When Obamacare launched its glitchy insurance marketplace in October 2013, a measly 106,000 people signed up for new health plans in its first month. That was then. A quick checkup on the health of the Affordable Care Act finds that it is alive and kicking—for now.
• Nearly 30 million Americans have gotten health insurance under Obamacare.
• The rate of uninsured adults has dropped to 12.3%.
• Percentage of Democrats who say Obamacare has helped them: 28%
• Percentage of Republicans who say Obamacare has hurt them: 43%
• The average change in insured Americans by county between 2013 and 2014: +6.1%
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said that Republicans will "make every effort we can to repeal" Obamacare. In his home state of Kentucky, the rate of insured adults rose an average of 9.8% across all counties.
• Number of times Congress has voted to repeal Obamacare (so far): 56
• 63% of Americans say Republicans have no alternative to Obamacare.
• 22 states have not adopted Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.
• Uninsured who are in the "coverage gap" due to lack of Medicaid expansion: 3.7 million
• Americans who could lose subsidies for federal insurance exchanges if the Supreme Court rules against them later this year: 13.4 million
• Of the 8.2 million people who could lose their insurance altogether, nearly 10,000 could die annually due to lack of coverage.
• 53% of Americans have not heard of this Supreme Court case.
President Ronald Reagan watches some non-CIA programming, 1984.
When President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he became the first president to receive Central Intelligence Agency briefings in video format. The CIA produced more than 40 short informational videos for Reagan, ranging from evening-newsy looks at topics like the Chernobyl nuclear accident (below) to profiles of foreign leaders.
Bob Woodward and others have maintained that Reagan preferred these videos since he was not keen on heavy reading. Not so, says CIA historian Nick Dujmovic. "This myth is supported by Reagan's purported preference as a former career actor in films and television and by the old perspective of Reagan's simple-mindedness," he asserts in an agency report on the Great Communicator's consumption of top-secret intelligence. While Reagan found the videos helpful and asked for more, the original idea for the televised briefings was the CIA's. The president still received regular written and in-person briefings, Dujmovic writes.
The CIA declassified and released several of the videos in 2013, including this look at how the Soviet media portrayed the United States. It's worth a watch as an '80s-tastic Cold War relic, featuring cameos by Michael Jackson and Rambo. There are also references to the Russian translation of oral historian Studs Terkel's Working and the state-run newspaper Pravda's interest in Native American activist/prisoner Leonard Peltier. The agency refrained from criticizing the Russian media for translating the title of Jackson's Thriller as Film of Horrors.
"The Soviet media," the CIA narrator explains, "portrays the US political system as an oligarchy ruled by big capitalists who control the impoverished masses. Moscow radio said recently that the American public has been lulled by the demagoguery of politicos whose services have been bought by capital."
You can read the full transcript after the video.
Transcript of "The Soviet Media's Portrait of America"
Russian man (overdubbed in English): The people don't have power in your country. What you have this crime, sadism, unemployment, drug addiction. I don't think your young people do anything but harm to their country.
[Clip: "Beat It" by Michael Jackson]
Russian announcer (translated from Russian): "Beat It," the unprecedented hit by Michael Jackson from the album Film of Horrors, which became the most popular in the history of music.
Spend enough time browsing government websites and you're sure to come across a GIF*. Not the bite-sized pop-culture kind, but low-res relics of the days when a GIF was a way to spice up a Web 1.0 site without slowing down Netscape users' dial-up connections. Here are a dozen taxpayer-funded GIFs you may not be able to stop looking at:
Today, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the biggest challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the court first considered the law's fate in 2012. If the justices side with the Obamacare-hating activists and unlikely plaintiffs behind the latest case, they could nix subsidies for people buying health coverage on federal insurance exchanges. Here's a quick look at the potential impact of that decision:
North Korea recently released a list of 310 slogans, trying to rouse patriotic fervor for everything from obeying bureaucracy ("Carry out the tasks given by the Party within the time it has set") to mushroom cultivation ("Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms") and aggressive athleticism ("Play sports games in an offensive way, the way the anti-Japanese guerrillas did!"). The slogans also urge North Koreans to embrace science and technology and adopt a spirit of can-do optimism—messages that might not be too out of place in a TED talk.
Can you tell which of the following exhortations are propaganda from Pyongyang and which are sound bites from TED speakers? (Exclamation points have been added to all TED quotes to match North Korean house style.)