There’s one known active case of Ebola in the United States, and President Obama was quick to remind the nation Tuesday that “only two people so far have contracted Ebola on America soil.”
But fears abound, and one Washington law firm is making itself available for all your Ebola-related legal needs.
Arent Fox is organizing a live panel discussion at its New York office on Nov. 12 to help businesses and employees with pressing concerns about the spread of Ebola — which “places caregivers in a situation where a minor error can be lethal,” Arent Fox warns ominously in a news release.
Lawyers are prepared to address any number of Ebola-related legal quandaries. Not sure what those would be? The firm has prepped a list of questions you might want to ask. Such as: How do you handle an employee who has been quarantined by the government? Can an employee who has been exposed to Ebola be ordered to stay home? Do your insurance policies have an exemption for biological or contagious diseases?
The lawyers, representing the firm’s labor, health-care and insurance practices, can also provide some historical perspective on Ebola, specifically whether “significant events” such as 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy provide any guidance for Ebola response.
Darrell Gay, a partner at Arent Fox, said that the firm contacted some clients to raise some of the above questions, and that those clients realized they had no idea how they would or should handle these worst-case Ebola scenarios.
“The issue is we don’t know how far it’s going to go,” Gay said. “The objective is to have the company thinking about it rather than shooting from the hip.”
Just in case.
Eric Holder, the outgoing attorney general, thinks that of the current hit television shows about Washington, the one that gets this town mostly right is, “depending on the administration, I’d say ‘House of Cards.’ ” (Yes, that would be the one with murder, adultery, drug addicts . . .)
Holder, speaking Wednesday at a Washington Ideas Forum moderated by our colleague Jonathan Capehart, added: “There was a pretty bad vice president in ‘House of Cards,’ but I’ll leave it at that.” As the audience laughed, he noted, “And I like Joe Biden, so I’m not talking about him.”
“I know who you’re talking about,” Capehart said. Our money is on Dick Cheney. (Unless he was maybe talking about Al Gore? John Nance Garner?)
Asked about his “guilty pleasure,” Holder said: “I like to binge-watch not-too-serious television like ‘Boardwalk Empire’ — I’m going to be working on that pretty soon — ‘Homeland,’ these are the things I just like to sit down and, you know, just go for many hours.”
Where does he find the time? Hillary Clinton also admitted to binge-watching “House of Cards,” but she did so after she was secretary of state and suddenly found herself with time on her hands.
Other lighthearted questions, which came at the end after a series of serious topics, included who Holder would want to play him in a movie.
“There’s only one person,” Holder quickly answered. “Denzel.”
(Has anyone ever answered that question and not picked a good-looking A-lister?)
Holder, who has been a Republican target over numerous White House scandals, was asked what he hopes to be remembered for. Holder hopes he left the country “a little more fair, with a greater sense of the urgency to make sure that all people are treated equally.”
The Pentagon mad scientists who brought us the Internet were awarded their first Guinness world record this week, for developing an incredibly complicated electrical circuit that fits on the head of a pin (this is, of course, a vast oversimplification).
For our Loop technology wonks, what they’ve done, in partnership with Northrop Grumman, is create the world’s “fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit.” (Got that?) The good people at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency explain to us tech laymen that the circuit runs at a trillion hertz (sounds like a lot) — or, put more simply, about a hundred billion times as fast as the electricity that powers your home.
The practical real-world uses? Rick Weiss, spokesman for DARPA, tells us the new technology could result in “extremely high-resolution monitors, improved collision-avoidance radar, and electronic sniffers that can detect potentially dangerous chemicals and explosives with much greater sensitivity.” In other words, this could be a really big deal.
In May, the Web site Defense One included the research among “Four DARPA Projects That Could Be Bigger Than the Internet,” suggesting it could lead to — wait for it — “cloaking for jets and equipment and even, perhaps, invisibility.”
We hear the adjudicator from Guinness, who recognized DARPA’s work at a ceremony Tuesday, told the crowd of scientists and engineers that theirs might be one of the geekiest world records he has documented.
He then told them that his life’s work is spent congratulating people who are obsessed over something. For them, it was creating the world’s first terahertz chip. For others, it’s having the dog with the longest tongue (4.5 inches), or the largest collection of Mickey Mouse dolls (a woman in Florida has more than 6,000 Mickey items).
One person’s massive breakthrough in technology is another person’s . . .
Bill Burns, who stepped down as the State Department’s DepSec last week, was quickly swooped up by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The prominent global research think tank announced Burns as its new president Wednesday, effective Feb. 4. He will replace Jessica Tuchman Mathews, who held the job for 18 years.
“I am delighted to be coming to Carnegie and honored to follow in the footsteps of Jessica Mathews,” Burns said in a statement released by Carnegie. The endowment, with five centers around the world, “offers an extraordinary opportunity to be able to continue to play an important and constructive role in global affairs from outside government service.”
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz