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ECM has searched high and low to find the most under-reported important national and state news stories that may impact you or your family.  Here are our picks:

AARP ORDERS INVESTIGATION CONCERNING ITS MARKETING

ECM Editor’s note: AARP halted sales of some health insurance policies after deceptive tactics and poor quality coverage were revealed. Please check with your older friends and relatives to make sure they are not saddled with a policy that promises coverage, but doesn’t deliver.

New York Times (November 18, 2008) — After a Senate inquiry found evidence of deceptive marketing, AARP, the lobby for older Americans, has hired an outside investigator to look into sales of some of its popular health insurance products. AARP and UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest insurers, have voluntarily suspended sales of the policies, which pay fixed cash benefits — often much less than consumers had expected — for selected services… More than a million people have bought the policies, which have names like AARP Medical Advantage, Essential Plus and Hospital Indemnity Plan.

WITHOUT MORE FUNDING, UC MAY CUT ENROLLMENT

Daily Californian (November 24, 2008) SAN FRANCISCO — One day after the CSU system announced an enrollment cut of 10,000 students next fall, the UC Board of Regents said it would be forced to limit UC undergraduate enrollment as well if they did not receive needed state funding.

UC MAY CUT SOME ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Sacramento Bee (November 19, 2008) — Thousands of high school seniors are racing this month to complete their applications to the University of California in hopes of becoming freshmen next fall.

Meanwhile, UC officials are struggling with the question of how to create more opportunities for low-income and minority students to attend the state's elite public campuses.

ARRAIGNMENT SET FOR CHENEY, GONZALES IN TEXAS

ECM editor’s note:  Why aren’t indictments of the Vice President and Attorney General front page news and the lead story on TV newscasts? These charges are NOT from a liberal Congress, but from a grand jury in Texas—and include accusations that Cheney engaged in organized criminal activity. Isn’t this far more serious than, say, President Clinton’s dalliance with an intern or Madonna’s divorce?

Associated Press (November 20, 2008) RAYMONDVILLE, Texas —  A Texas judge has set a Friday arraignment for Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others named in indictments accusing them of responsibility for prisoner abuse in a federal detention center.

HEALTH INSURERS OFFER TO ACCEPT ALL APPLICANTS, ON CONDITION

ECM Editor’s note:  The health insurance industry’s “condition” for providing coverage for us all is that Congress require that everyone have insurance.  But what if you can’t afford the price of premiums?  Should poor Americans be forced to choose between buying health insurance and buying food, or making payments on rent or a home mortgage?

New York Times (November 19, 2008) WASHINGTON — The health insurance industry said Wednesday that it would support a health care overhaul requiring insurers to accept all customers, regardless of illness or disability. But in return, the industry said, Congress should require all Americans to have coverage.

NEW RULE WOULD DISCOUNT GLOBAL WARMING AS RISK FACTOR FOR SPECIES

ECM editor’s note:  Wildlife experts believe the President’s action poses a serious danger to at-risk animals such as polar bears, which are rapidly losing habitat and dying as glaciers melt and polar ice floes shrink.  Environmentalists contend that President Bush’s action amounts to a giveaway to industries such as oil companies that seek to develop resources in critical habitat areas. Whether or not drilling should be considered in the arctic, shouldn’t Congress have a say-so in major changes that gut the Environmental Protection Act?  Global warming is an issue here in East County, too, where beetles are infesting drought-ridden oaks and hotter, drier conditions contribute to more severe wildfires. 

Washington Post (November 21, 2008) — The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act that would ensure that federal agencies would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to imperiled plants and animals.

The proposed rule changes, which were obtained by The Washington Post, are under review by theOffice of Management and Budget and are close to being published in the Federal Register.