2016 Watch
March 6, 2014
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Mitt Romney may have lost the 2012 election, but a decent chunk of Republicans are willing to give the former Massachusetts governor a second look. Thirty-four percent of Republicans say they could definitely back Romney in the 2016 GOP primary, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, the highest number recorded for any Republican. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee tied for second at 15 percent.

Now, the poll didn't test candidates against each other. But Romney did take top honors this month in a horse race poll of the New Hampshire GOP primary.

That said, Romney insists he won't run, and even were he to do so, there are many, many reasons to believe he would flop. And the survey comes with the standard caveat that it's way too early to put much faith in horse race polls or declare a true frontrunner at this point. Jon Terbush

Crisis in Syria
8:04 p.m. ET
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress Tuesday that the United States has only trained roughly 60 Syrian opposition fighters to take on the Islamic State.

The program launched in Jordan and Turkey this May, with the goal of training 5,400 fighters a year, Reuters reports. Some rebel leaders say that in order to be successful, the trainees have to target Syrian government forces, but they are off-limits for U.S. offensive operations.

Carter said he thinks Syrian recruits need some protection from the U.S., but said no decisions have been made yet on the type of assistance to provide. He also said that after the U.S. streamlined vetting candidates, the numbers of recruits would increase. “We are refining our curriculum, expanding our outreach to the moderate opposition, and incorporating lessons learned from the first training,” he said. Catherine Garcia

sorry donald
7:26 p.m. ET
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ESPN is the latest company to cut ties with Donald Trump, following comments he made about Mexican immigrants during his presidential campaign kick off in June.

The ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic was scheduled to be played July 14 at the Trump National Golf Club in Palos Verdes, California, but has been moved to Pelican Hill in Orange County, the Los Angeles Times reports. In a statement, ESPN said the change reflects "support for inclusion of all sports fans. Diversity and inclusion are core values at ESPN, and our decision also supports that commitment."

During his kick off event, Trump stated that Mexican immigrants are "bringing drugs" and "crime" to the U.S., and "they're rapists." He later added, "some, I assume, are good people." Since then, Macy's, NBC, Univision, and other major corporations have severed ties with the GOP candidate. Catherine Garcia

Nature's Wonders
6:46 p.m. ET
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A giant sheet of granite has fallen from Half Dome, making it even harder to ascend the Yosemite National Park landmark.

Park officials said the sheet, which they estimate is 100 by 200 feet, peeled off from halfway up the sheer face of Half Dome sometime last week. No one was hurt or saw the granite fall; it was found by climbers, who were unable to pass and had to turn around. "What used to be relatively easy climbing has gotten much more difficult," park geologist and climber Greg Stock told The Associated Press.

There are several routes climbers can take, and this particular one is considered one of the top 50 climbing destinations in North America. Hundreds of skilled climbers take on Half Dome every year, and while this affects some climbers, Yosemite Chief of Staff Mike Gauthier is certain it won't keep anyone away. "Now is their chance to find a new work-around," he said. "And they will." Catherine Garcia

In a galaxy far, far away
4:13 p.m. ET
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That galaxy far, far away just keeps getting more crowded. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has yet another expansion of the Star Wars universe on the horizon: a spin-off focused on the adventures of the young Han Solo.

The Han Solo spin-off will be written, directed, and produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directorial team behind recent smash hits like 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. No word on casting, but it's hard to imagine a young actor in Hollywood who wouldn't jump at the chance to step into such an iconic role.

The Han Solo movie is just one of many new movies designed to expand the depth and breadth of the Star Wars universe. In addition to J.J. Abrams' Episode VII, which arrives in December, and its two planned sequels, Godzilla director Gareth Edwards is slated to helm Rogue One, a spin-off about the team that stole the plans for the Death Star, setting the stage for the original Star Wars.

Update: Following The Hollywood Reporter's story, the Han Solo spin-off was confirmed on The movie will explain "how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley," says the press release. The film will hit theaters in May 2018. Scott Meslow

ride on
4:01 p.m. ET

Bike-sharing programs are all the rage in major U.S. cities, but none have got it quite right the way Chicago has. In an announcement Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the city's bike-sharing program, Divvy, will become available to low-income residents for $70 off — that is, it will cost only $5 total for a year of use. The city will even throw in a free helmet for the first 250 applicants.

The hope is that the usual bike-share riders — who tend to be wealthy, college-educated, white men — won't be the only ones taking advantage of eco-friendly transportation. But the new discounted price isn't all that makes Divvy's bikes more accessible. Unlike New York's program, Citi Bike, Divvy's stations aren't confined mainly to the wealthier neighborhoods. Divvy is the largest bike-sharing program in the States, with its service area stretching as far north as Chicago's Touhy Avenue, as far south as 75th Street, and as far west as Pulaski Road. Jeva Lange

This just in
3:44 p.m. ET
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America's heroin epidemic has reached new highs. Heroin use in America has increased by more than 150 percent since 2007, and the drug now has at least half a million users, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. The gender gap and the race gap in heroin use are also narrowing: Women and white Americans experienced the biggest increases in users, and young adults aged 18-25 were also particularly vulnerable — heroin use in that age group has more than doubled.

Heroin overdose deaths are also on the rise. In 2013, more than 8,200 people died from heroin in the U.S; In 2001, that count was only 1,800. CDC researchers suspect the increase in heroin overdose deaths is linked to the fact that many people using heroin are also using other substances, such as cocaine and painkillers.

More broadly, heroin's resurgence is connected to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse, particularly opioid painkiller use, Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, told NPR. People addicted to prescription opiates are essentially "primed" for a heroin addiction and are 40 times more likely to become dependent on heroin, and since heroin is far cheaper than prescription painkillers, many users unfortunately end up making the switch. Becca Stanek

Who loves orange soda?
3:37 p.m. ET
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Some former child stars morph into big-name adult comedians. Think Kenan Thompson, a fixture on Saturday Night Live since 2003. Alas, Thompson's counterpart on their eponymous mid-'90s Nickelodeon show Kenan & Kel has had a more scattered grown-up career (think bit parts on shows such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Veggie Tales, and Loiter Squad).

That all will change for Kel Mitchell this September, as Entertainment Weekly reports the actor will appear on Game Shakers, a new show on the network that started Mitchell's career, Nickelodeon. To explain Mitchell's part on the show would rob you of this gem of a description, so here's the actor dishing on his upcoming role:

I get to play a hip-hop mogul who is the comedic version of artists like Kanye, Diddy, Eminem and 50 Cent. Double G is a rapper/singer/dancer/entrepreneur/investor, which gives us great story lines on the show. I love playing such a wild character, because you will see some great physical comedy, but he also has heart; he is a single dad that loves his son, Triple G, played by the very talented Benjamin 'Lil P-Nut' Flores, Jr. There are so many layers to this character that it is one of those dream-come-true roles. [EW]

EW reports that the show will follow seventh-graders Babe (Cree Cicchino) and Kenzie (Madisyn Shipman) as they launch and then navigate the subsequent success of a mobile music app called Sky Whale. Mitchell's character begins the series at odds with the youngsters, before eventually teaming up with them. This may not sound like the greatest gig in the world for a grown actor, but then again Mitchell is a guy who once got 27 seconds into a Nick show during which he does nothing but wax poetic about orange soda.

The world is Kel's good burger. Sarah Eberspacher

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