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April 11, 2014

Sue Townsend, whose 1982 book The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 sold 20 million copies around the world, has died of a stroke, according to her publisher. She was 68.

The book hilariously tracked the travails of a horny, pimpled teenager in suburban England, making Adrian Mole a kind of Alexander Portnoy for the adolescent set. It spawned a series of books based on the titular character; the last, Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, was published in 2009.

For a taste of Adrian Mole, from the AP:

The beleaguered teen bemoaning his dull suburban life and pining for unattainable classmate Pandora struck a chord with millions of readers. "I have never seen a dead body or a female nipple. This is what comes from living in a cul-de-sac," Adrian lamented early on. [Associated Press] Ryu Spaeth

11:17 a.m. ET

With her sights set on the general election, Hillary Clinton sent out a series of Snapchat attacks on Donald Trump on Thursday, using the app's face-swap feature to overlay Trump's orange visage with the features of presidents past.

As Politico explains — and it seems like some explanation might be needed, given the nature of Clinton's references and the age of the average Snapchat user — each one pairs a relevant president with a comment or policy of Trump's which Clinton wanted to critique. These combos range from the obvious (Lincoln plus Trump's KKK gaffe) to the more obscure (the first President Bush, who signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, plus Trump's mocking of a disabled reporter). Bonnie Kristian

10:49 a.m. ET

The modern global economy is structured more around mega-cities than national borders, says Parag Khanna, author of a new book called Connectographyand the good news for the United States is that we have a lot of them. While other countries often rely on a single city to drive their economy (like Lagos for Nigeria, Istanbul for Turkey, or Moscow for Russia) America has a lot of big, productive metro areas.

That's the basis for Khanna's design of a re-mapped America organized around city-states instead of the 50 states we have today.


(Washington Post)

Khanna argues that such a reorganization (which includes a high-speed rail scheme to facilitate inter-regional mobility) would be an economic boon, and it would cut back on unfair pork barrel spending that benefits one district at the expense of others. "And if you do that," he concludes, "the laws of economics will take over, and people will more freely engage in commerce." Bonnie Kristian

10:48 a.m. ET

Fox News host Megyn Kelly pushed North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) Thursday night on The Kelly File to clear up her confusion over the state's controversial anti-LGBT law requiring transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender given on their birth certificates. Namely, Kelly wanted to know whether McCrory knew how women's bathrooms were set up.

"I want to ask you about bathrooms because I've been in women's bathrooms my whole life," Kelly said. "We don't have the urinal situation. We've got like the stalls. And we get to go in, we do our business and like we don't — it's not — we don't see each other. So why are you concerned about young girls exposing themselves or seeing somebody else exposed in a women's bathroom?"

McCrory's responded by calling the law "common sense" relating to an "expectation of privacy."

"I can't believe we're talking about this," he said, adding that the issue in particular was started by the left, not the right. "I'm not doing it — I don't like the rhetoric that's often used on the right saying what the fear is," McCrory said. "It's a basic expectation of privacy that I hear from mom and dad and families that when their daughter or son goes into a facility, a restroom, they expect people of that gender, of that biological sex or gender, to be the only other ones in that room."

Watch the exchange below. Becca Stanek

10:00 a.m. ET
Fox Photos/Getty Images

A resolution to make an official "John Wayne Day" in California has imploded as the state assembly defeated the movement on Thursday, citing the movie star's history of racist remarks and his support for the anti-communist House of Un-American Activities Committee, The Associated Press reports. Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper had sought to make May 26 John Wayne Day, saying later in a statement that, "Opposing the John Wayne Day resolution is like opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, the Free Enterprise system, and the Fourth of July!"

Others don't agree, citing comments such as those Wayne made to Playboy in 1971 when he said, "I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility." The Searchers and Green Berets actor also once asserted that American Indians were "selfishly trying to keep [America] for themselves."

"He had disturbing views towards race," Assemblyman Luis Alejo protested.

Others pushed back and defended Harper's view, pointing out that California's major airport also shares a name with the movie star. Another Republican assemblyman, Donald Wagner, noted that President Franklin Roosevelt is honored across the country despite his putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. "Every one of us is imperfect," Wagner said.

The resolution failed on a 35-20 vote. Jeva Lange

9:48 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Zika virus has been found in 42 countries and territories for the first time since last year, but Brazil is the hardest hit. And what doctors and researchers are finding from Brazil's outbreak is troubling. The mosquito-borne virus has been definitively linked to microcephaly, a condition in which children are born with abnormally small heads when a pregnant woman is infected, but "the scale and severity of prenatal damage by the Zika virus are far worse than past birth defects associated with microcephaly," The Wall Street Journal reports. "Scans, imaging, and autopsies show that Zika eats away at the fetal brain. It shrinks or destroys lobes that control thought, vision, and other basic functions. It prevents parts of the brain not yet formed from developing."

Public health experts have started calling the effects of the virus Congenital Zika Syndrome, to differentiate it from regular microcephaly — which typically affects 6 out of 10,000 infants in the U.S. — with the more severe problems being found in Zika babies. Some of the infected babies died during or soon after delivery, and nobody is sure about the prognosis for the children who survive. "We do anticipate there would be a spectrum of outcomes," epidemiologist Margaret Honein, part of the CDC Zika response team's pregnancy-and-birth-defects task force, tells WSJ. But long-term care for these children is expected to take significant time, energy, and heartache. You can read more at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

9:19 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Dole company officials were aware a salad plant was contaminated with Listeria for a year and a half before they closed the facility, and did so only after the U.S. and Canada traced a deadly outbreak back to the plant, Food Safety News reports. The Listeria outbreak hospitalized 33 people in 2015 and early 2016; four of those patients died.

According to an inspection report, Dole swab-tested its Springfield salad plant in 2014 and found positive results for Listeria, but continued to ship salads to dozens of states as well as at least five Canadian provinces. Internal tests at Dole showed Listeria contamination five more times in 2014 and three times in 2015, but the plant was only shuttered in January 2016.

The plant later reopened on April 21. Company officials did not tell Food Safety News what precautions had been taken to prevent future contamination. Jeva Lange

8:54 a.m. ET

If you've ever wanted to play an actual "woman card," Hillary Clinton is now passing them out. In exchange for a donation to the Democratic presidential frontrunner's campaign, she's offering a little gift in return that takes a jab at Donald Trump, who slammed Clinton earlier this week for relying on her figurative "woman card."

"We've been hearing from supporters all over the country that they'd like a 'woman card' of their very own — to display proudly on a fridge or pull out of their wallet every time they run into someone who says women who support Hillary must not be using our brains (that's a real thing Donald Trump's senior adviser said yesterday)," Clinton's Women's Outreach Director Mini Timmaraju said in an email sent out to supporters Thursday.

The hot pink card, which somewhat resembles a New York City subway pass, congratulates women for being in the majority and bears the tagline "deal me in," from Clinton's response to Trump's attacks: "If fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal play is playing the 'woman card,' then deal me in!"

Though the cards don't have any actual retail value, Timmaraju says that doesn't mean it's not a good investment. "Every dollar will make sure Donald Trump never becomes president," she said. Becca Stanek

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