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March 24, 2014

An oil spill caused by the collision between a barge and ship that left 170,000 gallons of oil floating in the ocean is damaging the habitat of thousands of shorebirds. The Coast Guard temporarily closed the Houston Ship Channel's passageway into the Gulf of Mexico in order to limit the impact of the spill on the birds living in Galveston Bay, but some oil-covered birds have been spotted along the coast.

The collision occurred near a channel in Texas City, where shorebirds are known to winter. The impact so far has been small, with only 50 birds needing treatment due to injuries sustained from the oil spill, but environmentalists are now concerned that the oil could wash up as tar balls, float onto the coast, and further damage the natural habitat of several thousand more birds. The Coast Guard said it laid booms around environmentally sensitive areas to protect them from the oil. --Jordan Valinsky

3:05 p.m. ET

There's at least one thing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has remained faithful to throughout the presidential election: his love for cheese. While at a queso competition in Texas on Wednesday, Cruz spent nearly a minute professing his unwavering love for the melted cheesy goodness beloved in the Lone Star State. "It speaks to the soul," Cruz said. "Good queso relaxes you."

While Cruz has previously said he loves cheese in general, he indicated Wednesday that queso ranks top cheese in his book. While your run-of-the mill cheese can be served on anything from a cracker to "one of those tiny Vienna sausages," Cruz argued that queso is something special. "Queso is made to be scooped up with tortilla chips, dribbling down your chin and onto your shirt," Cruz said.

Catch Cruz's entire queso monologue below. Becca Stanek

2:27 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, radio station WNYC shared its original broadcast aired on Dec. 7, 1941. The station, which was reportedly the first in New York City to report the attack, offered play-by-plays of American retaliation against the Japanese and of the Hawaiian governor's reports to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt over the phone as a "second wave of Japanese planes began flying over Hawaii."

Take a listen below. Becca Stanek

2:16 p.m. ET

A three-mile deep, 70-mile long crack in Antarctica could soon cause a chunk of the continent to break off and float away as a massive, state-sized iceberg, Popular Science reports.

The piece of ice threatening to snap off comes from a region called "Larsen C" and only makes up about 12 percent of the ice sheet's total area. Still, it would create an iceberg the size of Delaware if it were to detach. Larsen C would then go the way of ice sheets Larsen A and B, both of which broke off the continent in a similar fashion over the last 20 years.

Usually ice sheets break up in much smaller pieces, but giant rifts such as the one growing in Antarctica now are becoming more and more likely due to what scientists believe are effects from climate change. Jeva Lange

2:09 p.m. ET
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has officially resigned, according to a statement from the nation's president's office.

Renzi's resignation, first announced Monday, follows a heavy defeat in his referendum on constitutional reform. Renzi said he took "full responsibility" for the loss, adding, "We gave the Italians an opportunity to change, but we didn't succeed."

Renzi took office two-and-a-half years ago. Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whose role in the nation is primarily ceremonial, will select a new prime minister — Italy's fifth in as many years — with elections not scheduled until 2018. Jeva Lange

1:26 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump will appoint Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, the transition team has informed Reuters. Pruitt has long been an outspoken critic of President Obama's EPA, and even sued the agency over its water regulations as well as its controversial climate change regulations imposed on power plants, Politico reports.

Pruitt has also questioned "the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind," having called the "debate … far from settled." Jeva Lange

12:26 p.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump doesn't seem to have switched up his interviewing style from his days as a ruthless businessman on reality TV show The Apprentice. In a wide-ranging reveal published in The New York Times on Wednesday, candidates who have either interviewed for positions in Trump's White House or simply sat down for a chat with the president-elect dished on their experiences being interrogated by America's next commander-in-chief. The overwhelming takeaway: Once a businessman, always a businessman.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Trump is all about wanting to know "what you can do for him." "If you filibuster, he'll cut you off," Gingrich said. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a contender for the next secretary of agriculture, said Trump clearly approached their sit-down "from a deal standpoint." "He believes that we in the United States have been sort of patsies over the years in the way we've dealt with our foreign competitors and international trade — and I agree with him — and he wanted to know what I would do about it," Perdue told The New York Times. Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown noted a similar takeaway, saying Trump "made it clear that he's a businessman and he's going to delegate to people."

Others couldn't help but notice the atmosphere at Trump Tower was reminiscent of the entertainment world. Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta compared approaching Trump Tower to "walking the red carpet in Hollywood." "It was like a green room," said BET founder Robert L. Johnson, "a waiting room of people you know or you know of, all waiting their turn."

Head over to The New York Times to get the full scoop on what it's like to be interviewed by Trump. Becca Stanek

11:40 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump will invite a third general to a top White House position, offering retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, 66, the position of secretary of homeland security, The New York Times confirms. Kelly will join retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who will serve as national security adviser, and retired Gen. James Mattis, who has been nominated for defense secretary, as former military men tapped for Trump's administration. As Politico notes, Kelly's selection may make slimmer the chances of retired Gen. David Petraeus for secretary of state, as many generals have already been nominated for White House positions.

The Department of Homeland Security, established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, helms border and immigration control, both of which are issues Trump had made central to his campaign. In the past, Kelly has clashed with President Obama on the decision to open combat roles to women in the military as well as the administration's plans to close Guantanamo Bay.

After four decades in the military, Kelly recently retired as the chief of U.S. Southern Command, which oversaw military operations in Central and South America. Kelly is also one of the most senior military officers to have lost a child in Iraq or Afghanistan; his son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, was killed after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010.

Kelly has not yet been formally offered the position because he is out of the country, but a person briefed on the decision said he would be appointed next week when others are publicly named for remaining Cabinet positions, including secretary of state. Jeva Lange

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