March 24, 2014

Journalist Megan McArdle's new book, The Up Side of Down (about how failing well is the key to success), is sure to challenge both conservatives and liberals. When it comes to irking conservatives, McArdle argues that conservatives worry way too much about moral hazards.

For example, she notes that America's liberal bankruptcy laws actually benefit our nation. "Because of easy bankruptcy," she says, "we get more entrepreneurs." This is true for a few reasons. First, she says, "It's a lot easier to take a risk if you're not worried that your kids are going to end up with nowhere to live." And second, because "a lot of entrepreneurs fail the first time — and so if you shackle them to their debt...then you don't get that second company that would have been successful."

You can listen to audio of my full conversation with McArdle here. Matt K. Lewis

10:39 a.m. ET

Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson put a truly remarkable spin on claims Donald Trump has changed his stance on immigration. While Trump's recent remark that he would "work with" undocumented immigrants and consider letting some stay in the U.S., instead of deporting all 11 million as he previously pledged to do, may sound like a major shift in policy, Pierson insisted that wasn't the case. "He hasn't changed his immigration position," Pierson said on CNN's Correct the Record. "He has changed the words he is saying."

That's certainly one way to look at it! Take a listen, below. Becca Stanek

10:24 a.m. ET
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Survivors of the June 12 shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, won't be billed for treatment, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday. Instead, Orlando Regional Medical Center and Florida Hospital, the two hospitals responsible for treating the majority of survivors, will be finding an alternative way to pay those bills.

Orlando Regional Medical Center said it plans to turn to a victims' fund and patients' insurance plans to cover out-of-pocket costs and that it would assume costs for patients without insurance. Florida Hospital said it would not even bill victims' insurance companies for its services. In total, the two hospitals are estimated to be absorbing more than $5.5 million worth of care.

The shooting left 53 people injured, in addition to the 49 people killed. Gunman Omar Mateen, who pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State, was killed in a shootout with police. Becca Stanek

10:07 a.m. ET
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It's 10 a.m. Do you know where your coffee is?

If you're one of the many people who start their day with a cup of joe steaming by their side, you might be able to blame genetics for your addiction. According to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, a gene known as PDSS2 "has been shown to negatively regulate the expression of the caffeine metabolism genes and can thus be linked to coffee consumption."

In layman's terms? Certain genes play a part in breaking down caffeine in the body, and a certain variant of the PDSS2 gene was found to apparently slow the metabolism of caffeine. That means that for those people, the caffeine "lingers in the blood for longer and gives people a more enduring 'hit' for every cup," The Guardian explains.

The study was conducted across two Italian populations — but when its conclusions were cross-checked with results from a study conducted among individuals from the Netherlands, the effect of the PDSS2 gene appeared to be weaker. Researchers theorize the discrepancy could be due to different preferences for coffee between Italy and the Netherlands, The Guardian notes. And this isn't the first time scientists have tried to link genetics to the mad-dash for coffee: Way back in 2014, CNN reported on a purported coffee gene.

The moral of the story? Drink up — no one will blame you for a lack of willpower if it's just your genetic fate. Kimberly Alters

9:29 a.m. ET

The pasta dish that put one Italian city on the map could be integral to its earthquake recovery efforts. Just a day after the central Italian town of Amatrice was devastated by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake Wednesday morning, more than 600 restaurants in Italy are planning to put the town's famous spaghetti all'amatriciana, which The Guardian describes as "a pasta dish with a tomato-based sauce flavored with guanciale, or cured pork cheek," on their menus. For every order sold, the restaurants have reportedly pledged to donate 2 euros to the Italian Red Cross.

House Made Spaghetti All'Amatriciana (Taster: @shelbylenetsky)

A photo posted by TasteToronto™ (@tastetoronto) on

The dish was invented in Amatrice in the 1700s, and the city had planned to have its 50th annual spaghetti all'amatriciana festival this weekend before the earthquake hit. Amatrice was one of the cities most devastated by the quake, which is estimated to have killed at least 247 and injured more than 300. Becca Stanek

8:55 a.m. ET
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange warned Wednesday that Hillary Clinton will be the next target of an information leak. In an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, Assange said the impending leak could have "significant" implications for the presidential election, depending "on how it catches fire in the public and in the media."

"We have a lot of material, thousands of pages of material," said Assange, who is in exile at Ecuador's embassy in London. He added: "It's a variety of different types of documents from different types of institutions that are associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles that are, you know, quite interesting, some even entertaining."

The leak would come on the heels of the Democratic National Committee email leak in July, which prompted DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign on the eve of the Democratic convention. Assange didn't reveal when exactly to expect this next batch, though he said "we are working around the clock" and that it will be sometime before the November election.

Watch Assange's full warning on leaks to come, below. Becca Stanek

8:23 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Backlash over the dramatically increased price of allergy drug EpiPen pushed the drug's manufacturer, Mylan, to announce Thursday that it would cut patient costs. The company plans to offer a savings card for patients with higher out-of-pocket costs, which, Reuters reported, will cover "up to $300" for a two-pack of epinephrine dispensers and cut costs for a patient paying list price by about 50 percent. Mylan will also double eligibility for its existing patient assistance program, which benefits those who are uninsured and under-insured.

"We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter," Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said in a statement. "Patients deserve increased price transparency and affordable care, particularly as the system shifts significant costs to them."

Mylan's announcement comes a day after Hillary Clinton called on the company to decrease the price of EpiPen. Since Mylan bought EpiPen in 2007, the wholesale price has jumped from less than $100 for a set of two epinephrine dispensers to as much as $700. Becca Stanek

8:02 a.m. ET

The Clinton Foundation is developing a plan to insulate Hillary Clinton from potential conflicts of interest if she is elected president: Bill Clinton will stop fundraising and leave the board of directors, though Chelsea Clinton may stay on, and the main foundation will stop accepting corporate and foreign donations but the global Clinton Health Access Initiative may not. But what would happen to Donald Trump's sprawling business empire if he's elected? It's not clear.

If his assessment of his wealth is accurate, Trump would be the wealthiest person elected president, and his holdings include skyscrapers, hotels, golf courses, a winery, a clothing line, and other ventures, many of them abroad, most of them tied to the Trump brand. In a debate in January, Trump said to avoid (unusually large) potential conflicts of interest he would put all of his assets in a blind trust (probably) and leave management of his business to his children, but on NBC News on Wednesday night, lawyer and presidential financial disclosure expert Ken Gross said that "to set up a blind trust in the U.S. executive branch is actually quite difficult, and your children can't run it as a legal matter."

In the New York Times article the NBC report featured, Susanne Craig shows that Trump's various companies hold at least $650 million in debt in the U.S., often in complex partnerships with lenders including the Bank of China and Goldman Sachs. The Trump Organization's CFO said that Trump was personally liable for only a "small percentage of the corporate debt" Trump listed on his financial disclosure filing. But he has a clear financial interest in those loans, and his "opaque portfolio of business ties makes him potentially vulnerable to the demands of banks, and to business people in the United States and abroad," Craig writes, citing Richard Painter, George W. Bush's White House ethics lawyer.

"The success of his empire depends on an ability to get credit, to get loans extended to his business entities," Painter told The New York Times. "And we simply don't know a lot about his financial dealings, here or around the world." Legally, Trump would not have to sell off any of his business holdings or shield himself from their management if he becomes president. So as with many of his plans for the White House, what happens to his business empire has a distinct patina of "trust me." Peter Weber

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