Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 21, 2017

Arkansas carries out its first execution since 2005, Paris attacker kills police officer ahead of presidential vote, and more


Paris attacker kills 1 police officer, wounds 2

French authorities closed the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Thursday after a gunman shot three police officers, killing one of them and seriously wounding the others. The attacker also was killed when he fled on foot after opening fire on the officers' police car. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. Security officials could not immediately determine who was behind the attack, although they knew the identity of the attacker and were trying to determine whether he had accomplices. The shootout came three days before the first round of France's presidential election, and a day after police arrested two men in the southern France city of Marseille on suspicion that they were plotting a terror attack ahead of the vote. Thursday's shooting occurred just a few blocks away from France's presidential palace.


Arkansas executes first inmate since 2005

Arkansas carried out its first execution since 2005 on Thursday night, putting to death convicted murderer Ledell Lee four minutes before his death warrant was set to expire at midnight. Lee was one of eight condemned inmates the state had planned to execute over 11 days in an unprecedented rush before the state's supply of midazolam, one of three drugs it uses for lethal injections, expires at the end of the month. A flurry of court challenges has disrupted the schedule. Courts blocked three executions earlier in the week, and another inmate who was scheduled to be executed next week has received a stay. The state has scheduled two other executions for Monday, and another for Thursday.


Prosecutors weigh pursuing charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

Federal prosecutors are considering seeking criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and other members of the organization. Since 2010, the Justice Department has been investigating Assange and WikiLeaks, which came to prominence after posting files stolen by former Army soldier Chelsea Manning, but the Obama administration decided against pursuing charges because WikiLeaks wasn't the only site to publish the documents, and prosecuting the group would be like charging a news outlet for publishing classified information. Still, the case wasn't closed, and federal prosecutors are now drafting a memo on the possibility of charging people at WikiLeaks with such crimes as conspiracy, theft of government property, and violation of the Espionage Act. Assange is living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, avoiding questioning on rape allegations in Sweden.


White House pushes revised health-care bill, stopgap spending measure

White House officials are pushing a new compromise version of the Republican health-care bill in a bid to deliver on President Trump's promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare before his 100th day in office, which comes next week on Saturday, April 29. Revisions aiming to please the conservative Freedom Caucus, such as eliminating guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, could stoke more opposition from moderate Republicans. Also, lawmakers have to reach an agreement quickly after returning from a two week recess on Monday to reach a deal on keeping the government funded past Friday, or face a partial government shutdown. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said any stopgap spending bill must include some initial funding for Trump's wall on the Mexican border, something Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) office said could be a deal-breaker.


UC-Berkeley reverses decision, invites Ann Coulter to speak

The University of California, Berkeley, on Thursday reversed its decision to cancel a speech by Ann Coulter, inviting the controversial conservative pundit to campus on May 2. A day earlier, university administrators had scrapped the scheduled April 27 appearance because they could not guarantee participants' safety if riots broke out, as they did in February when right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos tried to speak on campus. Coulter responded to the earlier decision by saying she would come anyway, even if she had to speak off campus, but she did not immediately say whether she would accept the invitation to come later. The two student groups that were to host Coulter, the Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeUSA, said they were angry that the university balked at Coulter's appearance, because they had scheduled the event to end by mid-afternoon to avoid trouble, at the school's request.


Tesla recalls two-thirds of cars it made in 2016

Tesla on Thursday recalled 53,000 cars — nearly two-thirds of the 84,000 vehicles it made last year — to replace potentially faulty brakes. The electric car maker said the recall, its second largest to date, affected Model S and Model X cars produced between February and October 2016 due to a small gear from a supplier that might have a flaw that, if it breaks, could cause the parking brake to become locked in place. "While less than 5 percent of the vehicles being recalled may be affected by this issue, we are recalling 53,000 vehicles total out of an abundance of caution," Tesla said. Tesla shares dropped by 1 percent after the announcement.


Russia's top court brands Jehovah's Witnesses as extremists

Russia's Supreme Court on Thursday banned Jehovah's Witnesses from operating in Russian territory, declaring the Christian sect an extremist organization. The designation lumps Jehovah's Witnesses, who reject violence, into the same category as the Islamic State. The ruling upheld an order to "liquidate" the denomination issued last month by Russia's Justice Ministry. A lawyer for the group said it would appeal in Russia and, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. "We consider this decision an act of political repression that is impermissible in contemporary Russia," he said.


Tennessee teacher caught in California with missing 15-year-old girl

Authorities in northern California have arrested former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins and found Elizabeth Thomas, the 15-year-old girl he allegedly kidnapped, safe, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Thursday. Both were found at a cabin in Cecilville, about 120 miles south of the Oregon state line. They had been missing since March, when Cummins disappeared with the girl, who had been the 50-year-old high school teacher's student at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County.


Aaron Hernandez's family pushes to donate his brain for research

Former New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez's family wants to donate his brain to science for research on brain injuries, his lawyer said Thursday. Hernandez was serving a life sentence for murder when he was found dead, hanging from a bedsheet in his prison cell on Wednesday. Officials said he appeared to have committed suicide. He had been acquitted of a double drive-by murder days earlier. His body was found on the day that Patriots players visited the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. Massachusetts did not immediately release Hernandez's body, although officials said they would do so once the investigation into his death is completed.


Cuba Gooding Sr., actor's father and '70s singer, dies at 72

Popular 1970s soul singer Cuba Gooding Sr., father of Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., was found dead Thursday, slumped over in his silver Jaguar in Woodland Hills, California. He was 72. Police reportedly found several bottles of alcohol and drug paraphernalia in the car, and suspected a possible overdose. Gooding Sr. was the lead singer in The Main Ingredient, best known for its 1972 hit "Everybody Plays the Fool."


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