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10 things you need to know today: March 21, 2016

Harold Maass
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Obama arrives in Cuba for historic visit

President Obama arrived in Cuba on Sunday for a historic two-day visit. His trip is the first by a sitting U.S. president in 88 years, and marks a symbolic leap forward in his effort to restore diplomatic ties to the Communist-ruled Caribbean nation. Obama and his family were met at the airport by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. He met later in the day with Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who worked with Pope Francis to support talks between the two governments. On Monday, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will discuss normalizing relations. [Time]


Paris attack suspect may have been planning more terrorism

Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam might have been plotting more strikes when he was captured last week, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said Sunday. Abdeslam was wounded in a shootout in Belgium. Police found a weapons cache as a result of the raid, and have uncovered a new network of suspected terrorists linked to Abdeslam, who suggested more attacks were in the works. He also told police he had intended to blow himself up outside the Stade de France in the Paris attacks, which left 130 dead, but backed out. [Reuters]


McConnell vows no confirmation vote on Obama's nominee, even after election

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would not hold confirmation hearings on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, appeals court judge Merrick Garland, no matter who wins November's presidential election. Republicans have said they would not consider any Obama nominee, because voters, through their choice of the next president, should decide who replaces conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. Some on Capitol Hill have speculated that the GOP would back down and hold hearings on Garland if another Democrat wins in November. [Los Angeles Times]


Trump blames protesters for rally violence

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Sunday blamed protesters — not his supporters — for violence at a Tucson rally over the weekend, after video emerged showing someone punching and kicking a protester. Trump said the demonstrators were "professional agitators." "At what point do we blame the protesters?" he said on ABC's This Week. Trump applauded the "spirit" of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who appears to grab a protester by the collar in one video, although the campaign said he did not grab the man. [The New York Times]


Turkey says latest suicide bomber linked to Islamic State

Turkey said Sunday that a Turkish man linked to the Islamic State was behind a suicide bombing that killed four foreign tourists in Istanbul a day earlier. The attack, which occurred on a major street popular with locals and tourists alike, was the sixth major suicide bombing in Turkey in the last eight months. Another suicide bombing blamed on Kurdish militants killed 37 last week. "The question, unfortunately, is not if there will be a terror attack again, but when the next attack will be," said Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Editor's note: This news item originally misstated where the most recent suicide bombing occurred. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.) [The Washington Post]


U.S. sends more Marines to Iraq after deadly ISIS rocket attack

The U.S. is sending another detachment of Marines to Iraq after an Islamic State rocket killed a Marine on Saturday south of Mosul, the U.S.-led coalition said Sunday. The statement did not say how many Marines, from North Carolina's Camp Lejeune, were in the unit being sent. Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, 27, of Temecula, California, was the first U.S. service member killed in Iraq since October. Several others were injured. [NBC News]


North Korea fires more projectiles into sea

North Korea fired five more short-range projectiles into the sea on Monday, South Korean officials said. The launches were the latest in a series of test shots interpreted as a show of defiance in response to annual joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea. This year the drills came as tensions are rising over North Korea's controversial nuclear and missile programs, and Pyongyang has called the exercises a rehearsal for an invasion. [The Associated Press]


Apple expected to unveil upgraded, smaller iPhone model

Apple is expected to launch a new, smaller iPhone on Monday to encourage users of the 5S and 5C models to replace their smartphones. The new device, which reportedly will be called the iPhone SE or 5SE, would be an alternative to the large-screen iPhone 6 family. A smaller version of the iPad Pro also is expected. The event at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters starts a big week for Apple. Its lawyers go to federal court in their battle against the FBI's demand for help unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino massacre shooters. [The Associated Press, IBN Live]


Serena Williams hits back against Indian Wells CEO for offensive comment

Serena Williams slammed Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore for making disparaging remarks about women's tennis ahead of Sunday's final of the BNP Paribas Open. Hours before Williams lost in the final to Victoria Azarenka, Moore said: "If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport." Williams said the comments were disrespectful to "every woman on this planet" who "has ever tried to stand up for what they believe in and being proud to be a woman." Moore promptly issued an apology. [The New York Times]


ACC sends six teams to the Sweet 16, the most ever for any conference

Notre Dame, the East Region's No. 6 seed, survived what would have been a stunning upset to make it into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Sunday, defeating the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 76-75. The No. 14-seeded Lumberjacks would have been only the fourth team with such a low seed to make it to the second weekend of March Madness. Defending champion Duke also averted an upset, against Yale, a day earlier. The wins helped the Atlantic Coast Conference send a record six teams to the Sweet 16. [The New York Times, USA Today]

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