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September 12, 2018

Don't worry about your kids drawing on the walls. It turns out they're following an example that dates back 73,000 years.

Seven years after discovering a set of cross-hatched red marks on a piece of stone, scientists are ready to declare them the world's first drawing. First discovered in South Africa in 2011, the marks, called "L13," are ambiguous enough that they couldn't be sure whether they were naturally formed or purposefully scrawled. But after analyzing the materials that make up those marks, researchers have determined that they were put there by an early human.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the scientists explain that the marks were drawn using a red ochre "crayon." Although ochre was used for many things by ancient peoples, the nature of the markings are enough to determine that this was an artistic endeavor — humanity's first. The previous oldest-known drawings are about 9,000 years younger than this one, Gizmodo reported, though there are human-made engravings that go back even further.

L13 is just a few inches long, but judging by the way the marks cut off abruptly, researchers note that "the pattern was probably more complex and structured in its entirety." We may never know the original artist's vision for this drawing, but you can read more about L13 at Gizmodo. Shivani Ishwar

5:37 p.m.

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn apparently had a very hard time convincing President Trump to leave Hillary Clinton and James Comey alone.

This spring, Trump told McGahn he "wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute" the former secretary of state and former FBI director, two sources tell The New York Times. McGahn immediately shut the president down, reportedly saying he didn't have the power to order a prosecution. Trump could try investigating his political rivals, McGahn said, but that could "prompt accusations of abuse of power" and potential impeachment charges, the Times writes. McGahn then reportedly made White House lawyers wrap up all that advice in an official memo.

But McGahn's words didn't seem to sink in. Trump has "continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel" to investigate Comey and Clinton, the Times writes. The president had also reportedly hoped his FBI Director Chris Wray would take action against Clinton, but Wray let him down.

It's unclear what Trump exactly would like to prosecute Comey and Clinton for. But the matter displays how Trump "views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies," the Times writes — something that could become particularly relevant with the appointment of loyalist Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The White House declined to comment to the Times. McGahn's lawyer would not comment on any legal advice relayed to the president, but said to McGahn's knowledge, "the president never ... ordered that anyone prosecute" Clinton or Comey. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:27 p.m.

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) may have lost Walmart's support over a so-called joke about lynching. But President Trump is still firmly on her side.

Trump has already scheduled two campaign rallies for the Republican, whose previously easy race in a runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy has started looking tighter. And on Tuesday, Trump called Hyde-Smith "spectacular" and suggested he'd hold three rallies for her if he could — just after Politico dug up some photos of her in a confederate soldier's hat.

Hyde-Smith first walked into trouble last week after a video showed her saying that if a supporter "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." Espy's campaign called her comments "reprehensible," but Hyde-Smith said they were taken out of context. Another video captured her suggesting voter suppression was "a great idea" in what her campaign said was a joke.

After the first round of dust had settled, a photo of Hyde-Smith in a Confederate soldier's hat and toting a musket surfaced. The photo came from Hyde-Smith's public Facebook post of her time at the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, a visit she described as "Mississippi history at its best!"

It's unclear if Trump saw the Confederate picture before he commented about her to reporters on Tuesday. Still, he said Hyde-Smith "feels very badly about" some unspecified comment, but added that "it was just sort of said in jest," per the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:21 p.m.

In very important chocolate spread news, market leader Nutella will soon be facing a serious competitor.

Barilla, an Italian company whose blue pasta boxes you probably recognize from supermarket shelves, plans to release a chocolate spread called Crema Pan di Stelle next year, reports Reuters.

The move to compete with Ferrero, the company that makes Nutella, is part of a burgeoning, delicious rivalry between the two Italian companies. The competition really began to heat up when sources said Ferrero would release a biscuit filled with Nutella in 2019, similar to Barilla's established line of cookies, Baiocchi, Reuters reports.

Barilla will try to get a spoon up on the competition by producing chocolate spread made with sunflower oil. Nutella has faced backlash for using palm oil in its recipe after the ingredient was deemed a "potential health concern," reports CNN.

Barilla's take on the chocolate and hazelnut goodness will feature a crunch, thanks to the addition of Pan di Stelle cookie crumbles, reports Reuters. Crema Pan di Stelle could launch in Italy as early as January, but industry experts say it could cost the company millions of euros to convince stores to display the new spread with the same prominence as Nutella. No word yet on when consumers in the U.S. will be able to try the new spread and help decide who should come out on top in the Italian sweet treat rivalry. Read more at Reuters. Taylor Watson

4:13 p.m.

Toss that romaine right in the trash.

Beyond its usual shtick of boring your tastebuds to death, romaine lettuce in any and all forms can actually infect you with E. coli now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. There's a "particularly dangerous" strain of the contamination striking salad bowls everywhere, The Washington Post writes, and the CDC recommends you throw it all out.

Since this most recent E. coli outbreak began in early October, 32 people in 11 states have come down with the strain, says the CDC. Of them, 13 have been hospitalized and one suffered kidney failure. Canada's health department reported another 18 people had fallen ill from the same outbreak as well.

It romaines to be seen whether one particular grower or strain is causing the infection. So toss out "whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad," the CDC said, as well as any lettuce you're unsure about. Then clean out your fridge and sanitize any shelves the romaine touched — seriously. And don't eat any romaine at restaurants.

This new alert comes in the wake of another E. coli outbreak that killed five people from March to June. So if you were planning make this Thanksgiving a romaine holiday, take a closer look at what you're tossing together. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:48 p.m.

It looks like booting Megyn Kelly from the air will turn out to be quite costly for NBC.

After weeks of negotiations, Kelly is close to finalizing a $30 million exit deal with the network, the New York Post reports. Kelly was fired by NBC last month with over a year left to go in her three-year contract, under which her annual salary was reportedly $23 million.

This firing came after comments Kelly made on Today questioning why it's racist to wear blackface on Halloween. She apologized on the air the next day, but by the end of the week, her show began airing reruns, and it was later confirmed that it would not return. Deadline reported that NBC was reluctant to give Kelly a hefty payout, which may explain why negotiations have gone on for nearly a full month and are unlikely to be finalized until next week at the earliest, the Post reports.

A source told the Post that "we thought this would be a done deal a few weeks ago," noting that NBC parent company Comcast "has the money to pay off Megyn," and at this point, "everyone wants this to be over." Another source said that NBC didn't want to go through a lawsuit with Kelly and is paying her the full amount she's owed under her contract so she will just "go away." Brendan Morrow

3:30 p.m.

House Democrats are not going to let Ivanka Trump's email scandal slide.

On Monday, a report from The Washington Post found President Trump's daughter had used a personal email account for official White House business. And just as Trump never forgot Hillary Clinton's emails, House Democrats will investigate Ivanka's debacle when they take power in January, incoming House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a Tuesday statement.

When news broke that Ivanka reportedly contacted White House aides and Cabinet officials via her personal email account, Democrats and former Trump officials were quick to slam the move as "hypocritical" to the Post. After all, Clinton's use of a private email server for state business was a major sticking point for the Trump campaign.

But unlike Clinton's situation, Cummings doesn't want an investigation of Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and other White House officials' use of private email accounts to become "a spectacle." The current House Oversight ranking member is simply calling for the White House to hand over documents to ensure those officials "are complying with federal records laws."

After learning they'd regain power in January, House Democrats also announced they'd lead a joint committee investigation into the ouster of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:38 p.m.

The Pentagon may not begin winding down its mission at the southern border this week after all.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Northern Command told Politico Tuesday that "no specific timeline for redeployment has been determined," adding that more details would be provided "as they become available." Just one day earlier, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who heads the deployment, actually provided a specific timeline, telling Politico some troops would begin coming home as early as this week and would all be leaving the border by Dec. 15. "Our end date right now is Dec. 15, and I've got no indications from anybody that we'll go beyond that," Buchanan said.

The new Army statement disputes that, and merely says that some troops may be shifted "to other areas of the border," such as in California. These members of the military were sent by Trump in response to an approaching caravan of Central American migrants, which he has dubbed an "invasion" even though most are fleeing poverty and violence. After Buchanan said Monday that the mission was about to be wrapped up, Democrats pointed to this as evidence that the whole thing was nothing more than a stunt to energize Trump's base on Election Day, but now, whether it's true that the troops actually will be leaving in the immediate future remains unclear. Brendan Morrow

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