November 17, 2017

Owning a dog may lower your risk of death, scientists declare in an incredibly validating study published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports. The benefits are "especially prominent" for people who live alone, wrote Mwenya Mubanga, a Ph.D. candidate at Uppsala University in Sweden and the lead author of the study.

The Swedish team behind the positive findings tracked 3.4 million people over a dozen years. "Adults who live alone and owned a dog were 33 percent less likely to die during the study," ABC News reported, compared to adults living by themselves who did not have a canine companion. The dog owners were also 36 percent less likely to succumb to cardiovascular disease.

The study does not claim that dogs have magical effects on the human heart, however. Instead, it may just come down to the fact that having a dog makes you do healthy things: "Dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk by providing a non-human form of social support and increasing physical activity," the researchers wrote. And while it may be miserable to walk your dog in the pouring rain, the report notes that "dog ownership also supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather."

While the health benefits of dog ownership were most prominent for those who lived alone, the study did find that adults in multi-person households also saw reduced rates of mortality, though those findings were not as statistically significant.

Read the whole study about the pros of pup ownership at Scientific Reports. Kelly O'Meara Morales

12:25 a.m. ET
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Toys R Us is closing all of its stores in the United States, and a defunct retailer is hoping to rise up from its ashes.

KB Toys ceased operations in 2009, but Strategic Marks purchased the brand in 2016 from Bain Capital — the same company that took Toys R Us private in 2006. Strategic Marks President Ellia Kassoff told CNN Money the plan is to open 1,000 pop-ups on Black Friday, and where the pop-ups do well, they'll make permanent KB Toys stores.

Kassoff said he's been in touch with Hasbro, Mattel, and dozens of other smaller toy suppliers, and the "assumption is that there's about half a billion dollars worth of toys that have been produced for Toys R Us with no place to go. That's a big, big void that we're hoping to fill up." Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2018
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Finishing a race everyone had already forgotten about even though it was just last week news, Republican Rick Saccone on Wednesday called Democrat Conor Lamb on Wednesday to admit defeat in the special House election for Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district.

Lamb won by a few hundred votes and claimed victory in the early hours of March 14. There was some rumbling from Republicans that Saccone would call for a recount or take the matter to court, but Lamb tweeted Wednesday evening that Saccone "congratulated me and graciously conceded last Tuesday's election. I congratulate Mr. Saccone for a close, hard-fought race and wish him the best. Ready to be sworn in and get to work for the people of #PA18." Saccone, a member of the Pennsylvania House, said he plans on running again, this time in the newly drawn 14th congressional district. Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2018

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told CNN on Wednesday he's "really sorry" about a data breach that affected an estimated 50 million Facebook users, acknowledging that the company has "a basic responsibility" to protect people's information, "and if we can't do that then we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people."

The company is under scrutiny following the revelation that a data scientist created a personality quiz that was taken by millions of Facebook users, and their personal information and that of their friends was then secretly passed along to the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg told CNN's Laurie Segall that "anyone whose data may have been affected" will be notified by Facebook, and the platform plans on building a tool that lets users see if their information has been compromised and if they are using any apps that are "doing sketchy things."

Zuckerberg said he's "not sure we shouldn't be regulated," as there are "things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see." He's also "sure someone's trying" to use Facebook to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections, a "Version 2 of whatever the Russian effort was in 2016," and "there are going to be some new tactics that we need to make sure that we observe and get in front of." Zuckerberg would be "happy" to testify before Congress "if it's the right thing to do," he said, and when Segall asked if, knowing what he does now, he thinks "Facebook impacted the results of the 2016 election," he gave a vague response. "Oh that's — that is hard," Zuckerberg said. "You know, I think that it is — it's really hard for me to have a full assessment of that." Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2018
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On Wednesday, congressional negotiators finalized a $1.3 trillion budget bill that must be passed by both the House and Senate by midnight Friday in order to avoid a government shutdown.

The 2,232-page bill was released in the evening, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that "no bill of this size is perfect. But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad." The bill increases military and domestic spending but does not give President Trump all of the money he wants to build a southern border wall or address the protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. It also allows for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence, but not advocacy. Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2018
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told people close to him that President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, shared with him the names of Saudis who were disloyal to him, and also told the crown prince of Abu Dhabi he has Kushner "in his pocket," current and former White House and government officials told The Intercept.

Before his security clearance was downgraded, Kushner read with interest the President's Daily Brief, filled with classified intelligence, and after Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin from the crown prince position last June, the briefing contained information on the situation and names of royal family members opposed to his move, three people told The Intercept. In October, Kushner made an unannounced visit to Riyadh, during which he stayed up late "planning strategy" with the crown prince, The Washington Post reported at the time; a week later, Mohammed bin Salman launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown, detaining hundreds of Saudi royals and businessmen.

One person told The Intercept it's likely the crown prince would be able to get the names of his critics without Kushner's help, and he could have told people he received the information from Kushner so it would look like the Trump administration backed his actions. A spokesperson for Kushner's lawyer told The Intercept Kushner did not discuss any names with the crown prince. Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2018
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While still employed as the FBI's deputy director, Andrew McCabe authorized an investigation into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied while testifying in his congressional confirmation hearing in January 2017, three people familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Sessions' lawyer, Chuck Cooper, told NBC News the investigation ended without criminal charges, and a Justice Department official said Sessions had no idea about the investigation when he decided to fire McCabe last week, less than two days before his retirement was set to kick in. At his hearing, Sessions said he never met with any Russians while serving as a campaign surrogate for President Trump; it was later revealed that Sessions did meet multiple times with Russia's ambassador at the time. Sessions went on to defend himself by saying the interactions took place in his capacity as a senator, and they were not important enough to remember.

One person told NBC News that after Sessions' testimony, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) referred a perjury inquiry to the FBI. This is a common occurrence, the person added, but these inquiries rarely end in prosecution because they are very hard to prove. Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2018
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The family of Mark Anthony Conditt, the Austin bombing suspect who died early Wednesday after he blew himself up in his car, said they are "devastated and broken" by what happened, and "had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in."

In a statement to CNN, members of the Conditt family in Colorado — not his parents in Texas — said they were "grieving" and "in shock," and "right now, our prayers are for those families that have lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way, and for the soul of our Mark." Law enforcement officials said that late Tuesday, they identified Conditt, 24, as a suspect in a string of bombings across Austin, which left two dead and four injured, and were moving in on a hotel in Round Rock to arrest him. Conditt drove away, tailed by police, and after he drove into a ditch, detonated an explosive that killed him. Police have not revealed a possible motive.

Two of Conditt's roommates were detained and questioned, and police said it's possible he planted or mailed other packages before he died. The Los Angeles Times reports that in a blog he started in 2012 as part of a class assignment at Austin Community College, Conditt described himself as a conservative "but not politically inclined," and wrote posts in favor of the death penalty and against abortion and making gay marriage legal. Conditt was home schooled and fired last year from his job at a manufacturing company, and one of his former friends told the Times that "a lot of people jump to conclusions and want to make him out to be a conservative terrorist. But I think it has more to do with loneliness and anger than it has to do with anything else." Catherine Garcia

Editor's note: This article originally misstated who released the statement about Mark Conditt. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.

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