What’s Going On Around The World Today?

HERE ARE THE TOP STORIES

President Barack Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to succeed Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Garland, 63, has the quintessential Supreme Court nominee résumé, making him a surprising pick for a president who has discussed his desire to remake the federal courts — both in terms of traditional diversity but also in terms of experiential diversity, BuzzFeed News’ Chris Geidner writes.

Obama said Garland has bipartisan support and that the Supreme Court should be “above politics.”

What’s next?

Republicans were quick to say Obama’s nomination will go nowhere, arguing that the November elections will enable the people to decide who they want nominating Scalia’s successor, Geidner writes. It’s a president’s constitutional responsibility to nominate justices to the Supreme Court. It’s up to the U.S. Senate to then confirm the nominee.

But this nomination is different from previous ones: The members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have — along party lines — stated that they do not intend to hold a hearing, let alone a vote, on the nominee.

For the the latest news and stories, download the BuzzFeed News app for iOS and Android (in U.S. app stores only — for now).

WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON

The pretty grim 2016 UK budget: Cuts to disability benefits, a slow-growing economy, and more expensive sugary drinks.

Yesterday was Budget Day in the UK. And that was exactly what it sounds like: George Osborne, the person in charge of money things in the government, presented the national budget. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Bad news: There’ll be another £3.5 billion (roughly $5 billion) of cuts because the British economy is in worse shape than expected. The economy will grow more slowly over the next four years than Osborne predicted four months ago.

  • Some more bad news: Roughly 600,000 disabled people in the country will be worse off. There’ll be a £1.2 billion in savings from “reforming” how disability benefits are paid.

  • Some sugar news: In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the government will introduce a new tax on sugary drinks, starting in April 2018.

  • And about the future: A new scheme for young people — who’ve been locked out of the housing market and aren’t saving for a pension — is supposed to help them save to buy a house, but many say they’re too far in debt to take advantage of it.

The government is hoping to save ~a lot~ of money by cutting Personal Independent Payments (PIP), benefits given to people with disabilities who need support living independently. These cuts will mainly involve reducing the number of “points” on the system for certain criteria, including needing help to get dressed or use the toilet.

Tom Chivers / BuzzFeed News

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?

The McDonald’s franchise model goes on trial: A case being tried in New York could change the way fast-food companies run their businesses.

What’s at stake: whether McDonald’s corporate is responsible for labor conditions at restaurants that bear its name, BuzzFeed News’ Cora Lewis reports.

Since 2012, McDonald's cooks and cashiers have protested for better pay and working conditions. Workers say they’ve experienced illegal retaliation — including firings — as a result of the strikes.

Now the country’s highest labor board’s lawyers argue that McDonald’s USA and franchise operators are equally liable for the alleged retaliation. If the board wins, low-wage workers could potentially unionize, and the case could change how fast-food companies run their businesses and treat their workers, Lewis writes.

The company denies responsibility, its lawyers arguing that McDonald’s does not substantially control the day-to-day of line cooks, cashiers and drive-through workers.

Beyond the trial, which is likely to stretch on for a while, fast-food workers continue to strike and march.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Quick things to know:

  • U.S. presidential elections update: Fox News canceled its March 21 Republican debate in Utah after Donald Trump and John Kasich said they wouldn’t participate. (BuzzFeed News) Trump said “you’d have riots” if he were to lose the Republican nomination at a contested convention. (BuzzFeed News) And the Bernie Sanders campaign will go on despite the race being “an uphill fight.” (BuzzFeed News)

  • A Kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for an explosion that killed at least 37 people in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, on Sunday. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Uber, once exclusively a black-car service, has turned its focus to cheaper rides. Now some of those black-car drivers are struggling to cover their expenses. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Zika mosquitoes could spread to New York and L.A. this summer, but the virus itself isn’t likely to spread in the U.S., because of air conditioning and other mosquito-control efforts, according to experts. (BuzzFeed News)

Geovane Silva holds his son at a hospital in Brazil. The Zika virus has been linked to an increase in birth defects, particularly microcephaly, or an abnormally small brain.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Happy Thursday

Children battling cancer are all smiles in these portraits in which they enact their wildest dreams. Jonathan Diaz, the photographer behind the Anything Can Be project, told BuzzFeed: “I felt like if they could visualize themselves in their dreams, see themselves as courageous and strong, and not stuck in a hospital bed, it would help them fight cancer.” There’s a way to find light even in the darkest situations.

“I wanted to help these kids believe in their dreams.” —Jonathan Diaz

Jonathan Diaz / anythingcanbeproject.com

This letter was edited and brought to you by Natasha Japanwala and Claire Moses. You can always reach us here.

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