originally posted by The New York Times and can be found at:

Company Ends Internship Program

“For Lauren Indvik, a business editor and soon-to-be co-editor in chief at Fashionista, the 2008 internship at Vogue was worth every sacrifice.

The 15 pounds frantically lost in the weeks before the interview. The predawn drive from New Hampshire to Times Square. The bed shared with a fellow penny-pinching friend near Pennsylvania Station, and the morning and evening walks — in heels — because she could not afford subway fare. “It’s so valuable,” she said.

So it was with a measure of shock and dismay that Ms. Indvik greeted the news on Wednesday that Condé Nast was closing down its internship program. A spokeswoman for the company, whose publications include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue, confirmed that the program would end, but said current interns would not be affected.

The move, first announced in Women’s Wear Daily, comes about four months after two formers interns sued Condé Nast, claiming they had been paid below minimum wage for the summer jobs at W Magazine and The New Yorker. The case, still pending, is one of several recent lawsuits filed by low-paid and unpaid interns in the media field.

Hearst Magazines was sued by a former Harper’s Bazaar intern last year, and this past spring a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan ruled that Fox Searchlight Pictures broke laws for not paying two interns who worked on “Black Swan.”

Yet several former and current Condé Nast interns said sacrificing the internship program seemed too extreme a response, not least because it meant that hundreds of fledgling and prospective journalists would be denied an invaluable launching pad.

“I’m disappointed on behalf of all future interns as well,” said Rosana Lai, 21, a student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University who is currently an intern at Glamour. “We’re no longer going to have that foot in the door.”

Also lost would be the lessons learned from working at the magazines, and brushing elbows with the magazine world’s most luminous names. Doing research for writers like George Packer, Jane Kramer and Philip Gourevitch. Spotting Graydon Carter or Anna Wintour in the cafeteria. And, for interns at the fashion magazines, fixating endlessly on what to wear. “I have never been better groomed in my life,” Ms. Indvik, 26, said. “I bought designer clothes off eBay and blow dried my hair and steamed my clothes every day.”

The Condé Nast internships also drew scions of the rich and famous, including a daughter of Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS, and a daughter of Arianna Huffington. Not to mention those reality TV darlings Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port, who were interns at Teen Vogue.

For those born of more modest means, the goings were a bit rougher. Ms. Indvik said without her parents’ financial help, she “absolutely” could not have done the internship, which lasted four months and was initially unpaid, but by the end paid a stipend — of $12 a day.

Ms. Lai, for her part, said she believed that Condé Nast should at least be able to pay its interns minimum wage. She is earning school credit for her two-and-a-half-month internship, but the only payment she is getting is a $1,200 stipend from Medill.

Still, not all former Condé Nast interns fully agreed with the premise of the lawsuit. Stephanie Cain, an editor at an e-commerce start-up who interned in 2008 at Brides magazine, another Condé Nast publication, said she had never expected to get paid for journalism internships. Besides, she viewed the Brides internship, which continues to open doors, as akin to auditing a class, “And you don’t expect to be paid for auditing a class,” she said.

Dylan Byers, a media reporter at Politico who interned at The New Yorker in 2006 and 2007, said going into an internship knowing it paid little or nothing and then complaining about it, and suing, seemed “disingenuous.” For him, the internship turned out to be a gift that kept on giving. Beyond earning school credit, he said, he learned tools of the trade from writers like Mr. Packer and Ms. Kramer, and also got job recommendations.

Another former intern, Michael Humphrey, a freelance writer and a Ph.D. candidate at Colorado State University, said, “Having The New Yorker on your résumé does amazing things for you.” While he would not have minded more pay — he earned $500 for a semester’s work — he said the real value came in the experience and relationships built. “It helped verify that I was serious about the business,” he said.

Yet Andrew Nusca, an editor at CBS Interactive who interned in 2007 at Men’s Vogue, now closed, said he could see both sides. On the one hand, overseeing interns requires extra work. On the other, working for next to nothing seemed especially cruel in the country’s most expensive city.

He worked his tail off, he said, “and I certainly did not make nearly as much money as I really needed to live in New York.””



Originally posted by The New York Times and can be viewed at



“Federal agents swept through South Florida this week to arrest about 40 people charged with the viral-spreading crimes of identity theft and tax-refund fraud.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said the takedown was the biggest yet since his office established a strike force to target the companion scams in August 2012.

“This continues to be the fastest-growing and most-pervasive fraud scheme aimed at stealing our tax dollars,” Ferrer told the Miami Herald Thursday. “But we’re on it. We want to send a message before the tax season begins because it’s fast approaching.”

Among the line-up of defendants appearing in Miami federal court: A West Miami-Dade man who had been severely beaten while in the custody of Sweetwater police a decade ago and later received a $2 million settlement from the city.

Now Peter Michael Daniel, 29, is penniless.

The one-time operator of a personal-watercraft rental business said he has no income and no assets, so a magistrate judge assigned a federal public defender to represent him.

“What happened to all the money?” his father, Roberto Daniel, said outside the courtroom. “I don’t know. He was very young when he got the money. He just went through it. He has nothing.”

Daniel pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing at least 15 Social Security numbers belonging to others. Those numbers are typically used or sold for filing phony tax returns, though Daniel was not charged with defrauding the Internal Revenue Service.”

Originally posted by the Miami Herald. Read more here:


“Thousands of doctors who’ve been practicing in Arizona need to have their licenses reviewed by the state.  That’s the disturbing finding of a new report about the Arizona Medical Board, which regulates doctors.  Earlier this year, the ABC15 investigators aired a report about concerns over a faster licensing process and how background checks may have been left out.  A new, 180-page report by the Arizona Ombudsman Citizens’ Aide, found by speeding up the licensing process, the board stopped verifying doctor’s board certifications, postgraduate training and licenser from other states.  Checking those things is required by law.

In February, Former Medical Board employee Linda Scorzo told us the faster licensing process could end up with physicians being licensed here who shouldn’t be licensed.  She believes she was fired after speaking out about her concerns.  The new report shows some of those concerns may have come true, at least in the short term.

There are two examples of doctors given temporary licenses in Arizona, despite having serious issues in other states.  The report states one doctor had documented problems in two states including ‘a continued pattern of inappropriate care… performed surgical procedures on the basis of inaccurate diagnoses… committed dishonest acts.’ It wasn’t until each applied to the board for permanent licenses here, that they were denied.

Just how fast were doctors being licensed last year?  The report shows while the process on average took 55 days in Nevada and 79 days in Idaho, it took just 15 days in Arizona.  Earlier this year, the board’s Executive Director Lisa Wynn told us she was trying ‘to eliminate steps that didn’t make sense anymore.’  Wynn said anything that was flagged as an issue, was being investigated.  She said she never knowingly broke any law and didn’t feel the faster licensing process hurt anyone.

But the new report says the day after the ABC15 Investigators story aired, Wynn ‘asked to meet with our office to discuss changes the board enacted to be in line with state laws.’  The report claims Wynn broke 25 laws, choosing to ‘ignore’ them and ‘directed staff to disregard these laws.’  In response to this new report, Wynn again stated she didn’t knowingly break laws and vowed to comply with them.

In February, she said she couldn’t comment about personnel issues involving Linda Scorzo.  The Arizona Medical Board issued this statement on Wednesday: “The Board takes very seriously the Ombudsman’s report and its recommendations for corrective action.  ‘Any previous noncompliance of statutes and regulations under the direction of the Executive Director now known to the Board were addressed this year by the Board immediately. The Arizona Medical Board continues to work diligently to ensure the Agency’s Executive Director and Administration is in compliance with rules and statutes,’ said Gordi Khera, M.D., chair of the board. ‘The Executive Director is now required to report to the board members steps being taken to ensure full compliance with rules and statutes.’

Now it’s up to the board, the State Attorney General’s Office and lawmakers to take any action based on the report’s findings.”


Originally posted by Ahwatukee Foothills News and can be found at

It’s Friday!


“Illinoisans with a felony on their records will no longer be asked about their criminal past when they apply for state jobs.

Promoting the decision to what he calls ‘Ban the Box,’ State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago) says the governor’s administrative order doesn’t mean private employers will be required to hire ex-cons. It simply means applications for state government jobs will no longer include a box indicating whether an applicant has pled guilty, or been convicted of a criminal offense, other than a minor traffic violation.

State agencies would still be allowed to conduct background checks, and request information on criminal convictions, but not until later in the process. ‘I think that it’s important that employers hire the best qualified person that they feel comfortable with for the job,’ Ford says. ‘Employers in private (business) or state agencies should never hire a person that appears to not be a fit for the job.’

Ford gives an example of someone he knows who would benefit: a retiree who had a pocket knife in his pocket 50 years ago. As for the really bad guys, Ford says they’re unlikely to apply for a legitimate job anyway.  As for himself, the lawmaker says he anticipates federal bank fraud charges against him –- unrelated to his service in the General Assembly -– being tossed out of court soon.”


Originally posted by CBS Chicago and can be found at: