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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   Part time employees at one of the metro area's biggest healthcare providers may soon lose their health insurance.

   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that BJC Healthcare is preparing to cut health insurance benefits for employees who work less than 24 hours each week.  

   The paper cites two part time nurses as saying that managers and Human Resources representatives recently began informing certain employees of the plan.  Hospital official declined to comment on any planned changes, but did tell the paper that they are in the process of sharing their 2014 benefits plan with employees.  

   The change of policy could affect thousands of workers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Christian Hospital and other BJC hospitals, outpatient centers and clinics. 

McCain slams Putin in opinion piece for Pravda

Thursday, 19 September 2013 01:46 Published in National News

   WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain is accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption, repression and self-serving rule in an opinion piece for Pravda that answers the Russian leader's broadside published last week in an American newspaper.

   In an op-ed headlined "Russians Deserve Better That Putin," McCain singles out Putin and his associates for punishing dissent, specifically the death in prison of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The Russian presidential human rights council found in 2011 that Magnitsky, who had accused Russian officials of colluding with organized criminals, had been beaten and denied medical treatment.

   McCain also criticized Putin for siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 2½ year civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.

   McCain insists that he is not anti-Russian but rather "more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today."

   "President Putin doesn't believe ... in you. He doesn't believe that human nature at liberty can rise above its weaknesses and build just, peaceful, prosperous societies. Or, at least, he doesn't believe Russians can. So he rules by using those weaknesses, by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself, not you," McCain wrote.

   The senator submitted the editorial to Pravda and was told it would be posted on Thursday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the editorial.

   McCain assailed Putin and his associates for writing laws that codify bigotry, specifically legislation on sexual orientation. A new Russian law imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for people accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors.

   On Syria, McCain said Putin is siding with a tyrant.

   "He is not enhancing Russia's global reputation. He is destroying it. He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world," the Arizona senator said.

   McCain also criticized the imprisonment of the punk rock band Pussy Riot. The three women were convicted of hooliganism after staging an anti-Putin protest inside a Russian Orthodox Church.

   The article by McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, comes just days after the U.S. and Russian officials reached an ambitious agreement that calls for an inventory of Syria's chemical weapons program within a week, and its complete eradication by mid-2014. Diplomatic wrangling continues, however.

   Last week, Putin blamed opposition forces for the latest deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria and argued President Barack Obama's remarks about America were self-serving in an opinion piece for The New York Times. Putin also said it was dangerous for America to think of itself as exceptional, a reference to a comment Obama made.

   McCain was not the first U.S. lawmaker to respond to Putin. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., wrote in an editorial for the Moscow Times about the suppression of the Russian people and the disregard for basic human rights.

St. Louis incomes down since Great Recession

Thursday, 19 September 2013 01:40 Published in Local News

   If it feels like you are making less money now than you were before the Great Recession, you just might be.  

   Census data released Wednesday indicates that inflation in St. Louis has increased faster than income since 2007.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that when adjusted for inflation, median household income for the region was just over $52,000 last year, compared with more than $58,000 in 2007.  

   And the poverty rate has jumped to 14.3 percent this year from 11 percent six years ago.  

   Its a national problem.  Inflation has outpaced income in 95 of the largest 100 metro areas.

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