10 things you need to know today: March 21, 2015

Suicide bombers kill dozens at Yemen mosques, Obama announces first-ever federal fracking regulations, and more

Yemen mosque
(Image credit: (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed))

1. Suicide bombers kill more than 130 people at Yemen mosques

At least two suicide bombers blew themselves up in two mosques in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa during noon prayers Friday, killing more than 130 people and wounding at least 200 more. The mosques targeted are reportedly used mainly by supporters of the Zaidi Shia-led Houthi rebel movement, which is in control of the capital. The attacks come as fighting has escalated at the presidential palace in Aden, targeting forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

BBC News Reuters

2. Obama reveals first-ever federal fracking regulations

President Barack Obama on Friday announced the U.S. government's first federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. While states have regulated hydraulic fracturing for years, this marks the first time the federal government has issued rules on the controversial practice, which has increased America's oil and gas production but also raised health and environmental concerns. The new rules will require companies drilling on federal land to report what chemicals they are pumping into the ground to the Bureau of Land Management, and dispose of contaminated water safely. The regulations will affect roughly 100,000 wells across the country.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The New York Times Bloomberg

3. Iran, world powers enter nuclear talk recess still deadlocked

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry conceded on Saturday that while "genuine progress" has been made between six world powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program, "fundamental decisions" must still be made. Kerry's comments echo those he has made over the past few weeks as negotiations continue between Iran and the six-power group; Tehran reportedly wants an immediate lifting of sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program, while several countries within the six powers favor a more gradual drawback. Negotiators from the two sides began a recess on Friday; talks are expected to resume on Thursday of the coming week, ahead of the March 31 preliminary deadline that has been set for a deal.

The Wall Street Journal

4. Federal judge orders release of U.S. military detainee abuse photos

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled on Friday that the government must release photographs depicting abuse of detainees at sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense Department now has two months to consider an appeal before it must release the photos. The American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. government have been locked in a battle over whether or not to make the images public for more than a decade; the ACLU argues that the photographs' release is "manifestly important to an ongoing national debate about governmental accountability for the abuse of prisoners." The government has countered that releasing the images could incite attacks both in America and against U.S. troops abroad.

The Associated Press

5. FBI launches probe into resigning Illinois congressman

The Justice Department on Friday launched a formal criminal investigation into the congressional expenses and business deals of Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, a source told The Associated Press. FBI agents have reportedly begun subpoenaing witnesses, and a federal grand jury will begin hearing testimony in early April in Springfield, Illinois. Schock, 33, abruptly announced that he was resigning from office on Tuesday, following six weeks' worth of reports about his questionable spending. The investigation will reportedly focus on Schock's personal investments with political donors, as well as expenditures linked to his House expense account and re-election campaign funds.

The Associated Press

6. Tunisia arrests more than 20 suspected militants following museum attack

Tunisian officials have arrested more than 20 suspected militants in connection to the Wednesday assault on the country's Bardo museum, saying there is "a large-scale campaign against the extremists," in process. Two gunmen attacked the Bardo museum and killed 20 foreign tourists and three Tunisians; officials said that of the arrested suspects, at least 10 are believed to have been directly involved in the attack. While Islamic State militants have taken responsibility for the assault, an Al Qaeda-connected group has also claimed that it was behind the operation.


7. WHO urges mass vaccinations for preventable diseases in Ebola regions

The World Health Organization on Friday called for an "intensification" of routine vaccinations for preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough in Ebola-affected countries. "When there's a disruption of medical services, measles is always one of the first ones in the door," a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told Time. WHO officials warned that medical resources redistributed to help fight Ebola could lead to outbreaks of other, more easily treatable diseases, especially in hardest-hit countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.


8. New survey finds nearly half of Americans confused over ObamaCare field on taxes

A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation released on Thursday found that only about half of Americans are aware that they need to declare whether they have health insurance on their tax returns. This is the first year that Americans will be subject to a tax penalty if they do not have some kind of health coverage, as required by the Affordable Care Act. The continued confusion prompted the federal government and a number of states to instigate an enrollment grace period, which began this week and allows Americans to sign up for ObamaCare insurance plans before April 15.


9. U.N. report: Earth will only have 60 percent of the water it needs by 2030

A new U.N. report entitled Water for a Sustainable World claims that without substantial change, Earth could face a massive water shortage as soon as 2030, at which point it would only have 60 percent of the water its inhabitants need. Countries such as India are "rapidly depleting" their groundwater sources, and global rainfall is increasingly unpredictable, thanks to climate change. The report suggests increasing the price of water, reducing pollution to improve water quality, and developing new ways to recycle water as potential options for avoiding a dire shortage.


10. Twisted Sister drummer A.J. Pero dies at age 55

A.J. Pero, the drummer for heavy-metal band Twisted Sister, died on Friday of an apparent heart attack, the band said. Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French said Pero was on tour with the band Adrenaline Mob, but that when members of the group tried to rouse him on Friday morning, they were unable to do so, and he was taken to a hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he died. With Twisted Sister, Anthony Jude Pero played on such hits as 1984's We're Not Gonna Take It.

The Associated Press

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Sarah Eberspacher

Sarah Eberspacher is an associate editor at TheWeek.com. She has previously worked as a sports reporter at The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus and The Arizona Republic. She graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.