Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 4, 2022

Zelensky accuses Russia of 'genocide,' South Carolina beats UConn to win NCAA women's basketball championship, and more


Zelensky accuses Russia of 'genocide'

Ukraine's prosecutor-general said Sunday that authorities had recovered the bodies of 410 civilians in Kyiv-area towns retaken from Russian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of "genocide" after his government reported a massacre in the town of Bucha northwest of the capital, Kyiv. European leaders expressed outrage over photos of corpses, some with their hands bound behind their backs. Germany's defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, said the European Union should consider responding to the atrocities by banning Russian gas imports. Human Rights Watch said it had documented "several cases" of war crimes by Russian soldiers. Russia's defense ministry "categorically" denied Ukraine's allegations, calling them "yet another provocation" by the Ukrainian government.


South Carolina beats UConn in NCAA women's basketball championship

The South Carolina Gamecocks beat the UConn Huskies 64-49 on Sunday to win the NCAA women's basketball championship. South Carolina senior point guard Destanni Henderson led her team's offense, hitting early three-point shots and finishing with a career-high 26 points. South Carolina's Aliyah Boston posted her 30th double-double of the season. It was South Carolina's second national title under coach Dawn Staley, and UConn's first loss in 12 national championship games. South Carolina, ranked No. 1 all season, burst out to an early 13-2 lead, and held UConn star Paige Bueckers to 14 points. "It was divinely ordered for us to be champions," Staley said. "We weren't going to be denied."


Carrie Lam won't seek 2nd term as Hong Kong leader

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Monday she would not seek a second term. Lam had a rocky five-year term in which pro-democracy protesters called for her resignation and Beijing cracked down on Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, exerting more direct control over the semi-autonomous former British colony. Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. Most recently, Lam struggled to contend with a COVID-19 wave that overwhelmed the healthcare system. Lam said the central government in Beijing accepted her decision with "respect and understanding." Her successor will be chosen in May. The city's No. 2 leader John Lee, who was head of security during the 2019 protests, is seen as a potential replacement.


Lithuania ends Russian gas imports

Lithuania said over the weekend it had cut off Russian gas imports, which would make it the first country in the 27-member European Union to do so. "Seeking full energy independence from Russian gas, in response to Russia's energy blackmail in Europe and the war in Ukraine, Lithuania has completely abandoned Russian gas," Lithuania's energy ministry said in a statement. The policy took effect at the start of April. On Saturday, Lithuania got its imports of Russian gas down to zero. In 2015, Lithuania got nearly all of its natural gas from Russia, but it has been drastically reducing its purchases from that country since starting operations at an off-shore LNG import terminal in the port city of Klaipeda in 2014.


Pakistan opposition challenges dissolution of parliament

Pakistan's opposition politicians vowed to challenge Prime Minister Imran Khan's dissolution of parliament at the country's Supreme Court. The court said it would consider the case on Monday. Khan was facing a no-confidence vote he was expected to lose, but he dissolved parliament and called for early elections in an attempt to stay in power. "Absolutely unprecedented," said Amber Rahim Shamsi, director of the Center of Excellence in Journalism at the International Business Administration. "This is a constitutional crisis... The opposition had the numbers, and it was pretty much a sure vote. Had it gone through, the prime minister would have been removed from office." Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry accused opposition lawmakers of treason.


Orban declares victory in Hungary's national elections

Hungary's hard-line nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared victory in the country's Sunday elections after a partial vote count showed his right-wing party with a significant lead. "We won a victory so big that you can see it from the moon," Orban told a cheering crowd. He said the vote sent a message to the European Union, which has condemned his government for eroding the country's democracy and alleged corruption. With 91 percent of ballots counted, Orban's Fidesz party and its coalition partners had won 53 percent. The pro-European opposition coalition United for Hungary had just over 34 percent, the National Election Office said. 


6 killed in Sacramento mass shooting

Six people were killed and 12 others injured in a mass shooting in near a strip of nightclubs in downtown Sacramento, California, early Sunday. Police Chief Kathy Lester said officers recovered "at least one firearm," but there were no suspects in custody. Investigators could not immediately say whether the victims had been specifically targeted. The two-by-four-block area where the shootings occurred was littered with broken glass. Family members awaited news around cordoned-off streets. Police said a social media video appeared "to show an altercation that preceded the shooting."


Jordan's Prince Hamzah gives up his royal title in protest

Prince Hamzah, the half-brother of Jordan's King Abdullah II, relinquished his title on Sunday. The prince stopped short of directly criticizing the king and ruling elites as he did in a previous clash, but he said via Twitter that he had been made the decision because his convictions conflict with "current approaches, policies, and methods of our institutions." Abdullah and Hamzah are sons of King Hussein, who died in 1999 after ruling the Wester-allied country for decades. Abdullah had appointed Hamzah as crown prince and successor but revoked the title in 2004. The king then put Hamzah under house arrest last April for an alleged plot to destabilize the kingdom, but last month Hamzah apologized, expressing a desire to "turn the page on this chapter in our country's and our family's history."


Grammys: Jon Batiste, Olivia Rodrigo, Foo Fighters win big 

Pianist, singer, songwriter Jon Batiste won five Grammy Awards on Sunday, including Album of the Year for We Are. Batiste, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader, was nominated for eight awards for We Are and three for his score for the Pixar film Soul. Other winners include Olivia Rodrigo, who was named Best New Artist. She also won Best Pop Solo Performance for "Drivers License" and Best Pop Vocal Album for Sour. The Foo Fighters, whose drummer Taylor Hawkins died March 25, earned three Grammys: Best Rock Song ("Waiting on a War"), Best Rock Album (Medicine at Midnight), and Best Rock Performance ("Making a Fire"). The band did not attend the show.


Seinfeld star Estelle Harris dies at 93

Actress Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza's mother on Seinfeld, died of natural causes at her home in Palm Desert, California, over the weekend, her son Glen Harris told The Hollywood Reporter. She was 93. Harris was best known to Seinfeld fans for nagging George (played by Jason Alexander) and clashing loudly with her husband (played by Jerry Stiller). She also appeared in films such as Nora Ephron's directorial debut This Is My Life (1992), Out to Sea with Walter Mathau (1997), and The Odd Couple II (1998). Harris also did memorable voiceover work, including Mrs. Potato Head (alongside Don Rickles' Mr. Potato Head) in Pixar's Toy Story franchise.


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