2014 Watch
July 15, 2014
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A new pair of NBC News/Marist polls shows Democrats ahead for two Senate seats, which the party must hold onto if they are to retain their Senate majority.

In the Colorado Senate race, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall leads his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, 48 percent to 41 percent.

In the Michigan Senate race, where longtime Democratic Sen. Carl Levin is retiring, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters leads his Republican opponent, former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, 43 percent to 37 percent.

NBC's analysis points out that the two Democratic candidates are being aided by their strong margins among women voters, with Udall ahead by 12 points among women, and Peters up by 13 points:

The Democratic path to survival in this very difficult midterm season for the party is through women. And that's especially true after the Hobby Lobby decision. There's no doubt Democrats are going to win women voters in the fall; the questions are by how much and whether it will be large enough to save the party's Senate majority. [NBC News]

Ebola
5:50 a.m. ET
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On Thursday, Liberia plans to release its final Ebola patient from a Chinese-built hospital in Monrovia, the capital, according to Tolbert Nyenswah, the head of the country's Incidence Management System. The recovered patient is the last known case of Ebola in Liberia, and if no new cases emerge in the next 42 days, the country will be declared Ebola-free.

Almost 10,000 people have died since the world's worst Ebola outbreak started a year ago, and Liberia shouldered the highest number of deaths. Ebola cases are also down sharply in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, although on Tuesday, Sierra Leone reported nine new cases within 24 hours.

The Daily Showdown
4:57 a.m. ET

Last year, Florida enacted a law banning doctors from asking their patients if they own a gun. Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper is on it. To understand (and, well, mock) the rationale for the "Docs vs. Glocks" law, Klepper interviewed Noel Flasterstein, a second amendment attorney, who argued that the bill could lead to "Holocaust 2" and downplayed the 3,000 annual gun deaths among 14- to 25-year-olds, a statistic he cited himself.

For the other side, Klepper talked with Dr. Toni Richards-Rowley, a pediatrician and "buzzkill." And as his icing on the cake, Klepper interviewed Marco Prisco, who owns a pool business — and welcomed pediatricians discussing pool safety with parents and kids. It gets a little intense, like when Klepper messes with Flasterstein over mental illness, so he ended the segment with a little comic relief, sporting a gunshot wound in a room full of doctors. Watch below. —Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
4:08 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email account, not a government one, while Secretary of State is a real story, Jon Stewart said on Wednesday night's Daily Show, raising issues of archiving and accountability. Her aides shouldn't get to pick which emails to turn over to the State Department for the same reason "Doritos doesn't get to decide which ingredients consumers need to know about, or why you don't get to tell the cops which pockets to search."

But all anyone seems to care about is how this story will affect Clinton's presumed 2016 presidential ambitions. Stewart's guess? None. "What, do you think maybe wrong-email-address-ghazi will be a big boost to her Democratic primary rival, TBD?" he asked. And in the general election, Republicans "pretty much already believe her and her husband to be treasonous, murderous griftasaurases." If fact, he added, "personally, I think her email trouble helps sew up the senior vote — you know, they can relate." Well, it's a theory. —Peter Weber

That '80s Show
3:58 a.m. ET

Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson has always been better at fighting than talking, so Jimmy Kimmel carried a lot of this interview from Wednesday night's Kimmel Live. Still, it's talking, or "shit-talking," on Madonna's new album that brought Tyson on the show, so Kimmel asked him if he'd ever met Madonna before flying out to record a track with her. "Yes, on a couple of occasions," Tyson replied. After a long pause, Kimmel got him to acknowledge that on none of those occasions had he ever "made love to Madonna."

The occasion Tyson talked about, though, was going to see Big Top Pee-Wee with Madonna in the 1980s, along with her then-husband Sean Penn and Tyson's significant other at the time (almost certainly Robin Givens). "That's the craziest double date I ever heard of," Kimmel said. Tyson said he and Penn "fell asleep" in the movie, Tyson acknowledged, but he meant no disrespect to the actor: "We love Pee-Wee, we're a big fan of Pee-Wee. But we were slightly inebriated." You could do that in the '80s, especially if you were Mike Tyson. —Peter Weber

Numbers don't lie
3:23 a.m. ET

China will budget about $145 billion for its military in 2015, a spokeswoman for the National People's Congress said on Wednesday. That's about a 10 percent increase, and it follows years of double-digit military spending hikes — and double-digit economic growth. And actual spending on the People's Liberation Army, especially its naval branch, will probably exceed the budgeted amount, The New York Times reports. Read the entire Times article, especially if you are interested in China's military, but for a brief look at how China's military spending stacks up to its rival world powers, BBC News has this short video. You'll get some big numbers, but the BBC also threw in as background some country-specific video of what each nations spends its military budget on. Watch below. —Peter Weber

live like an a-lister
1:55 a.m. ET

If you've ever wanted to spend the night in Leonardo DiCaprio's house, now's your chance.

The actor is renting out the $5 million Palm Springs house he purchased about a year ago at the not-such-a-bargain price of $4,500 a night, with a two night minimum. The 7,022-square-foot Modern masterpiece was designed by Donald Wexler in 1964 for Dinah Shore, and was remodeled before DiCaprio bought it. The house boasts six bedrooms, seven-and-a-half bathrooms, a pool, tennis courts, and a casita. While sadly the $4,500 a night fee doesn't include a visit from DiCaprio, it does provide daily maid service and WiFi.

There are some stipulations as to who can stay at the property, ABC Los Angeles reports. The house will not be rented out to fraternities, sororities, or any other organizations with members under the age of 25. You also can't play loud music, host big parties, smoke, or bring your pets...with those rules, it might just be better to stay home.

Buh Damn
1:37 a.m. ET

Parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else who has to deal with teenagers, listen up: Seth Meyers will accurately explain what "on fleek" means in the Late Night video below. But under no circumstances should you use any of the other teen slang words in the manner he explains. In fact, it's probably safer not to use any of them at all. Especially "twant." On the other hand, you should watch for the laughs. (Warning: Meyers at times uses slightly crude language you and your coworkers/children/parents will understand.) —Peter Weber

next time order a salad
1:24 a.m. ET
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A New Jersey appellate court ruled on Wednesday that a man who was burned by a hot skillet while praying at an Applebee's cannot seek damages from the chain for his injuries.

Hiram Jimenez said that in March 2010, his waitress at the Westampton, New Jersey, Applebee's did not warn him that his steak fajita skillet was extremely hot, and when he bent over it in prayer, he heard sizzling noises and felt grease splatter in his left eye and on his face, NBC Los Angeles reports. Jimenez said he panicked, causing the food to fall into his lap and resulting in more burns. He does not have any scarring from the incident.

The appellate court upheld an earlier lower court ruling that dismissed the suit on the grounds that hot food posed an "open and obvious danger."

Blood and Soup
12:53 a.m. ET
Chung Ha-Jong/Munhwa Ilbo via Getty Images

The details of Thursday morning's knife attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert at a breakfast lecture in Seoul are not 100 percent clear — an event organizer said that the assailant ran up to Lippert, screaming, as soup was being served, then began slashing; a reporter tells The New York Times that Lippert "was exchanging name cards when a man approached the ambassador and toppled him and attacked him in the face with a knife."

But the motives of the attacker, 55-year-old Kim Ki-Jong, seem pretty certain. As he was cutting Lippert on the face and wrist with a 10-inch blade, Kim reportedly yelled "South and North Korea should be reunified," and after the attack he told reporters that he was angry about ongoing joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. North Korea calls the annual exercises a provocation each year, and fires missiles in protest; anti-U.S. activists in South Korea protest the military drills, too.

Lippert is in stable condition, and the wounds aren't life-threatening, according to the State Department, which strongly condemned the attacks. President Obama also called Lippert, a former national security adviser, at the hospital to wish him a speedy recovery. South Korean President Park Geun-hye, on tour in the Middle East, called the incident "not only a physical attack on the U.S. ambassador in South Korea but also an attack on the Korea-U.S. alliance and we will not tolerate it."

Lippert, 42, is a decorated Navy veteran and expert on Asia policy, and has been ambassador since last October.

your health
12:40 a.m. ET
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Skip the soda and dump the donuts: The World Health Organization says that people across the globe are eating way too much sugar and need to drastically slash their intake.

The agency has issued new guidelines that recommend eating just 6 to 12 teaspoons — yes, teaspoons — a day. This applies to sugar that is added to processed food and found in juices and syrups, not sugar naturally found in fruit, milk, and vegetables. "We have solid evidence that keeping intake of [added] sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity, and tooth decay," Francesco Branca, director of WHO's nutrition department, said in a statement.

Americans get about 13 percent of their calories from added sugar, which comes out to about 268 calories a day and 18 teaspoons, The Associated Press reports. To meet these new guidelines, they will have to cut their sugar intake by two-thirds. Experts say most people don't realize the amount of hidden sugars in their food, including items that aren't sweet, and the public's love of sugar is bordering on an addiction. "The trouble is, we really do like sugar in a lot of things," Oxford University's Kieran Clarke told AP. "Even if you are not just eating lollies and candy, you are probably eating a fair amount of sugar."

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