Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 28, 2014

Harold Maass
A man surveys the destruction left by a tornado in Arkansas.  (AP Photo/Courtesy of James Bryant)


West steps up pressure on Russia over Ukraine's crisis

President Obama on Monday announced more sanctions against Russia over its threats against Ukraine. The sanctions will target people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, aiming to "encourage him to walk the walk, not just talk the talk" on deescalating the crisis, Obama said. European Union leaders are meeting Monday to discuss tightening their own sanctions against Russia for backing separatists in Ukraine. [The New York Times, BBC News]


Deadly tornadoes hit central and southern U.S.

Two tornadoes from a powerful storm system killed at least 17 people in Arkansas and Oklahoma on Sunday. Authorities in Arkansas said the twister there killed 16. It touched down about 10 miles west of Little Rock, and stretched a half-mile wide. It obliterated buildings, including a $14 million intermediate school due to open in the fall. "There's just really nothing there anymore," Vilonia Schools Superintendent Frank Mitchell said. [Fox News, CNN]


Syria misses the deadline for getting rid of its chemical arsenal

Syria missed a Sunday deadline for dismantling its arsenal of chemical weapons. International experts said, however, that Syria's embattled government might be able to finish destroying or exporting the 7.5 percent of the arsenal that remains within a few days. Syria was originally supposed to get rid of the roughly 1,200 tons of chemical arms and components by February, but it got an extension after missing that deadline. [The New York Times]


The U.S. strikes a military deal with the Philippines

The U.S. and the Philippines have struck a new defense cooperation agreement that could let a large American military contingent return for the first time since the Philippines evicted U.S. forces in the early 1990s. The framework will permit the U.S. to send troops, warships, and aircraft to Philippine bases, but won't authorize the U.S. to establish new bases of its own. Protesters have rallied against the deal outside the U.S. embassy. [Los Angeles Times]


Single-engine planes collide over San Francisco Bay

Two small planes collided over northern San Francisco Bay on Sunday. One of the pilots was able to land his plane, a single-engine Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20, safely. The other crashed his single-engine Cessna 210 into the water and went missing. The Coast Guard is still searching for the downed pilot. [The Associated Press]


Egyptian court seeks execution of Muslim Brotherhood leader and supporters

An Egyptian court on Monday recommended the death penalty for Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 682 supporters. The Islamist group has been the target of a brutal crackdown since the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi, a former Brotherhood member. The sentences are not yet final, but the threatened executions were considered likely to increase the threat of violence ahead of elections scheduled for next month. [Reuters]


New York congressman faces a federal indictment

Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-New York) reportedly plans to turn himself in to the FBI in New York early Monday to face charges connected to a Manhattan health-food restaurant he ran before entering Congress in 2011. The federal indictment stems from a two-year investigation into Grimm's fundraising. The charges are expected to concern tax and fraud at the restaurant, Healthalicious, which has ties to an Israeli fundraiser. [The Washington Post]


Assad reportedly plans to run in Syrian election

The speaker of Syria's parliament announced Monday that President Bashar al-Assad has declared his candidacy for the June 3 presidential elections. Opposition groups assailed the vote as absurd and farcical. There are six other contenders on the ballot, but Assad, who inherited power from his father in 2000, is expected to be declared the winner. [The Associated Press]


Playwright sues Valerie Harper for allegedly concealing her cancer

Broadway playwright Matthew Lombardo is suing actress Valerie Harper for $2 million, accusing her of hiding her terminal cancer diagnosis after she had signed on to star in his play, Looped. Harper, 74, dropped out of last year's national tour of the show after she revealed that her lung cancer had spread to her brain. The suit was filed to counter one by Harper, demanding that she still be paid because she dropped out due to her health. [New York Daily News]


Players and politicians protest Clippers owner Sterling's alleged comments

Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks is drafting a resolution to condemn racist remarks attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The National Basketball Players Association demanded that the league bar Sterling from playoff games. Clippers players wore their warmups inside out, hiding the team logo, in a silent protest ahead of Sunday's Game 4 of their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors. [Los Angeles Times, Sporting News]