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10 things you need to know today: March 24, 2016

Harold Maass
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Police search for third suspect seen with suicide bombers at Brussels airport

Belgian police are still hunting for a "third man" seen on security cameras standing next to the two men identified as the suicide bombers who attacked the Brussels airport terminal on Tuesday. Suspected Islamic State bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui — who was first thought to have fled — has now been identified as one of the suicide bombers. Laachraoui's DNA also was found on suicide belts used in the November Paris attacks, suggesting he was a bomb maker. Investigators also are searching for a second suspect in the Brussels metro bombing seen standing next to suicide bomber Khalid El Bakraoui. [NBC News, The Associated Press]


Turkey says Belgium ignored warning about Brussels bomber

Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Wednesday that his government had warned Belgium last June that one of the suspected suicide bombers in this week's Brussels attacks was a terrorist. Ibrahim El Bakraoui was caught crossing Turkey's border from Syria. Erdogan said his government told Belgian officials he was involved with the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the Brussels bombings. Belgium deflected Erdogan's criticism, saying Turkey deported Bakraoui to the Netherlands, not Belgium. [Fox News, Reuters]


Task force heaps blame on state government for Flint water crisis

A task force appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) issued a scathing report on Wednesday placing blame for Flint's water-contamination crisis on state officials, although it said federal and local officials shared responsibility. The report called the crisis "a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice." The report said the crisis showed that Flint's mostly African-American, impoverished residents "did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards" as other communities. [The Washington Post]


Obama calls Cruz proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods 'un-American'

President Obama on Wednesday slammed Sen. Ted Cruz's proposal to "patrol and secure" U.S. Muslim neighborhoods in the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks as "un-American" and "counterproductive." "One of the great strengths of the United States — and part of the reason why we have not seen more attacks in the United States — is we have an extraordinarily successful, patriotic, integrated Muslim-American community," Obama said. Defeating ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the Brussels bombings, is a top priority, the president said, but it must be done "in an intelligent way." [ABC News]


Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam didn't know about Brussels attack, lawyer says

After a court hearing in Brussels on Thursday, Sven Mary, the lawyer for accused Paris terrorist attacker Salah Abdeslam, said that his client "didn't know" about Tuesday's attacks at the Brussels airport and a metro station. Mary also said that Abdeslam, captured last Friday, "has asked me to inform you that he wishes to leave for France as quickly as possible," and will no longer fight extradition. He "wants to explain himself in France," Mary said. At least one of the Brussels attackers has been linked through DNA to the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which Abdeslam is accused of helping carry out. [Reuters]


North Carolina state lawmakers block transgender protections

North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday passed a bill barring local governments from enacting their own gay and transgender protections. The bill was rushed through in response to a nondiscrimination ordinance adopted in the city of Charlotte that would have let transgender people use the public bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. Critics said the bill was "ugly" and stigmatized transgender people. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) promptly signed the bill, calling Charlotte's measure "a breach of basic privacy and etiquette." [The Charlotte Observer, The Washington Post]


Obama praises Argentina's new president for reforms

President Obama on Wednesday started a two-day visit to Argentina by praising the South American country's new center-right president, Mauricio Macri, for moving quickly to enact reforms and visit Western capitals seeking investment to bolster Latin America's third biggest economy. In his first 100 days in office, Macri has tried to repair relations with the U.S. and other Western nations that were frayed under former President Cristina Fernandez and her hardline allies on the left. "I can tell you President Macri is a man in hurry," Obama said. [Reuters]


Amazon review finds no gender pay gap

Amazon released figures on gender pay on Wednesday, saying that a review of its U.S. staff found that women make 99.9 percent of what men in equivalent jobs make. The online retail giant fought calls to make the figures public for months. "I assume they looked at the numbers and they were happy with the results and now they’re willing to be transparent about it and accountable," said Natasha Lamb, spokesperson for Arjuna Capital in Boston, which led calls for the disclosure. [USA Today]


Blizzard disrupts travel at Denver airport

A blizzard temporarily knocked out power at Denver International Airport on Wednesday, forcing authorities to cancel more than 1,000 flights. The disruptions rippled across the country, as planes were stuck at other airports awaiting clearance to fly to Denver. The delays came a day after the airport's main terminal was briefly evacuated due to a suspicious package during the heightened alert that followed deadly suicide bombings at an airport and subway station in Brussels. [Reuters]


Brazilian sports minister resigns

Brazilian Sports Minister George Hilton has resigned, a top aide to President Dilma Rousseff said Wednesday. The move was the first sign that the turmoil in Rousseff's government as she fights massive street protests calling for her impeachment could affect the Rio Summer Olympics, just five months away. Hilton has had a marginal role in preparing for the Games, which have been plagued by budget cuts, pollution at water-sport venues, and, most recently, concerns about the mosquito-borne Zika virus. [The Associated Press]

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