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April 9, 2014

Doctors who take Medicare patients are just like the rest of society: The top 2 percent rake in the lion's share of the money, earning almost exactly the same amount as the bottom 75 percent. The top 1 percent alone takes about 14 percent of the pie. We know this because of detailed records released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on 880,000 doctors who received a total of $77 billion in 2012. Via The New York Times, here's how that money is distributed among physicians:

A single Florida ophthalmologist, Salomon Melgen, earned $20.8 million in Medicare payments in 2012, and nine other doctors brought in more than $10 million. Melgen, whose office the FBI raided in January 2013, is best known for political donations to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and lots of prominent Florida politicians. (Melgen maintains he did nothing wrong.) The New York Times has a searchable database if you're interested in how much your doctor is reimbursed by Medicare.

Why are we only getting this data now? The American Medical Association won a court injunction in 1979 to prevent the release of doctor-specific Medicare billing information. After a federal judge vacated that order in 2013, the AMA declined to challenge the ruling. The Wall Street Journal, which offers a more detailed history of that fight, also has this chart showing how much each type of specialist typically earns each year:

Every fiscal cycle Congress passes a "doc fix," which eases cuts in Medicare payments automatically scheduled under 1997 legislation designed to tame the budget deficit. (The latest "doc fix" was passed about a week ago.) Maybe this information will give lawmakers the tools to better target those cuts. Peter Weber

8:06 a.m. ET
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Turkey is at capacity with accepting refugees, but will continue to do so as people flee Syria, the nation's deputy prime minister said Sunday, The Associated Press reports.

"In the end, these people have nowhere else to go," Numan Kurtulmuş said. "Either they will die beneath the bombings and Turkey will...watch the massacre like the rest of the world, or we will open our borders."

Turkey's border has been closed for three days as they provide aid to 35,000 Syrians on the other side. The nation has 3 million refugees, 2.5 million of whom fled Syria. The European Union has encouraged Turkey to host refugees, offering the nation 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in incentives to do so. Julie Kliegman

7:34 a.m. ET
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International powers condemned North Korea for defying international warnings Sunday by launching a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others believe is a cover for a test of a ballistic missile that could reach the United States mainland, The Washington Post reports. It comes a month after the rogue state claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice called it "yet another destabilizing and provocative action" and "a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions." South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Britain, France, and the European Union also condemned the launch, CNN reports.

The U.N. Security Council is set to hold an 11 a.m. emergency meeting in New York to go over a potential response to North Korea. Julie Kliegman

February 6, 2016
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During Saturday night's Republican debate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he doesn't criticize President Obama's recent visit to a mosque, but believes he "continues to put out this fiction that there's widespread, systematic discrimination against Muslim Americans."

Rubio said he recognizes and honors Muslims who have fought in the military, but "by the same token, we face a very significant threat of homegrown violent extremism." He said Muslims need to report mosques that are "inciting violence against us," then said he knows a group that is actually suffering from discrimination: "We are facing in this country Christian groups and groups that hold traditional values who feel, and in fact are, being discriminated against by the laws of this country that try to force them to violate their conscious."

Rubio made his comments as he stood next to rival Donald Trump, who last year called for a ban on letting Muslims enter the United States. Trump didn't respond to Rubio's remarks, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did, saying he has long worked with Muslim American groups across New Jersey and knows they are "good, law abiding, hard working people. What they need is our cooperation and our understanding. They don't need broadsides against them because of the religious faith they practice." Catherine Garcia

February 6, 2016
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At Saturday night's GOP debate, Ted Cruz opened up about his personal connection to the heroin epidemic in a moving moment that left the room quiet. In response to the moderators' question about how New Hampshire residents could know he stood with them on this key issue for the state, Cruz told the story of his half-sister's struggle with drug addiction and her death from a drug overdose.

"This is an absolute epidemic. We need leadership to solve it," Cruz said. "Solving it has to occur at the state and local level." He also promised a focus on securing the borders to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S.

Watch his full answer below. Becca Stanek

February 6, 2016
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On the topic of waterboarding, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told the audience at Saturday's presidential debate it's not torture but "enhanced interrogation." For his part, Donald Trump said he'd come up with a technique that would put it to shame.

Because there are people "in the Middle East" who are "chopping the head off Christians," he would not only "bring back waterboarding," but he'd "bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." Cruz declared that waterboarding "does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture," but he would not bring it "back in any sort of widespread use."

Jeb Bush said waterboarding was "used sparingly," but Congress has changed the laws and now, "I think where we stand is the appropriate place." Rubio warned that the candidates shouldn't talk about specific tactics, but did say he believed "we should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out." Catherine Garcia

February 6, 2016

When asked during the ABC News Republican presidential debate what he would say to the 68 percent of Americans in favor of raising taxes on people making more than a million dollars, Jeb Bush came out in favor of the wealthy.

"I'd like to see more millionaires," he said. "I think we need to grow more millionaires." Bush continued: "We need to create a prosperity society where people can rise up. This notion that we're somehow undertaxed as a nation is just foolhardy when we have entitlements growing far faster than our ability to pay for it." Catherine Garcia

February 6, 2016
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Jeb Bush and Donald Trump got into a heated argument about eminent domain at Saturday's Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. Bush started it by calling Trump out on the difference between the government taking private property for "public purpose" and for "private purpose." "What Donald Trump did was try to take the property of an elderly woman in Atlantic City to turn it into a limousine parking lot for his casino," Bush said.

Trump then tried to shush Bush, eliciting boos from the audience. "That's all of his donors and special interests out there," Trump said of the boos.

In Trump's opinion, eminent domain is an "absolute necessity for a country." "Without it, you wouldn't have roads...you wouldn't have bridges," Trump says. "The Keystone Pipeline without eminent domain, it wouldn't go 10 feet," he added. Becca Stanek

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