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March 27, 2014
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Until Congress banned the practice four years ago, the U.S. military used burn pits to dispose of military waste. Activists say these burn pits have led to early deaths, birth defects, and the environmental poisoning of Iraq. On Wednesday, members of the group Right to Heal gathered in Washington to ask for help for thousands of people they say are suffering ill effects caused by the dark smoke from burning paint, rubber tires, munitions, chemicals, plastics, and metals.

The health problems have reportedly hit both Iraqis and members of the U.S. military. Kristi Casteel's son, Joshua, died from lung cancer in 2012 at the age of 32. While serving as an interrogator in Iraq for the Army, he lived roughly 100 yards from a burn pit, Casteel told a Right to Heal meeting. "While very aware of the thick black clouds that covered the base every day, and experiencing symptoms of congestion, burning eyes, and nausea at times," she said, "he, like most all the other soldiers, just labeled their symptoms the 'Iraqi crud.'"

A 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine determined there wasn't enough data to conclude whether or not pollution from the pits could cause long-term health problems, but acknowledged that chemicals found at the Joint Base Balad pit could eventually cause respiratory, heart, kidney, and liver problems, plus anemia and cancer. Right to Heal wants the U.S. to pay reparations to civilians who lived near the pits, and to help with environmental cleanup efforts. Catherine Garcia

10:39 a.m. ET

Following their candidate's trouncing in the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton supporters worried that the Bernie Sanders campaign is winning the messaging game.

"I love her but I still don’t understand what her campaign is about," a Clinton voter told The Hill. "If I had to take stock, I’d say [lack of clear messaging is] a big, if not the biggest problem facing the campaign," said another. Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist who worked for Al Gore in the 2000 election, agreed, arguing that Clinton "has not laid out a compelling vision for where she wants to take the country," failing to weave varying policy priorities into a coherent theme.

In the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries, Clinton performed remarkably poorly among millennial voters, some of whom cite Clinton's lack of a consistent message as why they're feeling the bern. "I feel like Clinton lies a lot," said one college-age voter in New Hampshire. "She changes her views for every group she speaks to." Bonnie Kristian

10:24 a.m. ET
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The tortoise is still in the race after a reasonably decent showing in New Hampshire, much to fellow Floridian Marco Rubio's chagrin. But as the Republican presidential hopefuls turn their attention to South Carolina's Feb. 20 primary, Rubio's campaign is apparently pretty hopeful they can bury Jeb Bush.

"South Carolina is gonna be a bloodbath," a Rubio aide told Politico. "Jeb and his people wanted to attack Marco in New Hampshire about abortion? Let's see how that plays down there. And then there's Common Core."

On the other hand, an internal Bush memo slammed Rubio, asserting he has "demonstrated no respect for the nomination process and expects this to be a coronation." Julie Kliegman

10:18 a.m. ET
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Americans are getting fatter as airplane seats grow narrower, but a new House bill could mandate a minimum seat size to accommodate our increasing average girth.

The descriptively named Seat Egress in Air Travel Act (SEAT Act), introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), would require the Federal Aviation Administration to determine minimum measurements for plane seats. In addition to issues of comfort, Cohen argues that bigger seats are safer in the event of an emergency and can help prevent deep vein thrombosis on long flights.

While seat widths have slightly shrunk over the years, new innovations tend to focus on the front-to-back space a seat takes up, and especially the padding bulk. Meanwhile, some airlines, most famously Southwest, already offer the opportunity to purchase two seats for "customers of size" who find a single chair too restrictive. Bonnie Kristian

9:43 a.m. ET

At first glance, you might think Donald Trump would be thrilled to be played by an Oscar-nominated actor like Johnny Depp in a biopic chronicling his life — but when that biopic turns out to be the latest Funny or Die project, the results are less than flattering.

Depp stars in Funny or Die's scathingly parodic The Art of the Deal, which presents itself as a long-lost, made-for-TV adaptation of Trump's 1987 bestseller of the same name. True to the era, The Art of the Deal features plenty of '80s icons, including Christopher Lloyd, ALF, and "Danger Zone" legend Kenny Loggins, who performs the theme song. Of course, the real draw is Depp, whose rubbery, mush-mouthed take on Trump is suspiciously similar to his take on gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass:

If you're ready for The Art of the Deal, you can watch the whole movie (which clocks in at 50 minutes) at Funny or Die. Scott Meslow

9:35 a.m. ET

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich's response to finding out who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night was spot on — and he didn't even utter a word.

TNT reporter David Aldridge managed to slip in a political question at the end of a courtside interview with Popovich by asking if he wanted to know the election results. "Yeah, who is it?" Popovich asked. "[Bernie] Sanders and [Donald] Trump," Aldridge responded.

Popovich was silent. He looked at Aldridge, shook his head in utter disbelief, and then just walked away. Watch it. Becca Stanek

9:14 a.m. ET
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Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin will adapt Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird for Broadway, The New York Times reports.

"It lives a little bit differently in everybody's imagination in the way a great novel ought to, and then along I come," Sorkin said. "I'm not the equal of Harper Lee. No one is."

Sorkin was signed by producer Scott Rudin, who attained the stage adaptation rights that Lee had apparently long been reluctant to grant. The two men have worked together on films including The Social Network, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs. The play is scheduled to open in 2017.

In a sentiment the entire world is bound to echo, Sorkin's teenage daughter has already advised him "not to blow it." Julie Kliegman

9:12 a.m. ET

Jeb Bush is heading into his next campaign stop in South Carolina with a little help from older brother George W. Bush. In what will mark George W. Bush's first-ever campaign ad for current Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the 43rd president will begin hitting the South Carolina airwaves Wednesday in a spot targeted at conservative talk radio stations. Take a listen:

"Jeb has dealt with crises as the governor of Florida, and he did so with steadiness, and a calmness necessary in a good leader," the former president says in the ad entitled "Steady Hand." "He respects the military — he honors their families. He can make the tough decision to keep Americans safe and our country free. And in a time of crisis, he will be a steady hand."

The ad marks the start of George W. Bush's increased involvement in his brother's campaign. He is also expected to make an appearance on the campaign trail in South Carolina sometime before next week's Feb. 20 primary. Becca Stanek

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