March 7, 2014

Celebrities: They don't have to deal with any of our day-to-day nuisances. Except, apparently, they sometimes do (insert tiny violin here). Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar date this year was her real-life civilian BFF Laura Simpson, who wrote a rather fascinating recap of the event for Myspace. Among the interesting tidbits of behind-the-scenes intel is this:

I decide to use the restroom before I sit. Jessica Biel holds the door open for me and compliments my dress — no human being should be allowed to have her face and body. I get inside and Margot Robbie from Wolf of Wall Street shows me her Kardashian-sized diamond ring in line for the toilet and says, 'I feel like a guy with a gun should be following me — I could be halfway to Mexico with this by now.' [Myspace]

Stars: They're just like us. Except their bathroom-line chatter is a bit... fancier.

Among other things we learn from the story: Non-famous people on the red carpet are treated like crap (surprise), Westboro Baptists picket the entrance to the event, and Brad Pitt naturally smells amazing. Read the story in full here. Samantha Rollins

10:47 p.m. ET
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On the day before his 30th birthday, Drake announced on his Beats 1 show OVO Sound Radio that he'll release a new project, More Life, in December.

The rapper, singer, and songwriter also debuted four songs from More Life, which he described as a "playlist project" featuring original music from Drake and his OVO collaborators: "Two Birds One Stone," "Fake Love," "Sneakin" featuring 21 Savage, and a remix of "Wanna Know" by London rapper Dave, described by Drake as being on a "crazy, crazy wave." Catherine Garcia

10:06 p.m. ET
Gary Williams/Getty Images

A decade ago, thousands of soldiers re-enlisted with the California National Guard, then facing a shortage of troops and two wars with no end in sight; they signed up for six years with the promise of upfront bonuses starting at $15,000. Now, nearly 10,000 of those men and women have been told by the Pentagon they received the money erroneously, and must pay it back immediately or face interest charges, tax liens, and wage garnishments.

The generous bonuses were slated for soldiers in high-demand assignments like intelligence and for noncommissioned officers needed in units set to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reports. An investigation that began in 2010 finished just last month, with audits finding that in all 50 states, soldiers who did not qualify for bonuses received them. In California, the money flowed more than in any other state, with 9,700 current and retired soldiers told to pay some or all of their bonuses back. So far, $22 million has been collected. "At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price," said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard. "We'd be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can't do it. We'd be breaking the law."

Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain who earned a Purple Heart after he was thrown from an armored vehicle turret after it ran over an IED in Iraq, told the Times he has had to refinance his home mortgage to pay back $25,000 in re-enlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments he's been told he shouldn't have received. "The bonuses were used to keep people in," he said. "People like me just got screwed." Susan Haley, a former Army master sergeant deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, has to give the Pentagon $650 a month, one-quarter of her family's income, to pay for her $20,500 bonus. "I feel totally betrayed," she said. Haley and her husband both served in the Army, as did her son, a medic who lost his leg during combat in Afghanistan. She is afraid she will have to soon sell her home to pay back the bonus. "They'll get their money, but I want those years back," she said. Read the stories of other affected veterans at the Los Angeles Times. Catherine Garcia

8:45 p.m. ET

Shortly before dawn Sunday morning, a tour bus on Interstate 10 headed to Los Angeles crashed into a tractor trailer truck, killing 13 people and injuring 31.

The bus was on its way back from the Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California, when the accident took place near Palm Springs. "The speed of the bus was so significant that when it hit the back of the big rig, the trailer, the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus," California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele said. Abele said it's unclear at this point how fast the bus, operated by USA Holiday, was traveling. The bus driver was killed and the truck driver sustained injuries, Abele said, adding, "In 35 years, I've never seen a crash with 13 confirmed fatalities." Catherine Garcia

1:24 p.m. ET
Robyn Beck/Getty Images

Hacked emails published Saturday by WikiLeaks show Hillary Clinton's campaign weighing the pros and cons of having its candidate give a major speech on race issues in America, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

In a conversation in February of this year, Clinton's chief speechwriter, Dan Schwerin, emailed other staff to suggest that such a speech could show Clinton's "sustained and comprehensive commitment" to minorities. However, he wrote, the speech could also "unintentionally end up elevating questions that aren't yet being widely asked and introduce new damaging information, especially [Clinton's use of the term] super predator, to a lot more voters."

Schwerin concluded that "if we're slipping fast [in the race against Sen. Bernie Sanders], maybe it's worth rolling the dice and doing the speech. If we're holding relatively steady, maybe we see if we can ride this out without doing the speech."

Clinton did end up giving a speech on race issues in Harlem on Feb. 16. At the time, Sanders was rising rapidly in the polls, from an average of 35 percent support the day before the speech to 42 percent three days later. Bonnie Kristian

12:48 p.m. ET

Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, joined Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday to discuss whether Trump can plausibly accrue the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win the White House.

After Wallace asked what Trump's "realistic path" to that victory could be, the famously smooth-talking Conway insisted with a rapid-fire list of states that the race is not over yet. Clinton is "still under 50 [percent] everywhere," Conway argued, despite an advertising budget that far exceeds Trump's ad spending.

Lapsed voters and first-time voters are enthusiastic about her candidate, Conway added, but likely to be underrepresented in polling data. "We're not giving up," she concluded. "We know we can win this, and we are certainly not acceding to the same chattering class that's been wrong about Donald Trump for about a year and a half." Watch the full exchange below. Bonnie Kristian

12:34 p.m. ET
Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images

Spain's Socialist Party on Sunday cleared the way to ending nearly a year of political deadlock by abstaining from a parliamentary vote which was then able to confirm Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative People's Party (PP) for another term.

The abstention decision follows national elections in December and June which left no single party or coalition with a governing majority. The most recent election saw Rajoy's party take a plurality while the Socialists, the runner-up, lost five seats in parliament. A third general election would have been scheduled soon absent today's shift, and the Socialist Party was worried they might lose additional seats in the third vote.

"We went to win the elections, but since that didn't happen, we need that there is a government to act as the opposition," said Socialist interim party head Javier Fernandez of his party's unusual decision. Without a sweeping mandate from voters, Rajoy has said he must "work day to day, with humility and patience" to pursue his legislative agenda. Bonnie Kristian

11:54 a.m. ET
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

While conventional wisdom suggests income level is the greatest determining factor in white voters' support for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump (she the elite insider, he the voice of the beleaguered working class — or rich Republicans facing off against poor Democrats) a new analysis from FiveThirtyEight suggests religion and education level are both far more important.

"Roughly speaking," the report summarizes, "a white voter will lean left if she is 'more college than church' and will lean right if she is 'more church than college.'" For those who fall in the middle of each spectrum, the third most predictive factor — whether a person lives in a more urban or rural area — settled the matter, with rural voters preferring Trump and urbanites going with Clinton.

As for income, the pollsters note it was actually "the least predictive of white voter support" of all seven demographic factors analyzed. The voting habits of white voters will be subject to extensive scrutiny in the run-up to Election Day, as overwhelming minority support for Clinton means Trump would rely primarily on white swing voters to win.

This post has been updated throughout. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads