Obama's You-Can-Keep-It Patch: Washington Post: "President Obama announced Thursday an administrative change in one of the bedrock ideas of the new health-care law, allowing insurers to continue offering individual insurance plans for another year even if they do not comply with the law’s rules for minimum benefits. ... The White House, responding to intensifying pressure from disgruntled consumers and Congress, decided to make the fix as a part of a strategy to try to ward off more far-reaching changes that are being advocated on Capitol Hill. Under the White House’s approach, the Department of Health and Human Services will notify the nation’s state insurance commissioners that they have federal permission to allow consumers who already have such insurance policies to keep them through 2014. It will be up to each state whether to go along. The decision runs counter to a central aim of the law, which was to ensure that all people in the United States with private health plans are guaranteed at least certain benefits."
Quote #1: "I completely get how upsetting this can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan that they liked they could keep it," Obama at a press conference during which he repeatedly took personal responsibility for the troubled rollout of his healthcare law. "And to those Americans, I hear you loud and clear. I said that I would do everything we can to fix this problem. And today I’m offering an idea that will help do it.”
Quote #2: "We fumbled the rollout on this healthcare law," he said
Won't Prevent Congressional Action: New York Times: "Despite the president’s reversal, Speaker John A. Boehner said that he intended to push ahead with a House vote Friday on a measure that would allow consumers to keep their canceled plans without penalty and allow others to sign up for them. Mr. Boehner said that he was skeptical of the president’s plan, and that the new law needed to be overturned. ... Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, said her members were clamoring for a fix on top of what the president was offering. Many of them, she said, were those who fought hard for the law’s passage and want to see it saved. Other Democrats said they wanted a more permanent resolution of the cancellation issue, suggesting that Mr. Obama’s plan would not quiet the clamor."
The New Death Toll: NBC News: "The United Nations on Thursday raised the death toll from the monster typhoon that ravaged the Philippines to more than 4,400 — almost double the previous figure and far higher than an estimate given by the Filipino president. The U.N. also said that more than 900,000 people had been displaced by the storm, perhaps the most powerful ever to strike land, and that nearly 12 million people had been affected in some way. It warned that fuel in the devastated city of Tacloban was expected to run out within days. The U.N. put the death toll at 4,460, up from 2,357 earlier in the day, said Amanda Pitt, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. She cited the Philippine government in reporting the figure."
The Pa. School Shooting: ABC News: "The teenager accused of shooting three classmates outside a Pittsburgh high school is believed to have been seeking revenge for a drug deal gone wrong last month, police said today. Anjohnito Willet, Jr., a 16-year-old student at Brashear High School, was arrested and charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment. He is accused of shooting three other male students after school let out Wednesday afternoon, according to police. Pittsburgh police confirmed to ABC News today that Willet was involved in an altercation weeks ago at the high school in which other students assaulted and robbed him, and that the incident was drug-related. Police Lt. Kevin Krauss told ABC News affiliate WTAE that Willet never pursued charges, saying instead that he would 'take matters into his own account.'"
Snowden's Haul: Reuters: "Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked as many as 200,000 classified U.S. documents to the media, according to little-noticed public remarks by the eavesdropping agency's chief late last month. In a question-and-answer session following a speech to a foreign affairs group in Baltimore on October 31, NSA Director General Keith Alexander was asked by a member of the audience what steps U.S. authorities were taking to stop Snowden from leaking additional information to journalists. 'I wish there was a way to prevent it. Snowden has shared somewhere between 50 (thousand) and 200,000 documents with reporters. These will continue to come out,' Alexander said."
Texas Pipeline Blast: Los Angeles Times: "Officials are letting a fire burn out at a Chevron gas pipeline line that exploded in the rural north Texas town of Milford on Thursday and prompted evacuations. No injuries have been reported after the 9:40 a.m. CST explosion in Milford, home to about 700 residents 50 miles south of Dallas, officials said. Sara Garcia, special projects director for the county judge who has been receiving updates on the fire, told the Los Angeles Times that Chevron representatives were on site. Officials have evacuated a one-mile radius around the fire, including students in the Milford Independent School District, who were moved to schools in a neighboring town, Garcia said. The town will remain evacuated for 24 hours."
Bulger Sentenced: Associated Press: "Former Boston crime boss James 'Whitey' Bulger was led off to prison Thursday to begin serving a life sentence at 84 for his murderous reign in the 1970s and '80s, accepting his punishment in stone-faced silence even as a judge castigated him for his 'almost unfathomable' depravity. Bulger's sentencing brought to a close a sordid case that exposed FBI complicity in his crimes and left a trail of devastated families whose loved ones—fathers, uncles, brothers and sisters—were killed by Bulger or his henchmen. ... A jury convicted Bulger in August in a broad racketeering case. He was found guilty in 11 of the 19 killings he was accused of, along with dozens of other gangland crimes, including shakedowns and money laundering. At his sentencing, the judge read off the names of the 11. She told Bulger she sometimes wished that she and everyone else at his trial were watching a movie because the horrors described—including stranglings and shootings—were so awful."
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