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Potential 2016 Candidate Has Questions About Why People Are Gay

Well-known neurosurgeon and potential Republican presidential contender Ben Carson went on CNN this morning to discuss Obamacare on the day the legislation faces the Supreme Court for the second time. New Day host Chris Cuomo then segued into another issue snaking through the court system — same-sex marriage — and asked Carson whether he believed being gay was a choice.

"Absolutely," Carson said. "Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."

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Blame These People for NYC’s Treacherous Sidewalk Conditions

Now that we have all given in to the fact that we're forced to live in a slush pit for a majority of the year, let us turn our anger to a target more worthy and less abstract than Mother Nature: the property owners who refuse to clear the snow and ice from their pathways. According to the Times, the NYC Department of Sanitation has issued almost 40,000 tickets across the five boroughs this season for failure to keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice. The Bronx had the most tickets for its size, racking up over 10,000; Brooklyn has received 14,000 and Queens 13,000, while fancy Manhattan has only gotten 1,800. Many of the tickets were issued for properties that are in foreclosure, or are boarded up with no clear owner. Still, those icy sidewalks make for treacherous conditions, particularly for children and the elderly. As one Bronx resident put it, "It’s dangerous, and it has to be cleaned up." 

Why Pets Are the Future of Fitness Wearables

A Christmas or three ago, it seemed like every good boy and girl got a little rubber wristband in their stocking. These were fitness wearables, like the FitBit, the Nike FuelBand, and the Jawbone Up, that tracked your workouts and encouraged you to get up and move. They became as ubiquitous as those yellow LiveStrong bands and slap bracelets before them, and then just as quickly, they disappeared, relegated to so many nightstands and forgotten at the bottom of so many purses. Our smartphones, it turns out, were just as good at measuring our steps, and a lot less clunky too.

But fitness wearables are having something of a second moment, and a fluffier, furrier one at that. In the past few years, a number of fitness trackers for dogs have hit the market — among them the FitBark, the PetPace, the Heyrex, the Tagg, the Tractive Motion, and the Whistle — giving pet owners more information about how much exercise their dogs are getting and nudging them to move more with their pets. Forget the quantified self — 2015 is the year of the quantified dog.

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Jeb Bush Begs Friends to Stop Giving Him So Much Money

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been touring the country, trying to get Republicans psyched up about the idea of another Bush in the White House — and maybe raise a few million dollars on the way. The trip has proven a great success. Maybe too great, as Bush is now setting a contribution limit on his two political action committees, Right to Rise, and telling donors not to give more than $1 million, at least for now. One Republican fund-raiser told the Washington Post“This campaign is about much more than money. They need substantial funds, but they don’t want the focus to be on money.”

Bush has previously tried to counter the idea that his campaign is all about money by discussing his plan to help the poor at a fund-raiser held at a hotel "built a century ago by an oil baron ... with rooms going for $1,900 or more per night."

Several donors have already passed the limit, with nearly a year to go until the 2016 presidential primaries even begin. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Bush's team hopes to raise more than $100 million for the Right to Rise Super PAC, with the probable candidate free to help fund-raise as long as his campaign remains in an nebulous non-announced zone. 

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New Yorkers Awake to Icy Hellscape

If you do not embarrass yourself in public today by slipping on a patch of slushy sidewalk and wiping out, consider yourself immensely lucky: Overnight, snow and freezing rain combined to transform New York into a giant puddle of icy slush, guaranteeing at least one embarrassing slipping episode on your walk to the train.

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Report: Top Clinton Staffers Used Private Email, Too

In an attempt to defend Hillary Clinton's failure to use a government email address while she was secretary of State, current and former State Department officials suggested she didn't really use email, preferring to communicate via phone, video conference, or assistant instead. Bloomberg Politics reports that one former colleague said that when Clinton was abroad, "he generally conveyed messages to Clinton through a core group of four senior aides–Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, Huma Abedin, and Philippe Reines." So Clinton's correspondence was being archived, because it was going through staffers with government email — or that's what would have been happening if at least two of the aides on that list weren't using private email as well.

A source claims Philippe Reines and Huma Abedin didn't use government email. »

Boehner Concludes Biannual Test of the Government Shutdown System

As expected, on Tuesday Speaker John Boehner allowed the House to vote on a "clean" bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September. It passed 257–167, so despite Boehner's claim that he would allow a partial government shutdown to challenge President Obama's immigration action, Republicans accomplished nothing. If this had been an actual shutdown, you would have seen lawmakers squabble for a few more days as essential government employees worked without pay. This concludes this test of the pointless government shutdown system.

Brooklyn Man Arrested Two Years After Fatal Beating of Transgender Woman

Eighteen months after 24-year-old James Dixon confessed to the fatal beating of Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman, in Harlem, he's finally been charged for the crime. The August 2013 beating sparked an outcry over attacks on LGBT New Yorkers, but another man, Dixon's friend Paris Wilson, was initially arrested for the crime. Both men were part of a group of seven people who attacked Nettles and her two transgender friends, and Dixon confessed after Wilson's mother escorted him to a police station. Investigators still had to sort through conflicting witness statements about who killed Nettles by bashing her head against the sidewalk, but last week a grand jury voted to indict Dixon for manslaughter and assault.

Prosecutors did not seek hate crime charges. »

Who Will Take Round Two of the Charter-School Debate in Albany This Year?

Evapalooza returns to Albany on Wednesday morning. Once again, Eva Moskowitz, the ferocious founder and leader of the Success Academy charter school network, and a coalition of charter operators and advocates will bus thousands of kids, parents, and teachers to the state capitol for a noisy rally. Just like last year, there will be colorful T-shirts on the kids, and there will be celebrities to stoke attention (Lisa Leslie! Janelle Monáe! Fonzworth Bentley! Fonzworth Bentley?)

For all the theatrics, though, what’s most interesting about this year’s edition is that it is shaping up as an underwhelming sequel. In part that’s because the March 4, 2014, charter rally was a pivotal event — both for the state’s educational system and for its politics. And while most of the key players are the same, the dynamics have shifted significantly in a mere year.

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