Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 21, 2012

Romney takes Illinois, French police surround a suspected shooter, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinoin

1. ROMNEY WINS BIG IN ILLINOIS Mitt Romney scored a decisive win on Tuesday in the GOP's Illinois presidential primary. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Romney led with 47 percent of the vote, followed by Rick Santorum at 35 percent. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich trailed far behind with 9 and 8 percent, respectively. Romney is poised to take the lion's share of Illinois' delegates, giving him roughly 560 total — about half of the 1,144 he needs to clinch the nomination. The focus now turns to Louisiana, which holds its primary on Sunday. [CNN]………………………………………………………………………………

2. FRENCH POLICE IN STANDOFF WITH SHOOTING SUSPECT After an early morning raid and firefight, hundreds of French police have surrounded a building where the suspect in three deadly motorcycle shootings has holed up. The suspect, a 24-year-old described as an Islamic jihadist who trained with al Qaeda, has tossed a handgun out the window but has other weapons. He says he will surrender later today. [Fox News]………………………………………………………………………………

3. MEXICO HIT BY 7.4 EARTHQUAKE A magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit southern Mexico on Tuesday. According to officials, 800 homes were damaged and 60 collapsed, but there have been no reports of deaths. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

4. FEDS STRUGGLE WITH TRAYVON MARTIN KILLING Justice Department lawyers say they are going forward with a federal investigation into the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, but it may be difficult to prosecute the case under federal law. Legal scholars note that while it may appear that the neighborhood watch activist who shot Martin — George Zimmerman — confronted the teen because he was African-American, it will be hard to try the case as a federal hate crime. [Washington Post]………………………………………………………………………………

5. AL QAEDA CLAIMS CREDIT FOR IRAQ ATTACKS On Wednesday, an al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for the rash of violent attacks across Iraq that have left 48 dead as the country prepares to host the Arab Summit. "Within [a] few hours, all the security measures adopted by the Shiite government have collapsed and the enemy was taken by surprise," reads a statement posted online by the Islamic State of Iraq. [CBS News]
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6. OBAMA SURGES IN NEW POLLA poll released Tuesday shows voters in Virginia, a key swing state, preferring President Obama to Mitt Romney, 50 percent to 42 percent. The poll also showed Obama prevailing over other potential GOP candidates. The president's big lead over Romney was attributed, in part, to his strong margins with Virginia women, who favored Obama over Romney, 52 percent to 39 percent. [Christian Science Monitor]………………………………………………………………………………

7. RUSSIA READY TO SUPPORT ACTION IN SYRIAOn Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country is ready to support U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan's mission in Syria, provided it does not involve an ultimatum to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [CNN]………………………………………………………………………………

8. EMPLOYERS ASK FOR FACEBOOK PASSWORDS Some potential employers are going beyond looking at the Facebook profiles of job seekers; they're asking candidates to share their Facebook passwords to more thoroughly vet candidates. The legality of the practice is being investigated. [Washington Post]………………………………………………………………………………

9. ANALYSTS FIND NEW CLUE IN EARHART MYSTERY An enhanced, high-tech analysis of a 1937 photo taken months after Amelia Earhart vanished appears to show the landing gear of Earhart's plane protruding from the ocean off a remote island in the Pacific. The photograph offers a promising new clue in one of the 20th century's most enduring unsolved mysteries. Earhart disappeared over the South Pacific 75 years ago, leaving no traces. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………  

10. POTTER ACTOR HEADS TO JAIL Jamie Waylett, who played bully Vincent Crabbe in six Harry Potter movies, has been sentenced to two years in jail for his role in last summer's London riots. [CNN]

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