Surprise, surprise
March 17, 2014

Since the start of the year, Republican leaders have insisted their party would soon put forward a health care alternative to ObamaCare. That day may almost be here, as The Washington Post's Robert Costa reports the GOP leadership is finally unifying behind a conservative plan "in part to draw an election-year contrast" with Democrats and ObamaCare.

The plan includes an expansion of high-risk insurance pools, promotion of health savings accounts and inducements for small businesses to purchase coverage together.

The tenets of the plan — which could expand to include the ability to buy insurance across state lines, guaranteed renewability of policies and changes to medical-malpractice regulations — are ideas that various conservatives have for a long time backed as part of broader bills. [Washington Post]

Coming after years of GOP threats to repeal ObamaCare and revert to the old health care system, the mere fact that the party may soon offer a true, unified alternative underscores how far the policy debate has shifted since the health care exchanges went live in October. With more than 4.2 million people having now enrolled in new insurance plans via ObamaCare, calling for repeal alone would mean advocating for those millions of newly insured to lose their coverage. And polls have consistently shown that the public's general opposition to the law does not translate into support for repeal. As Jonathan Chait put it last week, Republicans "have won the public relations war over ObamaCare, and they have lost the public relations war over repealing ObamaCare." Jon Terbush

The Daily Showdown
2:27 a.m. ET

What do you say when a U.S. presidential candidate manages to offend just about everyone, as former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) did Sunday by saying that President Obama's Iran nuclear deal is "marching Israelis to the door of the oven," a reference to the Nazi death camps of World War II? If you are Jon Stewart, you say nothing. On Monday's Daily Show, Stewart managed to skewer Huckabee, argue that the "Donald Trump effect" on the GOP primary is not to blame for his comment, and note his disappointment in the formerly likable politician, all in under 4 minutes and without uttering an intelligible word. You can watch the withering, silent tour de force below. Peter Weber

unfair advantage
1:43 a.m. ET

It took a former NBA star to prove to the world that carnival games aren't always rigged against the player.

Gilbert Arenas visited the Orange County Fair in Southern California over the weekend, and judging by his Instagram, won every single stuffed animal inside the fairgrounds and within a 20-mile radius. Arenas wrote in the caption that he was "banned from all the basketball hoops at #orangecountyfair," but that's not actually true, carnival operator RCS and OC Fair officials said.

While Arenas did win the maximum number of prizes — players can take home just one prize per day at each game — he isn't a persona non grata at the midway. "I'd say he looks pretty happy in the picture," Chris Lopez, vice president for RCS, told ABC7 Los Angeles. "Makes me wonder how he got all that home? Mr. Arenas is welcome back to the O.C. Fair any time, and that includes the basketball games." Catherine Garcia

history is made
12:37 a.m. ET

Jen Welter is a trailblazer — first in the Indoor Football League, and now the NFL.

Earlier this year, Welter was an assistant coach of the Indoor Football League's Texas Revolution, and believed to be the first woman to coach in a men's professional football league. On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals announced they added Welter to their staff as a coaching intern during training camp and preseason, the Los Angeles Times reports. With this new role, Welter is thought to be the first woman to ever hold a coaching position in the NFL.

"Coaching is nothing more than teaching," Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians said. "One thing I have learned from players is, 'How are you going to make me better? I don't care if you're the Green Hornet, man, I'll listen.' I really believe she'll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her." Catherine Garcia

Watch this
12:19 a.m. ET

No matter how you feel about Tom Cruise, he does one helluva lip sync. But Jimmy Fallon, as genial as he seems, is also very competitive. So their lip-sync battle on Monday's Tonight Show really feels like a battle, a rarity on Fallon's jovial Tonight Show. "This is so ridiculous," Cruise said, smiling. "I love it." He then attacked the contest as intensely as he does everything else.

Cruise started things off by nailing "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weekend, but Fallon came back with a more-than-respectable Stones song. When Cruise countered with both sides of an old Meat Loaf duet, it was pretty much over. At the end, it looked like the two performers might go for love, not war, with Fallon throwing in the towel and inviting Cruise back to do a duet to the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," a throwback to Top Gun, but they just ended up fighting for the attention of a woman in the front row of the audience. You can watch the entire face-off below. Peter Weber

July 27, 2015
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

While writing a piece for The Daily Beast about Donald Trump's ex-wife Ivana using "rape" to describe an incident between the pair while they were still married, writers Tim Mak and Brandy Zazrozny asked Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, for comment. And boy, did they get a comment.

"You're talking about the front runner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as private individual who never raped anybody," Cohen said, according to The Daily Beast. "And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can't rape your spouse.... It is true," he added. "You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law." (This is not accurate: In New York, the marital rape exemption law was struck down in 1984.)

The allegations first appeared in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, by Harry Hurt III. Hurt wrote that Ivana stated in a deposition from their divorce proceedings that after a fight caused by Donald having scalp-reduction surgery, things turned violent and she was raped. Before the book was published, Ivana released a statement saying that while she "felt violated" and did say during the deposition that he raped her, she did "not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense." Donald has denied the incident ever took place, and called Hurt "a guy without much talent.... He is a guy that is an unattractive guy who is a vindictive and jealous person."

Those words sound almost quaint compared to the diatribe Cohen apparently unleashed against Mak and Zazrozny. He threatened a lawsuit if the story was published, they recount, promising to "take you for every penny you still don't have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I'm warning you, tread very f—ing lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. You understand me?" Cohen later reiterated the fact that he was ready to go to court, telling The Daily Beast: "You write a story that has Mr. Trump's name in it, with the word 'rape,' and I'm going to mess your life up...for as long as you're on this frickin''re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you'll never know how to get out from underneath it." So far, Cohen has yet to sue The Daily Beast or its reporters for every penny they still don't have. Catherine Garcia

July 27, 2015

A fire that quickly engulfed a pool at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday was fueled by decorative trees that are not regulated by Clark County codes.

Current codes govern structures like pool decks and cabanas, but not plants and outdoor furniture, Ron Lynn, director of the county's Department of Building and Fire Prevention, told reporters Monday. The fire started in a cabana at the Bamboo Pool, then spread to the trees, which were made from high-density foam and plastic. One person was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and another was treated at the scene. The fire was put out within 30 minutes, and the pool reopened Sunday.

Lynn said officials are still trying to get to the bottom of what caused the fire, and will likely take a close look at the role the trees played in the fire, the Las Vegas Sun reports. Lynn also said officials might need to establish new rules to control the use of fake trees. Catherine Garcia

the search is on
July 27, 2015

A Coast Guard official says that as long as current water conditions remain the same, two teenage boys lost at sea off the Florida coast could likely survive for four or five days.

Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were last seen Friday at 1:30 p.m. buying gas at a marina in Jupiter, Florida. On Sunday, their boat was found capsized off the coast of Ponce de Leon Inlet, but there was no sign of Stephanos or Cohen. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said that while the water in the area is relatively warm, it's still a dangerous environment. Fedor also told ABC News that he's hopeful the boys are holding onto either a lifejacket or a cooler that was believed to be onboard the boat.

Family members told the Coast Guard that the teens mentioned going toward the Bahamas. Rescuers are focusing on the area north of where the boat was found, and by midnight Monday, crews will have searched more than 27,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of West Virginia. Catherine Garcia

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