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March 26, 2014

Things are not looking too good for Democrats in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections, and a new George Washington University Battleground poll is, on the surface, more bad news. The respondents were roughly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, but 64 percent of GOP voters said they are "extremely likely" to vote in November, versus 57 percent of Democrats. President Obama's 44 percent approval rating won't help the Democrats, and a daunting 73 percent said their personal economic situation has stayed the same or gotten worse over the past four years.

But there is one silver lining for Democrats: Marijuana. While 82 percent of respondents disapprove of Congress — with both parties "universally despised," according to Democratic pollster Celinda Lake — 73 percent support medical marijuana in their states, 53 percent back decriminalizing pot, and most importantly, 68 percent said they are more likely to go to the polls if marijuana is on the ballot. Voters in both parties are in favor of looser marijuana laws, but the highest levels of motivation are among younger, single people — a group that skews Democratic.

"We are very excited about the marijuana numbers in this poll, not only for personal consumption to get through this election, but [also] in terms of turnout," says Lake. Peter Weber

12:10 p.m. ET
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering a new policy which would request that foreign visitors to the United States voluntarily provide their social media accounts for the feds to peruse. Travelers would be asked to give "information associated with your online presence," including usernames on any social media network where they are active.

The department argues this information would "enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case."

But the plan is already subject to pushback. It's "very unclear what [federal officials] plan to do" with the information they would collect, said Joseph Lorenzo Hall of the Center for Democracy and Technology. After all, he added, the government has "a really horrible track record interpreting ... comments on social media, and interpreting them as meaning grave threats." Bonnie Kristian

11:39 a.m. ET
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The Bay Area branch of Black Lives Matter (BLM) has decided to withdraw from this weekend's Pride Parade in San Francisco in response to a scaled-up police presence planned for the event following the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, a gay bar.

"The Black Lives Matter network is grateful to the people of San Francisco for choosing us, we choose you too,” said BLM member Malkia Cyril in a statement explaining the group's choice, which was shared by at least two other organizations: the TGI Justice Project, a nonprofit which works with imprisoned, transgender women of color, and the St. James Infirmary, a clinic serving sex workers.

"As queer people of color, we are disproportionately targeted by both vigilante and police violence," Cyril continued. "We know first hand that increasing the police presence at Pride does not increase safety for all people. Militarizing these events increases the potential for harm to our communities and we hope in the future SF Pride will consider community-centered approaches to security at pride events.” Bonnie Kristian

11:22 a.m. ET
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Britain's decision to leave the European Union caused the value of the British pound to plummet and gave Wall Street its worst day in 10 months on Friday.

A massive sell-off caused the S&P 500 to lose all its gains for 2016, making it negative for the year to date, with only high-dividend-paying utilities ending Friday's trading profitably.

Market watchers expect sales to take a while to stabilize, and suggest that this turn of events will confirm the Federal Reserve's decision to hold off on an interest rate hike for the time being. Bonnie Kristian

11:03 a.m. ET
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TV bingers, rejoice: Netflix is rumored to be seriously considered allowing users to download its videos.

"We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product," says Dan Taitz, COO of video software company Penthera. "My expectation is that by the end of the year Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers." His gossip was echoed by Dan Rayburn, an analyst at technology research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Netflix itself declined to comment on the rumors Friday, though in April Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the online streaming giant would "keep an open mind" about downloads. That's a significantly different message from the comments made by Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt in September, when he posited that offering consumers additional choices — stream vs. download — can paralyze them into not choosing to watch anything at all. Bonnie Kristian

10:47 a.m. ET

With Brexit accomplished, right-wing parties in a number of other European nations are already pushing for their countries to follow suit. Now, the obvious issue of import is what clever portmanteaus we can use to label new EU exit debates.

My money is on the below set of suggestions from a Ukrainian PR manager named Mikhail Golub. Seriously, maybe #Finish and #Departugal should happen just so those hashtags can become a thing. Bonnie Kristian

10:37 a.m. ET
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Rapper Kanye West debuted a music video for his single, Famous, Friday night to an audience of 8,000 fans in Inglewood, California. The video features 12 celebrities, all fully nude, reclining on a giant bed together.

All 12 are presumed to be waxworks, as none of the celebrities shown have admitted to posing for the video and one — Taylor Swift — has rapidly denied her participation. In addition to Swift, the lifelike figures are of George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Anna Wintour, Chris Brown, Kim Kardashian West, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, and Rihanna.

"It’s not in support or anti any of [the people in the video]," West said to Vanity Fair. "It’s a comment on fame." He also claimed that on previewing the video to other celebrities not depicted, "They want to be in the bed."

You can view an image of the wax figures here. NSFW, obviously. Bonnie Kristian

10:22 a.m. ET
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Hawaii became the first state in the nation to automatically place all gun owners in an FBI criminal tracking database, which will enable the federal government to "monitor them for possible wrongdoing anywhere in the country." From now on, if a Hawaiian gun owner is arrested for any reason, their hometown police will be notified and their permission to own a gun reexamined.

"This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office," said Hawaii Gov. David Ige, who signed the bill Thursday, "and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families."

But critics say the new law is an extreme and invasive measure. "Why are law abiding citizens exercising their constitutional right being entered into a criminal database?" asked Hawaiian Quentin Kealoha in a public comment process about the bill. "Would you enter people exercising their right to free speech into a criminal database?" Bonnie Kristian

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