March 12, 2014
Bob Levey / Getty Images

Don't run with scissors. Don't swim after eating. Don't gallivant barefoot in a cactus-filled desert or you'll probably stab your foot and look really silly.

We all remember these simple lessons from childhood, though Milwaukee Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez apparently forgot the last one. Yes, the team said Wednesday that Rodriguez stepped on a cactus and may have to miss a scheduled start Thursday to rehab the injury.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"They took out a lot of the thorns but there's still some in there," said manager Ron Roenicke. "I don't think it's that big of a setback but I imagine he's pretty sore today. You know how little some of the thorns are and they break off in there. So, I don't know. But that's what's going on." [Journal Sentinel]

And in case you were wondering: The Brewers play their spring training games in the aptly named Cactus League. Jon Terbush

This just in
8:45 a.m. ET
Abid Katib/Getty Images

There could soon be no more Gaza Strip if conditions don't turn around very quickly. A recent U.N. report has found that economic conditions in Gaza are so bad that the entire region could be "uninhabitable" by 2020.

A stretch of Palestine wedged between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions of the world with 1.8 million residents living in a mere 225 square miles of land. But after three conflicts with Israel and an almost decade-long blockade, Gaza now has an almost post-apocalyptic feel.

Its unemployment rate is 44 percent and its GDP dropped below 15 percent last year. Seventy-two percent of households are food insecure and over 95 percent of its main source of water is said to be non-potable. Its electricity production can't cover even 40 percent of demand.

The report faults the Israeli blockade for impoverishing the population. It also cited the 2014 war with Israel that left 73 Israelis and 2,200 Palestinians dead for wrecking Gaza's economy and destroying much of its infrastructure. More than 20,000 Palestinian homes and numerous schools, hospitals, and factories were ruined in the conflict.

"The humanitarian catastrophe is man-made," the deputy director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights told Al Jazeera. "The answer is only through our man-made policies." Jeva Lange

A reason to hug trees
8:27 a.m. ET

When a forest fire ravaged 20,000 hectares of forest in the Spanish province of Valencia in 2012, scientists made an amazing discovery: a patch of green. A group of cypresses stood seemingly untouched in a forest that was otherwise completely charred. Turns out, Mediterranean cypress trees have a natural resistance to fire. So much so, that in a forest where "all the common oaks, holm oaks, pines, and junipers had completely burnt," the BBC reports that only "1.27 percent of the Mediterranean cypresses had ignited."

This discovery sparked a three-year investigation into whether the tree could be strategically planted to create a buffer zone and effectively stop or slow the spread of wildfires. This month, scientists' findings were published in the Journal of Environmental Management. They found that "because of the particular structure of its leaves, [the Mediterranean cypress] is able to maintain a high water content even in situations of extreme heat and drought."

In even better news, the trees have a "great plasticity in terms of soil, climate and altitude," meaning that the tree could very well grow in parts of the world other than the Mediterranean — including California. Becca Stanek

planned parenthood
7:46 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Some Republicans in Congress are vowing to force another government shutdown unless the fiscal 2016 federal budget defunds Planned Parenthood. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) isn't among them, Reuters reports. On Tuesday, McConnell told Kentucky TV station WYMT that conservatives "just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we'd like," and he's not willing to shut down the government. "The president has made it very clear he's not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood," McConnell said, "so that's another issue that awaits a new president hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood." Peter Weber

This just in
7:29 a.m. ET
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On Tuesday, CNN changed the criteria for its upcoming Republican presidential debate on September 16, making room for former HP CEO Carly Fiorina to squeeze onto the big stage. The original criteria would have used an average of poll numbers from between July 16 and September 10 to narrow the field of candidates at the prime-time debate, reducing the impact of Fiorina's widely praised performance at the "kid's table" on Fox News in August. CNN will now accept any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 6 and September 10, giving Fiorina a much healthier shot at the main show. According to RCP's polling average, Fiorina comes in seventh among GOP presidential hopefuls, with 5.8 percent of the vote.

Fiorina's presence will likely make for a better debate too, The Washington Post points out. In addition to being the only woman on stage, she is also a counterpoint to Donald Trump — another political outsider from the business world. Of course, Trump isn't one to tread lightly — a "you're fired" jab might be in the works, seeing as Fiorina was removed as CEO of HP in 2005. That being said, if Fiorina can out-debate her fellow business-minded competition on live TV, it will likely be her best shot at making a lasting mark in the race. Jeva Lange

police shootings
6:57 a.m. ET

More than 100 police, using dogs and helicopters, searched northern Illinois overnight for three suspects in the killing of Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a veteran police officer in Fox Lake, Illinois, who was shot on Tuesday and later died of his wounds. Gliniewicz had radioed Tuesday morning to say he was pursuing three "suspicious subjects" on foot, and then he stopped responding to police dispatch. Schools in the Fox Lake area were on lockdown Tuesday and closed Wednesday, and police ordered a no-fly zone in the area and asked people to stay locked indoors and report any suspicious activity. The FBI is helping state and local police in the hunt.

Fox Lake is a town of 10,500 about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. "I've lived here for 30 years and never had to lock my door until now," resident Dan Christensen, 64, told Reuters. For more information, watch the Associated Press article below. Peter Weber

Politics and Punchlines
6:01 a.m. ET

Next week, the 2016 presidential campaign heads to late-night TV. Jeb Bush is Stephen Colbert's first guest on The Late Show, which makes its debut Sept. 8, and three days later, on Sept. 11, Jimmy Fallon is having Donald Trump on The Tonight Show. On Sept. 10, Politico reports, Vice President Joe Biden is the headliner on Colbert's new show.

Biden isn't officially running for the Democratic presidential nomination, but of course Politico suggests that appearing on Colbert could be another move to position Biden for a 2016 run, should he decide to enter the race. Trump's performance will probably be entertaining, solemn date notwithstanding — after all, Fallon ticked Chris Christie off enough with a fat joke that he almost walked off the set on Monday. Few people know how tough or interesting an interviewer Colbert will be, though hopes are high. You can watch Fallon's weight joke — and the actually pretty great Christie story he almost never finished — below. Peter Weber

5:20 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, after a 15-0 vote from the Los Angeles City Council, the U.S. Olympic Committee has its official nominee to host the 2024 Olympics. Boston dropped out of the running in July, amid lack of public support and cost concerns. On Tuesday, L.A. officials said that most of the needed venues are either already built or would be anyways, and that the City of Angels can host the games at no cost to taxpayers, as it has before, in 1932 and 1984. "We're the only city on Earth that has hosted two profitable Olympics," said City Council member Paul Kerkorian.

Then things got a little bit feisty. "There's a little sadness today," said City Council member Bob Blumenfield, "and I think that sadness is being felt in Paris and in Rome, because their prospects for getting these Olympics just went down substantially, because L.A. is now in the mix and they're looking in their rear-view mirrors and they're seeing us there, and we're going to be unstoppable." Along with Paris and Rome, other 2024 contenders include Budapest and Hamburg. Watch the L.A. spirit on display below. Peter Weber

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