Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 13, 2013

Kerry visits China, 50,000 refugees flee Darfur, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. KERRY VISITS CHINA TO HELP EASE NORTH KOREA TENSIONSecretary of State John Kerry arrives in China today, after visiting Seoul for four days of talks in which he warned North Korea not to launch a missile. If the hermit kingdom does strike, Kerry said, Kim Jong Un risks retaliation by the United States. Kerry's visit to China is seen as a crucial step in taming North Korea's recent bluster, and might even get North Korea back to the bargaining table. "China has an enormous ability to help make a difference here," Kerry said Friday. And this from Kerry today: "This is a critical moment... Two great powers, China and the United States, can work effectively to solve problems." [New York TimesWashington Post, NBC News]

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2. 50,000 SUDANESE FLEE TO CHAD BECAUSE OF VIOLENCE IN DARFURU.N. officials say that 50,000 refugees have flooded into Chad over the last week because of increased sectarian violence in the Darfur region of Sudan. Violence has plagued the region continually since 2003, when non-Arab rebels rose up against the Arab government. The last two months have been especially brutal, causing 74,000 people to flee. Witnesses say the fighting has razed entire villages. [Reuters]

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3. PRESIDENT OBAMA PAYS $112K IN FEDERAL TAXESThe White House released documents showing that President Obama and Michelle Obama paid $112,000 in federal taxes on reported income of $608,611 in 2012. Obama supplemented his federal salary with $258,772 in book royalties. The first family had a better year in 2011, when they pulled in a total of $789,674. The Obamas donated $150,034 to 33 charities, including a $117,130 donation to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides treatment and low-cost housing to veterans and military families. [The Hill]………………………………………………………………………………

4. WASHINGTON ANGERS MOSCOW BY NAMING 18 HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERSThe White House released a list of 18 Russians who are now banned from the United States and subject to financial sanctions, causing Moscow to retaliate by banning adoption of Russian children by U.S. parents. The move comes after Congress passed a bill requiring the U.S. government to punish Russians implicated in organized crime in response to the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who was beaten and denied medical treatment in a Russian prison. [The Guardian, Bloomberg]

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5. TALIBAN ATTACKS ELITE AFGHAN ARMY UNITTaliban fighters attacked and killed 13 soldiers in what was considered one of the most highly regarded units in the Afghan army. An Afghan police account says around 200 Taliban fighters attacked a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan with heavy fire. The attack was on the Third Battalion of the Second Brigade, which the United States had rated as independent enough to work without the help of foreign advisors. [New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

6. RNC: WE'RE STILL AGAINST GAY MARRIAGEAfter Tony Perkins, the head of the influential Family Research Council, told his supporters to stop supporting the Republican National Committee until they grew "a backbone and start defending core principles," the RNC passed a resolution at its annual spring conference in Los Angeles reaffirming its stance against gay marriage. The resolution was introduced by Dave Agema, a Michigan committeeman who once came under fire for describing gays as "filthy" on his Facebook page. [TIME, CNN………………………………………………………………………………

7. COMEDIAN JONATHAN WINTERS DIES AT 87 Jonathan Winters, the comedian known for his roles in Mork & Mindy and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, died at his home in Montecito, Calif. at age 87. The unpredictable comedian, known for switching in and out of wild characters, rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s on shows like The Steve Allen Show and The Tonight Show. He is survived by two children. [CNN, New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

8. SCIENTISTS DISCOVER HALF-APE, HALF-HUMAN ANCESTORScientists discovered the remains of a hominid called Australopithecus sediba that lived in what is now South Africa 2 million or 3 million years ago. The creature, which would stand about chest-high to modern humans, had man-like hands attached to long ape arms, a rib cage that shared both human and ape traits, and a spinal cord with the same number of vertebrae as ours. It lived at what scientists consider a crucial time of human evolution when four or more hominid species were battling to survive. [Wall Street Journal]

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9. KOBE BRYANT SUFFERS DEVASTATING INJURY IN LAKERS WINThe Los Angeles Lakers are fighting for a playoff spot, with just two games to go in their much-scrutinized, super-disappointing season. But they'll almost certainly have to make that last push without Kobe Bryant, who suffered what appears to be a torn Achilles in the final moments of the Lakers' key victory over the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors on Friday. It's all but impossible to play on a torn Achilles, an injury that can take as long as a year to properly heal. [Yahoo]………………………………………………………………………………

10. 'DING DONG! THE WITCH IS DEAD' CLIMBS UK CHARTS IN ANTI-THATCHER PROTEST Brits protesting the recently deceased Margaret Thatcher caused problems for the BBC by pushing "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz up its top five music chart. Members of the Thatcher's Conservative Party clamored for it to be taken down while others claimed that would be censorship. The song also hit number one on British iTunes. [AP]

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