Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 24, 2016

Harold Maass
AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez


Trump wins Nevada in his third straight victory

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump won the party's Nevada caucuses on Tuesday, scoring his third victory. "If you listen to the pundits, we weren't expected to win too much," Trump said, "and now we're winning, winning, winning the country." Trump got the support of 46 percent of caucus-goers. His nearest rival, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, was just over 20 points behind, trailed closely by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Ben Carson and John Kasich were far behind in single digits.


Republicans say they will not consider any Obama Supreme Court nominee

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican-run Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday ruled out holding hearings on anyone President Obama nominates to replace conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this month. Republicans say the president elected in November should appoint the new justice. Obama has vowed to nominate someone despite GOP opposition, but McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would not meet with a nominee if Obama sent him for a traditional visit with senators.


Obama sends Congress plan to close Guantanamo

President Obama on Tuesday sent Congress his plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility for terror-war prisoners. Obama promised seven years ago to close Guantanamo. He said Tuesday that the facility is "contrary to our values" and "undermines our standing in the world." His plan calls for transferring most of the remaining detainees to other countries and moving the rest to U.S. prisons. Republicans immediately criticized the plan.


Scalia had numerous health problems, Supreme Court physician says

Antonin Scalia suffered a host of ailments, including coronary artery disease, obesity, and diabetes, that probably "led to his death," according to a letter from the Supreme Court's doctor, Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan. Presidio County, Texas, District Attorney Rod Ponton said the letter led him to conclude that there was nothing suspicious about the Supreme Court justice's Feb. 13 death. The long list of potentially life-threatening conditions also contributed to the determination that no autopsy was necessary.


14 new Zika cases reported in U.S.

Federal health officials said Tuesday that 14 more people appear to have caught the Zika virus in the U.S. None of the new patients had traveled to countries where the normally mosquito-borne illness is spreading fastest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 14 new cases might have been transmitted through sexual contact with people who returned from affected areas. "In two of the new suspected sexual transmission events, Zika virus infection has been confirmed in women whose only known risk factor was sexual contact with an ill male partner," the CDC said.


Bill Gates enters debate over the Apple-FBI encryption fight

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Tuesday fueled renewed debate over the FBI's request for Apple's help unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Gates said "the government shouldn't have to be completely blind." The comment appeared to break with other tech leaders, who have supported Apple's opposition to the government's request on the grounds that it would create a backdoor to the iPhone and damage its security. Gates later tempered his remarks, saying there should be a balance between government access and privacy.


Bolivians reject constitutional change to let Morales run again

Bolivian voters have rejected a proposal to change the country's constitution to permit President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term, the government's electoral commission announced Tuesday. With 99.5 percent of the votes cast Sunday counted, the proposal failed 51 percent to 49 percent. Morales, the Andean nation's first indigenous president, helped lift millions out of poverty by redistributing natural gas revenues, but recently his popularity has suffered, partly due to an influence-peddling scandal.


China sends fighter jets to disputed South China Sea island

China has sent up to 10 fighter jets to Woody Island in the Paracel archipelago controlled by Beijing in disputed South China Sea waters, U.S. government sources said Tuesday. China last week deployed surface-to-air missiles to the same island. Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said China was "clearly militarizing" the South China Sea. China said the U.S. and the media were using "hype" to raise tensions and smear China while ignoring weaponry other nations have in the region.


Colorado woman convicted for gruesome attack on pregnant woman

A Colorado woman, Dynel Lane, was convicted of attempted first-degree murder on Tuesday for cutting a stranger's baby from her womb. Lane had told elaborate lies to convince people close to her that she was expecting a baby. She lured victim Michelle Wilkins, who was seven and a half months pregnant, to her house with a Craigslist ad for maternity clothes. Lane hit and choked Wilkins, then cut out the unborn girl using kitchen knives. Wilkins survived. The fetus died. Prosecutors were unable to file murder charges because there was no evidence the baby survived outside the womb.


Cuban leaders' brother, Ramon Castro, dies at 91

Ramon Castro, the elder brother of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, died Tuesday. He was 91. Ramon Castro did not join his brothers in the 1959 revolution that led to the establishment of the Communist government led first by Fidel, who stepped down in 2008, and now by President Raul Castro. Instead, Ramon Castro stayed in eastern Cuba and worked on the family ranch. He did not wield much power in the government, but was a founder of Cuba's Communist Party. He also served in the National Assembly and worked as an agricultural official.

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