Shannon Vavra

Just 36% say they'd vote to re-elect Trump

Evan Vucci / AP

Only 36% of people say they would vote to re-elect President Trump if the 2020 election were today, per a Fox news poll, compared to 55% who would vote for someone else.

Most have already made up their minds: 21% say they would definitely vote for Trump and 47% would definitely vote for someone else.

At this point in his first term, 52% said they'd vote to re-elect Barack Obama, and 31% said they'd vote for someone else.


WH considers labeling North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism

Wong Maye-E / AP

A senior White House official said the U.S. is considering adding North Korea to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, per Reuters.

The club: North Korea would be joining Iran, Sudan, and Syria. It was de-listed as a state sponsor in 2008 after agreeing to scale back its nuclear program.

Context: Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, DNI Dan Coats, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joesph Dunford are briefing Senators in at the White House today on North Korea.


99% of women founders don't use VC funding

Marius Boatca via Flickr CC

Only 1% of female founders use venture capital funding to back their businesses, according to an Ernst & Young (EY) and Women's Presidents' Organization (WPO) report, obtained by Fortune. The study looked at 430 women-owned businesses over their lifetime, including old and new companies, and found that:

  • 8% of the women are using personal savings instead of VC funding
  • 22% incurred personal debt
  • 18% received a loan from friends or family

Why not: Co-founder of EY's Entrepreneurial Women program said some women don't seek out venture capital funding in the first place and see it as a point of pride and a source of control — 100% ownership of the business.

Where it stands: 2.19% of all venture capital funding went to women last year, which is a smaller percentage than almost every year in the last decade.


Humans were in North America long before we thought

San Diego Natural History Museum

Humans may have arrived in North America 130,000 years ago, a new study suggests today in Nature.

Why it matters: This means humans may have arrived in North America much earlier than previously thought, surpassing previous evidence of human activity in North America — showing activity 15,000 to maybe 30,000 years ago — by 100,000 years.

The remains: Bones of a mastodon (a relative of elephants) had spiral fractures, indicating they were broken by the hammerstones and anvils surrounding the remains, indicating humans killed the mastodon.

What's next: Finding a human skeleton from the same time period and determining how humans got to North America 130,000 years ago, since the sea lane of the Bering Strait, which humans likely used to migrate to North America, was much wider 130,000 years ago.

One big question: Why hasn't anyone else found evidence of human activity this far back? One of the scientists suggested we just haven't been looking that far back.


Paul Ryan excludes ACA payments to insurers in spending bill

Evan Vucci / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan said this month's spending bill wouldn't include payments for insurers that would lower their additional ACA cost burden — by reimbursing them for lowering deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance — according to the WSJ.

Why it matters: This could cause a collapse in health plans this year, according to insurers. This move brings additional uncertainty to the healthcare marketplace, as insurers' deadlines to decide on the framework for 2018 plans looms in a few weeks.


ICE opens "VOICE" office to support crime victims

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly addressed victims of illegal immigration crime at the opening of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE) Wednesday. The office was initially announced in an executive order from Trump from Jan. 25.

The goal of VOICE is to help people navigate an overcomplicated system after their family members have been subjected to crime committed by illegal immigrants. "We can never fully heal these families, but we can give them a voice," Kelly said. The office will provide quarterly reports on "the effects of victimization by criminal aliens" in the U.S.

How it will work: Immigration and Customs Enforcement will support victims and their families in the aftermath of crimes by directing them to resources — like tracking the immigration custody status of the immigrant in question who committed a crime, or contacting an officer who can explain the immigration enforcement and removal process. As Kelly put it: "All they have to do is dial 1-855-48-VOICE That's 1-855-48-VOICE."


Three major conservative groups back GOP health care plan

Ed Cunicelli / Children's Hospital of Philadelphia via AP

Club for Growth and FreedomWorks will support the updated GOP repeal and replace plan even though they opposed the original AHCA bill, the groups announced Wednesday, per The Hill.

The change of heart: Club for Growth President David McIntosh said the amendment — which would let states use waivers to avoid some ACA regulations — would allow for more choice and lower insurance premiums.

Three's company: Americans For Prosperity released a statement this afternoon joining the aforementioned conservative groups in backing AHCA thanks to the new amendment. "Pending the inclusion of the MacArthur amendment, the latest healthcare bill is a positive improvement over the previously proposed version in the House," AFP President Tim Phillips wrote. "It takes steps to improve access and curb rising costs by allowing states more flexibility and expanding consumer choice."

One caveat: All three groups maintained that "there is still much work to be done" to fulfill the promise to fix healthcare and to address all of their concerns.


Trying to solve "the worst epidemic in U.S history"

Chuck Kennedy / Axios

At an Axios and HBO Documentary Films presentation of the documentary, "Warning: This Drug May Kill You," Dr. Andrew Kolodny of Brandeis University put the urgency of the opioid crisis in context: "It truly is the worst epidemic in United States history."

Senator Rob Portman said the solution must start with drug companies: "They need to come up with non-addictive pain medication."

How the epidemic started: According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the healthcare system doesn't train doctors on when to prescribe opioids, and "there is still very little recognition of addiction as a disease."

Potential solutions:

  • Alternative treatments: Dr. Volkow called for investment into alternative pain medication. Dr. Kolodny noted that as doctors started prescribing more and more opioid pain meds "there was actually less prescribing non-addictive pain meds," like Tylenol and Advil.
  • The big picture: According to Congressman Tim Ryan, "You've got to focus on the prevention, then the punishment, the criminal justice side, then you've got to isolate the addicted" and get them treatment.
  • The legislation: The Cures Act, which makes $500 million available via grant application, and the Comprehensive Care & Addiction Act, which Portman says has a more long term focus and will be a "stronger bill over time." Portman said he also wants to require pharmacists to register doctors and help them to identify addicts.
  • Stopping Fentanyl shipments: Fentanyl, a type of opioid which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is coming into the U.S. primarily through shipments from China, and people are dying at an increasing rate from overdoses from it. Portman says the shipments must be stopped and that can be done by working with FedEx and UPS and law enforcement.
For perspective on the opioid epidemic, check out our Facts Matter here.

Russian hackers also target German elections

Michael Sohn / AP

Russian-linked hacking group, APT28 or Pawn Storm, is targeting the German elections with similar tactics used against Democrats in the U.S. and centrist frontrunner Emmanuel Macron in France, according to cyber security firm Trend Micro's report out Tuesday.

The German elections are slated to take place in September 2017.

  • The targets: German Chancellor Angela Merkel's political party in April and May of 2016, although no emails have been leaked, and a German think tank affiliated with Merkel's party in April 2017.
  • The idea behind this hack: to get those affiliated with the think tank to submit passwords on a lookalike site, then to target politicians with emails or messages from hackers posing as those who shared their passwords.

Trump's coal promise won't hold in OH and PA

Susan Walsh / AP

Ohio and Pennsylvania increased their natural gas production more than any other state last year, both up by about 1.2 billion cubic feet per day, according to the EIA. Pennsylvania has been a gas state for years, but Ohio's powerhouse moves are a more recent development.

Context: Even Texas, the state with the most natural gas production, fell by 2.5 billion cubic feet per day last year.

Why it matters: When there's more natural gas production, coal gets edged out, but Trump's campaign promise to bring coal jobs back helped him win in both battleground states.