News You Should Read Today – February 23 – 2016

Syria Agrees to US-Russia cease-fire planSyria Agrees to US-Russia cease-fire plan

Syria said Tuesday it accepts a cease-fire plan proposed by the United States and Russia that would begin Saturday. A Syrian government statement said the military will continue its operations against Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked groups.

The U.S.-Russia plan also does not apply to those militants, and any other groups have until Friday to confirm their participation. The main Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee said late Monday it agrees to the cease-fire as long as its demands for the lifting of sieges, delivery of humanitarian aid, and an end of bombings of civilians are met. VOA



China expanding military assets in South China SeaChina expanding military assets in South China Sea

An independent U.S. research group says China is building a radar system throughout the disputed islands it holds in the South China Sea, actions that could strengthen its ability to control the region.

A report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies was issued on the eve of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visit to the United States for talks with Secretary of State John Kerry. The group’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative released satellite imagery that shows a high-frequency radar system on Cuarteron reef in the Spratly islands, as well as a lighthouse, a helicopter landing pad, underground bunker and other communications equipment.

The report says the radar facilities on Cuarteron would “significantly bolster China’s ability to monitor surface and air traffic” in the northern part of the South China Sea. CSIS also says China appears to be installing radar facilities at smaller reefs in the Spratly islands. VOA



US Presidential election newsUS Presidential election

There are five Republicans still in the presidential race, but on Monday, several prominent Republicans portrayed it as a two-man contest between Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio. With establishment stalwart Jeb Bush out of the race, Rubio notched several high-profile endorsements heading into Tuesday’s GOP caucus in Nevada, and both Rubio and Trump took advantage of Sen. Ted Cruz’s firing of his campaign spokesman to reiterate their charge that Cruz relies on dirty tricks. Trump is expected to win the Nevada contest, and polls put him ahead in the majority of Super Tuesday primary states. The Associated Press

Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole is throwing his support behind Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential contest after his early favorite – former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – dropped out of the race on Saturday. ABC

The Daily Beast said former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that he will almost certainly run for president as an independent if Republicans nominate Donald Trump and Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders. The Daily Beast

Donald Trump said Sunday that he was “not sure” whether his Republican presidential rival Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was eligible to be president. “I don’t know. I’ve never looked at it, George. Honestly, I’ve never looked at it,” Trump told “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos had asked Trump about a tweet he shared the day before. The tweet said both Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were legally barred from becoming president. Rubio was born in the US to Cuban parents. Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Business Insider

A new poll out of Southern Illinois University shows potential Illinois voters have their favorites for president. The poll shows Trump has a commanding lead over his Republican opponents. Live telephone interviews conducted with 306 likely Republican voters statewide reveal 28 percent of those polled plan to support Trump. The poll found Sen. Ted Cruz in second place with 15 percent support, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio with 14 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 13 percent. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and retired surgeon Ben Carson trailed the pack with 8 percent each. KFVS



Sea levels rising much faster than any time ( levels rising much faster than any time

The Earth is exiting a long period of stable ocean and climate levels during which human civilization grew and flourished, and it’s almost certainly due to human activity, scientists in the U.S. and Germany said in a pair of papers published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One study mapped out changes in sea levels around the globe over the past 2,800 years, finding that oceans rose or fell no more than 1 to 1.5 inches a century from ancient Rome’s founding until the Industrial Age in the 1800s, but rose 5.5 inches in the 20th century alone, accelerating to a rate of 12 inches a century by 1993. The researchers blamed the increasing sea levels on rising global temperatures caused by burning fossil fuels. The New York Times

Pentagon wants to shut down Guantanamo prison ( wants to shut down Guantanamo prison

On Tuesday, the Defense Department is expected to send Congress a plan to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a goal of President Obama’s since he took office in 2009.

The Obama administration has reduced the number of prisoners at the camp to 91, including 10 who’ve been charged or convicted by a military judicial commission, 46 being held as wartime detainees, and 35 who have been recommended for transfer to another country. The Pentagon study, mandated under a defense funding bill last fall, will include potential federal prisons that could hold the remaining prisoners and the relative costs. Congress has barred Obama from transferring Guantánamo prisoners to the U.S. mainland. The New York Times

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