March 4, 2014
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Furious with the GOP leadership, conservatives and Tea Party types have vowed to unseat entrenched Republican lawmakers in divisive primary campaigns across the country this year. And Tuesday, the Tea Party gets its first shot at doing just that, with Rep. Steve Stockman vying to dump Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate's second-ranking Republican.

Yet as voters head to the polls, the most intriguing question is not whether the Tea Party will win, but rather how badly it will lose. Stockman entered the race as a huge underdog, and his campaign has since been a rolling disaster. He ditched the campaign trail for a bit — he claimed he snuck off to Egypt and Russia — fended off allegations he'd been charged with a felony, and got hammered by a local Tea Party coalition for running the "laziest statewide campaign to date."

If Cornyn fails to crack 50 percent — there are a handful of other candidates in the race too, so that's not an unrealistic possibility — there will be a runoff in May. But even then, Cornyn should have no trouble coasting to a comfortable reelection, which would be an embarrassing blow to the Tea Party — on Sen. Ted Cruz's own turf, no less. Jon Terbush

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
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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

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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

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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

on deadline
1:43 p.m. ET

As world leaders convene in Paris for the latest round of United Nations climate change talks, New York Times energy reporter Coral Davenport shared an inside look Monday at what the marathon negotiation sessions are like. She describes the experience as "the most physically grueling work you can do in a suit," and has learned to bring along a case of Clif bars, hand warmers (in case of long security lines outside), and a sleeping bag.

Here's what she said of the 2014 summit in Lima, Peru:

Negotiators worked on Friday night through about 3 a.m. and then announced a 4-hour break. Bleary and delirious delegates staggered out of their meetings, many too exhausted to avoid reporters, and those of us who had been lying in wait were able to elicit punchy and candid quotes from typically cautious and reticent delegates.

Is it possible that this method is not the best for forging sweeping — and complicated — legal deals designed to save the planet and reshape the global economy? [The New York Times]

Davenport noted that although French President François Hollande is setting tight deadlines in the hopes of avoiding any spillover from the talks, the government booked the convention center for a couple of extra days. After all, in 23 years of annual talks, they've never ended on time, according to Davenport.

"Much like college students and the United States Congress, United Nations negotiators are notorious for leaving everything to the last minute," she wrote.

Read more about Davenport's experiences here. Julie Kliegman

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