Kentucky newspaper slams Mitch McConnell’s Obamacare doublespeak

By Jed Lewison, Daily Kos – This is a delightfully harsh editorial from the Lexington Herald-Leader on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s absurd claim that repealing Obamacare would have no impact on Kynect, the health insurance marketplace delivering coverage to 421,000 Kentucky residents: What in the world did he mean last week when he told reporters that repeal of the Affordable Care Act — “root and branch,” as he has demanded many times — is “unconnected” to the future of Kynect, Kentucky’s health insurance exchange?Asked specifically if Kynect should be dismantled, McConnell said: “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question.” We asked the McConnell campaign for a clarification and were sent the usual talking points and a statement saying, “If Obamacare is repealed, Kentucky should decide for itself whether to keep Kynect or set up a different marketplace,” a suggestion that is unconnected to reality. Kentuckians are waiting to learn if...

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Veterans Affairs Chief Eric Shinseki Hands in Resignation

Announcement comes amid scandal over scheduling abuses at hospitals U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is resigning, President Barack Obama announced today, amid a scandal over what Shinseki acknowledged the same day were “systemic” scheduling abuses at veterans’ health care facilities that covered up long wait times. Shinseki apologized Friday morning, speaking in Washington, D.C. at a conference on homeless veterans. He said the problems at the VA were more severe than he initially thought. The White House had announced that he would be meeting with Obama, and the president’s statement that Shinseki would be resigning came after the meeting. At the Friday morning conference, Shinseki also announced that he had initiated the process to remove the leaders of a Phoenix veterans’ hospital where as many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for medical care. According to an investigation report released Wednesday, about 1,700 veterans in need of medical attention were “at...

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Arkansas police officer resigns after pointing a gun at 5-year-old’s head

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos – A lot of crazy in this story out of Fort Smith, AR: A Fort Smith police officer was arrested and placed on administrative leave Tuesday after Sequoyah County deputies said he fired a gun inside his home and held a gun to a five-year-old child’s head. Officer Naaman Adcock was placed on administrative leave with pay while authorities conduct an internal investigation. Sequoyah County authorities said they took nine guns from Adcock’s possession after he fired off several rounds into a wall inside his home after he got into a drunken dispute with his wife. Administrative leave. Paid administrative leave. Incredible this guy wasn’t fired on the spot. Not only did he terrorize the children at gunpoint, he pulled a gun on a deputy: Deputies continued to Adcock’s residence, and when they knocked on the door, Naaman Adcock answered with a gun drawn and...

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Evan Bayh’s multi-million-dollar head start?

Former senator could tap stocked federal campaign account if he seeks Indiana governorship By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity – If former Sen. Evan Bayh again runs for governor in Indiana — there’s speculation he’ll seek his old post, although Bayh is mum on the matter— he’d likely have a multi-million-dollar fundraising head start on any opponent. That’s because the Hoosier State’s campaign finance laws allow politicians to use any or all money raised for federal campaigns toward state-level political bids, Indiana Election Division Co-Director Trent Deckard confirmed in an email to the Center for Public Integrity. Bayh has $9.8 million remaining in his dormant campaign account, an amount he’s largely sat on since leaving the U.S. Senate in early 2011. That’s more than any other former member of Congress who isn’t at the moment seeking elected office, and part of nearly $100 million in leftover campaign money such ex-candidates have idled, as the Center for Public Integrity previously...

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Ready for Hillary no longer just a super PAC

Change in status allows pro-Clinton group to donate directly to candidates By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity –  Ready for Hillary is now primed to pump Democratic congressional candidates full of cash. The pro-Clinton super PAC today filed paperwork to convert itself into a hybrid PAC. This relatively new type of political committee may raise unlimited amounts of money to advocate for and against candidates — and at the same time collect limited amounts of cash to give directly to candidates. In doing so, the organization aims to put renewed punch into its promise to this year support Clinton’s allies during this year’s midterm elections. “Ready for Hillary and our more than two million supporters are not only excited about encouraging Hillary to run in 2016, but also excited to be working to elect Democrats in 2014,” spokesman Seth Bringman said in an email to the Center for Public Integrity. “This is another tool that we now...

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Ohio Becomes First State to Roll Back Renewable Energy Mandate

  By Brandon Baker, EcoWatch – Ohio Gov. John Kasich said two years ago that he had “no doubt” that the renewable energy bill he signed would last 100 years. After a state House of Representatives vote Wednesday afternoon, that appears unlikely. The state House approved Senate Bill 310, 53 to 38, making Ohio the first in the U.S. to freeze renewable energy standards. The bill previously passed the Senate, but now the Senate needs to approve minor changes made by the House, and then the measure heads to Gov. John Kasich’s desk. The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday that Kasich plans to sign the bill. “As the rest of the country is moving forward on energy efficiency and independence, Ohio is moving backwards,” State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) said in a statement. “Reversing our Renewable Portfolio Standards is completely irrational, and unfortunately Ohio consumers and businesses are the victims of the absurdity.” In addition...

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Medicare Overpays Billions for Office Visits, Patient Evaluations

Many doctors bill for services very differently than their peers By Charles Ornstein, ProPublica – Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much for office visits and other patient evaluations in 2010, according to a new report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But in its reply to the findings, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare, said it doesn’t plan to review the billings of doctors who almost always charge for the most-expensive visits because it isn’t cost effective to do so. The inspector general’s report, released today, estimates that overpayments account for 21 percent of the $32.3 billion spent on evaluation and management (E&M) services in 2010. The E&M category includes office visits, emergency room assessments and inpatient hospital evaluations.   This is the second time that the inspector general has singled out this area for more scrutiny. In 2012, the watchdog...

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Amazing Cave

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California Supreme Court Rules for Police Transparency

Names of officers involved in shootings aren’t confidential under state law By Peter Bibring, ACLU – You’ve seen police uniforms on TV. Some have medals, some have stripes, some are blue and some are tan, but they always have a badge and a little nameplate on the chest bearing the officer’s name. In California, officers are required by state law to wear that nameplate identifying them. Why? Accountability. A strong democracy requires transparency. And yesterday, the California Supreme Court gave a boost to transparent policing by ruling that the names of officers involved in shootings aren’t confidential under state law. At issue in this case are officers from the Long Beach Police Department who shot and killed 35 year-old Douglas Zerby in December 2010, when they mistakenly believed the garden hose nozzle he was holding was a gun. In response to the concerns that the shooting might indicate deeper problems within...

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Richard Martinez to politicians – I don’t want your calls, I want action

By Christian Dem in NC, Daily Kos – Richard Martinez, the father of Santa Barbara shooting victim Christopher Martinez, has another message to send to Washington besides “Not one more.”  Last night, he told Anderson Cooper that he doesn’t want to hear any statements of condolences from the politicians until they do something to keep this insanity from happening again.   COOPER: I know you’ve had people reach out to you, people from Capitol Hill. What is your message to them? What is your message about what needs to change?MARTINEZ: Don’t — my message is this. Don’t — I’ve had Congress people call me and express their condolences and sympathy. And when that happened — when that’s happened I‘ve told them don’t call me and tell me you’re sorry about my son’s death. I don’t want to hear it from you. I don’t want to hear that you’re sorry about...

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Exclusive: FBI spied on Nelson Mandela during first U.S. trip

 Newly released files reveal informant on South African icon’s historic 1990 visit, amid serious concerns for security by Jason Leopold –          The FBI spied on Nelson Mandela when the legendary South African leader arrived in the United States in June 1990, according to newly released files exclusively obtained by Al Jazeera. A May 30, 1990, FBI memo from the Atlanta field office to then–FBI Director William Sessions about the upcoming visit noted that the bureau had cultivated a new confidential informant — either directly within Mandela’s inner circle or closely affiliated with his entourage — who had provided logistical information about Mandela’s travel itinerary. Mandela arrived in the U.S. four months after his release from 27 years in prison, not only as the world’s most celebrated political prisoner and liberation icon but also as the leader of a U.S.-designated “terrorist organization.” The African National Congress was not removed from the...

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Manic Impression Has Captured His Soul

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Researchers Identify New Genetic Building Blocks

Ongoing project to catalog human proteins uncovers 193 novel types By Mary Elizabeth Dallas, HealthDay News– A team of international researchers has identified nearly 85 percent of proteins in the human body. Proteins are the substances that provide structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Human genes contain instructions (encoding) that direct the production of proteins, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. In addition to finding the majority of the body’s proteins, the researchers also identified 193 new proteins on the human genome. The proteins were found in areas of DNA that were believed to be “noncoding,” or regions that do not encode proteins. Finding proteins in areas with genes that weren’t believed to code means the human genome could be more complex than previously believed, the researchers concluded. “This was the most exciting part of this study, finding further complexities in the genome....

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Utah’s Natural Bridges National Monument

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Comcast-Time Warner deal may hinge on anemic low-cost Internet plan

Merger conditions poor substitute for national strategy   By Allan Holmes, Center for Public Integrity – As Comcast Corp. tries to convince the federal government to permit it to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for $45 billion, opponents of the deal will inevitably bring up people like Ed. Every morning at 8:15, Ed climbs into his red, 1999 Mazda sedan and drives 15 miles down Main Street in Scranton, Pa.  He passes mom-and-pop sandwich shops, a shuttered elementary school and a computerized shooting gallery for archery on his way to a friend’s 86-year-old house where coal miners once lived — and where there’s an Internet connection. Ed, who comes here because he can’t afford the parking fees at a library six miles away, first reads his email and then turns his attention to job sites such as snapjobsearch, glassdoor, Monster and Craigslist. He’s been following this routine for nearly four years, looking...

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Joy Division and the Little Known Masterpiece

A retrospective on what might be the least well-known masterpiece in the history of British rock music by Keith Lennox, All-len-All – In August of 1979 an album was released under the Factory label out of Manchester, England that contained a sound so fresh, so innovative, that at first one didn’t quite know what to think.  Three songs in, it became readily apparent that you had just embarked on a musical adventure that was very special indeed.  It was punk but it wasn’t, it was rock but yet pop, it was musically driven but at the same time remarkably lyrical.  The band was Joy Division and the ground breaking album was Unknown Pleasures. The band’s manager, Rob Gretton, refused to sign the band to a major label (The Do It Yourself era had hit the music industry and many bands chose creative license over some quick cash as a signing bonus) and signed instead...

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States Intervene When School Districts Hit Financial Trouble

By Adrienne Lu, Stateline Staff Writer –  Pushed to the brink of financial ruin, Normandy, a school district in Missouri will officially breathe its last breath on June 30. The district’s finances buckled this year under the weight of a state law that requires school districts that fail to meet certain academic standards to pay tuition and transportation costs for students who want to transfer to other districts. Normandy, which lost its state accreditation in 2013, saw about 1,000 students, or 25 percent, of the district’s students move to other schools this year at a price tag of about $8 million. Normandy is not alone among school districts struggling with serious financial problems. Each year, a handful of school systems across the country fall into such deep financial or academic trouble that states step in to help – or even take over entirely. The number remained steady in the first few...

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McConnell suddenly afraid to run against Obamacare

Mitch is flailing on Obamacare, so own it, Alison! by kos – I’ve had this long-running theory that the Affordable Care Act will end up being a net-negative for Republicans by November. As I wrote last month: There is also the rhetorical cul-de-sac Republicans are trapped inside: They’ve made much hay of the president’s promise that no one would lose their existing insurance. Yet here they are, a few months later, running explicitly on a promise to take away insurance from well over 10 million Americans. In Kentucky, that number is 413,000, exactly. Turns out I’m on the right track, as Sen. Mitch McConnell is turning himself into pretzels trying to weasel out of that rhetorical cul-de-sac. So there he was last week claiming, hilariously, that Kentucky Kynect, the state implementation of Obamacare, had nothing to do with Obamacare. Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell says he would try to repeal the...

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Dad’s Brain Becomes More ‘Maternal’ When He’s Primary Caregiver: Study

Regions where emotions are processed get more active, researchers report Fathers who spend more time taking care of their newborn child undergo changes in brain activity that make them more apt to fret about their baby’s safety, a new study shows. In particular, fathers who are the primary caregiver experience an increase in activity in their amygdala and other emotional-processing systems, causing them to experience parental emotions similar to those typically experienced by mothers, the researchers noted. The findings suggest there is a neural network in the brain dedicated to parenting, and that the network responds to changes in parental roles, said study senior author Ruth Feldman, a researcher in the department of psychology and the Gonda Brain Sciences Center at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. “Pregnancy, childbirth and lactation are very powerful primers in women to worry about their child’s survival,” said Feldman, who also serves as an adjunct professor...

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Diet Tied to Better Breathing in COPD Patients

Study suggests healthy eating might help improve lung function People with certain chronic lung diseases might breathe a bit easier when their diets contain healthy foods like fruits and fish, a new study suggests. Researchers found that among nearly 2,200 adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), those who ate fish, grapefruit, bananas and cheese tended to have better lung function and fewer symptoms than their counterparts who did not eat those foods. COPD is an umbrella term for the progressive lung disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In the United States, about 15 million people have COPD, and the disease is the third leading cause of death nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. It’s not clear yet whether diet has direct effects on COPD patients’ lungs. The new study, reported at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting...

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