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January 5, 2016
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Just weeks ahead of the first primary vote, GOP operatives are reportedly still considering a plan to take down Donald Trump. The latest scheme, Politico reports, would employ Alex Castellanos, former adviser to Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, who has reportedly been meeting with top GOP operatives to "gauge interest in launching an anti-Trump vehicle that would pummel the Manhattan businessman on the television airwaves":

Those who’ve met with Castellanos say he’s offered detailed presentations on how such an offensive would play out. Castellanos has said that an anti-Trump ad campaign, which would be designed to cast him as a flawed strongman, would cost well into the millions. It was unclear, the sources said, whether Castellanos, who did not respond to a request for comment, would ultimately go through with the effort. [Politico]

While this plan centers on Trump, Politico reports that the fear extends beyond just his nomination. The establishment is also reportedly worried about the effects of Ted Cruz winning the nomination. Some contend that if either Trump or Cruz's name tops the ticket, everyone below — be it a GOP candidate for governor, senator, or Congress — is in peril. "At some point, we have to deal with the fact that there are at least two candidates who could utterly destroy the Republican bench for a generation if they became nominee," a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. "We'd be hard-pressed to elect a Republican dogcatcher north of the Mason-Dixon or west of the Mississippi."

Read the full story over at Politico. Becca Stanek

7:23 a.m. ET

A dozen Labour shadow ministers resigned on Sunday, and another half dozen have quit on Monday, in protest of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's firing of shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, who told Corbyn he's lost confidence in his leadership. Labour officials also accuse Corbyn of only tepidly supporting the push to remain in the EU, and Labour MPs will likely hold a secret-ballot vote of no confidence in Corbyn on Tuesday. Labour is currently Britain's official opposition party.

Corbyn, who was elected last September and says he will run again for leader if the MPs outs him, named a new shadow cabinet on Monday. On Sunday's Andrew Marr Show, Benn called Corbyn "a good and decent man but he is not a leader." Shadow chancellor John McDonnell disagreed Monday, and you can watch his defense of Corbyn to the BBC's Andrew Neil below. Peter Weber

6:30 a.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton's running mate is a matter of pretty intense speculation, and the Republican National Committee, like the news media, thinks Clinton will probably pick Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), or HUD Secretary Julian Castro, according to an RNC strategy memo obtained by The Huffington Post. The RNC research team, the memo says, "has been quietly building a framework to systematically dismantle the records" of Clinton's running mates for "several months," with the goal to "pre-emptively influence coverage and define top contenders ... in a manner that will peel away the most votes."

RNC Research director Raj Shah calls the VP vetting endeavor "Project Pander," and his two proposed means of peeling those votes away are to use Clinton's VP pick to "drive wedges between these top contenders and either Clinton and/or traditional Democrat constituencies, such as labor, environmentalists, and gun control advocates," and, "where applicable, frame the choice as an insult to the large, deep base of Bernie Sanders supporters who are struggling with the notion of supporting Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democrat nominee."

Each likely candidate is given a frame — Kaine is a "career politician" who's not liberal enough for "the Sanders wing" but too liberal for America; Warren is "a rich, liberal egoist" with "intensely liberal and uncompromising positions on taxes ... at odds with Middle America"; and Castro "could easily be portrayed as a John Edwards-esque pick, whereby someone with good looks but a thin resume is viewed as a novice on the national stage" — and Shah says it will use the research "to release or pitch on background prior to the nomination, and during the first hours after the announcement is made."

RNC communications director Sean Spicer told The Huffington Post that the RNC is digging deep on each candidate, while Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said "no amount of Googling by RNC researchers" will make Donald Trump fit to be president. You can read more about the GOP's planned attacks on Clinton's likely running mate — or learn why you should opposed each candidate — in the RNC memo, or at The Huffington Post. Peter Weber

5:24 a.m. ET

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight began on Sunday with his native United Kingdom, "a place whose very name, after this week's events, is beginning to sound a bit sarcastic." Oliver had warned against Britain leaving the European Union last week, and Britons ignored him — and their prime minister, who's stepping down after the Brexit debacle of his own making. Cameron's fall "should make me happy, but in this situation it doesn't," Oliver said. "It's like catching an ice cream cone out of the air because a child was hit by a car."

Leading Brexit proponents Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage both declared the vote Britain's "independence day," which Oliver found odd, because first, "Britain was already independent — in fact, it's what many other countries celebrate their independence from — and second, the sequel to the movie they're quoting actually opened this week, and features the wholesale destruction of London, which is beginning to feel pretty f—ing appropriate right now."

Some British "Leave" voters seem to sense that, and they are expressing buyer's remorse — perhaps because they Googled what they'd just done — and Oliver had no patience for that. "As if all this couldn't get any worse, as the full impact of what Britain had just done was sinking in, Donald Trump showed up in Scotland to promote his f—ing golf course," he said, deconstructing Trump's meaningless reaction — and then his claim that America is next. "You might think, well that is not going to happen to us in America — we're not going to listen to some ridiculously haired buffoon peddling lies and nativism in the hopes of riding a protest vote into power," Oliver said. "Well, let Britain tell you, it can happen, and when it does, there are no f—ing do-overs." Watch below — but we warned, there is decidedly NSFW language. Peter Weber

3:25 a.m. ET

For all the daredevils out there, there's a new thrill perched 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles: A 45-foot-long glass slide that propels you down from the 70th to the 69th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower.

The Skyslide opened on Saturday, and offers unparalleled views of the entire city. It's not for the faint of heart — the only things separating sliders from plummeting down to the concrete jungle below are pieces of glass just one-and one-quarter inch thick.

The entire trip lasts a few seconds (tickets start at $27, and include admission to four observation decks), and is actually pretty simple; you sit on a piece of carpet and then go zipping down the slide. In a way, it's kind of like starring in a live action version of Aladdin — you're flying high in the sky on a magic carpet, except this one doesn't have cute tassels, and only someone as diabolical as Jafar would think it's a good idea to go sliding down a piece of glass atop the tallest skyscraper in earthquake country. Be prepared to use all three of your wishes on making it out of Skyslide with your nerves intact. Catherine Garcia

3:23 a.m. ET

In the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, expect a lot of glowing "inspiration porn" about the athletes going for the gold, John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "But while the Olympics feature thrilling displays of athletic prowess, they can also take place beneath the dark shadow caused by doping scandals. And this Olympics is no exception." Russia has the most colorful scandal, so Oliver started there. But while "Russia's track and field team is currently banned from competing at the upcoming Olympics," he said, "there's nothing new about this story. For as long as there's been science, people have used it to juice the human body."

Still, the prevalence of doping today is surprising, Oliver said, given the robust anti-doping measures taken by major sports federations. "Despite rigorous testing, athletes are clearly slipping through the cracks, for multiple reasons," he explained. "For a start, there are multiple tests, and none of them can detect the full range of drugs an athlete may be on." Oliver ran through some of the ways athletes cheat the system, and more entertainingly, some of the excuses they've used when they test positive. And they do it, he added, in part because "there is a massive financial ecosystem dependent on spectacular athletic achievement in scandal-free games."

Oliver returned to Russia, using its sandal to diagram the global anti-doping system and how they can break down. "While this clearly isn't the system we need, it might actually be the system we want," he added, with an assist from the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Russia isn't alone, either, he said. "Think of doping like Vladimir Putin: It's far from just a Russian problem, it's something that adversely affects the entire world." The answer is not to just give up and allow doping, but the world has two choices going forward, Oliver said: "If we truly want to clean up sports, we should empower WADA by making it truly independent, and put pressure on the broader sport system to aggressively combat doping. And if we don't really care enough to make changes, we should at the very least make our syrupy athlete promos a bit more honest." If you've ever watched Last Week Tonight, you know what comes next. Watch below (with requisite NSFW warning). Peter Weber

2:45 a.m. ET

While accepting the Humanitarian Award Sunday night at the BET Awards, actor Jesse Williams gave a powerful speech about race in America and the pressing need for equality.

The Grey's Anatomy star joined the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and was also the executive producer of Stay Woke, a documentary out in May about Black Lives Matter. BET CEO Debra Lee said Williams received the award because of his "continued efforts and steadfast commitment to furthering social change," but he said the honor wasn't for him, but rather the "real organizers all over the country, the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do."

Williams said he also wanted to set a few things straight, primarily that "the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander — that's not our job so let's stop with all that. If you have a critique for our resistance then you'd better have an established record, a critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down." For centuries, "we've been floating this country on credit," Williams continued, and "we're done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, [and] our entertainment." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

1:37 a.m. ET

At least two suicide bombers carried out an attack early Monday in the Lebanese village of Qaa near the Syrian border, local media reports.

At least six people were killed, Al Jazeera says, and Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV reports at least 19 were wounded. Earlier, the broadcaster said two people carried out the attack, but later revised its report to say even more suicide bombers were involved. The village's mayor told Voice of Lebanon that all of the victims were civilians, and three of the injured are Lebanese soldiers. No group has claimed responsibility. Catherine Garcia

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