By Marcus Lavergne


Russia to end military operations in Syria

Russia’s five-year campaign in Syria is set to come to an abrupt halt on Tuesday due to an unexpected order from President Vladimir Putin.

The announcement came as a surprise to the U.S. and other western countries before the start of peace talks in Geneva.

Russia has been accused of killing hundreds through air raids, several of which have involved bombing hospitals. Experts say that if Russian officials don’t pull out air forces as well as ground troops, the withdrawal won’t mean anything.

Putin told reporters that Russia’s military has accomplished its goals in Syria and has facilitated the organization of the peace talks. He’s also ordered for Russia to increase its efforts in mediating a peace deal between the Assad regime and opposing groups.

Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, says the withdrawal “increases the pressure on President Assad to finally negotiate in a serious way.”


NFL official confirms link between football and CTE

Jeff Miller, the National Football League’s senior vice president for health and safety, recognized a link between playing football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy on Wednesday, according to Time Magazine. Miller made his remarks during a roundtable organized by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The NFL has taken a pretty hard line on denying the connection until now. The only time the NFL has ever acknowledged that concussions could lead to later injuries was in 2009. It was then that research by Pennsylvania doctor Bennet Omalu and Boston University pathologist Ann McKee began showing a definitive link between repeated head trauma and CTE. Mckee has found signs of CTE in the brains of 90 of 94 former NFL players.

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease where repeated head trauma, like the concussions often in football, triggers the formation of tau protein in the brain cells. This protein can cause symptoms ranging from memory loss to aggression, depression and even dementia.


Reno City Council delays UNR expansion

The University of Nevada, Reno, has plans to expand south to Interstate 80. Campus officials will have to hold off until a City Council decision in May decides the fate of the expansion.

The council voted 6 to 1 to delay the decision with the lone dissenter being Councilwoman Neoma Jardon. Her colleagues David Bobzien, Jenny Brekhus and Naomi Duerr voiced concerns over the broadness of the university’s powers to demolish or move six historic houses.

Reno’s Historic Resource Commission and Historic Reno Preservation Society have opposed any moving or destruction of the houses.

Council members agreed that going forward with the university’s plans could set a bad precedent for conversations on development in the future. Before making a decision in a few months, they’ve asked for more conversation between the stakeholders.

For now, the university’s final drawings for a business building they hope to put in place of the houses is awaiting approval. President Marc Johnson told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the process could take years.

Marcus Lavergne can be reached at and on Twitter @mlavergne21. Jacob Solis contributed to this report.