Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 11, 2015

Harold Maass
Clinton at her press conference.
(Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

1.

Oklahoma students expelled over racist video

University of Oklahoma officials expelled two students on Tuesday, accusing them of playing a "leadership role" in a racist chant by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members that was caught on video. President David Boren said the school was enforcing a "zero tolerance" policy for "threatening racist behavior." The university has closed the fraternity house and boarded up its windows. One of the students in the video, Parker Rice, apologized for what he called "a horrible mistake" and vowed to "reject racism" in the future. [CNN, NBC News]

2.

Hillary Clinton defends her use of a private email system at State Department

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday made her first response to criticism over her use of a private email account as secretary of state, saying she used the personal account because she "opted for convenience." Clinton pushed back against suggestions she skirted record-keeping rules, and said she "went above and beyond" what was required of her. She said she gave the State Department "anything that could be possibly viewed as work-related," but conceded it "would have been better" to use a second, government account. [The Associated Press, NBC News]

3.

Ferguson's city manager resigns after highly critical Justice Department report

Ferguson, Missouri, city manager John Shaw resigned Tuesday in the wake of a scathing Justice Department describing rampant racial discrimination by the city's police department and municipal court system. The report named Shaw, the city's most powerful official, as one of the people responsible for much of the unfair conduct of the police and courts. The announcement about Shaw's resignation came during a City Council meeting a week after the release of the Justice Department report. [The New York Times]

4.

Feud continues over GOP senators' letter to Iran

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pushed back Tuesday against White House criticism of a letter, signed by 47 GOP senators, that he wrote to Iran warning that Congress could reverse any nuclear deal Tehran negotiates with President Obama. Vice President Joe Biden said the letter was "beneath the dignity of an institution I revere." Cotton shot back that Biden, "as Barack Obama's own secretary of defense has said, has been wrong about nearly every foreign policy and national security decision in the last 40 years." [Mediaite]

5.

11 missing after military helicopter crash

An Army helicopter crashed during a routine training mission Tuesday night at Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, Florida, leaving seven Marines and four National Guard soldiers missing. Debris from the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was found on a remote government-owned beach early Wednesday. A search-and-rescue mission was underway. An Eglin spokesman could not say what went wrong with the helicopter, although there were "weather issues" at the time of the crash. [NBC News]

6.

Iraqi government forces retake part of Tikrit

Iraqi forces, backed by Shiite militia, retook parts of Tikrit from Islamic State fighters on Tuesday. ISIS forces reportedly had begun retreating from the besieged, strategically important city. Government forces have been fighting for a week to take back Tikrit. The offensive involves more than 30,000 pro-government fighters, making it the largest Iraqi military operation yet against ISIS. A victory there would mark major progress toward reclaiming Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, from ISIS. [The New York Times]

7.

Stocks plunge as interest rate hikes loom

U.S. stocks fell into the red for the year on Tuesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by 333 points, or 1.9 percent, on anxiety over the prospect of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. European stocks fared even worse, with Britain's FTSE 100 plunging by 2.5 percent thanks to the euro's declining value compared to the dollar. The euro his a 12-year low at 1.077 per dollar. [USA Today]

8.

ISIS releases video showing child shooting and killing Israeli hostage

The Islamic State reportedly released a video on Tuesday showing a child shooting and killing a man identified by the terrorist group as an Israeli spy. The victim was identified as Mohamed Said Ismail Musallam, a 19-year-old Israeli of Arab descent. His father, Said Musallam, said the victim had no ties to the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, and that he had been recruited by ISIS. "Mohamed told me and his brother that ISIS took him," Said Mussalam said. [CNN]

9.

Teenage suicide bomber kills 34 in Nigeria

A teenage girl reportedly detonated a suicide bomb in a market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday, killing at least 34 people. Many more people were wounded. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attack was similar to a series of others blamed on Boko Haram, an Islamist terror organization that recently declared its allegiance to the Islamic State. Boko Haram has been fighting for six years to impose Islamic law in Nigeria. [The Associated Press]

10.

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams told to pay $7.4 million in Blurred Lines suit

A federal jury in Los Angeles found Tuesday that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied Marvin Gaye's Got to Give it Up when they created their 2013 hit Blurred Lines. The jury awarded Gaye's children $7.4 million. Testimony in the trial described numerous similarities between the two songs, and focused on whether Blurred Lines was an homage to Gaye or a copy of his work. An attorney for Thicke and Williams said they remained "unwavering in their absolute conviction that they wrote this song independently." [MTV]