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10 things you need to know today: March 23, 2016

Harold Maass
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ISIS claims responsibility as suspected Brussels suicide bombers identified

The Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for bombings that killed at least 34 people at the Brussels airport and a subway station. Investigators identified two brothers — Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui — as the suicide bombers at the airport. A third man seen with the brothers in a security photo was identified as Najim Laachraoui, who reportedly fled the airport. Some Belgian media reported that he was arrested early Wednesday, but later retracted that report. Laachraoui was already the subject of a manhunt after being linked to alleged Paris attacks plotter Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested last week. [The New York Times, MarketWatch]


Obama tells Cuban leaders not to fear change and freedom

President Obama directly addressed the Cuban people in a speech on Tuesday, saying he made his historic visit to the communist-ruled Caribbean nation "to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas." Obama called for change and freedom in Cuba, telling Cuban President Raul Castro that the Cuban government should not fear "the different voices of the Cuban people." Obama later engaged in "baseball diplomacy," attending an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. Tampa won, 4-1. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]


Clinton and Trump win Arizona, but Sanders and Cruz claim decisive victories, too

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won commanding victories in winner-take-all Arizona, the biggest prize at stake in Tuesday's presidential nominating contests. Clinton's rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, trounced Clinton in caucuses in Utah and Idaho, demonstrating his appeal among liberals even as Clinton closes in on the delegate count she needs to win the Democratic nomination. Sen. Ted Cruz captured more than 50 percent support in Utah, giving him all the state's delegates. [The New York Times]


GOP candidates call for tracking Muslims after Brussels attacks

The two leading Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, on Tuesday called for increasing scrutiny of Muslims in the U.S. following three suicide bombings blamed on Islamist extremists in Brussels. "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized," Cruz said after the Tuesday bombings, which killed at least 34 people. Trump, who previously called for blocking Muslims from entering the U.S., said the U.S. should close its borders, or "this is going to happen in the United States." [The Washington Post, Daily Mail]


Supreme Court splits 4-4 for first time since Scalia's death

The Supreme Court deadlocked Tuesday for the first time since the February death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia left the court evenly split between liberals and conservatives. The case involved a bankruptcy dispute between a Missouri bank and a development company that was owned by two couples and defaulted on its loans. Now, an appeals court ruling will stand, giving the Community Bank of Raymore a victory over the wives of the developers, who were claiming discrimination because they were being required to guarantee their spouses' loans. [USA Today]


Russia sentences Ukrainian pilot to 22 years for journalists' deaths

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko to 22 years in prison after her conviction on charges of directing mortar fire that killed two Russian journalists during eastern Ukraine's separatist conflict. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his government did not accept the validity of what he called a "kangaroo court." Poroshenko called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to release Savchenko, who is regarded as a national hero in Ukraine and denies any role in killing the journalists. [Reuters]


Jeb Bush endorses former rival Ted Cruz

Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, a month after ending his own bid for the White House. "Ted is a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests," said Bush, the former governor of Florida. Bush also lamented "the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena." Cruz said in a statement that he was "truly honored to earn Gov. Jeb Bush's support." [CNN]


Kerry heads to Russia to discuss Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Moscow on Wednesday for talks on Syria, after the deadly Brussels bombings prompted calls for intensifying the fight against the Islamic State. Kerry is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday to discuss the fragile truce in Syria and the push for United Nations-brokered peace talks. Putin last week unexpectedly announced a partial withdrawal of his country's military from Syria, where it was backing Syrian forces against ISIS and rebel groups. [The Washington Post]


Sarah Palin reportedly to star as judge on courtroom reality TV show

Former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be a daytime TV judge in a Judge Judy-style courtroom reality show, according to a publicist working on the project. Palin is not a lawyer or a judge in real life. The publicist, Howard Bragman, noted that Palin did appoint judges when she served as governor of Alaska. "She calls them like she sees them," he said. The still-unnamed show is scheduled to begin airing in fall 2017. [NBC News, USA Today]


Ex-mayor of Toronto Rob Ford dies of cancer at 46

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who admitted during a scandal-filled term that he had smoked crack cocaine in "one of [his] drunken stupors," has died after battling an aggressive form of cancer, his family announced Tuesday. He was 46. Ford abandoned a reelection bid in 2014 after his diagnosis, but easily won a seat on the council. He underwent 18 months of treatment, including surgery last May. Mayor John Tory described Ford as "a profoundly human guy whose presence in our city will be missed." [Toronto Star]

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