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January 28, 2016

Barbie's body proportions just got a little more realistic. On Thursday, toymaker Mattel introduced three new body shapes for its iconic doll after facing backlash and dropping sales for inaccurately reflecting women's bodies. Now, alongside the original Barbie, there's a curvy Barbie, a tall Barbie, and a petite Barbie. Time reports in its latest cover story:

...Kim Culmone, head of design, posed a challenge to her team: If you could design Barbie today, how would you make her a reflection of the times? Out of that came changing Barbie's face to have less makeup and look younger, giving her articulated ankles so she could wear flats as well as heels, giving her new skin tones to add diversity, and then of course changing the body. While curvy Barbie's hips, thighs and calves are visibly larger than before, from the waist up she is less Jessica Rabbit than she is pear-shaped. Mattel refuses to discuss the actual proportions of the new dolls or how it came to decide on them. [Time]

The dolls will initially sell exclusively online, Time reports, until Mattel negotiates the extra shelf space needed for the new variety of body shapes, skin tones, hair types. Mattel also plans on setting up a separate helpline to deal with complaints related to the new dolls — such as when kids try to put original Barbie's clothes on curvy Barbie and get frustrated when "not everything will Velcro shut," Time reports.

"Yes, some people will say we are late to the game,” Evelyn Mazzocco, head of the Barbie brand, told Time. "But changes at a huge corporation take time."

Read the full story over at Time. Becca Stanek

12:28 p.m. ET

Investigators have found "no evidence" that the London attacker had ties to the Islamic State or al Qaeda, The Associated Press reported Monday. The attacker, a 52-year-old English native born Adrian Russell Ajao but known as Khalid Masood, was fatally shot by police at the scene of the crime after killing four people in a SUV and knife attack last week.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told AP that Masood had "an interest in jihad," but that he apparently did not discuss the attack with international terrorist groups. Masood's attack "appear[ed] to be based on low sophistication, low tech, low cost techniques copied from other attacks," Basu added.

"At this stage we have no specific information about further threats to the public," Britain's Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Mark Rowley said late last week. Jeva Lange

12:21 p.m. ET

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) revealed Monday on MSNBC's Morning Joe that he's bracing for a political showdown over President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch because he doesn't think Gorsuch will get the requisite 60 votes from the Senate to be confirmed. If Gorsuch does not get the necessary 60-vote margin because of Democrats' refusal to support him, Coons noted Republicans will "almost certainly" resort to eliminating the Supreme Court nominee filibuster — a rule introduced by Democrats.

While Coons said he understands Democrats' lingering frustrations over Republicans' refusal to grant a hearing to former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, he also indicated he is irked by his party's approach and by partisanship in general. "And I think this is tragic," Coons said. "And in talking to friends on both sides of the aisle, we've got a lot of senators concerned about where we're headed. There's Republicans still very mad at us over the 2013 change to the filibuster rule, we're mad at them about shutting down the government, they're mad at us about Gorsuch, and we are not headed in a good direction. I'm very concerned about where we're headed."

Watch the segment below. Coons' comments about the Gorsuch start at the 2:13 mark. Becca Stanek

11:18 a.m. ET

Paleontologists have discovered the world's largest dinosaur footprint in a region of Australia's Dampier Peninsula coastline dubbed "Australia's Jurassic Park." The print measures nearly 5 feet, 9 inches in length. Previously, the biggest dinosaur footprint ever discovered was one found last July in Bolivia that measured nearly 3 feet, 9 inches long.

The footprint found in Australia is believed to have been left by a type of sauropod dinosaur, "long-necked, large plant-eaters" that Gizmodo noted "have been found on every continent except Antarctica." "The giant footprints are no doubt spectacular," Steve Salisbury, the lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Queensland, told CNN. "There's nothing that comes close."

The record-setting footprint wasn't the only fascinating find made by Salisbury and his team: They also discovered the region was once home to a remarkably diverse dinosaur population. "The tracks provide a snapshot, a census if you will, of an extremely diverse dinosaur fauna," Salisbury told Gizmodo. "Twenty-one different types of dinosaurs all living together at the same time in the same area. We have never seen this level of diversity before, anywhere in the world. It's the Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti! And it's written in stone." Becca Stanek

11:06 a.m. ET

Jeffrey Lovitky is suing President Trump. It's a rather daunting task: Lovitky works at a one-man law firm that NPR describes as "a single room just large enough for a desk, a credenza, three bookcases, and two chairs." In fact, Lovitky wishes he wasn't suing Trump at all.

"It is intimidating. I am intimidated," Lovitky told NPR. "I mean, I would rather not be doing this."

But Lovitky has found something wrong with President Trump's financial disclosure form from last May. The form blends Trump's personal liabilities with his corporate liabilities, and as a result, it is impossible to distinguish the personal alone. Ultimately, "the report withholds from citizens something the law says they should have: an accounting of the president's personal liabilities," NPR writes. If Lovitky's case successfully survives the expected return-fire — a motion to dismiss the case for lack of standing — he could "end up setting a precedent that ordinary Americans can sue to seek enforcement of federal ethics laws."

"You go back to the basic premise of what is each individual's civic responsibility?" Lovitky explained. "What do you owe?

Lovitky's federal lawsuit is one of 108 that name Trump as a defendant since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20. Listen to Lovitky's story below. Jeva Lange

10:40 a.m. ET
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Honolulu-born former President Barack Obama is returning to his tropical roots to work on his memoir, The Washington Post reports. On the heels of post-presidency vacations through Palm Springs, the Caribbean, and Hawaii, Obama is now staying on the South Pacific island of Tetiaroa, where he reportedly plans to write his book.

The French Polynesian atoll once belonged to Marlon Brando and is a favorite vacation spot of celebrities. Obama reportedly arrived at the Tetiaroa resort alone and will stay for at least a month. It is unclear if the rest of his family will be joining him; daughters Malia and Sasha are busy with an internship and high school, respectively.

Former first lady Michelle Obama is also working on a memoir. Her joint deal with her husband is reportedly worth at least $60 million. Jeva Lange

10:28 a.m. ET
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The Associated Press tallied up the potential costs of North Carolina's bathroom bill, and the total isn't pretty. Because of the legislation passed last year rolling back LGBTQ protections and requiring transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their biological sex, The Associated Press estimated North Carolina will "suffer more than $3.76 billion in lost business" by the end of 2028.

One of the biggest blows is the canceled construction of the PayPal facility, which The Associated Press reported would have "added an estimated $2.6 billion to the state's economy." Other costs include called-off concerts, the NCAA's refusal to host tournaments in North Carolina, and the NAACP's national economic boycott — to name just a few.

Shortly after the bill was signed into law last year, then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R) assured North Carolinians the law would not impact the state's status as "one of the top states to do business in the country." Lt. Gov Dan Forest has maintained the bill's effect is "minimal to the state" and warned people not to be "fooled by the media" into thinking the issue is "about the economy."

But The Associated Press found North Carolina's economy "could be growing faster if not for the projects that have already [been] canceled," noting its cost estimate is "likely an underestimation." In total, North Carolina has lost out on "more than 2,900 direct jobs that went elsewhere," AP reported.

Because the estimate is based on projects and events the state has already lost out on, North Carolina won't be getting that money back even if the law gets repealed. Read the full story over at The Associated Press. Becca Stanek

9:53 a.m. ET
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

While many moderate Republicans are now eyeing opportunities to cooperate with Democrats on health care, still others are doubling-down on their repeal message. For House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), whose ultra-conservative faction helped take down the GOP health-care bill, the do-or-die message has earned him positive feedback in his home state, Politico reports. As one local flier advertising a Meadows rally raves: "This is the face of leadership! Thank Mark and all those who gave us an opportunity to get health care right."

"I respect [Meadows] for staying true to his principles," said one of Meadows' constituents, Jerry Moore of Highlands, North Carolina. "Trump promised repeal. That was no repeal."

"What's happening now is no longer the Trump plan. It is the Obama plan," agreed the local GOP chairman, Jackson County's Ralph Slaughter.

The Affordable Care Act covered thousands of people in North Carolina in 2016, but only one insurer in the state participates in the ObamaCare exchanges. Still, as Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor told Politico: "People like the Affordable Care Act. They don't like ObamaCare. And they just don't realize [they're the same]."

For his part, Meadows said Sunday: "This is not the end of the [health-care] debate. It's like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime." Jeva Lange

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