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10 things you need to know today: March 3, 2016

Harold Maass
Reuters/ Chris Keane
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U.N. expands sanctions against North Korea

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday approved the harshest sanctions in 20 years against North Korea. The resolution was drafted by the U.S. and China, Pyongyang's most powerful ally. The sanctions are intended to deprive North Korea of money for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions require inspection of all cargo going into and leaving the country, and expand a blacklist of North Korean trade representatives. In a sign of defiance, North Korea fired six short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan on Thursday. [Reuters, BBC News]


Ben Carson bows out of Thursday's debate, sees no 'path forward'

Ben Carson said Wednesday that he does not "see a political path forward" in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination after finishing in last place on Super Tuesday. The retired neurosurgeon said he would not participate in Thursday night's debate. He did not officially suspend his campaign but said he would discuss his future on Friday. Meanwhile, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will try to gain ground in the debate against frontrunner Donald Trump, who solidified his lead on Super Tuesday and released his health care reform plan online Wednesday. [The Baltimore Sun]


Judge recently praised by GOP leaders vetted for Supreme Court

President Obama reportedly is considering nominating Jane Kelly, an Iowa federal appellate judge, to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The New York Times reports that the White House vetting process is underway. The FBI has been conducting background interviews on Kelly, 51, who was a career public defender before becoming an appeals court judge three years ago. She won "quick and unanimous" confirmation from the Senate and, notably, was praised by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a 2013 Senate floor speech. Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he won't hold hearings on any Obama nominee. [The New York Times]


Romney addressing 'state of the presidential race' today

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, plans to make a speech Thursday on the state of this year's race. The former Massachusetts governor is expected to speak out against the GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump. He already has called Trump's failure to adequately denounce white supremacist supporters "disgusting." The speech comes on the same day the GOP candidates meet for the first debate since Trump solidified his lead on Super Tuesday. Trump, in a preemptive strike, posted an attack ad accusing Romney of not being a true conservative, and flip-flopping on hot-button issues, such as health care and abortion. [Politico, Reuters]


Shipments of snow needed to save Alaska's Iditarod race from warm weather

Organizers of Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race are having to bring in seven freight cars filled with snow from hundreds of miles away for the Anchorage leg of the epic race, due to unseasonably warm weather. They also are shortening the ceremonial leg, which kicks off the race, from 11 miles to three. Warm conditions will persist when the 1,100-mile race to Nome begins in earnest on Sunday, when temperatures as high as 43 degrees are forecast for the starting line in Willow. Last year, a lack of snow forced organizers to reroute the race.

[NVC News, NBC News]


Pentagon challenges hackers to find flaws in website security

The Pentagon on Wednesday invited people to try to hack into public Defense Department websites under a pilot cybersecurity test next month. "Hack the Pentagon" is the federal government's first such program. It is modeled after similar "bug bounty" competitions held by some large U.S. corporations to find security gaps. "I am confident that this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. [Reuters]


Supreme Court justices sharply split in arguments on Texas abortion case

The Supreme Court's eight justices appeared sharply divided Thursday as they heard oral arguments on a challenge to a Texas law placing tough regulations on abortion clinics. The four liberal justices appeared united in believing the restrictions interfere with a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. Three conservative justices appeared to believe there was little evidence the law had forced clinics to close. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who probably wields the deciding vote, said lower courts might need to hear more evidence before making that call. [The New York Times]


Utah senators approve bill that would abolish state's death penalty

The Utah Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved a bill that would abolish the death penalty in the state. The measure was considered a longshot in the conservative state, where just a year ago lawmakers voted to reinstate firing squads as an execution method. Sen. Steve Urquhart, a Republican, is leading a campaign to repeal capital punishment, however, as costly and inefficient. The bill now goes to the GOP-controlled House, where it has the support of the Republican speaker, Greg Hughes. [The Associated Press]


Debris found in Mozambique possibly linked to missing Malaysia Airlines jet

Investigators in Australia will examine a piece of debris found on a sandbank off Mozambique to determine whether it is a part of a missing Malaysia Airlines plane. Malaysia's transport minister said Wednesday there is a "high possibility" that the object is from a Boeing 777. It has the words "NO STEP" on it and could be from a stabilizer attached to such a jet's tail. The minister "urged everyone to avoid undue speculation" about whether it is part of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared two years ago with 239 people on board. [NBC News]


Trooper who arrested Sandra Bland fired

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McGraw on Wednesday officially fired the Texas trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, a black woman later found dead in her cell. McGraw started the process of dismissing the trooper, Brian Encinia, in December after a grand jury indicted Encinia on a perjury charge. Encinia was accused of lying about the confrontational July traffic stop and arrest of Bland, which was caught on a dashboard camera video. He can appeal the firing. Bland's death has been ruled a suicide. [The Associated Press]

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