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Another 11 year old hit by gunfire in St. Louis

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 07:42 Published in Local News

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) - An 11-year-old girl and her father are hospitalized in critical but stable condition after being shot in St. Louis.
 
Police say the shooting happened about 3 a.m. Tuesday as the father and daughter were driving, soon after leaving a White Castle restaurant. Another car followed them from the restaurant and someone in that car began shooting. The man and his daughter were both struck once in the back.
 
The names of the victims have not been released. Police are looking for the shooter.
 
The attack happened less than a week after 11-year-old Antonio Johnson was shot to death inside his north St. Louis home when someone shot through a window.
 

NEW REPORT DETAILS RACIAL GAP AMONG US CHILDREN

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 07:16 Published in National News

NEW YORK (AP) -- In every region of America, white and Asian children are far better positioned for success than black, Latino and American Indian children, according to a new report appealing for urgent action to bridge this racial gap.

Titled "Race for Results," the report is being released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which for decades has worked to improve child well-being in the United States.

The foundation also produces annual "Kids Count" reports, with reams of state-specific data, but these generally have not focused on race. The new report tackles the topic head-on, with charts and ratings that convey dramatic racial discrepancies.

At the core of the report is a newly devised index based on 12 indicators measuring a child's success from birth to adulthood. The indicators include reading and math proficiency, high school graduation data, teen birthrates, employment prospects, family income and education levels, and neighborhood poverty levels.

Using a single composite score with a scale of one to 1,000, Asian children have the highest index score at 776, followed by white children at 704.

"Scores for Latino (404), American-Indian (387) and African-American (345) children are distressingly lower, and this pattern holds true in nearly every state," said the report.

Patrick McCarthy, the Casey Foundation's president, said the findings are "a call to action that requires serious and sustained attention from the private, nonprofit, philanthropic and government sectors to create equitable opportunities for children of color."

The report was based on data from 2012, including census figures tallying the number of U.S. children under 18 at 39 million whites, 17.6 million Latinos, 10.2 million blacks, 3.4 million of Asian descent, and 640,000 American Indians, as well as about 2.8 million children of two or more races. Under census definitions, Latinos can be of various racial groups.

The report described the challenges facing African-American children as "a national crisis."

For black children, the states with the lowest scores were in the South and upper Midwest - with Wisconsin at the bottom, followed closely by Mississippi and Michigan. The highest scores were in states with relatively small black populations - Hawaii, New Hampshire, Utah and Alaska.

Outcomes varied for different subgroups of Asian and Latino children. For example, in terms of family income levels, children of Southeast Asian descent - Burmese, Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese - faced greater hurdles than children whose families came from India, Japan, the Philippines and China.

Among Latinos, children of Mexican and Central American descent faced the biggest barriers to success; those of Cuban and South American descent fared better in the index.

The state with the highest score for Latino children was Alaska, at 573. The lowest was Alabama, at 331.

Only 25 states provided enough data to compile scores for American Indian children. Their scores were highest in Texas (631), Alabama (568), Florida (554) and Kansas (553), and lowest in the upper Midwest, the Southwest and the Mountain States. The score for Indian children in South Dakota - 185 - was the lowest of any group in any state on the index.

Some of South Dakota's Indian reservations are among the poorest nationwide, which contributes to high levels of domestic violence, alcoholism and drug abuse, fetal-alcohol syndrome, teen pregnancy and low graduation rates.

The report found sharp differences in Indian children's outcomes based on tribal affiliation. For example, Apache children were far more likely than Choctaw children to live in economically struggling families.

Among its recommendations, the report urged concerted efforts to collect and analyze race-specific data on child well-being that could be used to develop programs capable of bridging the racial gap. It said special emphasis should be placed on expanding job opportunities as children in the disadvantaged groups enter adulthood.

"Regardless of our own racial background or socio-economic position, we are inextricably interconnected as a society," the report concluded. "We must view all children in America as our own - and as key contributors to our nation's future."

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Annie E. Casey Foundation: HTTP://WWW.AECF.ORG/

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Follow David Crary on Twitter at HTTP://TWITTER.COM/CRARYAP

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A blizzard, jammed phone lines and unreliable websites failed to stop throngs of procrastinating Americans from trying to sign up for health coverage by the midnight Monday deadline for President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy initiative.

In Louisiana, wait times for callers lasted up to two hours. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee received nearly 1,900 calls by midday compared with about 800 the previous Monday. And in California, where enrollments surged toward the Obama administration's original projection of 1.3 million, the deadline day volume forced the state exchange to switch off a key function on its website and encourage people to finish their applications in the days ahead.

Across the nation, the interest in getting health insurance and avoiding a federal tax penalty was made clear in interviews with enrollment counselors and consumers.

"I have not had a physical in over 15 years," said Dionne Gilbert, a 51-year-old uninsured woman from Denver who waited in a 90-minute line to get enrollment assistance. "I told myself, 'You need to do this. Your daughter loves you and needs you.'"

The last-minute rush was expected to significantly boost the number of Americans gaining coverage under the new law, and government officials told The Associated Press late Monday that they were on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance by the deadline. But the months ahead will show whether the Affordable Care Act will meet its mandate to provide affordable health care coverage or whether high deductibles, paperwork snags and narrow physician networks make it a bust.

The administration has not said how many of those who already have signed up closed the deal by paying their first month's premiums. Also unknown is how many were previously uninsured — the real test of Obama's health care overhaul. In addition, the law expands coverage for low-income people through Medicaid, but only about half the states have agreed to implement that option.

In Washington, the law's supporters already have their sights on Version 2.0 — fixes for the next open enrollment season commencing Nov. 15.

The advocacy group Families USA, which has backed Obama's overhaul from its inception, plans to release a 10-point package of improvements Tuesday that it says the administration can carry out without the approval of Congress. Among the recommendations: more face-to-face sign-ups, coordinating enrollment with tax-filing season to better show the consequences of remaining uninsured, eliminating penalties for smokers as California has done and improving coordination between the exchanges and state Medicaid programs.

"Clearly, the first enrollment period also informed us about different areas where improvements can be made," said Ron Pollack, the group's executive director.

On Monday, supporters of the health care law fanned out across the country in a final dash to sign up uninsured Americans. The HealthCare.gov website, which was receiving 1.5 million visitors a day last week, had recorded about 1.2 million through noon Monday.

At times, more than 125,000 people were simultaneously using the system, straining it beyond its previously estimated capacity. People not signed up for health insurance by the deadline, either through their jobs or on their own, were subject to IRS fines — a threat that helped drive the rush.

The federal website operating in 36 states stumbled early — out of service for nearly four hours as technicians patched a software bug. An afternoon hiccup temporarily kept new applicants from signing up, and the process slowed further as the day wore on. Overwhelmed by computer problems when launched last fall, the system has been working much better in recent months, but independent testers say it still runs slowly.

The administration announced last week that people who started applying for health insurance but were not able to finish before Monday's enrollment deadline will get extra time. A variety of issues led people to seek this extension.

Health insurers and advocates in South Dakota encouraged residents to try to start the process on their own or leave a message at a federal hotline should they have to cancel an appointment with an insurance counselor because of a spring blizzard that dumped up to a foot of snow.

Those who showed up at enrollment events in other states found long lines and technical delays. Even those providing assistance were sometimes stymied.

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., navigator Allie Stern waited 90 minutes to talk to an operator on a federal hotline. Patty Gumpee, 50, walked away without completing her application because of problems with the website. She made an appointment to try again next week.

"I need the health insurance. I need it for doctors' appointments," said Gumpee, who hasn't had insurance in years and goes to the emergency room when she's sick.

Braxton Rodriguez, a 19-year-old Topeka, Kan., resident, left an enrollment event at the city library frustrated. He was unable to verify an online identification after two weeks of trying. A part-time Wal-Mart worker, he didn't have health insurance and wanted to avoid the tax penalty.

"I'm not impressed with it at all," Rodriguez said of the federal government's website.

At a Houston community center, there were immigrants from Ethiopia, Nepal, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and other conflict-torn areas, many trying anew after failing to complete applications previously. In addition to needing enrollment help, many needed to wait for interpreters.

Others found the process more bearable.

Michael Carradine, a 20-year-old Sacramento State University student, arrived early at a registration hosted by a union and got subsidized health care in about 45 minutes. Carradine said it was important, but admits it was his mother who got him out of bed and encouraged him to get signed up.

"She was like, 'We don't want to be fined,'" said Carradine, who enrolled in an Anthem Blue Cross plan with a monthly premium of $106 after subsidies.

Allison Webb hadn't had been insured since 2005 before signing up over the weekend at a Community Health Network clinic in Long Island City, N.Y.

"Luckily, I haven't been sick," said Webb, 29, who works full time for a messenger service that does not provide health insurance.

After choosing a comprehensive medical and dental plan that will cost her about $60 per month, Webb can start going to doctors or a dentist in May.

"I'm glad that I don't have to worry about it anymore," she said.

___

Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington, D.C., John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., Kelli Kennedy in Miami, Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y., and Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed to this report.

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