- Numbers don't lie 11:49am ET
Just one percent of Republicans say they and their families are better off now that ObamaCare's major provisions have taken effect, according to a new CNN poll. Another 40 percent say they are unaffected, while a 57 percent majority say they are worse off.
Meanwhile, illustrating the hyper-partisan divide over the issue, 32 percent of Democrats say they are better off, 10 percent say worse, and 57 percent say they've seen no change.
One more interesting note: CNN also asked those who felt the law had not helped them whether anyone was better off because of ObamaCare. In that group, a whopping 72 percent of Republicans said the law had helped zero families.
- Coming Soon 11:44am ET
North Korean authorities are planning a surprising development project: an underwater hotel.
The Pyongyang Times reports that authorities have confirmed the construction of an underwater hotel in the city of Wonsan, on the country's east coast. The goal is to make Wonsan become a "tourist city." Other plans for the area include a flower park as well as "towers and other modern-style buildings."
However, not all North Koreans are happy with the expansion project, which was reportedly greenlit in November 2013. The World Food Program recently announced that North Korean's aid programs have a "critical" lack of funding.
"The last thing the hungry people of North Korea need is an underwater hotel that is, at best, years from seeing its first guest," Joshua Stanton, author of the One Free Korea blog, told NK News. "North Korea is not a poor country, and hunger there is the direct consequence of Kim Jong-un's choices." Others joked that underwater hotels were perfect for the country, since escape would be difficult.
Meanwhile, the Korean International Travel Company declined to provide NK News with details about the hotel construction's scale or funding.
- survey says 11:11am ET
A CNN poll released Wednesday found that more than half of Americans believe ObamaCare has made either them or others better off.
Eighteen percent of respondents say they or their families benefited from the health care law, and an additional 35 percent believe it has improved the lives of others.
Forty-four percent of respondents, however, said that no one has benefited from ObamaCare.
- Cheer up 11:03am ET
Not even baseball can cheer up Jack White. The White Stripes frontman was spotted Tuesday at a Chicago Cubs game looking typically glum, which seems fitting given the franchise's cursed futility.
Is that Jack White pic.twitter.com/m94sBgqmxT— Torque Penderloin (@AndrewCieslak) July 23, 2014
What are you guys looking at? pic.twitter.com/HM1emjVeJZ— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) July 23, 2014
The Cubs have the third-worst record in baseball, and have lost 288 games in the past three seasons. They should ditch the creepy bear and make White's face their new mascot.
- sweet moves 11:02am ET
After ditching Cleveland for Miami four years ago, LeBron James is coming back to Ohio — and he's trying to butter up to his neighbors. Late Tuesday night, a Reddit user named scrabblydab, whose parents live on the same block as LeBron in Bath Township, Ohio, posted this picture in the r/nba subreddit:
Apparently, LeBron sent each of his neighbors in the community a dozen cupcakes along with a note apologizing for the media circus in their neighborhood surrounding the announcement of his free agency decision. Each box reportedly contained six "Just A Kid From Akron Cherry Cola" cupcakes and six "Homecourt Chocolate Chunk" cupcakes, sent on behalf of the LeBron James Family Foundation. Yum!
- This just in 10:59am ET
Sheik Umar Khan, hailed as a "national hero" by Sierra Leone's health ministry, has caught the very disease he has been fighting since February, Reuters reports.
Khan reportedly contracted the deadly tropical virus Ebola, although a statement released by the West African country's president's office did not say how the virologist became infected, nor offer details on his current condition. Ebola can kill up to 90 percent of those who become infected, and there is no cure or vaccine. The current outbreak began in a remote region of neighboring Guinea back in February, but it has since spread across Sierra Leone and Liberia as well. The World Health Organization said on Saturday that 632 people have died from the illness so far.
Khan, whose colleagues said has always been meticulous about protecting himself during checkups by wearing overalls, mask, and gloves, nevertheless had told Reuters in June that he still worried about contracting the disease.
"Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for somebody who is sickened by disease. Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk," he said. "I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life."
- Let's hear it for the weirdos 10:36am ET
Before last week, the world had pretty much forgotten about popular music parodist Weird Al Yankovic. But after the mastermind behind songs like "Another One Rides the Bus" and "Amish Paradise" re-emerged with a viral video campaign designed to take the internet by storm, he's finally hit his biggest career milestone yet.
Yankovic's 14th studio effort, Mandatory Fun, which was released July 15, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts this week, marking the first time in Yankovic's nearly four-decade career that he's topped the charts (Yankovic has landed two albums in the Top 10 before, 2006's Straight Outta Lynwood and 2011's Apocalypse, but neither ever ascended to No. 1).
Mandatory Fun's chart success also marks the first time a comedy album has debuted at No. 1 since 1960, BuzzFeed notes, a pretty impressive feat considering the way we consume comedy in 2014. Yankovic announced his achievement on Twitter with humble surprise:
It’s official. MANDATORY FUN enters the Billboard album chart this week at #1. Wow. WOW.— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 23, 2014
If you’d told me 30 years ago this would happen, I never would’ve believed it. If you’d told me 2 WEEKS ago, I never would’ve believed it.— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 23, 2014
I’m so pleased everybody is enjoying the album, and I’m enormously grateful for everyone’s support. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 23, 2014
If this is really Weird Al Yankovic's last album, at least he's going out with a bang.
- Coming Soon 10:35am ET
From the beginning of its first trailer, Justin Simien's Dear White People takes its satirical target head-on. "Dear white people: the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man Tyrone does not count," says a college radio DJ played by Tessa Thompson. "Dear white people: please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?"
Thompson's fiery broadcast sparks a campus-wide debate between black students and white students alike over the state of modern American race relations — and the issues are much thornier and more complex than most are eager to acknowledge.
Fortunately, Dear White People seems primed to kick-start a similar cultural discussion. It was a major hit with critics when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and the rest of America will get the chance to check it out when it hits theaters on October 17. --Scott Meslow
- Ballot Access 10:18am ET
The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party to contest New Hampshire's HB 1542, a new state law that restricts the time candidates have to get their names on the ballot. The law stipulates that third-party candidates who want to get their name on the ballot must wait until January 1 of the election year to start collecting the necessary signatures. Because so many signatures are required — about 21,000, which is equivalent to 3 percent of the vote total from the previous election — third-party officials see the timeline as too squeezed.
Gilles Bissonnette, a staff attorney for the Civil Liberties Union, said his organization aims to have the law declared a violation of the state constitution, arguing that it disadvantages smaller parties that do not have the resources to collect enough signatures during the election year alone.
A similar law in Rhode Island was successfully challenged in 2009, with U.S. District Judge William Smith ruling, "The state has come forward with no legitimate regulatory interest whatsoever that would necessitate placing this enormous speed bump on the path to party recognition."
- lawsuits 10:05am ET
Two former assistant football coaches at Penn State University, one of whom is the son of the late Joe Paterno, filed a lawsuit against the university seeking $1 million in damages. The coaches claim they were unfairly associated with assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's child molestation scandal.
Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney were fired from the university in 2012, when new head coach Bill O'Brien was hired and Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. Paterno and Kenney say their dismissals were unfounded and that they "have been denied lucrative employment opportunities based upon the false light and association by innuendo," according to the lawsuit.
They are seeking $1 million from Penn State for damages to their reputations and have also asked the university for an official statement denying they were connected to Sandusky. Penn State, meanwhile, said in a statement that it is "common practice for incoming head coaches to select their own coaching staff."
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