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Weekly Digest

The following front-page stories received the most comments during the preceding week.

Bureau of Land Management: Today we announced the decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public. ... Ranching has always been an important part of our nation's heritage and continues throughout the West on public lands that belong to all Americans. This is a matter of fairness and equity, and we remain disappointed that Cliven Bundy continues to not comply with the same laws that 16,000 public lands ranchers do every year. After 20 years and multiple court orders to remove the trespass cattle, Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million. The BLM will continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially.


Heritage Foundation head Jim DeMint appeared on Vocal Point with Jerry Newcombe of Truth In Action Ministries last week, where he insisted that "no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves." DeMint, a former Republican senator from South Carolina, told Newcombe that "the conscience of the American people" and not the federal government was responsible for the end of slavery. The U.S. government and its 2.1 million soldiers fought a war for four years, three weeks and six days, suffering 365,000 dead and 275,200 wounded, to defeat the Southern states and end the practice of slavery in the country. read more


Groups from as far away as New Hampshire are riding out to Nevada to join the cattle rancher whose standoff with the federal government is growing tenser by the day. The groups said they were going to the ranch, some 80 miles north of Las Vegas to stand with Cliven Bundy, who property is surrounded by federal agents. Bundy's herd, which once numbered nearly 1,000, is being thinned out by private contractors under the watch of dozens of armed federal agents in SUVs and helicopters, the government says, he has refused for two decades to pay fees to allow the cattle to graze on federal lands.


A male sophomore went on a stabbing spree at his Pittsburgh-area high school early Wednesday, an emergency management agency spokesman said. At least 20 students at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville were injured, and the alleged attacker is in custody, said Dan Stevens, a spokesman for Westmoreland County Emergency Management. The students who were hurt range in age from 14 to 17, Stevens said. A 16-year-old sophomore, Alex Hribal, is a suspect in the attacks and has been detained by police. read more


A Florida single mother who died after she no longer qualified for Medicaid has become a rallying cry in the battle over Obamacare. Charlene Dill, 32, collapsed and died March 21 at a stranger's home while working as a vacuum cleaner salesman. The mother of three young children had stopped taking medication for a heart condition after her yearly income of $9,000 exceeded the maximum to get Medicaid coverage. Dill would have been covered by Medicaid if Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) had not rejected the program's expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act. read more


Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone: That "wrecked" train pulled right into the station. Early. On March 27, the [Obama] administration announced that the federal and state exchanges had signed up more than 6 million Americans for insurance plans. Four days later, on the last night of open enrollment, that number jumped past the original goal of 7 million. And that didn't include as many as 9 million people who bypassed exchanges and bought policies directly from insurance companies. "It's been a winding road," says Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, "but Obamacare is actually working as expected." read more


The United States has often been described as a religiously diverse country, an image celebrated in forums ranging from scholarly work to a popular bumper sticker and even a recent Coca-Cola commercial during the Super Bowl. But, from a global perspective, the United States really is not all that religiously diverse, according to a new Pew Research Center study. In fact, 95% of the U.S. population is either Christian or religiously unaffiliated, while all other religions combined account for just 5% of Americans. As a result, the U.S. ranks 68th out of 232 countries and territories on our Religious Diversity Index. read more


Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R), the likely Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in the state, said in 2010 that women don't want equal pay. "Well we all like to be paid more and that's great but the reality is that women have a different lifestyle," Land said in a speech. "They have kids, they have to take them to get dentist appointments, doctors appointments all those kinds of things and they're more interested in flexibility in a job than pay." Laura Clawson writes on Daily Kos, "Apparently men don't have kids. Women reproduce by themselves. And if a man should by some bizarre accident obtain a child, that child doesn't need to go to the dentist or doctor. Women, on the other hand, can eat and be sheltered by flexibility. Give a woman enough flexibility as her income and she'll live in a palace, dining on dishes forged of shining gold flexibility."


What if the United States has been waging the wrong war against the wrong enemy for the last 13 years in Afghanistan? Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Carlotta Gall concludes just that in her new book, The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014. Gall said that Pakistan -- not Afghanistan -- has been the United States' real enemy. "Instead of fighting a very grim and tough war which was very high in casualties on Afghans, as well as NATO and American soldiers, the problem wasn't in the Afghan villages," Gall said. "The source of the problem, the radicalization, the sponsoring of the insurgency, was all happening in Pakistan." read more


Twenty-one years ago, rancher Cliven Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees. ... His personal grievance with federal authority doesn't stop with the BLM, though. "I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada," Bundy said in a radio interview last Thursday. "I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don't recognize the United States government as even existing." Ironically, this position directly contradicts Article 1, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution.


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