Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 7, 2016

Harold Maass
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Nancy Reagan dies at 94

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died Sunday of congestive heart failure. She was 94. Mrs. Reagan has been called one of the most influential presidential wives in modern times. She fiercely supported Ronald Reagan during his presidency from 1981 to 1989, and was known as a powerful behind-the-scenes player in the Reagan White House. She clashed famously with chief of staff Donald Regan, but said her only role was to support her "Ronnie." Nancy Reagan was also a tremendous supporter of her husband through his long battle with Alzheimer's. He died in 2004. [Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press]


Sanders and Clinton clash over trade, Wall Street in Democratic debate

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont aggressively attacked frontrunner Hillary Clinton over trade and welfare reform in Sunday night's Democratic debate in Michigan. Sanders, trailing in the race for delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination, also hammered Clinton over "the Wall Street bailout where some of your friends destroyed the economy." Clinton responded by blasting Sanders for voting against the auto industry bailout she credited with saving four million jobs. Both said they could beat GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. [The New York Times]


Rubio and Sanders notch Sunday wins

Sen. Marco Rubio handily won the GOP presidential primary in Puerto Rico on Sunday, setting him up to collect all of the island's 23 delegates. The win was only Rubio's second — he came out on top in Minnesota on Super Tuesday. It came a day after a weak showing for Rubio on Super Saturday that prompted Sen. Ted Cruz and frontrunner Donald Trump to urge the Florida senator to drop out. On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders prevailed in the Maine caucuses, building on a strong Super Saturday showing against frontrunner Hillary Clinton. [Politico, NPR]


North Korea threatens preemptive nuclear strikes

The U.S. and South Korea began large-scale joint military exercises on Monday, including practiced surgical strikes on North Korean nuclear facilities. Pyongyang responded by threatening a "preemptive and offensive nuclear strike" against both countries. Pyongyang has already ordered its military to be ready to launch a nuclear strike, and has made other such bellicose pronunciations before over the annual joint drills. This time the threat came days after the United Nations Security Council approved tough new sanctions over North Korea's nuclear program. [CNN, The Washington Post]


Jimmy Carter says he no longer needs cancer treatment

Jimmy Carter told members of his hometown church on Sunday that he no longer needs cancer treatment. Carter, 91, was treated with a new drug, Keytruda, for months after announcing last year that he had been diagnosed with melanoma, which had spread to his brain. Carter shared the latest news at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, where he regularly teaches Sunday School. [The Associated Press]


Russia agrees to let humanitarian aid flow through Syria bases

Russia's Defense Ministry said Monday that it would let humanitarian organizations deliver aid through its military bases in Syria. Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said aid shipments could be stored at Russia's naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus, and planes carrying aid packages could use its air base in Latakia. He also said Russia would provide trucks, if needed, to deliver aid from the bases. Russian airstrikes have supported a Syrian government offensive that has cut off many rebel-held areas, deepening a humanitarian crisis. [Reuters]


Iran sentences oil tycoon to death

Iran on Sunday sentenced one of its richest oil barons, Babak Zanjani, to death for corruption. Zanjani, 41, has a net worth of $14 billion. Foreign leaders accused him in 2013 of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to launder cash in violation of international sanctions. Now he has been convicted on domestic charges of skimming oil profits in a case portrayed as an example of corruption under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. [Los Angeles Times]


ISIS claims responsibility for Iraq bombing that killed at least 60

The Islamic State on Sunday claimed responsibility for a truck bomb that killed at least 60 people at an Iraqi checkpoint south of Baghdad. The suicide attack was the second deadliest in Iraq this year. Both this attack and the deadlier one, which killed 78 people in Sadr City on Feb. 28, targeted primarily Shiite Muslim areas. The hardline Sunni extremists of ISIS also claimed responsibility for the Sadr City attack. [Reuters]


Email pioneer Ray Tomlinson dies

Ray Tomlinson, considered by many to be the inventor of email as we know it, died over the weekend of a suspected heart attack, his employer, Raytheon, announced Sunday. He was 74. Tomlinson established the first networked electronic mail system in 1971 on ARPANET, the internet's predecessor. He used what would become the standard user@host format. "I am frequently asked why I chose the 'at' sign," he once said, "but the 'at' sign just makes sense." He was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. [CNBC]


Zootopia posts best-ever Disney Animation Studios debut weekend

Zootopia demolished the competition to lead the weekend box office with a haul of $73.7 million. The all-animal animated movie's three-day debut weekend was the best ever for Walt Disney Animation Studios, beating the previous mark of $67.4 million set by Frozen in 2013. "Families flocked to Zootopia," says comScore box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "There hasn't been much family fare in the marketplace in the last few months, and that audience needed this film." [USA Today]