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In the South, the Obamacare debate continues, even as law insures thousands

obamacare 600FRANKFORT, Ky.—In one of the poorest areas of Appalachia, about 2500 people have signed up to get health insurance over the last six months – a number that represents more than a tenth of Clay County's residents.

One hundred and twenty miles way, the county's state senator, Robert Stivers, is laying out his plans to gradually gut the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky, which provided his constituents with insurance. The soft-spoken 52-year-old Republican is hardly a fiery Tea Party type: he first joined the state legislature back in 1997 and slowly rose through the ranks to become the state Senate president. In a mid-March interview in a small room just off the floor of the Senate in Kentucky's Capitol building, Stivers acknowledged that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear had handled the rollout of Obama's health-care law smoothly in this state and that some people in his district now have health insurance for the first time.

Stivers, though, is unmoved. The Affordable Care Act, he says, is "unsustainable" in the long run. If Republicans can gain more seats in the state legislature here over the next year, he said, they will look to peel back Kentucky's participation in the health-care law by limiting the expansion of Medicaid in the state.

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Hollywood can’t figure out what to do with ‘exotic’ Lupita

LupitaNyongo 600Now that Hollywood's award season has come to a close, perhaps it was inevitable that the fawning over media darling and Academy Award winner for best supporting actress Lupita Nyong'o would come to an end as well. The Hollywood Reporter put the official nail in the cliched coffin with its latest print issue, which asks on its cover, "What Happens to Lupita Now? How to Turn an 'Exotic' Actress A-List."

The question may sound odd to those of us who don't consider Nyong'o "exotic." She's not some rare bird with colorful, fluffy feathers that no one's ever seen outside the Amazon; she's a dark-skinned black woman, who exist everywhere, even if there aren't enough women who fit that description in Hollywood.

That cover line is also eyebrow-raising because for months now, we've all watched Nyong'o grace red carpets, rack up awards big and small and collect magazine covers and feature stories that highlight her remarkable beauty, delightful personality and impeccable fashion. But, as the Hollywood Reporter points out, it takes more than great press (or clothes) to make a star.

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Stephen A. Smith: Kobe’s Trayvon comments were ‘right on point’

stephensmith 600ESPN radio host and TV commentator Stephen A. Smith told Arsenio Hall on his talk show over the weekend that Kobe Bryant was "right on point" in his assessment that he wasn't comfortable with Miami Heat players protesting in support of Trayvon Martin without knowing all of the facts.

Bryant was quoted in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker as saying: "I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African American," he reportedly said. " ... If something happens to an African American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society? Well, we've progressed as a society, then don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African American."

Smith said that while it is clear that black people are "outnumbered" in society, that doesn't give them a "license to be unfair." He added that people needed to "exercise a level of fairness and justice."

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Local teachers honored, celebrated at Sunday worship services

teachers 600Thousands of educators across Memphis and Shelby County were honored Sunday at the annual Celebration of Teachers. The event, coordinated by Shepherding the Next Generation – a national group of pastors and ministry leaders advocating for improvements in education – was held to pay tribute to and congratulate teachers for their hard work.

Teachers in more than 100 local churches were celebrated as part of the countywide event. During morning and afternoon worship service, participating pastors preached on the value of the teaching profession, and presented teachers with special gifts to express appreciation for their commitment to positively impact the lives of children.

"It feels really great to know that we are appreciated and valued outside of the classroom," said Brenda Taylor, fourth grade teacher at Ross Elementary and member of New Shelby Missionary Baptist Church (Collierville).

"I love teaching, and having the added support from my pastor and church members is a reminder that what teachers do really matters – not just to students and parents, but to the entire community."

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