Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 18, 2016

Harold Maass
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Clinton declared winner in Missouri; Sanders concedes

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of Missouri's primary, giving her a clean sweep of the five Democratic presidential primaries held on Tuesday. Clinton beat her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, by about 1,500 votes. Sanders conceded defeat, saying he would not demand a recount despite the razor-thin margin. "It's unlikely the results will impact at all the number of delegates the candidate gets," he said, "and I would prefer to save the taxpayers of Missouri some money."


Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland makes traditional visit to Capitol Hill

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, went to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with senators. The visit marked a traditional ritual for nominees to the court. Republicans, however, are sticking with their refusal to consider holding confirmation hearings for Garland. They say they want to give voters a say by letting the next president replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. Obama said "the American people did decide — back in 2012, when they elected me."


American ISIS defector says he made a 'bad decision'

A young American man accused of joining Islamic State fighters in Iraq said he "was not thinking straight" and made a "bad decision" to travel to a city held by the Islamist extremist group, then instantly regretted it. The man, identified by Kurdistan 24 television as Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 26, said he surrendered to Kurdish forces on Monday because he "wanted to go back to America." He said he didn't agree with ISIS's ideology. It was not immediately clear whether he will be prosecuted or allowed to return to the U.S.


Paul Ryan says open GOP convention looking 'more likely'

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that it is appearing "more likely" that no Republican presidential hopeful will collect the 1,237 delegates needed to win the party's nomination outright this year. Ryan said that means that frontrunner Donald Trump and the entire GOP should accept the "reality" that the party could have an open convention in July, when the presidential nominee will be selected in a floor fight. He said his role as speaker and chairman of the convention will be "dispassionate and to be Switzerland."


Brazil's ex-president sworn in as successor's chief of staff amid criminal inquiry

On Thursday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff swore in her predecessor and mentor, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as her chief of staff, theoretically shielding him from prosecution in a widening graft and corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras. A judge in Brasilia, the capital, quickly issued an injunction suspending the appointment, on the grounds that Rousseff may have interfered with the judicial branch of government — Rousseff's government will appeal — and the judge spearheading the Petrobras investigation released audio of wiretaps on Lula's phone in which the ex-president candidly discusses the investigation. As a cabinet official, 70-year-old Lula can only be prosecuted by Brazil's top court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal.


Kerry calls ISIS attacks genocide

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the U.S. has determined that the Islamic State's actions against Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria amounts to genocide. In addition to Christians, groups targeted by ISIS include Yazidis and Shiite Muslims, he said. Kerry's proclamation marks the first time the U.S. has declared a genocide since the war in Darfur, Sudan, in 2004.


U.S. stocks hit 2016 highs

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed in positive territory for the year on Thursday, as U.S. stocks added to Wednesday's gains. The S&P 500 also had its highest close of the year. The Nasdaq reached its highest point since Jan. 7. The surge came after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday scaled back its forecast for 2016 interest rate hikes, saying economic growth and job growth were solid but an uncertain economy still posed risks. Thursday's rally was a "continued reaction from the Fed's move," a UBS Americas Wealth Management analyst said. Dow futures were up further early Friday.


Arizona man convicted for helping plot attack at Texas 'Draw Mohammad' contest

An Arizona man, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 44, was convicted Thursday of participating in the plotting of a May 3, 2015, attack on a "Draw Mohammad" event in a Dallas suburb. Kareem's roommates, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, were killed in a shootout with police after allegedly driving from Phoenix and opening fire outside the event with assault-style rifles. Kareem was charged with helping the gunmen get weapons and plan the attack, as well as supporting the Islamic State. Kareem took the stand during his trial and maintained his innocence.


North Korea fires missiles into sea after U.S. ratchets up sanctions

North Korea on Friday launched two medium-range ballistic missiles 500 miles into the sea. U.S. officials confirmed the launch, and condemned it as a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The move came after President Obama this week signed an executive order stepping up sanctions on North Korea over other previous nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Last week, North Korea fired two missiles south of Pyongyang toward the sea, and on Wednesday, an American student visiting North Korea was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly trying to take a propaganda sign.


12th-seeded Yale, Little Rock notch big NCAA upsets over Baylor, Purdue

The No. 12 Yale Bulldogs notched the first upset of the 2016 March Madness tournament Thursday, besting the No. 5 Baylor Bears 79-75. Later on Thursday, No. 12 Little Rock stunned No. 5 Purdue in a double-overtime thriller, 85-83. Two No. 11 seeds also scored upsets on the NCAA men's basketball tournament's first day: Wichita State beat No. 6 Arizona 65-55, and Gonzaga beat No. 6 Seton Hall 68-52. By the end of the night Friday, the tournament field will be winnowed down to 32 teams.