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World/National News

January 4, 2014

Around the world and the Nation

WASHINGTON (AP) — A secretive U.S. spy court has ruled again that the National Security Agency can keep collecting every American’s telephone records every day, in the midst of dueling decisions in two civilian federal courts about whether the surveillance program is constitutional.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court yesterday renewed the NSA phone collection program, said Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Such periodic requests are somewhat formulaic but required since the program started in 2006.

The latest approval was the first since two conflicting court decisions about whether the program is lawful and since a presidential advisory panel recommended that the NSA no longer be allowed to collect and store the phone records and search them without obtaining separate court approval for each search.

In a statement, Turner said that 15 judges on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on 36 occasions over the past seven years have approved the NSA’s collection of U.S. phone records as lawful.

Also yesterday, government lawyers turned to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to block one federal judge’s decision that threatens the NSA phone records program.

Health overhaul plans too skimpy for people with modest incomes and high medical costs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For working people making modest wages and struggling with high medical bills from chronic disease, President Barack Obama’s health care plan sounds like long-awaited relief. But the promise could go unfulfilled.

It’s true that patients with cancer and difficult conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s will be able to get insurance and financial help with monthly premiums.

But their annual out-of-pocket costs could still be so high they’ll have trouble staying out of debt.

You couldn’t call them uninsured any longer. You might say they’re “underinsured.”

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