March 31, 2014

Toronto's crack-smoking, politician-tackling, reggae-dancing, drunk-stumbling, hockey-celebrating mayor Rob Ford is up for re-election this year. And perhaps surprisingly, he's not doing too bad despite his extensive extracurricular resume.

So how do you chip away at an incumbent with a penchant for gaffes? By humorously exploiting those gaffes for maximum effect, like so:

That billboard comes from the fledgling group No Ford Nation, whose sole goal is to elect someone "qualified" to be mayor. In other words: anyone but Ford. (To be clear, the man in the ad is not a real candidate.)

A couple of other signs featuring fake mayoral candidates:

Though the group may think Ford stinks at his job, the man himself maintains he's the "best mayor" in Toronto's history. Jon Terbush

Kunduz hospital bombing
12:41 p.m. ET

A U.S.-led airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan in October was the result of "human error," according to findings released today. The military had accidently aimed at the hospital instead of at the intended target, a Taliban command center 450 yards away. Technical errors were also at fault.

At least 30 staff members and patients were killed in the attack, which continued even after the humanitarian organization made repeated distress calls to U.S. and Afghan officials during the strike. "U.S. forces would never intentionally [strike] a hospital," Gen. John Campbell, the top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said. Jeva Lange

pies for the people
12:15 p.m. ET

President Obama is a man who likes his pies. He's even joked that his former pastry chef, Bill Yosses, is so good at what he does that it's like the pies have crack in them (Obama and Michelle fondly called Yosses "the Crustmaster").

The Obama Thanksgiving dinners famously have all kinds of pies as a result of the president's tastes; last year there were at least half a dozen varieties including huckleberry, pecan, peach, apple, chocolate cream, sweet potato, pumpkin, cherry, and coconut and banana cream.

But why stop at six? Here's how you can make all of the famous White House pies from over the years. Jeva Lange

Obama's pumpkin pie

Mamie Eisenhower's pumpkin pie

Obama's apple pie

Obama's huckleberry pie

Obama's sweet potato pie

Obama's flaky nectarine pie

Michelle Obama's spinach pie

Laura Bush's Texas buttermilk coconut pie with whipped cream

Lady Bird Johnson's Pecan Pie

White House fruit pocket pies

happy thanksgiving
11:40 a.m. ET

An estimated 1 percent of the U.S. population is catching a flight for Thanksgiving — although if their destinations are any indication, quite a few of those 3.6 million travelers aren't going home for the holiday. According to numbers crunched by The New York Times, places like Nevada and Hawaii have a large influx of incoming travelers this Thanksgiving, indicating that perhaps plenty of people across the U.S. have been pining for a little sun or slots. More than anywhere else, however, flights to Miami and Orlando have seen the biggest swell of travelers, once adjusted for populations.

To be fair, that doesn't necessarily mean everyone is racing to the beach rather than home to their families; "home to family," the Times points out, could mean visiting parents who have moved elsewhere and retired. Although that's not to say you can't kill two birds with one stone — both Orlando and Miami are expecting 80-degree Thanksgivings.

Take a look at where everyone's flying today, below. Jeva Lange

see something, say something
11:39 a.m. ET
Ty Wright/Getty Images

Speaking at a campaign event in South Carolina on Tuesday, Donald Trump suggested that Americans should call the police on new people in their neighborhoods who look suspicious while moving in.

"People move into a house a block down the road, you know who's going in," Trump said. "You can see and you report them to the local police." He noted that "most likely" reports will be wrong, "but that's OK." In this manner, Trump added, everyone can be "their own cop in a way."

The same evening, Trump redoubled his calls for surveillance of "mosques and other places" and asked why President Obama is "so empathetic [sic] on not solving the problem." Bonnie Kristian

11:21 a.m. ET

Thanksgiving with family often features an unwanted serving of political debate, and this year the Democratic National Committee wants to ensure millennial Democrats can give as good as they get. To this end, the DNC has published a 2015 version of, which offers comeback flashcards — with overtones of snark and undertones of rage — pertaining to five hot-button issues and five GOP presidential candidates.

While the issue selection seems pretty straightforward, the logic of which candidates were included isn't so clear: For instance, why does John Kasich, polling below 3 percent nationally, make the cut, while Ben Carson, who nears 20 percent support in recent polls, is nowhere to be found? Also unclear is what users can do if their uncle fails to be persuaded by the handful of responses offered for each category — or, in the site's parlance, if he's "still talking."

The DNC released a similar site in 2013 and 2014, announcing the flashcards in the latter year with a tweet suggesting the offending uncles in question sound like this. Bonnie Kristian

out to get you
10:54 a.m. ET

It's no secret that campaigns want to know who you know. President Obama's campaign, for example, developed "Targeted Sharing" back in 2012, a tactic which encouraged users who opted in to share specific content with particular groups of friends in order to get them to register to vote, donate to the campaign, or watch a persuasive video.

"People don't trust campaigns. They don't even trust media organizations," Teddy Goff, the Obama campaign's digital director, told Time in 2012. "Who do they trust? Their friends."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich gets that — or, at the very least, his super-PAC New Day for America does. They're working with a New York data company, Applecart, to construct "webs" of influencers in order to target potential voters, Bloomberg reports. But instead of limiting themselves to who is active on Facebook, Applecart is taking an old-school approach, combing high school yearbooks, local newspapers, community sports rosters, and published staff lists to discover who might be receptive to who:

When volunteers arrive at New Day phone banks either in New Hampshire or Kasich's political base of Columbus, Ohio, they are given call sheets prioritized by who the voters know. The targets are prospective "anchors," those whom statistical models have identified as open to Kasich (even as a second or third choice) and also whose connection scores showed them as likely to be interacting with others. The idea is to convert these anchors into de facto campaign surrogates. "It doesn't take too many people who are connected to a persuadable target to say nice things to them about John Kasich," to start to close the deal, says Matt Kalmans, a 22-year-old co-founder of Applecart. [Bloomberg]

Applecart uses social graphs, where each voter is webbed to their known contacts — Bloomberg notes that a dozen such voters in New Hampshire were deemed "hermits," with no significant interpersonal links. Although to be fair, anyone being bombarded by old high school friends who have suddenly got nothing to talk about but John Kasich might be wishing they were a hermit, too. Jeva Lange

Watch this
10:42 a.m. ET

For nearly a century, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has endured as one of America's most recognizable Thanksgiving traditions. But over the years, the parade's iconic inflatable floats have also caused plenty of problems. What happens when a balloon goes haywire? In 1997, one parade-goer managed to capture the moment that strong winds sent the Barney the Purple Dinosaur balloon careening out of control over 51st Street, where it was finally stabbed and pulled out of commission by the NYPD:

It's a bizarre and fascinating thing to watch, but in the wrong conditions, wayward parade balloons really can pose a danger to attendees. Following the 1997 parade, The New York Times reported that the wind had reached a speed of up to 43 miles per hour, and one parade-goer was seriously injured when a six-story Cat in the Hat balloon knocked over a lamppost.

Since 1997, New York City has imposed stricter safety limitations on the parade, including smaller balloons, much more extensive training for volunteers, and an ordinance requiring the balloons to be pulled if the wind speed exceeds 23 miles per hour. In 2013, the balloons were nearly grounded before the wind died down in time for the parade to begin as planned. Scott Meslow

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