In his latest election forecast for FiveThirtyEight, stats guru Nate Silver predicts that the GOP is a "slight favorite" to take control of the Senate this November. Silver estimates Republicans have about a 60 percent chance to pick up at least the six seats necessary to win back the upper chamber, though he cautions that only four races are "clearly leaning their way," and offers the standard disclaimer that the elections are still seven months away — a lifetime in electoral politics. As of now though, Silver's model shows the GOP heavily favored to pick up seats in South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, and Arkansas, with Louisiana leaning Republican and North Carolina a straight toss up.
As for the accuracy of Silver's past political prognostications, he correctly predicted the electoral college outcome in all 50 states in the 2012 election, four years after going 49 for 50 in the previous cycle. Jon Terbush
Four Islamic State leaders are now listed on the U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice list, which offers a collective $20 million in rewards for information that leads to the arrests of the men.
— Panorama.it (@panorama_it) May 6, 2015
The State Department is offering $5 million for information on ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, $5 million for battlefield commander Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, $7 million for senior official Abdul Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, and up to $3 million for Tariq bin al-Tahar bin al-Falih al-Awni al-Harzi, the BBC reports.
Al-Adnani was born in Syria in 1977, and has appeared in numerous official videos released by ISIS. Batirashvili, also known as Omar Shishani ("Chechen" in Arabic), is based in northern Syria. He was born in 1986 in Birkiani, Georgia, and once led an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda and made up primarily of foreign fighters from the North Caucasus. Al-Qaduli was born in Mosul, Iraq, in the 1950s, and is believed to have taken control of ISIS while leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recovered from an injury sustained in an airstrike. Al-Harzi was born in Tunis in 1982, and is based in Syria, where he recruits foreign fighters and is "emir of suicide bombers." Catherine Garcia
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) learned a $100,000 lesson: If you're in the public eye — especially as a politician running for president — you need to snag every single .com, .org, .whatever associated with your name.
In March, a month before Paul formally announced he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, his Senate re-election campaign paid $100,000 to a third-party firm for the domain randpaul.com, the Los Angeles Times reports. While the site at one time was run by supporters of Paul, no one is sure who owned it at the time of the hefty payment. Two of Paul's GOP comrades made the same mistake of not securing their own domains, and they are now dealing with some online embarrassment: carlyfiorina.org shows 30,000 sad faces, representing the number of people laid off at Hewlett Packard while Carly Fiorina was chief executive, while tedcruz.com sports the decidedly non-Ted Cruz message "Support President Obama. Immigration reform now!" Catherine Garcia
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday struck an 11th-hour deal to form a new coalition government, barely beating a midnight deadline to do so.
Nearly two months after winning re-election to a fourth term, Netanyahu announced around 11 p.m. he had cobbled together at least the 61 seats necessary in parliament to form a new government after securing the support of the nationalist Jewish Home party. "Israel now has a government," Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home's leader, said after meeting with members of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party.
Netanyahu came from behind to win a tight election in March, and the thin margin of victory complicated the process of forming a new government. Jon Terbush
What ever happened to a nice bouquet of flowers?
The Idaho Statesman reports that one Idaho teen went much, much bigger with his or her elaborate "promposal." Unfortunately for the budding graffiti artist, spray-painting, "DESTINY, PROM?" in huge pink-and-blue letters across the state's Black Cliffs is illegal.
(Patrick Orr/Ada County Sheriff's Office via AP)
"We realize prom proposals are a big deal these days, but this one was just a really bad — and illegal — idea, which caused some serious aesthetic and cultural damage," the Ada County Sheriff's Office posted on its Facebook page.
If caught, the person responsible could face a misdemeanor charge that carries with it up to $1,000 in fines and possible jail time. Probably not the kind of date with destiny our would-be Prom Hero had in mind. Sarah Eberspacher
The skyrocketing price of college tuition at previously affordable state colleges and universities is a longstanding source of concern, especially for people graduating with mountains of student debt. People have many theories as to why this is happening: administrative bloat, too-high salaries for professors, or perhaps too many unnecessary new buildings.
Robert Hiltonsmith, an analyst at Demos, has crunched the numbers. While the above factors do play a small part, the overwhelming reason for increasing prices at state schools is decreasing support from state governments. Here's the take-home chart:
In other words, it's the austerity, stupid. Ryan Cooper
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) on Wednesday proposed legislation that would dismantle behemoth banks, a move that could pressure Hillary Clinton to ratchet up her populist rhetoric as the White House race gets underway.
Entitled the "Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Exist Act," the bill would require federal regulators to draw up a list of banks whose collapses would devastate the entire economy. The Treasury would then have one year to break up those institutions. In a statement, Sanders said the list would initially include at least eight banks — including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase — and possibly more.
"No single financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation's economic wellbeing," Sanders, who recently announced he will compete in the Democratic presidential primary contest, said at a press conference unveiling the legislation.
"If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist and that is the bottom line," he added.
After Hillary Clinton gave a speech last week lamenting America's "era of mass incarceration," critics were quick to point out that the policies she criticized included those implemented by her husband. But now, Bill Clinton has voiced his support for her speech.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour Wednesday, Bill said that his tough-on-crime policies cast "too wide a net" and led to too many people being put in prison.
"We wound up... putting so many people in prison that there wasn't enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs, and increase the chances when they came out that they could live productive lives," Bill Clinton told Amanpour.
"I strongly support what [Hillary is] doing, and I think any policy that was adopted when I was president, any federal law that contributed to it, needs to be changed," Clinton added. Meghan DeMaria