Senator Rand Paul won a straw poll of conservative activists on Saturday, giving his potential bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 a boost, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came in second in a surprising show of strength. Whether the victory for the libertarian Paul will have long-lasting benefit is unclear as he is among more than a dozen potential candidates jockeying for position. Paul, a 52-year-old Kentucky Republican, outdistanced a host of other potential candidates by taking 25.7 percent of the vote at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a gathering of activists on Washington's outskirts of Washington. Texas Senator Ted Cruz came in third with 11.5 percent of the votes out of a total of 3,007 who registered votes at the CPAC gathering.
Ecological protests on Saturday dogged the final day of an International Olympic Committee executive board meeting in Rio as green campaigners slated the choice of a nature reserve to hold the golf event next year. "IOC go home!" protesters yelled at IOC president Thomas Bach as he exited the plush hotel hosting the meeting just off the iconic Copacabana beach. While the board meeting was still going on ahead of a closing news conference, several protesters from the "Golf for Whom" environmental pressure group tried to gatecrash the event.
UN envoy Staffan De Mistura held talks in the Syrian capital on Saturday to try to finalise a deal to freeze fighting in the war-ravaged second city of Aleppo. He met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and agreed to send a delegation from his Damascus office to Aleppo on a fact-finding mission, state news agency SANA said, without giving a date. De Mistura's visit started as the army and pro-regime fighters regained territory in southern Syria from forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. The Swedish-Italian diplomat "hopes to set in motion as soon as possible his project" to halt fighting in Aleppo for six weeks, said a member of his delegation who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington completed a four-under par 66 Saturday to seize a one-stroke lead over American Patrick Reed after the second round of the storm-hit US PGA Tour's Honda Classic. Thunderstorms on Friday pushed the conclusion of the second round to Saturday morning and they returned Saturday afternoon to swamp the course at PGA National, wiping out play early. Harrington, a three-time major champion who has slid to 297th in the world rankings, could have enjoyed a larger margin but a bogey-bogey finish left him on seven-under 133 after 36 holes. "At times I get lost and distracted from the process," Harrington said.
A ferocious winter ice storm forced the cancellation of several hundred flights at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Saturday as more than two inches snow blanketed the key transport hub, officials said. As of 9:30 am local time (1530), more than 350 flights from the airport, roughly 35 percent of the daily total, had been cancelled, a statement from the airport said. The statement said "over two inches of snow and an icy glaze" had covered the airport since Friday, forcing staff to deploy treatment trucks and snow plows to keep the airfield operational. Dallas/Fort Worth is ranked the third busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, with 62 million customers traveling through the transport hub each year.