Already in hot water for lending practices, outlets of Santander Bank have recently come under fire for racial and economic discrimination, with government data and an analysis by an industry reform group revealing the bank has “denied mortgages to women, minorities and low-income borrowers in the U.S. Northeast more frequently than nearby banks.” The discrimination was discovered when the Committee for Better Banks, “a coalition of bank workers, consumer advocacy groups and unions” researched government data “on home loans in the U.S. Northeast, including nearly 10,000 Santander home-purchase applications.” What they found was “a disturbing pattern of racial and economic discrimination.”
For those who don’t know, back in 2014, a deadly blast occurred that took the lives of eight people “and destroyed two buildings.” As a result, a $153 million settlement has finally been reached between Con Edison and the Public Service Commission of New York that will ensure that the utility company will foot “the bill for repairs to its gas distribution system.” According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Con Edison customers will not be responsible for paying for the repairs caused by a deadly blast.
One of the problems with news and newslike coverage in the media these days is one-sidedness. Slant has been with us for a long time, but in an era of Fake News and Alternative Facts, it's taken on a more important role in the way people perceive and interact with the world. People easily fall into echo chambers, populated entirely by peers and media outlets who share their worldview. A lack of dissent, coupled with reinforcement of existing beliefs, surely comforts, but comes at a cost. Not challenging yourself to consider new or opposing ideas means possibly missing out on important truths. Truths which, in a changing world, become ever more crucial for good decision-making and creation of policy. To step out of the echo chamber and think more critically, we should adopt the accounting concept of the balance sheet.
A settlement has been reached between the Federal Bureau of Prisons and female workers who claim they were “sexually harassed by prisoners” at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex near Orlando, Florida. Last Friday, an administrative judge signed off on the settlement that could amount to $20 million to compensate the female workers for “emotional distress and physical harm as well as reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses resulting from harassment from male inmates.” So what exactly happened?
Urgent cares and hospitals are busy this time of the year. Between the flu, colds, and rare cases of pneumonia, people across the country tend to catch more infections during the winter months than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, this means an increased number of patients experiencing a situation known as “surprise billing.” This is when “a patient goes to a hospital that is covered by her insurance but ends up receiving a bill for out-of-network services.” Not only is this unfair to patients, but it can have lasting impacts on their finances. Fortunately, legislators in Georgia are preparing new bills designed to put an end to surprise billing. That comes as a relief for many, especially for Dan Harrison, a recent victim of surprise billing.
Apology laws. We’ve all seen them in action on the various doctor shows out there, or maybe you’ve experienced them in person. They’re laws that allow “physicians to express sympathy to patients and families without it being used against them.” One of the reasons why they were implemented in the first place was to reduce the number of medical malpractice suits being filed. However, a new study conducted by a team from Vanderbilt University has revealed that apology laws do not reduce “the number of medical malpractice suits filed, or the amounts paid out.” In fact, the opposite has occurred. Enacted in 32 states across the country, the apology laws, or “I’m sorry” laws have actually “increased the number of suits against non-surgeons.”
New bills are being introduced in Missouri by Republicans to rein in “an out-of-control civil litigation system that hurts the state’s business landscape.” One bill, sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, would make it more difficult for people to “sue businesses for racial discrimination,” effectively improving “Missouri’s legal climate.” Another piece of legislation would “put new limits on malpractice suits against veterinarians.”
As drillers (and veterans) reconverge at Standing Rock to build (and protest) the Dakota Access pipeline, toxic spills (and their costs) once again inspire public outcry. Native people rightfully worry about the integrity of their land and water. After all, on January 30th, another Enbridge pipeline burst in Texas (for the second time since it opened in 2016). This one spewed 600,000 gallons of crude; what will a similar spill do to the Missouri river? Pipelines fail, and it's not a matter of if but when. Leaky pipelines, train derailments, and other accidents endanger all of our water on a regular basis.
Two lawsuits have been filed against Backpage.com, a website known by many as a hub for “illegal prostitution and sex trafficking of underage teens.” One lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, was filed by an anti-trafficking organization in Orlando known as Florida Abolitionist and a 30-year-old woman who claims to have been a “victim of trafficking through Backpage.” The other lawsuit was filed “on behalf of Sojourner, an Arizona nonprofit victims’ resource organization.” These two lawsuits only add to the legal troubles facing the website, and comes when its “current and former executives” are facing “criminal charges of money laundering in California over accusations of human trafficking.”
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