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December 13, 2017

A new nationwide Monmouth University poll released Wednesday does not have a lot of good news for Republicans. Perhaps most stunning are the results of a generic 2018 House ballot, where Democrats hold a 15-point edge on the GOP. Overall, 51 percent of registered voters said that if the election was held today, they'd vote or lean toward voting for the Democrat in the race. Just 36 percent of voters said they'd vote or lean toward voting for the Republican.

Politico's Jake Sherman offered some insight on just how significant that chasm is:

The director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, said there could be even more bad news for Republicans due to President Trump's approval rating hitting its lowest number since he took office. "Republicans have to be worried about being dragged down by the weight of Trump's negatives in 2018 if this trend continues," Murray said. Overall, Trump's approval rating is a mere 32 percent, while 56 percent of Americans disapprove:

The numbers out of Monmouth don't appear to be a fluke. Pew also recorded Trump at his lowest approval rating ever last week. Additionally, Suffolk University found that among Fox News watchers, Trump has plummeted from a 90 percent approval rating in January to a mere 58 approval rating in December.

Read the full results of the Monmouth poll here. It reached 806 adults in the U.S. between Dec. 10-12, and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent. Jeva Lange

December 7, 2017
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The House's longest-serving member, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), announced his resignation earlier this week after being accused of inappropriately touching female staffers and using taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015. In stepping down, Conyers, 88, endorsed his son — who is beset by accusations of his own.

John Conyers III, 27, was arrested the day after Valentine's Day when his girlfriend called the police and claimed Conyers "body slammed her on the bed and then on the floor where he pinned her down and spit on her," NBC News reports. His girlfriend, who went unnamed in the report, also suffered knife cuts.

"She says I stabbed her, which makes no sense," Conyers told The New York Times. "I didn't do this. She and I had a verbal altercation and that escalated. She pulled the knife on me. She was chasing me. I tried to take it from her. There was a struggle. I pinned her to the wall. She kept swinging and she cut herself."

Prosecutors did not ultimately charge Conyers because it "could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim's injury was not accidentally sustained." Conyers and his girlfriend split up after the incident after being together for two and a half years. His girlfriend also got a restraining order after the incident, which The New York Times writes is in effect through next March. Jeva Lange

December 1, 2017
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Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) reportedly used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former spokeswoman in 2014, Politico reports. The accuser, Lauren Greene, claimed in her lawsuit that an aide told her Farenthold had "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" about her. Greene said Farenthold had told her himself that he was "estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years." She claims she was fired after complaining about the comments.

An investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics concluded that there was "not substantial reason to believe that Rep. Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against [Greene], or engaged in an effort to intimidate, take reprisal against, or discriminate against [Greene] for opposing such treatment, in violation of House rules and federal law." House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) told ABC News Friday that Congress had paid out $84,000 to settle just one sexual harassment claim involving a House member since 2012, but details of who the official was had not been previously released.

Farenthold "adamantly denie[d] that he engaged in any wrongdoing" in a joint statement between himself and Greene that was never released, but was obtained by Politico. Read more about the lawsuit and settlement here. Jeva Lange

November 29, 2017

CNN's Jake Tapper issued a blistering condemnation of President Trump's tweet citing the 2001 death of Joe Scarborough's intern on Wednesday. "This is the president attempting to exploit the tragic death of a young woman — one who had heart problems and hit her head when she fell — to score a cheap spurious political point," Tapper tweeted. "Indecent. Inhumane."

Trump had tweeted several responses to the news that NBC's Matt Lauer had been fired over "inappropriate sexual" workplace behavior, including this one (Trump initially deleted the tweet, and then reposted it):

Trump was making reference to Lori Klausutis, who was found dead at 28 in Scarborough's office when Scarborough — now an MSNBC host — was still a Florida congressman. At the time, The Associated Press wrote that "preliminary findings from the medical examiner’s office showed no foul play or any outward indication of suicide." The St. Petersburg Times later wrote that "medical examiner Dr. Michael Berkland has said Klausutis, 28, of Niceville, lost consciousness because of an abnormal heart rhythm and fell, hitting her head on a desk. The head injury caused the death, Berkland said."

Read more about Trump's reactions to the news of Matt Lauer's termination here. Jeva Lange

November 21, 2017
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Disney Animation head and Toy Story director John Lasseter announced he is taking a six-month leave of absence from Pixar, which is owned by Disney, after "painful" conversations, The Hollywood Reporter writes. "It's never easy to face your missteps," he wrote in a memo to employees, adding: "It's been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent."

The Hollywood Reporter writes that it is "hard to overstate Lasseter's value to Disney. He is known as the genius behind Pixar films from Toy Story to the upcoming Coco. He took charge of Walt Disney Animation in 2006 and led a revival that included such gigantic hits as Frozen and Inside Out."

One Pixar employee revealed Lasseter was known by entertainment industry insiders for "grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes." Another employee recalled walking into a meeting where a woman was sitting beside Lasseter with her hand over her thigh and his hand on her knee. Afterwards the woman told the employee that "it was unfortunate for her to wear a skirt that day and if she didn't have her hand on her own right leg, his hand would have travelled." Read more of the allegations at The Hollywood Reporter. Jeva Lange

November 10, 2017
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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte unexpectedly bragged about stabbing a person to death when he was a teenager ahead of his meeting with President Trump in Vietnam, CNN reports. "One fight there, another here — at the age of 16, I killed someone. A person, really. During a fight. Stabbing," Duterte told regional leaders in Da Nang. "That was when I was 16 years old, just because we just looked at each other."

Duterte and Trump have been on friendly terms, despite former President Barack Obama's tumultuous relationship with the controversial Filipino leader. Duterte has been heavily criticized by many in the international community for encouraging the extrajudicial murder of drug dealers. More than 13,000 suspected users and dealers are thought to have been killed so far across the Philippines. "To endorse Duterte is to endorse a man who advocates mass murder and who has admitted to killing people himself," John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told The Intercept in May after the White House praised Duterte for doing a "great job."

Duterte's spokesman walked back the president's comments Friday when speaking with a CNN affiliate. "I think it was in jest," the spokesman said. "The president uses colorful language when with [Filipinos] overseas." Jeva Lange

October 25, 2017
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Diabetes has long been divided into Type 1 and Type 2. But a third type has entered the mix — and doctors aren't diagnosing it correctly.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce insulin and is usually diagnosed at a young age. Type 2 diabetes shows up later in life when the pancreas can't make enough insulin to keep up with the body. This new third type, Type 3c, starts with a damaged pancreas.

A recent study from the American Diabetes Association found only 3 percent of people with Type 3c have actually received a correct diagnosis. These misdiagnoses mean people with Type 3c might not be getting effective treatments. Type 3c diabetics require insulin, but may also benefit from taking digestive enzyme tablets, one of the study's researchers wrote in The Conversation. That alternative treatment option is what sets Type 3c apart from the other types.

Likewise, drugs used for Type 2 diabetes — what 3c is usually misdiagnosed as — might not be effective in treating this new type. Thus, researchers hope this new study can stress the prevalence of this disease and encourage its proper diagnosis. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 24, 2017

A protester managed to get into the Capitol building ahead of President Trump's lunch with Republican leaders and proceeded to throw Russian flags at the commander in chief while shouting "Trump is treason," The Intercept's Aída Chávez reports:

The protester identified himself as Americans Take Action president Ryan Clayton. In February, Clayton passed out Russian flags branded with "Trump" to attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference. "The reason we trolled Trump with these flags is to draw attention to the Russian interference in our most recent American election, helping to decide the outcome in favor of the Trump campaign," Clayton wrote at the time. "Working with a foreign power to undermine our free and fair elections is treason. Let's be clear, Putin picked Trump because it's good for Russia, not because he's great for America."

Concern quickly spread about how Clayton got in the building — and within feet of the president. "How did he get in? That's not a publicly accessible space without an escort/staff or press badge," tweeted Salt Lake Tribune's Washington bureau chief Thomas Burr.

"This is pretty shocking to see happen right in the heart of our Capitol," tweeted CNN contributor Amanda Carpenter. "Steps from the Senate floor." Jeva Lange

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