June 9, 2014

It's official: Hunter Gandee is the best big brother in the world. Over the weekend, the 14-year-old walked 40 miles to bring attention to cerebral palsy, all while carrying his little brother, 7-year-old Braden, on his back.

Hunter wanted his peers to get a better understanding of cerebral palsy, which affects Braden's muscle tone, reflexes, and motor coordination, reports The Ann Arbor News. Hunter sold wristbands for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, raising $350, and then planned the walk from Bedford Junior High to the University of Michigan's Bahna Wrestling Center. Both Hunter and Braden are big wrestling fans, and their mom, Danielle, thought it "seemed to be the perfect distance."

The walk was split between two days, with Hunter trekking 25 miles on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. Hunter knew the journey wouldn't be easy — at one point Braden started to get bad chafing on his legs — but the two kept going. They were never alone, accompanied by their parents, siblings, friends, members of the community, and a University of Michigan wrestler. "This is what [Hunter] wanted to do," Danielle said. "I knew he'd do it, and I had faith in him the entire time."

A large crowd was on hand to greet Hunter, Braden, and their entourage once they reached their final destination. "Proud isn't even really a word I could use; it's way beyond that," says Sam Gandee, their father. "To me, it's one of those things that can make a difference in the world... they've reached so many people. It's way more than I have done in my life." --Catherine Garcia

4:29 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Monday, Michael Bloomberg dedicated $200 million to helping American mayors address prolific issues in their communities via his Bloomberg Philanthropies charitable organization. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, told The New York Times that the American Cities Initiative will help mayors implement policy changes typically reserved for the state and federal government. "It's really efficiency in government, how you marshal resources and how you deal with the public, explain to them, bring them along," Bloomberg told the Times.

Bloomberg's initiative will include a so-called "Mayors Challenge," which asks city officials to submit innovative policy solutions by October. These proposals may tackle any issue facing their communities. Bloomberg's own priorities include climate change, gun laws, and the opioid epidemic; earlier this month, he vowed to contribute $15 million to the United Nations in an effort to replace funding lost by President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

The rewards for the Mayors Challenge will vary, with 35 cities winning $100,000, four receiving $1 million, and one winner earning $5 million, ABC News reported. American cities must have at least 30,000 residents to apply. Winners will be announced in October 2018. Elianna Spitzer

4:08 p.m. ET

Either a plane headed to Nevada got terribly lost in West Virginia on Monday, or someone got their senators mixed up. Spotted flying above West Virginia's state capital was a plane toting a banner urging Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R): "Keep your word. Vote no on TrumpCare."

If West Virginians were trying to urge their Republican senator to vote no on TrumpCare, aka the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the person to talk to would be Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Heller, who represents a state more than 2,200 miles away from Charleston, has already announced his opposition to the Senate's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Becca Stanek

3:31 p.m. ET

Climate scientists are uncertain if the world's "natural sponges," which for decades have helped absorb global carbon dioxide emissions, will be able to keep up with the amount of emissions being produced from burning coal, oil, and natural gas, The New York Times reports. In fact, the sponges might already be failing: Even as the amount of carbon dioxide being produced has stabilized in recent years, carbon dioxide levels in the air rose at record rates in 2015 and 2016.

That's where concerns about the "natural sponges," like the land surface and the ocean, come into play. "In essence, these natural sponges were doing humanity a huge service by disposing of much of its gaseous waste," the Times writes. "But as emissions have risen higher and higher, it has been unclear how much longer the natural sponges will be able to keep up." In other words, even if "emissions were to stay flat for the next two decades, which could be called an achievement in some sense, it's terrible for the climate problem," said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pieter Tans.

Should [the natural sponges] weaken, the result would be something akin to garbage workers going on strike, but on a grand scale: The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would rise faster, speeding global warming even beyond its present rate. It is already fast enough to destabilize the weather, cause the seas to rise and threaten the polar ice sheets. [The New York Times]

More research still needs to be done to confirm scientists' worst fears. But "I'd estimate that we are about at the emissions peak," said Chinese Academy of Sciences professor Wang Yi. "Or if there are further rises, they won't be much." Read more about the problem at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

2:37 p.m. ET

In an off-camera briefing at the White House on Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer apparently claimed that President Trump believes other countries, in addition to Russia, might have been involved in hacking the 2016 election:

Trump has long disputed the evidence that the Kremlin was involved in trying to swing the election, claiming during the campaign that "it could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?"

In a weekend interview with Hugh Hewitt, CIA Director Mike Pompeo also dismissed alarming evidence about Russia's involvement in the election. Pompeo said the news that "this election was meddled with by the Russians ... is frankly not particularly original. They've been doing this for an awfully long time. And we are decades into the Russians trying to undermine American democracy. So in some ways, there's no news."

But Politico's Eric Geller called Spicer's statement Monday a "pretty serious allegation." "The White House should explain itself," he said. Jeva Lange

2:17 p.m. ET

Nintendo announced Monday that it will release a miniature version of its Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition this fall. The system, first launched in 1991, will come with two controllers and 21 games, including classics like Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, and F-ZERO, along with a previously unreleased sequel to Star Fox, Star Fox 2.

This release comes on the heels of last year's mini NES Classic Edition, which was so popular that Nintendo struggled to meet demand. The limited edition gaming system was discontinued before many buyers got their hands on it.

The SNES Classic, which Engadget reports is small enough to fit "in the palm of your hand," will be available Sept. 29 for $79.99. Becca Stanek

1:29 p.m. ET

If you only have a passing interest in football, you might be forgiven for thinking the Washington Redskins play in Washington state. But if you are the NFL itself, you should probably know better.

Which makes this vanity plate, briefly for sale in the NFL's official online store, absolutely hilarious:


The Redskins, for whatever it's even worth at this point, play in Maryland. Jeva Lange

1:19 p.m. ET

On Monday, the American Medical Association slammed the Senate's health-care bill in a scathing letter to Senate leadership. The largest physicians group in the nation declared that it could not support the Better Care Reconciliation Act introduced last week because it "violates" the medical standard of "first, do no harm" on "many levels."

Based on the "combination of smaller subsidies resulting from lower benchmarks and the increased likelihood of waivers of important protections such as required benefits, actuarial value standards, and out of pocket spending limits," the AMA predicted that "low- and middle-income patients" will face "higher costs and greater difficulty in affording care." In particular, the AMA cited concerns about the plan's proposed changes to Medicaid via a formula it declared was "arbitrary and unsustainable" and "extremely difficult and costly to fix."

"We sincerely hope that the Senate will take this opportunity to change the course of the current debate and work to fix problems with the current system," the AMA wrote. "We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect."

Read the AMA's full letter to Senate leaders below. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads