10 things you need to know today: April 3, 2018
The EPA says it is rolling back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, Villanova trounces Michigan to win the NCAA men's basketball title, and more
EPA moves to ditch Obama-era fuel economy standards
President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency on Monday officially started the process of reversing tighter Obama-era automobile fuel-efficiency standards. The EPA is calling for easing standards aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 to 2025 model year cars and light trucks. The Obama administration imposed the standards in 2012, but the EPA said Monday that they are "not appropriate and should be revised." Early in his presidency, Trump called the standards "out of control." The Obama administration had called for automakers to produce fleets with an average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon, nearly double where they were at the time. The EPA now says a drop in oil prices resulted in a decline in smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, making the Obama-era standards unreasonable.
Villanova beats Michigan to win the NCAA men's basketball title
Villanova blew out Michigan 79-62 to win its second NCAA men's basketball championship in three years on Monday night. Villanova's sixth man, sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo, gave the Wildcats a scoring boost with an 18-point barrage in the first half. He finished with a career-high 31 points, a title-game record, after averaging 13 points on the season. When Michigan threatened to come back in the second half, DiVincenzo answered with back-to-back three-pointers. Villanova became the first team since North Carolina nine years ago to win all six of its tournament games by double figures on the way to a national championship, cementing its reputation as one of the great NCAA championship teams.
Russia says Trump invited Putin to meet at the White House
The Kremlin reported Monday that President Trump invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House, a move that would be controversial as bipartisan critics have said Trump has failed to properly condemn Moscow's election meddling and its apparent attacks on overseas nationals. Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters: "When our presidents spoke on the phone, Trump suggested having the meeting in Washington at the White House." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders downplayed the report, saying that when Trump spoke with Putin last month to congratulate him on his reelection, he floated a "number of potential venues, including the White House," for a meeting. Putin last visited the United States in 2015.
Trump congratulates Egypt's Sissi on controversial election victory
President Trump congratulated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on his overwhelming victory in an election outside observers dismissed as a sham. The White House said Monday that Trump and Sissi "affirmed the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and noted that they look forward to advancing this partnership and addressing common challenges." The statement reaffirmed Trump's aim to improve relations with Egypt in a stark shift from the policy of former President Barack Obama, who wouldn't invite Sissi to the White House due to his concerning human rights record. Sissi won a second four-year term with 97 percent of the vote. Trump's response came following backlash over his decision to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection in another controversial vote.
'Affluenza' teen who killed 4 in drunk driving crash released from jail
Ethan Couch, who was sentenced to two years in jail in connection with a 2013 fatal drunk driving accident, was released from the Tarrant County, Texas, jail on Monday. Couch, now 20, had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit when he crashed, leaving four people dead. The case made national headlines when a psychologist involved in the trial linked Couch's irresponsible behavior to "affluenza," meaning that his privileged upbringing left him with a warped sense of right and wrong. Couch was jailed after being found to have violated the terms of his probation. Now released, Couch will face an additional six years of "community supervision" under terms set by the court, his lawyers said.
Mexico stops migrant caravan that was target of Trump tweet
The Mexican government moved Monday night to break up a caravan of more than 1,000 migrants, many from Central America, moving toward the U.S. border to call attention to the plight of people attempting dangerous crossings into the U.S. President Trump has accused Mexico of doing nothing to stop the migrants, saying the situation provided an example of why the U.S. needs to build a wall on its southern border. Mexican immigration officials said they had registered the travelers and would grant humanitarian visas to some, including pregnant women, while telling the others they would have to leave Mexico. Organizers said some of the migrants would press on with the annual caravan.
Embattled Rep. Elizabeth Esty says she won't seek re-election
Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) announced Monday that she would not run for re-election in the fall midterms. The news came after reports revealing Esty had kept then-chief of staff Tony Baker on the payroll for months after another former staffer, Anna Kain, accused him of threatening and harassing her. "It is one of the greatest honors of my life that the people of Connecticut's Fifth District elected me to represent them in Congress," Esty posted on Facebook. "However, I have determined that it is in the best interest of my constituents and my family to end my time in Congress at the end of this year and not seek re-election."
Stocks dive as trade tensions with China escalate
U.S. stocks plunged on Monday as fears of a trade war intensified after China imposed tariffs on $3 billion in U.S. farm goods and other imports, and technology shares continued to stumble. Amazon sank further after President Trump unleashed a flurry of fresh attacks on the online retail giant via Twitter, and the threat of tightening regulations on the tech sector scared off investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as much as 758 points before clawing back a bit to close down by 459 points or 1.9 percent. The S&P 500 fell by 2.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped by 2.7 percent. U.S. stock futures steadied early Tuesday, edging higher.
Teacher walkouts close schools in Oklahoma and Kentucky
Schools shut down in Oklahoma and Kentucky on Monday as teachers walked out on strike and rallied at state capitols to demand more funding for public education. The walkouts came less than a month after a nine-day strike forced the cancellation of classes in West Virginia. "We've gotten tired of begging for everything," said Larry Cagle, an English teacher at Thomas Edison Preparatory High School in Tulsa and a co-founder of the grassroots advocacy group Oklahoma Teachers United. "Teachers, students, and the community have decided enough is enough."
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dies at 81
South African anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died at the age of 81 after "a long illness," a family spokesperson said Monday. As the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, who was the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Madikizela-Mandela was known as "the Mother of the Nation." Her reputation was severely tarnished later by allegations that she controlled a deadly vigilante group in the 1980s. The Mandelas' 1992 divorce made her even more controversial in the eyes of some South Africans, but she held onto the support of many hardline black nationalists for the rest of her life. In a 1996 American University speech, she recalled: "I learned to deal with the police ... to be tough ... to survive."