Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 15, 2016

Huge delegate haul at stake in big-state primaries, Putin announces Russian pullout from Syria, and more


5 states hold primaries in make-or-break day for Kasich and Rubio

Voters head to the polls Tuesday in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and North Carolina, with one of the biggest delegate hauls of the primary season at stake. On the Democratic side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton is favored in delegate-rich Florida and several other states, while her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders is hoping for upsets to erode her lead. Among Republicans, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida are fighting in their home states to keep their campaigns alive. Kasich is neck-and-neck in Ohio with national frontrunner Donald Trump, who is favored in the other four states, while Rubio trails far back in Florida.


Putin announces Russian pullout from Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of most of his country's troops from Syria, justifying the surprise move by saying his country's mission had largely been accomplished. Putin said the pullout would start Tuesday. Russia intervened six months ago to keep the regime of President Bashar al-Assad from collapsing as it faced relentless attacks by rebel forces. Western diplomats said it would take time to see whether Putin's announcement would spell a real withdrawal. Opposition activists have accused Russia of targeting U.S.-backed moderates, not just the Islamic State.


American ISIS fighter reportedly captured in Iraq

An American fighting for the Islamic State was captured in northern Iraq early Monday. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he could not provide details on the man's identity, but Kurdish officials in Iraq identified the captive as Mohammed Jamal Amin, 27. They circulated a photo of a Virginia driver's license bearing the name Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 26. If the report is confirmed, the man would be the first American fighting with ISIS to surrender in a battle zone.


Suu Kyi ally becomes Myanmar's first civilian president in decades

Lawmakers in Myanmar on Tuesday elected Htin Kyaw, an ally of democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, as the country's first civilian president since 1962. Htin Kyaw was nominated last week by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, which won majorities in both houses of Parliament in fall elections. The country's Constitution, which was drafted by the military, bars Suu Kyi from the presidency, but Htin Kyaw said he became president thanks to her "good willingness and kindness."


Breitbart reporters resign over handling of alleged Trump campaign assault

A half dozen Breitbart reporters and editors have resigned from the conservative web publication over its handling of an alleged physical assault of Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields by Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, at a press conference last week. Fields was one of the first to go. She said Breitbart News had not "adequately stood by me." Following her were Breitbart's Jordan Schachtel and Jarrett Stepman, who announced their resignations on Monday. Schachtel said Breitbart News was "no longer a journalistic enterprise," but "something resembling an unaffiliated media super PAC for the Trump campaign." Trump's campaign denies Fields' accusations.


NFL official acknowledges link between football and CTE

The NFL's top health and safety executive, Jeff Miller, acknowledged Monday that there is a link between football-related head trauma and the development later in life of a degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The admission came in a roundtable discussion before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. It was seen as a potential watershed moment, as it was believed to be the first time a senior NFL official had acknowledged the link between football and CTE.


Institutional investors file lawsuit against VW

Nearly 300 institutional Volkswagen investors filed a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit in German court against the automaker over its diesel emissions scandal. The law firm representing the plaintiffs said the suit accuses VW of neglecting its duty to the capital markets during the scandal, in which the company used technology in diesel vehicles to cheat on emissions tests. A Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment, saying the company had not seen the lawsuit.


U.S. sailor arrested on suspicion of rape in Okinawa

A U.S. serviceman has been arrested on the Japanese island of Okinawa on suspicion of raping a Japanese tourist. The suspect, identified by local police as Navy sailor Justin Castellanos, 24, is accused of finding a 40-year-old woman asleep and drunk in the lobby of his hotel, then carrying her back to his room and raping her. He reportedly has denied the accusation. The U.S. military and embassy did not immediately comment. Okinawa's governor said such crimes "should never be tolerated."


Sarah Palin's husband injured in snowmobile crash

Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, is in very serious condition but expected to recover from a Sunday snowmobile accident, his former racing partner Scott Davis said Monday. Todd Palin, 51, was hospitalized in intensive care with fractured ribs after the crash, which occurred in Alaska. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, was in Florida to campaign for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump when the accident happened. She canceled a morning event but spoke later at a rally, thanking Trump supporters for their prayers. "When real life happens," she said, "it really puts things in perspective doesn't it?"


Pope approves making Mother Teresa a saint

Pope Francis on Tuesday signed the canonization decree for Mother Teresa and four other soon-to-be Catholic saints. Mother Teresa will be formally named a saint in a ceremony on Sept. 4, the pope said. Francis approved Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity order and 1979 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, in December 2015, after the Vatican recognized her second miracle, interceding to heal a Brazilian man with multiple brain abscesses. She died in 1997 and was fast-tracked for sainthood by Pope John Paul II in 2003.


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