May 6, 2014
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A Southern California school district is revising an assignment that asked eighth grade students to write an argumentative essay on the Holocaust, and whether it was an "actual event in history," or "merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth."

The San Bernardino Sun discovered the assignment's instructions over the weekend. The Rialto Unified School District middle-schoolers were directed to use three sources in their essay, including one that called concentration camp gassings and The Diary of Anne Frank a "hoax," claiming that no evidence has been found proving that Jews died in gas chambers. KTLA reports that the source is a page on the website that says: "In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America's welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans."

The district first defended the assignment, with spokeswoman Syeda Jafri saying the point was to engage students in "critical thinking." But on Monday, Jafri read a statement that announced interim Superintendent Mohammed Z. Islam would talk to administrators to "assure that any references to the Holocaust 'not occurring' will be stricken on any current or future argumentative research assignments."

"This was a mistake," Jafri said. "It should be corrected. It will be corrected. We all know it was real. The Holocaust is not a hoax.... I believe our classroom teachers are teaching it with sensitivity and compassion."

The Rialto Unified School District serves 26,000 students in the suburbs east of Los Angeles. Jafri told The Sun that the district did not receive complaints from parents, teachers, or administrators over the assignment, and added that since the press picked up the story, district officials have received death threats. For more on the story, watch this news report from CBS Los Angeles. --Catherine Garcia

a hairy situation
5:35 p.m. ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had a productive post-Thanksgiving Monday, formally inviting President Obama to deliver his final State of the Union address Jan. 12. Afterward, he kicked back a little bit — by shamelessly showing off his beard on Twitter.

If you're wondering just how long it's been, the House archives has an answer: Ryan is apparently the first bearded speaker since Frederick Huntington Gillett, who served in the role until 1931.

But wait, you're probably craving even more House speaker facial hair history now. Never fear:

Perhaps Ryan will be inspired to rock a mustache. Julie Kliegman

This just in
4:42 p.m. ET
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Sheldon Silver, an influential New York politician who served as the New York State Assembly's speaker for two decades, was convicted Monday on all seven counts of fraud, extortion, and money laundering brought against him in a federal corruption case.

The 71-year-old Democrat is the highest-profile target of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who is seeking to expose what he calls a network of corruption in Albany. Silver was forced to step down from his post following his arrest in January; Bharara is also trying New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R), who was arrested in May on federal corruption charges. Samantha Rollins

4:39 p.m. ET

The International Monetary Fund added the Chinese yuan to its list of elite world currencies Monday, a designation that acknowledges China's growing presence as a global economic power, The New York Times reports.

The yuan, also known as the renminbi, joins the dollar, the euro, the pound, and the yen in getting the nod from the IMF. It's a move that should allow for the yuan to be more widely traded in foreign exchange markets, Reuters reports. But at least for now, the addition to the Special Drawing Rights basket is primarily symbolic.

"There's this obsession with the SDR, and it's completely out of proportion to its economic impact, which is likely to be trivial," former Federal Reserve Board governor Randall Kroszner told the Times. "It may be that in the drive to get into the SDR, they may make changes that make the renminbi more attractive for international market participants." Julie Kliegman

court reports
4:21 p.m. ET

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly fatally shooting a police officer and two others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday. Other charges could follow for Dear, who is being held without bond and appeared in the court via video feed.

Authorities have not released more information about an official motive for the shooting. Planned Parenthood advocates have attributed the shooting to pro-life abortion rhetoric, a connection many Republican presidential candidates have disputed.

Formal charges against Dear are set to be filed Dec. 9. Julie Kliegman

feel the bern
3:07 p.m. ET
Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is undergoing an elective outpatient hernia repair Monday in Washington, D.C., his spokesman said. The Democratic presidential hopeful plans to get back to his Senate work Tuesday and to the campaign trail later in the week, The Washington Post reports.

Sanders' surgery was scheduled, Michael Briggs told the Post, and he had been on the campaign trail through Sunday night, when the 74-year-old took part in a Democratic event in New Hampshire alongside frontrunner Hillary Clinton and longshot Martin O'Malley. Julie Kliegman

This just in
3:02 p.m. ET
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A University of Illinois at Chicago student was arrested on Monday for allegedly threatening online to shoot 16 white male students at the University of Chicago — one for every shot fired on black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014.

When authorities searched the room of the suspect, who was living off campus, no gun was found, a source familiar with the investigation told The Chicago Sun-Times. The FBI has said charges for the threat are pending.

According to a statement by the University of Chicago on Sunday, the campus was on high alert due to the specifics in the threat, which targeted the campus quad at 10 a.m. However, while police monitored the quad Monday morning, there was no incident. University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer said that the school had canceled classes due to the "FBI's assessment of this threat and the recent tragic events at other campuses across the country." Jeva Lange

This just in
2:29 p.m. ET
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Four men were charged Monday in connection to the Nov. 23 gunfire near a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis that injured five, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a news conference. Demonstrators have been camped outside a police station protesting the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old black man.

"These four individuals violently impacted people's rights to demonstrate," Freeman said. "We will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."

Lawrence Scarsella was charged with five counts of second-degree assault and one count of second-degree riot, Freeman said. Joseph Martin Backman, Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, and Daniel Thomas Macey were all charged with one count of second-degree riot, The Washington Post reports.

The four men charged are due in court Tuesday, with Freeman's office asking for Scarsella's bail to be set at $500,000, and the others' at $250,000 each.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, Freeman said, and it's possible that federal authorities will add charges. Earlier Monday, the Minneapolis mayor, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and the Minneapolis Urban League all urged protesters to stop congregating near the police station. Julie Kliegman

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