Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 27, 2015

Image
Harold Maass
The death toll in Nepal rise.
(AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

1.

Earthquake death toll rises above 3,700 in Nepal

The death toll from Nepal's 7.8-magnitude earthquake has climbed to at least 3,726 people, a Nepalese police spokesman said Monday. Rescuers are trying to find survivors under the rubble in the capital city of Katmandu and remote mountain villages. Another 18 people died in an avalanche on Mount Everest, 61 people were killed in India, and 20 in Tibet. Authorities expect more victims to be found as search crews reach the remotest villages, some of which could be accessible only by helicopter due to landslides. [CNN, USA Today]

2.

Baltimore mayor blames outsiders for protest violence ahead of Freddie Gray's funeral

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Sunday blamed outside agitators for violence that erupted a day earlier at peaceful protests over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered an unexplained spinal injury while in police custody. The number of arrests confirmed by police rose on Sunday from a dozen to 35 — 34 adults and one juvenile. Thousands of people, including three Obama administration officials, are expected to attend Gray's funeral on Monday. [Reuters, The Associated Press]

3.

Clinton Foundation concedes it "made mistakes" on disclosing donations

The head of the Clinton Foundation on Sunday acknowledged that the global charity "made mistakes" in how it disclosed and handled donations. Responding to recent criticism of the foundation that threatened its reputation and Hilary Clinton's nascent presidential campaign, acting CEO Maura Pally said the foundation would commit to greater transparency and limit donations from foreign governments. Moreover, she acknowledged clerical errors in the organization's tax forms, but insisted the overall revenue figures were correct. [Bloomberg, Clinton Foundation]

4.

Former U.N. envoy says Yemen power-sharing deal was near before Saudi airstrikes

Yemen's government and Houthi rebels were close to striking a power-sharing accord before a Saudi-led bombing campaign began, according to the former United Nations envoy who mediated the talks. The Iranian-backed rebels have since hardened their position on the composition of the executive body to lead the political transition, said the envoy, Jamal Benomar, who resigned last week. The Saudis resumed bombing on Sunday after announcing last week that they were shifting to focus on diplomacy. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]

5.

Australia lobbies for mercy as Indonesia schedules Bali Nine executions

Indonesia on Sunday gave 72-hour notice of the scheduled executions by firing squad of the so-called Bali Nine, a group of convicted drug traffickers that includes two Australian men, four Nigerian men, a Filipino woman, and one man each from Brazil, France, and Indonesia. Australian leaders on Monday continued to urge Indonesia to spare the prisoners' lives. The news came as the lawyer for the Australians — Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran — said the judge who sentenced them had offered to spare them the death penalty in 2006 for a $133,000 bribe. [The Associated Press, The Australian]

6.

George W. Bush criticizes Obama over Iran and terrorism

Former president George W. Bush delivered his harshest public criticism yet of President Obama's foreign policies during a closed-door meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition over the weekend. According to an attendee, Bush said Obama was losing the fight against the Islamic State, and being naive about Iran's intentions as he pushes for a deal on curbing Tehran's nuclear program. Bush also said his brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, could face trouble if he runs for president because Americans do not like political dynasties. [Bloomberg]

7.

Islamist fighters capture Syrian army base

Islamist rebels captured a military base in Syria on Monday after a suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives inside the compound. Al Qaeda's Nusra Front posted videos on social media showing militants inside the base. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army had been using the facility to shell rebel-held towns in Idlib province, Assad's ancestral home. The capture of the base and seizure of its seven tanks and other weapons put the rebel coalition a step closer to gaining control over most of the province. [Reuters]

8.

Kazakhstan's president heads to fifth term

Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, appeared headed to a fifth straight term, with election officials saying Monday that he had won 97.7 percent of the vote in a Sunday election. Nazarbayev has led the Central Asian nation since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has put together a political system with little tolerance for dissent, and assumed a title that translates as "father of the nation. The election was called in February as he sought a vote of confidence in the face of an economic slowdown.  [The New York Times]

9.

Colorado cinema-massacre trial set to start

The long-awaited trial of James Holmes for a deadly 2012 Colorado movie-theater massacre is scheduled to start with opening statements on Monday. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Holmes, a 27-year-old former neuroscience graduate student. Holmes is charged with barging into a crowded midnight screening of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, and opening fire with a pistol, a shotgun, and a semi-automatic rifle, killing 12 people and wounding 70. [The Denver Post, Reuters]

10.

Cavaliers and Wizards advance with 4-0 sweeps in NBA playoffs

The Cleveland Cavaliers completed a four-game sweep against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, winning 101-93 to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs. LeBron James led the Cavs with 27 points. The Washington Wizards also advanced on Sunday by beating the Toronto Raptors in 4-0 sweep, the first in the franchise's history.  The wins came a day after the Golden State Warriors became the first team to qualify for the second round with a sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans. [Cleveland.com, ESPN]