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February 27, 2017

Republicans have been railing against the Affordable Care Act since before it even passed, John Oliver noted on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. But now that Republicans control Congress and the White House, they can't just gripe about ObamaCare — and in fact, "all week long, Republicans have been dealing with an unexpected problem: constituents at town halls furious that ObamaCare might be taken away."

"So tonight, let's look at ObamaCare: what it does, what needs fixing, and how Republicans plan to replace it," Oliver said, and he started off by taking everyone back to "just how bad things were before it was passed." ObamaCare fixed some of the systemic problems — getting rid of coverage denial for pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26. But even so, he said, "ObamaCare is not perfect. It had and has serious flaws," and Obama's "famously misleading" and structurally impossible claim about being able to keep your doctor has dogged the law.

On the other hand, in "something of a pattern," the GOP has "happily complained about the flaws in the law" while they "often undermined the whole thing," Oliver said. "That time is now over. It is their turn to present a plan, and the clock is ticking." The GOP's replacement plan is frustratingly elusive, but we have a sense of "what Republicans want to do" from previous plans put forward by HHS Secretary Tom Price and House Speaker Paul Ryan, "and from these talking points that Ryan gave out ahead of the congressional recess."

Oliver walked viewers through the pros and cons of talking points they'll be hearing a lot about from the GOP — "refundable tax credits," "health savings accounts," Medicaid "block grants," and "state high-risk pools" — and the one crucial term Republicans won't define: "continuous coverage incentive," or their mechanism to punish people who drop insurance coverage at any time. "Republicans are in a real bind here," Oliver said. "They need a plan, and soon. And what Price and Ryan have given them so far seems to shift costs from the government to the people, and from the healthy to the sick, and fewer people are going to be covered." Oh, and since the GOP keeps on bringing up Obama's promise about keeping your doctor, he added, "let me remind you what Donald Trump has promised that you are going to do." Watch below — there is quite a bit of NSFW language, plus an unpalatable image of a man in a thong. Peter Weber

2:01 a.m.

During a 2005 trip to southern Africa with his mother, 10-year-old Winston Duncan was inspired to start a nonprofit that, 14 years later, is going strong.

Duncan met kids with holes in their shoes who walked miles to school and saw old women who shuffled down the streets, and wanted to make it easier for them to get around. Along with his mother, Dixie Duncan, he launched Wheels for Africa. People from his hometown of Arlington, Virginia, and the surrounding area donated bicycles to the organization, and after they were fixed up, the bikes were sent to Africa.

Over the last 14 years, more than 8,000 bikes have been donated, with most going to African countries. Last weekend, Duncan, his mom, and a small group of volunteers went to Puerto Rico for the first time, where 400 bikes were given to people still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. On Friday, the team spruced up the bikes, and on Saturday, the bicycles — along with helmets — were distributed to recipients. Now 24, Duncan is a graduate of Bard College and working at a political consulting firm. He told The Washington Post he hopes that Wheels for Africa's young volunteers see how privileged they are, and "think about giving back." Catherine Garcia

12:55 a.m.

After buying some lottery scratchers earlier this month, Tyler Heep found himself with a winning ticket. Sure, it was only for $1, but the Des Moines, Iowa, man still thought that was something worth celebrating.

It turns out, the Iowa Lottery agreed. Heep went to lottery headquarters to cash in his winning ticket, and asked for one of the large novelty checks that are given to people who win big. "They decided to treat me like a million dollar winner," Heep told WHO-TV. "The guy came down the stairs and they took me into the back room where the camera was with the Iowa Lottery logo. Sure enough they wrote me the $1 check and had me hold it up and took the picture."

Heep used his lottery win to pay for half a gallon of gas. Catherine Garcia

12:52 a.m.

The 27-day-old government shutdown "is getting ugly, and it was never a beauty queen," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked President Trump to postpone or scrap his State of the Union address until after the government reopened, citing security concerns, and on Thursday, 45 minutes before Pelosi was supposed to get on a plane to visit NATO allies in Belgium and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Trump informed her that he was canceling her trip.

"Now, Trump has the power to do this because Pelosi was flying military transport and he's the commander-in-chief, but Trump did give her another option": Fly commercial, Colbert said. "I'm sure JetBlue offers daily nonstop flights to a war zone." And not only did Trump spoil Pelosi's top-secret trip, he referred to her as "Madame" Speaker, not Madam Speaker, he noted. "A 'Madame speaker' is what Trump uses to order at a drive-thru brothel."

Trump is clearly urging Pelosi to fly commercial "like it's the worst thing he could think of," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "That's hard-core, though, right? Canceling her flight right before she's about to take off. That's like the complete opposite of a romantic comedy." To be fair to Trump, he said, "Nancy Pelosi's letter was a little bit snarky, right? But it's crazy that Trump's GPS never takes him onto the high road."

Noah dipped into Cardi B's viral plea to end the shutdown — "How cool would it be if Cardi B somehow ended the shutdown? Like, we find out that Trump is a major fan because 'Bodak Yellow' is his favorite song, and also the color of his hair" — and he brought Michael Kosta out to discuss the GoFundMe campaigns of furloughed federal workers and other ways people are coping with the shutdown. Watch below. Peter Weber

January 17, 2019

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) apologized to Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) on Thursday after he yelled "Go back to Puerto Rico!" as Cárdenas waited to speak on the House floor.

Smith had his outburst after Congress had adjourned and lawmakers were arguing over a bill to fund the government through the end of next month. Cárdenas said at first, it wasn't clear who shouted, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) scolded his colleagues, saying, "I would hope that we could refrain from any implications that have any undertones of prejudice or racism or any kind of -ism that would diminish the character and integrity of one of our fellow members." Cárdenas told The Washington Post that hours later, Smith called him and "took responsibility for the comment and sincerely apologized." Cárdenas, the son of Mexican immigrants, accepted.

Joey Brown, Smith's communications director, told the Post that Smith was "speaking to all the Democrats who were down vacationing in Puerto Rico last weekend during the shutdown, not any individual." About 30 House and Senate Democrats visited Puerto Rico to bring attention to the fact that the island is still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria. Cárdenas is the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' fundraising arm, Bold PAC, and organized the delegation. Catherine Garcia

January 17, 2019

President Trump directed Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project, two federal law enforcement officials with knowledge of the matter told BuzzFeed News.

The officials said Cohen, who was in charge of the project, also came up with a plan to get Trump to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin so he could get negotiations into high gear, with Trump telling him, "Make it happen." While campaigning, Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia, but in reality, he had at least 10 in-person meetings with Cohen about the deal, BuzzFeed News reports, and Cohen also regularly updated Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump about the development. The project could have netted Trump $300 million.

In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about the deal in testimony to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned that Cohen lied through interviews with witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails and documents, the officials told BuzzFeed News, and Cohen told Mueller that after the election, Trump instructed him to lie about when negotiations ended in order to mask his involvement. Catherine Garcia

January 17, 2019

Scientists have long being trying to determine just how old the rings of Saturn are — did they form at the same time as the planet, 4.5 billion years ago, or are they younger, the result of a moon or comet being pulverized by Saturn's gravitational pull?

NASA's Cassini probe provided the answer. Before it dove into Saturn's atmosphere in 2017, ending its exploration of the planet, Cassini sent back its final pieces of data. The satellite flew between the rings multiple times, and found their mass is 20 times smaller than previous estimates, only about two-fifths the mass of Saturn's moon Mimas. With that information, as well as knowing the proportion of dust in the rings and the rate that dust is added, scientists were able to determine that Saturn's rings could be as young as 10 million years old but no more than 100 million years old.

Looking at the big picture that is the Solar System, this is considered "yesterday," Luciano Iess of Sapienza University in Rome told BBC News. Last month, a group of scientists determined that every 30 minutes, enough ring particles are falling onto Saturn to fill an Olympic-sized pool. Dr. Tom Stallard of Leicester University in the United Kingdom told BBC News the rings will likely disappear in "at most 100 million years," and 50 to 100 million years ago, the rings would have been "even bigger and even brighter" than they are today. Catherine Garcia

January 17, 2019

A federal judge on Thursday struck down early-voting restrictions passed by Wisconsin Republicans during a lame-duck legislative session in December.

The measure limited early voting in Wisconsin to no more than two weeks before an election. It was signed into law by former Gov. Scott Walker (R), just a few weeks before he left office and was replaced by Gov. Tony Evers (D). Judge James Peterson on Thursday afternoon blocked the law, saying it was nearly identical to early-voting restrictions he struck down in 2016. He also blocked other laws passed during the lame-duck session, including one that bans voters from using expired student IDs as identification at the polls.

Over the last several years, major cities, including the overwhelmingly Democratic Milwaukee and Madison, have offered several weeks of early voting, NPR reports. Republicans have said this isn't fair, as smaller, more conservative communities can't afford to offer weeks of early voting. Catherine Garcia

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