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March 1, 2016
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Thirteen states will cast their votes today as part of the Super Tuesday election rush, and the GOP is all but guaranteed a triumphant Donald Trump by the end of the night. Trump has won three of the previous four contests and is heavily favored in nearly every state that is voting Tuesday, while the rest of the GOP field is left trading barbs about who should drop out and defending their continued presence in the race.

Marco Rubio, who perhaps suffers the dual blow of being the candidate of high hopes and zero primary wins, has taken a unique approach to this: setting expectations really, really low. Politico reports Rubio's top campaign adviser, Terry Sullivan, spoke with top donors ahead of the elections Tuesday to forecast a thoroughly dismal showing for his candidate — while saying that even the most atrocious of results could still make it impossible for Donald Trump to win enough delegates to earn the party nomination before the GOP convention this summer. If Rubio secures even 100 delegates from Super Tuesday states (of the nearly 600 up for grabs), Sullivan reportedly said, that would still cause trouble for Trump — and trouble for Trump is, of course, a victory.

So, do any of the remaining GOP candidates really stand a chance of beating Donald Trump? You can read The Week's analysis of how Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich could possibly win here — but, well, there was one former candidate who tried to downplay his expectations, and we all know how that ended up. Kimberly Alters

8:52 p.m. ET

An investigation is now underway into how a German shepherd was treated on the set of the new movie A Dog's Purpose.

TMZ posted a video it says was filmed during the movie's production, showing a dog that appeared to be too frightened forced into churning water by a trainer, The Associated Press reports. American Humane, an organization that ensures animal safety on movie and television sets, said Wednesday it has hired an independent investigator to look into the incident, and has suspended the safety representative that worked on A Dog's Purpose.

Actor Josh Gad, who provides the dog's voice in the movie, released a statement on social media, saying he has asked Universal Pictures to explain the "disturbing images." The movie is "one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen," he said, but he is also "shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will." Catherine Garcia

8:03 p.m. ET

This is a much better gift than china — for their 20th anniversary, Scott Chafian of Suffolk, Virginia, will give his wife, Cindy, a kidney.

Cindy has polycystic kidney disease, which can cause the kidneys to shut down, and has been on dialysis for nearly two years. She's undergone several surgeries, and as Scott watched his wife's health get progressively worse, he knew he had to help her. With her blessing, Scott explored how to go about donating his kidney. In October, they found out he was a match, and the surgery was set up before Christmas.

On January 24, the day before their anniversary, Scott and Cindy, who have five children, will undergo their surgeries. "Instead of celebrating by having a big party, we're going to celebrate by being in different hospital rooms," Cindy told NBC Los Angeles. "He is literally giving me the gift of life." Scott thinks he's the lucky one. "She's been so sick for several years now," he said. "She'll say I'm giving her life back, but I'm getting my wife back." Catherine Garcia

7:10 p.m. ET
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On Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Navient Corp., the country's largest servicer of student loans, claiming the company violated several acts and went out of its way to cheat borrowers.

"For years, Navient failed consumers who counted on the company to help give them a fair chance to pay back their students loans," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. "At every stage of repayment, Navient chose to shortcut and deceive consumers to save on operating costs. Too many borrowers paid more for their loans because Navient illegally cheated them and today's action seeks to hold them accountable." Navient, formerly part of Sallie Mae, services private and federal loans worth more than $300 billion for more than 12 million borrowers.

The CFPB alleges that Navient misapplied or misallocated borrowers' payments, and incentivized customer service representatives to push borrowers into forbearance as opposed to income-based repayment plans, which racked up additional interest charges of up to $4 billion from January 2010 to March 2015. The agency also claims Navient violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and the Dodd-Frank reform act, and allegedly told credit reporting agencies disabled Americans defaulted on their loans, when really they were discharged under a special program, the Los Angeles Times reports. Navient called the allegations "unfounded." Catherine Garcia

5:31 p.m. ET
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) brought a bottle of Trump water to Environmental Protection Agency administrator nominee Scott Pruitt's Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, apparently to prove a point about the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan. "Trump water, natural spring water," Markey said. "On the label it says, 'Pure, fresh, and free from contaminants. This is water the way it was meant to be.'" While Trump hotel guests have the "luxury" of drinking this water instead of tap water, Markey said, low-income Americans don't have that option.

The big wind-up was so Markey could ask Pruitt if he would commit to making environmental justice for low-income communities a top priority if confirmed. Pruitt heartily agreed. You can watch the moment in its entirety at C-SPAN. Becca Stanek

4:35 p.m. ET
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Millennials aren't the only ones drowning in student debt: A staggering amount of older Americans are also underwater. The number of Americans older than 60 with student loan debt quadrupled from 700,000 in 2005 to 2.8 million in 2015, making the over-60 set the fastest-growing age group with student debt, Quartz reports. The total debt for these older borrowers is some $66.7 billion, and more than two-thirds of it is owed for children or grandchildren. While older debtors owe less than the typical under-50 crowd — an average of $23,000 compared to $37,172, respectively — they're also twice as likely to default.

Quartz notes the particular dangers of being 60 or older and still carrying that much debt: The government can sometimes withhold Social Security checks to elderly borrowers who default, and Americans over 60 with unpaid loans typically have less saved for retirement than those without debt. The Week Staff

3:50 p.m. ET
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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) comically illustrated the overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency during an otherwise turbulent Senate hearing for President-elect Donald Trump's EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt, on Wednesday. "This is a chart of the state of Iowa," Ernst began, showing a nearly entirely red map of her state. "As you can see, with the expanded definition as provided by the EPA, 97 percent of the state of Iowa is now considered Waters of the U.S. So if you are in an area like mine, in southwest Iowa here, I live in a Water of the U.S."

It wasn't the only thing Ernst took issue with. In fact, she has some serious concerns about ... well, puddles.

"The Obama EPA told the public that they will not regulate puddles," Ernst went on. "They will not regulate puddles. However, we learned that the Corps [of Engineers] is already regulating puddles by claiming that a puddle in a gravel parking lot is a 'degraded wetland.' A degraded wetland."

But wait, there's more: "The Obama EPA also told farmers not to worry about being regulated because ordinary farming activities have a statutory exemption. We learned that the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Justice have decided that plowing is not an ordinary farming activity. Explain that to my dear deceased grandfather and my father," Ernst said.

And that's not even to mention "small mountain ranges," which are certainly small and probably not mountains. Watch the entire clip at C-SPAN here. Jeva Lange

3:18 p.m. ET
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China is easing the government's 2,000-year-old monopoly on table salt by letting producers set prices and sell directly to the market. The monopoly has supported Chinese rulers from the Han dynasty to the Communist Party, even helping to pay for the construction of the Great Wall, The Financial Times reports.

Beginning this year, salt producers will have the freedom to set their prices based on normal market factors like cost, quality, supply, and demand — though the country's top economic planning agency still encourages state officials to keep those prices somewhat stable by tapping a "strategic reserve." The salt producers will also be able to sell without going through government-owned distribution companies, which used to absorb most of the industry's profits.

Nonetheless, most Chinese salt producers still work for the Chinese government, which has also said it will not grant any new licenses into the market until the end of 2018. The Week Staff

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