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May 8, 2014
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With a diet rich in fat but few heart-related health problems, how do polar bears have it all? Scientists said today the answer is in their genes. Since the white furry creatures split off from their brown bear cousins some 500,000 years ago, polar bears have "undergone remarkable genetic changes" that allow them to eat a high-fat diet.

Researchers said genes relating to the bear's cardiovascular functions and fatty acid metabolism have mutated to let them eat a diet full of fatty meat from seals and fish without risking heart attacks or disease. "For polar bears, being very fat is no problem," said ecologist Eline Lorenzen, who added that the extra fat helps the bears survive in the Arctic's freezing climate.

The study may help humans in the long run, too: Researchers are trying to learn more about the bears' DNA "to modulate human physiology down the line." Jordan Valinsky

12:05 p.m. ET

Only 12 percent of Americans support the Republican health-care proposal, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll has found. It is the second damning poll of the day for the GOP, with a separate NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll reaching a similar conclusion, that just 17 percent of Americans backed the ObamaCare replacement known as the "Better Care Reconciliation Act."

The USA Today/Suffolk University poll also found that the majority of Americans, 53 percent, think Congress should leave ObamaCare in place, or make less significant changes to it. While most Republicans do want a full repeal, a third of conservative voters don't want anything rushed into place. Only 26 percent of Republicans support the proposed bill, and 17 percent oppose it. Most — 52 percent — said they need to know more about it.

Republicans have pushed off a vote on the bill until next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his lieutenants are trying to find changes that will bring at least 50 of the 52 Senate Republicans in line, and are considering channeling funds to health savings accounts to win over conservative holdouts, or to Medicaid and opioid treatment to win over more moderate Republicans.

The USA Today/Suffolk University poll reached 1,000 voters between June 24 and 27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Read more about the results here. Jeva Lange

11:47 a.m. ET
PETER DEJONG/AFP/Getty Images

It's official: President Trump is headed to France for Bastille Day. The White House on Wednesday announced that Trump has accepted French President Emmanuel Macron's invitation to attend celebrations in France commemorating the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, a decisive moment in the French Revolution. This year's Bastille Day also marks the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I.

Aside from attending the annual military parade in Paris on the national French holiday, Trump will also talk economic and terrorism-related issues with Macron. "President Trump looks forward to reaffirming America's strong ties of friendship with France, to celebrating this important day with the French people," the White House said in a statement.

That reaffirmation might be needed, given Macron and Trump's recent interactions. The two shared an uncomfortably long, white-knuckled handshake in Brussels last month. Shortly after that, Macron issued a brutal rebuttal to Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, during which Macron repurposed Trump's campaign slogan by calling on the world to "make our planet great again." Becca Stanek

11:24 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google News has a new look. On Tuesday evening, Google rolled out a redesign of its page that aggregates news stories.

Gone is the search engine-like results page, replaced by a sleeker card-based interface that boxes off stories with related coverage. Users can more easily click around to different topics, thanks to a customizable sections sidebar.

Alongside the increased focus on customizability is a greater emphasis on facts, a relevant addition in the era of "fake news." The newest version of Google News makes fact-checking more readily accessible, with a Fact Check block now planted in the right rail, featuring the latest investigations from sites like PolitiFact and Snopes.

The goal of the redesign was to make the News feature more streamlined and more user-friendly. "Right now, Google News shows too much, and in that it shows too little," Google product manager Anand Paka told Poynter. "Users are not able to connect with the journalism that they come to Google News to see. Our goal here was to make readability a prime focus and pick out elements that are the most important."

Google said the updates will be rolled out worldwide "in the coming days." Becca Stanek

10:32 a.m. ET

CNN's Chris Cuomo has had just about enough of Republicans crying "fake news," and he let GOP Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) know it during an interview Wednesday morning. The confrontation was sparked by Johnson claiming that the debate over Senate Republicans' plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare is "completely distorted using incorrect information."

Cuomo, who had been discussing the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's recently released cost estimate of the Senate bill, demanded to know whether Johnson was suggesting he was "using misleading information" by citing the CBO's estimates. "You let me know what I'm saying that is inaccurate," Cuomo said. "Because this whole 'fake' thing needs to end, and it needs to end right now. You tell me what I'm getting wrong, or we'll deal with the numbers as the CBO puts them out."

Johnson insisted he wasn't referring specifically to Cuomo's statements. "I'm talking about the fact that people don't understand the 22 million, and it was a wrong baseline," Johnson said, pointing to the CBO's estimate that 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the GOP health-care plan than under ObamaCare. The CBO, Johnson claimed, had used an outdated baseline assumption to make that comparison.

Watch it below. Becca Stanek

10:30 a.m. ET

It's a good weekend to get out of town — and not just because of the holiday. American drivers will be treated to the lowest seasonal gas prices in more than a decade, Bloomberg reports, with a national average of $2.21 a gallon, the cheapest Fourth of July fill-up since 2005. This weekend will also mark the first time in 17 years that gas prices are expected to be lower for Independence Day than they were on New Year's Day, Bloomberg adds.

The national average has been as much as $1.04 a gallon more expensive in the past decade than it will be in 2017. And the low prices may be inspiring Americans to get on the road: A record 44.2 million people plan to travel at least 50 miles away from home this weekend, AAA reports.

"It's thrilling to see gas prices falling just in time for the most-traveled summer holiday," said GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Perhaps we can finally get rid of the myth that gas prices go up for the holiday." Jeva Lange

10:03 a.m. ET
GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images

Workers employed at a Chinese factory used by Ivanka Trump to manufacture shoes have spoken to the media for the first time, detailing nightmarish conditions, long hours, and abuse at the hands of managers, The Associated Press reports. In one particularly upsetting incident, the workers recalled a manager bludgeoning an employee on the head with the heel of a stiletto. "There was a lot of blood. [The employee] went to the factory's nurse station, passing by me," one of the workers recalled.

Ganzhou Huajian International Shoe City Co. is used by several other fashion brands in addition to Ivanka Trump's. Trump's brand, though, has come under particular criticism for its association with the company because of Trump's retained ownership interest in her brand while serving in the government. On Tuesday, for example, the president's eldest daughter skewered China, which has been demoted by the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report to the lowest possible level, claiming the government report was a "clarion call into action in defense of the vulnerable and the exploited" — but she has yet to comment on the conditions at her supplier's factory.

Recently, three human rights investigators for the New York-based China Labor Watch were detained and accused of secretly recording inside the factory. The group's founder, Li Qiang, said the reports out of the Ganzhou factory are "among the worst he has seen in nearly two decades investigating labor abuses," AP writes. "His group says pay can be as low as a dollar an hour, in violation of China's labor laws. According to China Labor Watch investigators, until recently, workers might get only two days off — or less — per month."

Read more about the factory at The Associated Press. Jeva Lange

10:01 a.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Historically, successful presidents are both "revered and feared" by their fellow party members in Congress, The Washington Post reported. President Trump, it seems, is neither.

In spite of Trump's "mix of bravado, threats, and efforts to schmooze with GOP lawmakers," the roiling Republican debate over health care has revealed Trump might not be the commanding force he thinks he is, the Post reported:

In private conversations on Capitol Hill, Trump is often not taken seriously. Some Republican lawmakers consider some of his promises — such as making Mexico pay for a new border wall — fantastical. They are exhausted and at times exasperated by his hopscotching from one subject to the next, chronicled in his pithy and provocative tweets. They are quick to point out how little command he demonstrates of policy. And they have come to regard some of his threats as empty, concluding that crossing the president poses little danger.

"The House health-care vote shows he does have juice, particularly with people on the right," Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. "The Senate health-care vote shows that people feel that health care is a defining issue and that it'd be pretty hard for any politician to push a senator into taking a vote that's going to have consequences for the rest of their life."

Asked if he personally fears Trump, Graham chuckled before saying, "No." [The Washington Post]

Shortly after the article was published, Trump on Wednesday morning fired off one of his signature "pithy and provocative tweets" making clear just how much stock he puts in The Washington Post's reporting:

Read more on the story at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

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