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  • This just in    8:06am ET 
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Thursday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out of the closet. In an op-ed for BusinessWeek, the man who took over the helm of America's storied tech company from Steve Jobs said "let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me." Cook explained that while his sexual orientation wasn't a secret at Apple, coming out publicly could "inspire people to insist on their equality." You can read the full op-ed at BusinessWeek.

 
  • Coming Soon    7:43am ET 

Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman, made a surprising announcement on The Tonight Show Wednesday.

"I've seen Pee-wee's Big Adventure probably 180 times," Fallon told Reubens. Luckily, Reubens had some good news to share with Fallon about new Pee-wee adventures to come.

When Fallon asked Reubens if there will be a new Pee-wee movie, Reubens said that "there is going to be one" and it's "a week away" from being officially announced. Reubens added that Judd Apatow will produce the new film and they'll start filming in February. Check out Reubens' full appearance on the show, in which he also explains the origins of Pee-wee's character from the Groundlings improv group, below. --Meghan DeMaria

 
  • Dogs    6:47am ET 

Wednesday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live featured the second annual canine costume parade, with dogs dolled up by "creative dog groomer" Catherine Opson. Dogs — may of them Opson's, rescued from shelters — dressed up as Wonder Woman, Hello Kitty, and Indiana Jones? Enough said. --Peter Weber

 
  • Things that make you go hmmm    6:03am ET 

Online survey firm Survata polled 2,566 people about their privacy, asking how upset they would be, on a 10-point scale, if various interests "gained access to all your personal electronic data." The higher the number, the greater the level of upset. This result surprised them:

For reference, respondents gave a 6.85 rating to their boss, a 5.93 to their parents, and a 4.55 rating to their spouse or significant other. The Google vs. NSA result was more surprising because the poll sample skewed pretty young — more than half were between 13 and 24. Survata co-founder Chris Kelly hazarded a guess as to why the NSA came out on top, when asked by CNET's Chris Matyszczyk:

We did not ask respondents for the reasons or motivations behind their answers; so we can only conjecture based on our previous research. One guess is that respondents assume the NSA is only looking for "guilty" persons when scouring personal data, whereas a company like Google would use personal data to serve ads or improve their own products. [Kelly, via CNET]

The results actually aren't out of line with other polls showing comfort with NSA data-harvesting, Matyszczyk notes. At the same time, people actively choose to use Google and Facebook. So, hmmm.

 
  • The Daily Showdown    5:34am ET 

Well, welcome may be too strong a word. But on Wednesday night, Jon Stewart noted that Koch Industries, the huge industrial conglomerate owned by conservative super-donors David and Charles Koch, has started running ads during The Daily Show, presumably to soften their image among what Stewart called "our audience of not-yet-dying-off voters."

Stewart showed the sunny commercial that ran on Monday night's show, calling it "the kind of an ad that a company usually makes when a byproduct of their manufacturing process is giving young, pubescent males talking nipples." Then, after walking viewers through the Koch brothers' political money machine, he added: "Now that we know the Koch brothers are pouring an unending waterfall of money through a cleverly masked network of unaccountable organizations to peddle electoral influence, the ad sounds less inspiring."

But it also left a few things out, Stewart said, "so to welcome them to the Daily Show advertising family, we did make some minor adjustments." You can watch the remixed ad below. It makes Stewart's frequent, gratuitous knocks on Arby's seem downright friendly. --Peter Weber

 
  • Cold War redux    4:49am ET 
CC by: Dmitry Terekhov
CC by: Dmitry Terekhov

On Tuesday and Wednesday, NATO jets scrambled to intercept at least 26 Russian military aircraft flying over Western Europe and the Black Sea. "These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace," NATO said, and since the fighter jets, bombers, and tankers typically don't file flight plans or use transponders, they put civilian aircraft at risk.

This week's Cold War level of Russian aerial activity was unusual, but appears part of a pattern — NATO says it had had to conduct more than 100 intercepts in 2014, or about three times the number as all of 2013. The U.S. has "noticed an increase in Russian flights close to NATO airspace since the start of the Ukraine crisis," said Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman. The Russians stayed in international airspace, NATO says, though they got close enough to NATO territory that eight nations had to send jets to intercept the aircraft.

 
  • 2014 midterms    3:41am ET 

President Obama isn't on the ballot next Tuesday, but you'd never know it from watching Republican political ads. Republicans have decided that the best way to defeat or unseat Democrats is to tie them to Obama, and several vulnerable Democrats seem to agree. Obama, unlike the Clintons, has made few high-profile campaign appearances this cycle.

So, just how toxic is Obama? Well, Gallup pegs his job approval rating at 42 percent positive/53 percent negative, not that great... but not that abnormal in the arc of his presidency:

And as Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport noted earlier this week, Obama's support is "very steady" among gender and race groups, too. "Using Obama as a gauge, the current political gender gap at the national level is almost exactly what it has been since January 2009, with absolutely no sign of decline nationally to this point," he said, and support among blacks has actually ticked up. Obama's support among Latinos is volatile, but he has recovered to 50 percent, from a presidency-low 45 percent in September.

"This doesn't rule out the possibility that there are changes in the gender gap, or the race gap, in the support of various Senate candidates in specific state races," Newport adds, but nationally Obama is more or less where Obama has been for years, give or take a point. Congress also has a relatively steady approval rating, per Gallup: 14 percent, "the lowest found in October of a midterm election year since Gallup began tracking this measure in 1974," Gallup notes, but right at its 2014 average. Oddly, Democrats are significantly happier with Congress than Republicans or independents — and also apparently less likely to vote this year. --Peter Weber

 
  • Numbers don't lie    1:44am ET 
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 2014 World Series was Madison Bumgarner's world; the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals just played in it. The Giants pitcher not only started two of the seven games in the series — in Game 5, he pitched a complete game and allowed zero runs — he also shut out the Royals in the last five innings of Game 7, on only two days of rest. Bumgarner is indisputably a great postseason pitcher. But how great?

The number-crunchers at The New York Times' Upshot blog devised a system to rank World Series pitchers, the Matty Score — named after Christy Mathewson, the New York Giants great of the early 1900s — which is calculated "by taking a pitcher's career innings pitched in the Series and subtracting three times his earned runs allowed."

Before Game 7, Bumgarner ranked No. 7 on the index; after it, he jumped up to No. 3, behind Mathewson and Sandy Koufax. "If Bumgarner has another impressive World Series, we’ll consider changing the name to the Maddy Score," says David Leonhardt at The Times. To see where other greats rank on the scale, click over to The New York Times.

 
  • Going to pot (or not)    12:34am ET 
CC by: Amarillyon
CC by: Amarillyon

In the 2014 midterms, pot legalization advocates had high hopes of capitalizing on this success in Washington State and Colorado, getting referenda on the ballot in three very different states: Oregon, Alaska, and Florida. The polling was initially solidly in favor of all three measures — Oregon and Alaska are voting on full legalization, Florida for medical marijuana — but an influx of anti-legalization cash and hiccups in Washington and Colorado have put all three referenda in doubt, the Los Angels Times reports.

Oregon's second shot at legalization is the best bet of the three, with recent polls showing narrow majority support for Measure 91. In Alaska, the polling on Measure 2 is considered unreliable, but even with the pro-legaliziation side better financed, the prospects aren't great for the bill.

In Florida, conservative Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has dumped at least $5 million into sinking Amendment 2 — 85 percent of the "no" campaign budget — and most recent polls show it falling short of the 60 percent threshold it needs to become law. (The Broward/Palm Beach New Times is still bullish on Amendment 2, touting a new poll showing 61 percent support.)

But as with all races in the midterms, which side wins depends on who shows up to vote. And since conservatives are more fired up than the political left this election, legalized marijuana faces a higher bar. "We're dealing with a tough mood in the country right now with Ebola and ISIS and the big drop in the stock market," Ethan Nadelmann at the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance tells the Los Angeles Times. "It puts a drag on things. People are not in a forward-thinking state of mind. They are more wary of change."

 
  • World Series    October 29 
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

And Kansas City's dream of winning its first World Series in 29 years ended Wednesday night, as the Royals lost a hard-fought Game 7 to the San Francisco Giants, 3-2, at Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The Royals got their 2 runs in the second inning, then were shut out when Giants ace Madison Bumgarner took the mound in the unusual role of relief pitcher, allowing only two hits in the last five innings. This is the Giants' third World Series championship in five years.

 
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