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Need to Know honored by Casey Medals

Need to Know was honored by the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. Watch both recognized pieces below:

Watch Drugs in the System on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

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Health care law: How it might work

Now that we can all stop guessing how the U.S. Supreme court will rule on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act –- it upheld the individual mandate, but limited the Medicaid expansion — we can now all start speculating about how it will actually work, right?

Well, the answers might be closer than you think.

As we reported earlier this month, Massachusetts passed its own individual mandate and Medicaid expansion in 2006, part of a health insurance overhaul law that was signed by then-governor Mitt Romney and served as a template for the federal law.

Watch The Massachusetts mandate on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

But the vast majority of the state’s 439,000 newly insured were the poor and low-income workers, who gained insurance through the expanded Medicaid program and other new subsidized options.

The Supreme Court ruled the federal Medicaid expansion constitutional, but limited the government’s ability to enforce it. The government can offer money as an incentive, but it can’t deny funds as a punishment.

As we saw in Massachusetts, the Medicaid expansion played a large role in getting everyone covered in that state, and it was expected to play a large role in expanding coverage under the federal law, too. As it rolls out in the 49 other states, a big question will be how many opt for the Medicaid expansion, and how those that don’t will cover their poor.

Spotlight on California

Last week, I ventured out west to California to produce two powerful stories of democracy in action.

Over a year ago, the citizens of California decided to take redistricting into their own hands. They appointed a 14-person panel of citizens, comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans and four decline-to-states, to redraw district lines. Last summer, Need to Know reported on redistricting in other states, and let me tell you, what’s happening in California is a radically different experiment in redistricting.

Photo: Rawan Jabaji

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Justice for the Congo

Watch A Portrait of a Congolese Symphony Orchestra on PBS. See more from Need to Know.

A decade after its creation, The International Criminal Court in the Hague – the world’s first permanent court for prosecuting international war crimes — has handed down its very first ruling, convicting Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga on charges of forcibly conscripting child soldiers into combat.  The court found that Lubanga kidnapped children as young as 9 years old and forced them into combat.

Lubanga’s so-called “Union of Congolese Patriots” was one of the many ethnic factions fighting across the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003.  Those conflicts caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Congolese people.

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A viral video takes on a dictator

Invisible Children, a U.S.-based advocacy group, staged a media coup last week with its 30-minute web video about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his purported crimes against the people of this country. The video has been viewed more than 55 million times on YouTube since going live earlier last week, and #Kony 2012 continues to trend worldwide on Twitter.

The slickly produced video accuses Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army of abducting, mutilating and murdering thousands of Ugandan children who served as foot soldiers and sex slaves in the LRA’s rebel forces from the late 1980s, when the group first rose to prominence, to 2006.
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Video: Economic impact in Northwest and West Central Ohio

WBGU explores the state of the Toledo and Lima economies since 2008. They look inside the Lima plant, which manufactures Abrams battle tanks for the military, and explore the possibility of the army closing the plant, which would mean a loss of 1,000 jobs in Allen County. They also traveled to Toledo to speak with an organization which operates a food bank and provides free lunches on the weekends.

Watch Economic Impact: Northwest and West Central Ohio on PBS. See more from WBGU Specials.

This segment was produced with the support of a grant that Need to Know provided to eight public television stations across the country to highlight national issues that are impacting local communities. Grants were awarded to the following stations: KNPB-TV Channel 5 (Reno, Nev.), Mountain Lake Public Telecommunications Council (Plattsburgh, NY), Nashville Public Television (Nashville, Tenn.), Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (Lincoln, Neb.), Nine Network of Public Media (St. Louis, Mo.), Pioneer Public Television (Appleton, Minn.), WXXI (Rochester, NY) and WBGU-TV (Bowling Green, Ohio).

Viral video hits of 2011

Time flies in a year – even more so during a presidential campaign. Too often, yesterday’s headlines fall by the wayside of our public memory. But in our modern-day wired world, the power of the online video has enabled us to capture the moments we often forget and briefly relive them … over and over again. Here, in no particular order, is a sampling of the viral videos that reflected and shaped this year in politics:

1. “Now is the time for action!” Herman Cain’s close-up smoking political ad

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Rochester tackles childhood obesity

WXXI News in Rochester, NY, examines whether the community’s efforts to fight childhood obesity are paying off. WXXI News Director Julie Philipp looks at the Childhood Healthy Weight Initiative and interviews Dr. Stephen Cook of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Last September, Need to Know medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay traveled to Somerville, Mass., where town officials discussed an innovative anti-obesity program that produced promising results.

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Bringing broadband to rural America

This past spring, we aired a story about the gap between the United States and Europe when it comes to broadband access. Recently, Pioneer Public TV in Appleton, Minn., looked at a broadband divide closer to home by exploring the gap between broadband access in rural areas compared to urban areas within the United States.

While many Internet providers claim to give “broadband” access, the loosely defined term has left many Americans wondering if they’re receiving the best service. Specifically in rural communities, like those in midwestern Minnesota, companies providing “high-speed” Internet may only be granting users a moderately fast download speed, while upload speeds are severely lagging.
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