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Thursday, Mar 30th

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Consumer group sues California health insurer

Consumer advocates filed a class-action suit against Anthem Blue Cross on Monday, accusing California's largest for-profit health insurer of illegally using drastic rate hikes to force customers into inferior health plans.

The suit comes two days before top executives from several major U.S. health insurers, including Anthem's parent company, WellPoint Inc. , were to meet in Washington with Obama administration officials to discuss escalating premiums. Anthem's plan to boost its individual premiums by as much as 39 percent has spawned inquiries by state regulators and congressional committees.

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Herbicide Chemical in Drinking Water Could Pose Much Greater Danger to Health Than Previously Thought

Contamination of drinking water by a common herbicide poses a greater health threat than previously believed, according to a report issued by the nonprofit environmental organization Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

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Why pharmaceuticals might be called Weapons of Mass Prescription

Most people are familiar with traditional weapons of mass destruction such biological weapons, nuclear weapons and chemical weapons. The point of all such weapons of mass destruction is to inflict a large number of casualties on civilian populations as a way to cripple a nation into political or military submission.

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Same-sex marriage leads Catholic Charities to adjust benefits

Employees at Catholic Charities were told Monday that the social services organization is changing its health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers -- the latest fallout from a bitter debate between District officials trying to legalize same-sex marriage and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Starting Tuesday, Catholic Charities will not offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees who are not already enrolled in the plan. A letter describing the change in health benefits was e-mailed to employees Monday, two days before same-sex marriage will become legal in the District.

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TVNL Comment: What would Jesus do?  Just asking....

Defense contractor BAE pleads guilty; fined $400 million

BAE Systems pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government, among other things, the U.S. Justice Department said.

U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates sentenced BAE Systems to pay a $400 million criminal fine, one of the largest criminal fines in the history of the Justice Department's effort to fight overseas corruption in international business and enforce U.S. export control laws, the department said Monday in a release.

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Chilean Quake Likely Shifted Earth’s Axis, NASA Scientist Says

The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”

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Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling E.P.A.

Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators. As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.

Companies that have spilled oil, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria into lakes, rivers and other waters are not being prosecuted, according to Environmental Protection Agency regulators working on those cases, who estimate that more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been discontinued or shelved in the last four years.

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NYC prosecutor clears 3 ACORN workers of wrongdoing in prostitute advice video

A New York prosecutor's office says it has found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of three ACORN employees caught on video advising a couple posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend.

The Brooklyn district attorney's office said Monday that its five-month inquiry is over and that no criminal activity was found. The videos were made by conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, who used a hidden camera on visits to offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

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Americans Prefer Online News After TV, Report Find

New insight into how Americans get news shows most of us are not loyal to one news organization and consume information from a myriad of platforms, be it TV, the Internet, local newspapers, radio, and national newspapers. According to the authors of the study, Pew Research Center's Pew Internet & American Life Project, the Internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.

"People use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess, and react to news," the Pew report says. A full 75 percent of online news consumers get news stories delivered via e-mail or social networking, and 52 percent of those people will share news stories with others online.

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