2016 Watch
August 26, 2014

Hillary Clinton won't skate to the Democratic presidential nomination without a challenge from the left, and it's sounding increasingly like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I) may be the person to do it.

Sanders is scheduled to visit two early primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, next month. And though the trips are for speaking engagements, Sanders says he'll also use them to dip a toe in the 2016 waters. "That's part of my trying to ascertain the kind of support that exists for a presidential run," he told The Hill.

Sanders has said before that he is prepared to join the race if no other liberal challenger emerges, if only to pull Clinton leftward. With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) giving every indication she won't run, and no other serious progressive contender making waves just yet, that task may fall to Sanders. Jon Terbush

the environment
4:01 a.m. ET

A ship carrying almost 200 tons of ammonium nitrate sank off the coast of Puntarenas, Costa Rica, on Saturday, causing the government to set up a 60-mile long safety zone.

After the incident, people were told not to go swimming or fishing, but eventually a government spokesman said only small amounts of the chemical, used in the manufacturing of fertilizers and explosives, had been found in the water. Costa Rica's Emergency Commission said it was safe to bath because the ammonium nitrate dissolved and was taken to sea on the tide, the BBC reports, but no one should fish for the next three days. Officials said they would launch an investigation into the sinking and chemical spill. Catherine Garcia

nepal earthquake
3:40 a.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

Nepal is asking foreign rescuers who came to the country to assist with disaster relief to either help in rural areas or go back home.

The announcement was made after a meeting of Nepal's emergency relief committee was held late Sunday, The Associated Press reports. Information Minister Minendra Rijal said that there is no need for international rescuers in Kathmandu and surrounding urban areas, as any work that still needs to be completed can be done by local workers. More than 4,050 rescue workers from 34 countries came to Nepal after the devastating earthquake that killed at least 7,276 people and injured 14,267 hit on April 25. Catherine Garcia

3:16 a.m. ET

The United States has been increasing its battery of standardized tests since the 1990s, and the number has only increased since President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind in 2001. Now, kids take 10 to 20 standardized tests a year, depending on grade, for a total average of 113 by the time they graduate, said John Oliver on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. This isn't sitting well with many children, some of whom don't test well, others who get so nervous they throw up.

"Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of kids will vomit," Oliver said. "Tests are supposed to be assessments of skills, not a rap battle on 8 Mile Road." President Obama campaigned against standardized testing, but only added his own — and both he and Bush (and countless governors) use the same appealing argument: Some schools are failing, and we need accountability. "Unfortunately," Oliver said, "accountability is one of those concepts that everybody's in favor of but nobody knows how to make work — like synergy or maxi-dresses."

This is about where standardized testing proponents should be getting nervous. "Look, at this point, you have to ask yourself if standardized tests are bad for teachers and bad for kids, who exactly are they good for?" Oliver asked. And if you're not familiar with Pearson, the testing giant, prepare to be displeased. Oliver closed his case on accountability, noting that U.S. scores have dropped versus their global peers in the era of test-mania. "As far as I can see, this is a system that has enriched multiple companies, and that pays and fires teachers with a cattle-birthing formula, confuses children with talking pineapples, and has the same kinds of rules regarding transparency that Bad Pitt had for Fight Club." For some of those references, you have to watch below. That's not a bad thins: Along with some vaguely NSFW language and imagery, there's a dancing monkey and great recurring bit about a French grade-schooler. —Peter Weber

hollywood 411
2:58 a.m. ET

Avengers: Age of Ultron brought in $187.7 million over the weekend, the second-biggest domestic opening in history.

The movie has earned an estimated $627 million worldwide over the last 12 days, Variety reports, and is on track to pass $1 billion after it opens in China on May 12. Despite competition from the Kentucky Derby, NBA playoffs, and the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight, moviegoers flocked to the film — about 59 percent of the audience was male, 41 percent were over the age of 25, 12 percent were teenagers, and 22 percent were families. Coming in a distant second place this weekend was Age of Adaline with $6.3 million. Catherine Garcia

giving homes to the homeless
2:10 a.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

Over the last 10 years, the number of chronically homeless people in Utah has dropped dramatically — down from 1,932 in 2005 to just 178 in 2015. The decline started once the state decided to try something new: Giving homes to the homeless.

"We call it housing first, employment second," Lloyd Pendleton, director of Utah's Homeless Task Force, told NBC News. "It's a philosophical shift in how we go about it. You put them in housing first ... and then help them begin to deal with the issues that caused them to be homeless." The chronically homeless — defined as a person who lived on the streets for more than a year, or four times in three years, with a debilitating condition — make up 10 percent of the state's homeless population, but use more than 50 percent of its resources.

On average, the state was spending $19,208 every year for one person, until Pendleton discovered it cost only about $7,800 to set a person up in a home with a case worker. "It's more humane, and it's cheaper," he said. "I call them 'homeless citizens.' They're part of our citizenry. They're not them and us. It's 'we.'" Participants in the program say as soon as they received the keys to their house, their lives turned around and they were able to hold down jobs. "It was a blessing," veteran Don Williams, who had slept under a bush for 10 years, told NBC News. "A real blessing." Catherine Garcia

Boko Haram
1:50 a.m. ET

Last week, Nigeria's army rescued about 700 women and children abducted by the Islamist militia Boko Haram, and the first contingent of 275 arrived late Saturday at a government refugee camp near Yola, the capital of northeastern Adamawa state. The women and kids are receiving medical care, and on Sunday they told reporters sad and harrowing stories about their capture, captivity, and rescue.

Many of the women said that when Boko Haram abducted them, the militants first killed their husbands and older male offspring in front of them. Some of the women were forced to marry Boko Haram fighters, and one women told Reuters that they were fed only dried ground corn in the afternoons, leading to widespread malnutrition and death. Also, "they didn't allow us to move an inch," explained Asabe Umaru. "If you needed the toilet, they followed you. We were kept in one place. We were under bondage."

The assaults didn't end when the Nigerian forces drew near. "Boko Haram came and told us they were moving out and that we should run away with them. But we said no," Lami Musa, 27, told The Associated Press. "Then they started stoning us. I held my baby to my stomach and doubled over to protect her."

Musa and other survivors of the stoning said they didn't know how many women died, but Musa said her 5-day-old baby — born the night before the rescue — saved her from forced marriage. "They took me so I can marry one of their commanders," she said, and they told her than once she delivered, "within a week we will marry you to our commander." Some of the women, hiding, were accidently crushed by Nigerian government tanks coming to rescue them, and at least three others died when they stepped on a land mine en route to the refugee camp.

Nigeria and neighboring countries have been capturing ground from Boko Haram since February, pushing them into the Sambisa Forest, where the captured women and children were all found. Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to leave his successor a country "free of terrorist strongholds" when he leaves office later this month. Reuters has a slideshow of the women reaching camp below. —Peter Weber

what's in a name
1:11 a.m. ET
WPA Pool/Getty Images

We know that she's a girl and fourth in line for the British throne, but there's still one lingering question about the new Princess of Cambridge: What's her name?

Thousands of people have made their bets in the UK, with Alice and Charlotte the frontrunners, followed by Olivia, The Guardian reports. It may still be awhile before the world finds out if her royal parents went with a historically-significant name like Alexandra or threw everyone for a loop with a Toddlers & Tiaras-inspired moniker like Makynli — they waited until her big brother met Queen Elizabeth two days after his birth to announce his full name of George Alexander Louis, but the Queen isn't expected to see the princess until the family goes to their country estate.

If the baby is named Charlotte, it could be an homage to her grandfather Charles, or George III's wife, Queen Charlotte, born in 1744. Alice was the name of Queen Victoria's second daughter, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh's mother, and there's also the possibility they will somehow incorporate a name that honors William’s late mother or her relatives. My fake British money is on Victoria Diana Elizabeth. Catherine Garcia

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