Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 25, 2018

March for Our Lives speakers pledge a new era in politics, Trump proposes border wall as a military project, and more


March for Our Lives speakers pledge a new era in politics

Teenage speakers at the primary March for Our Lives in Washington Saturday pledged to create a new era in American politics, urging their audience to political activism. "We're going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run not as politicians, but as Americans," said David Hogg, a survivor of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. "Because this is not cutting it," he added, pointing to the Capitol building. Fellow Parkland student Emma Gonzalez, who has emerged as a leading voice for new gun control laws, charged the crowd to fight for their "lives before it's someone else's job." Organizers put the crowd in Washington at about 800,000, though other estimates have compared it to the 2018 Women's March, which drew more than 300,000.


Trump proposes border wall as a military project

President Trump in a series of tweets Sunday morning cast his border wall proposal as an issue of national security and suggested the military be involved in its construction. "Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military," he began, referring to the 2018 and 2019 Defense Department budgets, "many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!" In a follow-up tweet, Trump said work on the wall "will start immediately," but the $1.6 billion allotted to border barriers in the omnibus spending bill is not for new construction.


Trump says many lawyers want to represent him

Apparently speaking in connection to the resignation of his personal lawyer, John Dowd, on Thursday, President Trump said Sunday on Twitter he has plenty of options for representation in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. "Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case...don't believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on," he wrote, claiming the problem with getting a new attorney is they "will take months to get up to speed" so they can charge him more, delaying the probe's conclusion.


Obama says North Korea's isolation limits Washington's leverage

Former President Barack Obama weighed in on upcoming nuclear negotiations with North Korea while giving a speech in Japan on Sunday. "North Korea is an example of a country that is so far out of the international norms and so disconnected with the rest of the world," he said, which means Pyongyang is "less subject to these kinds of negotiations" because they have little in the way of international relations to lose under punitive sanctions schemes. "So far," Obama added, "we haven't seen as much progress [with North Korea] obviously as we would have liked."


Trump reportedly mulls expelling Russian diplomats

President Trump is reportedly considering expelling at least 20 Russian diplomats from the United States in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter who now live in England. The U.S., U.K., France, and Germany have blamed the nerve gas attack on Moscow, which denies the accusation. Britain already expelled 23 Russian diplomats. A State Department representative described expulsion as one of several options "to demonstrate our solidarity with our ally and to hold Russia accountable for its clear breach of international norms and agreements."


Austin bomber called himself a 'psychopath'

Mark Anthony Conditt, the deceased suspect in the serial bombings in Austin that killed two people and injured several more, left a recording on his cell phone reflecting on the attacks. "He did refer to himself as a psychopath. He did not show any remorse, in fact questioning himself for why he didn't feel any remorse for what he did," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who heard the tape, at a news conference Saturday. Authorities are still investigating Conditt's motives; three of the victims were minorities, suggesting a possible component of racism.


Brexit volunteer claims campaign cheated

A former Brexit volunteer in the run-up to the United Kingdom's vote on whether to leave the European Union alleged Saturday the victorious "Vote Leave" campaign cheated. "I know that Vote Leave cheated, that people had been lied to, and that the referendum wasn't legitimate," said Shahmir Sanni. He specifically alleged illegal spending coordination between the main campaign and ostensibly independent supporting groups. Stephen Parkinson, a leader of the Vote Leave campaign who is now the prime minister's political secretary, said the U.K.'s Electoral Commission already investigated this claim and found no wrongdoing.


Former Catalan leader detained in Germany

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who with other pro-independence Catalan leaders was deposed by Spain's national government in October, was detained by police with a European arrest warrant in Germany on Sunday. Puigdemont faces charges of rebellion and sedition in Spain that carry up to three decades in prison thanks to his role in Catalonia's independence movement. He self-exiled from Spain to avoid arrest, and was "going to Belgium to put himself, as always, at the disposal of Belgian justice," said Puigdemont's representative.


Iowa family died from gas leak in Mexico, autopsies show

Autopsies and "a physical investigation of the gas connections in the room" reveal the Iowa family who were found dead in their vacation condo in Mexico this week were killed by gas asphyxiation, Mexican authorities reported Saturday. The investigation is still in process, and the type of gas involved has not been identified. The Sharp family were from Creston, Iowa. "The only thing we're thankful for, the only thing they've given us hope for, is that it was very peaceful," said their cousin, Jana Wedlund.


Flat-earther launches homemade rocket

A self-taught engineer named "Mad" Mike Hughes, who believes the earth is flat and round, like a Frisbee, launched himself about 1,875 feet into the sky in a homemade rocket in California on Saturday. "I'm tired of people saying I chickened out and didn't build a rocket," he said after his brief flight. "I'm tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it." Hughes, 61, was sore but unharmed by his parachute landing. Hughes' future plans include building additional rockets to go higher into the sky, and also running for governor of California.


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