Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 2, 2014

Laura Colarusso
John Kerry abruptly canceled a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Reuters/Laurent Dubrule)


Earthquake rocks Chile and sets off tsunami

A powerful earthquake hit Chile last night, precipitating massive landslides and seven-foot tsunami waves. The quake, which reached a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale, struck about 60 miles northwest of Iquique in the ocean. By morning the death toll had reached five, as two people had heart attacks and three were crushed. [CNN]


Official confirms the NSA conducted warrantless electronic searches on Americans

In a letter to a Senate Democrat, the U.S.’s top intelligence official confirmed that the National Security Agency has engaged in warrantless searches on electronic communication data of American citizens. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, admitted to the searches, but argued that they were legal. The number of warrantless searches conducted to date was not disclosed. [The Guardian]


Kerry cancels meeting with Abbas

Secretary of State John Kerry canceled a visit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after the latter defied American wishes by signing onto 15 United Nations treaties, a move that essentially asserted Palestinian statehood. The move came eight months into the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, just as diplomats were discussing extending the negotiations. Abbas had agreed not to sign the treaties so long as Israel released 104 Palestinian prisoners, but Israel did not free the last group of 26 on schedule. [The Washington Post]


GM CEO apologizes for slow response to safety concerns

General Motors CEO Mary Barra told a congressional panel that she was "deeply sorry" that her company didn't deal more promptly with faulty ignition switches that led to 13 deaths. Barra said the slow response was "unacceptable," but by and large sidestepped questions about the automaker’s delayed recall of more than two million vehicles. [Reuters]


Japan ends decades-long ban on exporting weapons

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reversed close to 50 years of precedent when he overturned his country’s ban on exporting weapons and military hardware. The ban had been in place since the 1960s, as Japan renounced armed conflict in the aftermath of World War II. The latest move was supported by the U.S. government, which hopes Japan can increase its military standing and counterbalance China’s growing influence in the region. [The New York Times]


Tiger Woods had back surgery

Tiger Woods announced he is recovering from back surgery for a pinched nerve and likely won’t return to competition until this summer. "It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future," the top golf player in the world said in a statement. "I plan to have a lot of years left in mine." For the first time in 20 years, Woods will not be playing the Masters. [ESPN]


Ukraine signs on to host NATO exercises

Lawmakers in the Ukraine have unanimously agreed to host NATO military exercises. The country is not an official member of NATO, but has been participating in joint exercises since 1997. The vote comes on the heels of Russia’s massive military buildup on the Ukrainian border and takeover of Crimea. [Global Post]


Charles Keating, former S&L exec embroiled in a congressional scandal, dies

Charles Keating, who became a household name in the 1980s because of a congressional scandal, has died. In 1989, when federal regulators filed a $1.1 billion civil racketeering and fraud lawsuit against him, Keating had several lawmakers, including future presidential candidate John McCain, rush to his rescue. These lawmakers — known as the Keating Five — were admonished for improperly intervening on Keating’s behalf. [USA Today]


Kenyan authorities arrest 650 after bomb attack

After massive explosions left six people dead and 20 injured in Nairobi, Kenyan authorities have arrested more than 650 suspects in connection with the attack. Law enforcement officials conducted door-to-door searches of residential buildings, detaining mostly Somali refugees allegedly associated with al-Shabab, a Somali militant group known for carrying out brutal assaults. Police vowed to continue the search until those directly responsible for the bombing are found. [Voice of America]


Californian wins Powerball jackpot

B. Raymond Buxton waited until April 1 to claim the $425.3 million Powerball jackpot he won in February. A retiree from Northern California, Buxton wore a Yoda tee-shirt emblazoned with the words "Luck of the Jedi I Have" when he turned in his ticket. The recipient of the largest jackpot ever won in the Golden State, Buxton plans on using his winnings to travel and set up a foundation dedicated to helping children. [Los Angeles Times]