April 14, 2014

Indiana Jones became one of American cinema's most iconic heroes on the basis of a few key traits: a fedora, a whip, and an all-consuming fear of snakes. As it turns out, that last one required some extra acting from star Harrison Ford, who recently confessed that he's actually a fan of the slithery reptiles.

In a recent "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit, Ford revealed his true feelings. "I actually like snakes!" he wrote. "When I was young, I was a Boy Scout nature camp counselor, and one of our projects was collecting snakes and creating an environment for them, so I'm quite familiar with snakes and think they're fantastic creatures."

For more from Harrison's AMA — including his thoughts on the proposed Blade Runner sequel and the movie quote fans ask him to say the most — click over to Reddit. Scott Meslow

7:47 a.m. ET
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On the eve of the first presidential debate, The New York Times editorial board delivered this news: Donald Trump "should not be president." In a series of questions and answers published Sunday, the editorial board tore down each and every argument in favor of Trump, who they described as "a man who dwells in bigotry, bluster, and false promises." The op-ed came a day after the editorial board endorsed Hillary Clinton.

The Times pointed out that though Trump may claim to be a "financial wizard who can bring executive magic to government," he has never brought that magic to his companies, which have faced bankruptcy, failure, and complaints of fraud. And as for that "straight talker who tells it like it is?" The Times brought up the fact that he actually isn't very forthcoming on a lot of topics, and he's made "117 distinct policy shifts on 20 major issues, including three contradictory views on abortion in one eight-hour stretch."

Trump's camp was quick to respond to the editorial board's endorsement of Clinton. "The news that the ultra-liberal, elitist, out-of-touch New York Times editorial board endorsed an ultra-liberal, elitist, out-of-touch candidate in Hillary Clinton has to be some of the least surprising news ever," said Trump's senior communications adviser Jason Miller, arguing that the editorial board is the "embodiment of the rigged system Donald Trump is running against."

Head over to The New York Times to read the rest of the editorial, including the editorial board's responses to Trump's claims he can "fix government" and be a "change agent for the nation and the world." Becca Stanek

7:32 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump has erased Hillary Clinton's lead in Bloomberg's national poll of the presidential race, beating her 43 percent to 41 percent among likely voters in a four-way race including Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (8 percent) and Green Party nominee Jill Stein (4 percent). In a two-way race, Trump and Clinton are tied at 46 percent. Ann Selzer, who conducted the poll, cited Clinton's softening lead among women and young voters for her decline in the polls. Clinton holds the same 13-point lead over Trump among women, but her 29-point margin among millennial voters in August is down to just 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent.

The poll was released on the same day Clinton and Trump face off in their first debate, and Bloomberg's respondents have higher expectations for Clinton, with 49 percent expecting her to do better in the debate versus 39 percent for Trump. CNN/ORC also released polls of Colorado and Pennsylvania on Monday, with Trump ahead by 1 percentage point in a four-way race in Colorado, 42 percent to 41 percent with Johnson grabbing 13 percent; in Pennsylvania, Clinton was up 1 point, 45 percent to 44 percent among likely voters. The Bloomberg poll was conducted Sept. 21-24 among 1,002 likely voters and has a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points. RealClearPolitics, which includes the Bloomberg/Selzer poll, has Clinton ahead of Trump by 2.3 points in a two-person race and 1.5 points in a four-person race. Peter Weber

6:46 a.m. ET
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In 2015, 3.5 millions Americans climbed out of poverty as the U.S. poverty rate fell by 1.2 percent, the sharpest annual decline since 1999, The New York Times reports, citing new U.S. Census data. No state reported an increase in poverty — typically defined as making less than $24,300 a year for a family of four — and 23 states saw a notable improvement in 2015. Preliminary evidence indicates that the positive trend has continued in 2016, though not as robustly. The black and Hispanic communities still have the highest poverty rates — 24.1 percent and 21.4 percent respectively, versus 13.4 percent overall and 9.1 percent for whites — but they also experienced the sharpest drops in poverty in 2015, the Times reports.

The big drivers of the decrease in poverty were the 2.9 million net new jobs, increased hours for part-time workers, and rising wages due to higher minimums in some large cities and states and increasing competition for labor, plus some effective local and federal back-to-work programs. "It all came together at the same time," business economist Diane Swonk tells the Times. "Lots of employment and wages gains, particularly in the lowest-paying end of the jobs spectrum, combined with minimum-wage increases that started to hit some very large population areas." At the same time, some 43 million Americans, including 14 million children, are still classified as poor. You can read more about the good and the bad at The New York Times. Peter Weber

6:22 a.m. ET

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are meeting in their first of three presidential debates on Monday night at New York's Hofstra University, and with the race neck and neck, the stakes are very high. The 90-minute debate, moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, takes place amid a heated debate over whether the moderator should call out gross factual inaccuracies from either candidate — the Clinton camp says yes, the Trump side says no. Clinton has been studying Trump's temperament as well as the issues, and Trump's campaign says the Republican nominee has been largely eschewing normal debate preparations.

The debate begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time, and will be broadcast on PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, plus C-SPAN, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Facebook and Twitter, as well as several other websites, will also livestream the debate. And if you want to prepare by boning up on every debate since 1960, PBS Newshour has an interactive site at the ready. An estimated 100 million people are expected to tune in to the debate. You can get a sense of Holt's task Monday night in the CNNMoney preview below. Peter Weber

4:29 a.m. ET

Everyone, it seems, has advice for what Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should do in their first presidential debate on Monday. But one intrepid expert at the University of Michigan has already compiled a new book on debating Trump, just 18 months into Trump's political career. In 11 Republican primary debates, Trump stood on stage for almost 24 hours total and spoke for a combined 3 hours, 20 minutes, and 7 seconds, and that record "gives insights into how he could deal with Clinton, and she can deal with him," Aaron Kall, director of debate at the University of Michigan and editor of the new book Debating the Donald, told USA Today.

One-on-one presidential debates are different than the multi-candidate primary debates Trump has participated in so far, but Kall and other debate experts say that Trump will likely carry some of his tactics to his first Clinton debate at Hofstra University in New York. Some examples include deploying devastating one-liners especially if Clinton attacks him, using his unpredictably to his advantage, talking directly to the TV audience, subtly belittling Clinton through interruption and calling the former senator and secretary of state "Hillary," and claiming he won the debate no matter what happens.

You can find examples of each of those tactics at USA Today, and reporter Rick Hampson sums up the collective wisdom for Clinton: "Don't hit unless you're ready to be hit; steer the debate toward detailed (and possibly boring) policy discussions; control the clock if you don't want Trump to; and watch out if he tells you how good you look." You can watch CNN's brief retrospective on what not to do more generally below. Peter Weber

3:37 a.m. ET

The first presidential debate is Monday night, "and more than 100 million people could be watching two candidates whose campaigns have been defined less by questions about their policies than their ethics," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. Previous presidential campaigns have had their scandals, "but this campaign, the scandals have been so pronounced, polls show that less than half the electorate sees either candidate as honest or trustworthy. And you may not like either candidate for good reasons, but if you are still somehow torn about which one to vote for and are factoring their scandals into your decision, we thought it might help to spend tonight walking you through them."

He started with Hillary Clinton. Not all his viewers will be happy about digging through Clinton's closet, Oliver conceded, but "not being as bad as Donald Trump is a low bar to clear, and if you focus on nothing but him, you fail to vet a woman who may be president." There are plenty of silly outrages and phony scandals on the internet, "but many rational people are still worried about two scandals," the emails and the Clinton Foundation, he said. Oliver ran through what we know about each, then said, "Look, we've spent several frustrating weeks trawling through all the innuendo and exaggeration surrounding her email and foundation scandals, and the worst thing you can say is: They both look bad, but the harder you look, the less you actually find. There's not nothing there, but what is there is irritating rather than grossly nefarious." That brought him to Donald Trump.

"If you are struggling with the idea of voting for Hillary because of all this, you need to take a long, hard look at Trump," Oliver said. "If you're irritated by her lying, that is understandable, but he's quantifiably worse." There's his refusal to release tax returns, sprawling global business empire, and the Trump Foundation. "And the thing is, we have barely scratched the surface of his scandals — there is everything," Oliver said. He wrapped up with an analogy comparing raisins and ethical failings, but first laid out his bottom line: "This campaign has been dominated by scandals, but it is dangerous to think that there is an equal number on both sides. And you can be irritated by some of Hillary's — that is understandable — but you should then be f--king outraged by Trump's." You can watch Oliver's scandal cheat sheet — with mildly NSFW language — below. Peter Weber

2:49 a.m. ET
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In Hollywood, even the animal actors shave a couple of years off their real ages, and new legislation will help keep the actual DOBs of stars under wraps.

On Saturday, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation that requires online subscription entertainment database sites, like IMDb, to remove the age of an actor if asked; the site will have five days to follow through with the order. Opponents say removing accurate age information from the websites stifles free speech, Variety reports, but the bill's sponsor and actors, including SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, believe it's a necessary move to prevent age discrimination, rampant in Hollywood.

Before Brown signed the bill, Carteris urged SAG-AFTRA members to reach out to the governor to push him into backing the bill, writing that an actor's age being published on a site used for casting causes "career damage." After the legislation was signed, Carteris said in a statement the bill will help actors secure "a fair opportunity to prove what they can do." Age wasn't a factor when it came to Carteris' most famous role as intense newspaper editor turned unexpected young mother and wife Andrea Zuckerman on the 1990s hit Beverly Hills 90210; she was 29 years old when she first started playing a 16-year-old. Catherine Garcia

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