Stats of our lives
January 1, 2013

15.8 million
Yoga-practicing Americans in 2008

20.4 million
Yoga-practicing Americans in 2012

44.4
Percent of Americans who don't currently practice yoga but would like to try

Source: Yoga Journal

 

ObamaCare
2:56 p.m. ET
Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/AdMedia/Corbis

In the event that the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act in the King v. Burwell case, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has plans for a health care law to replace it.

"The administration has done absolutely nothing to prepare for an upcoming Supreme Court decision that could leave millions of Americans unable to afford insurance thanks to this failed law," Cruz said, so he and many fellow Republicans plan to repeal "every last word of ObamaCare."

The "Cruzcare" bill, called the "Health Care Choices Act," would come close, The Hill reports, by voiding the mandate that requires everyone to buy insurance and by getting rid of major subsidies. The legislation would also allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines.

Cruz's bill is the most detailed of many proposals offered by the GOP, and it's possible that Republicans may ultimately approve a plan that combines aspects of various bills.

So far, Cruz's bill has five co-sponsors, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision on the King v. Burwell case by June.

This just in
2:55 p.m. ET
Jay Mallin/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Senate Republicans on Wednesday failed to cobble together enough votes to override President Obama's veto of legislation approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The override attempt failed by a 62-37 vote; it needed 67 votes to pass. Nine Democrats voted with Republicans to approve the bill, the same number who voted for the legislation in January.

Science!
2:24 p.m. ET
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

You probably don't want a poisonous spider in your home, but spider venom could actually be the key to pain treatment.

A new study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that seven compounds found in spider venom blocked a protein that transmits pain sensation between nerves and the brain. "The hunt for a medicine based on just one of these compounds, which would open up a new class of potent painkillers, is now a step closer," the study authors said in a statement.

Researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, found that spider venom could create an "off switch" that could help chronic pain sufferers, AFP reports. The scientists studied venom from 206 species of spider to find the seven compounds, which could help block channels that cause pain.

According to the study authors, 15 percent of adults are affected by chronic pain, and treating chronic pain costs the U.S. $600 billion a year.

Coming Soon
1:36 p.m. ET

With less than two months left until the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel has unveiled one ominous final look at the superhero drama:

The final trailer echoes many of the beats from previous trailers — including a creepy version of Pinocchio's "I've Got No Strings" — while focusing on the dire situation faced by the Avengers. "We have no place in the world," frets Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as the villainous Ultron unleashes his attack.

Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters on May 1.

scotus
1:22 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over the Affordable Care Act. In King vs. Burwell, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. is defending the law, while Michael Carvin challenges one of its provisions.

The New York Times reports that the Supreme Court's four left-leaning justices supported Verilli Jr.'s arguments. But in order to rule in Verilli Jr.'s favor, either Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. or Justice Anthony Kennedy would also need to side with the solicitor general. The Times notes that during the arguments, Roberts "said almost nothing." Kennedy, meanwhile, expressed concern with both sides' reading of the statute.

"There's some serious constitutional problems if we adopt your argument," Kennedy said to Carvin. The lawsuit's key question is whether the Affordable Care Act prohibits subsidies established by the federal government rather than in exchanges "established by the state." The case focuses on the exchanges run through HealthCare.gov.

The court's decision is expected by late June. If the justices rule in Carvin's favor, it could end subsidies for about seven million people across three dozen states to purchase health insurance.

Discoveries
12:48 p.m. ET

Archaeologists in Paris have made an incredible discovery. Beneath the Monoprix supermarket in central Paris, they found a mass grave that held the remains of more than 200 people.

The supermarket called the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research to inspect the ground beneath the it so they could extend its basement. They knew the Monoprix store was built on the former site of a medieval hospital, but they weren't expecting to find so many bodies.

"We've come across hospital cemeteries before, notably in Marseilles and Troyes, but it’s the first discovery of its kind in Paris. Solene Bonleu, a spokesperson for the institute, told The Guardian.

The site included eight mass grave sections. Seven of the sections contain five to 20 bodies each, while the eighth section held more than 150 skeletons. The bodies were likely buried in the grave after a "major mortality crisis," such as an epidemic, Isabelle Abadie, who led the dig, told France24. The archaeologists believe the remains date to somewhere between the 14th and 17th centuries, and they are carbon dating the remains to determine their age. After that, the bodies will be reburied in a new location.

This just in
12:38 p.m. ET
St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced it would not charge Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of a black teenager, Michael Brown.

"There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson's stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety," a DOJ report concluded. However, in a separate report the Justice Department determined Ferguson police and officials routinely violated the constitutional rights of blacks.

Wilson, who is white, killed the unarmed Brown last August, sparking widespread protests and a nationwide conversation on race and law enforcement.

Coming Soon
11:47 a.m. ET

Between Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., and Jonny Lee Miller, popular culture already has plenty of Sherlock Holmeses — but if you can stand one more take on the popular detective, it's hard to imagine a better actor for the job than Ian McKellen:

Mr. Holmes is based on Mitch Cullin's 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, which imagines an elderly Sherlock Holmes as he tackles one final case. "After a lifetime of detective work, there's one mystery left to solve," teases the trailer. "His own."

Mr. Holmes will hit U.K. theaters in June, with a U.S. release to follow.

Freedom of the press
11:29 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A new report from the Columbia Journalism Review suggests that relations between the White House and journalists are more guarded and unproductive than ever.

"An exhaustive study of every official exchange Obama had with the press corps in 2014, supplemented by a review of daily press briefings and interviews with more than a dozen current and former correspondents and White House press secretaries," CJR summarizes, "reveals a White House determined to conceal its workings from the press, and by extension, the public."

When press do get direct access to the president, these increasingly rare encounters are often more focused on provoking a reaction over a controversial topic than "addressing long-term accountability issues." Meanwhile, new technological resources like social media have allowed the White House, in turn, to bypass the press corps entirely and present a crafted message directly to the public without the hassle of questions from reporters.

Going to Pot
11:23 a.m. ET
Steve Jennings/Getty Images for POPSUGAR

You have to admire Pineapple Express star Seth Rogen's commitment to method acting. As she transitions to her new role, Sony executive Amy Pascal is moving into the office recently occupied by Rogen — but according to The Hollywood Reporter, her transition has been postponed until the smell of marijuana can be eliminated.

Sources offer conflicting thoughts over the intensity of the lingering marijuana smell Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg left behind. One says that the odor caused no "permanent damage" to the office; another says it "seeped into the flooring." In any case, Pascal will move into a temporary office while the new office is repainted and deep-cleaned.

Pascal was at the center of the whirlwind over last year's Sony hack, which was widely interpreted as a response to the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview. Rogen once tweeted that he planned to smoke pot in the White House.

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