Better late than never

Obama is sort of extending ObamaCare enrollment, featuring the 'honor system'

March 26, 2014
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

March 31 is still the deadline for people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but President Obama is reportedly opening a small window for procrastinators (mainly) who need a little extra time. The Department of Health and Human Services says the new extension is only for people stymied by the federal health insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, amid a surge in pre-deadline action — applicants who have started signing up will be allowed to finish the process without tax penalties, if they request an extension by sometime in mid-April.

The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein notes this little caveat, though:

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth. [Washington Post]

This rather large loophole is only for the federally run insurance exchange site, but some of the states running their own exchanges are either contemplating or have instituted similar windows for applicants experiencing technical difficulties.

weird science

Residents uneasy over genetically modified mosquitoes being released in Florida

11:32pm ET
iStock

Scientists say that by releasing genetically modified male mosquitoes into the Florida Keys, it could slow down the spread of dengue and chikungunya, but area residents say that it's unnecessary as those diseases are not currently an issue.

The genetically modified mosquitoes have been engineered by the British biotech firm Oxitec to keep their partners from producing offspring when they mate in the wild, and by lowering the mosquito population, there won't be as many carrying viruses. "This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, told The Associated Press.

Mosquito controllers say they are running out of ways to kill the Aedes aegypti, which has evolved to resist several insecticides, but since the Keys haven't had a dengue outbreak in years or a chikungunya case ever, residents aren't quick to welcome the genetically modified mosquitoes. "If I knew that this was a real risk and lives could be saved, that would make sense," Key Haven resident Marilyn Smith told AP. "But there are no problems...why are we being used as the experiment, the guinea pigs, just to see what happens?"

John Oliver gets excited

John Oliver tamely, passionately auditions for 50 Shades of Grey

11:29pm ET

John Oliver's hashtag #NotMyChristian sounds pretty political/religious, but it isn't. In an online Last Week Tonight video Sunday night, Oliver ardently protests the casting of Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the film adaptation of the erotic E.L. James novel Fifty Shades of Grey, then sort of apologizes for the anti-Dornan hashtag, then films his own audition tape for the already completed movie (or perhaps its sequel? Steamy? Well, let's just put it this way: Except for one word, you'd be as safe watching it at work as any other non-work video. —Peter Weber

Foreign affairs

At least 18 killed in protests marking the anniversary of Egypt's uprising

10:09pm ET

Over the weekend at least 18 people were killed during protests to mark Sunday's anniversary of the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

On Sunday, at least 17 people were killed and 35 wounded during different clashes. Activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, died of internal bleeding after being shot on Saturday after police broke up a demonstration in Cairo, NBC News reports. Her fellow demonstrators blame al-Sabbagh's death on the police, and Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said in a statement an impartial investigation would take place to determine who killed the activist.

This just in

2 planes in Seattle evacuated due to 'security concerns'

8:49pm ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Late Sunday afternoon, two planes were evacuated once they landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport over what a spokesperson called a "security concern."

Upon arrival, passengers from a JetBlue flight from Long Beach, California, and a regional SkyWest jet from Phoenix were bused to their gates "out of an abundance of caution," The Associated Press reports, and an investigation is underway. On Sunday afternoon, a Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Orlando was diverted to Dallas also due to a "security concern," a Delta spokesperson said. Passengers were removed from that flight and authorities are examining the airplane.

Authorities have not said if these cases are linked to bomb threats made Saturday that targeted two airplanes heading to Atlanta, AP says.

Greece votes

Exit polls show anti-austerity Syriza party to win Greek elections

2:42pm ET
Matt Cardy / Getty Images

Greece's left-wing Syriza party on Sunday appeared to win a decisive victory in a nationwide election, according to early exit polls.

In what would represent a sound rejection of austerity, preliminary results showed Syriza taking around 35 percent of the vote to 30 percent for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the governing New Democracy Party. A Syriza victory would likely result in the party's leader, Alexis Tsipras, becoming the next prime minster.

"The message is that our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity," Tsipras said Sunday.

bundle up

'Potentially historic' snowstorm threatens to paralyze Northeast

2:09pm ET

The northeastern United States could in some places see around two feet of snow over the next few days as a massive winter storm passes through the region.

Blizzard watches are in effect in Boston and Providence — which could each get slammed with two feet of snow — and in New York City, where one foot is forecast to fall between Sunday and Wednesday. A "large area" could see winds around 50 miles per hour, and 70 mph gust could buffet the Massachusetts coast, according to The Weather Channel, which calls the storm "potentially historic."

2016 Watch

Mike Huckabee on 2016 bid: 'I'm moving in that direction'

1:19pm ET
Screenshot / NBC

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said Sunday he is leaning toward another run at the White House.

"I think it's pretty evident that I'm moving in that direction," Huckabee said on Meet the Press.

Earlier this month, Huckabee left Fox News after more than six years with the network, a move widely seen as a prerequisite for a 2016 bid. You can watch Huckabee's entire Meet the Press interview here.

2016 Watch

Bobby Jindal backs constitutional amendment on gay marriage

12:58pm ET
Screenshot / ABC

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Sunday joined the push for a constitutional amendment that would allow states to define marriage for themselves.

The Supreme Court this month agreed to hear arguments over whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. A decision is expected this summer, and Jindal said shoud the Justices side with same-sex marriage advocates, he would support a legislative effort to override that ruling.

"I certainly support Ted Cruz and others that are talking about making an amendment — a constitutional amendment — to allow states to continue to define marriage," he said in an interview with ABC.

Watch this

Saturday Night Live on Deflategate: Tom Brady did it

12:10pm ET

Mystery solved: Tom Brady deflated all those footballs, according to Saturday Night Live's take on Deflategate.

As expected, SNL opened this weekend with a sketch lampooning the New England Patriots' alleged ball tampering, with a curmudgeonly Bill Belichick throwing his squirming QB under the bus. And yes, there were some jokes about balls. —Jon Terbush

Greece votes

Greece holds election that could serve as referendum on austerity

11:36am ET
Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

Greek voters headed to the polls Sunday for a crucial election that could set the stage for a showdown with the European Union over austerity measures.

The left-wing Syriza party, which led in the run-up to the election, has vowed to renegotiate a $270 billion international bailout it blames for the country's poor financial health. Led by 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, Syriza has also said it will demand creditors write off billions of dollars of Greece's debt.

"Democracy will return to Greece," Tsipras said Sunday.

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