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Columnist offers to fund drug tests for Florida lawmakers

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Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday that he would be willing to pay for drug tests for the Florida lawmakers who voted to drug test welfare recipients.

“Interestingly, the governor’s pee-in-the-cup mandate doesn’t apply to the one bunch that whizzes away more tax dollars than anyone else — the legislators who pass such useless laws,” Hiassen wrote in a recent column. “I say line up all 160 of ’em for a patriotic whiz-fest at the Capitol clinic. You think more than 2.5 percent might test positive? Let’s find out. And I’ll pay for it out of my own pocket. Seriously.”

Welfare repents were “an easy target,” he explained during an interview with Maddow Wednesday. “This is class warfare. This is picking on the folks who happen to be unemployed, especially the ones with children. And they are testing at such a lower rate than the general population. The most recent federal drug survey shows national drug use at about 8.9 percent — almost nine percent. These people are living like monks compared to them.”

“If you get a majority — close to a majority [of lawmakers] saying yes, I would please like to be there along with a camera crew if you don’t mind,” Maddow said.

“Yeah, but the deal is all or nothing,” Hiaasen remarked. “That’s what they do to the applicants for the welfare fund. It’s all or nothing. Everybody’s got to do it. So, all 160 of these folks have to stand there with their little cup and do the deed. And if the lab sends me a bill, I’ll send a check.”

Watch this video from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Sept. 28, 2011.

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How Teach for America evolved into an arm of the charter school movement

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When the Walton Family Foundation announced in 2013 that it was donating $20 million to Teach For America to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools, its press release did not reveal the unusual terms for the grant.

Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach For America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school. The two-year grant was directed at nine cities where charter schools were sprouting up, including New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Los Angeles.

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A massive power outage like Argentina’s could happen in the US

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Argentina and Uruguay are recovering from nationwide power blackouts that cut electricity to tens of millions of people, including some in Paraguay, Chile and Brazil. The blackout’s cause is under investigation, but something similar could happen in the U.S. – and has.

On Aug. 14, 2003, a software bug contributed to a blackout that left 50 million people across nine U.S. northeastern states and a Canadian province without power. The outage lasted for as long as four days, with rolling blackouts in some areas for days after that.

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US teen killed ‘best friend’ after being promised $9 million online: police

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An American teenager has been charged with conspiring to murder her "best friend" after a man she met online offered her $9 million to commit the crime.

According to investigators, Denali Brehmer, an 18-year-old from Alaska, was recruited to kill her friend by a man a few years her elder, 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller of Indiana.

The pair had previously hooked up online, with Schilmiller assuming a fake identity and posing as a millionaire named "Tyler."

Court documents say that during the course of their online relationship, they discussed a plan to rape and murder someone in Alaska.

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