As the government tries to explain how the Obamacare website was made
public with flaws, a CBS investigation found the pool of test subjects
showed the system repeatedly failed in the days before it launched.
Around 200 to 300 people, including government and insurance company
employees, attempted to create an application but found it was not
functional. "It crashed," one said, while another remembered that i was
"unequivocally clear" that it wasn't ready. Officials involved in the
launch are testifying in Washington this week.
Despite assurances that those content with current insurance plans could
keep them after Obamacare becomes law, an estimated 50 to 75 percent of
those with individual health coverage will have to replace their
polices—and the Obama administration has known for three years. Sources
in the Affordable Care Act say many Americans will receive a
"cancellation" notice due to their policies not meeting standards of the
upcoming law. The original policy stipulated policies from March 23,
2010, and on would be honored, but tweaks by the Department of Health
and Human Services amended it to mandate a cancellation if any part of
the policy was significantly changed after that date.
A social media campaign kicked off in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, aimed at
winning women the right to drive. Dozens of Saudi women have recorded
and uploaded YouTube videos of themselves driving and, so far, no
arrests have been made. This is a significant change from 1990 when the
first such protest occurred and ended in many women being arrested and
losing their jobs. One of the women who took part in that first protest,
Dr. Madeha al Ajroush, posted a video of herself driving on Saturday
and said, “It is now time for Saudi women to drive. I am ready. My
daughter is ready. And society is ready.” Zaki Safar, a protest
organizer, said activists believe that authorities are beginning to take
a softer stance on the issue.
The Obama administration is considering adjusting the current deadlines
imposed in the Affordable Care Act to give Americans extra time to get
covered before penalties begin. As of now, individuals are expected to
be insured by March 31 to avoid any sort of financial penalty, but have
leeway for three months before the penalty of $95 or 1 percent of annual
income (whichever is more) sets in. But, due to the time it takes to
register and process applications, individuals would need to apply by
Feb. 15. The government, recognizing the "disconnect," plans to revise
policies to make sure the true deadlines align, according to a
Department of Health and Human Services official.
A mother who brought her breastfeeding son to jury
duty selection is being charged with contempt of court and facing a $500
fine. Laura Trickle declined the two options officials gave, saying she
was unable to pump milk because her son wouldn't accept a bottle, and
she didn't have the option of bringing a sitter on location to watch
him. “It is not right. It is not fair for us. We’re just trying to do what is best for our children, and we shouldn’t be penalized and fined
for it,” she told local news. Other state laws exempt breastfeeding
mothers from required jury duty, but similar legislation in Missouri is
still on the table.
group of Boy Scouts leaders are facing the possibility of criminal
charges after deliberately toppling an ancient desert rock formation in
Utah and then showing off video of the incident online. The men were
leading a group of 14 to 16-year-olds on a trip through Goblin State
Park when they say they spotted a loose rock formation and feared the
danger it might pose to the kids. Dave Hall, the man who shot the video,
told the Associated Press on Friday, “This is about saving lives. One
rock at a time.” The case is still being investigated but, depending on
how much officials determine the rock was worth, the men could be
charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
This evening, a deal to fund the government passed the House with a
285 to 144 vote, with a prominent nay vote from Paul Ryan, after Marco
Rubio and Ted Cruz voted no in the Senate. Obama then signed the bill
after pledging reopen the government “immediately.” Republicans were
upset the deal lacks any major legislative changes to Obamacare, but on
Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner announced he’d “absolutely” take the
bill and push for its passage. The deal comes just a day before the debt
ceiling deadline and will fund the government until January 15, while
raising the debt limit through February 7. It also will give back pay to
furloughed government employees, who are expected to return to work
New documents from Edward Snowden shows a never-before-disclosed program
in which the National Security Agency is gathering hundreds of millions
of address books from e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the
world. The amount of data being harvested is a "sizable fraction" of the
accounts in the world, including many Americans, and is being analyzed
to hidden connections and map relationships between foreign intelligence
targets. Documents show a typical day brings in nearly 700,000
connections from sites like Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail, along
with 500,000 buddy lists from chat services.
Oslo’s Nobel Institute has awarded its prestigious peace prize to the
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a Hague-based
group tasked with implementing the international chemical-weapons treaty
and that is overseeing the destruction of Syria’s stockpile. No small
task. Since the 1990s the OCPW has conducted over 5,000 inspections in
86 countries and destroyed 80 percent of the world’s chemical weapons.
The weapons watchdog beat out favorite Malala Yousafzai, an outspoken
advocate for the rights of women and girls, who survived an
assassination attempt by the Taliban last year.
In a new poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal,
the majority of Americans blame the GOP for the federal closure, and in
turn, the party's popularity is declining to a historically low level.
It found 53 percent of respondents find the Republican Party at fault,
and only 24 percent retain a favorable opinion of them. These ratings have not been so low since the failed removal of President Bill Clinton from office. By eight
percentage points and with only one year until midterm elections,
Americans say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress to one
controlled by the GOP. Gallup has found similar data.
While most Americans are concerned with the current government shutdown and looming debt ceiling battle, Rep. Michele Bachmann believes something far worse is quickly approaching. At least according to Bachmann,
who said in a radio interview on Saturday that President Obama's
decision to aid Syrian rebels was "willingly, knowingly, intentionally
sending arms to terrorists," and is a signal of "God's end times." She
went on to say that "the days of Noah" will be seen in our time, which
would actually make sense if this global warming "nonsense" continues.
The House unanimously passed a bill ordering back pay for around 800,000 furloughed government employees, five days after failed budget negotiations took them off their jobs. The Senate could pick up the bill later today and President Obama is expected to sign it. Payment puts displaced workers no closer to actually going back to their posts, though. And if the continued public squabbling is any clue, it might be some time before an agreement
is reached. “It’s encouraging to see both parties come together to
provide fairness for the 800,000 federal workers hurt by this shutdown,"
Speaker John Boehner said.
Russian President Vladimir
Putin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize because he “actively
promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet," according to an activist group
called the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of
Peoples of the World, which put Putin’s name forward. In short, he is being recognized for preventing American airstrikes on Syria. Of course, the
organization's letter of recommendation neglected to mention any of the
Putin administration’s past violence toward Chechen separatists, the war
in Georgia, Putin’s past in the KGB, the supplying of weapons to Iran,
or the president’s anti-gay stance. This year’s winner will be announced approximately a week. Other known nominees this year include Bono, Bradley Manning, Malala Yousafzai, and Dennis Mukwege.