Nation & World Briefs 04-03-14 Even popular kids are bullied in high school, researchers discover


LOS ANGELES -- Only the prom king and queen are safe.

Researchers say that the more popular teens are _ except for those at the very apex of the fragile high school hierarchy _ the more likely they are to be bullied, perhaps a surprise to people who presumed outcasts were the exclusive targets.

Researchers Robert Faris of the University of California, Davis and Diane Felmlee of Penn State University write that traditional, everyday views of bullying _ reported by nearly a fifth of teens _ tell less than the whole story. "For most students, gains in status increase the likelihood of victimization and the severity of its consequences," they wrote in the journal of the American Sociological Association.

The aggressors, too, often "possess strong social skills," and bully others to move up the social ladder rather than to "re-enact their own troubled home lives."

So while the uppermost teens on the social scale can "afford" to be nice, those in the next tier have to keep themselves there, Faris said Tuesday.

He and Felmlee looked at how status can increase the chances of being a victim and how it can magnify the distress caused, which can include depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Medicare to release billing data: Patients may soon get an unprecedented look at how their doctor compares to other physicians, after Medicare announced Wednesday it plans to publicly post billing data for more than 880,000 practitioners. Considered the mother lode of information on doctors, the Medicare claims database has been off-limits to the public for decades, blocked in the courts by physician groups. The American Medical Association has argued that its release would amount to an invasion of doctors' privacy. Consumer groups, insurers, employers and the news media have sought the information to help them evaluate clinicians.

Donors can spread wealth: The Supreme Court on Wednesday further opened up the taps for political campaign contributions, with a bombshell ruling that removes long-standing limits on how much total money an individual can contribute to federal candidates. In what amounted to a 5-4 decision, the court's conservatives declared that the aggregate contribution limits imposed four decades ago violated the First Amendment's free-speech protections. Though individual donations may still be limited, the ruling frees donors to spread their wealth across as many candidates as they can find. That means a wealthy individual could start contributing more than $3.5 million to party committees and candidates over two years.

Obama pushes "raise" for America: President Barack Obama urged support of his plan to raise the national minimum wage to help Americans out of poverty in a speech at the University of Michigan on Wednesday. The address, which also included a handful of quips about the Wolverines basketball, highlighted the importance of increasing the hourly rate to $10.10 to extend the American dream to more Americans. "You can give America the shaft or you can give America a raise," Obama said.

Magnitude 8.2 quake kills only six: Hard-won expertise and a big dose of luck helped Chile escape its latest magnitude-8.2 earthquake with surprisingly little damage and death. The country that suffers some of the world's most powerful quakes has strict building codes, mandatory evacuations and emergency preparedness that sets a global example. But Chileans weren't satisfied Wednesday, finding much room for improvement. And experts warn that a "seismic gap" has left northern Chile overdue for a far bigger quake. Authorities on Wednesday discovered just six reported deaths from the previous night's quake. It's possible that other people were killed in older structures made of adobe in remote communities that weren't immediately accessible,.

Found hanging in autoworker's kitchen: A pair of paintings by French artists Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard that had been missing for four decades has been recovered by Italian authorities who said that the works of art were hanging in a kitchen of a retired Sicilian autoworker who was unaware of their value. Though the autoworker paid little for the paintings, they are both highly prized. The Gauguin is believed to be worth $14 million to $41 million. Officials in Italy held an unveiling ceremony Wednesday in Rome for the two paintings.

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