July 9, 2014
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Disgraced ex-New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery and money laundering. Nagin, who served two terms and left office in 2010, was convicted earlier this year of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, trips, and swag — including free granite for a family business — in exchange for city contracts. Jon Terbush

2:50 p.m. ET

The Chicago Cubs lost in a brutal 6-0 game against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the World Series. But if you're a glass-half-full kind of person, you might point out that a Cubs-in-five World Series is now a little bit closer to actually happening. If it were indeed to happen — be it in five or six or seven games — then the Cubs would have their first World Series win since a goat allegedly cursed them in 1945.

Incidentally, another "goat" has used a Cubs World Series win as an example of the impossible since he wrote the song "Cubs in Five" in 1995. Enter Mountain Goat's singer (and novelist) John Darnielle, who explained how he came to write the song, and what it means to him now, over at Slate:

[1995 is] a good time for baseball — there's a whole lot of characters and great stories, and the arrival of the superstations to the Southern California cable market means I can watch all the Cubs games I want. They're not good yet, but they have character. I'm at my mom's house watching a game while she's at work. Specifically, I'm on the couch strumming my cheap Korean nylon-strung 3/4–size guitar, and at some point, I reflect idly on an on-again, off-again relationship I've been having for the last several years that's given me a great deal of pleasure and at least as much pain. […]

"Why don't you love me like you used to do?" ran a song on the outgoing answering machine of the person to whom the song was anonymously directed, at whom I was very angry on that day (for reasons lost to history), but with whom I could never stay angry for long, because that's how it is when you're a fan: You keep cheering, even when the circumstances might tell a less devoted partisan to seek out fairer pastures. You play nine innings. You keep hoping. [Slate]

Here's to hoping. Read the entire essay at Slate. Jeva Lange

2:27 p.m. ET
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Coming off a crushing 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in the first game of the World Series on Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs are hoping to make up their deficit at Progressive Field in Ohio in Game 2 of the best-of-seven championship.

The Indians have flip-flopped their odds of winning the trophy, now up 55 percent to the Cubs' 45 percent. according to FiveThirtyEight, and will put Trevor Bauer back on the mound in the hopes of keeping their advantage. It will be Bauer's first appearance since a one-inning start against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS, which ended bloodily when stitches on his pinkie finger came loose.

The Cubs will be starting 2015 National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, who is looking to pull out of a slump by capitalizing on his cutter/slider hybrid. First pitch is at 7 p.m. ET — moved up from 8 p.m. due to incoming rain — on Fox, or you can stream the action on Fox Sport Go and Jeva Lange

1:39 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that he has ordered the Pentagon to "suspend all efforts" to recollect bonus payments given to California National Guard members. Recently, thousands of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were informed they would have to repay their reenlistment bonuses — some of which totaled $15,000 — because the money had been given to them in error.

Though the recollection of the money — which was requested after audits revealed recruiters "improperly offered bonuses" — is legal, the process of getting back the cash payments has proved messy and sparked widespread criticism, The Associated Press reported. "While some soldiers knew or should have known they were ineligible for benefits they were claiming, many others did not," Carter said in a statement.

Carter noted there is already a process in place that can help service members "seek relief" from repaying their bonuses, but the process "has simply moved too slowly and in some cases imposed unreasonable burdens on service members." Carter has proposed a new, "streamlined" system be put in place by Jan. 1, 2017, so that soldiers will bear "as little burden as possible" while ensuring the Defense Department's "obligation to the taxpayer" will be respected. He also insisted the suspension on recollection will remain in place until he is "satisfied that our process is working effectively."

The announcement came a day after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urged the Pentagon to stop taking back the bonuses. Ryan argued that when the service members enlisted, "they earned more from us than bureaucratic bungling and false promises." Becca Stanek

1:37 p.m. ET

After a dismal start with young voters, Hillary Clinton seems to have finally won them over. A new poll by the Harvard University Institute of Politics released Wednesday shows Clinton leading Donald Trump by 28 points with voters between the ages of 18 and 29, with 49 percent support to his 21 percent. That winning margin puts Clinton ahead of where President Obama polled with millennials at this stage of the 2012 election; Obama, who was historically popular with younger voters, led Republican nominee Mitt Romney by 19 points two weeks ahead of Election Day 2012.

"After eight years of a complicated relationship with millennials, in the closing days of the campaign, Hillary Clinton is closing strong," said John Della Volpe, the institute's polling director. "Her favorability with 18- to 29-year-old likely voters is up significantly since the summer, and the combination of her strong debate performances, and failure [of] both Trump and the third-party candidates to expand their bases, gives her a lead of 28 points."

Clinton is now 22 points ahead of where she was in a poll Harvard took in July among young voters, and her favorability rating has similarly soared. Clinton is now viewed favorably by 48 percent of young voters, compared to the just 22 percent who view Trump favorably.

Harvard's poll was conducted online from Oct. 7-17 among 2,150 U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 29. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Becca Stanek

1:20 p.m. ET
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On Wednesday, the U.S. will sit out the annual United Nations vote on a resolution urging America to end its economic embargo against Cuba. This will mark the first time in the resolution's 24 years of existence that the U.S. has abstained from voting; last year, only the U.S. and Israel voted against the measure.

The decision to abstain, announced by Obama administration officials, will "effectively pit the Obama administration and Cuba with the world body against the Republican-led Congress," The Associated Press reported. Though the U.S. has resumed full diplomatic relations with Cuba, congressional Republicans are in favor of maintaining the 55-year-old embargo. Becca Stanek

1:18 p.m. ET

Although Donald Trump was technically in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning for the opening of his new hotel, he couldn't help but give a shout-out to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) for his combative interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Tuesday night's episode of The Kelly File. "Congratulations Newt on last night, that was an amazing interview. You don't play games, Newt," Trump said, per Time's Zeke Miller.

In the "amazing interview," Gingrich accused Kelly of being "fascinated with sex" after she asked about the numerous allegations of sexual assault that have been raised against Trump. "I'm sick and tired of people like you using language that's inflammatory. That's not true," Gingrich said, after Kelly started a sentence by asking "if Trump is a sexual predator."

Trump campaign aide Dan Scavino Jr. has also given Gingrich high praise for his performance, tweeting Tuesday night that the former House speaker had "destroyed" Kelly, who Scavino called "totally biased" and "not very smart." Becca Stanek

1:18 p.m. ET

When Kesha was denied by a New York judge earlier this year her request for an injunction on her recording contract, "Free Kesha" became the rallying cry of her fans. The singer had notably sought to be freed from her contract on the grounds that it forced her to work with producer Dr. Luke, who she claims raped and emotionally abused her. Today, Kesha is in a sort of limbo, unable to release new music due to pending contract litigation and having to tour at small clubs to earn the money to pay for expensive — and seemingly interminable — litigation, The New York Times Magazine reports.

From the outside looking in, though, it seems like Kesha has finally been unshackled. She is working on new music. She is appearing at clubs. But when one of her fans, who call themselves "Animals," raved that the singer was free, Kesha wanted to be very clear:

Here Kesha got serious. She looked the Animal in the face and said very carefully: "No, no. I'm not free. Don't think that, because there's still a lawsuit. I have new music. I — " She stopped herself, then hugged the Animal and a few more, took a picture with all of them and left.

Later, she told me that people didn't really understand the predicament she was in. They think it's simple, that she's free or not free, that she must have won her court case because she's performing. "They were like, 'Oh, my gosh, you're free,' and I was like, 'No, sweetheart, I love you, but no, I am not, and I don't know where you got that information.'" Her Animals, the world at large, they didn't really get that she had written new songs — 22 of them — and recorded them at her own expense and that they were sitting somewhere waiting to be completed and polished and released. She told me that she wanted to get her story out so people really understood what was going on — that right now, she is the opposite of free. [The New York Times Magazine]

Read the rest of Kesha's story in The New York Times Magazine. Jeva Lange

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