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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

A musician from the Russian protest group Pussy Riot told The Guardian that her imprisonment included nearly three weeks of forced daily gynecological exams.

"I decided to become a human rights activist when I realised how easy it was for officials to make a decision and force women to be examined in the most intimate parts of their bodies. Russian officials should not stay unpunished, they cannot have this kind of absolute power over us," Maria Alyokhina, who was put in prison for almost two years after a performance critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said.

Staff for a public oversight commission confirmed to The Guardian that women in Russian prisons, including Alyokhina, had been subjected to the treatment.

Alyokhina and another member of the group were released from prison Monday.

For the second time in a week, a federal judge embraced U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent from this summer's ruling overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a case challenging a state's ban on gay marriage.

Scalia was adamant in his dissent that the logic of the DOMA decision would result in state bans being overturned. In his decision Monday declaring that Ohio must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages on death certificates, federal district judge Timothy Black wrote:

And now it is just as Justice Scalia predicted -- the lower courts are applying the Supreme Court’s decision, as they must, and the question is presented whether a state can do what the federal government cannot -- i.e., discriminate against same-sex couples … simply because the majority of the voters don’t like homosexuality (or at least didn’t in 2004). Under the Constitution of the United States, the answer is no.

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More than 400,000 Californians have enrolled in health coverage under Obamacare as of Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The numbers are preliminary. State officials said enrollment had spiked with the approaching Monday deadline for signing up for coverage that starts in January: 27,000 people enrolled Sunday -- more than HealthCare.gov, which is serving 36 states, signed up in all of October.

The Obama administration has repeatedly pledged that enrollment would spike ahead of this week's deadline. President Obama said last week that more than 500,000 people enrolled through HealthCare.gov in the first three weeks of this month alone -- more than doubling the total enrollments that the federal website saw in October and November combined.

President Barack Obama has signed up for health coverage under Obamacare.

A White House aide said Monday that the president enrolled in a health plan through the Washington, D.C. insurance marketplace over the weekend. He picked a bronze plan, which covers 60 percent of medical costs.

"The act of the President signing up for insurance coverage through the DC exchange is symbolic since the President’s health care will continue to be provided by the military," the aide said.

Obama will pay premiums for the plan, though, the aide said. The insurance would cover only the president, not his wife or children, and the premium will be less than $400 per month.

Monday, Dec. 23, is supposed to be the official deadline for enrolling in Obamacare for coverage that starts Jan. 1, but the Obama administration has built some wiggle room into that deadline.

The Washington Post first reported the change, which the the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services then effectively confirmed.

CMS explained that HealthCare.gov's system had been programmed to accept applications through the end of the day Tuesday and have the coverage begin on Jan. 1. Officials said that the change had been made in anticipation of high traffic and other potential technical issues ahead of Monday's deadline.

Julie Bataille, a CMS spokeswoman, insisted that Monday was still the final deadline, though the accompanying guidance effectively makes the new deadline Tuesday, as the Post had reported.

"We recognize that many have chosen to make their final decisions on today’s deadline and we are committed to making sure they can do so," Bataille said in a statement. "Anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for Jan 1.”

The Post had reported that the administration had made a change to HealthCare.gov's backend that would automatically set people's coverage to start on Jan. 1 if they enrolled by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 24, effectively giving Americans an extra day to sign up for January coverage.

The newspaper cited "two individuals with knowledge of the switch."

One source told the Post that the extension was intended to be a "buffer" in case heavy traffic affected the website's performance on Monday. The sources said that the change was automatic and therefore couldn't be accepted or declined by insurance companies.

Obamacare lives. After nearly three months of Murphy's Law in action, after everything that could go wrong did, it's still got a pulse.

Monday, Dec. 23, two and a half months after HealthCare.gov crashed and burned during its launch, the law has cleared a major hurdle: the deadline for people to sign up for coverage that starts in January. With the passage of that marker, hundreds of thousands -- probably millions -- of people have officially enrolled in health coverage through the law.

That's a big win for the White House, even though the road seems to have been paved with every worst-case scenario. With each passing day from here on out, there should be fewer and fewer opportunities for unforced errors that could undermine President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement.

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The Obama administration is asking insurance companies to give Americans more time to sign up for health coverage that starts in January, the Washington Post reported.

The official deadline is midnight EST on Monday, Dec. 23. But behind the scenes, administration officials have urged insurers to start coverage on Jan. 1 even for those who sign up after Monday, the Post reported, citing "insurance industry executives."

The push has been under for more than a week. Some companies have agreed, according to the Post, though others will not accommodate the request.

The administration had previously asked insurers to extend their deadline for accepting premium payments for January coverage from Dec. 31 to Jan. 10. The insurance industry's top lobbying group said last week that its members would make that change.

At about 4:15 p.m. ET, the AP wire reported that a federal district judge had declared Utah's ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. Within an hour, one gay couple reported on Twitter that they had gotten married.

Seth Anderson, whose Twitter profile says he lives in Salt Lake City, tweeted the below photo of he and his husband holding up their new marriage license.

About 15 minutes later, the AP confirmed that the Salt Lake City Clerk's office had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In a bit of irony -- and perhaps trolling -- the federal judge who struck down Utah's ban on gay marriage Friday repeatedly cited U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent from this summer's ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In doing so, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby wasn't exactly turning Scalia's words against him but rather fulsomely embracing the dire warnings Scalia had given about what the Supreme Court majority's decision meant for the future legal challenges to state laws that attempt to preserve traditional marriage.

From beginning to end of Shelby's opinion Friday, in four different citations scattered throughout, he favorably cited Scalia's dissent, buttressing his legal analysis with Scalia's warnings.

In its 5-4 decision in June, the Supreme Court held that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it violated individual liberty, but did not rule that all state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional. In his dissent in the case, United States v. Windsor, Scalia wrote that the majority opinion's logic would inevitably lead to the state bans being declared unconstitutional as well:

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