March 27th, 2012
08:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers go back and forth as Supreme Court mulls health care law

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, our readers are making some arguments of their own. Some are even protesting. Comment below and share your thoughts and ideas about health care.

Supreme Court divided over health care mandate

We've been hearing from several readers, including a bunch of iReporters, about this measure.

"We need universal health care," says Matt Sky of New York. He suggests the insurance companies have a conflict of interest when treating people. Jannet Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, says she likes the law in theory but is unsure that people will be able to pay for it. Houston, Texas, resident Vera Richardson says we're already required to purchase auto insurance, so why not health insurance?

Some, like Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, suggested leaving health care programs to the states.

k3vsDad: "I say no to this being a federal mandate. To me this is a violation of the 10th Amendment. This is an issue that should remain with the states. The states have a much better handle developing health care programs tailored to their citizens. One size does not fit all. Every time the federal government overreaches, it is never better, but worse. Give health care back to the states."

Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, says he believes Obama's plan was a compromise, and he might even like to see it go further. FULL POST

March 27th, 2012
07:43 AM ET

Tuesday's live video events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination remains up in the air.  Watch CNN.com Live for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Toda's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Pro-Affordable Care Act briefing - The Supreme Court holds another day of hearings on the legality of the Affordable Care Act and, once again, there are no TV cameras inside the courtroom.  But there will be plenty of action outside the courthouse, with supporters of the law briefing reporters.  The Tea Party Patriots will hold an anti-Act briefing at 10:15 am ET, while Act opponents hold a "Hands Off My Health Care" rally at 1:00 pm ET.

FULL POST


Filed under: Elections • Health • Health Care • Health care reform • Politics • Republican Party
March 26th, 2012
07:50 AM ET

Monday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination remains up in the air.  Watch CNN.com Live for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Affordable Care Act supporters briefing - The Supreme Court hears arguments today on the legality of President Obama's health care reform plan.  And while TV cameras are barred inside the high court, there will be plenty of action outside, with supporters holding a briefing, followed by a rally at 10:00 am ET.

12:40 pm ET - Romney in California - It's a somewhat quiet day on the campaign trail, as GOP hopeful Mitt Romney holds an event in San Diego.  Rival Rick Santorum is expected to be outside the Supreme Court to express his opposition toward the Affordable Care Act.

1:30 pm ET - TSA screening hearing - With plenty of negative press abound regarding questionable TSA screening incidents, many may be wondering if the TSA is doing its job.  Two House committees will discuss the issue this afternoon.

2:00 pm ET - GOP lawmakers discuss Affordable Care Act - Members of the Republican Policy Committee will hold a briefing on the Supreme Court's consideration of the Affordable Care Act's legality.

CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.


Filed under: Elections • Health • Health Care • Health care reform • Politics • Republican Party
February 3rd, 2012
11:29 AM ET

Komen reverses decision to stop Planned Parenthood funding

The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed a controversial decision not to renew funding for Planned Parenthood projects for breast cancer screenings, the group said in a statement Friday.

"We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," the group said.

"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities," the group  said.

The announcement comes three days after Komen, a group supporting breast cancer research, said it would stop the funding, saying that it decided it would no longer fund groups under federal investigation. Congress in September began investigating whether Planned Parenthood, a prominent family planning organization, illegally used federal funds to provide abortions.

But on Friday, Komen said that it would "amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political."

"Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer.  Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process," the group said.

Some Planned Parenthood supporters had alleged the decision to withhold funding also had to do with abortion. Anti-abortion advocates around the country had questioned the Komen foundation about its grants for months, prompting the foundation to release a statement last year saying that "Komen funding is used exclusively to provide breast cancer programs."

In Washington, at least 22 Senate Democrats signed a letter calling on Komen to reconsider its decision.

CREDO, which describes itself as the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said Thursday that 250,000 of its members had signed a petition urging the Komen foundation to reverse its decision.

"The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood," the organization said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, making up about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.

FULL STORY
February 1st, 2012
07:34 PM ET

Opinions fly after Komen drops Planned Parenthood

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional "Reads You Need" series featuring some of the diverse voices from our site and across the Web on the stories causing ripples throughout the news sphere.

Over the last two days, columnists, advocacy groups and editorial boards have had plenty to say about Tuesday's announcement that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation would stop sending funds to Planned Parenthood for breast exams.

The move by the breast cancer research group came after Congress in September began investigating whether Planned Parenthood, a prominent family planning organization, illegally used federal funds to provide abortions. The Komen foundation has indicated that because it adopted a new policy preventing it from giving money to groups that the government is investigating, it can't continue funding breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood.

"Grant making decisions are not about politics our priority is and always will be the women we serve. Making this issue political or leveraging it for fundraising purposes would be a disservice to women," the foundation said on its Facebook page.

Some Planned Parenthood supporters have alleged the move is less about investigation and more about abortion. Anti-abortion advocates around the country had questioned the Komen foundation about its grants for months, prompting the foundation to release a statement last year saying that "Komen funding is used exclusively to provide breast cancer programs."

iReport: 'Women should be in an uproar right now'

Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen Foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, comprising about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.

At least one Komen affiliate might keep sending money, and Planned Parenthood says its fundraising has spiked since the national Komen foundation made its announcement.

Here are a few takes from around the country:

Komen attacks abortion rights

The Baltimore Sun's editorial board says Komen's decision puts "women's health at risk by denying breast cancer screening funds to Planned Parenthood on questionable grounds."

"Has Komen adopted an anti-abortion stance, too? Given the obvious political motivations behind the (congressional) investigation, it's hard not to see the decision as announcing that. According to Planned Parenthood, Komen is the first private organization to withdraw funding on the grounds of the congressional investigation. One can only assume that this outcome, if it stands, will motivate Congress to pursue all sorts of investigations against all sorts of controversial organizations.

That has to be greatly upsetting to many people who have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure ... . Quite a few have probably written their share of checks to Planned Parenthood to not only support women's right to choose but basic family planning and cancer-screening services.

...

Breast cancer can strike anyone, including those who avail themselves of contraception. Shame on Komen for succumbing to pressure from anti-abortion groups and risking the health of the very women for whom they claim to advocate."

Read more

FULL POST

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Filed under: Abortion • Health • Health Care • Politics • The Reads You Need
Gotta Watch: Huntsman's presidential campaign
Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman campaigns at Keene State College on January 08, 2012
January 16th, 2012
12:38 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Huntsman's presidential campaign

On June 21, 2011, former Utah Governor and U.S.ambassador to China Jon Hunstman announced his candidacy for president. He began his campaign in Liberty State Park, the same place where Ronald Reagan announced his bid for president in 1980. Over the past several months, the moderate conservative traveled across the country to tout his tax plan and foreign policy views. However, his campaign never really got the momentum he needed.  Huntsman finished last in the Iowa caucus and third in the New Hampshire primary. Despite the endorsement by South Carolina's largest newspaper, Huntsman decided it was time to end his campaign and back one of his rivals. Today's Gotta Watch features a look back at Huntsman's campaign, his feisty exchanges with Mitt Romney and the end of his bid for the White House.

Bad-mouthing Mitt – During his campaign, Huntsman attacked Romney on everything from tax policy to health care to his views on China.

A message for Mitt – During his campaign, Huntsman sent a message to Romney, the winner of the Iowa caucuses. "Welcome to New Hampshire. Nobody cares." That, and a nod to the Grateful Dead, were some of the more memorable highlights from his run for the GOP nomination.

To quit and endorse Mitt -  In the end, Huntsman decided he shouldn't continue on, and suspended his campaign. And, despite their "differences," Huntsman gave Romney his endorsement.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • China • Economy • Gotta Watch • Health Care • Iowa • Jobs • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Politics • Republican Party • South Carolina • U.S. • World
Overheard on CNN.com: Broke doctors, rich doctors? Behind the stethoscope
Some medical practices are struggling to fund payrolls in this difficult economic climate. Readers shared their explanations.
January 5th, 2012
07:51 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Broke doctors, rich doctors? Behind the stethoscope

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

We've seen quite a bit of reaction to a CNNMoney story on doctors going broke due to reasons including insurance changes, the economy and business acumen. Commenters claiming to be doctors and medical staffers (and their family, too) wrote in to share why people should appreciate their circumstances. Many consumers also responded with their own thoughts.

Doctors going broke

The following comments were selected to show perspectives from beyond the sea-foam-green curtain.

Higher costs, sicker patients

One commenter cited many external factors that are creating financial stress for doctors. FULL POST

'Morning after' pill to stay prescription-only for girls under 17
Makers of Plan B One-Step had asked the FDA to make the drug available over the counter to all sexually active girls and women.
December 7th, 2011
10:57 PM ET

'Morning after' pill to stay prescription-only for girls under 17

The secretary of Health and Human Services overruled Wednesday a Food and Drug Administration recommendation that would have made the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B One-Step available over the counter to girls younger than 17.

In February, Teva Woman's Health Inc, the drug maker, had asked the FDA to make the drug available without prescription to all sexually active girls and women.

At the time, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said that, after reviewing all relevant data, "Plan B One Step is safe and effective and should be approved for non-prescription use for all females of child-bearing potential."

But HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled that recommendation. "Because I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application ... I have directed FDA to issue a complete response letter denying the supplemental new drug application," she said in a statement.

In July 2009, Plan B was approved for use without a prescription for females aged 17 and older, but girls under 17 needed a prescription.

Emergency contraceptives prevent a pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus. They are intended for use within 72 hours after sex, but are most effective if taken within 24 hours. Proponents say requiring a prescription can delay access to the drug.

Wednesday's decision was criticized by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which counts more than 8,000 members.

"We are very disappointed that Secretary Sebelius opted to insert herself into what should be a scientific decision made by the experts at FDA," said the group's president, Dolores J. Lamb. "The data are clear that emergency contraception can be safely used by adolescent women without requiring a prescription. Sadly, it appears that once again our leaders are putting political expediency ahead of reproductive health."

But Dr. Lisa Flowers, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Emory University's School of Medicine, said Sebelius' decision "might be the right thing to do until we get a really good system by which we can educate young kids about prevention of pregnancy and understanding the risks of getting involved in sexual intercourse, and what are the outcomes."

Flowers suggested the FDA consider allowing over-the-counter access for girls under the age of 17 if they are accompanied by a parent to the drugstore.


Filed under: Abortion • Health • Health Care
November 14th, 2011
10:55 AM ET

Supreme Court agrees to hear health care law appeal; so what could ruling mean?

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the sweeping health care reform law championed by President Obama.

Oral arguments would probably be held in late February or March, with a ruling by June, assuring the blockbuster issue will become the topic of a hot-button political debate in a presidential election year.

The announcement, made in a brief, was expected as several legal challenges have worked their way through the appeals process.

So now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, what does it mean? And what could the political and legal implications be?

One of the key issues to be considered by the high court's nine justices is whether the "individual mandate" section of the law - requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties - is an improper exercise of federal authority. Various states have argued that if that linchpin provision is found unconstitutional, the entire law will have to be scrapped.

CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that while the challenge is a fairly straightforward legal question, the implications, especially the political ones, are huge.

"The federal government has to abide by the Constitution," Toobin said. "And the Constitution says that the federal government is allowed to regulate interstate commerce."

Under that umbrella fall Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - some of the issues at the heart of Obama's health care plan, he said.

"The Obama administration says his health care plan is simply a reflection of the way the federal government has been involved in health care for many, many years," Toobin explained.

But many states that have filed the challenges say that Obama's plan is too far-reaching.

FULL POST

November 14th, 2011
10:24 AM ET

Supreme Court takes up challenge to health care reform law

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to President Barack Obama's sweeping health care reform law, the court announced Monday.

Oral arguments will likely be held in late February or March, with a ruling by June.

A key issue to be considered by the high court's nine justices is whether the "individual mandate" section of the law - requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties - is an improper exercise of federal authority. Various states have argued that if that linchpin provision is found unconstitutional, the entire law will have to be scrapped.

FULL STORY
November 8th, 2011
11:27 AM ET

Healthcare law ruled constitutional by federal appeals court

The sweeping healthcare reform bill championed by President Obama has been upheld as constitutional by a federal appeals court Wednesday.

The decision is not part of a half-dozen other appeals pending at the Supreme Court. The justices could decide this week whether to take on one or more of those legal challenges to the law, brought by more than a two dozen states and a coalition of private groups and individuals.

 

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Barack Obama • Courts • Health • Health Care • Politics
October 31st, 2011
12:49 PM ET

Obama tackles drug shortages, prices

President Barack Obama will sign an executive order Monday designed to help reduce a growing number of prescription drug shortages while protecting patients from possible pharmaceutical industry price gouging.

Among other things, the order requires the Food and Drug Administration to increase its reporting of possible shortages of certain prescription drugs, while also speeding up regulatory reviews of new drug manufacturing sites, drug suppliers and manufacturing changes.

The Justice Department will be tasked with examining whether specific drug shortages are tied to an intentional stockpiling of medications designed to raise prices.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Barack Obama • Health Care • Politics
Critics call radio station's 'Win a Baby' contest exploitative
Hot 89.9's "Win a Baby" contest has raised awareness over in vitro fertility in Ontario, Canada, some say.
October 12th, 2011
08:09 AM ET

Critics call radio station's 'Win a Baby' contest exploitative

A radio station promotion that awarded five couples in vitro fertility treatments Tuesday as part of a “Win a Baby” contest has drawn the ire of Canadians on both sides of the issue.

Hundreds entered the contest held by Ottawa station Hot 89.9 for a chance to win a round of IVF treatments. After several weeks of having hopefuls campaign and write essays on why they should be chosen, the station whittled the competition down to five couples.

Hot 89.9 assembled the families in a room Tuesday, as posted on the station's website, and announced the award after a tense setup. “You’re all getting up to three fertility treatments. Congratulations!” radio host Jeff Mauler said as loud sobs from the women can be heard in the background.

“There's not a dry eye in the house,” Mauler said.  "A lot of hugs and a lot of tears," he said describing the emotional scene in the room. “Once again with 'Win a Baby' all five of our finalists are getting three fertility treatments, up to three fertility treatments, and hopefully having their dreams come true.”

The contest has touched a political vein in Ontario, where residents - unlike their neighbors in Quebec   - don't get government-funded IVF coverage. In July 2010, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in North America to fund IVF. Last month a Canadian survey showed that 75% of Ontario residents supported health insurance coverage for in-vitro fertilization treatments.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Canada • Health Care
On the Radar: Baseball playoffs, prostate screenings, Korea curfew
The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate Wednesday after beating the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Four of their series.
October 7th, 2011
06:31 AM ET

On the Radar: Baseball playoffs, prostate screenings, Korea curfew

Three things you need to know today.

Baseball playoffs: With the Detroit Tigers eliminating the New York Yankees in Game Five of an American League Division Series Thursday night, the American League Championship Series is set with the Tigers vs. the Texas Rangers. Attention on Friday turns to two Game Fives in the National League Division Series.

At 5:07 p.m. ET, the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Milwaukee Brewers. Trends would seem to make the Brewers the favorites in this one. The home team has won the previous four games in the best-of-five series. SI.com's Joe Lemire takes a look at the stats and the momentum shifts in this series.

At 8:37 p.m. ET, the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals got into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, when they beat Houston and the Atlanta Braves lost to the Phillies in extra innings. Philadelphia was the preseason favorite to represent the National League in the World Series. SI.com's Ben Reiter writes that if the Cardinals can get contributions from some of their lesser-known players as they have so far in this series, they could send the Phillies home without championship rings.

Prostate screenings: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will soon recommend that men not get screened for prostate cancer, according to a source privy to the task force deliberations.

The task force is set to recommend a "D" rating for prostate specific antigen, or PSA, testing. Such a rating means "there is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits," according to the group's website. The task force is set to propose this recommendation Tuesday, and then allow for a comment period before issuing a final recommendation.

According to a draft copy of a report scheduled to be released Monday, a review of studies shows screening with the PSA blood test results in "small or no reduction" in prostate cancer deaths.

Korea curfew: U.S. troops in South Korea face a 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. weekend curfew for the next month after two U.S. service members have been accused of raping  local girls in the past month.

The commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Gen. James D. Thurman, said the curfew would be in place from midnight to 5 a.m. Monday to Friday and from 3.a.m. to 5 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. It will be in place for the next 30 days, Thurman said.

"Given the incidents that have occurred over the last several months, I'm reinstating the curfew to assess current conditions," Thurman said.

Military officials had rescinded the previous curfew on July 2, 2010. That curfew had been in place for nine years.

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Filed under: Baseball • Crime • Health • Health Care • Military • On the Radar • South Korea • Sports
August 12th, 2011
01:19 PM ET

Parts of health care law ruled unconstitutional

A federal appeals court has tossed out key provisions of the sweeping healthcare reform bill championed by President Obama, setting up a likely election-year showdown at the Supreme Court over the landmark legislation.

A divided 2-1 panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Friday found the law's "individual mandate" section, requiring nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties - was an improper exercise of federal authority.

"The individual mandate exceeds Congress's enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional," wrote Chief Judge Joel Dubina. "This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives."

Significantly, the court concluded even though that key section to be unconstitutional, the entire law need not be set aside. In fact, the judges said law's expansion of the federal Medicaid program was constitutional, since states - which administer it - would not bear "the costs of the program's amplified enrollments."

This appeal resulted from in a massive lawsuit brought by Florida and 25 other states opposing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Health • Health Care • Health care reform
CNN Poll: Majority gives thumbs down to Ryan plan
June 1st, 2011
01:56 PM ET

CNN Poll: Majority gives thumbs down to Ryan plan

A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans don't like what they've heard so far about congressional Republicans' plans to change Medicare.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority also don't think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.

The poll indicates that 58 percent of the public opposes the Republican plan on Medicare, with 35 percent saying they support the proposal. The survey's Wednesday release comes as the president met with House Republicans to discuss, among other things, Medicare reform. The House Republican 2012 budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, passed the chamber in April without a single Democratic vote and included a proposal to overhaul Medicare. Under the plan, the government would no longer directly pay medical costs for those 55 and younger, but instead would offer subsidies for seniors to use to get private health insurance coverage.

"Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients."

"A majority of all demographic groups don't favor the GOP Medicare proposals," Holland adds. "That includes conservatives - 54 percent of them don't like the plan. As a result, rank-and-file Republicans are split right down the middle, with 48 percent favoring the GOP plan and 50 percent opposed."

The poll is another sign that the House Republicans' Medicare proposal could be politically damaging to the party. Last week the Democrats won a special election to fill a vacant House seat in New York's 26th congressional district, which the GOP held for over a generation. The Ryan Medicare plan became a major issue in the race, with both the Democratic and Republican candidates, the party committees and outside organizations spending millions of dollars to run ads that focused on Medicare.

FULL POLITICAL TICKER POST
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Filed under: Health Care • Politics
Monday's Most Intriguing: Yemeni leader, Japan's power chief, record-setting runner
Yemen's Minister of Human Rights Huda al-Ban photographed in 2008.
March 21st, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Monday's Most Intriguing: Yemeni leader, Japan's power chief, record-setting runner

Huda al-Ban

Yemen's human rights minister resigned from her position Saturday after 44 demonstrators were killed in clashes with the government. Al-Ban said the Yemeni government committed a "horrible, cowardly, and perfidious crime." Others have resigned from their posts as well, including Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations and the head of the state news agency who is also a member of the ruling party.

Masataka Shimizu

The head of Tokyo Electric Power Co. has reportedly not appeared in public in a week, raising questions about whether he has control of the nuclear crisis in the country. The 66-year-old has not yet visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant in north Japan which is spewing radioactive smoke.  It was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Three hundred workers are struggling to cool the reactors. According to Reuters, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan was overheard asking TEPCO executives, “What the hell is going on?” On Monday another reactor began emitting smoke at the plant, making it the third reactor, a nuclear official said. Workers had been trying to stop two other reactors from smoking, including a reactor that has fuel containing a small percentage of plutonium mixed with the uranium in its fuel rods which experts say could cause more harm than regular uranium fuels in the event of a meltdown. CNN.com is live blogging the crisis in Japan.

Markos Geneti

The 26-year-old Ethiopian braved one of the worst storms ever to hit on marathon day in Los Angeles, California, and ran away with first place, and a record win on Sunday. Geneti shocked everyone even more because he had The win was all the more impressive because Geneti had never raced a marathon before - 26.2 miles. He ran through shin-deep puddles in 2 hours, 6 minutes, 35 seconds, breaking the race record by almost two minutes, according to the L.A. Times.  The weather proved tough for other competitors. Many were taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia, officials said.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Health Care • Japan • Most Intriguing People • Running • Yemen
On the Radar: Day 15 of Libyan protests, Sheen on CNN, Florida wildfires
Libyan anti-Gadhafi protesters wave their old national flag on an abandoned tank in Benghazi on Monday.
March 1st, 2011
11:07 AM ET

On the Radar: Day 15 of Libyan protests, Sheen on CNN, Florida wildfires

Libya - Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is calling Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi "delusional." Her remark followed Gadhafi's ABC interview in which he insisted that there are no protests in Libya and that citizens "love" him. It is actually day 15 of massive protests in the chaotic country. Thousands are demanding Gadhafi's ouster, as the world wonders what would happen if he did step down. Enigmatic and eccentric, he has ruled Libya for more than 40 years. As night fell Monday, forces loyal to him tried to retake the town of Zawiya with tanks and anti-aircraft guns, an opposition leader said Tuesday. The town, which is a short drive from Tripoli, the capital, seemed to be in control of those who oppose Gadhafi, so the pro-Gadhafi crowd was stopped, the opposition leader said. CNN journalists are on the ground in Libya and across the Middle East and North Africa to bring you background on the crisis in Libya. Other countries across the region have seen unprecedented protests calling for changes in government to reflect a more democratic models. CNN's Fareed Zakaria breaks down the history that led to the uprisings, and he urges the U.S. to recognize Libya's new provisional government led by anti-Gadhafi forces. What are the U.S.'s options for Libya? The Obama administration has said nothing is off the table.

Charlie Sheen – Charlie Sheen continued his nonsensical ranting Monday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." He said that he has results of a test that showed him to be drug free. "I'm super-bitchin' [and] I don't believe myself to be an addict," Sheen declared. His recent rants, speculated to be some kind of drug-addled meltdown, have been major headlines since reports of a high-profile night of debauchery with prostitutes that ended when he was rushed to a hospital for severe pain. In the past few weeks, Sheen has repeatedly texted journalists and given interviews to a radio show during which he has insulted his former bosses at his hugely popular sitcom "Two and a Half Men." The show was canceled. When Morgan asked Sheen if he felt any responsibility to act as a role model because the sitcom was a family-oriented comedy, Sheen replied that he thought the show's content was  "juvenile or gross." Sheen also said Sean Penn and Mel Gibson had reached out to him to offer advice, and denied that he is violent toward women. Sheen remarked, "I'm still alive, which is pretty cool." Time magazine wonders today if Sheen is bipolar.

Florida wildfires - Firefighters are having a tough time getting a big wildfire under control in central Florida. About 20 miles of Interstate 95 are closed. Officials say the blaze has burned about 10,000 acres. Heavy winds and dry conditions are fueling the flames.

Union protests - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker warns of dire consequences, including layoffs of state workers, if Democratic state senators don't return to the legislature in Madison to vote on the budget. The budget plan the governor will unveil Tuesday has led to protests by throngs of public employees who are enraged that lawmakers would consider ending their right to collective bargaining. Polls indicate there is growing support for Wisconsin's public workers. Protests about similar union issues are heating up in Indiana and Ohio. Background on those protests can be found here.

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Filed under: Budget • Economy • Education • Florida • Health Care • Indiana • Libya • Ohio • On the Radar • Protest • Showbiz • TV-Piers Morgan • U.S. • Wisconsin
February 16th, 2011
12:42 PM ET

Dozens arrested in health care fraud bust, sources say

Federal authorities Wednesday arrested dozens of mostly Armenian members of Eastern European organized crime groups suspected of a range of health care and other fraudulent activities, according to federal law enforcement sources.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer flew to Los Angeles to lead a news conference to announce the takedown and racketeering indictments later Wednesday.

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Filed under: Crime • Health Care
Toobin: Fight over health care law will end up at Supreme Court
January 31st, 2011
03:01 PM ET

Toobin: Fight over health care law will end up at Supreme Court

[Updated at 10:28 p.m.] The fight over the health care reform law ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Monday will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court, said CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.

"This Supreme Court is very evenly divided between liberals and conservatives. Anthony Kennedy tends to be the swing vote. I would not be at all surprised that he would be the swing vote in this case as well," Toobin said.

"When you consider that this is the signature achievement of the Obama administration, and that it is hanging by a legal thread right now, it's a cause of great concern to supporters of the law."

Because the Florida judge ruled that the individual mandate, the part of the law that says everyone has to buy health insurance, is unconstitutional, “he says the whole law has to go out the window,” Toobin said.

Toobin said it is important to note that several federal judges have found the law constitutional.

"This is why we have a United States Supreme Court, to settle when judges disagree with each other," Toobin said.

The nine justices "have the last word," Toobin said. "Nobody can tell them what to do or when to do it."

[Updated at 5:37 p.m.] The U.S. Department of Justice says it plans to appeal the ruling of a federal judge in Florida, who earlier today struck down as unconstitutional key parts of the sweeping health care reform bill championed by President Obama.

[Updated at 3:47 p.m.] A federal judge in Florida has ruled unconstitutional the sweeping health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama, setting up what is likely to be a contentious Supreme Court challenge in coming months over the legislation.

Monday's ruling came in the most closely watched of the two dozen challenges to the law. Florida along with 25 states had filed a lawsuit last spring, seeking to dismiss a law critics had labeled "Obamacare."

Judge Roger Vinson, in a 78-page ruling, dismissed the key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - the so-called "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face
stiff penalties.

"I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and
Inequities in our health care system," Vinson wrote.

"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time
when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled 'The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.' "

FULL STORY

Filed under: Health • Health care reform • Politics • Supreme Court
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