WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — A surge of visitors clogged the U.S. government’s revamped healthcare insurance shopping website on Monday, Dec. 2, signaling that President Barack Obama’s administration has a way to go in fixing the portal that showcases his signature domestic policy.
Facing its first big test since officials proclaimed over the weekend that they had met their deadline to make HealthCare.gov run smoothly for the “vast majority” of users, the site performed markedly better than it did during its disastrous launch two months ago – but was still short of the crisply running insurance marketplace Obama once touted.
By 5:30 p.m. EST, the website had logged 750,000 visitors, the White House said, nearly the 800,000 daily users the refurbished site is supposed to be able to handle.
In states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Texas and North Carolina, the rush of traffic led to the deployment of a new feature on the site – a waiting page that said there were “a lot of visitors right now,” and put people in line to be serviced, usually within minutes. By Monday evening, officials reported that the site was running smoothly, with no waiting.
That was significant progress for a website that has become the face of one of the biggest crises of President Obama’s administration, one that has undermined the Democratic president’s promotion of an activist government and threatened to become a drag on Democrats in next year’s elections, when control of Congress will be at stake.
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By Tracy Conner
Nelson Mandela, the revered South African anti-apartheid icon who spent 27 years in prison, led his country to democracy, and became its first black president, died Thursday. He was 95.
President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela’s death in a live televised address, saying South Africa “has lost its greatest son.”
“Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we bid him farewell,” he added.
Though he was in power for only five years, Mandela was a figure of enormous moral influence the world over–a symbol of revolution, resistance and triumph over racial segregation.
He inspired a generation of activists, left celebrities and world leaders star-struck, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and raised millions for humanitarian causes.
South Africa is still bedeviled by challenges, from class inequality to political corruption to AIDS. And with Mandela’s death, it has lost a beacon of optimism.
In his jailhouse memoirs, Mandela wrote that even after spending so many years in a Spartan cell on Robben Island–with one visitor a year and one letter every six months–he still had faith in human nature.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion,” he wrote in “Long Walk to Freedom.”
“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Mandela retired from public life in 2004 with the half-joking directive, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” and had largely stepped out of the spotlight, spending much of his time with family in his childhood village.
His health had been fragile in recent years. On Dec. 8, 2012, he was taken to a Johannesburg hospital with a lung infection and had gallstone surgery before he was released Dec. 27.
In his later years, Mandela was known to his countrymen simply as Madiba, the name of his tribe and a mark of great honor. But when he was born on July 18, 1918, he was named Rolihlahla, which translated roughly–and prophetically–to “troublemaker.”
Mandela was nine when his father died, and he was sent from his rural village to the provincial capital to be raised by a fellow chief. The first member of his family to get a formal education, he went to boarding school and then enrolled in South Africa’s elite Fort Hare University, where his activism unfurled with a student boycott.
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