Archives for FUBAR

Health care law helps on childbirth medical bills

The health care law has opened up an unusual opportunity for some mothers-to-be to save on medical bills for childbirth. Lower-income women who signed up for a private policy in the new insurance exchanges will have access to additional coverage from their state’s Medicaid program if they get pregnant. Some women could save hundreds of dollars on their share of hospital and doctor bills. Medicaid already pays for nearly half of U.S. births, but this would create a way for the safety-net program to supplement private insurance for many expectant mothers. Officials and advocates say the enhanced coverage will be
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Hagel wants review of military transgender ban

The prohibition on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military “continually should be reviewed,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday. Hagel did not indicate whether he believes the policy should be overturned. However, he said “every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.” A transgender individual is someone who has acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or presents themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. A panel convened by a think tank at San Francisco State University
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Feds fail to inspect high-risk oil wells

The government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage, congressional investigators say. The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, highlights substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands. Investigators said weak control by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management resulted from policies based on outdated science and from incomplete monitoring data. The findings from the Government Accountability Office come amid an energy boom in the country and the increasing use
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Secret Service detailed to protect boss’s assistant

Members of a Secret Service special unit responsible for patrolling near the White House were pulled off that assignment over at least two months in 2011 to protect the assistant of the agency’s director while she was engaged in a dispute with a neighbor, according to a report in The Washington Post. Agents were told that the Secret Service director at the time, Mark Sullivan, was concerned that his assistant was being harassed by her neighbor, the Post reported in a story posted Saturday night on its website. The newspaper cited three people familiar with the operation but did not
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Help for embattled troops from a therapy dog

After three deployments to Iraq and three to Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Dennis Swols is agitated, prone to bouts of anger and unable to really talk about his time on the battlefield. But as Swols sits in a small office in the Robinson Health Clinic at Fort Bragg, his hand drops to the furry head beside him and his mood brightens. Settled at his feet, Lexy, a 5-year-old German shepherd, gives Swols a few moments of distraction. It’s her job. And, according to Swols, she’s good at it. “I have a hard time talking to people about my deployments and everything,”
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VA boss Shinseki: ‘Hell no, I won’t go’

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric is brushing aside calls for his resignation in the wake of reports of 40 deaths because of delayed treatment at a Phoenix VA hospital. But in an interview with CBS News, Shinseki acknowledges that the controversy, says it “makes me angry” and vows to get to the bottom of it. The American Legion and some in Congress have called for Shinseki’s ouster because of the uproar over the agency’s performance. Shinseki, a retired Army general, told CBS that he sent inspectors to Phoenix immediately when he learned of reports about the deaths. The secretary said, quote,
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You want change? You got it with the climate

When it came time to deliver a new federal report detailing what global warming is doing to America and the dire forecast for the future, President Barack Obama turned to the pros who regularly deliver the bad news about wild weather: TV meteorologists. “We want to emphasize to the public, this is not some distant problem of the future. This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now,” Obama told “Today” show weathercaster Al Roker. “Whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires — all these things are having an impact on Americans as we
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Supremes say ‘amen’ to prayer at public meetings

A narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings on Monday, declaring them in line with long national traditions though the country has grown more religiously diverse. The content of the prayers is not significant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts, the court said in a 5-4 decision backed by its conservative majority. Though the decision split the court along ideological lines, the Obama administration backed the winning side, the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester. The outcome relied heavily on a 1983 decision in
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Public school students far more diverse than teachers

U.S. teachers are nowhere near as diverse as their students. Almost half the students attending public schools are minorities, yet fewer than 1 in 5 of their teachers is nonwhite. New studies from the Center for American Progress and the National Education Association are calling attention to this “diversity gap” at elementary and secondary schools in the United States. The groups want more to be done to help teachers more accurately mirror the students in their classrooms. Teachers are always pushing their students to excel, said Kevin Gilbert, coordinator of teacher leadership and special projects for the Clinton Public School
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New Jersey sports gambling legal tab: $2.8 million

New Jersey’s bid to legalize sports gambling has endured defeat after defeat in the courts, but one big winner has emerged, at taxpayer expense — the law firm hired to help Gov. Chris Christie defend a lawsuit filed by the four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA. The firm — Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher — is the same one Christie hired, also with public money, to investigate the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that is plaguing his administration. According to figures obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, Gibson Dunn billed the state for $2.8 million
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