Queen of Mean. Joan Rivers died Thursday in New York City of complications from throat surgery. She was 81. The acerbic comedienne made a 40-plus year career of insulting everyone from celebrities to minority groups. She insisted she was just saying what everyone else was thinking, and the laughs she got proved her mostly right. Rivers got her big break from Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1965. She served as a guest host until 1986, when she and Carson fought and he banned her from the show. No one was safe from Rivers’ barbs, including herself. As she aged, she had extensive plastic surgery on her face from the same doctor Michael Jackson used. “When I die, they will donate my body to Tupperware,” she quipped. Rivers is also credited with launching America’s red carpet fashion obsession. She was the first hostess to ask stars about their clothes on the way into awards shows.
Privacy problem. Hackers infiltrated the Obamacare website Healthcare.gov and planted malicious programming on a test server. The White House told The Wall Street Journal that hackers did not steal any personal information about consumers in the attack. But the breach exposes the website’s security flaws, which internet experts warned about long ago. The attack happened in July but was just publicly reported Thursday.
Pray for Rick. Another SIM physician who contracted Ebola in Liberia arrives today at The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for treatment. Rick Sacra served in the same hospital from which Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were evacuated after getting Ebola. Sacra volunteered to return to Liberia from his Boston, Mass., home when his colleagues Brantly and Writebol fell ill. Sacra was delivering babies in a supposedly Ebola-free general hospital and obstetrics unit when he became sick.
Rights review. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department will take a broad look at the civil rights record of the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department. The investigation will look for patterns of civil rights abuse in the town where police shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, igniting local race riots and protests. The Justice Department inquiry is separate from the local case examining the circumstances of Brown’s death. A grand jury convened last month in St. Louis County to examine evidence from the shooting.
In need of a decision. More than half the states in the union have petitioned the Supreme Court to tackle the same-sex marriage issue sooner rather than later. Fifteen states where gay marriage is legal filed a brief with the court asking the justices to affirm cases from Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma in which appellate judges have ruled against state laws limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. And 17 other states, led by Colorado, that prohibit same-sex marriage asked the court to hear cases from Utah and Oklahoma to clear up a “morass” of lawsuits but didn’t urge the court to rule one way or another.