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Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s armed forces to start pulling out of Syria, as peace talks resumed between the Assad regime and Syrian opposition forces in Geneva. The Kremlin said the Russian military would retain a presence in Syria for conducting air force flights to continue to monitor the ceasefire and ensure its implementation.
When it comes to Syria’s future, the Russian president’s declaration of “mission accomplished” may be no more lasting than when a previous American president uttered those words after the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, says Ivo Daalder. The relative quiet on the front lines, combined with the resumption of diplomacy, allows Mr Putin to pivot from war-maker to peacemaker, but Syria remains as deeply divided, politically and territorially, as ever.(FT, The Exchange blog)
In the news
Bangladesh bank chief resigns over $101m theft Cyber-thieves are believed to have deployed computer “malware” in a bid to clone authorisation codes and transfer about $1bn from Bangladesh Bank’s account with the New York Federal Reserve. The thieves had moved $101m to accounts in Sri Lanka and the Philippines when an intermediary bank spotted an error. Although about $20m was recovered, the heist remains one of the largest bank thefts in history. (FT)
Nato chief warns on Brexit If Britain votes to leave the EU it could have a negative impact on the Nato alliance, a senior US military commander has warned. Lt Gen Ben Hodges, head of the US Army in Europe, said he was "worried" the EU could unravel just when it needed to stand up to Russia. (BBC)
Suu Kyi aide elected Myanmar's parliament has elected Htin Kyaw, a trusted aide of National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as the country's new president. Htin Kyaw is set to take office on April 1 as Myanmar moves towards democracy after more than half a century of rule by the military or a military-backed government. (NAR)
Sony buys out Jackson stake in publishing unit Michael Jackson earned more than any entertainer dead or alive in the first five years after his untimely passing. Today's sale of the Jackson estate's half of music publishing group Sony/ATV for $750m confirms the star's little-known business savvy. The deal consolidates Sony’s ownership of the company, which represents 3m songs ranging from the Motown catalogue to hits by The Beatles and Taylor Swift. (Forbes)
Turkey polarised The government has launched a broad offensive against Kurdish militants after a car bombing in Ankara killed at least 37 people. Investigators suspect one of the bombers was a woman linked to the PKK militant group. Although there have been calls for national unity, Turkish society is profoundly polarised, and an increasing number of citizens have come to feel like refugees in their own land, writes Elif Shafak. (WSJ, FT)
Anbang’s five-star buying spree The Chinese insurer put in a $13bn bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts the day after it agreed to purchase Strategic Hotels & Resorts for $6.5bn, in a sign of corporate China’s feverish pursuit of foreign assets. (FT)
It’s a big day for
US primaries Today's votes could shore up the frontrunners or give their challengers new life. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders will try to pull off more come-from-behind victories. For the GOP, Marco Rubio and John Kasich have both staked their candidacies on winning the primaries in their respective home states. Polls show Mr Kasich beating Republican frontrunner Donald Trump but Mr Rubio is far behind the property tycoon. (WaPo, FT)
Food for thought
Time for a universal income? Is the US economy reaching its “Vietnam moment”? It was only when middle class children were drafted that opinion swung decisively against that war. Globalisation has destroyed many blue-collar jobs but technological change is now threatening the professions. That makes it an opportune moment to look again at the practicalities and costs of a universal basic income. It is an old idea whose time may finally have come, writes John Thornhill. (FT)
Merkel power unravels This time last year, the German chancellor was at the peak of her power, but her authority is now unravelling with the erosion of prestige in both Germany and Europe feeding on each other. “She gambled on the tolerance of the German public. And rather than seeking out the European middle ground, she took a position far to the left of almost all the other EU countries.” (FT)
Brazil: caught up in a scandal Markets are betting on a new government restoring growth, but embattled President Dilma Rousseff looks up for a long fight. (FT)
The key to happiness at work In Sweden, workers are among the least stressed in the world and the secret lies in fika — a longstanding social ritual that involves taking short breaks throughout the day to unwind. (Quartz)
Pigeon power London's much-reviled pigeons are being put to work as air pollution monitors by Plume Labs' Pigeon Air Patrol project. Air quality sensors are strapped to the birds like tiny backpacks, providing instant information about air pollution wherever the pigeons are. The pigeons are on Twitter, allowing Londoners to tweet their area to@PigeonAir to get an instant air quality report. (Gizmodo)
Video of the day
Rubio’s final Florida push As one Republican contender after another falls by the wayside, what stands in the way of US presidential hopeful Donald Trump? The FT's Edward Luce reports. (FT)