va scandal
July 2, 2014

A Vietnam veteran received a letter saying a Veterans Affairs hospital was ready to see him. The only problem? He died in 2012.

Suzanne Chase of Massachusetts received the letter that the hospital was ready to see her husband, Doug, who died from a brain tumor. Chase told Boston's WBZ-TV that the letter adds new layers of frustration to her experience with the VA.

NPR reports that the VA really should have known he was dead, since it denied him funeral benefits, ironically because he hadn't been treated at a VA hospital.

"I was in complete disbelief," Chase told WBZ. "It was 22 months too late. I kind of thought I was in the twilight zone when I opened this letter and read it."

The agency's letter was a response to Chase's attempts to get her husband medical care at a VA hospital in 2012. Chase told WBZ that she and her husband didn't get a response from the agency, and he died mere months later.

The real kicker is the last passage of the VA's letter: "We are committed to providing primary care in a timely manner and would greatly appreciate a prompt response."

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 six 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. Kieran Clarke of the University of Oxford said that the public's love of sugar is bordering on an addiction. "The trouble is, we really do like sugar in a lot of things," Clarke told AP. "Even if you are not just eating lollies and candy, you are probably eating a fair amount of sugar."

the long and short of it
12:03 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton has now personally responded to recent reports about her use of a private email address, hosted on home-brewed servers, while she was secretary of state. And she did it in a tweet:

Presumably the State Department has to decide which emails are classified. But since it's hard to say much in 140 characters, more details are presumably coming.

that's really old
March 4, 2015

A team of researchers looking for fossils made an incredible discovery in the Afar region of Ethiopia: Lodged in a hillside was the lower jawbone and five teeth of an individual that likely lived 2.8 million years ago, the oldest remains ever found belonging to the genus Homo.

The area is now dry, but researchers believe it was once filled with rivers, wetlands, and grass. The jawbone is 400,000 years older than the fossils that once held the record as the earliest known remains from the Homo lineage, The Guardian reports. "This is the first inkling we have of that transition to modern behavior," Brian Villmoare at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas told The Guardian. "We were no longer solving problems with our bodies but with our brains."

The jawbone was found in January 2013 by Chalachew Seyoum, an Ethiopian member of the team studying at Arizona State University. The researchers made a recent return to the site, but are not allowed to say what — if anything — they discovered on this trip. Villmoare said that while the jawbone could belong to Homo habilis, it is more likely from a new species that lived before Homo habilis. The team says this will remain a mystery until more remains are found.

March 4, 2015
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Ben Carson is backpedaling from comments he made on CNN Wednesday about prison proving that homosexuality is "absolutely" a choice.

"A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay," the neurosurgeon and potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee had told CNN. "So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."

He apparently took his own advice. On his Facebook page Wednesday night, Carson wrote: "I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues. I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended."

Carson went on to say that he also supports "human rights and Constitutional protections for gay people," as well as civil unions.

conan goes to cuba
March 4, 2015

During his recent trip to Cuba, Conan O'Brien had just one goal: To make new friends. In the opening of his special "Conan in Cuba" episode, the host does his best to ingratiate himself with some ferocious dogs, elderly women, and confused grocery store employees, all while using the few Spanish phrases he knows. Watch the clip below to see how successful he was on his mission. —Catherine Garcia

March 4, 2015

Anna Duritskaya, the girlfriend of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, is now in hiding in her native Ukraine.

The 23-year-old actress and model is the only known witness to the murder of Nemtsov on Friday. Duritskaya did not attend his funeral on Tuesday, and fled to the Ukraine just hours after his burial, the Los Angeles Times reports. She has erased her social media profiles and is not answering calls to her cell phone.

In the hours before she was told she could leave Russia, Duritskaya held a Skype interview with the Ukrainian television channel Dozhd, and said she was under "virtual house arrest" after the incident. She was interrogated for three days, and said she told investigators over and over that she did not see the killer and only saw that the getaway car was a light color. Duritskaya also suggested that investigators were trying to make it look like Nemtsov was killed during a "crime of passion" committed by an unknown romantic rival, the Times reports.

This just in
March 4, 2015
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In a press conference Wednesday evening, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles announced that one of the Ferguson Police Department officers involved in sending racist emails has been terminated, and two are still under investigation.

"This type of behavior will not be tolerated in the Ferguson Police Department or any department in Ferguson," Knowles said. "These actions taken by these individuals are in no way representative of the employees of the city of Ferguson." Knowles said that several new initiatives are already taking place in the city, including the hiring of an African-American woman as a correctional officer and the creation of an explorer program with local children and a civilian oversight board. He also said that all officers have completed mandatory diversity training. Knowles did not take any questions from the media.

This just in
March 4, 2015

The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was seriously injured Thursday morning after an armed assailant attacked him on his way to a lecture in central Seoul, the Yonhap News Agency reports.

Lippert was bleeding heavily after the attack and was rushed to the hospital. Sources told the Yonhap News Agency that the suspect was immediately arrested, although their identity is not yet known. CNN is reporting that a razor blade was used, and there is no known motive for the attack.

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