Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 5, 2012

Obama and Bibi's big Iran meeting, Putin's disputed victory, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. OBAMA, NETANYAHU TO TALK IRAN President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will sit down in Washington on Monday, and Iran is expected to dominate the conversation between Obama and Bibi. Speaking Sunday, Obama stressed that he preferred diplomacy to war, but said that "all elements of American power" could be used to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Over the weekend, both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich criticized Obama's handling of escalating tensions with Iran. "They talk and the Iranians build," Gingrich said on CNN. "We're being played for fools." [CNN]………………………………………………………………………………

2. TORNADO DEATH TOLL HITS 39 On Sunday, Angel Babcock, the 15-month-old baby who miraculously survived a tornado that killed her parents and siblings, died in a Louisville, Ky., hospital. The deadly storms that have ravaged the Midwest and South have now killed 39 people. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

3. OBSERVERS DISPUTE PUTIN'S PRESIDENTIAL VICTORYVlaidmir Putin tearily proclaimed victory in Russia's presidential elections on Sunday, telling a crowd outside the Kremlin that "we won an open and honest battle." International monitors are disputing that fact. "There was no real competition, and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt," said an election observer with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. [Financial Times]………………………………………………………………………………

4. ROMNEY WINS KEY ENDORSEMENTSGoing into Super Tuesday, leading Republicans are offering Mitt Romney their support. House Majority leader Eric Cantor and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn both said Romney was the man for the job on Sunday, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft is expected to join their ranks on Monday. According to a poll released Sunday, Rick Santorum had just a two-point lead over Romney in the key state of Ohio. [New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

5. ADVERTISERS BAIL ON LIMBAUGH, DESPITE APOLOGY On Sunday, ProFlowers became the seventh company to pull its ads from Rush Limbaugh's radio program following the conservative talk show host's derogatory remarks about Sandra Fluke, a law student who testified before Congress about insurers covering contraception. On Saturday, Limbaugh apologized to Fluke after being heavily criticized from both sides of the aisle. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

6. GUNMEN KILL 25 IN IRAQ A gang of gunmen carrying fake arrest warrants and wearing military-like uniforms as disguises killed 25 police officers in an early morning attack in western Iraq believed to be the work of al Qaeda. It's the third such insurgent attack in as many weeks. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

7. SYRIANS TELL OF ATROCITIES IN HOMSSyrians fleeing the embattled central city of Homs tell journalists that government forces are rounding up the remaining men and boys and torturing and killing them. With many of the rebels having fled the area, opposition activists says Assad's regime has ramped up attacks and raids across the country. [BBC News]………………………………………………………………………………

8. ARMS DEPOT BLASTS KILL HUNDREDS IN CONGO A series of explosions caused by a fire inside a weapons depot in the capital of the Republic of Congo have killed at least 213, injured hundreds more, and leveled houses, churches, and businesses. More casualties are expected as the debris is cleared. [USA Today]………………………………………………………………………………

9. CHINA SLASHES 2012 GROWTH TARGET In his annual report to the country's parliament, Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao cut China's 2012 growth target to 7.5 percent, an eight-year low. Wen also named increasing income for the low and middle classes and encouraging consumption as economic goals. [Reuters]………………………………………………………………………………  

10. LORAX SCORES BLOCKBUSTER WEEKENDDr. Seuss' The Lorax raked in $70.7 million over the weekend, far exceeding industry expectations and demonstrating the enduring popularity of Dr. Seuss. The animated 3D flick had the biggest opening of the year thus far. Reviews of it were lackluster, and conservatives criticized the film's eco-friendly message. [Los Angeles Times]

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