Nation roundup for April 18


8 million signed up for health care

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The enrollments exceeded expectations and offered new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of the midterm elections.

An impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room offered the president an opportunity to trumpet the new figures, which beat initial projections by 1 million. With an eye toward November, Obama castigated Republicans for continuing to seek out every opportunity to thwart the Affordable Care Act.

“This thing is working,” Obama said of his signature domestic achievement.

Touting modest progress on another front, Obama said 35 percent of enrollees are under 35 years old, suggesting that in the final weeks of enrollment, the administration managed to sign up higher numbers of younger, healthier people who are critical to the law’s viability.

The most coveted age group comprises those between 18 and 34 years old. White House officials said that for the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead, 28 percent are in that age group — a step in the right direction from March, when the administration said just 25 percent were 18 to 34.

In a sharp rebuke to his political opponents, Obama called out states that have refused to embrace an expansion of Medicaid under “Obamacare,” arguing that their opposition was rooted in nothing more than sheer ideology and political spite.

Progress made in Target hacking

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target’s computer systems last December.

But the agency says it could take years to identify the criminals who stole some 40 million debit and credit card numbers of Target shoppers and other personal information from as many as 70 million people in the pre-Christmas breach.

And it may take even longer to bring the offenders to justice. The federal investigation is complicated by the international nature of high-profile digital heists. The perpetrators are likely located overseas, which makes extradition and prosecution difficult.

As a result, the Secret Service is focused on monitoring the online activities of its suspects, in hopes that they’ll be able to arrest them at an opportune moment, says Ari Baranoff, an assistant special agent in charge with the Secret Service’s criminal investigative division.

“We take a lot of pride in having a lot of patience,” Baranoff said during a rare sit-down interview with the Associated Press at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “There are individuals we’ve apprehended that we’ve known about for 10 years and we’re very comfortable indicting these individuals, sitting back and waiting patiently until the opportunity arrives that we can apprehend them.”

Target says it can’t yet estimate what the breach will cost the company, but some analysts put it at close to half a billion dollars. The total cost of the breach could easily reach into the billions of dollars.

Chelsea Clinton expecting child

WASHINGTON (AP) — Call it the year of the baby: Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are expecting their first child later this year.

The 34-year-old daughter of former President Bill Clinton and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement Thursday at the end of a Clinton Foundation event in New York on empowering girls.

Joined on stage by her mother, Chelsea Clinton said she feels “all the better whether it’s a girl or a boy that she or he will grow up in a world with so many strong female leaders.”

“I just hope I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me,” the former first daughter said.

The former first lady, secretary of state and New York senator, who is considering another presidential campaign in 2016, said she was “really excited” about becoming a grandmother.

“It makes this work even more important because we’ve made a lot of progress,” Clinton said.

“I want to see us keep moving and certainly for future generations as well so that maybe our grandchild will not have to be worried about some of the things that young women and young men are worried about today,” Hillary Clinton said.

Chelsea Clinton said in an interview with Glamour magazine last year that she and her husband were hoping to start a family soon, calling 2014 “the year of the baby.”

The younger Clinton is vice chairman of the Bill, Hillary &Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which was previously known as the William J. Clinton Foundation. Chelsea Clinton has taken a leading role in the organization, helping direct its humanitarian and philanthropic efforts around the globe.

She has avoided commenting on her mother’s potential presidential campaign except to say that she’ll support her in whatever she does. But she would be a strong voice for her mother among young voters if the former secretary of state decides to seek the presidency.

After the announcement, Bill Clinton weighed in on Twitter: “Excited to add a new line to my Twitter bio…grandfather-to-be! @HillaryClinton and I are so happy for Chelsea and Marc!”

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