TIME Health Care

Obamacare Site to Open Early to Avoid Repeat Rollout Disaster

Obamacare Healthcare.gov
In just a few weeks, millions of people will be heading to the federal site HealthCare.gov to shop for medical insurance when a new open-enrollment period begins. The Washington Post/Getty Images

Officials promise smoother shopping experience this time

The website for buying insurance plans under President Barack Obama’s health care law will open early ahead of the new enrollment period, officials said Sunday, as the Administration looks to avoid a repeat of HealthCare.gov’s disastrous initial rollout last year.

The website will reopen Monday to allow consumers to “window shop” health insurance market places before enrollment starts Nov. 15, said Marilyn Tavenner, the Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The early browsing option is different from last year’s enrollment period, when consumers couldn’t see details of plans until enrollment started.

MORE: Obama’s race for the cure

“New features will give consumers a comprehensive picture of the plans in their area so they can choose the one that’s right for them,” Tavenner said in a statement.

Officials have also made the process of browsing plans easier: Last year, consumers had to answer a series of questions before even seeing plans. Now, all they have to do is enter their zip code.

MORE: Inside the team that fixed HealthCare.gov

The botched rollout of HealthCare.gov severely handicapped the opening months of implementation of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, giving fodder to Republican critics of the law. Officials eventually fixed problems with the website and final enrollment figures exceeded expectations.

TIME ebola

Ebola Nurse Set to Leave Maine Town After Quarantine Fight

Kaci Hickox Ebola Nurse
Nurse Kaci Hickox (L) joined by her boyfriend Ted Wilbur, speaks with the media outside of their home in Fort Kent, Maine on Oct. 31, 2014. Joel Page—Reuters

“We’re going to try to get our lives back on track”

The nurse who clashed with Maine authorities over an Ebola quarantine said she plans to leave the town where she lives soon after the virus’ 21-day incubation period ends on Monday.

“We are going to southern Maine and will decide what’s next from there,” Kaci Hickox told CNN on Sunday.

Hickox tested negative for Ebola after traveling to West Africa to treat those battling the deadly virus, but officials in both Maine and New Jersey responding to public fear of the virus still wanted to place in quarantine. Hickcox eventually won a legal fight against Maine over the quarantine.

“We’re going to try to get our lives back on track,” her boyfriend Ted Wilbur told the Portland Press Herald.

[CNN]

TIME South Korea

South Korea Disbands Coast Guard in Wake of Ferry Disaster

The coast guard has been widely criticized for their failure to rescue hundreds of students from the sinking ferry last April

South Korean lawmakers have agreed to disband the country’s coast guard in the wake of a ferry disaster that killed nearly 300 people.

The coast guard’s duties will now be taken up by the National Police Agency and a soon-to-be-established safety agency, the Associated Press reports.

In April, the Sewol ferry carrying 476 passengers, most of whom were students, capsized and sank while in route. 295 bodies have been found; some are still missing at sea.

The coast guard’s failure to rescue the hundreds of passengers who eventually perished on the sinking ferry was criticized by many in the South Korean government, including President Park Geun-hye.Prosecutors have also sought the death penalty for the captain of the ferry and life sentences for members of the crew. According to the AP, verdicts will come down next week.

[AP]

TIME harassment

Women of Color Respond to Hollaback! Harassment Video

"The point here is not to devalue or minimize the experience of women who strongly identified with [the Hollaback!] video. But it's to open the conversation, to make it broader"

Street harassment has been a hot topic ever since a video went viral last week depicting one woman’s experience walking for 10-hours through the streets of New York, and the subsequent harassment she experienced.

But while the video, created by the anti-harassment organization Hollaback!, was an eye-opener for many, and launched a nationwide conversation about the issues women face in day-to-day life, it was also a reminder that some perspectives are often left out of these conversations.

In the video, a white woman is harassed repeatedly by men who are black and Latino, a fact that was later flagged as problematic. Hollaback! subsequently admitted they edited out instances where white men catcalled and harassed the actress in the video and apologized.

In an effort to make the conversation more inclusive, the women at Jezebel created a response video in which women of color share their experiences being bothered as they maneuver through the world–like one woman who was asked how she bikes in a skirt by white policemen, or another who said that white men have uninvitedly reached their hands into her hair at a bar. For many, harassment by white men is often the most striking.

“The point here is not to devalue or minimize the experience of women who strongly identified with [the Hollaback!] video,” said one interviewee. “But it’s to open the conversation, to make it broader.”

Ironically, during this video, an older white man approaches a woman while she’s being interviewed and asks for a kiss. Watch the video at Jezebel.

TIME Comedy

Jerry Seinfeld to Brian Williams: ‘I Think I’m on the [Autism] Spectrum’

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld pauses as he is interviewed on the red carpet at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Oct. 19, 2014, in Washington. Kevin Wolf—AP

The comedian was promoting the fifth season of his series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jerry Seinfeld said in a recent interview he believes he has traits that align with those who have autism spectrum disorder.

“I think–and on a very drawn out scale–I think I’m on the spectrum,” Seinfeld told NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams. “You’re never paying attention to the right things. Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal. People talk to me and they use expressions and sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying.”

He added, “but I don’t see it as dysfunctional. I just see it as an alternate mindset.”

The comedian spoke to Williams in preparation for the start of the fifth season of the his web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In the interview, which aired Thursday, Seinfeld said comedians are the only people he feels comfortable around

“They’re the only kind of people I feel completely relaxed around,” Seinfeld said. “Every other social interaction I have is somewhat of a management.”

Seinfeld has been riding around in fancy, vintage cars and grabbing cups of joe with comedians for the past couple of years, but he says he never expected the web hit to make waves. “It was an experiment,” he said. “I didn’t know that this could be anything.”

The fifth season started Thursday with Seinfeld taking a ride with Kevin Hart.

[NBC News]

TIME 2014 Election

Republican Wave Floods States

Republicans hold a record number of seats in state legislature as a result of 2014 election

To say it was a good night for Republicans on the state level would be an understatement. Republicans now control 23 state governments outright and are on track to hold more state seats than they have since the late 1920s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

After Tuesday, the GOP has the upper hand in 69 of the 99 country’s legislative chambers. In Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia at least one chamber flipped from Democratic to Republican majorities. Results have yet to come down in Colorado, where Gov. John Hickenlooper was barely able to stave off a Republican challenge to his reelection. In many states Republicans are not simply the majority, they’ve secured a veto-proof supermajority, including in Florida and Missouri.

“Voters overwhelmingly voted for a new, open, innovative future for their families by electing state level Republicans in record numbers across the nation, including in traditionally blue states,” said Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee in a statement. Walters said Republicans were successful largely thanks to their recruitment of a diverse set of candidates, including the youngest lawmaker in the U.S.

The payoffs for the GOP victories the state-level could be substantial. In states where the Republicans have single-party control they have shown willingness to advance aggressive party agendas: think North Carolina during the 2013 session. Come 2020, when state lawmakers will again be tasked with redrawing electoral maps, party control will be crucial.

Democrats haven’t lost hope.“Republicans had a great night,” director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) Michael Sargeant says. “But our operations were able to make sure we limited the damage in some places. ”

Democrats raised a reported $17 million and made about 2 million voter contacts this cycle. Sargeant says that work resulted in Democrats holding on to majorities in key states including the Maine House, the Iowa Senate, and the Kentucky House, which he says will ensure Republican agendas don’t sail through in those states.

“Those victories along with some others were critical to make sure they’re still balances,” Sargeant says.

TIME White House

Emergency Ebola Funding ‘Critical’ To Stopping Disease, Obama Official Says

“This is an emergency,”

Senior White House officials on Thursday scaled up the rhetoric of their effort to secure emergency funding to fight the Ebola virus in the U.S. and abroad.

“The most important goal here is speed,” said Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan in an on-the-record call with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “It is critical that we fund this quickly and on a scale that is appropriate to the epidemic,” Donovan said.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama sent a request to Congress for $6.18 billion in emergency Ebola preparedness funding. The request includes $4.64 billion that will be used to address immediate needs and $1.54 billion to be set aside as contingency funds. The money is a steep jump from the $88 million request the President issued in September.

“My foremost priority is to protect the health and safety of Americans, and this request supports all necessary steps to fortify our domestic health system and prevent any outbreaks at home,” reads a formal letter Obama sent House Speaker John Boehner.

Donovan and Burwell said Thursday they hope Congress will approve Obama’s request as quickly as it did a similar emergency request in 2009, which the White House made to fight the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

Boehner’s office has said the Appropriations Committee will review the request.

Secretary Burwell said that while the federal response has been effective so far, the government must remain vigilant in order to keep the disease from spreading.

“While we may see additional cases in U.S., we’re confident we can stop the spread,” Burwell said Thursday. Only one person in the U.S. is currently undergoing treatment for Ebola. Burwell said some people in Texas who are being monitored after potential exposure to Ebola, are nearing the end of the 21-day incubation period after which they will no longer be in danger of contracting or transmitting the disease.

 

 

TIME animals

This Baby Otter Learning How to Swim Is the Cutest Thing You’ll See Today

Oh, my heart

You may not have known how much you needed this video of a baby otter swimming, but the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago sure did.

The Chicago-based aquarium has welcomed this little fellow to their facilities and now you can welcome the pup into your heart. You can thank us later.

Pup 681, the name the otter was given, was discovered orphaned on a California beach in late September weighing a mere 1 kg. After some much-needed rehabilitation, the Shedd accepted a California aquarium’s invitation to take care of the pup full time.

“It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter. Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter,” said Tim Binder, vice president of Animal Collections for Shedd in a press release. And, apparently, teaching the world what it means to love.

(H/t Mashable)

Read next: Charlie the Beagle Will Trade You His Toy for Your Breakfast

TIME Crime

Frat Activities on Hold at Emory University After Rape Allegation

A female student reported being assaulted at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on Halloween

All fraternity social activity has been suspended at Atlanta’s Emory University in response to an alleged rape at a campus fraternity house on Halloween.

In a letter to members of the Emory community, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair said the school’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) will not host social events until “a comprehensive plan is developed to ensure the safety of our community members.”

According to the college’s student newspaper The Emory Wheel, the IFC took the school’s latest rape allegation as an opportunity to try to address the root problem of sexual violence. In a statement, the IFC said there was “much more work to do” when it comes to addressing assault.

“This pause will give our community time to reevaluate how we address the intolerable issues of sexual violence, substance abuse, and discrimination on our campus,” the statement reads, according to the Emory Wheel. “These recent events are incongruent with our fraternal and communal values.”

A female student reported being assaulted at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on Halloween. The fraternity responded to the allegations in a statement saying they were “investigating” the rape claims.

“Any form of assault or sexual misconduct is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate actions that violate our values,” the statement reads. “In addition, Sigma Alpha Epsilon will not hesitate to take corrective actions or impose sanctions on any member or chapter that fails to adhere to our expectations.”

In a statement to TIME, Nair praised the IFC, which he said “demonstrated their genuine concern and care for the community by holding themselves accountable, and working with administration to develop a strategy to solve this public health issue.”

“Sexual violence is not tolerated on our campus,” the statement reads. “We have strong systems in place that provide a safe space for students to report and get the support they need. In addition, we are working to expand the current best practices available to address prevention – to stop sexual assault before it happens.”

Emory is one of 55 schools that the Department of Education began investigating for their approach to sexual assault complaints last spring, as the Federal government has taken a leading role in efforts to confront the widespread problem of sexual violence on U.S. campuses. A reported one-in-five women will become victims of an attempted or completed assault while in college.

 

TIME celebrities

Sophia Loren Tells Story Behind Hollywood’s Most Epic Side-Eye

Jayne Mansfield tries to steal the show in a very low cut dress at a party thrown by 20th Century-Fox for Sophia Loren on April 12, 1957 in Los Angeles.
Jayne Mansfield tries to steal the show in a very low cut dress at a party thrown by 20th Century-Fox for Sophia Loren on April 12, 1957 in Los Angeles. Moviestore Collection/Re/REX USA

"I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate"

Let’s go back to the infamous moment decades ago when Jayne Mansfield, in all of her womanly glory, sat next to then-rising Italian star Sophia Loren. The now 80-year-old Loren recently said she was afraid something was about to blow. That something was Mansfield’s low-cut dress.

Though the image has widely been accepted as photographic proof that shade has no start date, Loren says in recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that the look on her face is fear. Pure, unadulterated fear.

“Listen. Look at the picture,” Loren told EW. “Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table.”

Read more at Entertainment Weekly.

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