The Congressional Budget Office is out with its latest estimate of ObamaCare's effects, and the news is heartening for the administration: The health care law will cost $104 billion less than previously projected over the next decade. In 2014 alone, the revised projection shows the law costing $5 billion less than previously estimated.
That finding indicates the law is working a little better than anticipated at driving down health care costs, with the projected savings coming mostly as a result of lower spending for tax subsidies in the law and through cheaper premiums. Though premiums are still expected to go up relative to where they were pre-ObamaCare, the increase is estimated to be less significant.
The news comes one week after Gallup reported that the uninsured rate had fallen to 15.6 percent, its lowest level since 2008. Taken together, the two findings are by no means indicative that ObamaCare is already a resounding success. Yet they both poke holes in the arguments from ObamaCare critics who feared the law would implode beneath spiraling premiums and lackluster participation.
It may seem like Trevor Noah fell out of nowhere to take over the very high-profile Daily Show anchor desk, but he's been in comedy for nine years, Noah said in a Comedy Central podcast. Nine years ago, though, there were only about 40 comedians in Noah's native South Africa, and they were widely ignored. "Comedy really only became a thing once we got democracy," he said. "The two sort of go hand-in-hand." There were jesters during the Apartheid era, he added, but "if they were caught, they would go to jail."
The rollout of Noah, whose father is white and Swiss and mother a black South African, as Jon Stewart's replacement hasn't been hiccup-free. People poring through his Twitter feed found tasteless jokes about Jews and women, and Grantland's Bill Simmons said he'd heard that Noah was Comedy Central's fourth choice, after Amy Poehler, Louis C.K., and Amy Schumer — and idea partly undermined by Grantland's Andy Greenwald.
As for the challenge of taking over an iconic American TV show, Noah told The Associated Press on Monday that he has lived in the U.S. "and I've learned to love the place. I'll bring something different because I am different." He didn't say what he'll change about the show, just that he'll be the "host and face" of The Daily Show's "fantastic team of writers and producers working to make that show magic.... I feel really confident. All I needed in my life was Jon's blessing." You can listen to Noah's half-hour-long interview, or watch a small excerpt below. —Peter Weber
The ancient site of Tiahuanaco in western Bolivia has yielded plenty of finds for historians. It was once the capital of a Pre-Columbian empire, Tiwanaku, that peaked between 500 and 900 C.E. Now, archaeologists have announced another amazing find from the site: an underground pyramid.
Not much is known about the pyramid yet — the archaeologists found it with ground-penetrating radar, but they haven't begun excavating the area. The radar data also revealed "underground anomalies" that may be monoliths, EFE reports.
The Bolivian government has announced that further excavations will be held at the site over the next five years, starting this summer, to explore the pyramid as well as the possibility of monoliths.
— ancient-origins (@ancientorigins) March 30, 2015
The site was once home to one of ancient America's most important cities, Ancient Origins notes, and the city spanned roughly 231,000 square miles. Other finds from the site have included sculptures, palace ruins, and stone monuments.
Tiahuanaco has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, but the newly discovered pyramid proves that the site still has plenty of secrets to reveal. The archaeologists are expected to announce initial finds from research into the pyramid later this year.
Nigeria's opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari is ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan in early vote counts
An early vote count from Nigeria's election has opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan by two million votes. While the lead is formidable, many of the country's large states in the south have not declared their results yet. A former military ruler whose defeat in the last election resulted in rioting that left 800 dead, Buhari has made fighting the Islamist militant group Boko Haram a centerpiece of his campaign. If Buhari wins, Jonathan would be Nigeria's first incumbent to lose a presidential election. —Meghan DeMaria
The self-imposed deadline for a framework deal on Iran's nuclear program is midnight Tuesday (6 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast), and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf puts the odds of a deal at 50-50. And while there is some speculation that the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, could continue into Wednesday, "March 31 is the deadline," Harf told reporters. "It has to mean something. And the decisions don't get easier after March 31."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — who is rejoining his counterparts from Iran, the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, and China on Tuesday — put the odds of success considerably higher. "They are probably not 100 percent but you can never be 100 percent certain of anything," he told Russian media before heading back to Lausanne for the final push. "The odds are quite 'doable' if none of the parties raise the stakes at the last minute." If an agreement is reached, the details won't have to be ironed out until the end of June.
Tuesday's edition of The Indianapolis Star has an unusual front page editorial on Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Under a massive headline, "Fix This Now," the editorial says that the law "already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future," and urges "bold action" to fix the problem. Karen Ferguson, The Star's president and publisher, underscored the urgency:
— Karen Ferguson (@karenferguson33) March 31, 2015
The governors of Washington and Connecticut have already banned state-sponsored travel to Indiana, several companies have condemned the law, and the NCAA is under pressure to criticize the law or even move the college basketball finals from Indianapolis to another city. On Monday, the Republican leaders of the General Assembly said they would try to "clarify" the law so it won't be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
"Half steps will not be enough," The Indianapolis Star said. "Half steps will not undo the damage" to Indiana's image, "reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome," and yearslong effort "to attract talented workers and thriving businesses." Repealing the law isn't politically feasible, the paper says, but "Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly need to enact a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity." Read the entire editorial at The Indianapolis Star.
Forget those alarm clocks that you can plug your iPhone into — isn't your smartphone an alarm clock by itself? — because waking up to your favorite song or podcast or ringtone is nothing compared with waking up to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Meet the Barisieur, created by designer Joshua Renouf:
— Daily Dot Technology (@DotTech) March 30, 2015
The stylish alarm clock not only heats up water, siphons it over your favorite ground beans, and filters it into a cup, but the Barisieur also has a special refrigerated vial to hold your milk and a drawer for your sugar, if you're into anything other than black coffee. And it plays the radio, too. There are two downsides: The Barisieur isn't available for purchase yet, and when it does go on sale, hopefully sometime in 2015, it will cost about $300-375. That's still cheaper than hiring a live-in barista. For more photos, visit the JR Industrial Design site.
Van Halen, with David Lee Roth back as frontman, is releasing a new album, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, on Tuesday. On Monday, they shut down part of Hollywood Blvd. to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live. If you're wondering why Roth's nose is bandaged, he smacked it with a microphone in their first take of "Panama." He makes a joke about it halfway through the version below, but his bloodied nose doesn't stop the 60-year-old rocker from kicking and singing his way through the song. And Eddie Van Halen's guitar work is pretty close to the same as it was when Roth left the band in 1985. Watch below. —Peter Weber