An Early Christmas Gift: Politico: The Obama administration has extended the deadline for signing up for health care coverage until midnight Tuesday. In the latest high-profile delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the White House quietly decided to give people more time to register for health care plans that would begin on Jan. 1. The previous deadline was midnight Monday. 'Anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for Jan 1,' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille said in a statement Monday. ... The deadline applies to coverage starting in January, but people have until March 31 to apply for health coverage that starts later in 2014."
Shopping For Himself: CNN: "President Barack Obama is signed up for an insurance plan through the law that bears his name, the White House said Monday although the coverage is symbolic. A White House official told CNN that Obama was enrolled over weekend through an online insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The move was meant to show the President's support for the marketplaces where consumers can shop for health insurance. ... Like his predecessors, Obama receives all of his health care from the military with a much-publicized annual physical at medical facility in Maryland. ... Obama selected a 'Bronze' plan and will pay a premium."
The Story of the Year: Associated Press: "The glitch-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was the top news story of 2013, followed by the Boston Marathon bombing and the dramatic papal changeover at the Vatican, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors. The saga of 'Obamacare' ... received 45 first-place votes out of the 144 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The marathon bombing received 29 first-place votes and the papal transition 21. Other strong contenders were the bitter partisan conflict in Congress and the leaks about National Security Agency surveillance by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden. Last year, the top story was the massacre of 26 children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. ... The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain's King Edward VIII."
It's Monday, December 23th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest. Programming note: I'm on vacation for most of the next three weeks or so. A host of other Slate writers will keep the Slatest up and running, but the email newsletter and the PM post in specific may be MIA more often than not until I return.
Can't Stop, Won't Stop: Deseret News: "A federal judge declined Monday to stay his controversial ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Utah. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby said the state of Utah failed to meet its burden for a stay to be issued and said the same arguments made Monday were ones he'd already considered in his original ruling on Friday. Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet said the state would seek an emergency motion for a stay from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver "forthwith." The state would consider going to the U.S. Supreme Court if the 10th Circuit doesn't grant a stay, he said. Shelby's decision means gay and lesbian couples may continue to obtain marriage licenses and exchange vows in Utah unless the appeals court says otherwise."
In Death Do We Marry: NBC News: "A federal judge ruled on Monday that Ohio must acknowledge same-sex marriages on death certificates and went further in his decision to say that lower courts were now applying the recent historic Supreme Court decision striking down the federal ban on recognition of such unions. The decision came just hours before a federal judge in Utah denied a stay to his earlier ruling knocking down that state’s same-sex marriage ban, saying it denied gay couples equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. That ruling also relied heavily on the Supreme Court case, which struck down Section 3 of DOMA, or the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, in June." Insta-Analysis: The ruling is a relatively narrow one, although the case would appear ripe to eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court, which in the wake of its DOMA-dismantling United States v. Windsor ruling has so far resisted offering the final word on state-level bans on gay marriage.
The NK Purge: New York Times: "South Korea’s intelligence chief said Monday that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, who was executed this month, apparently had not plotted a coup as Pyongyang had said, but had fallen victim to intrigue within the country’s elite over lucrative business deals, according to lawmakers in Seoul. ... The highly unusual public purge and execution of a member of the North’s ruling family has set off widespread speculation about the possibility of a power struggle within the secretive regime. During a closed-door meeting Monday of the South Korean National Assembly’s intelligence committee, Nam Jae-joon, director of the National Intelligence Service, disputed Pyongyang’s assertion that Mr. Jang had tried to usurp his nephew’s power. Rather, he said, Mr. Jang and his associates had provoked the enmity of rivals within the North’s elite by dominating lucrative business deals, such as the sale of North Korean coal to China."
The Tonsillectomy Gone Wrong: USA Today: "A California family's agonizing struggle to keep a 13-year-old girl alive on life support continued Monday when a judge in Oakland appointed Paul Graham Fisher, the chief of child neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine, to determine if Jahi McMath has any chance of recovering. Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy Dec. 9 in an effort to correct sleep apnea and other issues. Three days later, citing complications from the surgery, physicians placed Jahi on a ventilator. She was declared brain-dead, and it took a court order Friday to keep Children's Hospital Oakland from removing her from the breathing apparatus that is keeping her alive. Fisher is scheduled to present his findings on Jahi's prospects in court Tuesday, when the family will press Judge Evelio Grillo to allow Paul Byrne, a pediatric professor at the University of Toledo, to perform an additional evaluation of Jahi."
An Update From the Newest Nation: Reuters: "South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar told Reuters on Monday he was ready to negotiate with President Salva Kiir to bring an end to the nine-day conflict if Kiir first released his detained political allies. The U.S. special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, said Kiir was committed to opening talks with Machar. Information Minister Michael Makuei immediately dismissed the demands made by Machar, who was South Sudan's vice president until Kiir sacked him in July. .. Western powers and east African states, which want to prevent the fighting from destabilizing a fragile African region, have tried to mediate between Machar, who hails from the Nuer tribe, and Kiir, a Dinka. But so far their efforts have been fruitless as clashes which started in Juba on December 15 entered their second week, reaching the country's vital oil fields and destabilizing a state which won independence from Sudan only in 2011. Hundreds of people have been killed, with reports of summary executions and ethnically-targeted killings."
Moneybox: The Macroeconomic Case for Christmas
That's all for this today. See you back here in 2014. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!