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South Dakota Senate passes transgender student ‘bathroom bill’ & more news

It’s hump day, which means you just have to get to lunch and you’re on the back half of the week. Kill a few minutes with a cup of coffee and these news headlines.

1. Grassley’s “bigger man” moment

President Obama said yesterday that there is no constitutional reason why Senate Republicans would refuse to consider any nominees he might put forth to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Antonin Scalia’s death. The GOP leadership has said they will refuse to consider anyone Obama might nominate, a statement that Senator Grassley of Iowa modestly walked back yesterday, saying he would wait to see who the nominee is before making any decisions. — The New York Times

2. Have they asked a teen for help?

A judge has ordered Apple to unlock the phone used by the San Bernardino couple who went on a terrorist rampage in December, murdering 14 people. The FBI has been stymied by the security functions on the phone and has been unable to access the information within. The judge has also ordered Apple to create a kind of skeleton key that would allow law enforcement to get into phones in other kinds of these cases. Apple has refused to comply, citing the privacy concerns of its customers. — The New York Times

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3. Slimy, nasty and unstable, oh my

The Republican primary, which you might not think could sink any lower, has descended into out-and-out name calling as the South Carolina primary comes within striking distance. Both Trump and Rubio have called Cruz a liar, which is not exactly name-calling — he may very well be lying — but Trump has added “slimy” and “unstable” to the mix. — CNN

4. Move to California

The South Dakota Senate has approved a bill that would prevent transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity. The governor has not yet made a decision on whether to sign it, and does not intend to meet with any transgender people so as to “stay objective.” Supporters of the law say it’s a victory for privacy and modesty. California passed basically the exact opposite law, allowing transgender people access to sex-segregated activities and places that conform with their gender identity, in 2013. — CNN

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5. Horse race

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are neck and neck in the Nevada caucuses, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The close race reflects a wide gulf in opinion on the state of the economy; Clinton still holds women and Sanders is still hanging onto voters under 55. White and non-white voters are evenly split. Hang onto your hats until Saturday. — CNN

6. Is that a threat or a promise?

Jeb Bush made headlines yesterday by tweeting out a photo of a gun engraved with his name, captioned “America,” and apparently could offer no coherent reason for doing so. The general reaction was “whuh?”, but Twitter had a few choice — and hilarious — responses: @Wikileaks wrote “Are the bullets engraved too?” In our opinion the prize goes to @mashable, who tweeted out a photo of a gun engraved with the words “Please clap.” Yeeeeoouch. — MSNBC

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