December 7, 2018

President Trump may be conspicuously silent when it comes to major stock market losses, but he's apparently still watching every move with rapt attention.

Several officials close to Trump say he values the Dow Jones Industrial Average as an indicator of his success and job performance in the same way he values presidential approval poll numbers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The president reportedly watches every little update on TVs he tunes to business networks. "He's glued to it," one person close to the White House told the Journal.

Trump's obsession with markets has continued this week after his self-described "historic" meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump is now reportedly questioning why the temporary tariff truce with China hasn't reflected more positively in U.S. markets.

While talking with his advisors, Trump was reportedly convinced the market lows were due to the Federal Reserve's plan to raise benchmark interest rates. However, some investors and administration officials attribute the downturn to Trump labeling himself a "Tariff Man" on Twitter Tuesday, signaling potentially heightened tensions with China down the road. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Marianne Dodson

3:45 p.m.

Faced with a question that used a simple real estate term, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson on Tuesday became confused — and appeared to believe he was actually being asked about cookies.

Carson during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee was asked a question by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) about REOs, which stands for real estate owned.

"Do you know what an REO is?" Porter asked. Carson responded, "An Oreo?"

Porter clarified that she was not, in fact, asking Carson a cookie-related question, but Carson still sounded unfamiliar with the term, thinking the last letter stood for "organization" after being pressed. The Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell observed that REO is "literally one of the first terms taught to new real-estate agents" and "one of the defining symbols of the housing crisis."

The term was something Porter found herself having to explain to him, though, telling Carson, "that's what happens when a property goes to foreclosure: we call it an REO." Watch the strange moment, which Porter herself shared on her Twitter account while expressing bewilderment, below. Brendan Morrow

3:35 p.m.

More than 500 abortion ban protests sprouted up throughout the United States on Tuesday, as demonstrators decried the recent wave of restrictive abortion legislation.

In the last week, the Republican governors of Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri signed into law several bills effectively banning abortions between six and eight weeks. The measures are considered part of a larger plan to challenge the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

Tuesday's largest protest was held on the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke at the event, reportedly going after Republican lawmakers who have "distanced themselves" from Alabama's law, while also voting for judges who have criticized Roe v. Wade. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) spoke as well, opening up to the crowd about her personal experience.

Several Democratic presidential candidates also showed up to the event, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

But the rallies didn't stop in the capital. They've taken place all over the country, including in St. Louis and Atlanta. Protesters also marched on the Alabama statehouse on Monday. Tim O'Donnell

3:34 p.m.

Baby sharks have been up to some things that weren't covered in the song.

New research published in the journal Ecology on Tuesday has found a surprising factor in the diets of newborn tiger sharks. Small songbirds, like the sparrows you might see in your backyard, have somehow ended up far enough from home to become prey to the marine predators.

Scientists performed what's called a "gastric lavage," a harmless procedure that flushed out the contents of the stomach for testing, on over 100 juvenile tiger sharks. Out of 105 specimens studied, 41 of them had partially digested birds. All of the bird remains came from North American land birds, National Geographic reported — a strange find, given that most of the sharks were tested far from shore in the Gulf of Mexico.

The study concluded that the most likely scenario is that these birds had been caught in autumnal storms during their annual migration; this would explain why most of the birds seemed to be eaten during the fall. As for why it was mostly baby sharks eating these birds, it's possible that mother tiger sharks have taken notice of the abundance of easy prey, and specifically give birth in the area so that "the young can capitalize on the seasonal songbird scavenging opportunities," National Geographic explained.

Further research will be required to determine the exact link between tiger sharks and terrestrial songbirds, but this discovery just goes to show that nature can interact in weird, unexpected ways. Read more at National Geographic. Shivani Ishwar

3:06 p.m.

The latest 2020 poll from Quinnipiac sure doesn't look great for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday shows de Blasio, who launched his 2020 presidential campaign last week, with an 8 percent favorable rating. Forty-five percent of voters said they have an unfavorable opinion of him, while 48 percent say they haven't heard enough about him.

Other Democratic contenders like Washington Governor Jay Inslee and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper have similarly low favorability ratings, but these are candidates most voters say they haven't heard enough about, which wasn't the case with de Blasio.

The New York City mayor's net favorability, which is calculated by subtracting his unfavorable rating from his favorable rating, among all voters is -37 percent. For comparison, former congressman Beto O'Rourke's net favorability is -12 percent. Fewer than one percent of Democratic voters said they would vote for de Blasio in the 2020 primary.

De Blasio's favorability rating is also quite low even among Democrats: just 14 percent, compared to 35 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him.

At least one polling expert was stunned at how bad this showing was, with CNN's Harry Enten writing, "These numbers are about the worst I've seen for a non-scandal'd politician."

Of course, this isn't the first round of poor polling de Blasio has received, with a previous Quinnipiac poll finding that 76 percent of New York City voters didn't want him to run for president. Faced with a question about this poll upon jumping into the race, de Blasio said last week, "I think about polling in general, it's not where you start, it's where you end."

Quinnipiac's poll was conducted by speaking with 1,078 registered voters over the phone from May 16-20. The margin of error is 3.8 percentage points. Read the full poll at Quinnipiac. Brendan Morrow

2:19 p.m.

Cannabidiol, one of the compounds in marijuana, has been all the rage lately. It's been in burgers, sodas, and even skin care products. Now, a new study suggests it might be useful as a medical treatment. The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on Tuesday, found that cannabidiol, known as CBD, reduced cravings and anxiety in patients being treated for heroin addiction.

Other medications often prescribed for opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine and methadone, also work by reducing cravings for the drug. But in many cases, these medications are not pursued as part of the patient's treatment, because their use is highly regulated and restricted, CNN explained. So exploring less restricted methods of treatment may be key in continuing to stem the nationwide opioid epidemic.

While CBD is available in many over-the-counter products, the exact concentrations of the substance are difficult to determine. This study used an FDA-approved cannabis-based medication called Epidiolex in order to control the precise amounts of CBD being administered. "We are not developing a recreational cannabis," said Yasmin Hurd, the study's lead author. "We are developing a medicine."

Before this method is approved as a treatment for opioid addiction, further studies will have to be conducted, following patients over long periods of time to determine the long-term effectiveness. But "we need to utilize every possible treatment" to help those struggling with addiction, said Julie Holland, a psychiatrist not involved in the study. For that reason, "this is an extremely significant paper." Learn more at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

1:56 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly isn't so sure he should testify publicly before Congress.

The special counsel's team has "expressed reluctance" to the idea of him providing public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, CNN reports, with the team noting that Mueller doesn't "want to appear political." Mueller never once spoke publicly during his investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's behavior surrounding the meddling. The probe concluded with a report that did not establish a criminal conspiracy with Russia but laid out several instances of potential obstruction of justice.

Negotiations between Mueller's team and the committee are still ongoing, and "numerous options" are reportedly being considered, but CNN notes that one would be for Mueller to provide testimony behind closed doors. This is not what Democrats have had in mind, though. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have said that Mueller providing public testimony is "the only way to begin restoring public trust" in the handling of his investigation.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) previously said Mueller "will come at some point" and that "if necessary, we'll subpoena him, and he will come." Brendan Morrow

1:46 p.m.

The creator has spoken.

The Game of Thrones' series finale was divisive, to say the least, but George R.R. Martin, the author of the HBO show's source material, the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, seemed fairly content with how it all played out. Martin didn't state specifically whether he enjoyed the episode or not in his most recent blog post on Monday evening, but he commended the showrunners, writers, directors, cast, and crew for all their work over the years. "There are so many memories," he wrote. "And no time to do them all justice."

While Martin's words certainly fall in the feel-good category, some fans likely care more about finding out if his forthcoming novels will conclude in the same way the show did. And Martin figured as much. He was a bit vague in his answer, but said that some parts will be the same, while others differ. He did write, however, that some of those differences will happen simply because he has created several characters in the books who never even made it onto the screen. So it's not unreasonable to infer that several of the major characters who were featured in the show could very well meet similar fates on the page.

Martin also said it's "silly" to ask whether the books or the show will be the "real" ending to the story. Instead, he wrote, he'll just let the internet argue about it. Read the full post here. Tim O'Donnell

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