Numbers don't lie
April 16, 2014

U.S. voters don't care much for the Affordable Care Act, but they still trust Democrats a lot more on health care policy than Republicans, according to polling from Reuters/Ipsos. In a survey covering April 6 to 15, 32 percent of respondents said they trust Democrats more on health care plans, policy, or approach, versus 18 percent for Republicans. That's an increase for Democrats from February and a drop for the GOP.

This would seem to be good news for the Democrats, and it follows the better-than-expected ObamaCare enrollment numbers. But Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson says that the increase in support is coming from Democrats buoyed by positive news about the law, not independents. That could help narrow the partisan enthusiasm gap bolstering GOP hopes of taking control of the Senate in November, but Republicans have good reason to campaign on public displeasure with the health care law, anyway. Here's Reuters/Ipsos' polling on whether voters oppose (blue) or favor (pink) ObamaCare, starting a few weeks before the disastrous rollout:

If Republicans want to win control of Congress on the back of ObamaCare, then, it seems they should hope for a large protest vote, not a vote of confidence in any GOP alternative to the law. That, or they should come up with and rally behind a better plan. "Democrats have not managed to have a huge lead over Republicans so much as Republicans have managed to damage their own position and stay behind Democrats," Jackson says. "That's because people don't view the Republican Party as standing for any particular health care system." Peter Weber

diners drive-ins and dorms
1:50 a.m. ET

Per Se is now passé — New York City diners are flocking to Pith, a small supper club operating out of a Columbia University student's dorm.

Jonah Reider, a senior economics major, uses the communal kitchen to prepare his prix fixe New American meals — one recent dinner included seared lamb chops with paprika, barley with figs, snow peas with pancetta and mushrooms, house pickled red kale stalks with olive, and artisanal cheese. "I think of myself as better than the average college student but definitely not an amazing cook, so I'm pleasantly surprised by all the positive feedback," Reider told NBC New York.

Reider charges $10 to $20 a meal, and takes reservations four nights a week through Pith's Yelp page, which currently boasts five star reviews. Since opening Pith a few weeks ago, Reider has served a few "randos," but most diners have been friends. Good luck getting a table if you don't have an in — Pith is booked through January, and because the health department is looking into whether it should be held to the same regulations as an actual restaurant, Reider said "I may have to cool down the acceptance of people who I don't know, or the frequency of which this is happening." Reider maintains that even though he is charging for food he cooks, Pith is nothing like a typical dining establishment. "The intention and the atmosphere is not one of a restaurant," he told NBC New York. "It's a collective experience of getting to know people." Catherine Garcia

study says
1:06 a.m. ET

Researchers in Japan say that children living near the Fukushima nuclear plant have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children in other places.

"This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected," lead author Toshihide Tsuda told The Associated Press. Since the nuclear meltdowns in 2011, most of the 370,000 children living in the Fukushima prefecture have had ultrasound checkups, with the most recent statistics released in August showing 137 children have confirmed or suspected thyroid cancer, up 25 from last year. In other areas, an estimated one or two of every million children are diagnosed with thyroid cancer annually.

Because of the Chernobyl disaster, scientists have been able to definitively link thyroid cancer in children to radiation, AP reports, and the authors dispute the government's stance that a high number of cases have been found because of constant monitoring. Scott Davis, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Seattle-based School of Public Health, said the study has a lack of individual-level data to estimate actual radiation doses. While that data is needed, David J. Brenner, professor of radiation biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center says, the higher thyroid cancer rate in Fukushima is "not due to screening. It's real."

When treated, thyroid cancer is rarely fatal in children, but they will always have to take medication. The study will be published in the November issue of Epidemiology. Catherine Garcia

October 8, 2015

An explosion Thursday injured six employees at the Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington.

All of the injured workers are employed by Grant County Public Utility District, and their conditions are unknown. Authorities said the explosion was related to a malfunction at the dam, but the investigation is ongoing, KREM reports. The Priest Rapids Dam is on the Columbia River, and the structure is stable, a utility district spokesman said. Catherine Garcia

campaign 2016
October 8, 2015
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

Donald Trump received loud cheers when he told a crowd in Las Vegas Thursday that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "should have been executed" for leaving his post in southeastern Afghanistan.

"We're tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who's a traitor, a no-good traitor," he told an audience of more than 1,500 people at the Treasure Island hotel-casino. "Thirty years ago, he would have been shot."

Bergdahl has been accused of leaving his post in Afghanistan in July 2009, and was charged in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy; he was a prisoner of the Taliban for five years, and was ultimately released in an exchange for five Taliban commanders in U.S. custody. A hearing was held in his case earlier this month, and Bergdahl's attorney, Eugene Fidell, said in a statement Trump "has become a broken record on this subject. If he took the time to study what actually emerged at the preliminary hearing he would be singing a different tune."

During his hour-long speech, Trump also took credit for Kevin McCarthy dropping out of the House speaker's race and brought a woman onstage who said she was a legal Colombian immigrant who planned to vote for Trump, her "No. 1 person in the United States." Catherine Garcia

October 8, 2015
T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

He served as Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999, and Newt Gingrich said he's willing to do it again — if begged.

"If you were to say to me 218 have called you up and given you their pledge, obviously no citizen could ever turn down that kind of challenge," he said Thursday on Sean Hannity's radio show, after Hannity pressed the issue of a potential return. He also likened himself to a modern-day version of our first president: "This is why George Washington came out of retirement," he said. "Because there are moments you can't avoid."

Gingrich, who resigned from his speaker post following an ethics violation, made his remarks hours after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he was dropping his bid to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner. Gingrich said it's more likely he will instead offer guidance to the Republican conference as a consultant. "It would be more practical" to meet with GOP members "and try to help them think this through," he said. "I think this is a conference-wide problem." There's a Clinton running for president and a Bush running for president, so why not bring Gingrich back for a complete '90s takeover. Catherine Garcia

October 8, 2015

The city of North Charleston, South Carolina, has reached a $6.5 million settlement with the family of Walter Scott, a black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in April.

The settlement was approved Thursday by the city council, USA Today reports. A bystander captured on video Officer Michael Slager shooting Scott, 50, in the back as he ran away after being pulled over in his car. Scott died at the scene, and Slager was arrested and charged with murder after the footage was released. North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey said that since the shooting, police officers have been outfitted with body cameras. "As a result of this tragedy, important issues have been discussed not only in North Charleston, but around the country," Summey said. "Citizens have become engaged in the process and government officials are listening." Catherine Garcia

it's not always about you donald
October 8, 2015
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

You may think you know why Kevin McCarthy dropped his bid to become House speaker, but Donald Trump is here to tell you it's all because of him.

During a campaign event in Las Vegas on Thursday, Trump announced: "They're giving me a lot of credit for that because I said you really need someone very, very tough and very smart. You know, smart goes with tough. I know tough people that aren't smart. That's the worst. We need smart, we need tough, we need the whole package."

Last week during an appearance on Morning Joe, the Republican presidential candidate said he didn't know if McCarthy was "someone that's very tough and that can negotiate with the Democrats." The position, he added, needs to go to somebody "that's a very, very tough, smart, cunning person." Catherine Garcia

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