TIME White House

President Defends No Obamacare Backup Plan Ahead of Court Case

U.S. President Obama speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington
Kevin Lamarque—Reuters U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with Reuters in the Library of the White House in Washington March 2, 2015.

"If they rule against us, we'll have to take a look at what our options are"

In an interview Monday, President Barack Obama defended his Administration not having a backup plan ready to go if the Supreme Court rules against a key part of his signature health care law.

The court is set to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell this week, which challenges whether people who sign up for health insurance through federal exchanges are eligible for tax subsidies. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell recently acknowledged there was no contingency plan if the court rules against the Affordable Care Act this session, meaning millions of Americans could lose their insurance.

The case should be “a pretty straightforward case of statutory interpretation,” Obama told Reuters, despite Republicans jumping on the prospect of the law being struck down. “There is, in our view, not a plausible legal basis for striking it down,” he added. “If they rule against us, we’ll have to take a look at what our options are. But I’m not going to anticipate that. I’m not going to anticipate bad law.”

Read more at Reuters.

TIME justice

White House Task Force Calls for Better Data on Police Shootings

Barack Obama
Jacquelyn Martin—AP President Barack Obama, flanked by former Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, left, and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, speaks during a meeting with members of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing

Group calls for minimizing the use of military level equipment during demonstrations, but shies away from suggesting more body cameras

A task force established by President Obama after high-profile shootings of black men by police is calling for the federal government to keep better records on officer-involved shootings.

After 90 days of hearings and meetings with a wide range of civil rights groups and local police agencies, the Task Force on 21st Century Policing included the recommendation in its first report Monday.

It notes that a 1994 law requires the Department of Justice to gather data about excessive force by police officers and publish an annual summary but notes that has never been done in a “serious and sustained” way.

The report also suggests that local agencies adopt more of a community policing approach, minimize the use of military equipment at protests and rallies and have outside investigators look into police shootings. But it stopped short of endorsing widespread adoption of body cameras, an idea which first came up after a shooting in Ferguson, Mo.

Task force members said that body cameras could be helpful but that privacy concerns need to be considered first.

“Any technology we apply, we need to understand its usefulness,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, the co-chair of the task force, on a call with reporters Monday. “But we also need to make sure we’re working within a constitutional framework.”

“Today we’re talking about body cameras, but tomorrow it will be something else,” Ramsey added.

Marc Morial, president of the civil rights organization National Urban League, which called for more body cameras in testimony to the task force, praised the recommendations for independent investigators, but said that not coming down hard in favor of body and dashboard cameras a “missed opportunity.”

“Privacy concerns that might be there are not enough to put the breaks on an idea whose time has come,” Morial tells TIME.

Aside from the specific recommendations, the report stresses the need for police to establish trust and demonstrate transparency to the communities they serve.

The task force makes some evergreen calls to action like engaging with community members and better addressing prejudice, while also calling on the federal government to take a hard look at criminal justice policies such as sentencing and reentry and societal issues like poverty and education that can further exacerbate police distrust.

Many of the federal task force’s recommendations align with similar calls made by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which released a report on community-police relations in January. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Ind., says that the report rightfully acknowledges that the federal government’s role in improving police-community relations is limited.

“It acknowledges that while there can be guidance and training and technical assistance that can be provided at the federal level, there really has to be a local approach and a local commitment to addressing those concerns,” she said.

Gene Voegtlin, a spokesman for the International Association of Chiefs of Police says, “This is more than just a police issue,” says “It’s a criminal justice system issue, and honestly probably a societal issue.”

TIME Justice Department

President Obama Gives Teary Send-Off to Attorney General Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder's official portait Image Courtesy of the Department of Justice

Notes Attorney General Eric Holder's stance on civil rights in his parting address

The President got misty-eyed during the unveiling of Attorney General Eric Holder’s official portrait Friday when he shared a story about the impact he believes Holder has had outside of the Department of Justice.

President Obama said he hosted a number of young men who are mentees under his My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which is celebrating its first anniversary, for a White House lunch on Friday. As the students, all black and Latino young men from around the Washington area, went around the table sharing their life aspirations, one said he wanted to be the Attorney General when he grew up. That moment clearly touched the President, who wiped away tears as he shared it with the departing Attorney General.

“I think about all the young people out there who have seen you work and have been able to get an innate sense that you’re a good man,” Obama said. “Having good men in positions of power and authority who are willing to fight for what’s right … that’s a rare thing. That’s a powerful thing.”

Obama listed Holder’s accomplishments as the third longest serving Attorney General and the first African American to hold the job. Throughout his tenure Holder made criminal-justice reform and civil rights priorities of the Justice Department, including his recent efforts to challenge strict voting laws.

During his prepared remarks, a teary-eyed Holder said there was still work to be done on civil rights and criminal-justice reform.

“Make no mistake. We still have unfinished business and work to do,” Holder said. “In the defense of our nation we must always adhere to the values that define us. And, at all costs, the right to vote must be protected.”

The unveiling came just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch, who was tapped to replace Holder. The President said the Department of Justice is being left in “outstanding hands.”

TIME First Lady

Michelle Obama Says It’s Time to ‘Fight Back’ Against Unhealthy-Food Ads

87992859
David Bishop Inc.—Getty Images Classic cheeseburger

New campaign will counter unhealthy-food ads aimed at kids

This week marks five years since First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign, which sought to reduce childhood obesity and get kids eating healthier. She’s taken aim at school lunches and encouraged more activity and water consumption. Now she wants more pushback on unhealthy-food advertisements aimed at kids — and celebrities are on board to help.

“If folks are going to pour money into marketing unhealthy foods,” she said at an event Thursday in Washington, “then let’s fight back with ads for healthy foods, right? Let’s do this.”

Obama spoke at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit, where the organization announced the launch of FNV, a marketing campaign laser-focused on branding fruits and vegetables (hence the name “FNV”) as cool to youth. The Partnership for a Healthier America, known as PHA, was created in conjunction with the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign in 2010, though the organization is independent from the White House.

A PHA statement released Thursday details how the campaign will feature appearances from actresses Kristen Bell and Jessica Alba, athletes Stephen Curry and Cam Newton and more.

“FNV was inspired by big consumer brands, whose tactics are relentless, compelling, catchy and drive an emotional connection with their products,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler in a statement. “We want to do the same thing for fruits and veggies, which have never had an opportunity to act like a big brand. Until now.”

TIME viral

Everyone on the Internet Wants to Know What Color This Dress Is

Is it black and blue or is it gold and white?

The Internet took a weird turn Thursday when all of a sudden everyone started buzzing about the color of a dress. A woman had taken to Tumblr the day before to ask a seemingly normal question: what color is this dress?

But there was something off about the dress and the image. The woman says when she saw a photo of the dress once, it was blue and black (she even posted a photo of the dress being worn at a wedding. In that image, it appears to be blue and black) but when she looked at it again, the dress was gold and white.

This is about the point where the Internet broke.

Her Tumblr got flooded with comments. “i’ve gained over a thousand followers so all I’m going to say is hello,” the user known as swiked posted Thursday. Twitter erupted. Gawker posted it. BuzzFeed did, too. BuzzFeed even seems to have solved the mystery.

But that still doesn’t quite explain why the image appears white and gold to some and blue and black to others. Probably eye, light, mind tricks, but hopefully scientists of the world are hard at work trying to figure this out. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get some great think pieces out of it, too.

TGIF, amirite?

Read next: Here Is the Proof That #TheDress is Black and Blue

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Companies

SeaWorld Aims to Revamp Image After Blackfish Blowback

Marketing push is about "changing mind-sets," company says

The once-beloved theme park SeaWorld is still reeling from the effects of the 2013 critical documentary Blackfish, which linked stress caused by holding killer whales captive to the 2010 death of a trainer. But SeaWorld Entertainment indicated Thursday it has plans to reshape its brand.

On a call with analysts, during which the Orlando Sentinel reports the company announced its fourth-quarter earnings were worse than expected, SeaWorld announced it would launch a new marketing campaign in April aimed at people who haven’t picked a side in the debate between those who are against keeping animals in captivity and those who remain loyal to the park.

“This is not a hit-and-run, as we say in the marketing world, where you can just advertise for a month and hope it goes away,”Board Chairman and interim CEO David D’Alessandro said. “This is changing mind-sets and making sure mind-sets stay changed, recognizing that the opposition is not going to stand still as we do this.”

Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

TIME celebrities

Kanye Tweets Apologies to Beck and Bruno Mars

And he even offered Mars a chance to sing on a new track

It’s the dawn of a new day for Kanye West.

First, he went to dinner with Taylor Swift. Now, he’s publicly trying to make good with two artists he’s hated on in the past: Yeezus tweeted apologies on Thursday to Beck and Bruno Mars.

The Beck apology came after he kind of stole the artist’s thunder at the 2015 Grammy Awards, nearly “pulling a Kanye”—or his “I’mma let you finish” moment with Swift at the VMAs in 2009—when Beck won Album of the Year over Béyonce. He later said in an interview that the Morning Phase singer should give his award to the superstar.

The Bruno Mars apology, however, could come as a surprise to some. West admitted that he “really used to hate on” the “Uptown Funk” singer. (He has ranted about Mars during a couple of his concerts, too.)

Now, it looks like he thinks he’s pretty cool. In fact, he invited Mars to sing on a new track.

What he’ll do next is anyone’s guess.

TIME White House

Obama Thanks Redditors After FCC Approves Strict Net Neutrality Rules

"I wish I could upvote every one of you"

President Barack Obama knows his Reddit slang.

In a handwritten note, the Commander-in-Chief said he wished he could “upvote” every one of the Redditors who commented on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s net neutrality rules amid the hard-fought battle.

On Thursday, the agency approved the strongest rules yet in a vote split along party lines. “This would not have happened without the activism and engagement of millions of Americans like you. And that was a direct result of communities like reddit,” Obama said in a longer note posted in a Reddit blog post.

Learn more about the FCC’s rules here.

TIME isis

Global Art Community Condemns ISIS Destruction of Artifacts at Mosul Museum

A new video purports to show militants destroying ancient works

A new video purporting to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) destroying ancient artifacts at a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul has sent waves through the global art community.

Militants in the footage are shown pushing statues to the floor and smashing others with hammers. The Guardian reports that a man speaking to the camera then aims to justify the acts, citing how they didn’t exist in the time of the Prophet Muhammad and were worshipped by irreligious people.

The director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art condemned what he called the “catastrophic destruction to one of the most important museums in the Middle East.”

“This mindless attack on great art, on history, and on human understanding constitutes a tragic assault not only on the Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding,” Thomas P. Campbell said in a statement.

Corine Wegener, a cultural heritage officer at the Smithsonian Institution who helps preserve ancient works at risk in war zones, labeled it the “wanton and unnecessary destruction of cultural heritage.”

“[ISIS] has a particular viewpoint about what’s offensive,” she told TIME. Wegener has helped facilitate workshops on how to protect cultural history in Syria and Iraq, in a partnership with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center and other groups. “The fact that they really feel this is something they have to do because they’re emulating the Prophet Muhammad makes our work really difficult.”

She adds, “the best we can do as cultural heritage professionals is to remind everyone that cultural heritage belongs to us all.”

The destruction at the Mosul Museum also prompted the cultural arm of the United Nations to call for the Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on protecting Iraq’s cultural heritage. “This attack is far more than a cultural tragedy,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement, adding, “this is also a security issue as it fuels sectarianism, violent extremism and conflict in Iraq.”

The video showing the destruction of ancient works, including statues from the UNESCO world heritage site Hatra, is among the latest attacks on significant artifacts by the Islamist extremists. ISIS has reportedly destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts from Mosul’s central library.

TIME Infectious Disease

Deadly Stomach Bug Infects About Half a Million in U.S. Each Year, Study Shows

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, was linked to 27,000 deaths last year

Nearly half a million Americans are infected by a deadly stomach bug every year, according to a recent report.

A study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that an estimated 453,000 cases of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, infection in the United States in 2011, which resulted in 29,000 deaths. That’s almost double prior infection estimates.

C. diff bacteria release toxins that drugs can’t fight; those infected usually contract it from hospitals or health care related settings, though sickness typically occurs after one leaves the hospital. A new, more severe strain of the bacteria was discovered in 2000. Ordinary antibiotics and hand sanitizers are considered no match for the bug, which causes severe diarrhea, inflammation and sepsis.

The CDC says that soap and water are essential to stopping its spread, NBC News reports. The Department of Health and Human Services will begin punishing hospitals that fail to reduce rates of C. diff in their facilities by 2017.

Read next: Measles Outbreak in U.S. Tops 150 Cases

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com