Editor's Note: Thursday’s American Morning feedback was dominated by reaction to the Obama administration’s announcement cutting executive pay for the seven largest companies receiving bailout funds. Most angrily questioned the reasoning behind keeping or rewarding “incompetent” personnel who had created the financial chaos. Others were skeptical that the cuts were “real,” as any decreased compensation would be offset by increased stock, so executives would be simply be swapping forms of financial pay.
What do you think of the Obama administration’s proposed executive compensation pay cut plan?
The Vatican made a historic bid Tuesday to win over dissenting Anglicans, with Pope Benedict XVI's approval of a document called the "Apostolic Constitution" authorizing the creation of "Personal Ordinariates" led by former Anglican priests or bishops.
Previously, Anglicans could join the church individually, but this new provision will allow them to join in large groups, as well as let them maintain certain traditions such as liturgy and rites. It also includes a provision that allows married Anglican priests to remain married and still become ordained Catholic priests.
The Anglican Church, known as The Church of England when established by King Henry VIII in a break with the Vatican 475 years ago, has seen its membership decline to 80 million in recent times. The offer from Rome could prompt thousands of Anglicans around the world to switch to Catholicism in protest of their church's liberal stance on openly gay clergy and the consecration of women bishops.
In 1992, the Anglican Church approved women priests, prompting members to leave the church in droves. In 2003, the ordination of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay Anglican bishop led to the defection of conservative Anglicans, some of whom converted to Roman Catholicism. By contrast, the Catholic Church is opposed to same-sex marriage and gay clergy, and all Catholic priests must be male and unmarried.
This is the Vatican’s most open embrace of Anglicans since the schism in 1534 following Pope Clement VII’s refusal to annul Henry VIII’s marriage. Many supporters see this as part of the current Pope's goal to promote Christian unity across the globe as well as addressing multiple requests to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans wishing to enter into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Others feel that it will harm relations between the two Churches and ultimately have a negative impact.
Organized crime gangs are exploiting a new target for illegal profit: Medicare and Medicaid.
Experienced in running drug, prostitution and gambling rings, crime groups of various ethnicities and nationalities are learning it's safer and potentially more profitable to file fraudulent claims with the federal Medicare program and state-run Medicaid plans.
"They're hitting us and hitting us hard," said Timothy Menke, head of investigations for the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services. "Organized crime involvement in health care fraud is widespread."
Los Angeles is among the hot spots for health care fraud, where Russian, Armenian and Nigerian gangs have been caught by federal agents.
Crime boss Konstantin Grigoryan, a former Soviet army colonel, pleaded guilty to taking $20-million from Medicare; Karapet "Doc" Khacheryan, boss of a Eurasian crime gang, was recently convicted with five lieutenants of stealing doctor identities in a $2-million scam, and last Thursday two Nigerian members of an organized crime ring, Christopher Iruke and his wife, Connie Ikpoh, were charged with bilking Medicare of $6-million dollars by fraudulently billing the government for electric wheelchairs and other expensive medical equipment.
The two have entered pleas of not guilty and are being held in a federal detention center. "They deny any allegations of wrongdoing," said their attorney James Kosnett.
Defrauding government-run health care programs involves stealing two types of identities: those of doctors, who bill for services, and patients, whose beneficiary numbers entitle them to medical care and necessary equipment. Criminals are expert at collecting both.
The Navy has censured and will remove from active duty the former leader of its canine unit in Bahrain after reviewing a 2007 investigation into reports of hazing and abuse of a gay dog handler and other sailors.
Admiral Gary Roughead, the commander of Naval Operations, has canceled Senior Chief Michael Toussaint's enlistment extension, which will force him to leave active duty and retire in January, 2010. Although the previous Navy investigation found more than 90 alleged incidents of hazing and harassment, including forcing the gay sailor, Joseph Rocha, to simulate oral sex with another man, no one appeared to have been disciplined.
Toussaint was subsequently promoted to senior chief and assigned to work with the elite Navy SEALS. Wednesday’s announcement meant Toussaint will be stripped of his leadership position and assigned to administrative duties at the Navy Special Warfare Group 2 in Virginia. In addition, Toussaint's retirement pay will be reviewed.
"Admiral Roughhead found that the incidents were not in keeping with Navy values and standards and violated the Navy's longstanding prohibition against hazing," said Navy spokeswoman and Commander Elissa Smith. "Our sailors are to be treated with dignity and respect in a healthy and positive working environment."
Joe Rocha, the sailor who says he was tormented daily for more than two years when Toussaint suspected he was gay, told CNN he welcomed the news. “It gives me and a lot of people a lot of hope in that this is a great day for everyone, for our men, our women, heterosexual, lesbian, or gay, for everyone, this reestablishes what Navy leadership is, that anything less than leadership that meets the corp's values will be punished.” Watch Rocha react to the news
Rocha does regret, however, that Toussaint will apparently not face a court martial. CNN reached out to Senior Chief Toussaint for a comment on the Navy’s decision, but a Navy spokesman said Toussaint is not commenting to the press.