Sinking ships. The U.S. Navy is investigating one of its own commanders for helping a Malaysian businessman bilk the government out of at least $10 million in one year alone. Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz stands accused of passing confidential information about Navy ship routes to a company owned by Leonard Francis, who has held contracts to service warships for 25 years. Under the scheme, Misiewicz would divert aircraft carriers, destroyers, and other ships to ports with lax oversight, where Francis could inflate costs for food, fuel, and other services. Francis’ company also invented tariffs by using phony port authorities. The businessman, known for his extravagance, allegedly bribed Misiewicz with concert tickets and prostitutes. Authorities have arrested Misiewicz, Francis, his company’s general manager of global government contracts, and a senior Navy investigator who is accused of feeding Francis information about the probe. The scandal has caused a flurry in the Pentagon, and senior Navy officials expect more people to be implicated in the scheme.
No better on paper. More notes from meetings held by Obama administration officials to discuss the flawed Healthcare.gov rollout paint a damning picture of attempts to cover up the problems. Officials instructed contractors and navigators, people hired to help Americans sign up for health insurance through the new federal exchange, to use paper applications rather than the glitchy website. Sounds like a smart alternative, except that all paper applications have to be processed through the website anyway. As one official put it: “The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.” Four days later, meeting notes indicate the plan to fool the public was working: “Navigators are seeing people very frustrated and walking away, so they are turning to paper applications to protect their reputations as people in the communities who can help, even though paper applications will not have a quicker result necessarily.” The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released the notes today after getting documents related to the Healthcare.gov launch from 11 contractors involved in the project.
Too little, too late. The family of the man charged with shooting several Transportation Security Administration officials Friday tried to warn police something was wrong less than an hour before Paul Ciancia allegedly pulled out a semi-automatic weapon at Los Angeles International Airport and began firing. After Ciancia sent several family members text messages saying he was unhappy and that something bad might happen, his father called police and asked them to check on him. Officers arrived at the Los Angeles apartment he shared with three other men about 45 minutes after Ciancia’s roommate took him to the airport. Investigators say they don’t believe the roommate had any idea what Ciancia intended to do.
Costly care. Childcare costs in some states are as high as college tuition, according to a new report released by Child Care Aware of America, a non-profit organization that monitors child care costs. Massachusetts is the most expensive place to have a child in day care, with costs for an infant topping $16,430 a year. But when compared to median family income, Oregon was the least affordable state for child care, which cost more than 18 percent of the average married couple’s income. New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Colorado rounded out the five least affordable states. Nationwide, child care costs increased as much as eight times the rate of family incomes last year. Care costs for one child were greater than median rent payments in about half the states, while care for two children cost more than rent in all 50 states. In nearly two-thirds of the country, average child care costs exceeded yearly tuition and fees at a four-year public college.