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Irony Behind Florida Governor's Medicaid Call

Florida governor Rick Scott says he won't take the federal money that would enable Medicaid to be expanded in his state, The Nation's blog reports:

"Nearly 1 million Floridians will be denied access to Medicaid they would have otherwise received under the Affordable Care Act if Governor Rick Scott gets his way. The Supreme Court ruling last week on the law  made it easier for states to opt out of an expansion, and Sunday night the governor’s office e-mailed a statement from Scott that 'since Florida is legally allowed to opt out, that’s the right decision for our citizens.'”

This choice is particularly ironic, given that Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA in the 1990s: that company was found to have defrauded Medicare on his watch. Eventually it pled guilty to 14 felonies and paid fines of $1.7 billion. Scott denied knowing what was going on when he was in charge of the company. As the Miami Herald reported:

"He has denied knowing frauds were taking place while he was there, and he was never charged with any crimes.

"However, federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal -- specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001."

 
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DRONE WATCH: Anti-drone Protests Growing

As killing by drone continues, anti-drone groups organizing protests against the policy are growing. Last week, 15 people were arrested in a protest outside a New York Air National Guard base near Syracuse. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard

Fifteen people, including a woman in a wheelchair, were arrested for trespassing today during a protest at the New York Air National Guard base at Hancock Field.

The members of the Upstate Coalition To Ground the Drones and End the Wars staged their protest for almost two and a half hours this afternoon, from 11 a.m. to about 1:40 p.m., as New York State Troopers and DeWitt Police stood by appearing to confer with members of the military.

The protestors stood in front of the base’s main gate off Molloy Road, blocking vehicles that attempted to enter.

“There’s war crimes here,” protestor Ellen Grady hollered at a blue Chevrolet Impala as it tried to turn in. “We have to close the base.”

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'Homeless' Pastor on Mission Arrested in Texas

From WOAI-TV in San Antonio, Texas:

She's been living on the streets to bring attention to homelessness, but Sunday night a local pastor stayed behind bars.

The Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith had a warrant out for her arrest, because she was cited for sleeping on a park bench, which she says proves her point, that the homeless have few places to lay their heads. Along her journey the pastor has discovered what she calls an unjust judicial system for the poor.


She said, “This will be the second time I’m in jail for that same ticket and I’m just trying to survive out in the streets like hundreds of others here in San Antonio.”


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Anderson Cooper to Andrew Sullivan: "The Fact Is, I'm Gay."

In an email interview with his longtime friend and fellow journalism colleague, Andrew Sullivan, on The Daily Beast, CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke out publicly today for the first time about his sexual orientation.

"... [W]hile as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.

"The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.

"I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don't think it's anyone else's business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don't give that up by being a journalist."

Read the post in its entirety HERE.

Image: Anderson Cooper by Joe Seer/Shutterstock

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DRONE WATCH: Sunday Drone Attack Kills Eight

The Associated Press reports

U.S. missiles fired from a drone in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border killed eight suspected militants early Sunday, officials said, as the controversial American strikes continue despite Islamabad's persistent demands that they stop.

Unidentified Pakistani intelligence officials said that four Hellfire missiles were fired at a house in the North Waziristan tribal area used by suspected militants. The eight dead included suspected members of a Taliban faction and some suspected members of the Turkmenistan Islamic Movement.

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New York City Churches Will No Longer Be Evicted from Public Buildings (For Now)

Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Christianity Today reports:

More than 60 churches that faced possible eviction Sunday from New York City public schools should have more room to breathe. The churches will be allowed to continue to meet in public schools, thanks to a permanent injunction issued today from a district court judge.

Read the full report HERE.

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Tensions Mount on Turkey-Syria Border

The New York Times reports:

"As diplomats prepared for a weekend meeting to revive stalled Syria peace efforts, regional tensions swirling around the 16-month-old crisis ticked higher on Thursday as Turkey said it was stationing antiaircraft batteries on the common border following the downing of one of its warplanes.
 
Word of the border fortification coincided with further suggestions within Syria that insurgents seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad were operating with increasing audacity in an and around the capital, Damascus. The state news agency, SANA, said an explosion rocked the parking lot of the Palace of Justice, a government court building, on Thursday, sending a plume of black smoke into the sky and injuring three people, just a day after a disputed attack on a pro-government satellite television station 14 miles south of the city."
 
Learn more here
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Our Values ... Charted

The Atlantic provides some insights into its recent American Values Survey, conducted in conjunction with The Aspen Institute:

"Americans say they are more tolerant and open-minded than their parents. Among the issues that rate more morally acceptable today than a decade ago: homosexuality, human cloning, pre-marital sex, and having a child out of wedlock.  At the same time, half believe the economic system is unfair to middle- and working-class Americans, and only 17 percent believe Wall Street executives share fundamental American values. In all, two-thirds think the country is heading in the wrong direction, 69 percent believe the country's values have deteriorated since the 1970s, and nearly half say values will further weaken over the next 10 years."

Read more and see the results charted here

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Religion Will Play Key Role in Presidential Election

Stephen Mansfield writes for The Huffington Post:

"There are other matters that may drive religion to the forefront of the 2012 presidential election. We cannot be certain of all of them now. What Americans ought to know by this time in their history, though, is that religion is seldom far from their politics, seldom much removed from American culture as a whole. The 2012 campaign is likely to illustrate this as much as any presidential election in the nation's history."

Read the author's full list of the key religious issues in the election here

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DRONE WATCH: NGO Appeals For Drone Stop

The Pakistani newspaper DAWN reported this morning that the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF), a national NGO, has appealed to the U.S. to stop drone attacks. NRDF has been promoting polio vaccinations in the tribal area where the strikes occur. The appeal follows a Taliban decision to ban the vaccinations due to fear of their possible relation to CIA intelligence gathering for targeting drones.

Tehseenullah Khan, NRDF coordinator, told DAWN that “The ban will adversely affect 318,000 children in the two agencies.”  He continued, “Stoppage of drone strikes by the US could safeguard children against host of diseases. Fata [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas] is the only active hub of active polio virus transmission in the country that has contributed more than 50 per cent of the total polio cases this year.”

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