Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 3, 2015

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Harold Maass
Barack Obama
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

1.

Iran and world powers agree on nuclear deal framework

Negotiators from Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., agreed Thursday to framework for a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program. The tentative accord came after eight days of marathon talks in Switzerland, and two extensions of a Tuesday deadline. Many details still have to be hammered out ahead of a final agreement by June. The deal would include concrete steps to ensure Iran won't build a nuclear weapon, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against the country. President Obama said the agreement would "make the world safer." [Reuters]

2.

Arkansas, Indiana approve changes to religious freedom bills

Lawmakers in Arkansas and Indiana on Thursday revised new laws on religious freedom, after backlash from critics who said the legislation would lead to LGBT discrimination. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) had refused to sign the original bill until lawmakers added protections against discrimination. Indiana's legislature approved its changes after a nationwide backlash prompted Gov. Mike Pence (R) to call for similar protections against LGBT discrimination. [USA Today, The Associated Press]

3.

At least 147 dead in Kenyan university attack

The death toll from an al Shabaab-claimed attack on a Kenyan college campus rose to 147 on Thursday, making it the deadliest terrorist attack in the African nation since the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing. Four gunmen reportedly separated students by religion, letting the Muslim students go while killing and taking hostage Christian students. Security forces killed the gunmen and rescued nearly 500 students from the hostage situation. Seventy-nine people were injured, and 587 were evacuated from the campus before the gunfire ended. "It is a very sad day for Kenya," Interior Ministry Joseph Nkaissery said after the attack. [CNN]

4.

Germanwings co-pilot researched suicide and cockpit-door security days before crash

Germanwings Flight 9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz searched the internet for information about committing suicide, as well as safety measures on cockpit doors, in the days before he crashed the plane into the French Alps last week, German prosecutors said Thursday. Investigators believe Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit before the crash, which killed all 150 people on board. Investigators said initial readings of the plane's flight data recorders indicate that Lubitz accelerated as the plane approached the mountain, supporting the theory that he crashed deliberately. [The New York Times, NPR]

5.

Two arrested in New York for alleged bombing plot

Authorities on Thursday arrested two New York City women for allegedly planning a terrorist attack similar to the Boston Marathon bombing. One of the women, Noelle Velentzas, was "obsessed with pressure cookers," which the Boston bombers used in their devices, according to a criminal complaint. There was no specific plot, but the two suspects were accused of discussing possible targets online, and researching how to build an improvised explosive device after being radicalized by ISIS propaganda. [CBS News, ABC News]

6.

Another month of solid job gains expected

Economists expect federal employment figures due Friday to show that job growth remained solid in March. Experts anticipate that nonfarm payrolls increased by 245,000 jobs last month. The Labor Department reported an increase of 295,000 jobs in February. If the March gains come in on target, it will be the 13th consecutive month of 200,000-plus job gains, the longest such streak since 1993. [Reuters]

7.

Student admits hanging noose from tree on Duke's campus

Duke University officials said Thursday that an undergraduate student had admitted to hanging a noose from a tree on campus. The elite Southern school declined to identify the student, or even to describe his or her gender or race, but did say that the student was no longer on campus, although the school has not disclosed any punishment. Other students provided information leading investigators to the student after the noose was spotted early Wednesday in a plaza by the student union building. [The Associated Press]

8.

Memories Pizza closes after backlash over gay-wedding comment

Police in the small Indiana town of Walkerton on Thursday stepped up patrols around Memories Pizza after backlash to the owner's saying her family would decline to cater a gay wedding under the state's new religious freedom law. The restaurant temporarily closed Wednesday after receiving threats. Critics have unleashed a wave of Yelp reviews slamming the owners as anti-LGBT. Supporters, however, raised over $200,000 for Memories on a GoFundMe page in just 24 hours. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]

9.

Sacramento signs the NBA's first player of Indian descent

The Sacramento Kings on Thursday signed 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar to a 10-day contract, making him the first player of Indian descent in the professional basketball league's history. Bhullar, who was raised in Canada, has been playing in the NBA Development League for the Reno Bighorns, Sacramento's affiliate. "He adds a very interesting dimension to the game," Kings coach George Karl said of Bhullar. "And our game is becoming an international game and India is becoming one of the greatest, largest, biggest democracies in the world." [ESPN]

10.

South Carolina man rescued after 66 days at sea

A South Carolina man, Louis Jordan, was rescued Thursday from his capsized 35-foot antique sailboat after spending 66 days at sea. Jordan, 37, told Coast Guard rescuers he survived on rainwater and raw fish. He kept his spirits up with prayer — his Baha'i faith sees Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, and Buddha as messengers of the same God. Jordan left on a fishing trip on Jan. 23, and his family reported him missing a week later. The boat lost its mast in rough seas. Jordan was found 500 miles from home. [The Washington Post]