POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Ben Carson Takes Down Small Child, Ready For Putin

Ben Carson may not believe in the teaching of evolution, but he gave some schoolchildren a harsh lesson in social Darwinism when he asked them to point out their dumbest classmate. The NOAA said last year was the second hottest on record; James Inhofe's snowball couldn't be reached for comment. And a new bill in the Missouri legislature would require lobbyists to disclose any sex they have with legislators. Questions about what constitutes "sex" can be directed to the state house's ethics office or the VHS copy of “Government Relations 6” that’s in a box hidden in our basement. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 7th, 2016:

LOOK AT THIS DATAJOURNALISM - Igor Bobic made a chart of 2016 burns:

BUT IS IT GOOD FOR THE CRUZ? Iowa pandering edition - Samantha Jo-Roth: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been forced to clarify his stance on ethanol, an important industry in Iowa, as he crisscrosses the state less than one month before its first-in-nation presidential caucuses. Cruz, who has been asked about the issue at every single stop on his six-day barnstorming tour across the state, has insisted he is not against ethanol and denied switching his position on the Renewable Fuel Standard. The state's influential and bipartisan corn lobby, America's Renewable Future, commended the Republican presidential hopeful Wednesday for a 'big change' in his position on the RFS, while Cruz claimed he has been consistent on the topic." Oops. [HuffPost]

OREGON WACKOS HAVE HORSE NOW - Let the federal government have our land? Neigh! Dana Liebelson: "The armed militants who seized a remote federal property in Oregon have not had the easiest week. They've lost sleep worrying about a potential police raid. An army of reporters accosted them every morning. And the majority of attendees at a community meeting voted for them to leave. But they do have a horse. On Thursday morning, an occupier on horseback rode around the base of a watch tower at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, about 30 miles from Burns. I ran over to learn more about this man and his noble horse, even though I am allergic to horses. A pack of reporters soon followed, but were instructed to stay back, because the horse was 'pretty nervous.' For a glorious three minutes before other reporters were allowed to approach, this interview was entirely exclusive. The horse's name is Hellboy, like the comic book character, because he was a 'handful when he was a little baby,' his rider explained." [HuffPost]

NEW HAMPSHIRE: THE MOVIE - Scott Conroy: "Ever wonder what it's like to actually live on the presidential campaign trail -- not just watch it from afar? Starting this Monday, Jan. 11, we'll show you. As the most compelling race for the White House in memory shifts into high gear, 'New Hampshire' -- a HuffPost Originals limited series -- will provide a firsthand perspective on what's happening on the ground in the nation’s first and most important primary state." [HuffPost]

NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS BILL TO GET BIPARTISAN SUPPORT - But how can we target the Kim Jong Un kicks collection? Lindsey McPherson: "A bill to strengthen U.S. sanctions on North Korea is expected to get a House vote as soon as next week, and it will receive broad bipartisan support, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday. 'It has been in the works for a while,' the California Democrat said, explaining that the bill is timely but not a direct response to North Korea bragging this week about a successful hydrogen bomb test Pelosi said the initial analysis shows North Korea overstated the nature of the test, but that it’s still a matter of great concern and a violation of longstanding United Nations Security Council resolutions. The House bill is “ready to go” and could receive a vote the week of Jan. 11, Pelosi said. Because the bill has strong bipartisan support, she said it may be voted under an expedited procedure known as suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage." [Roll Call]

DELANEY DOWNER - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) didn't want to get into details of what he knew and when about the Flint water crisis on Thursday. In a July email, a top Snyder aide worried Flint residents were "basically getting blown off by us" over their concerns about high lead levels in the city's water. It wasn't until October that the state water agency admitted it had made a mistake that led to the poisoning of an untold number of children. A reporter asked Snyder what he knew and when he knew it. "Well, again, we're going through that whole process," Snyder said, speaking at a press conference with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, a Democrat. Snyder and Weaver said they would be cooperating on the crisis response; Snyder said the independent task force he created in October would address the question of who knew what and when. [HuffPost]

Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

WHITE HOUSE TRIES TO QUELL CONGRESSIONAL ANGER OVER IMMIGRATION RAIDS - "Two top Obama administration officials met with several House Democrats Thursday, amid rising anger on Capitol Hill over a series of controversial raids targeting immigrants who have been ordered deported from the United States. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi convened the meeting with Cecilia Munoz, the White House domestic policy director, and Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, on Thursday afternoon, according to three Democratic sources. Lawmakers attending the meeting included many members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- who are especially upset about the raids -- leadership, and influential ranking members." [Politico]

OBAMACARE ENROLLMENTS CONTINUE TO RISE - Jeff Young: "Obamacare growth continues to outpace last year's sign-ups, with almost 11.3 million people enrolling into private health insurance plans via the exchange marketplaces through the last week of December, the Department of Health and Human Services disclosed Thursday. The open enrollment period on the exchanges lasts until Jan. 31, and the tally already has exceeded the department's projection of 10 million for the full year. Although this total likely will come down in the coming months as some consumers drop their coverage or fail to pay their premiums, these findings suggest these marketplaces are performing above expectations so far. Expanding the exchanges is key not only to covering more of the uninsured, but to stabilizing the new marketplaces for the future. More than sheer numbers, the makeup of the exchange customer base is crucial, especially after health insurance companies reported losses during the marketplaces' first two years, resulting in higher premium increases for this year compared to 2015." [HuffPost]

RAPE IS BAD: CONGRESS - Bernie Sanders would totally revoke Alan Greenspan's medal. Jen Bendery: "A Republican congressman plans to introduce legislation on Friday to strip Bill Cosby of his Presidential Medal of Freedom. The bill from Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar would establish a formal process for revoking the nation's highest civilian honor. Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault or rape by more than 50 women, was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2002 by President George W. Bush. Gosar said while the once-beloved entertainer should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, Cosby already admitted in a 2005 sworn deposition that he obtained Quaaludes, a prescription sedative drug, to give to women he wanted to have sex with. Cosby was also charged last week with sexual assault in Pennsylvania. 'As a standing person with the Presidential Medal of [Freedom], you can't have that. You just can't have that,' Gosar said Wednesday. 'That award should be so encompassing for the whole aspect of your life, and there's no room to have a bad apple.'" [HuffPost]

VERY IMPORTANT BEN CARSON UPDATE - Bradford Richardson: "At least a half dozen schoolchildren pointed to one of their classmates after Ben Carson asked them to pick out the worst student in class, according to a Des Moines Register reporter. Speaking to a large crowd at an Iowa elementary school on Thursday, the Republican presidential hopeful said to the fifth-grade class at Isaac Newton Christian School, 'Who’s the worst student?' Before he could utter a 'just kidding,' several of the students pointed to one boy standing in the audience. Carson later said he often felt like the dumbest kid in class growing up before turning his life around and becoming a world-renowned neurosurgeon." [The Hill]

AL GORE JOKES ARE STILL HOTTER - Timothy Gardner: "Last year was the second hottest on record in the contiguous United States, and included 10 major weather and climate events, such as droughts and storms, that each led to over $1 billion in damages, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday." [Reuters]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is one chill cat.

SEX UPDATE - Jason Hancock: "Lobbyists who have sex with a Missouri lawmaker or a member of a lawmaker’s staff would have to disclose it to the Missouri Ethics Commission under a bill introduced Wednesday in the Missouri House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman, a Montgomery County Republican, defines sex between lobbyists and legislators as a gift. As such, sexual relations would have to be included on monthly lobbyist gift disclosure forms. Rep. Bart Korman, a Montgomery County Republican, has sponsored legislation defining sex between lobbyists and Missouri lawmakers or their staff as a gift." [Kansas City Star]

COMFORT FOOD

- Beautiful drone footage from Mexico City.

- Grandma ding dong ditches.

- Pit bulls acting as surrogate parents to cats.

TWITTERAMA

@MPEfuller: Y'all are still talking about Rubio's boots? Wow. Alright. Well, I'm still talking about Hillary's Chipotle order.

Get on my level.

@pourmecoffee:
On every day of Congress, the Speaker sent to me:
Three Obamacare repeal bills,
Two PPact defund bills,
and a resolution against amnesty

@brfreed: Just saw a cop with a man-bun. We need police reform now.

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e

CONVERSATIONS