Must Reads: Supreme Court Screws Consumers

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Supreme Court Class-Action Ruling Screws Consumers
In a big win for corporations, the Supreme Court ruled that companies can block aggrieved customers from teaming up in class-action lawsuits. The 5-4 ruling came out of a California lawsuit involving cellphones, but it will screw consumers nationwide. Justice Stephen Breyer, dissenting, said the decision would let companies get away with "deliberately cheating large numbers of consumers out of individually small sums of money." Moreover, lawyers aren't going to want to touch small-potatoes individual cases."What rational lawyer would have signed on to represent [the California claimants]," Breyer went on "... for the possibility of fees stemming from a $30.22 claim?"

Read the full story: Companies can block customers' class-action lawsuits, Supreme Court rules, Los Angeles Times

Petraeus, Panetta, Soldier, Spy: The CIA-Pentagon Merger
President Obama’s decision to send the CIA chief, Leon Panetta, to the Pentagon and a top general, David Petraeus, to the CIA is only the latest instance of a long-building trend: the melding of military and intelligence functions to the point where "soldiers and spies are almost indistinguishable from each other," says the New York Times. One reason that might be a bad idea: military operations are increasingly being carried out in secret - as espionage ops typically are - with little congressional oversight or public debate.

Read the full story: Obama’s Pentagon and C.I.A. Picks Show Shift in How U.S. Fights, New York Times

Birthers Will Not Be Appeased by Mere Proof
Any hope that the president's long-form birth certificate rollout would end the "silliness," as Obama put it, proved naive indeed; leading wingnuts will not be satisfied by mere unassailable, rock-solid evidence. “It raises far more questions than it answers,” said Joseph Farah, editor in chief of WorldNetDaily. Birther Queen Orly Taitz told Talking Points Memo she thinks the document is iffy because Obama’s father’s race is listed as "African," and not "negro." Or something. Donald Trump, momentarily seeing his life flash before him, took credit for Obama's big reveal, before pivoting to his new shtick - raising doubts about Obama's academic record. As to why Obama felt he had to release the birth certificate, the Times points to a poll that "got the White House's attention" showing a steep drop, to 33 percent, of Republicans who think the president was American-born.

Read the full story: Obama’s release of birth certificate does little to allay ‘birther’ fears, Washington Post

Florida's Medicaid Experiment: Farm Patients Out to For-Profit H.M.O.'s
Wealthy former hospital company exec Florida Gov. Rick Scott is pushing a plan to change how his state handles health insurance for the poor - by funneling its 3 million Medicaid recipients into for-profit H.M.O.’s or networks run by hospitals or doctors. The closely-watched experiment, aimed at cutting exploding costs, would set possible limits on services, giving the state and H.M.O.’s the right to deny benefits they get under the current system. Since H.M.O's don't have a good record at reining in health care costs, it's not clear why Scott and the Republican legislature think this is such a great idea, but hospital executives are on board!

Read the full story: In Florida, H.M.O.’s Would Treat Medicaid Patients, New York Times

Indiana to Defund Planned Parenthood
Indiana is about to become the first state to choke off funding for Planned Parenthood, after the state House voted to cut the $3 million in federal money the state gives PP for family planning and health programs. (The same measure also ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless a woman's life or health is in dangerou and requires women seeking an abortion be told that life begins at conception.) A big win for the anti-abortion movement, the vote is awkward for likely presidential candidate Gov. Mitch Daniels, who now faces "a decision [on whether to sign the bill] between the state's fiscal interests and a prime goal of his party's social conservatives."

Read the full story: Indiana Set To Defund Planned Parenthood, Huffington Post