Obamacare's Jan. Sign-Ups: NBC News: "Nearly 3.3 million people have enrolled in Obamacare insurance plans as of Feb. 1, officials said Wednesday. And the percentage of enrollees who were between the ages of 18 and 34 grew by 3 percentage points in the month of January over the prior three months, officials pointed out, underscoring the importance of that demographic group to Obamacare insurance plans. ... A total of 3,299,492 had enrolled in Obamacare plans as of Feb. 1, according to HHS. Of that total, 1.9 million people had enrolled via HealthCare.gov, the federally run health insurance exchange that sells Obamacare plans in 36 states. Another 1.4 million enrolled via exchanges operated by the remaining 14 states and the District of Columbia."
A First: Washington Post: "This figure represents all enrollment from Oct. 1 through Feb. 1. It includes both people who have and have not paid their first month's premium. Of those people, 1,146,100 selected their health insurance plans in January, meaning there was a 53 percent increase enrollment last month alone. This makes January the first month that the Obama administration has beaten an enrollment target. Back in September, way before HealthCare.gov's botched launch, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected that 1,059,900 people would sign up for private health insurance in January."
Senate Lifts Debt Ceiling: Washington Post: "The Senate voted 55-43 to pass a suspension of the limit on federal borrowing Wednesday, ensuring that the Treasury does not default on its more than $17 trillion debt for another year. With the Republican-controlled House approving the 'clean' debt ceiling increase Tuesday without any concessions, the legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature. The votes came two weeks before the Feb. 27 deadline established by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, after which financial experts warned of havoc in financial markets if Congress hadn’t acted. The final passage vote came after a dramatic, hour-long vote to end debate and assure Republicans did not filibuster the legislation. Needing 60 votes, including at least five Republicans, the Senate remained stuck in the upper 50-vote range for an extended period of time, as Republicans stood debating which of them would cast the unpopular vote to reach 60."
Southern Deep Freeze: Associated Press: "Slushy highways and streets were mostly desolate and ice encased trees and sent them crashing into power lines, knocking out electricity to a wide swath of the South as the winter-weary region was hit with its second winter storm in two weeks. From Texas to the Carolinas, roads were slick, businesses and schools were closed and people hunkered down. More than 300,000 homes and businesses across the region were without power and the number steadily increased. The storm came in waves of snow, sleet and freezing rain and forecasters warned relief wasn't expected until Thursday. Officials and forecasters in several states used unusually dire language in warnings, including calling the storm potentially 'catastrophic,' and they agreed that the biggest concern was ice, which could knock out power for days. Winds, with gusts up to 30 mph in parts of Georgia, exacerbated problems."
Live Winter Storm Blog: Traffic Chaos May Turn Raleigh and Charlotte Into This Storm’s Atlanta
Marriage Equality Watch: Courier-Journal: "In a ruling that could open the door to gay marriage in Kentucky, a federal judge on Wednesday struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in other states, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II joined nine other federal and state courts in invalidating such bans. ... Heyburn said 'it is clear that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.'"
A Plan For Syria's Post-War Future: Reuters: "The Syrian opposition called on Wednesday for a transitional governing body to oversee a U.N.-monitored ceasefire across Syria and expel foreign fighters, in a paper that avoided any mention of President Bashar al-Assad. The confidential paper, seen by Reuters, lays out a vision of post-conflict Syria with all ethnic groups participating in a transition process aimed at restoring peace and stability. Opposition and diplomatic sources said it deliberately does not refer to Assad, in line with a text agreed by world powers in June 2012 which calls for a transitional body with full executive authority, including over the security apparatus and the army, but which leaves the Syrian ruler's fate open. ... The memorandum was presented to mediator Lakhdar Brahimi and a Syrian government delegation at a joint session at talks in Geneva aimed at halting three years of bloodshed that has killed more than 130,000 people and driven millions from their homes."
RIP, Sid Caesar: Los Angeles Times: "Sid Caesar, a television pioneer who reigned as the king of live TV sketch comedy in the 1950s with his inspired brand of mimicry, pantomime and satire on the classic comedy-variety series Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour, has died. He was 91. Caesar died Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills after a brief illness, according to his biographer and friend Eddy Friedfeld. ... With his flair for verbal and physical comedy honed while performing during his World War II service in the Coast Guard and in nightclubs and theaters after the war, Caesar burst on the national scene in 1949 as the star of the Admiral Broadway Revue, a live, hourlong show from New York that aired Friday nights simultaneously on NBC and the DuMont network."
Slatest: The Priorities of the University of North Carolina, Revealed in a Single Tweet
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