10 things you need to know today: April 4, 2014

Syrian refugees
(Image credit: (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein))

1. New details emerge in Ft. Hood shooting

Army officials have released new information about the Ft. Hood shooting that left four dead, including the shooter, and 16 wounded. Investigators believe Spc. Ivan Lopez was in an argument with one or more of his fellow soldiers before the rampage. A base commander also said that Lopez’s mental health issues — he was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder after deploying to Iraq — may have been the underlying cause of the attack.


2. U.N. report estimates more than one million Syrians have fled to Lebanon

The conflict in Syria has reached a grim milestone, according to the United Nations, which estimates more than one million Syrians have fled to Lebanon. U.N. officials register roughly 2,500 Syrians refugees in Lebanon each day. The numbers may actually be much higher because many refugees don’t report to the authorities once they’ve crossed the border.

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The New York Times

3. Oil prices climb in anticipation of March jobs report

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics set to release its latest job report, oil prices are on the rise. U.S. crude prices climbed 67 cents to $100.96 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline was up 0.5 cents to $2.916 a gallon this morning. Typically, higher rates of employment lead to higher rates of energy and fuel consumption. Analysts predicted that employers added 195,000 jobs in March, which, if true, would be the best performance in four months.

ABC News

4. Iran negotiates over its nuclear program

After making some progress in February, Iran is again coming to the table to discuss its nuclear program. Officials from the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China, and Britain have begun meeting with senior Iranian negotiators in Vienna. The goal of the talks is to establish a framework that would define what an acceptable Iranian nuclear enrichment program looks like in exchange for lifting crippling economic sanctions.


5. U.S. considering sending an extra brigade to Europe

The United States could permanently station another brigade in Europe to counter Russia's moves in Crimea. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said NATO is studying "a number of new possibilities, new measures, new options" to consider. Rotating a brigade to the continent would mean 5,000 new troops would be stationed there.


6. FDA approves new drug overdose treatment

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new product called Evzio to help decrease the number of drug overdose deaths. Federal officials fast-tracked approval of the device to help combat the 16,000 deaths that occur each year due to painkiller overdoses. Designed to be used by family members and caregivers in the event of an emergency, Evzio delivers a rapid dose of naloxone, a well-established antidote to Vicodin and OxyContin.

The Washington Post

7. Israel calls off Palestinian prisoner release

The latest round of Middle East peace talks have hit another impasse. Israeli government officials are refusing to release several Palestinian prisoners in retaliation for Palestinian leaders’ plans to join 15 international treaties. Palestinian leaders had agreed not to sign onto the treaties but moved ahead with their applications after Israel missed a deadline to release the prisoners.

The New York Times

8. Obama signs childhood disease research bill

President Obama signed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act on Thursday, dedicating $125 million over a 10-year period to fighting childhood diseases. Miller died last October after an 11-month battle with brain cancer before she could see her advocacy efforts come to fruition. The bill, which uses money that would have paid for political party conventions, passed with support from both Democrats and Republicans.

USA Today

9. David Letterman announces retirement

After more than 30 years on air, late-night talk show host David Letterman announced his retirement. He’ll remain on the air at CBS until 2015. While Letterman’s Late Show saw its ratings decline over the last three months, the veteran comedian is still considered one of the most influential talk-show hosts in television history.


10. Americans prefer rehab to jail for drug offenders

A new Pew Research Center Poll has found that two-thirds of Americans would prefer that drug users get rehab rather than be sentenced to jail. The findings also suggest that a majority believe minimum sentencing laws should be repealed for nonviolent offenders. The survey was released as Congress considers a bill that would reduce federal mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Christian Science Monitor

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Laura Colarusso is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She has previously written for Newsweek, The Boston Globe, the Washington Monthly and The Daily Beast.