TIME Education

Processing Issue Delays Bar Exam Submissions

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — Law school graduates sweated their way through the second and final day of their bar exams Wednesday, some relieved to see paper and pencil after running into a technical glitch that kept test takers in several states from uploading the first day’s answers from their computers.

The Florida-based software provider ExamSoft Worldwide Inc. said the processing problem created a six-hour backlog that had been cleared by early Wednesday morning. The cause was being investigated, spokesman Kenneth Knotts said.

After spending a full day Tuesday inside the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center writing essays and answering multiple-choice questions on her laptop, Julia Pascuzzo of Pittsburgh spent four hours in her hotel room facing error messages while trying to upload her work.

“I thought it was my computer until I finally logged onto Facebook and saw that my colleagues were having the same problem,” the Cornell University graduate said during a break from Wednesday’s testing. “I fell asleep and then at 3 in the morning I woke up with this panic attack and I was able to manually upload it.”

Knotts said the processing problems did not affect the exam takers’ answers. But test takers said it cut into their sleep and the time they had to prepare for day 2.

“It definitely takes away from the relief that you have for finishing — that there still might be more problems,” said Will VanDerlinder of Elmira, who tried for two hours to submit the exam.

Knotts said he couldn’t say what time the delays began or how many people were affected. The company, which administers bar exams in 43 states, listed 16 states that extended their deadlines for submitting the exams.

“We understand that is a stressful time for bar exam takers, and their experience last night was unacceptable to us,” ExamSoft said in a website apology. “We will work very hard to repair the trust they have placed in our care.”

John McAlary, executive director of the New York State Board of Law Examiners, said about 90 percent of the more than 10,000 test takers in his state had been able to upload their results by Wednesday morning. New York extended the deadline from 8:30 p.m. Wednesday until midnight and was prepared to extend it further if necessary, he said.

“It’s the most important exam they’re taking in their life and any little bump in their view is significant,” McAlary said.

“It’s a pressure cooker under the best of circumstances and no one wants to have anything enhance the pressure,” said Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. “I know that there will be a lot of investigation following this to see what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

Test takers pay $100 to $150 to download the company’s application to their laptops, which they bring to test sites. Users are instructed to connect to the Internet and upload the file upon leaving.

With Minnesota’s 9 p.m. Tuesday submission deadline looming, Maggie Watson took screenshots of the upload failures and sent copies of fail-to-upload emails to the state bar examiner after repeated tries.

“Once I did that four, five, six times, I thought, ‘What’s going on?'” said Watson, who graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington and took the exam in St. Paul. The deadline was extended after it passed, she said.

“It seemed a little crazy,” said Meredith Schlacter, who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and flew to Buffalo for the exam. “There’s one program that every state uses — they had to have anticipated that thousands of people would be using it at the same time.”

Several exam takers said they welcomed the bubble sheets, filled in with pencil, for the other half of the test.

“It’s really nice to be able to type your essays. I wouldn’t want to have to handwrite them,” said VanDerlinder, a University at Buffalo graduate, “but the added stress of a tech failure is not good.”

The states extending deadlines were Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Rhode Island.

TIME Health Care

Report: Cost of HealthCare.Gov Approaching $1 Billion

Marketplace guide Jim Prim works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website as he helps a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at an enrollment event in Milford, Delaware on March 27, 2014.
Marketplace guide Jim Prim works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website as he helps a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at an enrollment event in Milford, Delaware on March 27, 2014. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

GAO Report places cost overrun blame squarely on the shoulders of the federal government

Federal officials badly managed the development of a website to sell health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, potentially costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, according to testimony that will be delivered to a House subcommittee on Thursday.

In prepared remarks posted online Wednesday, William T. Woods, an official at the General Accounting Office, says HealthCare.gov, a federal website charged with managing new individual health plans for consumers in 36 states, was marred by inadequate oversight by officials from the Department of Health and Human Services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an HHS agency in charge of the insurance website, “undertook the development of HealthCare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices, despite facing a number of challenges that increased both the level of risk and the need for effective oversight,” according to Woods.

Details of Woods’ testimony were first reported by the Associated Press. The GAO conducted its investigation of HealthCare.gov at the request of the Investigations and Oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

As became obvious in the days and weeks after HealthCare.gov launched on Oct. 1, 2013, the website was hobbled by technical problems and software glitches that prevented consumers from signing up for health plans until a repair effort was undertaken months later. The episode was a significant embarrassment for the Obama Administration, which had promised buying health plans through the website would be akin to purchasing any other goods or services on the Internet. Contractors charged with building HealthCare.gov and a data hub meant to verify identities, eligibility and income used to calculate federal subsidies had not completed their work by the time the site launched, according to Woods’ testimony. But the GAO placed blame on federal officials for not anticipating problems that would occur and for incurring significant cost increases as well as improperly approving additional spending.

According to Woods’ testimony, the cost of building one part of HealthCare.gov increased from $56 million to more than $209 million between September 2011 and February 2014. Expenses for the associated data hub ballooned from $30 million to $85 million. Woods says that by March 2014, CMS reported “obligating $840 million for the development of HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems.”

Federal officials, according to Woods, delayed assessing whether HealthCare.gov was ready for launch from March 2013 to September 2013, noting that this was just weeks before the site went live. Software experts have said in the months since HealthCare.gov launched and crashed that such a short window is far too narrow to evaluate a brand new, complex system like a new national website to sell health insurance and dole out federal subsidies to those who qualify.

As it became clear that the building of HealthCare.gov was not going smoothly, Woods says federal officials approved additional expenditures to contractors, including CGI Federal, the lead company hired to build the website. The GAO, he says, found approximately 40 instances in which CMS employees approved additional spending totaling $30 million.

“This is not to say the work was not necessary,” says Woods, “however, the work was not approved properly.”

As HealthCare.gov’s launch approached and CMS officials had the chance to withhold major funds from contractors, they chose not to. To save HealthCare.gov after its failed launch, HHS hired the firm Accenture to continue work on the website. But that contract, too, has cost far more than planned. According to Woods’ testimony, the $91 million contract awarded to Accenture in January 2014 increased to $175 million by June 5.

Eventually, HealthCare.gov was repaired and some 8 million Americans signed up for health plans through the website by the spring of 2014.

TIME Labor

Franchisors Fear Labor’s Big Mac Win

Fast Food Workers Across U.S. Rally For Increased Wages, Unionization
Fast food workers and activists demonstrate outside McDonald's downtown flagship restaurant on May 15, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Lawyers on both sides are digging in for a big battle

One of the strategies that has made McDonald’s a global fast food power over the decades is the corporation’s rigorous enforcement of standards. McDonald’s dictates everything from signage, to staffing levels, to food quality, to the temperature of the coffee to staffing levels. There’s no way franchisees can have it their way, as one competitor may have put it.

That enforced consistency, so critical to McDonald’s success, has been turned against the company by the National Labor Relations Board, whose general counsel ruled Tuesday that because McDonald’s pulls most of the strings, it has to be considered a co-employer of franchise workers. That decision came despite the company’s stance that franchisees are the employers and thus McDonald’s shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions.

The NLRB’s ruling applies to 181 cases filed since November 2012 by workers who said their rights were violated—e.g., they were fired—for participating in protests over wages. The NLRB tossed 68 of the cases, while 64 others are pending investigation. But the agency found 43 cases to have merit. More than 90% of the McDonald’s 14,000 restaurants are owned by franchisees, according to the company.

The ruling was a victory for organized labor-backed groups, such as Fast Food Forward, as well as other activists who have been running a national campaign to raise fast food wages to $15 an hour. The ruling means that if the NLRB board accepts any of these cases, McDonald’s, and not just its franchisees, will be hauled before an administrative law judge if the cases aren’t resolved through negotiation.

More importantly, the ruling’s broader legal reach has the restaurant and hospitality industries in an uproar — the decision has sent legal experts on the left and right to their perspective corners to gird for a fight that’s expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court.

“This decision to allow unfair labor practice complaints to allege that McDonald’s is a joint employer with its franchisees is wrong,” said Heather Smedstad, senior vice president of human resources at McDonald’s USA, in a statement. “McDonald’s will contest this allegation in the appropriate forum. McDonald’s also believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small businesses, and goes against decades of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States.

The ruling is an attempt to resolve a sticky point in labor law about who qualifies as an employer. It’s generally viewed that if a company outsources its work to another firm, that firm becomes the employer, says Richard Hurd, professor of industrial and labor Relations at Cornell University. That can lead to situations where contract employees work side by side with employees of the parent company.

“Unions have been trying to make the case for quite some time that it’s not that straightforward,” Hurd says.

According to Mark Barenberg, professor of labor law at Columbia University, in a quote supplied by Fast Food Forward, the ruling “has the potential to upend the fast-food industry’s decades-long strategy of ‘out-sourcing’ legal responsibility to franchisees when it comes to securing workers’ rights.”

What’s really got the franchising industry worried, though, is that the ruling will open a Pandora’s Box of liability exposure. If brand owners are deemed joint employers in a broader context, it will make them litigation targets for issues such as wages and hours, slips and falls, and sexual harassment, says David Sherwyn, professor of hospitality human resources at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. The potential liability is enormous, because litigators always sue the deepest pockets. Franchising companies in the food and hotel industries have spent years figuring out what constitutes control and what doesn’t to give themselves a legal distance from their owners: they can tell franchisees how they must decorate their hotels, for instance, but they won’t dictate employment practices.

“Franchise lawyers have figured out where the line is, and the line is all about control,” says Sherwyn. “Let’s call it the 40 yard line. The lawyers are living on the 38 yard line and I think the [NLRB] general counsel thinks they should be living on the 32.”

The industry wants McDonald’s to hold that line.

Even if the ruling stands up to legal challenges, however, don’t expect it to set off a big organizing campaign by labor unions in the fast food industry, says Hurd.

“This is not a huge step; it doesn’t say the unions can run an organizing campaign against McDonald’s nationally,” Hurd says. “The logistics would be impossible.”

That’s because labor would still have to organize store by store or franchise across a big enough swath of units. But it could allow a union such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) the leverage to discuss broad terms of, say, wage and hours policy that a franchisor, whether it’s McDonald’s or La Quinta Inns, could impose on its franchisees. And barring that, it provides the SEIU, which backs Fast Food Forward, its own forward momentum to continue to press for wage increases knowing that the giant McDonald’s Corp., and not just its diverse franchisees, now has a dog in this hunt.

TIME politics

Former Virginia Governor: My Dysfunctional Marriage Proves I’m Innocent

Bob McDonnell, Maureen McDonnell
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, accompanied by his wife, Maureen, speaks during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Jan. 21, 2014. Steve Helber—AP

Defense lawyers say the gov's wife accepted gifts because she had a crush on a political donor. Will the jury buy it? We asked the experts.

Lawyers for former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, argued Tuesday that the couple didn’t conspire to take over $165,000 in cash, shopping trips, and vacations from a wealthy donor, but instead only accepted the gifts because Mrs. McDonnell had a “crush” on the donor.

McDonnell, who left office in January, is accused of taking cash and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in return for help promoting his dietary supplement company. But the couple’s lawyers are arguing that the Maureen McDonnell let Williams pay for expensive shopping trips and vacations because she had a “crush” on the charismatic businessman, and was unhappy in her marriage to the Governor. “Unlike the other man in her life, Jonnie Williams paid attention to Maureen McDonnell,” her defense attorney William Burck said. The couple face over 20 years in prison if convicted on federal corruption charges.

But will a jury believe the “crush” defense? Some lawyers think they just might.

“I think it’s ingenious, and I think it may work,” says Solomon L. Wisenberg, a D.C. based white collar defense lawyer who served as deputy independent counsel to Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater-Lewinsky investigations. “It certainly doesn’t make either one of them look good, but that’s not the same thing as committing a crime.”

Wisenberg notes that the McDonnells had filed a motion to sever, which would have allowed the co-defendants to face separate charges, but that this motion was denied, which means they had to coordinate their defense arguments. “This allows them to have kind of a complementary defense without pointing fingers at each other, yet it helps him because she’s obviously the principle player, and she’s the first one who roped this guy in,” he says.

“This strikes me as a more atypical defense, but that doesn’t mean it’s a Hail Mary pass,” says Josh Bowers, a professor at University of Virginia Law School who specializes in criminal procedure. “It could very well be the truth, and sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.”

But is Maureen McDonnell falling on her sword to protect her husband? “She’s got a lot less room to maneuver than he does,” Wisenberg explains. Mrs. McDonnell would have frequent private meetings with Williams, one former staff member called him her “favorite playmate,” and the two allegedly exchanged over 1,200 texts and phone calls over two years. “What’s she gonna do, say ‘It’s all my husband?’ The facts don’t seem to support that. What are her options other than what she’s doing?” he adds. The defense team also argued that Mrs. McDonnell was never a public official, and so shouldn’t be held to the same standards as her husband.

Wisenberg also notes that it might have been a misstep for the prosecution to start off with testimony from the McDonnell’s daughter Cailin, whose wedding was partially funded through gifts from Williams. Cailin McDonnell Young cried on the stand when she testified Tuesday that Williams had footed the bill for the catering at her 2011 nupitals. Wisenberg says Cailin’s tears on the witness stand could bode well for the defense, since a crying young woman makes the prosecution look like bullies, especially since juries are more likely to remember what happens at the beginning and end of the trial. “She’s an attractive young female testifying about the wedding, asking for Kleenex,” he says. “If I’m on the defense, I’m doing high-fives under the table.”

TIME

Begging for Impeachment

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama pauses, as he announces new economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy in the latest move by the U.S. to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his support for Ukrainian rebels, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

To improve its standing with voters, the White House tries to drum up some trouble for itself

At 10:02 on Friday evening, July 25, I received the following personal message from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW A REAL POSSIBILITY.” The capital letters were in red. This was a blast email, of course, sent to everyone on the Democratic Party’s fundraising list, and also to political journalists. It referred to some very calculated remarks that White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer had made earlier that day about impeachment: “I think Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of this lawsuit [against the President], has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future.”

This was the beginning of a half-crazed weekend begathon by the Democrats. The next afternoon: “Sorry to email you early on a Saturday—but we’re on full RED ALERT at Democratic Head-quarters…According to our records, you haven’t chipped in since Republicans authorized a vote to sue President Obama.” (Or ever chipped in, for that matter.) And Sunday: “MAJOR UPDATE: House Republicans held a closed-door meeting to discuss impeaching President Obama.” On Monday I received a cranky email from Obama himself: “Joe Biden has emailed you. Michelle has emailed you. And now I’ve emailed you. We wouldn’t all be asking if it wasn’t so important. Right now, Republicans in Congress are trying to sue me for simply doing my job.” Later that day, the DCCC re-sent me that email: “Did you see this? President Obama emailed you this morning.”

Holy moley. There is cleverness to the onslaught, of course, a classic use of a political tactic known as jiu-jitsu: take your opponent’s feral vehemence and roll with it. No doubt, Pfeiffer is right. There is a chance that the Republicans will try to impeach the President, especially later in the summer, after he announces a major Executive Order that will affect a large number—millions, perhaps—of the illegal immigrants now in the country. There is speculation that it will be a further expansion of the legal status he conferred on children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents; perhaps the parents will now be included. There is likely to be an explosion if he does this—the Central American refugee crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has made immigration the hottest of domestic issues. It is also the most toxic issue for Republicans, who hope to win the presidency someday—and the Senate this November.

House Speaker Boehner has said there will be no impeachment. That’s why he instituted a rather silly lawsuit against the President over—yet again—Obamacare, which aides say could be expanded if Obama goes for broke on the border. Boehner is trying to placate the GOP base. But he also promised that there would be no government shutdown in 2013 and got trampled by his troops. The Speaker knows there’s nothing the Democrats would rather have than impeachment and immigration as the dominant issues in the fall campaign. He also knows there’s nothing Rush Limbaugh would rather have; indeed, it would be a ratings bonanza—the base would go berserk. And on the other end of the Republican evolutionary spectrum, a leading conservative thinker, Yuval Levin, has said the Executive Order that Obama is contemplating would be “the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American President in peacetime.” There might be no stopping the primal fury unleashed by what the Republicans are calling “executive amnesty.”

So, this is smart strategy on the part of the Obama political operation, right? Well, grudgingly, yes. But it’s also cynical as hell. The White House is playing with fire, raising the heat in a country that is already brain-fried by partisan frenzy. There is something unseemly, and unprecedented, about an administration saying “Bring it on” when it comes to impeachment. Clinton’s White House certainly never did publicly, even though it was clear from polling that the spectacle would be a disaster for Republicans. Of course, President Clinton had done something immoral, if not impeachable, and Obama has not. Another impeachment ordeal would be terrible for the country.

Also terrible for the country, if all too common, is the DCCC’s impeachment begging—and the President’s constant fat-cat fundraising in a summer of trouble. What if he simply said, “I’m done with fundraising. This is an important election, but there’s just too much going on in the world right now”? His political folks would hate it, but I suspect it might be more effective, and presidential, than sending out tin-cup emails.

TIME Health Care

Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic Will Stay Open After Court Ruling

Abortion-Mississippi
Abortion support signs outside of the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., Nov. 21, 2013. Rogelio V. Solis—AP

A federal appeals panel blocked a law that would have closed the one abortion clinic in Mississippi

The sole abortion clinic in Mississippi will remain open after a federal appeals panel on Tuesday blocked a state law that would have required its doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in a 2-to-1 vote that the law would have effectively ended abortion in the state, as the clinic’s doctors have been unable to receive admitting privileges from local hospitals. The panel said Mississippi would be illegally shifting its constitutional obligations to neighboring states, the New York Times reports.

“A state cannot lean on its sovereign neighbors to provide protection of its citizens’ federal constitutional rights,” Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote.

Mississippi lawmakers who supported the law said it only sought to address safety issues and “the regulation of abortion clinics,” said State Rep. Sam C. Mims. Opponents of the law said it was intended to end abortion in the state.

The U.S. Appeals Court ruling did not consider whether the requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals was justified on safety grounds, and only ruled that Mississippi could not close its sole abortion clinic.

Federal courts in Alabama, Kansas and Wisconsin have blocked similar laws, reports the Times, while they have taken effect in Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

A Texas law that requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges and has caused one-third of the state’s abortion clinics to close was upheld in March, forcing women in some parts of the state to drive more than 100 miles to obtain an abortion.

Judge Emilio M. Garza of the appeal court said in a dissenting opinion that “no state is obligated to provide or guarantee the provision of abortion services within its borders.”

[NYT]

TIME Crime

Detroit 8-Year-Old Shot Dead in His Sleep

Jakari Pearson was killed in the early hours of Wednesday morning

An eight-year-old boy was fatally shot Wednesday whilst sleeping in his Detroit home, the Detroit News reports. Police are interviewing a man identified as a “person of interest.”

Jakari Pearson was killed in the early hours of the morning in his bed in Detroit’s near east side. The Detroit Police Department said shots were fired around 1.15am into the home.

Pearson was hit once in the upper body and taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His mother was also wounded, though her condition is unknown. Family at the site of the shooting said the gunman may have been a former partner of the boy’s mother.

“The person we are talking to has not been arrested or been identified as a suspect in the shooting,” a Detroit Police spokesperson said. “He’s nothing more than a person of interest in this case and is being interviewed.”

The spokesperson, Sgt. Michael Woody added: “We have a pretty good idea of who it is that we are looking for… We hope the community continues to talk to us and feeds us information so we can track this individual down and get him into custody very quickly.”

[The Detroit News]

 

TIME justice

Jesse Ventura Successfully Sues ‘American Sniper’ Author for $1.8 Million

Jesse Ventura
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura makes his way back into Warren E. Burger Federal Building during the first day of jury selection in a defamation lawsuit, on July 8, 2014 in St. Paul, Minn. Jim Mone—AP

The former wrestler and Minnesota governor claimed a scene in Chris Kyle's autobiography defamed him

Jesse Ventura, the wrestler, politician, and television host won $1.8 million Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit against the estate of Chris Kyle for including an inflammatory anecdote in his book “American Sniper,” prompting publisher HarperCollins to announce it will remove the passage from the book.

A federal jury ruled that Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who was shot dead at a Texas gun range last year, defamed Ventura for including a passage in his bestselling autobiography that described a man saying the Navy SEALs “deserve to lose a few.” In interviews at the time of the book’s release, Kyle identified the man as Ventura.

Ventura filed a lawsuit against Kyle, testifying that Kyle fabricated the passage, which included a description of Kyle punching Ventura. The jury awarded Venture $1.3 million for unjust enrichment and $500,000 in damages for defamation, CBS reports.

“I’m relieved. I feel bad that it had to happen in the first place,” Ventura said in an interview with Russia Today on Tuesday. Ventura had long said he was not interested in the money, but rather an apology from Kyle. Kyle died in Feb. 2013, allegedly killed by a former Marine he was helping overcome PTSD.

“I was really backed into a corner,” Ventura said, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. “I was left with no choice but to continue the litigation to clear my name, because the story is fabricated. It never occurred, and it accuses me of committing treason. Treason against my own. I am part of the UDT (underwater demolition team) SEAL Community. These are my brothers. We’re a fraternity.”

Legal experts had said that Ventura’s case had to meet a high bar and prove both that Kyle intended “actual malice” toward Ventura, and that he knew that he wrote was untrue.

Ventura was a professional wrestler for much of his career and acted in the 1987 movie Predator, in which he became famous for uttering the line “I ain’t got time to bleed!” the New York Times reports. He served as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003.

Ventura testified that while he was in the bar on the night Kyle described in his book, he never said the SEALs deserved “to lose a few.” He also denied that Kyle punched him. Ventura’s lawyer said the testimony from defense witnesses was so inconsistent that they couldn’t be trusted.

Publisher HarperCollins said Wednesday it will remove the passage from “American Sniper” that sparked the lawsuit, the Associated Press reports. The book sold 1.5 million copies.

TIME weather

This Is the Deadliest of the 4 Seasons

US-WEATHER-SNOWSTORM
A worker shovels snow from the walkways at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC March 17, 2014 the morning after yet another snow storm. Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

Winter is actually deadlier than summer

Winter is a deadlier season than summer, according to a new report that shows twice as many people die of causes related to winter cold than of those related to summer heat.

Of the 2,000 U.S. residents who die each year from weather-related causes, about 63 percent died due to exposure to excessive natural cold and hypothermia, while about 31 percent died due to excessive heat, heat stroke, or sun stroke. The remaining 6 percent died of floods, storms or lightning, according to the survey by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Counties in the highest quartile of household income had the lowest rates of death due to weather-related causes, the report shows, and cold-related mortality increased in the West in less urban counties. Most heat-related deaths occurred in the South and West.

Moreover, the elderly are much more susceptible to weather-related death, with about 40 deaths per million due to cold among people 85 or older, compared with less than one death per million for children aged five to 14.

TIME Economy

U.S. Economy Bounces Back With 4% Growth

A welder works on a project at Prospect Steel, a unit of Lexicon Inc., in Little Rock, Ark., July 25.
A welder works on a project at Prospect Steel, a unit of Lexicon Inc., in Little Rock, Ark., July 25. Danny Johnston—AP

The figures beat market expectations and reversed the declines of a frosty first quarter

U.S. GDP surged by 4% in the second quarter of 2014, beating analysts’ forecasts and more than compensating for the previous quarter’s severe contraction, according to new figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on Wednesday.

Analysts had forecast growth rates ranging between 2 to 3%, but the economy bounced back with stronger-than-expected rebounds in consumer spending, exports, and business inventories. The growth wiped out the declines of the first quarter, when the economy contracted by 2.1%, one of the sharpest declines in 5 years. Now, with the second quarter’s rebound, the economy has grown by 0.9% in the first half of the year.

The growth was led by a rebound in consumer spending, which took a hit in the previous quarter due to severe winter weather. This quarter consumer spending grew by 2.5%, compared with 1.2% in the previous quarter. Durable goods, in particular, surged by 14%.

Exports flipped from a decline of 9.2% in the first quarter to a 9.5% increase in the second quarter.

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