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June 26, 2014

On Tuesday, African-American voters bailed out two long-term incumbents, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and, more surprisingly, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Jon Stewart said on Wednesday night's Daily Show. How long-term? There are "160 years of life between them, 86 of those years in elected office," Stewart said, adding: "Aaaaaaaaaugh!"

Then he got out his calculator and actuarial tables: If Rangel and Cochran "were one man, they would have been born in 1854, elected to Congress in 1928, they would have died in 1944, and still held office for 70 more years." Stewart shook his head over Rangel's 22-term incumbency, then trotted out a more-than-serviceable Charlie Rangel impersonation.

But he also cast a jaundiced eye at Cochran's defeat of Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. The black Democrats don't like Cochran much, but they fear/despise McDaniel, he said. But there's a larger reason for Stewart's discontent over this unorthodox win for relative moderation: "And so it is that the nation's African-Americans have returned Tharley Cochangel to Congress — for years 87 through 94." Hey, it's a living. --Peter Weber

2:20 p.m. ET

Scientists have managed to keep prematurely born baby sheep alive for four weeks in an "artificial womb" known as a "biobag." The womb, which STAT described as a "plastic bag filled with fluid to mimic the conditions of the inside of the uterus," is being developed and tested with the hope of eventually being used to help keep prematurely born human babies alive.

Currently, infants born before 24 weeks into a pregnancy only have about a 50 percent chance of survival, and the technology used to keep them alive can cause damage. The Atlantic reported as many as 30,000 American babies are born annually before they're 26 weeks.

The lambs were delivered from the artificial womb with lung function comparable to that of lambs born naturally. "The duration of support is outstanding," said Dr. George Mychaliska, a pediatric and fetal surgeon at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Watch the astounding invention in action below. Becca Stanek

2:11 p.m. ET
Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Breitbart News has been denied a request for permanent press passes to cover Congress and its current temporary passes, which expire May 31, will not be extended, BuzzFeed News reports. Breitbart has spent the last month petitioning the standing committee of the U.S. Senate Daily Press Gallery for the passes, which serve as a symbol of legitimacy for reporters covering the Hill.

In late March, the committee denied Breitbart's initial request for permanent passes, citing a need for "more answers" regarding Stephen Bannon's role with the company. Bannon served as the organization's former executive chair, and now works as the White House chief strategist. The committee expressed concerns about Bannon's potentially ongoing involvement in Breitbart, which sparked CEO Larry Solov to send the committee a written masthead purporting to show that Bannon severed ties with the media organization in November. But beyond "us trusting Larry," a committee member noted that there was no actual evidence proving Bannon had divorced himself from Breitbart.

The committee's concerns remained upon review in April. The members noted that Bannon's date of departure, disclosed on White House financial forms, was different than the date suggested by Solov. Additionally, the committee was concerned with the masthead's ties to outside groups, such as the conservative nonprofit Government Accountability Institute. What's more, Breitbart does not have an office that is zoned for commercial use. Solov told the committee he is looking for a new office, but the issue has not been resolved and he offered no update.

"The whole thing suggests to me they are not ready for a credential," a committee member said. Jeva Lange

1:40 p.m. ET

A new poll by Vanity Fair and 60 Minutes revealed more than a third of Republicans aren't certain the freedom of the press, protected by the Constitution's First Amendment, is actually a democratic necessity. The poll found that 36 percent of Republicans believe the press' freedom "does more harm than good." Just 13 percent of Democrats said the same.

The majority of Democrats and Republicans, however, do believe in the value of a free press. The poll found that 61 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Democrats believe freedom of the press is "necessary."

Most Americans are still relying on TV, newspapers, and talk radio as their "most accurate and honest" sources of news, though 8 percent said they depend on Facebook. More Americans said they rely on their mother (6 percent) for accurate news than on President Trump (5 percent).

Check out the full breakdown of the poll in the nifty graphic below. Becca Stanek

12:39 p.m. ET

The worst part about yard work is, well, the work. The best part, as Nordstrom knows, is running to the bar afterward in your muddy pants so everyone knows, yeah, I did yard work today.

Now you don't even have to do the inconvenient "work" part. For $425 and free shipping, Nordstrom is selling pre-muddied jeans that tell everyone "you're not afraid to get down and dirty," Fox News reports.

The "crackled, caked-on muddy coating" irritated Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs. On Facebook he ranted: "The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans aren't pants. They're not even fashion. They're a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic — not iconic." Jeva Lange

12:26 p.m. ET
Juicero.com

You have probably already heard the tale of the very expensive, useless juicer that does nothing that you can't do just as well, or perhaps faster, with your own two hands. "Juicero" quickly became the laughingstock of the whole internet and perhaps deservedly: The device, which went on the market for $699 but has now reduced its price to $399, is a hilarious example of Silicon Valley at its silliest and most absurd.

Despite the flop, Bolt venture capital firm founder Ben Einstein dissembled the Juicero and found that the machine is actually an "incredibly complicated piece of engineering." Here's how, precisely, it went so wrong and got so pricey:

1. The Juicero made things way, way more complicated than they needed to be. The door-locking mechanism, for example, consisted of more than two dozen parts. "Of the hundreds of consumer products I've taken apart over the years, this is easily among the top 5 percent on the complexity scale," Einstein noted.

2. At least Juicero wasn't lying when it said it was good at squeezing. "Juicero's juicer really does appear to be capable of putting out the kind of strong, controlled force the company promised it would use to squeeze the juice out of fruits and vegetables," The Verge writes. But: "On the other hand, Juicero put a ton of money and effort into something that could have been accomplished much cheaper if it had been willing to accept a less precise squeeze — say, something similar to what's accomplished by hand."

3. And about those costs … "Most hardware startups avoid machined parts as much as possible because the cost doesn't decline much as production volumes increase," Einstein wrote. Juicero has eight.

4. That's not to mention the plastics. "This one uses an expensive process called overmolding with a special kind of injection molding press that takes two separate hard plastic parts and molds them together with a softer, rubber-like polymer to make a single 'part.'" One spunky red doodad Einstein displays probably costs between $4 and $6. And that's just for one tiny piece.

Read Einstein's entire breakdown (with pictures and helpful arrows) here. Jeva Lange

12:16 p.m. ET

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Tuesday that there is "no evidence" that President Trump's ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn "complied with the law" when he worked on behalf of foreign governments and then failed to fully disclose his payments in his security clearance application. Flynn does not appear to have asked permission or informed the U.S. government before accepting payments for his appearances before Russian organizations or his company's lobbying work for a firm linked to the Turkish government, ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said.

Flynn did not register as a foreign agent until after he was forced to resign from the Trump administration in February. "Personally I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law," Chaffetz said Tuesday, after the committee met to review its first batch of documents on Flynn. Chaffetz called Flynn's actions "inappropriate" and warned "there are repercussions for the violation of the law."

Watch Chaffetz's announcement below. Becca Stanek

11:52 a.m. ET
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short has refused the House Oversight Committee's request for documents regarding ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The House committee is investigating whether Flynn, who registered as a foreign agent after he was forced to resign from Trump's administration over his dealings with Russia, fully disclosed his work for foreign governments on his security clearance application.

In a letter, Short said some of the requested documents were in the custody of the Department of Defense, not the White House. In the case of other documents, Short wrote that the White House was "unable to accommodate" the requests. Short's response arrived as the committee convened Tuesday to review its first set of documents on Flynn, provided by the Pentagon.

Previous documents released by the White House at the beginning of April revealed Flynn had not disclosed income he'd received from three Russia-linked firms. Flynn's lobbying company has also been found to have worked for a firm linked to the Turkish government while Flynn was serving as a top adviser to Trump's presidential campaign.

Flynn is one of the major players from the Trump administration being looked at in FBI, House, and Senate investigations into the Trump team's ties to Russia's election meddling. Becca Stanek

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