Oct 27, 2017

Congress can settle harassment lawsuits with taxpayer money

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Congress members are able to settle sexual harassment lawsuits with a U.S. Treasury fund instead of from their own funds, the Washington Post reports, as part of the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act.

Why it matters: The Treasury doled out $15.2 million between 1997 and 2014, on 235 workplace violation settlements (the nature of the violations are not specifie d), per WaPo. California Rep. Jackie Speier told the Post: "It is not a victim-friendly process. It is an institution-protection process."

The 1995 law gives victims 180 days to make a complaint following the incident; they are then required to have 30 days of counseling followed by 30 more days of mediation. WaPo reports that "if the problem is still unresolved, the can pursue an OOC administrative hearing or file a federal lawsuit." On the other hand, members only have an ethics program (not harassment prevention) as part of their mandatory training, and only 800 people have taken the harassment-prevention online tutorial since 2015.

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O'Brien rejects intelligence report of Russia effort to re-elect Trump

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected on ABC's "This Week" an assessment from a congressional briefing led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected.

Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 cases in matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Iranian state TV: Hardliners win landslide victory in low-turnout election

Photo: Iranian Supreme Leader Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iranian state TV announced Sunday that hardliners won a landslide victory in the country's parliamentary elections two days ago, including all 30 seats in Tehran, AP reports.

Why it matters: Voter turnout in the election only reached 42.57%, according to Iran's interior ministry, the first time turnout dipped below 50% since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The low turnout may signal dissatisfaction with the Iranian government and the election system.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World