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September 21, 2017

Senate Republicans are planning to vote next week on the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill, and they can only lose two Republican senators to squeak it through with the vice president's tie-breaking vote. One of the Republicans who says he's a yes on Graham-Cassidy, Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), came on Stephen Colbert's Late Show Wednesday night and explained his thinking. "Why not wait to know what you're voting on before you affect one-sixth of the American economy?" Colbert asked. "Let me say, I want a bipartisan solution," Flake replied. "Part of the problem with ObamaCare is that it was pushed through by one party, and we're going to have the same kind of problem if we just do this long-term," but right now, 200,000 Arizonans don't have viable insurance options.

Flake said he thinks health care is better managed at the state level, and that governors will do a better job than federal officials at enabling health care for less money. (The last GOP health-care bill in July was supported by just 6 percent of Arizona voters, according to one poll.) Colbert asked Flake if he thinks Republicans have the votes to pass it, and he said yes. "It's going to come down to the final few senators," he said. "I hope we can. Like I said, people in Arizona are hurting, and that's who I'm responding to. We've got to fix it in a bipartisan way going forward — obviously it is never good for one party to push something through on its own. In the meantime, we've got to make sure that everybody has insurance." Flake did not connect those two thoughts, exactly, but you can watch his full argument below. Peter Weber

9:53 p.m. ET
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Researchers have found that after only 10 minutes of light exercise, there is enhanced communication between the regions of the brain that store and recall memories.

Scientists from the University of California, Irvine, had 36 healthy volunteers in their early 20s exercise for 10 minutes, doing light activity like yoga or walking. The volunteers then took a memory test, which was repeated later without exercise. The researchers asked 16 of the volunteers to take the test again, with some exercising first and others resting. While studying their brain activity, it was discovered that those who exercised had increased activity between the hippocampus and cortical brain regions, which are all associated with memory.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with the researchers writing that people who exercised had an easier time distinguishing between different memories. Michael Yassa, a neuroscientist at UCI and project co-leader, told The Guardian that the amount of exercise is dependent on a person's age, mobility level, and other lifestyle factors, and for many, taking a leisurely stroll is enough. The researchers are also looking at the effects of light exercise on elderly people. Catherine Garcia

8:55 p.m. ET
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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has been working overtime defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh against allegations of sexual assault, and on Monday called the latest accusation "phony."

Earlier this month, Christine Blasey Ford went public with her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers, and on Sunday night, The New Yorker published the account of Deborah Ramirez, who said when they were freshman at Yale University, Kavanaugh exposed himself during a party and thrust his penis in her face.

Hatch, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Monday that he is sure Ramirez is "sincere" in believing Kavanaugh exposed himself to her, but "I also think she's sincerely wrong." He also said it's "amazing to me that these allegations come out of nowhere at the last minute and they weren't brought up earlier in this process and it's not untypical for our friends on the other side to pull that kind of crap."

Hatch, who has also called Ford "mixed-up," released a lengthy statement earlier in the day where he claimed to believe that "every accuser deserves to be heard." His statement included a long paragraph where he tried to discredit The New Yorker article, and accused Democrats of conducting "a smear campaign" against Kavanaugh.

He's also supporting Kavanaugh online — the Twitter page run by Hatch's office resembles a shrine to the judge, with a photo of the senator, Kavanaugh, and girls on the basketball team Kavanaugh coaches as the header. The account's tweets from the last week are all devoted to Kavanaugh, with some praising him and others slamming Hatch's Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Catherine Garcia

7:33 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

During an interview with Fox News on Monday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said multiple times that he has never sexually assaulted anyone, and is "looking for a fair process, a process where I can defend my integrity and clear my name."

Kavanaugh has been accused by two women of sexual assault, and he told Martha MacCallum he has "always treated women with dignity and respect." Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley, joined him for the interview, and said the confirmation process is "incredibly difficult, harder than we imagined, and we imagined it might be hard. At the end of the day, our faith is strong and we know that we're on the right path. We're just gonna stick to it." She called the allegations "really hard to believe" because her husband is "decent, he's kind, he's good. This is not consistent with Brett."

Kavanaugh said he does not remember being at a high school party with one of the accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, and they did not travel in the same social circles. The other accuser, Deborah Ramirez, knew Kavanaugh at Yale University, and he claimed if he had exposed himself as she has alleged, "it would have been the talk of campus." As part of his defense, Kavanaugh revealed that he "did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to it in high school and many years thereafter," and never drank so much he blacked out or couldn't remember what happened the night before. "I'm telling the truth," he said. "I know my lifelong record. I'm not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process." Catherine Garcia

6:52 p.m. ET
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Two of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's former classmates asked The New Yorker to remove their names from a statement they signed in support of the Supreme Court nominee.

On Sunday night, The New Yorker published an article by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow about a woman, Deborah Ramirez, who said while she was at Yale University, her classmate, Kavanaugh, exposed himself to her at a party. Mayer and Farrow spoke to former classmates who said they remembered hearing about such an incident, others who believed Ramirez's word, and some who said Kavanaugh would never expose himself.

The article included a statement, prepared by Kavanaugh's attorneys, signed by two of the male classmates Ramirez said were at the party, the wife of a third male student Ramirez said was involved in the incident, and additional classmates. They said they were "the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale" and could declare "with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it — and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett."

On Monday evening, The New Yorker updated the article to reflect that two classmates who originally signed the statement, Louisa Garry and Dino Ewing, approached the magazine after the article was published and asked that their names be removed. Garry said she "never saw or heard anything like this. But I cannot dispute Ramirez's allegations, as I was not present." Ewing said he did not have direct knowledge of the incident and did not think it sounded like Kavanaugh, but "I also was not present and therefore am not in a position to directly dispute Ramirez's account." Catherine Garcia

5:14 p.m. ET
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office via AP

A Dallas police officer who killed a black man after wrongly entering his apartment was fired Monday, ABC News reports.

Officer Amber Guyger, 30, shot and killed her neighbor Botham Jean, 26, in his Dallas apartment earlier this month and is now being charged with manslaughter. Guyger said she shot Jean when she entered the apartment and, believing it was her own, thought Jean was a burglar, NPR reports. Jean lived directly above Guyger.

Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall said she made the decision to fire Guyger after an internal affairs investigation wrapped Sept. 9, per ABC News. Hall released a statement last week saying she was waiting to take employment action against Guyger because she didn't want to "interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation."

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, called the firing an "initial victory." Merritt said his office is conducting their own investigation and is hoping to file a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas, ABC News reports. Marianne Dodson

5:07 p.m. ET
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Her heart may go on, but will ours?

Céline Dion announced Monday that she will be ending her Las Vegas residency after eight years. She is set to perform 28 shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace before officially ending her run June 8, Rolling Stone reports.

The pop icon revealed her "mixed emotions" about her final stint in Vegas in a Facebook statement. "Las Vegas has become my home and performing at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace has been a big part of my life for the past two decades," said Dion. "It's been an amazing experience, and I'm so grateful to all the fans who have come to see us throughout the years."

Dion has performed 1,089 shows at Caesars Palace. Her first residency, A New Day ... , began in 2003 and was a massive hit, helping to launch what Forbes once called the "residency boom," as performers flocked to Sin City to follow Dion's example and take over the strip for years at a time. The Canadian icon isn't the only diva now exiting the Las Vegas Strip — Britney Spears ended her five-year residency at Planet Hollywood last year, while Jennifer Lopez is gearing up to end hers after over two years.

Dion recently released a new song called "Ashes" for the Deadpool 2 soundtrack. But for drowning your sorrows over this news, your best bet is to cue up "My Heart Will Go On." Read more about Dion's final Vegas shows at Rolling Stone. Amari Pollard

4:47 p.m. ET

There are more people working "gig economy" jobs than ever — but most are making less money than they used to.

A Monday analysis by Recode found that people employed by rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft made 53 percent less in 2017 compared to 2013. The same was true for people working for the food delivery apps Uber Eats and Postmates.

An Uber driver used to make about $1,469 a month, but a few factors — fewer hours, lower demand, lower trip prices, and lower wages — have pushed the average monthly income down to $783, says Recode. An Uber representative attributed the change to the number of workers who drive part-time. A Lyft spokesman told MarketWatch that hourly earnings have remained steady.

Other gig economy jobs, which include many temporary or contractual jobs, haven't been hit quite as hard as the transportation sector. For example, people who rent homes using Airbnb have seen the opposite effect, with incomes rising 69 percent in the last five years from $662 to $1,736 per month.

Overall, online gig economy jobs have become more popular. In 2013, less than 2 percent of the working population participated in the industry, which also includes companies like the car-share app Turo and freelance work platforms like TaskRabbit. Now, nearly 5 percent of the working population works at least one "gig" job. See more data at Recode. Summer Meza

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