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September 11, 2015
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Everybody is too busy watching puppy videos to care about macroeconomics anymore! So despairs a paper published for a Brookings Institution conference with the engrossing title, "Inflation targeting does not anchor inflation expectations: Evidence from firms in New Zealand."

The paper studies many probably very interesting topics like "inflation expectations in New Zealand," but it only caught our attention once it broke out this bizarre factoid: The U.S. public has basically no knowledge of monetary policy and they spend all their time Googling "puppies." Proof:

Americans have great difficulty in identifying the chair of the Federal Reserve System and are generally unable to identify recent inflation dynamics with any degree of precision. When asked about inflation over 10 years, few are willing to confidently predict low levels of inflation, a finding that speaks either to low credibility of the Federal Reserve or, more likely, to the fact that most people don't know what reasonable ranges of inflation rates are. Nor do they seem to show much interest in learning about monetary policy. Twitter and Facebook followers of the entire Federal Reserve System are outnumbered by followers of the FBI and the CIA, and barely outnumber the followers of Ron Paul or Rand Paul. Paul Krugman single-handedly has almost twice as many Twitter followers as the entire Fed system. Google searches confirm this paucity of interest: online searches for macroeconomic variables like GDP, unemployment rate, and inflation are consistently topped altogether by online searches for puppies. [Bookings, via Aurelija Augulyte]

In all fairness to the American public, this video is definitely more satisfying than the Federal Reserve's Twitter account. Jeva Lange

4:46 p.m. ET

America's greatness has been called into question.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) sought to slam President Trump's "make America great again" slogan while speaking at an event Wednesday, reports CBS News — but perhaps he should've thought through his line a bit more carefully. The governor ended up eliciting gasps when he said America "was never that great."

Cuomo tried to make a point about working toward equality for women and helping girls reach their full potential, but the moment was overshadowed by his introduction to the sentiment. "We are not going to make America great again," he said. "It was never that great."

Gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro, a Republican who is hoping to unseat Cuomo in the fall, immediately fired off a scathing response, saying "America, with its imperfections, has always been great." Molinaro said Cuomo "should be ashamed of himself" and owes the nation an apology.

Cuomo's office quickly offered a clarification, saying the governor merely disagrees with the president, but "believes America is great." The U.S. simply "has not yet reached its maximum potential," the statement read. Summer Meza

4:21 p.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Most people agree that climate change is a huge problem for the modern world. And for many, stopping the warming of the Earth — let alone reversing the damage that has already been done — seems impossible.

But maybe not for much longer.

A group of scientists from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, have discovered a way to use a naturally-occurring mineral to tackle one of the biggest culprits behind climate change: carbon dioxide. The buildup of it and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are what causes the Earth's temperature to rise. But the formation of magnesite, a mineral comprised of magnesium, oxygen, and carbon, has the power to take that harmful carbon dioxide back out of our atmosphere, Popular Mechanics reported.

On its own, magnesite forms incredibly slowly in nature — it can take up to hundreds or even thousands of years, Newsweek explained. But this team of researchers has created a method to form the mineral in just 72 days. The process is sustainable and "extremely energy efficient," said Ian Power, the project leader, in a statement at the Goldschmidt Conference, an international conference on the field of geochemistry.

Of course, forming magnesite in a lab is still a far cry from actually deploying it to fight climate change, Inverse reported. But reducing atmospheric carbon is seen as the single most powerful thing we can do to protect the Earth from worsening climate change — and this promising research may develop into a real strategy.

Read more about magnesite and the way it works at Popular Mechanics. Shivani Ishwar

3:35 p.m. ET
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President Trump has revoked security clearance for John Brennan, the former director of the CIA. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision Wednesday, reading a statement from Trump at the press briefing that claimed Brennan had displayed "erratic conduct," including "wild outbursts on the internet and television."

Brennan has frequently criticized Trump, taking to Twitter to call the president "treasonous" and "imbecilic." Sanders said the White House is additionally reviewing the clearances of other officials, such as former FBI agent Peter Strzok; former national security officials Susan Rice, James Clapper, and Michael Hayden; and current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Many of the officials listed have also been critical of Trump, reporters pointed out, but Sanders denied that revoking the security clearances was a form of retaliation against those who have voiced their criticism.

Former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe also made the list, though they haven't had security clearance for months. Instead, Sanders said Trump was reviewing whether he wanted to prevent them from ever re-obtaining clearance. Last month, when Sanders first announced that Trump was considering rescinding clearances, Clapper called the threat "petty" and warned it could set a "terrible precedent."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), at the time, said he believed Trump was just "trolling people, honestly." Clearly, Trump was very serious, since the statement about Brennan was dated July 26, coincidentally a day when the White House was not frantically picking up the pieces of a very-public ex-employee scandal. Summer Meza

2:44 p.m. ET
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A California congressional candidate says his campaign was the victim of ongoing cyberattacks that are now under investigation by the FBI, Rolling Stone reported Wednesday.

Hans Keirstead, who was running to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), fell just short of moving to the general election, losing out by just 125 votes back in June. His campaign manager, Kyle Quinn-Quesada, said some outside entity carried out persistent attempts to hack the campaign website, gain access to Keirstead's email accounts, and take over the campaign's Twitter account.

"It is clear from speaking with campaign professionals around the country that the sustained attacks the Keirstead for Congress campaign faced were not unique but have become the new normal for political campaigns in 2018," Quinn-Quesada told Rolling Stone. Last month, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Russia unsuccessfully targeted her campaign with cyberattacks, and Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida said Russia had "penetrated" some of the state's voting systems. The FBI hasn't told the Keirstead campaign whether it has identified who was perpetrating the attacks.

Rolling Stone notes that 15-term incumbent Rohrabacher is one of the most pro-Russia members of Congress, voting against Russian sanctions and supporting President Trump's effort to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the Keirstead campaign has no evidence that Russia was behind the attacks, and Quinn-Quesada says he does not believe the cyberattacks affected the election results, the investigation fits in with intelligence officials' warnings of pervasive cyber threats to the midterm elections. Read more at Rolling Stone. Summer Meza

1:38 p.m. ET
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Just one day after another round of primary elections, two polls found Democrats enjoying a solid lead over Republicans on the generic ballot.

Per a CNN/SSRS poll released Wednesday, if congressional elections were held today, 52 percent of registered voters would pick the Democratic candidate compared to just 41 percent who would choose the Republican. A second poll, from Quinnipiac, found similar results albeit with a slightly slimmer margin, with 51 percent of respondents opting for the Democrat and 42 percent for the Republican.

Democrats are banking on their generic ballot lead to translate to victory come fall, and they're additionally hoping to benefit from high voter turnout. Back in June, a nationwide poll using a generic ballot found Democrats with an 8-point lead. While the specific margins have varied month-to-month and poll-to-poll, the surveys have consistently found Democrats in the lead. In the CNN poll, the percentage of respondents who say they'd vote Republican hasn't cracked 45 percent since before President Trump took office.

The CNN/SSRS poll was conducted Aug. 9-12, interviewing 1,002 people by phone. The margin of error is 3.9 percentage points. The Quinnipiac poll was conducted Aug. 9-13, surveying 1,175 voters by phone with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points. See more poll results at Quinnipiac University and CNN. Summer Meza

12:17 p.m. ET

Tuesday's round of primaries revealed who would face off in this November's midterm elections — and made a blue wave seem even more imminent.

When it comes to turnout, Democrats outperformed Republicans in all four states that voted Tuesday, NBC News points out. While that doesn't guarantee the party will dominate this fall, it does reflect strong Democratic enthusiasm that's translated into high turnout throughout the 2018 primary season.

The Democratic difference was most obvious in Minnesota, a reliably blue state that saw 261,000 more Democratic voters than Republicans on Tuesday. Yet even with a competitive GOP Senate nomination up for grabs, Wisconsin, which went for President Trump in 2016, saw 80,000 more Democrats than Republicans show up. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin is still likely to win in the general election, per Cook Political Report, but the skewed turnout has implications for the state capitol: Incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker is only slightly favored to prevail this fall, meaning some extra Democratic voters could easily turn his seat blue.

Republicans can still likely count on more voters to turn up this fall for general elections, NBC News says. But there's no denying that things are looking up for Democrats. Just take it from conservative radio host and former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.). Kathryn Krawczyk

11:17 a.m. ET

Rudy Giuliani is flipping the script again. President Trump's attorney appeared on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time and pushed a new narrative about Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.

Cuomo asked why Giuliani was suddenly saying that Trump never had any conversation about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn with Comey. Comey has said that Trump asked him to "let this go," hoping Flynn's investigation could be dropped, but Trump denies it. The president fired Comey three months after the alleged conversation, which Giuliani now insists never happened. The attorney has previously told media outlets that Trump was simply suggesting Flynn get a "break," not pressuring Comey to do anything untoward.

"I've said it from the very beginning," he told Cuomo, who pointed out that he had only previously disputed the subject matter. Why argue hypothetically about a meeting that never happened? "Because I can get him out of it legally, and I can get him out factually," said Giuliani. He then pivoted to an argument that Comey may have committed a felony by not reporting the apparently non-existent meeting, claiming that Trump never spoke to Comey about Flynn, but that if he had, only Comey would be in legal trouble.

"For this to be true, Jim Comey has to be a crazy liar," said Cuomo doubtfully. Giuliani concurred. Watch the moment below, via CNN. Summer Meza

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