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Tuesday, Mar 31st

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Medicare doctor pay fix prospects brighten in Congress

Medicare doctor payU.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday that prospects were good for passage of a permanent fix to Medicare's flawed doctor-pay formula, a move that would spare physicians from impending pay cuts.

The Republican leader said the House was intent on avoiding another short-term repair like the ones resorted to previously.

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Study: Gulf Stream slower than ever before

Gulf stream slower than ever beforeThe Gulf Stream is the weakest it's been in the last 1,000 years. And as glacier melt in the Arctic continues to accelerate, the foot of the Atlantic's most powerful ocean current keeps pressing harder and harder on the brake pedal.

A team of researchers recently analyzed an exhaustive catalog of geologic samples -- including ice cores, tree rings and coral, as well as ocean and lake sediments -- dating back to the year 900. Using sea-surface and atmospheric temperature data derived from the samples, scientists were able to plot a history of ocean current behavior.

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The dangerous Medicare loophole of 'observation status'

Medicare loopholeOn the morning of Sept. 23, 2014, Caroline Giada woke up in her home in coastal New Jersey. She rose from bed, walked over to the bathroom and fainted, hitting her back on the sink cabinet on the way down. When she came to, she couldn’t move. So she called 911.

The 76-year-old was taken to the emergency room, where the attending nurses looked her over and booked her into a bed. Over the next six days, she was given every kind of test imaginable: X-rays, electrocardiogram, CT scan, ultrasound, MRI. Nurses came and went. So did doctors. Finally, a week later, the problem was uncovered: a fracture in the L5 segment of Giada’s lower spine. They called in a specialist, but he said he couldn’t operate until the following Thursday.

Then the hospital kicked her out.

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Israel spied on US talks with Iran to undercut deal

israel spied on iran talksWashington has accused Israel of spying on closed-door international talks with Iran about its nuclear program and relaying information from the meetings to the U.S. Congress as a way to build a case against the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing more than a dozen current and former U.S. and Israeli officials, the WSJ said Israel eavesdropped on the negotiations and gathered information from “confidential U.S. briefings,” “informants” and “diplomatic contacts in Europe.”

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Jet crashes in Alps with 150 aboard; no survivors expected

German plane crashes in alpsA passenger jet carrying 150 people crashed Tuesday in the French Alps as it flew from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, authorities said. As search-and-rescue teams struggled to get to the remote, snow-covered region, France's president warned that no survivors were expected.

The crash site was at Meolans-Revels, near the popular ski resort of Pra Loup, according to Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council in southeast France. The site is 700 kilometers (430 miles) south-southeast of Paris. But with mountains all around and few clear trails into the area, access to the crash site was expected to take time.

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Smithsonian Stands By Wildly Misleading Climate Change Exhibit Paid For By Kochs

Smithsonian's Koch ExhibitThe Smithsonian risks damaging its reputation by having a polluter-funded science denier on the payroll and a wildly misleading Koch-funded exhibit that downplays the risks posed by human-caused climate change.

It’s time for the world’s self-proclaimed “largest museum and research complex,” to live up to its mission — and its own climate statement — and cut ties with the anti-science, pro-pollution crowd.

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FactChecking Ted Cruz, 2016 GOP candidate for President

Ted CruzTexas Sen. Ted Cruz became the first major Republican candidate to declare himself officially in the 2016 presidential race. In announcing his presidential ambition,

Cruz repeated a number of dubious claims we have heard before, and a few we haven’t. Some highlights:

Cruz railed against a “government … that seeks to ban our ammunition.” The Obama administration sought to ban a certain type of armor-piercing bullet, not all types of ammunition. The proposal has since been postponed.

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Barack Obama’s top aide says Israeli ‘occupation’ must end

Denis McDonoughWhite House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made clear in a speech to a left-leaning Israel advocacy group that President Barack Obama isn’t letting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off the hook for his dismissal of a two-state solution.

That stance, as well as Netanyahu’s suggestion also made in the closing days before last week’s Israeli elections that he’d approved settlements in contested territory in Jerusalem for the strategic purpose of changing the borders are “so very troubling,” McDonough told J Street’s annual conference in Washington. He called the pro-Israel group, which opposes some of Netanyahu’s policies, “our partner.”

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Grave Issues on Iran Cited by 367 House Members in Letter

US CongressA letter signed by 367 U.S. House members to President Barack Obama highlights what they describe as “grave and urgent issues” relating to negotiations to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The letter, dated March 20 and released Monday by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, cites concern about the size of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, its lack of cooperation with international inspectors and the need for an intrusive inspection regime.

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