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March 11, 2014

More than 4.2 million people have enrolled in new health insurance plans through ObamaCare's state and federal marketplaces since they went live in October, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. Of that total — which runs through the end of February — about 943,000 enrollees signed up last month alone. The administration and health-care experts are expecting a major spike in enrollments this month as people race to get covered before the March 31 deadline to have insurance or face a fine.

Among the enrollees, 25 percent are in the crucial 18- to 34-year-old age bracket, a percentage that rose in February and is expected to rise once again this month as young procrastinators finally get around to picking insurance plans. Meaning, that dreaded death spiral — which was already something of a fantastical fear — is even less likely to happen.

And importantly for supporters of the health-care law, the ballooning enrollment figures will make it that much harder for GOP critics to keep championing an ObamaCare repeal. At this point, anyone calling for repeal is by extension trying to strip 4.2 million people, and counting, off their new health insurance. Jon Terbush

February 20, 2017

At a rally in Florida on Saturday, President Trump asked his audience, during a riff on terrorism, if they could believe what happened Friday night in Sweden. "Sweden, can you believe it?" Trump asked. No, Stephen Colbert answered on Monday's Late Show, no one believed it. "Well, not no one, but maybe someone who skips their intelligence briefings," he added, clarifying that nothing happened in Sweden on Friday night — a fact Sweden's former prime minister noted when he asked on Twitter what Trump has been smoking.

"Let's be real here," Colbert said. "This is the president of the United States. He has access to every and the latest intel at all times." So why did he appear to make up a terrorist attack in Sweden? According to Trump, he learned of a sharp increase in crime in Sweden from a Fox News report. "Oh, I guess Trump only accepts intelligence briefings with the logo 'As Seen on TV,'" Colbert said. Crime has actually dropped in Sweden since 2005, despite the country taking in thousands of immigrants, he added. "In fact, experts say 90 percent of Swedish crime actually occurs in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

"Clearly, Trump believes everything he sees on TV is real, which would explain his next tweet: 'America is a disaster! Our girls are broke! Our dead is walking! The pope's too young! It's a scandal! #shameless'," Colbert joked. "Tragically, Sweden is the third not-a-terrorist-attack that has not shocked the world in the last month. First there wasn't the Bowling Green Massacre, then no one was lost in Atlanta, and now it's not Sweden's turn. When will it begin?" But "just because this attack didn't happen, folks, doesn't mean we don't stand in solidarity with all the people who did not suffer," Colbert said, and you can watch his homage to Sweden in the video below. Peter Weber

February 20, 2017
Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images

The government of South Sudan declared a famine on Monday, with humanitarian agencies warning that unless there is a sharp increase in aid, hundreds of thousands of people, including 275,000 children, are at risk of starving to death.

The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan said 100,000 people "are already starving," and in some parts of Unity state in the northern part of the country, more than 30 percent of the population suffers from acute malnutrition. After three years of war, this famine is "man-made," Joyce Luma, country director for the World Food Program in South Sudan, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that until there is peace and security, "there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve." The war has disrupted agriculture, and farmers are suffering; having lost their tools and livestock, many are now living off of the plants they can find and fish they can catch.

The Integrated Food Security report says that nearly 5 million people in South Sudan are facing dire hunger or starvation, and that number will likely rise to 5.5 million by midyear. South Sudan isn't the only country in dire need of assistance — the U.S. Famine Early Warning Systems Network recently reported that this year, 70 million people across 45 countries will need food aid, and there is famine in parts of Nigeria and threatened in Yemen and Somalia, which is experiencing its worst drought in decades. Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2017
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The Partridge Family star David Cassidy revealed on Monday he is battling dementia.

The former teen idol, 66, told People that his grandfather and mother both had the memory loss disease. "I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming," he said. Over the weekend, Cassidy said he was playing a show in California when he forgot the lyrics to a song he's performed for 50 years, and he has had other struggles in recent years, including several arrests for driving under the influence, a divorce, and a stint in rehab.

In order to prioritize his health and wellness, Cassidy shared with People, he plans to stop touring. "I want to focus on what I am, who I am, and how I've been without any distractions," he said. "I want to love. I want to enjoy life." Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2017
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It's now easier than ever for Verna DeSpain to wheel her 10-year-old daughter, Lydia, into their Clarksville, Tennessee, home.

She used to have to use a folding aluminum ramp that didn't reach the top step to get Lydia inside, but after Thomas Mitchell, a school bus mechanic and Lydia's substitute bus driver, saw how difficult the process was, he decided to do something about it. An area Lowe's provided the materials Mitchell needed for free, and over the course of a day, Mitchell and a group of friends built a permanent ramp for Lydia.

Lydia is nonverbal, but her mother, who told Today she cried "happy tears" when Mitchell told her about his plan, said her daughter was thrilled by the act of kindness. "I told her, 'This is all about you,'" DeSpain said. "'They're here for you.' She just gets really excited." Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2017
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Their signs said it all — "Not My President," "Happy President's Day, President Putin," and "Resist."

In Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and more than two dozen other cities on Monday, thousands of people gathered for "Not My President's Day" rallies, speaking out against President Trump and his policies. This was the fifth day of protests in Manhattan, with demonstrators standing outside of the Trump International Hotel singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting "No Ban, No Wall."

One New York protester, Sayief Leshaw, 22, told NBC News he was "really concerned for where our country is headed. We've sold out to corporate interests, and Donald Trump's policies are downright offensive." In Washington, D.C., 24-year-old Morgan Mullins said there have been anti-Trump protests every weekend over the last month, and promised they will "keep doing this is as long as we have to." Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2017
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Following the release of video clips in which controversial Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos appears to be condoning pedophilia, Simon & Schuster announced it will no longer be publishing his autobiography, Dangerous.

The book was set to be released in June, with Yiannopoulos receiving a reported $250,000 book deal from the conservative Threshold Editions imprint, but on Monday, Simon & Schuster said that after "careful consideration," they decided to cancel the publication of Dangerous. Moments later, Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter for inciting or engaging in targeted abuse and harassment, confirmed on Facebook that "they canceled my book."

On Sunday, the video clips, released by a conservative blog, went viral, and on Monday, the American Conservative Union announced Yiannopoulos was no longer invited to speak at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference. Fox Business Network is also reporting that the right-wing Breitbart website is considering firing Yiannopoulos. On his Facebook page, Yiannopoulos said he does "not support pedophilia," declaring it is a "vile and disgusting crime, perhaps the very worst," and called the videos "selectively edited." Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2017
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President Donald Trump has named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, The Associated Press reports. McMaster replaces Michael Flynn, who resigned from the post last week.

The announcement came after Trump spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, interviewing four candidates for the position before settling on McMaster, whom he called "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience."

McMaster is a respected military strategist known for his knowledge in counterterrorism, The New York Times reports:

General McMaster is seen as one of the Army's leading intellectuals, first making a name for himself with a searing critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their performance during the Vietnam War and later criticizing the way President George W. Bush's administration went to war in Iraq. [The New York Times]

Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he discussed Russian sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump had been inaugurated. Flynn had told Vice President Mike Pence the discussions never happened. Jessica Hullinger

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