2014 Watch
May 7, 2014

Last night's GOP Senate primary in North Carolina was billed as a surrogate battle in the Republican Civil War between the establishment and grassroots. But it ended up being more of a surrender than a battle. And since establishment candidate Thom Tillis easily trounced his two grassroots conservative opponents, it would be easy to declare today that the tea party is toast.

The truth is probably more complicated than that. In fact, if the tea party didn't show up, or put up much of a fight, it might be because they already won the war. I'll let The Atlantic's Molly Ball explain:

[I]f Tillis represented the Republican establishment — something he denies, of course; it is not a label anyone embraces — he also represents the party's new, post-Tea Party mainstream. He was endorsed by National Right to Life and the National Rifle Association. As House speaker during a time when Republicans took over North Carolina's government for the first time since 1896, he oversaw a dramatic slate of rightward policies, from tax cuts to voter ID, that he terms a "conservative revolution."

It was hard for opponents to paint Tillis as a liberal when actual liberals were picketing his initiatives on the steps of the statehouse in Raleigh on a regular basis. If this race is any indication, the "Republican civil war" storyline so beloved of pundits in recent years may have to be retired... [The Atlantic]

The theory goes like this: In the beginning, the GOP establishment had grown old and fat and corrupt, and the tea party bench was full of young and talented and pure candidates. And so, when quality candidates like former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and former Rep. and Club for Growth head Pat Toomey challenged moderate GOP candidates like then-Gov. Charlie Crist (Fla.) and then-Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) — both of whom later became Democrats — it was like picking low-hanging fruit.

But there are only so many Rubios and Toomeys (and only so many Crists and Specters). So it gets increasingly harder to replicate this success. The well of quality tea party candidates goes dry, and eventually, you're scraping the bottom. What's more, the early victories send a message to the old guard that they'd better clean up their act.

And so, the tea party message gets co-opted by the establishment — which, for tea party conservatives, ought to be cause for celebration; incumbents who want to survive either get religion, or get ousted.

If the tea party is having a bad year, it's only because they are a victim of their own success. Matt K. Lewis

Faux Paws
12:10 p.m. ET

Have you ever woken up, looked at your pet husky and thought, "Man, you'd look even better with two gold Apple watches on those furry paws"?

Me neither.

But Wang Sicong, the son of China's richest man — Wang Jianlin, who is worth an estimated $34 billion — has a bit more money to blow than the rest of us. Husky Wang Keke, who has her own Weibo account (China's version of Twitter) posted a series of photos in which she's sporting not one but two gold Apple watches.

(Weibo)

"I have new watches!" the caption, translated, read. "I'm supposed to have four watches since I have four long legs. But that seems too tuhao (nouveau riche), so I kept it down to two, which totally fits my status."

The Daily Mail notes that the post prompted heavy backlash from other Weibo users: One gold Apple watch retails for $10,000 to $17,000. Time to step up your social media game, Wang Keke, and here's lesson one: Know your audience. Sarah Eberspacher

The Name Game
11:59 a.m. ET
iStock

If you know a Jennifer, she's probably in her late 20s or early 30s, while Aunts Linda and Carol are likely turning 65 this year. Thanks to this name/age calculator, it's easy to see when a given name peaked in popularity, a measure which is often a reliable indicator of someone's age.

But names also correlate with professions, states, pop culture events, and even your political leanings:

  • Jobs: Luigi and Bobby are disproportionately likely to drive race cars, while I (Bonnie) apparently missed my calling as an interior decorator.
  • States: Thanks to uneven immigration patterns, Arizona has a lot of Garcias and Montoyas, while my state of Minnesota is packed with Scandinavian surnames like Peterson and Hansen.
  • Culture: Shirley Temple on screen means more Shirleys; Game of Thrones on screen means more Khaleesis. (It's a title, guys! Come on!)
  • Politics: Malik and Natasha lean the furthest left, while Delbert and Brittney are most likely to vote GOP.

Click over to the Washington Post to figure out how well your name fits with your life. Bonnie Kristian

going postal
11:54 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In light of a recently released white paper that suggested the Post Office (USPS) get into the banking business, the banks are pushing back hard against the idea, which would involve USPS using its ubiquitous outposts to offer a limited selection of banking services.

While supporters of the idea, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), argue that USPS could provide low-income customers an alternative to payday loan and check-cashing businesses, critics have pointed out that the Post Office has no experience in banking and is perceived by many as being incompetent in the responsibilities it already has.

“It seems crazy," Francis Creighton, executive vice president of government relations, said at the Financial Services Roundtable. "These people are not that good at managing how to deliver the mail and they want to get into this business?"

Perhaps a more significant long-term consideration is that a USPS bank could well be classified as "too big to fail," meaning Post Office bailouts —which are regularly suggested given the organization's steady record of losses — could potentially balloon in scale. Bonnie Kristian

This just in
11:04 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and IRS criminal division head Richard Weber held a press conference in Brooklyn to discuss the indictment of nine FIFA officials on corruption charges. Lynch announced the unsealing of the 47 charges, which include money laundering, conspiracy, using bribes to influence hosting decisions, and soliciting bribes from sports marketers.

Lynch said that the FIFA officials, as well as five indicted sports-marketing executives, "corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests," and added that they will be brought to justice. The officials have agreed to return millions of dollars accepted in bribes.

The surprise arrests were carried out early Wednesday morning by plainclothes police officers as soccer's governing world body gathered in Zurich, Switzerland for FIFA's annual meeting. While FIFA's powerful longtime president, Sepp Blatter, isn't among those indicted, the arrests are a blow to his tenure, and could put his presumed election to a fifth term — set for Friday — in jeopardy. Meghan DeMaria

Yeah science!
10:35 a.m. ET
iStock

Don't worry — this is not the hideous, cold-sore causing herpes you know and hate, which can be extremely harmful for cancer patients. Rather, this version of herpes has been genetically engineered not to cause an active infection.

For several years, scientists have been experimenting with cancer treatment forms utilizing viruses, an approach called immunotherapy. This particular herpes virus, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, has proven highly effective in combating melanoma, an increasingly common form of skin cancer.

When injected directly into a melanoma, this specially designed herpes can attack the cancer in two ways: by killing the cells directly and "marshalling" the immune system against them. Further, because the virus specifically targets the cancerous cells, there tend to be fewer side effects than with other, more traditional forms of treatment, like chemotherapy.

Combined with additional immunotherapies, this version of herpes improves survival and life extension rates in patients with even advanced stages of cancer. Stephanie Talmadge

Wordplay
10:19 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

Bad news, world: Jeggings are here to stay.

At least for now, the "legging that is designed to resemble a tight-fitting pair of denim jeans" has been defined and included in the new edition of the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, The Washington Post reports.

Also among the more than 1,700 new entries: "photobomb" ("to move into the frame of a photograph as it is being taken as a joke or prank") and "NSFW" ("not safe for work; used to warn someone that a website, email attachment, etc., is not suitable for viewing at most places of employment"). Other additions include techy terms like "clickbait," "meme," and "emoji," and, a bit more randomly, "colossal squid."

Check out even more of the dictionary's new entries over at Merriam-Webster Unabridged. Sarah Eberspacher

Discoveries!
9:54 a.m. ET
Screenshot/YouTube/F2OS

It's a question that has bedeviled moguls for millennia: Where do you put your solid gold bucket brimming with weed and coke? If you were a nomadic warlord from the 4th century B.C., you'd hide it in your secret treasure room, of course.

Archaeologists have found just such a room, containing two such objects, hidden beneath an ancient burial mound in southern Russia. The researchers dated the treasure horde to 2,400 years ago and believe it once belonged to the Scythians, a ferocious group of nomads who were contemporaries of the ancient Greeks. All in all, the room contains nearly seven pounds worth of gold artifacts like cups, rings, bracelets, and chokers. Those buckets, though, stole the show.

National Geographic reports:

[Head archaeologist] Belinski asked criminologists in nearby Stavropol to analyze a black residue inside the vessels. The results came back positive for opium and cannabis, confirming a practice first reported by Herodotus. The Greek historian claimed that the Scythians used a plant to produce smoke "that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass … transported by the vapor, [they] shout aloud."

Because the sticky residue was found on the inside of the vessels, Belinski and Gass think they were used to brew and drink a strong opium concoction, while cannabis was burning nearby. "That both drugs were being used simultaneously is beyond doubt," Gass says. [National Geographic]

You can read more about this heady, "once-in-a-century discovery" at National Geographic. Nico Lauricella

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