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2014 Watch
June 3, 2014

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst has easily won the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, positively thumping a wide-open field of several fellow GOP contenders — indeed, you could say she really made them squeal.

With 36 percent of precincts now reporting, Ernst has a whopping 54 percent of the vote, followed by her closest rival, talk radio host Sam Clovis, at only 18 percent; The Associated Press has projected Ernst as the winner of the primary. She will now face the Democratic nominee, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. A recent poll gave Braley a lead of 6 points, but the race remains very competitive.

Ernst has had some interesting TV ads, a few of which have become viral sensations online — such as one where she fired a gun at a shooting range, asking GOP voters to "give me a shot" at ObamaCare.

But by far, her most famous spot was her first TV ad, in which she boasted of her ability "to cut pork" in Washington — thanks to her experience at castrating squealing hogs. --Eric Kleefeld

campaign 2016
12:37 a.m. ET

On Monday's Tonight Show, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) complained about being ignored at the first Republican presidential debate, saying the Fox News moderators went 20 questions without asking him one. Given Christie's pugilistic reputation, Jimmy Fallon asked the governor why he didn't just force his way into the debate. "What do you think, I'm like Morton Downey Jr.?" Christie asked, laughing. "What do you think I'm doing here?"

Fallon pressed the point, and Christie took a thinly veiled jab at Donald Trump. "No, you're not supposed to" jump in, he said, "but a few people did. But, you know, I didn't think that was appropriate for that night." Fallon had a pretty good rejoinder: "It seems to be working for whoever did it."

"Stay tuned: On Sept. 16, we may be changing tactics," Christie said. "If I get to, like, 15 questions in a row — count 'em at home — if I get to 15 in a row, they're gonna go, 'Uh oh, he's gonna go nuclear now!'" Fallon actually punched the air in excitement — and given that there will again be nine other candidates on state, including Trump, there's a pretty good chance Christie will have to put his money where his mouth is. Peter Weber

Gay marriage
12:00 a.m. ET
Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected without comment a Kentucky county clerk's request to be excused from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis is the elected clerk of Rowan County and an Apostolic Christian opposed to same-sex marriage, The Washington Post reports. Davis said it would violate her religious convictions if she had to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and has stopped providing licenses to both same-sex and straight couples. If she doesn't start issuing the licenses, she could be held in contempt, and will face daily fines and possibly jail time.

In early August, U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning also rejected the argument that her religious beliefs are being violated, saying Davis is "simply being asked to signify that couples meet the legal requirements to marry. Her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk." Catherine Garcia

Clinton Emails
August 31, 2015
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday night, at 9 p.m. on the East Coast, the State Department released 7,121 new emails from Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, just meeting a court-ordered deadline to release a certain number each month. The emails were sent and saved on a private server at the Clinton residence in New York. Reporters are digging through the new dump, covering parts of 2009 and 2010, to find anything beyond mundane scheduling requests, and this early look from Politico has a few tidbits.

First, close friend Sid Blumenthal, who did not work for the State Department at the time, appears to be Clinton's version of that friend who sends you lots of articles on Facebook or over email. In one email chain with the subject line "H: Yes, there is a vast right wing conspiracy. Sid," Blumenthal pasted articles from Israeli newspaper Haaretz on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and a New Yorker articles on Charles and David Koch and their support for the Tea Party. To the long New Yorker article, Clinton replied: "Ah, a little lite vacation reading!"

Also, it appears Clinton didn't know how to use an iPad before June 2010. "That is exciting news — do you think you can teach me to use it on the flight to Kyev next week?" Clinton asked top aide Philippe Reines when he advised her that her "hPad" had arrived. In another email to top advisers in March 2010, Clinton used the subject line "Gefilte fish," with the email body simply asking: "Where are we on this?"

Of the 7,121 emails released, 125 had been retroactively deemed classified, all at the lowest level, "Confidential," the State Department said. Parts of those emails were blacked out. On Monday, State Department spokesman John Kirby apologized to reporters for the late-night email dump, explaining that the department was straining to meet the release schedule set by a judge. He promised the department will try to get the next batch out earlier in the day on Sept. 30. Peter Weber

Climate change
August 31, 2015
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In a sobering speech on Monday, President Obama said no one is "moving fast enough" to combat climate change and soon we will "condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair."

Obama was in Anchorage for the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) conference, and told his fellow world leaders if they don't act quickly the world can expect more drought, refugees, and conflict. "Any leader willing to take a gamble on a future like that, any leader who refuses to take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke, is not fit to lead," he added.

He said the United States "recognizes our role in creating this problem and embraces our role in solving it," and said those who say climate change isn't happening are "on their own shrinking island." Obama urged everyone at the conference to return to their countries ready to act. "It's not enough just to talk the talk," he said. "We've got to walk the walk." Catherine Garcia

This just in
August 31, 2015
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

On Monday night, the State Department released more than 7,000 emails sent by Hillary Clinton from a private server during her time as secretary of state.

Out of those emails, 125 are now considered classified, all at the lowest classification, "Confidential," Politico reports. Earlier Monday, the State Department told reporters none were deemed classified when they were sent, Time reports. At the time, a State Department spokesman had estimated that 150 of the emails were now deemed classified. Clinton has continously said that she did not send any emails marked classified from the server. This is the third and largest release of Clinton's emails from her tenure as secretary of state, and the new batch of 7,121 emails puts the State Department back on track with the court-ordered release schedule. Catherine Garcia

yeezus in 2020
August 31, 2015
Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

After hearing Kanye West declare at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards that he will run for president in 2020, Eugene Craig wasted no time setting up a PAC called Ready for Kanye.

Craig, a 24-year-old black Republican activist from Maryland, said the PAC is not a joke, and he'll be "gathering data, gathering info" on people willing to get West elected. "If Mr. West is to seek the presidency in 2020, and if there is no incumbent Republican president, I would absolutely encourage him to run," Craig told The Washington Post. "I think he will bring an interesting dialogue to our party, and he'll find a lot of people who want that dialogue. He's pointed out the crippling racial disparities in the law and the economy. He's talked about the pipeline of private prisons. He's a genuine entrepreneur. Oh, not to mention that his first big single was 'Jesus Walks.'"

Craig said he's not sure where West falls on the political spectrum, but he is a huge fan of the "musical genius" and would be willing to introduce him to the Republican Party if he's receptive. "He's been critical of President Bush; he's been critical of President Obama," Craig said. "You know, we'll find out when we reach him." Catherine Garcia

taliban
August 31, 2015

The Taliban said in a statement Monday that it suffered an "incorrigible loss" on April 23, 2013, when leader Mullah Mohammed Omar died.

The news of Omar's death leaked in July, but the date of his passing remained a mystery until Monday. In the statement, which was written in several languages and posted on the Taliban's website, the organization said his death was kept a secret in order to keep spirits and morale high at a time when foreign fighters were leaving Afghanistan. Only a few of the Taliban's higher ups knew about the "depressing news."

The communication also included information on Omar's successor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor. Many rank and file members of the Taliban are not supportive of Mansoor, The Guardian reports, and Omar's family is not backing him. The statement said Mansoor fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and "particularly loves and has interest in marksmanship." Catherine Garcia

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