Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 1, 2012

Syrian activists reject the U.N. transition plan, U.S. storms leave 13 dead, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. SYRIAN OPPOSITION REJECTS U.N. TRANSITION PLANSyrian opposition groups rejected a U.N.-brokered peace plan for a transition of power in Syria, "calling it ambiguous and a waste of time and vowing not to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad or members of his 'murderous' regime." During an international conference on Saturday, world leaders accepted U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan's plan to institute a transitional government that would leave the door open for Assad to be a part of the interim administration — a notion that the opposition could not accept. Meanwhile, violence continued to escalate in the country, including a car bomb in the town of Zamalka that killed 85 people during a funeral procession. [Associated Press, Los Angeles Times]………………………………………………………………………………

2. U.S. STORMS LEAVE 13 DEADViolent storms swept across the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. over the weekend, killing at least 13 people and leaving more than 3 million people without power. The storms caused damage from Indiana to New Jersey, although most of the damage was concentrated in West Virginia, Washington D.C., suburban Virginia, and Maryland. Electricity will likely not be restored for several days, which could prove even more problematic because the region has been experiencing 100-degree temperatures. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

3. MEXICO SET TO ELECT NEW PRESIDENTMexicans are set to go to the polls to elect a new leader on Sunday. Former Governor Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party is seen as the leading candidate. His main opponents are left-wing politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and Josefina Vazquez Mota from the ruling conservative PAN party. Mexico's struggling economy and viscious drug war have been central focuses of the campaign. [BBC]………………………………………………………………………………

4. EGYPT'S FIRST FREELY ELECTED PRESIDENT SWORN INEgyptian President Mohamed Morsi was officially sworn in on Saturday by the Supreme Constitutional Court after taking an unofficial oath on Friday in Tahrir Square. On Saturday, Morsi vowed to bring about a "new Egypt" with "absolute freedom, a genuine democracy, and stability." Morsi also became the Arab world's first freely elected Islamist president, and Egypt's fifth head of state since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

5. EMAILS REVEAL PENN STATE'S SANDUSKY COVERUPEmail correspondence among senior Penn State University offficials suggests that late football coach Joe Paterno may have played a larger role in the school's decision not to report the 2001 accusation of child sex-abuse by Jerry Sandusky to law enforcement. Graduate assistant Mike McQueary originally reported to Paterno that he saw Sandusky abusing a child, and Paterno told the university's athletic director Tim Curley. Paterno was thought to have had "no further involvement in the matter." But the emails uncovered by investigators suggest that the decision was discussed extensively by Paterno, Curley, university President Graham Spanier, and Gary Schultz, the official in charge of campus police. [New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

6. FIRST JAPAN REACTOR GOES LIVE SINCE NUKE CRISIS Japan's Ohi nuclear plant reactor is set to go online on Sunday, the first time a reactor has been activated since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. Dozens of people demonstrated outside of the plant, protesting a return to nuclear power because of safety concerns. All 50 of Japan's working reactors were gradually turned off in the wake of last year's earthquake and tsunami, which sent the Fukushima plant into multiple meltdowns, setting off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

7. KENYAN CHURCH ATTACKS LEAVE 16 DEADThe Kenyan Red Cross reports that at least 16 people have been killed in attacks on churches in the town of Garissa, which is near Somalia. Police say that a combination of gunfire and grenades was used. The Kenyan border region has been troubled since Kenya sent troops into Somalia to pursue Islamic militants, an effort launched to stop kidnappings on Kenyan soil, which have largely been attributed to Somalia's al-Shabab militants. [BBC]………………………………………………………………………………

8. BUS MONITOR BULLIES GET ONE-YEAR SUSPENSIONFour seventh-grade students who were caught on video taunting school bus monitor Karen Klein have been suspended for one year. The four boys will reportedly be attending an alternative school. Klein, who was given more than $600,000 by people who donated to an online campaign after the video went viral, says she is "fine" with the suspensions. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

9. GRANDMOTHER SCUTTLES FLORIDA-TO-CUBA SWIMPenny Pelfrey, a 49-year-old grandmother and endurance swimmer, called off her 100-mile swim from Florida to Cuba on Sunday, after the currents of the Florida Straits made it too difficult for her to continue the journey she began on Friday. Pelfrey, who had 26 miles left to go, was attempting to become the first woman to complete the swim. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

10. ALEC BALDWIN MARRIES YOGA INSTRUCTOR30 Rock actor Alec Baldwin, 54, wed yoga instructor Hilaria Thomas, 28, Saturday in a New York City church. The two began dating last year and got engaged in April. Baldwin was previously married to actress Kim Basinger, with whom he has a daughter. The wedding came about a week after Baldwin and a news photographer got into a scuffle outside of a courthouse where the actor was believed to have been picking up a marriage license. [Associated Press]

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