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10 things you need to know today: January 22, 2016

Harold Maass
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East Coast braces for historic snow storm

A powerful snowstorm is due to hit the East Coast with up to two feet of snow starting Friday. Almost 5,000 flights have been canceled for Friday and Saturday. Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are expected to get some of the worst of it, with a rare blizzard warning taking effect on Friday afternoon. As many as 75 million people could be affected by the snowfall. "Heavy snow and blowing snow will cause dangerous conditions and will be a threat to life and property," the National Weather Service warned. [USA Today, Bloomberg]


EPA's Midwest director resigns under fire over Flint water crisis

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Midwest resigned on Thursday after lead contamination created a water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The agency said it accepted regional administrator Susan Hedman's resignation, effective Feb. 1, to keep the focus "solely on the restoration of Flint's drinking water." Numerous groups for months had called on the EPA to use its emergency powers to step in to ensure the city of 100,000 had safe water. "The failure to act on it was bizarre and unacceptable," said Henry Henderson, director of the National Resources Defense Council's Midwest program. [NBC News]


Belgium detains two more men linked to Paris attacks

Authorities in Belgium have detained two more people in connection with the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks, in which 130 were killed, the Belgian federal prosecutor's office said Thursday. The men were identified as Zakaria J., a Belgian national, and Mustafa E., from Morocco. They were arrested in two house searches in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several people involved in the attacks once lived. Both allegedly had ties to some of the suspects. The number of people held in the case will be 12 if they are kept in custody. [Reuters]


Stocks rebound after ECB chief hints at stimulus

U.S. stocks rallied on Thursday after European Central Bank president Mario Draghi reassured investors with an indication of possible new stimulus measures to calm market turmoil and concerns over economic trouble in China. "Draghi's words have helped calm down the market," Activtrades Chief Market Analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index finished less than one percent up a day after U.S. stocks hit one-and-a-half-year lows. [Bloomberg, Reuters]


National Review spars with Donald Trump

On Friday the National Review released a special edition in which 22 conservative thinkers explain why conservatives should not back Donald Trump's bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Contributing editor Yuval Levin put it succinctly: "Donald Trump is no conservative. That's not a crime, it's just a reason to vote against him." After the essays were posted online, Trump responded by saying the conservative magazine was a "dying paper" seeking publicity. The Republican National Committee ended a debate partnership with National Review, saying a moderator "can't have a predisposition." [National Review, The Washington Post]


20 dead after siege at beachfront restaurant in Somalia

Security forces in Somalia have ended a siege by Islamist extremists at a beachfront Mogadishu restaurant where at least 20 people were killed, local police said Friday. It was not immediately clear whether the death toll included the gunmen. Al Shabab, a militant group aligned with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the incident. First, the attackers set off two car bombs at the Beach View Cafe on Mogadishu's popular Lido beach, then they opened fire on civilians. Later, the militants fought a gun battle with government troops. [The Associated Press, Reuters]


Military declares 12 missing Marines dead

The Marine Corps on Thursday declared 12 Marines dead a week after their two helicopters apparently crashed off the coast of Hawaii during a night training mission. A witness reported seeing a fireball in midair. Search crews looked for the missing Marines and their two CH-53 copters for five days before suspending the search. A total of 130 rescuers covered an area about the size of Florida. They spotted a fire and debris, including an empty life raft, two and a half miles off of Oahu. [CNN]


Ex-officer in Oklahoma gets 263 years for sexual assaults

A judge on Thursday sentenced former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw to 263 years in prison for raping and sexually victimizing women in a low-income neighborhood. Thirteen women, all black, came forward as accusers. Prosecutors said Holtzclaw targeted women with arrest records and used his authority to intimidate them. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater described Holtzclaw as "a rapist who masqueraded as a law-enforcement officer." [The Associated Press]


Judge dismisses a defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby

A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against Bill Cosby by one of the more than 50 women who have publicly accused the comedian of sexual assault. The woman, Renita Hill, filed the suit in October saying that Cosby and his lawyer defamed her when they said, shortly after Hill publicly accused Cosby of rape, that the women making allegations against Cosby were telling "unsubstantiated, fantastical stories." Judge Arthur J. Schwab said the case did not meet the state's definition of defamation. [CNN]


TSA finds record number of guns at airport checkpoints

The Transportation Security Administration reported Thursday that it seized a record 2,653 guns in travelers' carry-on baggage at U.S. airports last year. That marked a 20 percent increase over 2014, when officers found 2,212 firearms at airport checkpoints. In 2015, the guns were found at 236 airports, and 82.8 percent of the weapons were loaded. The most firearms were detected in Dallas/Fort Worth (153) and Atlanta (144). "Through increased training in detection methods, our officers are becoming more adept at intercepting these prohibited items," TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger said. [Al.com]

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