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SHUTDOWN DEBATE HEATS UP "Congressional Republicans remained sharply divided Monday over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security, prompting White House officials to begin preparations for a potential shutdown of the agency this weekend." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has proposed a "plan B" bill that separates the GOP's attack on Obama's immigration action from DHS funding. But here's what a shutdown would mean for national security and the agency's ability to fully protect the homeland. [WaPo]
MARIJUANA NOW LEGAL IN ALASKA Making it the third state to legalize it. "Alaskans age 21 and older may now legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow as many as six marijuana plants in their homes (with no more than three flowering), and possess any additional marijuana produced by those plants." [HuffPost]
VA SECRETARY APOLOGIZES FOR FALSE CLAIM HE WAS IN SPECIAL FORCES "Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s … Saying he was in special forces, McDonald said, 'is not right. I was not in special forces. What I said was wrong.'" [HuffPost]
U.S., IRAN CONSIDER 10-YEAR NUCLEAR FREEZE "The U.S. and Iran are exploring a nuclear deal that would keep Tehran from amassing enough material to make a bomb for at least a decade, but could then allow it to gradually build up its capabilities again. Such a deal would represent a significant compromise by the U.S., which had sought to restrain Tehran’s nuclear activities for as long as 20 years. Tehran has insisted on no more than a 10-year freeze." [WSJ]
PAKISTANIS MUST TURN OVER FINGERPRINTS FOR CELL PHONE SERVICE The Pakistani effort to collect biometric data on its citizens is one of the largest counterterrorism efforts in the world. [WaPo]
HOW THE WHITE HOUSE IS TEAMING UP WITH SILICON VALLEY TO FIGHT ISIS "In response to the Islamic State's savvy use of social media to spread its messages and publicize its deeds, the Obama administration says it is ramping up engagement with the tech sector, approaching big-name Silicon Valley companies to ask about boosting anti-terrorism narratives from people outside of the government." [HuffPost]
GOOD NEWS: NUMBER OF IRS AUDITS DROPPED Because no one likes to have their Turbo Tax forms scrutinized. [USA Today]
GAS PRICES REBOUNDING Blame the winter chill for the rise. [WSJ]
OSCAR VIEWERSHIP DOWN 16% That's the lowest in six years. [Variety]
FEEDING INFANTS PEANUTS TO BEAT AN IMPENDING ALLERGY "Turning what was once conventional wisdom on its head, a new study suggests that many, if not most peanut allergies can be prevented by feeding young children food containing peanuts beginning in infancy, rather than avoiding such foods. About 2 percent of American children are allergic to peanuts, a figure that has more than quadrupled since 1997 for reasons that are not entirely clear." [NYT]
THE END OF NASA'S GOLDEN AGE "According to the Planetary Society, a nonprofit space research and advocacy organization, for the planetary science division to run well, the United States should spend at least $1.5 billion every year to explore other worlds -- 'less overall,' they report, 'than what Americans spent on dog toys in 2012.'" [Vox]
BIG SEAN ALWAYS GETS 'OVERSHADOWED' He has the worst timing. [Vulture]
TAKING A VACATION ALONE "Get over any fear or apprehension you may have about spending a block of time by yourself. It's challenging, but very peaceful. I think people are sometimes nervous to do things by themselves because of how it looks to others, but a little independence is a powerful thing." [Deadspin]
HOW LONG YOU CAN STAY AWAKE Before you actually die. [BBC]
ON THE BLOG
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: EQUAL LAWS FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN NEEDED "Leveling the legal playing field for women holds real promise for the world -- in both human and economic terms. Unfortunately, that promise remains largely ignored and its potential untapped. In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active to work." [HuffPost]
BEFORE YOU GO
~ A single mom of four won an $127 million Powerball jackpot.
~ "House of Cards" finally got its Sesame Street parody.
~ What Jennifer Lawrence did instead of attending the Oscars.
~ That time Leonardo DiCaprio threw a birthday party for Rihanna, who he might be dating.
~ How the Academy explained the Joan Rivers snub.
~ The types of people you meet at Whole Foods.
~ Your dog knows when you're lying.
~ How Stephen Hawking is still alive after his decades-long battle with ALS.
~ Nick Jonas' cover of Kanye West's "Only One" isn't that bad.
~ 2016 Oscar predictions (yes, these are super early).
~ Email subject lines that inspire instant dread.
~ Calista Flockhart landed a role in CBS' "Supergirl."
Send tips/quips/quotes/stories/photos/events/scoops to Lauren Weber at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @LaurenWeberHP. And like what you're reading? Sign up here to get The Morning Email delivered to you.