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May 6, 2014
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Voters are heading to the polls today in North Carolina, with two key Republican primaries to especially look out for.

In the Senate race, where Republicans are hoping to defeat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan this November, state House Speaker Thom Tillis must first go up against a feisty anti-establishment challenge from multiple contenders. Under North Carolina law, Tillis can win the nomination outright if he clears 40 percent of the vote, for which a recent poll showed him right on the cusp.

But if Tillis misses that, he could end up in a very lively runoff on July 15 against Tea Party activist Greg Brannon — who has said some of the darnedest things about democracy, socialism, public schools, local property taxes, and a whole host of other topics.

And further down the ticket, the incumbents vs. insurgents narrative is reversed for 20-year Rep. Walter Jones — himself an anti-war, populist renegade against the GOP leadership. His opponent is Taylor Griffin, a former Treasury Department official under President George W. Bush who has support ranging from banking interests all the way to Sarah Palin.

The polls will close tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. Eric Kleefeld

6:00 p.m. ET

Afeni Shakur Davis, rapper Tupac Shakur's mother and the subject of his hit song "Dear Mama," died Monday at her home in Sausalito, California. She was 69.

The Marin County Sheriff's Office says a family friend called 911 Monday night, saying Shakur Davis was in "physical distress." Spokesman Lt. Doug Pittman said she was unresponsive when paramedics arrived, and she was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Pittman met Shakur Davis for the first time in 1988, and called her a "well-known and respected member of our community" whose death was a "tragic loss." It is believed she suffered from cardiac arrest.

When she was pregnant with Tupac, Shakur Davis was a member of the Black Panther Party, and spent time in prison. She was part of the New York 21, accused and later acquitted of conspiring to bomb police stations and department stores. After her son's murder in 1996 at the age of 25, Shakur Davis came into control of his estate, and in 2006 she told the Los Angeles Times, "I say it every time, that Tupac left us the blueprints to follow." In 2015, she helped the Grammy Museum with its "All Eyez on Me: The Writings of Tupac Shakur" exhibition, which included outfits he wore during concerts, handwritten lyrics and poems, and videos. Catherine Garcia

3:54 p.m. ET
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday for federal corruption charges. Silver, 72, was found guilty on all counts, including taking millions in bribes from real-estate and medical interests, at trial last November.

Silver was in power in the state for more than two decades. "I failed the people of New York. There is no question about it," the Democrat wrote in an April letter to the judge, as reported by The Associated Press. "What I have done has hurt the Assembly, and New York, and my constituents terribly, and I regret that more than I can possibly express."

More than 30 New York state lawmakers have left office surrounded by criminal or ethical allegations since 2000, with Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara calling the state government a "cauldron of corruption." Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr., was sentenced to 14 years for corruption late last year.

"Because of me, the government has been ridiculed. I let my peers down, I let the people of the state down, and I let down my constituents — the people of lower Manhattan that I live among and fought for. They deserve better," Silver wrote. Jeva Lange

3:33 p.m. ET
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Given the choice between Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a former top aide to one-time GOP nominee John McCain says he'd choose Clinton any day. "I'm with her," Mark Salter, who served as both chief of staff for the Arizona senator and as senior advisor on his 2008 presidential campaign, tweeted Thursday, referencing Clinton's campaign slogan.

Salter's slam on Trump on the day of the decisive Indiana GOP primary is far from his first anti-Trump screed. He's written numerous op-eds about the damage Trump could cause to the party and, in a Real Clear Politics piece published in February, he warned that Trump is "making us the worst we can be to satisfy his own vainglory." "If you can see him plainly and you love our country," Salter wrote, "you must vote against him. Even if that means electing Hillary Clinton."

If Trump wins Indiana tonight — as the polls are predicting he will — Salter had better ready his ballot for Clinton. Becca Stanek

3:27 p.m. ET
Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona via Getty Images

Scientists may finally have an explanation for how water creates those mysterious streaks marking Mars' surface. A new study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that it's not salty water flowing downhill that's creating the streaks on the Red Planet as scientists initially thought, but rather water that's boiling out of Mars' soil.

With the help of a special chamber that modeled the climate conditions of Mars on a hot summer day, researchers were able to take some of the guess work out of deducing how water in Martian atmospheric conditions might behave. Scientists had previously thought the streaks were evidence of liquid water on Mars, but found this theory hard to prove — especially because Mars' exceptionally thin atmosphere makes it nearly impossible for water to stay in its liquid state for long.

When scientists put ice in the chamber with the same low atmospheric conditions found on Mars, they found it melted, as expected. But when the water started to boil, there was a surprise: When the boiling water emerged to the surface, it evaporated so quickly that it blasted dust and debris off the ground. The displaced dust exposed the darker ground underneath and created what appeared to be little ridges — not all that different from those streaking Mars' surface.

Watch the researchers' simulation of what's happening up on Mars, below. Becca Stanek

3:15 p.m. ET
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

You know Megyn Kelly as the fiery Fox News anchor who has made headlines this election cycle for daring to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump. But that's far from the first time Kelly has been bold and confident in her interactions with a man — take a look below at how her husband, the entrepreneur Douglas Brunt, summed up his first date with Kelly, courtesy of Humans of New York. Kimberly Alters

1:39 p.m. ET
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Indiana lives and dies by basketball, so it should come as no shock that its politics does, too. "Basketball might not be the single deciding factor in any state race, but in Indiana, it puts points on the scoreboard. It wouldn't be a surprise at the end of the day to see victories from candidates who have made the strongest efforts at capitalizing on the statewide love for the sport," The Atlantic recently wrote.

Here at The Week, we've put that to the test. Below is our official Indiana Primary Scorecard, as determined by the show of b-ball love. Jeva Lange

  • Donald Trump
    Trump holds a wide margin in Hoosier State polls, and he's got the basketball chops to have earned it. Trump is the only candidate to have the official endorsements of three of the state's legendary coaches: former Purdue University coach Gene Keady, former Indiana Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight, and former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps. While Trump should have won this category in a landslide, he gets docked one point for misspelling Knight's name in a tweet.
    Scorecard: Coach endorsements (3 points) - misspelling (-1 point) + making fun of Ted Cruz for saying "basketball ring" ( 1 point) = 3 points
  • Ted Cruz
    Cruz really put in an effort here, but failed to stick the landing. In an elaborately staged campaign speech that referenced the film Hoosiers, Cruz infamously misspoke and called the basketball hoop a "ring." Cruz makes up points for apologizing for the error and pushing that he was actually a b-baller himself in high school.
    Scorecard: Hoosier reference (1 point) - "ring" gaffe (-2 points) + former basketballer (1 point) = 0 points
  • John Kasich
    In an effort to stop Trump, Kasich vowed he wouldn't campaign in Indiana. That being said, Kasich might be the only candidate running to have actually shot around with an NBA team.
    Scorecard: Benched
  • Bernie Sanders
    Sanders is this election's resident Brooklynite and therefore basketball is in his blood. To the surprise of no one, he put his moves on display for basketball-obsessed Hoosiers at Purdue.
    Scorecard: Getting his game on (1 point) = 1 point
  • Hillary Clinton
    In 2010, Clinton wrote an email to an aide asking, "Are you still in basketball-crazed Indianoplace?" Clinton has since apologized for the dismissive attitude, saying "even people in Indiana make that joke." But Indiana hasn't forgotten, Hillary. Indiana never forgets.
    Scorecard: "Indianoplace" (-2 points) = -2 points
12:27 p.m. ET
iStock

The Rio Tinto Argyle mine in Western Australia is responsible for turning up most of the world's rare pink diamonds — and now it's revealed something even rarer. Rio Tinto Diamonds announced Tuesday that its annual showcase this year will feature a massive violet diamond discovered in the mine. The stone was more than twice the size of the next-largest violet diamond found in the mine; in its original state, the diamond was more than nine carats, and after being cut and polished it stands at 2.83 carats.

While Rio Tinto has not put a fine point on the diamond's worth, its incredible rarity ensures the price tag will be high. Pink and red diamonds, which are much less rare than violet diamonds, are worth "about 50 times more than white diamonds," Discovery News reports. (Argyle pink diamonds, for instance, sell for about $1-2 million per carat.) According to Rio Tinto, only 12 carats of polished violet diamonds have been produced for its annual tender in the last 32 years.

The rare violet diamond will go on display beginning with private trade viewings in June. It will then travel to Copenhagen, Hong Kong, and New York with Rio Tinto's annual pink diamonds showcase. Becca Stanek

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