Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 29, 2016

Harold Maass
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall


Cruz and Rubio trade attacks in Trump-free debate

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida filled the void left by Donald Trump, trading harsh attacks at Thursday's primetime GOP presidential debate. Rubio said Cruz was "willing to say or do anything to win," including trying to "trump Trump" by hardening his stand on immigration. Cruz accused Rubio of supporting "amnesty" to please big donors. Trump stayed away from the debate — the last before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses — because he said Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly was biased against him.


Health officials warn mosquito-borne Zika virus could infect millions

The mosquito-borne Zika virus is "spreading explosively" in the Americas, and could infect four million people over the next year, World Health Organization officials said Thursday. Eighty percent of those infected never feel sick, but Zika has been linked to 4,000 cases of microcephaly — a birth defect resulting in a small head and underdeveloped brain — in children born to infected women in Brazil. The U.S. is urging women not to travel to countries where the virus has spread. Colombia, Jamaica, and El Salvador have advised women to avoid getting pregnant until Zika is controlled.


FBI says slain wildlife refuge occupier had reached toward gun

The FBI released a video Thursday night showing Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a spokesman for the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, reaching toward his jacket pocket before he was fatally shot on Tuesday. He had a loaded gun in his pocket, an FBI agent said. Finicum was killed in a traffic stop in which eight of the anti-government protesters, including leader Ammon Bundy, were arrested. Three others turned themselves in the next day. The remaining protesters said they will leave if authorities promise not to arrest them.


Man carrying guns and Koran arrested at Disneyland Paris

French police arrested a 28-year-old man carrying two handguns and a copy of the Koran at Disneyland Paris on Thursday. France is still under a state of emergency imposed after Islamist extremists killed 130 people in Paris last November. The French Interior Ministry said police were searching for a woman believed to have been accompanying the suspect.


Main Syrian opposition bloc boycott threatens peace talks

The main Syrian opposition council said it would not participate in United Nations-brokered peace talks scheduled to begin in Geneva on Friday, threatening to derail the negotiations. The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee is demanding goodwill gestures by the government, including an end to air strikes and blockades of rebel-held cities. Salem al-Meslet, a spokesman for the opposition council, said it might participate if U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can provide assurances the sieges will end. "At least we want to hear a promise," he said.


NASA remembers lost astronauts on 30th anniversary of Challenger disaster

On Thursday NASA held a day of remembrance on the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, honoring the seven astronauts killed when the spacecraft exploded 73 seconds after liftoff. Relatives and employees of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida also honored the 10 other astronauts killed during missions. "They've shown us that exploration is not without risk, that we can learn from our mistakes, and be better for them in the end," said former shuttle commander Robert Cabana, director of the space center.


California jail teacher arrested on suspicion of helping escapees

A 44-year-old woman who taught English at the Orange County, California, jail was arrested Thursday on suspicion of helping three inmates escape a week ago. The woman, Nooshafarin Ravaghi, had been working at the jail as a contract employee for six months. One of the fugitives, Hossein Nayeri, had been taking one of her classes. Ravaghi has told police she only gave the men maps, but police say they can't rule out the possibility that she also provided the tools the men used to cut into the jail's plumbing tunnels.


'Affluenza' teen returned to Texas from Mexico

Authorities brought "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch back to Texas from Mexico on Thursday. He was moved to a juvenile detention center and faces a Friday hearing. Couch fled to Mexico with his mother in December after a video surfaced showing him at a party where alcohol was being served. Prosecutors were investigating whether that was a violation of the probation deal that kept him out of prison after he was convicted in a fatal drunken-driving crash. Lawyers for Couch, 18, argued in his 2013 trial that his wealthy parents had coddled him, making him irresponsible.


Mattel to start selling Barbies in new body sizes

Mattel Inc. is preparing to start selling its iconic Barbie dolls in three new body sizes — curvy, petite, and tall. The changes, which will come later this year, are part of an effort to broaden the doll's appeal and turn around a slump that has seen Barbie sales fall by double-digits for eight straight quarters. Last year, the toymaker introduced new skin tones, hairstyles, and facial features. "We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty," said Evelyn Mazzocco, a Mattel senior vice president and head of the Barbie brand.


Jefferson Airplane founding member Paul Kantner dies at 74

Paul Kantner, a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, died Thursday, days after having his second heart attack in a year. He was 74. Jefferson Airplane was formed in 1965 at a bar in San Francisco, and is known for hits like "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." In 1974, the band morphed into Jefferson Starship, named after a solo album by Kantner. The guitarist left the band in 1985, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

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