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NBC NEWS: Obama Admin. Knew Millions Could Not Keep Their Health Insurance

By Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law.

But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date -- the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example -- the policy would not be grandfathered.

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

MORE...

http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/28/21213547-obama-admin-knew-millions-could-not-keep-their-health-insurance?lite

Asian Carp Breed In Great Lakes, Threaten Fishing

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Scientists said Monday they have for the first time documented that an Asian carp species has successfully reproduced within the Great Lakes watershed, an ominous development in the struggle to slam the door on the hungry invaders that could threaten native fish.

An analysis of four grass carp captured last year in Ohio's Sandusky River, a tributary of Lake Erie, found they had spent their entire lives there and were not introduced through means such as stocking, according to researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Bowling Green State University.

Grass carp are among four species imported from Asia decades ago to control algae and unwanted plants in controlled settings such as sewage treatment lagoons. They escaped into the wild and have spread into the Mississippi and other rivers and lakes across the nation's heartland.

Of greatest concern in the Great Lakes region are bighead and silver carp, prolific breeders that gobble huge amounts of plankton — tiny plants and animals that are vital to aquatic food chains. Scientists say if they gain a foothold in the lakes, they could spread widely and destabilize a fishing industry valued at $7 billion.

Grass carp are less worrisome because they eat larger plants instead of plankton and don't compete with native species, although they could harm valuable wetland vegetation where some fish spawn.

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/28/asian-carp-great-lakes/3289387/

DOD Seeks To Implant Devices Capable Of Stimulating Depressed Soldiers’ Brains In Real-time

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced its Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) initiative this week. Its goal is to discover “the characteristics of distributed neural systems and attempt to develop and apply therapies that incorporate near real-time recording, analysis and stimulation in next-generation devices inspired by current Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).”

“Deep Brain Stimulation” devices already exists as a therapeutic tool for certain patients who are unresponsive to other therapies. Approximately 100,000 people worldwide currently live with DBS implants, which at this moment are only devices that deliver “electrical stimulation to reduce motor impairment,” but which DARPA believes can also be used to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s, epilepsy, general anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“If SUBNETS is successful, it will advance neuropsychiatry beyond the realm of dialogue-driven observations and resultant trial and error and into the realm of therapy driven by quantifiable characteristics of neural state,” according to Justin Sanchez, DARPA program manager.

“SUBNETS is a push toward innovative, informed and precise neurotechnological therapy to produce major improvements in quality of life for servicemembers and veterans who have very few options with existing therapies,” he said. “These are patients for whom current medical understanding of diseases like chronic pain or fatigue, unmanageable depression or severe post-traumatic stress disorder can’t provide meaningful relief.”

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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/28/defense-department-seeks-to-implant-devices-capable-of-stimulating-depressed-soldiers-brains-in-real-time/

Brazilian Judge Suspends Work On Huge Amazon Dam Project

A Brazilian judge has ordered that work on the controversial Belo Monte dam in the Amazon be halted on grounds that environmental commitments were not met, the court said Monday.

A spokesman for the Federal Court in Brasilia said Judge Antonio Souza issued the ruling Friday, suspending the project’s environmental license as well work at the dam, located in the northern state of Para, following objections from state prosecutors

The judge said the license was granted on condition that the environmental commitments be honored.

The ruling also means that Brazil’s BNDES development bank, which is bankrolling the project, is barred from disbursing funds until the commitments are met.

“We are not against the country’s development. But we say that the law must be applied,” said Para prosecutor Thais Santi.

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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/28/brazilian-judge-suspends-work-on-huge-amazon-dam-project/

Crime In The US On The Uptick For The Second Year In A Row: Survey

By Pete Yost, AP
October 26, 2013, 12:04 am TWN

WASHINGTON -- The violent crime rate went up 15 percent last year, and the property crime rate rose 12 percent, the government said Thursday, signs that the U.S. may be seeing the last of the substantial declines in crime of the past two decades.

Last year marked the second year in a row for increases in the crime victimization survey, a report that is based on household interviews.

The 2012 increases were driven by a rise in crimes that were not reported to police, a category frequently involving less-serious offenses. Simple assaults also rose. The rate of property crimes increased due to a rise in theft.

“One year of bad news is something you notice but don't necessarily draw conclusions about. Two years of bad news suggests it might be time to start worrying,” said Carnegie Mellon University professor Jonathan Caulkins.

University of Maryland criminology professor James Lynch said the crime victimization survey, combined with a separate report recently issued by the FBI, suggests that the 20-year trend of dropping crime rates may be approaching an end.

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http://www.chinapost.com.tw/international/americas/2013/10/26/392109/Crime-in.htm

Construction Starts On US Base In Romania

DEVESELU, Romania (AP) — Construction has begun on a U.S. base in Romania that will form part of a ballistic missile defense system that has angered Russia.

The Deveselu base in southern Romania is expected to be operational in 2015. It will house SM-3 interceptor missiles and radar equipment.

James Miller, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, attended a ceremony Monday at the base.

He said that "as the (NATO) Alliance has entered new times, it has also addressed new threats. One of these is the threat of ballistic missile attack."

The U.S. government says the missiles will have no offensive capability and will only target incoming ballistic missiles launched by a hostile country.

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http://bigstory.ap.org/article/construction-starts-us-base-romania

Obama To Meet With House GOP On Immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A House Republican working on immigration legislation is heading to the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida is slated to meet with the president on Tuesday. The congressman mentioned the session in an interview with Florida radio station WGCU and his office confirmed the meeting.

Immigration legislation has stalled in the House months after the Senate passed a comprehensive bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living here illegally and tighten border security. Most House Republicans reject a comprehensive approach, and many question offering citizenship to people who broke U.S. immigration laws to be in this country.

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http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CONGRESS_IMMIGRATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-10-28-15-10-50

Justice Department Won't Prosecute Idaho Prison Guards

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- After a three-year investigation into allegations of possible criminal civil rights violations at Idaho's largest private prison, the U.S. Department of Justice is declining to prosecute any current or former guards with Corrections Corporation of America.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson made the announcement Monday, saying the FBI's investigation into inmate-on-inmate assaults at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise was detailed and covered multiple incidences. Olson says that while the assaults at the prison have been problematic, prosecutors didn't believe they would be able to prove elements of a federal crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Under federal criminal civil rights law, prison guards commit a crime if they willfully fail to stop an assault or are deliberately indifferent to an inmate who is in need of medical care.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FEDS_PRISON_INVESTIGATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-10-28-15-22-49

Europe Mulls Sanctions Against US Over Spying

Source: Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) -- The United States could lose access to an important law enforcement tool used to track terrorist money flows, German officials said Monday, as Europe weighs a response to allegations that the Americans spied on their closest European allies.

Spain became the latest U.S. ally to demand answers after a Spanish newspaper reported that the National Security Agency monitored more than 60 million phone calls in that country during one month alone. The report Monday in the daily El Mundo came on the heels of allegations of massive NSA spying in France and Germany, including Chancellor Angela Merkel's own cellphone.

With European leaders dissatisfied with the U.S. response so far, officials have been casting about for a way to pressure Washington to provide details of past surveillance and assurances that the practice will be curbed. The challenge is to send a strong message to Washington against wholesale spying on European citizens and institutions without further damage to the overall trans-Atlantic relationship.

As possible leverage, German authorities cited last week's non-binding resolution by the European Parliament to suspend a post-9/11 agreement allowing the Americans access to bank transfer data to track the flow of terrorist money.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_EUROPE_NSA_SURVEILLANCE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-10-28-15-03-55

Fed Judge: Texas Abortion Limits Unconstitutional

Source: Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- New abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature are unconstitutional and will not take effect as scheduled on Tuesday, a federal judge has ruled.

District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote Monday that the regulations violated the rights of abortion doctors to do what they think is best for their patients and would unreasonably restrict a woman's access to abortion clinics.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers brought the lawsuit, arguing that a requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic would force the closure of a third of the clinics in Texas. They also complained that requiring doctors to follow the Food and Drug Administration's original label for an abortion-inducing drug would deny women the benefit of recent advances in medical science.

The Texas attorney general's office argued that the law protects women and the life of the fetus. Attorney General Greg Abbott was expected to file an emergency appeal of Yeakel's order to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TEXAS_ABORTION_RESTRICTIONS_LAWSUIT?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-10-28-15-08-10
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