Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 31, 2014

Harold Maass
And then there were four.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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ObamaCare enrollment deadline arrives

Obama administration officials are making last-minute public appeals urging Americans to sign up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges before open enrollment ends at midnight Monday. The White House approved extra time for those who have tried but been unable to enroll due to glitches, but others will face a penalty if they are uninsured in 2014. In the last week, ObamaCare operators fielded a record 2.5 million calls. [USA Today]


UConn and Kentucky round out the Final Four

The Final Four is set. The UConn Huskies upset Michigan State Sunday to advance to the semi-finals of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Kentucky beat Michigan to win the other slot, joining Wisconsin and overall No. 1 seed Florida to round out the Final Four. The Gators lost two games all year — one to UConn, whom they play next, and the other to Wisconsin, whom they could face in the final. [Fox News]


Kerry and Lavrov deadlock over Crimea

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, failed to break an impasse over the Crimea crisis on Sunday. Kerry said they held four hours of constructive talks in Paris, and agreed that diplomats should continue working on how the contested Ukrainian region, which Russia is annexing, should be governed. "In the end, Ukrainians are going to have to make that decision," Kerry said. [Los Angeles Times]


Erdogan declares his party dominated Turkish elections

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in local elections on Sunday, declaring that he and his allies had delivered an "Ottoman slap" to their rivals. Opposition leaders contested early counts giving a big lead to Erdogan's party, which faces a corruption probe and widespread street protests. The vote was seen as a test of strength for Erdogan, whose party has held power since 2002. [CNN]


More crews arrive to hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 intensified on Monday as 10 planes and 10 ships hunted for fresh clues in the sea west of Perth, Australia. On Sunday, crews dismissed suspicious flotsam as fishing buoys. Investigators hope to find traces of the aircraft, which disappeared March 8, before the pings of its black boxes start fading out next week. Relatives of Chinese passengers demanded an apology from the Malaysian government for declaring that the plane had crashed. [The New York Times]


Tech rivals Apple and Samsung start another legal battle

Apple and Samsung return to court in California on Monday, continuing their ongoing legal battle. Apple is demanding $2 billion in damages from its rival, which it says stole iPhone designs and features. Apple wants a $40 royalty for every Samsung device running software Apple says it conceived. Samsung hopes to enlist help from Google engineers who designed the Android system by getting them to testify they didn't use Apple's ideas. [The Guardian]


North and South Korea shell each other's waters

North Korea, upset over annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises, shelled South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea on Monday. Residents of South Korea's Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands were evacuated to shelters. The South responded by firing hundreds of shells into Northern waters. Such displays aren't uncommon along the disputed naval border, although this time North Korea reportedly notified Seoul ahead of time by fax — a first.  [Yonhap]


U.N. scientists say climate change is hurting harvests

Climate change has started cutting into the world's food supply, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a sweeping report released Monday. The authors said climate change was once a distant threat but is now increasingly hurting people "on all continents" and across every ocean. "It's about people now... not just butterflies and sea ice," said Virginia Burkett, one of the authors. [The New York Times, The Guardian]


Earthquake rattles Yellowstone

A 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck Yellowstone National Park on Sunday. It was the strongest quake recorded there in 34 years. No damages or injuries were reported. Yellowstone sits on one of the world's largest super-volcanoes. A U.S. Geological Survey team was dispatched to tour the Norris Geyser Basin to see whether the temblor had changed any of Yellowstone's famous geysers, mud pots, and hot springs. [Reuters]


Frozen beats Toy Story 3's world box office record

Disney's Frozen blew past Toy Story 3 to become the highest grossing animated film in history, with the final push coming over the weekend as the film opened in Japan. Frozen has now hauled in $1.072 billion at the box office worldwide. Toy Story 3 took in $1.06 billion. Frozen, which took two Oscars, was released in the U.S. in November. It's now showing in 36 counties, including South Korea, the U.K., and Germany. [Los Angeles Times]