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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 5, 2016

Harold Maass
AP Photo/ David Goldman
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1.

Clinton and Sanders spar over who represents progressives in their first one-on-one debate

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders clashed Thursday night in their first one-on-one debate and final meeting before next week's New Hampshire presidential primary. The candidates for the Democratic nomination argued over everything from the definition of "progressive" to the plausibility of enacting Sanders' campaign promises. Sanders, who is favored to win the state, criticized Clinton's 2002 vote in favor of authorizing the Iraq War and her donations from Wall Street. Clinton called the Wall Street comment a "very artful smear." She said Sanders spouts ambitious progressive ideas while she gets things done, and, "A progressive is someone who makes progress."

2.

Trump's lead narrows and Marco Rubio surges after Iowa

Donald Trump held onto first place nationally but lost 9 points in the first major poll since his second-place finish in Monday's Iowa caucuses. Trump received the support of 25 percent of the Republican primary voters surveyed. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida surged into a tie for second place with Iowa winner Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, at 21 percent. Rubio also vaulted into second place in New Hampshire in a University of Massachusetts-Lowell tracking poll, although Trump still leads by 20 points just days before the state's primary.

3.

Obama to propose $10-a-barrel oil tax

President Obama is proposing a $10-a-barrel tax on oil in a budget proposal to be unveiled next week. The White House said the tax would raise $20 billion per year to spend on mass transit systems and clean energy technology. "The President's plan creates a clear incentive for private sector innovation to reduce our reliance on oil," the White House said. The fee could raise gas prices by 25 cents a gallon, and is considered unlikely to make it through the Republican-controlled Congress.

4.

Employment report expected to show hiring slower but still strong in January

The Labor Department is expected to report Friday that the pace of U.S. job gains slowed in January. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected the employment report to show that nonfarm payrolls increased by 190,000 jobs last month, a steep drop from the 292,000 jobs created in December. Still, economist Dana Saporta of Credit Suisse said that anything close to expectations would indicate "the labor market is still very strong."

5.

Record $10 billion in humanitarian aid pledged for Syria

World leaders meeting in London pledged $10 billion in humanitarian aid for Syria — a record for a single day. The U.S., which has already designated $5.1 billion toward the country, pledged another $891 million. More than half of the money will go toward immediate humanitarian relief through 2016. Five years of civil war have displaced 6.5 million people within the country and sent more than 4 million to seek refuge abroad. More than 13 million people within Syria urgently need humanitarian aid, the U.N. says.

6.

Shkreli declines to answer lawmakers' questions

Widely reviled former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Thursday and refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing. Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform summoned Shkreli — known in the media as "Pharma Bro" — to discuss a price hike for a life-saving pill to $750 each from $13.50. Despite his silence at the hearing, Shkreli tweeted afterwards: "Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government."

7.

Classified data found in personal mails of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice aides

The State Department reportedly has found a dozen emails with classified information sent to personal email accounts used by Colin Powell and aides of Condoleezza Rice while they served as then-president George W. Bush's secretaries of state. The emails have been classified as "confidential" or "secret" under a review process. The news provides a glimpse at how discussions of sensitive diplomatic issues were conducted before the controversy over Hillary Clinton's email use while she was President Obama's secretary of State.

8.

Ben Carson downsizes campaign as donations decline

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is cutting campaign expenses after weeks of declining poll support and donations. Carson reportedly cut 50 staff positions on Thursday and significantly reduced salaries. The staff cuts amount to about half of his employees. Carson's traveling staff has shrunk to a handful of advisers. Instead of private jets, the candidate is expected to return to commercial flights.

9.

U.K. calls U.N. finding on Assange 'ridiculous'

A United Nations panel confirmed Friday that it believes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being "arbitrarily detained," and that he should be allowed to leave Ecuador's embassy in London without facing arrest. Assange sought asylum in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over a rape accusation. The opinion by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is not legally binding. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond called the finding "ridiculous," and said Assange was voluntarily hiding out to avoid justice.

10.

Earth, Wind & Fire co-founder Maurice White dies at 74

Maurice White, the leader and co-founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 74. White got his start singing in his church choir, and studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. He moved to Los Angeles in 1969 with a band called the Salty Peppers, which went on to become Earth, Wind & Fire. The group won six Grammy Awards, with such hits as "Shining Star," "September," and "Boogie Wonderland." White stopped touring in the 1990s after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

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