February 22, 2015

Curious about this year's Best Animated Short winner? Fortunately, you won't need to look hard to find Disney's Feast:

Feast, which originally screened before Big Hero 6, follows an adorable dog with a particularly robust appetite. Scott Meslow

4:27 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

New polls of the swing states conducted by Quinnipiac University show Hillary Clinton claiming leads in Virginia and North Carolina, but neck-and-neck with Donald Trump in Georgia and Iowa. Perhaps most importantly, however, the Quinnipiac results released Thursday are improvements across the board for Clinton from the previous Quinnipiac poll results released Sept. 22.

In the four-way matchup including Gary Johnson and Jill Stein in Virginia, Clinton led by 12 points, 50 percent to 38 percent. The last time Quinnipiac polled Virginia, Clinton's lead was much slimmer, at 45 percent to 39 percent. In North Carolina, Clinton's winning margin inched up, from 3 points on Oct. 3 to 4 points in Thursday's results, with the Democrat leading 47 percent to 43 percent.

In Georgia, the two candidates are locked in a statistical tie, with the GOP nominee edging Clinton with 44 percent support to her 43 percent. This still marked a big leap for Clinton, who trailed Trump by 7 points in the Peach State at the end of September, 47 percent to 40 percent. In Iowa, both Clinton and Trump snagged 44 percent — another big gain for Clinton, who trailed Trump there in September with 37 percent support to his 44 percent.

"Time is running out and Donald Trump has lost his leads and now is tied with Hillary Clinton in Iowa and Georgia. North Carolina appears to be moving in her direction also," said Quinnipiac University Poll assistant director Peter Brown. "It's clear that Donald Trump has not worn well on the voters of these four key states," Brown added.

The polls were conducted by phone from Oct. 20-26. In Virginia, 749 likely voters were polled and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. In North Carolina, 702 likely voters were polled and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. In Georgia, 707 likely voters were polled and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. In Iowa, 791 likely voters were polled and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Becca Stanek

4:12 p.m. ET

North Dakota Oil Pipeline protesters are being removed from their camp in Morton County by police in riot gear driving military-style vehicles. The protesters are accused of trespassing by the county's sheriff's department: "We cannot have protesters blocking county roads, blocking state highways, or trespassing on private property," Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said.

The protesters, many of whom are Native Americans from the Lakota and Dakota reservations, maintain that the land they are on was given to the Great Sioux Nation in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, BuzzFeed News reports. The government later reclaimed the land.

Hundreds of protesters had originally flocked to the camp to protest against the oil pipeline's construction, near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Critics say the pipeline could spill and contaminate the tribe's supplies; it would also cross sacred Native American lands and burial grounds. Jeva Lange

4:06 p.m. ET

Speaking on Thursday in front of a crowd of 11,000 people in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, first lady Michelle Obama made a shocking declaration: She considers Hillary Clinton a "friend."

"People wonder," the first lady acknowledged, whether she and the Democratic nominee she's been stumping so passionately for are actually close. But Obama put that rumbling to rest, detailing how close the Obama and Clinton families are before eventually calling the Democratic nominee "my girl."

The North Carolina appearance was the first joint event for Clinton and Obama, and it was Clinton's second-largest crowd of the campaign. And while Obama made an impassioned plea for early voting, telling the thousands assembled that claims of a "rigged" election — like the ones Clinton's opponent Donald Trump has been making — are merely efforts to suppress voter turnout, the shared stage was mostly an opportunity for the two women to gush over each other:

It seems as though if Clinton has her way and throws that post-election national dance party, Obama is sure to be on the guest list. Kimberly Alters

2:49 p.m. ET

Conservative commentator and writer S.E. Cupp really, really wanted to root for the Republican nominee. But after "witnessing some real progress in our outreach to women ... I did not expect an egomaniacal arsonist to come along and set all that ablaze," she writes in a new op-ed for The New York Times, "The Lonely Life of a Republican Woman."

Cupp decries the fact that Donald Trump has taken her party "back to the Dark Ages — or at least the 1950s," claiming that it is increasingly difficult for women Republicans to justify remaining with the right, even when it might be in their best interest in the long run:

Democrats' lofty language about empowering women sounds great (and way better than Mr. Trump's), but President Obama's economy has done just the opposite. By many metrics, women (and men) are worse off. The poverty rate is higher than it was in 2007. Real median household income is down. More Americans are dependent on the government for assistance. Homeownership is down. Student debt has skyrocketed, along with the national debt. We now know that Obamacare is becoming unaffordable.

None of this is empowering, not for working women, mothers, small-business owners or students. Whether you're a veteran or a millennial, it's hard to argue that big government has solved your problems efficiently, if at all.

But before we can make that case to women, Republicans will have to earn the right to be heard at all. That will require emptying the party of Mr. Trump's enablers. Who knows how long that will take, but in the meantime, women would frankly have to have been lobotomized to believe anything the Republican Party tells them. [The New York Times]

Read Cupp's tough-love takedown at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

2:38 p.m. ET
Welgos/Getty Images

Paleontologists have uncovered countless dinosaur bones, but what they have yet to find is a dinosaur brain — that is, until now. Researchers recently realized what they thought was a run-of-the-mill skull fossil actually may contain a chunk of fossilized dinosaur brain tissue. Scientists think the brain tissue came from a "large leaf-eating dinosaur, possibly from a species similar to the iguanodon," which roamed the Earth some 130 million years ago, Mashable reports.

The brain tissue, which looks like a nondescript brown rock at first glance, was found by an amateur fossil hunter in Sussex in 2004. Scientists believe the dinosaur's head fell into a swamp when it died, which prevented the brain tissue from decaying like soft tissue usually does. Instead, The Independent explained, the brain was essentially "pickled by the highly acidic and low-oxygen water."

Still, some scientists aren't convinced this is the real deal. Lawrence Witmer, a paleontologist from Ohio University, stressed that brain tissue is "one of the first things that decomposes after an animal dies." He told NPR he thinks what researchers have discovered is "part of the protective outer covering of the brain."

However, researchers insist they've spotted what appear to be blood vessels, which, Vox noted, is "the tell-tale sign this was indeed part of a brain." "They're incontrovertible, they can't be anything else," said Alexander Liu, a co-author of the research. "They have the right diameters, they branch in the right way, they're hollow, and they are in the right places." Becca Stanek

2:28 p.m. ET

Apple on Thursday revealed its thinnest and lightest MacBook Pros ever, previewing two versions of the laptop computer at its October 2016 keynote. The smaller version will feature a 13-inch screen and weigh 3 pounds, while the larger version will measure 15 inches and weigh 4 pounds.

The machines will come with an updated keyboard with a "touch bar," which will feature a Retina display that responds to taps and adapts to whatever software is being used; if Safari is running, for example, the bar will display browser bookmarks and search and back buttons. Apple's voice control app, Siri, will also have a dedicated key. The computers ship with four Thunderbolt 3 ports that support USB-C, and any of the ports can double as a charging port.

"The Mac is more than a product to us," CEO Tim Cook said. "It's a testament to everything we do and everything that created Apple." The laptops start at $1,499 for a 13-inch and from $2,399 for a 15-inch. Pre-orders start today, with shipping beginning in two to three weeks. The Verge has all the specs and details on their live blog, which you can visit here. Jeva Lange

12:38 p.m. ET

Twitter announced Thursday that it will be discontinuing the mobile app for Vine, its short-form video-sharing service that has existed since 2013. The announcement follows reports earlier Thursday that Twitter would be reducing its global workforce by 9 percent, even as the troubled company's third-quarter earnings exceeded analysts' expectations.

"Nothing is happening to the apps, website, or your Vines today," the company said in a statement posted to Medium. "We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You'll be able to access and download your Vines. We'll be keeping the website online because we think it's important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website." Vine has over 200 million monthly users and 1.5 billion "loops." Jeva Lange

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