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Dawn of the Planet of the Munchies
July 11, 2014

A brief commotion broke out Thursday morning at the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota, when a group of three gorillas escaped out of their habitat after the door was accidentally left unlocked.

The male gorillas, led by a 450-pound male named Virgil, left their enclosure shortly before the opening time for the zoo itself, but never actually got out of a gorilla-proof area. The public was kept in the zoo's conservatory building for safety.

The other two gorillas returned to their home in about 20 minutes. Virgil, however, continued on for a full 50 minutes before he also went back. During his brief wandering, though, Virgil found the ultimate prize: The closet where his treats are kept, which he then proceeded to raid.

"You have a pretty good size gorilla that was wrecking the enrichment closet," said senior zookeeper Allison Jungheim.

Check out the report from the local ABC affiliate, shown below. --Eric Kleefeld

Trump-Kanye 2016
3:44 a.m. ET

Kanye West raised some eyebrows when he announced his plans to run for president in 2020 on Sunday night — and he even inspired a Ready for Kanye PAC to coach along his nascent White House bid (as a Republican). If Kanye's ambitions and announcement speech sound familiar, Jimmy Kimmel had a theory why on Monday's Kimmel Live.

West "has a great deal in common with another famous person who wants to be president," Kimmel said. And he made his case with a mashup of Kanye's presidential announcement at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards with Donald Trump's campaign launch and subsequent comments. If it's not perfect, it's at least entertaining. And you can watch below. Peter Weber

Pot politics
3:01 a.m. ET

In 1994, Jeff Mizanskey was convicted of attempting to buy several pounds of marijuana. It was his third conviction, after arrests in 1984 and 1991 for possessing more than 35 grams of marijuana, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole as a "prior and persistent offender" under Missouri's three-strikes law. On Tuesday morning, after 21 years, Mizanskey will leave the Jefferson City Correctional Center a free man.

In 2014, the Missouri legislature repealed the three-strikes law, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) commuted Mizanskey's sentence in May, making him eligible for parole. In early August, the parole board granted his release. Mizanskey's case was publicized by his family and a group called Show-Me Cannabis. In a Change.org petition that got 391,254 supporters, Jeff Mizanskey's son, Chris Mizanskey (pictured below, before his father's last conviction), said his father was "an easy fall guy" in the case.

"My dad was driving a friend to a deal that turned out to be a sting operation," he wrote. "All of the other convicted men involved were set free years ago, but my dad was given a virtual death sentence." Jeff Mittelhauser, a former prosecutor who helped convict Jeff Mizanskey, told KCTV5 he supports the clemency, but only "if he would stop misinterpreting his criminal history, and his involvement in the offense."

Either way, Mizanskey says he will probably never smoke pot again. "As long as it's illegal, either federally or state, I can't smoke it," Mizanskey told KCTV5. Before his mother died, he added to TV station KOMU, he promised that if he ever got out of prison "that I'd never do anything knowingly to break the law to get put back in." Peter Weber

their luck ran out
2:05 a.m. ET
Facebook.com/IllinoisLottery

Until the state of Illinois passes a budget, lottery winners with prizes above $25,000 will have to settle for an IOU.

"Due to the ongoing budget situation in Springfield, some lottery winner payments have been delayed," Illinois Lottery spokesman Stephen Rossi said. "All winners will be paid in full as soon as the lottery and the Illinois comptroller have the legislative authority to do so." Players who win $600 or less can turn their tickets in for cash at retailers, and bigger prizes between $601 to $25,000 can be redeemed at lottery claims centers, CNN Money reports. Since the fiscal year started July 1, the big jackpots of more than $25,000 have had to wait.

Susan Rick, whose boyfriend won $25,000 from a scratcher in July, was shocked to find out they would be getting an IOU for the prize. "You know what's funny?" she told the Chicago Tribune. "If we owed the state money, they'd come take it and they don't care whether we have a roof over our head." Rick planned on cutting back and not working seven days a week anymore, and to head to Minnesota to visit her daughter. Her plans quickly changed when the check never came, and she had to cancel her trip. "Who do you think buys lottery tickets most of the time?" Rick said. "Not millionaires. People who don't have a lot of money. You're messing with all those dreams." Catherine Garcia

Science!
1:04 a.m. ET
iStock

A new, very small study suggests that people can shrink the blind spot in their eye by doing certain training exercises.

In the human eye, the blind spot is where the visual field corresponds with an area in the retina that has no receptors for light. Researchers studied 10 people, and over the course of 20 days had them take part in a "direction-discrimination" task. An image of a ring was centered in the blind spot of one eye, and the participants had to say which way waves of dark and light bands were moving through the ring. After some manipulation of the image by researchers, the study subjects were able to better detect the images in their blind spot, shrinking it by 10 percent.

That's "quite an improvement, but people wouldn't notice, as we are typically unaware of our blind spots," study author Paul Miller of the University of Queensland told Live Science. "The real significance is that our data shows that regions of blindness can be shrunk by training, and this may benefit people who suffer from pathological blindness." The results seem to show that the training made receptors that overlap or are adjacent to the blind spot more sensitive, making the eye more sensitive to signals coming from the site of blindness. Catherine Garcia

campaign 2016
12:37 a.m. ET

On Monday's Tonight Show, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) complained about being ignored at the first Republican presidential debate, saying the Fox News moderators went 20 questions without asking him one. Given Christie's pugilistic reputation, Jimmy Fallon asked the governor why he didn't just force his way into the debate. "What do you think, I'm like Morton Downey Jr.?" Christie asked, laughing. "What do you think I'm doing here?"

Fallon pressed the point, and Christie took a thinly veiled jab at Donald Trump. "No, you're not supposed to" jump in, he said, "but a few people did. But, you know, I didn't think that was appropriate for that night." Fallon had a pretty good rejoinder: "It seems to be working for whoever did it."

"Stay tuned: On Sept. 16, we may be changing tactics," Christie said. "If I get to, like, 15 questions in a row — count 'em at home — if I get to 15 in a row, they're gonna go, 'Uh oh, he's gonna go nuclear now!'" Fallon actually punched the air in excitement — and given that there will again be nine other candidates on stage, including Trump, there's a pretty good chance Christie will have to put his money where his mouth is. Peter Weber

Gay marriage
12:00 a.m. ET
Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected without comment a Kentucky county clerk's request to be excused from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis is the elected clerk of Rowan County and an Apostolic Christian opposed to same-sex marriage, The Washington Post reports. Davis said it would violate her religious convictions if she had to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and has stopped providing licenses to both same-sex and straight couples. If she doesn't start issuing the licenses, she could be held in contempt, and will face daily fines and possibly jail time.

In early August, U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning also rejected the argument that her religious beliefs are being violated, saying Davis is "simply being asked to signify that couples meet the legal requirements to marry. Her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk." Catherine Garcia

Clinton Emails
August 31, 2015
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday night, at 9 p.m. on the East Coast, the State Department released 7,121 new emails from Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, just meeting a court-ordered deadline to release a certain number each month. The emails were sent and saved on a private server at the Clinton residence in New York. Reporters are digging through the new dump, covering parts of 2009 and 2010, to find anything beyond mundane scheduling requests, and this early look from Politico has a few tidbits.

First, close friend Sid Blumenthal, who did not work for the State Department at the time, appears to be Clinton's version of that friend who sends you lots of articles on Facebook or over email. In one email chain with the subject line "H: Yes, there is a vast right wing conspiracy. Sid," Blumenthal pasted articles from Israeli newspaper Haaretz on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and a New Yorker articles on Charles and David Koch and their support for the Tea Party. To the long New Yorker article, Clinton replied: "Ah, a little lite vacation reading!"

Also, it appears Clinton didn't know how to use an iPad before June 2010. "That is exciting news — do you think you can teach me to use it on the flight to Kyev next week?" Clinton asked top aide Philippe Reines when he advised her that her "hPad" had arrived. In another email to top advisers in March 2010, Clinton used the subject line "Gefilte fish," with the email body simply asking: "Where are we on this?"

Of the 7,121 emails released, 125 had been retroactively deemed classified, all at the lowest level, "Confidential," the State Department said. Parts of those emails were blacked out. On Monday, State Department spokesman John Kirby apologized to reporters for the late-night email dump, explaining that the department was straining to meet the release schedule set by a judge. He promised the department will try to get the next batch out earlier in the day on Sept. 30. Peter Weber

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