For whatever it’s worth. A poll released today that rates politicians by their popularity “temperature” (not their looks, as I first thought when I read the headline) claims New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the “hottest” politician in the nation. Christie, a Republican, rated 53.1 degrees on the Quinnipiac University poll (thermometer), which is designed to measure voters’ attitudes toward major political figures. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, nipped at Christie’s heels with a rating of 52.1 degrees. Their performance isn’t all that surprising, since they’re both considered top contenders for their respective party's 2016 presidential ticket. Who rated “coolest,” you ask? congressional leaders from both parties—House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (38.4) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (33.8), both Democrats, and House Speaker John Boehner (36.7) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (37.5), both Republicans. President Barack Obama rated 47.6 degrees.
Toxic rail cars. A train that derailed 60 miles west of Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday was carrying highly flammable and corrosive materials, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal confirmed today. Although no fatalities have been reported, state officials evacuated residents within a mile and a half of the accident. One of the derailed cars is leaking lubricant oil, and a second is leaking Dodecanol, an alcohol that can cause mild skin irritation. But the third leaking car contains caustic soda, or lye. Two other cars carrying a highly toxic, flammable, and carcinogenic substance called vinyl chloride monomer have damage but show no signs of leaks.
Visit the islands. Hawaiian legislators and social service providers are protesting a new state law that establishes a fund to send some of the islands’ homeless back to the mainland. The program, which has been approved but not implemented, would buy plane tickets for people who come to Hawaii, run out of money, and essentially get stranded. It’s much cheaper for the state to send them back to where they came from than to continue to support them, the legislator who sponsored the bill said. But critics fear the offer of a free ticket home will encourage more people seeking an extended beach vacation, even if it means sleeping there, to give Hawaii a try. That’s not exactly the kind of tourist attraction the Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking for.
Mars anniversary. NASA scientists and engineers are celebrating one year of exploration for the Mars Rover, which landed on the Red Planet on Aug. 5, 2012. The unmanned buggy has so far sent back some colorful photos and discovered rounded pebbles scientists say provide evidence of an ancient stream bed. The SUV-sized explorer is now on its way to Mount Sharp, where scientists say it has the best chance of detecting any signs of prior life on the inhospitable orb. To celebrate the landing anniversary, engineers commanded the rover to play “Happy Birthday,” which seems like kind of a lame trick to ask a $2.5 billion piece of equipment to do.