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BOBBLEHEADS HONOR SUPREME COURT JUSTICES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- They are some of the rarest bobblehead dolls ever produced. They're released erratically. They're given away for free, not sold. And if you get a certificate to claim one, you have to redeem it at a Washington, DC, law office.
The limited edition bobbleheads of U.S. Supreme Court justices are the work of law professor Ross Davies, who has been creating them for the past 10 years. When finished, they arrive unannounced on the real justices' desks, secreted there by unnamed confederates. And fans will go to some lengths to get one.
"I think we take seriously trying to do them well," said Davies, a law professor at Virginia's George Mason University and the editor of an entertaining quarterly legal journal called The Green Bag.
Subscribing to the journal is the most reliable way to get a voucher to claim a bobblehead when they are released, but there's no guarantee. The certificates warn that the bearer "might be able" to exchange it for a bobblehead, and the journal also hands out some bobbleheads to non-subscribers, including law school public interest groups that auction them at fundraisers. Some ultimately wobble their way onto eBay, where they reliably sell for hundreds of dollars.
The justices themselves seem to have been charmed by their caricatures. Antonin Scalia once said in an interview that he understands his is the most popular. Stephen Breyer had four of the figures of his colleagues on display in his chambers during a 2009 C-Span interview. His own is currently in the works. And former Chief Justice William Rehnquist sent a thank-you note for his, which was the first to come out in 2003.
"Thank you for the `bobble-head' likeness of me which now sits on the mantle of the fireplace in my chambers," Rehnquist wrote. "It is probably a better likeness of me as I was 15 years ago than as I am now, but obviously I won't complain."
Davies said the idea for the bobbleheads came to him in the shower. In the decade since, he has immortalized 16 justices in ceramic, including four of the current court's nine members. Included in that total are a set of miniature bobbleheads representing the first justices appointed to the court. Certificates for the newest tiny justice, John Blair, recently went out.
FEDERAL HEALTH CARE SIGN-UPS PASS 1 MILLION MARK
HONOLULU (AP) -- The government's rehabilitated health insurance website has seen a December surge in customer sign-ups, pushing enrollment past the 1 million mark, the Obama administration says.
Combined with numbers for state-run markets, that should put total enrollment in the new private insurance plans under President Barack Obama's health law at about 2 million people through the end of the year, independent experts said.
That would be about two-thirds of the administration's original goal of signing up 3.3 million by Dec. 31, a significant improvement given the technical problems that crippled the federal market during much of the fall. The overall goal remains to enroll 7 million people by March 31.
"It looks like current enrollment is around 2 million despite all the issues," said Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. "It was a very impressive showing for December."
The administration said that of the more than 1.1 million people now enrolled in the federal insurance exchange, nearly 1 million signed up in December. The majority came days before a pre-Christmas deadline for coverage to start in January. Compare that with a paltry 27,000 in October, the federal website's first, error-prone month.
"We experienced a welcome surge in enrollment as millions of Americans seek access to affordable health care coverage," Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a blog post announcing the figures.
The numbers don't represent a full accounting for the country.
HOME ELECTRICITY USE IN US FALLING TO 2001 LEVELS
NEW YORK (AP) -- The average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to levels last seen more than a decade ago, back when the smartest device in people's pockets was a Palm pilot and anyone talking about a tablet was probably an archaeologist or a preacher.
Because of more energy-efficient housing, appliances and gadgets, power usage is on track to decline in 2013 for the third year in a row, to its lowest point since 2001, even though our lives are more electrified.
Click to take a look at what has changed since the last time consumption was so low.
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