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March 24, 2019

An election researcher in Florida found that 15 percent of mail-in ballots sent in for the midterm election by Parkland residents between the ages of 18 and 21 were not counted, exceeding the statewide average, The Washington Post reports.

A shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February 2018 killed 17 people, and students there quickly organized, calling for stricter gun laws and holding the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Daniel A. Smith, chairman of the political science department at the University of Florida, looked at Florida's open-source voting file, and determined that about 1 in 7 mail-in ballots submitted by college-age voters in Parkland were not counted, because they either didn't arrive in time or were rejected for reasons like not having a signature that exactly matched voting records. Looking at all Florida voters between 18 and 21, Smith found about 5.4 percent of mail-in ballots went uncounted. For all ages, the statewide average of rejected or uncounted mail-in ballots was 1.2 percent, Smith told the Post.

"If you are voting in Florida, and you are young in Florida, you have a good chance of your ballot not being accepted," Smith said. "Imagine going to the ATM and every 10 times you go, instead of spitting out your money, they take it or they lose it." From February 2018 to Election Day, about 250 Parkland residents between the ages of 18 and 21 registered to vote, Smith said, and more than half voted in November, which is an unusually strong turnout of young voters during a midterm election, he told the Post. For more about Florida's highly scrutinized electoral system and the Parkland students upset that their votes weren't counted, visit The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

3:46 p.m.

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took humankind's first steps on the moon, they weren't just taking a stroll. They also collected 48 samples of lunar rocks, bringing them back home so that scientists could examine them ... eventually.

Now, 50 years after the first men walked on the moon, scientists are finally getting their hands on the original samples collected on Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972. The lunar samples have been kept in a locked vault at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Fox News reports, waiting for the wonders that 21st-century scientific technology will be able to learn from them.

That was a pretty wise move on the part of NASA officials back in the 70s, said Ryan Zeigler, a sample curator for NASA's Apollo missions. "We can do more with a milligram than we could do with a gram back then," so we can still conserve most of the sample material gathered decades ago. The samples being sent out now range from the weight of a paper clip to so small "you can barely measure it," Zeigler said.

In total, 842 pounds worth of lunar samples were collected on the Apollo missions, collected by 12 astronauts — the only 12 people who have ever walked on the moon. But NASA's new plan will soon expand that number: By 2024, it aims to send more people to the moon's surface.

Until that happens, these moon rocks are the most tangible link we have with our closest satellite. And now, "a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the moon and beyond," said Thomas Zurbuchen, an administrator at NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Read more at Fox News. Shivani Ishwar

3:25 p.m.

2020 Democrat John Hickenlooper's name recognition is so low ahead of the first 2020 presidential debates, he almost didn't even get in.

Upon arriving for the event in Miami on Wednesday, Hickenlooper apparently wasn't recognized by security as the former two-term governor of Colorado who announced his candidacy for president nearly four months ago. Instead, he was asked if he was a reporter looking to pick up his credentials, NPR's Scott Detrow reports. "I'm a candidate," Hickenlooper had to say, typically not an ideal sequence of three words to utter during a presidential campaign. Security took his word for it, evidently.

Hickenlooper is set to participate in the second night of debates on Thursday alongside several other candidates who thousands of Americans will no doubt be frantically Googling, from Marianne Williamson to Andrew Yang. After getting inside the venue and speaking to reporters about this embarrassing little confusion, ABC's Rick Klein reports the former governor described this ordeal as the "story of my life." Brendan Morrow

2:44 p.m.

Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have united in hopes of defeating the final boss that is President Trump's proposed China tariffs.

In a joint letter submitted to the Office of the United States Trade Representative's general counsel, the video game companies speak in opposition to Trump's proposed tariffs, which they say would have an "enormous impact" and bring about "undue economic harm." Trump previously imposed a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of Chinese imports and has threatened to impose tariffs on $300 billion more, per The New York Times. Video game consoles would be affected, and 96 percent of the consoles imported into the United States last year were manufactured in China, the letter says.

The companies say that these tariffs would "add significant costs that would depress sales of video game consoles" and that a price increase of 25 percent "will likely put a new video game console out of reach for many American families who we expect to be in the market for a console this holiday season." Consumers will pay $840 million more than they normally would, the letter says, adding that console sales going down would "unquestionably" lead to a decline in video game sales as well.

On that note, the companies warn that the tariffs will also harm game developers, accessory companies, and retailers and that, therefore, the "ripple effect of harm could be dramatic."

Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have asked the United States to remove video game consoles from its list of products that would be affected by the tariffs. Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and hold trade talks this weekend, and he said on Wednesday that should the trade talks fail, "we'll do less business with them."

Brendan Morrow

2:28 p.m.

For the first time in three decades, deaths from drug overdose look like they're going to fall instead of rise.

Back in 1990, drug overdoses claimed 8,400 lives in the U.S.; and for every year afterward, the number of deaths has risen, especially in recent years, as the epidemic of opioid addiction takes a heavy toll on parts of the country. While the official total for overdose deaths in 2018 hasn't been confirmed yet, provisional data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggests that we might finally be in for a change. The CDC's data from Nov. 2017 to Nov. 2018 counted about 69,100 deaths from drug overdose, compared to 72,300 from Nov. 2016 to Nov. 2017.

But this isn't a sign that the worst is over, The Wall Street Journal explained. While health officials are eager to see any evidence that progress is being made in the fight against overdose deaths, "we shouldn't say oh, we've won," said Robert Anderson, a CDC official.

"The opioid crisis is in early remission, yet at high risk of relapse," said Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. But even if this doesn't mean we're out of the worst of the opioid epidemic, these numbers could be a sign that some of our methods for combating overdose deaths are working. In large part, broadened access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the worse effects of overdose, has been shown to save lives that would otherwise be lost to drug overdose.

The picture is still bleak — overdose deaths are still much higher than "in the peak of the crack-cocaine crisis decades ago," The Wall Street Journal reports. But it's possible that our current methods will help to turn the tide. Shivani Ishwar

2:03 p.m.

President Trump went back to basics on Wednesday, delivering one of his freewheeling speeches before the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Here are three of the wildest moments:

Family Separation — Trump shifted some of the blame for the current situation at the southern border to former President Barack Obama. Trump claimed his administration has taken much better care of the children in detention facilities than his predecessors'.

John McCain — The president might have sneakily continued his feud with his old rival, the late Sen. John McCain. Trump alluded to a few senators who gave him trouble when it came to procuring legislative votes, adding that he's "happy they're gone now." Trump also implied that at least one of them is in an unpleasant place.

While it's possible Trump was not referring to McCain, the smart money says he was.

TiVo — While Trump spent some time criticizing his past political opponents, he made sure to praise one of his favorite inventions of all time — TiVo.

This is not the first time Trump has expressed his bountiful appreciation for the recording device, nor should we expect it to be the last. Tim O'Donnell

1:18 p.m.

Fox's Stuart Varney would like Megan Rapinoe to remove her arm band.

Rapinoe, a co-captain for the U.S. women's national soccer team, said she is "not going to the f--king White House," if the U.S. side wins the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. This didn't sit well with Fox Business host, who said on Wednesday he'd love to see the U.S. team "fire" Rapinoe as co-captain over the remark.

Varney said Rapinoe's comments were "beneath contempt," and questioned her use of an obscenity in relation to the president and the White House. Varney's guest Susan Li questioned Rapinoe's patriotism, pondering if she should even be allowed to wear the American flag.

At the beginning of the conversation, Varney said Rapinoe "has now split the team," though, so far at least, there are no indications that Rapinoe's teammates have taken issue with her comments.

Shortly after Varney's segment aired, Mediaite reports, Trump posted a series of tweets criticizing Rapinoe — though he did extend an invitation to the team, win or lose. Tim O'Donnell

1:09 p.m.

Google employees are petitioning for the company to be booted from this year's San Francisco Pride parade due to its hate speech policies, Bloomberg reports.

Nearly 100 employees have signed a petition calling on the event's board of directors to kick out Google, which is an event sponsor. The letter cites Google-owned YouTube allowing "abuse and hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons," saying that "Pride must not provide the company a platform that paints it in a rainbow veneer of support for those very persons."

This petition comes as YouTube faces criticism over its response to conservative commentator Steven Crowder making a series of homophobic remarks against Vox's Carlos Maza in his videos. Maza said that he has received harassment online as a resulted of Crowder's attacks, posting a video compiling Crowder's remarks and pointing out that he sells a T-shirt on his store with a homophobic slur on it.

YouTube initially said Crowder's videos did not violate its policies, saying that "opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site." The platform later suspended monetization on Crowder's account, citing a "pattern of egregious actions" that "has harmed the broader community." Amid the firestorm, YouTube promised to take a "hard look" its harassment policies with "an aim to update them."

But the employees calling for Google to be kicked out of the Pride event don't seem to be buying this, in their petition writing that they are "never given a commitment to improve" from the company but that "there is no time to waste, and we have waited too long, already." Google had previously told employees that protesting the company while officially marching with it in the parade would violate its policies, The Verge reports. Maza commended the Google employees who signed this petition on Wednesday, writing on Twitter, "That's some serious courage." Brendan Morrow

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