February 27, 2017

President Trump admitted he was floored by how "complicated" the health-care system is when speaking Monday at the National Governors Association meeting at the White House. "It's an unbelievably complex subject," Trump said, while outlining the plans his administration has come up with to repeal and replace ObamaCare. "Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated."

Trump explained that his team has come up with a solution that gives states "the flexibility they need to make the end result really, really good for them." But "statutorily," Trump explained, and because lawmakers "have to know what the health care is going to cost," the president said health care has to get sorted out before he can go ahead with his tax cut plan — which he promised will be "major, it's going to be simple, and the whole tax plan is wonderful." "It's actually, tax cutting has never been that easy, but it's a tiny little ant compared to what we're talking about with ObamaCare," Trump said, deeming the Affordable Care Act a "failed disaster" that's "no longer affordable."

Watch Trump break down the complexities of health care below. Becca Stanek

1:54 p.m. ET
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Our eyeballs apparently contain information that could revolutionize cardiovascular medicine.

Artificial intelligence software developed by Google in conjunction with its biotech subsidiary company Verily can scan retinal images to predict heart disease at nearly the same accuracy rate as a traditional blood test, United Press International reports. The findings, published Monday in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, explain that Google's AI makes its predictions by examining images of the back of a patient's eye in order to develop a profile of the patient, including several characteristics that could determine cardiovascular risk.

From the retinal images, Google's AI can determine within impressive degrees of accuracy a patient's age, gender, blood pressure, and smoking status, as well as even the past occurrence of major cardiovascular events, The Verge explains. The program taught itself how to analyze eyeballs after using machine learning techniques to pore over more than 284,000 retinal images; while studying, the AI used what UPI describes as a visual "heatmap" to learn which parts of the eye's anatomy contained certain predictive factors. The AI eventually learned, for example, that to analyze a patient's blood pressure, it was prudent to examine the blood vessels in the eye.

To test its capabilities, researchers sicced the AI on two patient pools, totaling more than 13,000 patients. The AI made correct predictions on the future risk of heart disease in 70 percent of cases — nearly the same accuracy rate as the blood-test method doctors traditionally use, which has a 72 percent accuracy rate.

Harlan M. Krumholz, the director of Yale's Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, predicted that the findings of Google's AI show that machine learning and artificial intelligence will "more precisely hone our understanding of disease and individuals," helping physicians "understand these processes and diagnoses in ways that we haven't been able to before." Read the full study here. Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:39 p.m. ET

Human rights monitors report that nearly 200 people have been killed in the rebel-held region of eastern Ghouta, Syria, in the past 48 hours, with Monday marking the bloodiest single day since an alleged chemical attack in the region in 2015, CNN reports. "What is a greater terrorism than killing civilians with all sorts of weapons?" one doctor working in the region asked The Guardian. "Is this a war? It's not a war. It's called a massacre."

Although Ghouta has been a target of the Syrian regime for more than five years, the region was officially declared a safe "de-escalation" zone for civilians in a deal between Russia, Turkey, and Iran last year. All that is now a distant memory: "Residents of eastern Ghouta are bracing themselves for what they believe is an imminent ground invasion by Syrian regime forces," CNN writes. "They said that events in their suburb are playing out similarly to the 2016 offensive in Aleppo, when rebels and [Islamic State] militants were expelled by a government offensive that reduced much of the city to rubble."

At least four hospitals, and possibly as many as seven, have reportedly been destroyed in the shelling and airstrikes. "We are standing before the massacre of the 21st century," the doctor who spoke with The Guardian warned.

Over the past three months, more than 700 people have been killed in eastern Ghouta, which is home to some 400,000 civilians. The last week marked what Amnesty International called "flagrant war crimes" on an "epic scale." In a statement Monday, the CEO of the Union of Medical Care & Relief Organizations, Zedoun al Zoebi, said: "This could be one of the worst attacks in Syrian history, even worse than the siege on Aleppo. The sheer intensity of airstrikes is leveling the city, and killing civilians without any regard or mercy."

Jeva Lange

12:23 p.m. ET

CNN's Chris Cuomo was barely able to mask his outrage during an interview Tuesday with Republican House candidate Tyler Tannahill, who has refused to suspend his campaign's AR-15 giveaway contest even after the same weapon was used to kill 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school last week. "Help me understand, brother," Cuomo said. "Why, after this, would you want to give away the same weapon used to kill all those kids?"

Tannahill, a candidate for Congress in Kansas, announced the giveaway on Feb. 13, a day before the Valentine's Day shooting. After the attack, he said his campaign considered what he called "the typical Republican response: 'Let's hide in our holes, let's say thoughts and prayers and move on.'" He said they ultimately decided against it: "We do have a problem, we have to protect our students, we have to protect our teachers," he told Cuomo.

An emotional Cuomo tried to offer some perspective. "God forbid you knew somebody who was in that school," he said. "And then, right on the heels of [the shooting], when you're trying to get your mind around this madness, there's a guy giving away the same damn weapon that just took your loved one's life."

Cuomo added: "You think that would be seen as a constructive step forward in a conversation about how to stop it, or a slap in the face, and somebody just shaming you with what you had to live through?" Watch the tense exchange below. Jeva Lange

11:44 a.m. ET

President Trump had a very busy Tuesday morning — on Twitter, that is.

All before his 11:15 a.m. ET intelligence briefing, Trump praised Fox & Friends, attacked former President Barack Obama for being soft on Russia, and fought back against an allegation of sexual misconduct. The latter is because on Monday, The Washington Post published a profile on Rachel Crooks, a woman who alleges that Trump kissed her against her wishes 12 years ago when she worked in Trump Tower.

Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien pointed out that Trump's angry tweet is factually inaccurate. Crooks claimed that Trump forced himself on her "in the small waiting area near the elevators" of the Trump Tower office of Bayrock Group, the investment firm where she worked — not in the building's main lobby, like Trump wrote.

The president also asked why he would have behaved as Crooks alleged while in view of "live security cameras," but O'Brien notes that Crooks has asked Trump to release security footage from that day, to no avail. Crooks is one of 19 women who has accused the president of sexual assault or harassment. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:45 a.m. ET
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Press coverage of President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has often taken the form of a study in contrasts. Kelly is disciplined, orderly, no-nonsense. Trump is impetuous, chaotic, and often nonsensical. Kelly is portrayed not as a Trump enthusiast like policy adviser Stephen Miller, but as a "studiously apolitical" career soldier shouldering the grim duty of taming Trump.

But what if that's not true? This is the proposal of Perry Bacon Jr. in a new analysis today at FiveThirtyEight. "Kelly seems to have deeply-held views, particularly on immigration," Bacon writes, recently suggesting "undocumented immigrants who had not yet signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were 'lazy.'"

And like Trump, Kelly's first instinct was to defend former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter when he was accused of abuse by his two ex-wives. In these and other ways, Bacon argues, Kelly differs from Trump in style, but in substance he is not "a kind of anti-Trump."

As for how the press "bungled the John Kelly story," Bacon presents five ideas for what went wrong, including insider journalism and insufficient knowledge of Kelly's political views. See Bacon's list here, and read The Week's Matthew Walther for the case that Kelly wasn't always this way. Bonnie Kristian

10:43 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, CNN's Alisyn Camerota had some questions for former Republican Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), who questioned the authenticity of the students who survived last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the wake of the shooting — in which 17 people were killed by a 19-year-old wielding a semiautomatic weapon — students across the country have planned anti-gun demonstrations, which Kingston suggested over the weekend was the nefarious work of "left-wing gun control activists.”

On Tuesday, Kingston appeared on CNN's New Day to explain that claim. Camerota began with a simple question: "Do you think these kids aren't acting on their own volition?"

Kingston acknowledged that the shooting was "a horrible tragedy" but said that the students' "sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups. ... Do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?" Kingston claimed this looked like the work of groups associated with liberal financier and frequent right-wing target George Soros.

Camerota insisted otherwise: "I talked to these kids before they knew the body count of how many of their friends had been killed," she said. "They hadn't been indoctrinated by some left-wing group. They were motivated from what they saw and what they endured during that ordeal."

Kingston tried to backtrack, saying, "I don't doubt their sincerity," to which Camerota replied, "Yes you do, Jack." The former congressman then argued that 17-year-olds simply do not have the "logistical ability to plan a nationwide rally without it being hijacked by groups that already had the pre-existing anti-gun agenda."

"Jack, it's just silly," Camerota replied. Watch the whole exchange below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:22 a.m. ET
Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

In 2012, the government of Dallas struck a deal with the National Rifle Association (NRA): If the organization would host its 2018 annual convention at the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, it could rent the space for free. City Hall would offer a $22,840 discount, and the city's tourism bureau would cover the rest, about $387,000. In exchange, Dallas expected city businesses to rake in some $42 million from around 75,000 convention attendees.

But after a series of high-profile mass shootings, most recently the school shooting in Florida last week, Dallas leaders are less enthused about the arrangement. On Monday, Dwaine Caraway, a city council member who is also mayor pro tem, urged the NRA not to come to Dallas. Should the convention proceed, he predicted, there will be "marches and demonstrations" and "we, Dallas, will be the ones who have to bear the costs, the responsibility, and to protect the citizens."

The city council did not have an opportunity to vote on the NRA convention subsidy. In 2016, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) said he is not personally thrilled about the NRA coming to town, but would prioritize "what makes good business sense."

The NRA responded to Caraway's remarks by noting that "no politician anywhere can tell the NRA not to come to their city" because NRA members already live in Dallas. Bonnie Kristian

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