TIME Senate

Mikulski Will ‘Give It All I’ve Got’ to Elect More Women to the Senate

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, speaks during a news conference announcing her retirement after her current term, in the Fells Point section of Baltimore on March 2, 2015.
Steve Ruark—AP Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, speaks during a news conference announcing her retirement after her current term, in the Fells Point section of Baltimore on March 2, 2015.

“I’m not ready to write my last chapter"

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski took the stage at the EMILY’s List 30th anniversary gala to a raucous applause on Tuesday, one day after announcing she would not seek re-election after her current term ends in two years.

The firebrand Democrat, the longest-serving woman in Senate history, said while she’s ready to “turn the page,” she’s not quite throwing in the towel: “I’m not ready to write my last chapter.”

“I want to give it all I’ve got to elect more women to the United States Senate… and a woman to the White House,” she said, before a not-so-veiled nod to presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. “In 2016, we will elect that Democratic woman president and you know who I’m talking about.”

Mikulski was the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in 1986, after about a decade in the House, with the support of EMILY’s List. The organization, which was in its early stages at the time, has helped elect pro-choice Democratic women to public office. Calls for paycheck fairness, raising the minimum wage and tax breaks for the middle class were intertwined with others for electing and supporting women in politics.

When they say, “she doesn’t look the part,” Mikulski said, “Tell them, this is what the part looks like.”

TIME Supreme Court

The 4 Words That Could Cause 8 Million to Lose Their Insurance

Marketplace guide Stephanie Cantres works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website to help a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at a Westside Family Healthcare center enrollment event in Bear, Delaware, on March 27, 2014.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Marketplace guide Stephanie Cantres works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website to help a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at a Westside Family Healthcare center enrollment event in Bear, Delaware, on March 27, 2014.

Oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell will be delivered on Wednesday

Nearly eight million Americans could lose their health insurance depending on how the Supreme Court interprets four words in the Affordable Care Act.

At the nation’s highest court on Wednesday, justices will hear arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, the latest challenge to President Obama’s signature health care law and one that could potentially leave it gutted from an unexpected direction.

The 2010 law already survived an earlier Supreme Court challenge on the constitutionality of its requirement that most Americans buy health insurance. But the current case centers on whether, as many Republicans argue, one line in the law was intended to restrict subsidies to people who bought insurance through a state exchange or whether, as Democrats contend, that line was a simple oversight in the law’s drafting.

The consequences are potentially huge. Thirty-four states rely on the federal government to run their exchange, meaning that their residents would lose subsidies, making insurance unaffordable and causing rates to rise for those who remained insured. One study by the Rand Corp. found that eight million people would lose their insurance in those states if the court rules against the Obama Administration.

The Administration contends that the phrase is a “term of art,” and says that other parts of the law show that there is no distinction between federal and state run exchanges.

“If you look at the law, if you look at the testimony of those who were involved in the law, including some of the opponents of the law, the understanding was that people who joined the federal exchange were going to be able to access tax credits,” President Obama said in an interview with Reuters. “And there’s in our view not a plausible legal basis for striking it down.”

The Obama Administration has stated it has no backup plan ready if the Supreme Court rules against it. “If they rule against us, we’ll have to take a look at what our options are,” Obama said recently. “But I’m not going to anticipate that. I’m not going to anticipate bad law.”

Republicans on the other hand, are eager to show they have a Plan B. In the past two days, lawmakers from the House and the Senate have said they’re in the process of working on alternatives to the law, should the Supreme Court rule in favor of the plaintiffs. Reps. Paul Ryan, John Kline and Fred Upton wrote in the Wall Street Journal, they’re proposing an “off-ramp out of Obamacare,” that would allow states to opt-out of insurance mandates and offer options for those who can’t otherwise insurance. Sens. Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander and John Barrasso wrote in the Washington Post, they too would help those who can’t afford coverage during a “transitional period” and let states create alternative marketplaces.

Grace Marie Turner, the president of the health-policy organization the Galen Institute, says though Congressional lawmakers are in only in the process of shaping legislation, there’s real opportunity.

“This case provides an accelerator,” Turner tells TIME. “This could provide a real opportunity to begin the process of fixing the law.”

Read next: Here’s the Tough Choice the Uninsured Have to Make Now

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Speech Draws Big Names

Israeli PM Netanyahu Addresses Joint Meeting Of Congress
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by members of Congress as he arrives to speak during a joint meeting of the United States Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.

As many as 50 Democrats may be missing the speech, but Republicans have packed the house

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress felt a bit like a State of the Union.

Despite the partisan contention around the speech which led as many as 53 Democratic lawmakers to skip the speech, it proved popular with Republicans, former lawmakers and interested citizens, according to reporters tweeting at the event.

It was a hot ticket. Speaker John Boehner’s office said there were 10 times as many requests for tickets as there were seats available in the gallery.

Some former lawmakers seen on Capitol Hill Tuesday include former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former representative and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, former representative and current Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Reps. Michele Bachmann and Dennis Kucinich and former Sens. Joe Lieberman and Norm Coleman.

The event drew some big names in conservative circles. Casino magnate and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, Weekly Standard founder William Kristol, conservative radio host Mark Levin, Republican political consultant Frank Luntz and attorney Alan Dershowitz were also spotted by reporters inside the Capitol.

The speech drew interest from outside politics too. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart.

TIME 2016 Election

Ben Carson Launches Presidential Committee for 2016 Run

Former neurosurgeon and grassroots favorite is preparing for a potential run in 2016

Conservative grassroots darling Dr. Ben Carson is formally exploring a bid for president in 2016, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Carson, a former neurosurgeon and author, has formed an official committee to raise money for a potential campaign. Although he has no experience as an elected politician—or perhaps because of it—he has already won the favor of some conservative voters; at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Carson ranked fourth in the straw poll.

The Gifted Hands author has also made a number of strategic hires as of late, picking up staff members for a potential campaign in early caucus states like South Carolina and Iowa.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

TIME cities

These Are the World’s Most Expensive Cities

Seoul is on par with Hong Kong in terms of cost-of-living

A biannual list of the world’s most expensive cities found little change to the top five, with Singapore retaining the top spot once again.

But among the top ten there was a bit of a shift. Ten years ago, Seoul was barely rounding out the top 50; now, the city is ranked alongside Hong Kong, which was once the third most expensive city. Though the majority of cities at the higher end of the study are in Asia, Western Europe and Australia, New York City rose from 26th to 22nd.

In Singapore, the study found, a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and a pack of cigarettes will together cost the equivalent of $39.11.

The Economist Intelligence Unit surveys the cost of living across the world every two years, comparing prices across about 160 product and service categories including food, rent, and recreational costs. About 50,000 prices were surveyed in 2014.

[Economist]

Read next: These Photographs Show What Life Is Like on $1 a Day

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME China

China Is Getting Its Very Own Saturday Night Live

Sohu CEO Charles Zhang attends the 2014 China Internet Conference at Beijing International Convention Center on Aug. 28, 2014 in Beijing.nternet Conference
ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images Sohu CEO Charles Zhang attends the 2014 China Internet Conference at Beijing International Convention Center on Aug. 28, 2014 in Beijing.

"Live from China, it's Saturday Night Live!"

China-based online video website Sohu.com has teamed up with Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels to produce a Chinese version of the sketch comedy show.

The U.S. version of SNL is already available to Sohu viewers, but under the latest deal the SNL brand will get a Chinese counterpart, the Hollywood Reporter reports. Sohu and the company that produces SNL, Broadway Video Entertainment, will recruit Chinese comedians to star in a show that will feature live music and sketches.

Sohu has been shifting toward providing more original content to China’s 600 million Internet users as of late, inking a similar deal with BBC in late February. A Beijing-based professor at the Communication University of China, however, told Bloomberg that

But the network will need to be cautious about falling foul of the Chinese establishment with an SNL-type show, warned Wang Sixin, a Beijing-based professor at the Communication University of China in a Bloomberg interview. “What Sohu needs to be careful about, though, is finding the right balance when doing satire about social and political issues.”

[THR]

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

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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.”

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