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Social media, blogs and instantaneous online distribution has revolutionized news. The reach of social media is comparable to mainstream media -- in the billions -- "but that's where the similarities end," said attorney Wendy Heimann-Nunes, who moderated an event in Hollywood today about intellectual property, part of the multi-city virtual conference Social Media Week. On the Internet, content can be moved and shared and copied with ease.

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The sun rose over the horizon a few hours before 62-year-old Sung Nguyen stood dockside with tears steadily flowing down his cheeks. The new day brought the same stress of being out of work with few prospects. The Vietnamese American fisherman watched his nearby docked boat, wrapped partially in "Dream Girls" movie posters, as it rocked gently in a Biloxi, Mississippi harbor.

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What does it take for your record to be blemished if you’re a doctor in Florida?

Would attempting to have sex with a child leave a dent?

Apparently not.

As Bob LaMendola at the Florida Sun Sentinel reports, Dr. Stuart F. Tillman, a Tallahassee anesthesiologist, was busted in July 2009 and charged with soliciting sex online from a 14-year-old girl.

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This Wednesday, Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration is expected to permanently ban Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC) in the state's birth centers. In response, BirthGirlz, a national nonprofit based in Florida, is mounting a legal challenge, arguing that the ban is beyond the scope of the state health agency's role. See full story here.

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Unwilling to accept a permanent ban on vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) in Florida's birth centers, a coalition challenging the rule argues that Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration is overstepping its bounds by intervening in the activities of licensed healthcare providers and by overriding the "informed consent" standard for patients. See full story here.

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Here's a recap of the latest developments on the health reform front, along with some helpful resources and story ideas for your community.

March 21, 2010, 10 p.m. PST

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There was a collective cry of alarm this week to news that the Medical Board of California had mishandled the case of a physician accused of negligence in the abortion-related death of a patient.

I wrote about the Dr. Andrew Rutland case on Tuesday, detailing how the medical board had appointed a doctor who had been disciplined by the board to oversee Rutland, in violation of the board’s own policies. Here is what happened next:

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Dr. Earl Bradley had rooms in his pediatric practice decorated with Disney characters. Standard issue for the field.

He also had a merry-go-round and a Ferris wheel, which might be pushing the boundaries of childlike enthusiasm.

What made Bradley truly unusual, though, were the six handheld video cameras he kept. He used them, police say, to film himself molesting patients. They suspect he may have victimized more than 100 children, often bringing them into the basement of his office where he gave them toys to play with but also terrorized them.

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Robert Steinback is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former Miami Herald columnist who was laid off in 2008. His COBRA health insurance ends in January, and, because he has diabetes, no insurer will offer him an individual policy. Other alternatives, such as a HIPAA policy, are prohibitive

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The nation’s overdose epidemic has entered a devastating new phase. Drugs laced with fentanyl and even more poisonous synthetics have flooded the streets, as the crisis spreads well beyond the rural, largely white communities that initially drew attention. The death rate is escalating twice as fast among Black people than among white people. This webinar will give journalists deep insights, fresh story ideas and practical tips for covering an epidemic that killed more than 107,000 people in the U.S. last year. Sign-up here!

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