TIME Security

Chinese Hackers Breached National Weather Websites

The breach wasn't acknowledged until after several probes

Officials announced Wednesday that Chinese hackers had gained access to Federal weather data as early as September.

The hack occurred in late September, but was not acknowledged by the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration until Oct. 20, the Washington Post reports. As a result of the hack, some national weather websites were unavailable for as many as two days, including the National Ice Center website. And those sites being offline impacted some long-term forecasts.

NOAA also lagged in its response to the breach. The Post reports the the administration “did not say its systems were compromised” when the problem was first acknowledged on Oct. 20. When NOAA admitted Wednesday that there had been a cyber security breach, they did not say who was responsible either. That information came from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who disclosed that the attack had come from China. Wolf blasted the agency saying, “They had an obligation to tell the truth. They covered it up.”

Read more at the Washington Post.

TIME White House

White House to Women and Girls of Color: We Care

Valerie Jarrett White House
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images Senior advisor to the president Valerie Jarrett walks through the Colonnade of the White House on Jan. 28, 2014 in Washington.

Nearly a year after launching the My Brother's Keeper Initiative that focuses on expanding opportunities for black and brown boys

Responding to criticism it has overlooked the problems of young women of color, the White House sought Wednesday to promote its work on behalf of young black and brown women and girls, releasing a formal report and announcing the creation of a working group that will address “challenges and opportunities for women and girls of color.

Advocates for women and girls say the administration has left girls behind, focusing instead on issues facing young black and brown men and boys in the last year since the White House launched the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, a widely-praised mentorship program. The Obama Administration argues it has been focused on women from the start.

“Since day one of his Administration, President Obama has focused on increasing opportunity for women and girls, as part of his larger focus on expanding opportunity for each and every American,” Senior Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett said in response to critics over the summer, boasting the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls as major accomplishments on behalf of women that should have had a trickle down effect on the lives of black and brown women.

But for many young girls within black and brown communities, that aid hasn’t materialized. According to the White House report, black and Hispanic girls graduate at higher rates than their male counterparts, but they are still 14.6 and 12.8 percentage points, respectively, less likely to graduate from high school than their white peers. They face similar problems with school discipline and violence as young black and brown boys. They’re also more likely than white girls to get pregnant at a young age, jeopardizing their educational and financial futures. Black and Hispanic women are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and less than half have access to paid leave at work.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress, as the Obama administration is quick to point out. An estimated 12.5 million women of color have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of access to women’s preventative services. The administration is working directly with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to develop culturally relevant conversations on campus sexual assault. And they’re also working within tribal communities to address health issues specific to Native women, among other policies that cater to women. In January, the Department of Education will also partner with the White House and convene on increasing minority girls’ opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The impact of the report and the event at the White House on Wednesday is unclear. The roll out isn’t being met with as much fanfare as the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which garnered support from hundreds of communities and organizations. Much of the report is dedicated to highlighting existing administration efforts that address problems facing all women and girls, including some that have had a particular impact on minority communities, rather than presenting a call for solutions.

Melanie Campbell, a civil and women’s rights activist who attended the White House event Wednesday, says its a start. “It’s a positive move to expand the conversation and start to hone in on where we see disparities,” Campbell says.

In a June letter, over 1,000 activists, celebrities, educators and community members led by the African American Policy Forum signed an open letter to the White House, urging the program to be more inclusive. “It makes no sense to equip the canary with a mentor, a gas mask and or some other individual-level support while leaving the mine as it is and expecting the females to fend for themselves,” the letter reads. “If the air is toxic, it is toxic for everyone forced to breathe it.”

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a professor Columbia Law School and a co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, says it’s a reminder that the issues facing women and girls are considered “separate and unequal.”

“Separate and unequal is just not sufficient given the level of crises facing women and girls of color,” says Crenshaw. “I guess giving something is better than nothing, but this is a far cry from a solution that promotes equity.”

TIME 2014 Election

Despite Midterm ‘Wave,’ Americans Not Particularly Thrilled About GOP Control

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, center, looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks during a bipartisan, bicameral congressional leadership luncheon at the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2014

Americans are skeptical of what's to come in remaining years of Obama presidency

Looks like the “meh” election has yielded the expected reaction from the American public. Less than half of Americans are happy to see Republicans take control of Congress, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, and about the same proportion think the Republican “wave” will lead to legislative success.

Republicans have been promising Washington will “function” with the GOP in control of Congress, but Americans in general foresee more of the same over the next two years.

Nearly six-out-of-ten say things will change either “some” or “a lot” with Republicans in control, but when it comes to the partisan divide 55% of Americans expect nothing to change. Almost half of all Americans think Republicans will see their programs passed into law, while 40% disagree.

Following the bevy of Republican wins that guaranteed Sen. Mitch McConnell will likely be the Senate’s next Majority Leader, the Kentucky Republican joined House Speaker John Boehner in touting the myriad legislation they’ll push through Congress. “Now we can get Congress going,” boasts their joint op-ed, published in the Wall Street Journal.

However, Americans are less hopeful that the switch in party control will lead to Washington suddenly functioning. When it comes to legislation Republican leadership is eager to take the lead on, support among Americans is falling. About 51% disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, but detractors are split on how best to handle the President’s signature health law. A whopping 83% of Republicans support building the Keystone XL pipeline, but over the past year support among Democrats has fallen by 11 points. What’s more, Americans are worried Republicans will use their new-found footing in Washington to increase investigations into the White House and Democrats — following a similar pattern of concern expressed when the balance of power shifted. In 2006, according to Pew, Americans had a similar fear when Democrats took control during the final George W. Bush years.

But Americans don’t think Obama would do a better job fixing the nation’s problems than Congress. In 2010, at least 49% of Americans wanted Obama to take the lead on addressing major issues. In 2014, however, nearly equal percentages of Americans would like to see Congress (41%) and Obama (40%) at the helm.

Americans also doubt the President can accomplish much during his last two years in office; the bulk, 59%, say he’ll get little to nothing done — two percentage points less than those asked the same question at the same point in Bush’s term.

Pew surveyed 1,353 adults for this latest report, which was conducted between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points.

TIME

Michelle Obama Wants Female Veterans to Flaunt Their Skills When Seeking Jobs

Michelle Obama
Susan Walsh—AP First lady Michelle Obama speaks at the Women Veterans Career Development Forum at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, Nov. 10, 2014.

The post-9/11 female veteran unemployment rate was twice that of men in October

First Lady Michelle Obama thinks veteran women “can’t be modest” when it comes to seeking employment.

“You’ve got to show off a little bit,” the First Lady told a group of over 200 active-duty, retired, and veteran women on Monday. “And believe me, you all have so much to show off. That’s the beauty of it — those years in the military set you apart from so many other candidates.”

Obama gave that advice at a forum on veteran women’s employment where, as a part of the ongoing “Joining Forces initiative,” the First Lady announced new partnerships with online platforms that will make the job-seeking process easier for those who serve our country.

More women serve in the military than ever before, and as of 2014 about 10% of our nation’s veterans are women. But our most recent female veterans—those who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq—faced an unemployment rate of 11.2% in October, more than five points higher than their male counterparts and double the rate of civilian women. In a recent article in Redbook, the First Lady put the struggles of women at the center of the conversation on veterans’ transition back to civilian life. Many female service members have not only been mothers, but single moms, making the stresses women face when transitioning even harder.

The Obama Administration has been working to expand opportunities for veterans since the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden launched “Joining Forces” in 2011. Last spring, the introduction of the “Veterans Employment Center,” a new website that helps veterans find and apply for jobs, put increasing career prospects at the center of the initiative.

The LinkedIn and Coursera initiatives are intended to expand those prospects by connecting veterans with work. Veterans on LinkedIn now will receive free access to a premium job-seeker profile and can link those profiles directly to the veteran-specific job hub. On Coursera, an online education platform, veterans can now receive a free certificate from an in-demand course.

Other companies including tech powerhouse Uber have started vets programs. In September, Uber launched an ambitious effort to hire 50,000 veterans as drivers over the next 18 months.

TIME Fast Food

Pizza Hut’s New Menu Has All Kinds of Crazy Stuff

Pizza Hut Sweet Sriracha Dynamite
Pizza Hut Pizza Hut's "Sweet Sriracha Dynamite"

Salted pretzel and curry!

Pizza Hut is taking a ride on the wild side to halt its recent sales decline.

A new menu launching Nov. 19 includes 10 new crusts, new topping and sauce options, and a selection of more low-calorie pies, the Associated Press reports. The new sauces include premium crushed tomato and honey sriracha. The new crust flavors include salted pretzel, toasted cheddar, curry, and fiery red pepper. The curry flavor is one of two that will be offered for a limited time and switched out regularly.

Pizza Hut’s new offerings are an attempt to turnaround consistent declines in sales, CNBC reports. Pizza Hut has experienced a 2%-decline in same-store sales over the past year, while its competitors Papa John’s and Domino’s have grown.

[AP]

TIME Health Care

Obamacare Site to Open Early to Avoid Repeat Rollout Disaster

Obamacare Healthcare.gov
The Washington Post/Getty Images In just a few weeks, millions of people will be heading to the federal site HealthCare.gov to shop for medical insurance when a new open-enrollment period begins.

Officials promise smoother shopping experience this time

The website for buying insurance plans under President Barack Obama’s health care law will open early ahead of the new enrollment period, officials said Sunday, as the Administration looks to avoid a repeat of HealthCare.gov’s disastrous initial rollout last year.

The website will reopen Monday to allow consumers to “window shop” health insurance market places before enrollment starts Nov. 15, said Marilyn Tavenner, the Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The early browsing option is different from last year’s enrollment period, when consumers couldn’t see details of plans until enrollment started.

MORE: Obama’s race for the cure

“New features will give consumers a comprehensive picture of the plans in their area so they can choose the one that’s right for them,” Tavenner said in a statement.

Officials have also made the process of browsing plans easier: Last year, consumers had to answer a series of questions before even seeing plans. Now, all they have to do is enter their zip code.

MORE: Inside the team that fixed HealthCare.gov

The botched rollout of HealthCare.gov severely handicapped the opening months of implementation of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, giving fodder to Republican critics of the law. Officials eventually fixed problems with the website and final enrollment figures exceeded expectations.

TIME ebola

Ebola Nurse Set to Leave Maine Town After Quarantine Fight

Kaci Hickox Ebola Nurse
Joel Page—Reuters Nurse Kaci Hickox (L) joined by her boyfriend Ted Wilbur, speaks with the media outside of their home in Fort Kent, Maine on Oct. 31, 2014.

“We’re going to try to get our lives back on track”

The nurse who clashed with Maine authorities over an Ebola quarantine said she plans to leave the town where she lives soon after the virus’ 21-day incubation period ends on Monday.

“We are going to southern Maine and will decide what’s next from there,” Kaci Hickox told CNN on Sunday.

Hickox tested negative for Ebola after traveling to West Africa to treat those battling the deadly virus, but officials in both Maine and New Jersey responding to public fear of the virus still wanted to place in quarantine. Hickcox eventually won a legal fight against Maine over the quarantine.

“We’re going to try to get our lives back on track,” her boyfriend Ted Wilbur told the Portland Press Herald.

[CNN]

TIME South Korea

South Korea Disbands Coast Guard in Wake of Ferry Disaster

The coast guard has been widely criticized for their failure to rescue hundreds of students from the sinking ferry last April

South Korean lawmakers have agreed to disband the country’s coast guard in the wake of a ferry disaster that killed nearly 300 people.

The coast guard’s duties will now be taken up by the National Police Agency and a soon-to-be-established safety agency, the Associated Press reports.

In April, the Sewol ferry carrying 476 passengers, most of whom were students, capsized and sank while in route. 295 bodies have been found; some are still missing at sea.

The coast guard’s failure to rescue the hundreds of passengers who eventually perished on the sinking ferry was criticized by many in the South Korean government, including President Park Geun-hye.Prosecutors have also sought the death penalty for the captain of the ferry and life sentences for members of the crew. According to the AP, verdicts will come down next week.

[AP]

TIME harassment

Women of Color Respond to Hollaback! Harassment Video

"The point here is not to devalue or minimize the experience of women who strongly identified with [the Hollaback!] video. But it's to open the conversation, to make it broader"

Street harassment has been a hot topic ever since a video went viral last week depicting one woman’s experience walking for 10-hours through the streets of New York, and the subsequent harassment she experienced.

But while the video, created by the anti-harassment organization Hollaback!, was an eye-opener for many, and launched a nationwide conversation about the issues women face in day-to-day life, it was also a reminder that some perspectives are often left out of these conversations.

In the video, a white woman is harassed repeatedly by men who are black and Latino, a fact that was later flagged as problematic. Hollaback! subsequently admitted they edited out instances where white men catcalled and harassed the actress in the video and apologized.

In an effort to make the conversation more inclusive, the women at Jezebel created a response video in which women of color share their experiences being bothered as they maneuver through the world–like one woman who was asked how she bikes in a skirt by white policemen, or another who said that white men have uninvitedly reached their hands into her hair at a bar. For many, harassment by white men is often the most striking.

“The point here is not to devalue or minimize the experience of women who strongly identified with [the Hollaback!] video,” said one interviewee. “But it’s to open the conversation, to make it broader.”

Ironically, during this video, an older white man approaches a woman while she’s being interviewed and asks for a kiss. Watch the video at Jezebel.

TIME Comedy

Jerry Seinfeld to Brian Williams: ‘I Think I’m on the [Autism] Spectrum’

Jerry Seinfeld
Kevin Wolf—AP Jerry Seinfeld pauses as he is interviewed on the red carpet at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Oct. 19, 2014, in Washington.

The comedian was promoting the fifth season of his series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jerry Seinfeld said in a recent interview he believes he has traits that align with those who have autism spectrum disorder.

“I think–and on a very drawn out scale–I think I’m on the spectrum,” Seinfeld told NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams. “You’re never paying attention to the right things. Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal. People talk to me and they use expressions and sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying.”

He added, “but I don’t see it as dysfunctional. I just see it as an alternate mindset.”

The comedian spoke to Williams in preparation for the start of the fifth season of the his web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In the interview, which aired Thursday, Seinfeld said comedians are the only people he feels comfortable around

“They’re the only kind of people I feel completely relaxed around,” Seinfeld said. “Every other social interaction I have is somewhat of a management.”

Seinfeld has been riding around in fancy, vintage cars and grabbing cups of joe with comedians for the past couple of years, but he says he never expected the web hit to make waves. “It was an experiment,” he said. “I didn’t know that this could be anything.”

The fifth season started Thursday with Seinfeld taking a ride with Kevin Hart.

[NBC News]

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