Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 15, 2018

Students stage nationwide walkouts to protest gun violence, Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly wins Pennsylvania House seat, and more


Students stage nationwide school walkouts to protest gun violence

Thousands of students staged walkouts at schools across the country on Wednesday to protest gun violence, one month after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, which left 17 students and teachers dead. The demonstrations differed among the hundreds of participating schools, but many students walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. local time for 17-minute protests. In some areas, the protests lasted much longer, and in New York City and Washington, D.C., students marched in the streets carrying signs and chanting slogans, such as "We want change," "Enough is enough," and "Never again." Some school districts gave students muted encouragement, while others threatened disciplinary action.


Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly takes Pennsylvania House seat from GOP

Conor Lamb, a Democrat and former Marine, held onto a 627-vote victory, out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast, after nearly all of the absentee ballots were counted in a special House election in a deeply conservative Pennsylvania district. President Trump won the district by 20 percentage points in 2016, and outside GOP groups pumped more than $10 million into the race to support Republican Rick Saccone. Local election authorities said there were still about 500 provisional, military, and other absentee ballots remaining to be counted, not enough to alter the result. Republicans are gearing up for a court fight to demand a recount. The Republican National Committee said it was "not conceding anything."


Trump taps Kudlow for top economics job

CNBC commentator and conservative economist Larry Kudlow said Wednesday that President Trump had selected him to replace Gary Cohn as the top White House economic adviser. "The president offered me the position last evening and I accepted," Kudlow said. The White House promptly confirmed the news that Trump was nominating Kudlow to lead the National Economic Council. Kudlow has long been close with Trump, and his selection was interpreted as part of an ongoing effort by Trump to surround himself with like-minded advisers. Cohn, a Democrat and "globalist," stepped down after a clash over Trump's new steel and aluminum tariffs. Kudlow also warned the tariffs could harm U.S. workers, but he was a key adviser on tax cuts during Trump's campaign.


U.K. expels 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation for poisoning of ex-spy

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday that the United Kingdom will expel 23 Russian diplomats, the most since the Cold War, and suspend all planned high-level bilateral contacts with the Kremlin. The decision follows the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil with a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. "For those who wish to do us harm, my message is clear: You are not welcome here," May told Parliament. Additionally, May announced that members of the royal family would not attend the World Cup in Russia this summer. Russia has dismissed the accusations, and called Britain's moves "a very serious provocation."


FBI disciplinary office recommends firing McCabe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering a recommendation made by the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility to fire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for improperly handled elements of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, The New York Times reported Wednesday. The internal review found that McCabe improperly authorized FBI officials to share sensitive information with journalists, then misled investigators in an internal review. Lack of candor is a firing offense in the agency, but ousting him could prove controversial. McCabe is due to retire on Sunday, when he qualifies for full pension benefits. He also has been a target of President Trump's ire over other matters, and is a potential witness in the inquiry into whether Trump tried to obstruct the Russia investigation.


Church killer Dylann Roof's sister arrested for bringing knife to school

The younger sister of Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof was arrested Wednesday on charges of bringing a knife, pepper spray, and marijuana to her South Carolina high school. The arrest came after Morgan Roof, 18, posted a Snapchat message in which she said she hoped students participating in Wednesday's National School Walkout at A.C. Flora High School in Columbia would "get shot," and that only "black people" would be walking out. A.C. Flora Principal Susan Childs said the post was "hateful" and "extremely inappropriate," although not threatening. She added that it was "dealt with in a swift and severe manner as the posting caused quite a disruption." Morgan Roof's brother Dylann Roof is awaiting execution for killing nine parishioners at a historically black Charleston church in 2015.


California teacher placed on leave after accidentally firing gun in class

California high school teacher and reserve police officer Dennis Alexander was placed on administrative leave at both Seaside High School and the Sand City Police Department after he accidentally fired his handgun into the ceiling during his advanced public safety class, a police official said Wednesday. One of Alexander's 32 students received a minor injury from bullet shrapnel that ricocheted off the ceiling, and two others were hit by debris. The parents of the injured 17-year-old said he was "shaken up, but he's going to be O.K." Also this week, a school resource officer in Virginia accidentally fired his gun in his office. Both incidents occurred days after President Trump proposed training and arming some school employees to deter shootings.


Philippines to withdraw from International Criminal Court

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that his country plans to withdraw from the International Criminal Court over the body's decision to start an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in his war on drugs. Since Duterte took office in May 2016, police are believed to have killed more than 4,100 drug suspects, although the nation's police deny murder allegations. On Friday, the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, said Duterte needed psychiatric evaluation, and that his attacks against human rights activists were "unacceptable." Duterte called the criticism "outrageous."


Toys "R" Us to close all of its U.S. stores

Toys "R" Us plans to close or sell all 800 of its U.S. stores, according to media reports on Wednesday. The toy store chain said in a bankruptcy court filing Thursday that it had to liquidate and start winding down U.S. operations. The move would affect up to 33,000 employees, but the company told employees the closures would not occur all at once. The toy store chain also is closing all 100 of its outlets in the U.K. Once the dominant toy retailer in the U.S., Toys "R" Us has been struggling for years against other big-box stores and online rivals. It filed for bankruptcy protection six months ago, struggling to find a way to pay down nearly $8 billion in debt.


Stormy Daniels launches crowdfunding campaign for legal battle with Trump

Adult film star Stormy Daniels on Wednesday launched an effort to crowdfund money to pay legal fees and potential damages in her lawsuit against President Trump. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims in her lawsuit that the "hush" agreement she signed to prevent her from talking about her claim that she had an affair with Trump more than 10 years ago is invalid because Trump never signed it. Daniels received a $130,000 payment from Trump's personal lawyer to keep quiet shortly before the 2016 presidential election. On the fundraising site, where the campaign quickly raised more than $110,000, she said she did not have the "vast resources" it will take to win a court battle against Trump, and pay the $1 million in damages she could face for discussing the alleged affair if she loses.


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