Glitch gripes. President Barack Obama today bemoaned the technical difficulties of launching the national health insurance website healthcare.gov. “There’s no excuse for the problems,” the president said during a meeting in the White House Rose Garden. Over the weekend, the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged on its digital strategy blog that the launch had numerous problems. “The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people,” the blog read. High interest overwhelmed the site when it opened, and the “virtual waiting room” put in place caused more confusion, HHS officials said. HHS has brought in even more technical experts to help shape up the site, which has had 19 million unique visits since it opened. Almost 500,000 people have applied for coverage since the government-run health insurance market opened. But the Obama administration has yet to release initial enrollment figures, something Republicans are pushing for.
Terror alert. A suicide bombing in Russia killed at least six bus passengers today and injured more than 30. The blast detonated in the early afternoon in Volgograd, on a bus route frequented by students. Initial reports from the Russian Investigative Committee claimed a recently converted Muslim woman from the region of Dagestan carried out the attack. She was the wife of a militant leader, according to government reports. Dagestan borders Chechnya in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area known for violent attacks by Islamic extremists. Volgograd lies to the north of the area, between the Caucasus and Moscow.
Snowden fallout. France is the latest U.S. ally to seethe over reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on its citizens. Based on leaks from former CIA analyst Edward Snowden, the French paper Le Monde revealed the NSA eavesdropped on 70.3 million phone calls in the country between Dec. 10, 2012, and Jan. 8, 2013, according to Reuters. This morning, France’s foreign ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin to explain the allegations. “We must quickly assure that these practices aren’t repeated,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the media. The Snowden leaks have also raised the ire of Germany, Mexico, and Brazil after international media disclosed the United States conducted surveillance of government and business officials in those countries.
Americans idle. About 15 percent of young Americans have no reason to change out of their sweatpants in the morning, a recent study suggests. Almost 6 million people between ages 16 and 24 are neither in school nor working, according to a study by the non-profit group The Opportunity Nation. The report found idleness plagued youth in Mississippi and West Virginia in particular, where 1 in 5 young people neither worked nor went to school. The report detailed the challenges facing today’s young adults, including increased poverty and shrinking household incomes. The Opportunity Nation is a coalition of businesses, advocacy groups, policy experts, and nonprofit organizations that promotes economic advancement.