Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 27, 2014

Harold Maass
United and... unionized? (Facebook)
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Government says Northwestern players have the right to unionize

In a move that is rekindling the debate over amateurism in NCAA sports, the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday declared that Northwestern University football players on full scholarships are in essence school employees, so they have the right to unionize. The NLRB said it would supervise the vote. If the majority backs a union, athletes at other private schools could follow. [Reuters]


Egyptian military chief quits to run for president

Egypt's Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi announced on state TV that he was resigning as head of the country's military to run for president later this year, a move that many had long expected. Field Marshal Sisi was the one who yanked Egypt's elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, from office in July. His supporters see him as the key to ending Egypt's turmoil, but opponents say he has presided over widespread abuses. [BBC News]


The number missing in Washington's mudslide drops to 90

The number of people listed as missing after Washington's massive mudslide dropped to 90 on Wednesday, from 176 the day before. Some names were believed to be duplicates. Twenty-five people have been confirmed dead, but several bodies have yet to be recovered from the mud and wreckage, which is 40 feet deep in some places. Firefighter Jan McClellan said the likelihood of finding survivors is dwindling, but that, "We live for that hope." [CNN]


Charlotte mayor resigns after his arrest on corruption charges

Mayor Patrick Cannon of Charlotte  North Carolina's largest city  resigned Wednesday night after being arrested and accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. The 49-year-old Democrat, who took office just four months ago, allegedly accepted a briefcase stuffed with $20,000 in his office last month, and was scheduled to meet undercover FBI agents posing as businessman for another payoff in exchange for his influence. [Charlotte Observer]


Obama meets with Pope Francis

President Obama met Pope Francis for the first time on Thursday at the Vatican. The talk came after several years of tensions between the Obama administration and Catholic church leadership over the Affordable Care Act's coverage of contraception and other issues. The White House said the meeting would focus on area's where the two leaders agree, such as their "shared commitment to fighting poverty." [CNN]


Judge declares Oklahoma's execution law unconstitutional

A judge in Oklahoma ruled the state's capital punishment law unconstitutional on Wednesday because it prevents death-row prisoners from knowing what drugs will be used in executions. The challenge was filed by lawyers for two convicted murderers, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, who were scheduled to be executed this spring. The state maintained secrecy to protect suppliers, who have been running short of the drugs. [The Associated Press]


Chicago train operator fell asleep before crash

The operator of commuter train that crashed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport reportedly told investigators she dozed off. "She did not awake until the train hit," National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said Wednesday. Thirty people were injured when the eight-car train jumped onto the platform at the end of the track and crashed part of the way up an escalator and staircase leading into the airport on Monday. [The Associated Press]


Bank of America settles mortgage bond lawsuit for $9.3 billion

Bank of America has agreed to pay $9.3 billion to settle a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency claiming that the bank sold faulty mortgage bonds to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The deal, announced Wednesday, ends one of the bank's main legal problems left over from the financial crisis. The bank and its former CEO, Kenneth Lewis, also settled another suit alleging it misled investors about losses at Merrill Lynch & Co. [Reuters]


Scientists find another dwarf planet far beyond Pluto

Astronomers have discovered a dwarf planet, 2012 VP113, far beyond Pluto, according to a study unveiled Wednesday in the journal Nature. The orbit of the 280-mile-wide rock  nicknamed "Biden" for its "VP" designation  comes to within 7.4 billion miles of the sun. Scientists long thought the zone was an empty wasteland, but this find, along with the 2003 discovery of another dwarf planet, Sedna, suggest it could be full of icy objects. [Los Angeles Times, CNN]


Pope Francis accepts big-spending bishop's resignation

Famously frugal Pope Francis has reportedly accepted the resignation of Germany's Monsignor Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst — the "bishop of bling." Tebartz-van Elst had been on leave since October pending an inquiry into the $43 million he spent on his residence complex. He busted his renovation budget with purchases such as a $20,000 bathtub, but said the site's historical status drove up costs. [Los Angeles Times]

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