Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 30, 2015

Harold Maass
A NYC detective at the site of the explosion.
(AP Photo/The New York Times, Nancy Borowick, Pool)

1.

Iran backs away from shipping uranium abroad as nuclear deadline looms

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Iranian media on Sunday that Tehran would not ship its enriched uranium abroad for conversion to rods incapable of fueling atomic weapons. Western diplomats noted that there are other ways of rendering Iran's nuclear fuel unusable in weapons, such as diluting it or turning it into pellets inside Iran. Outside experts disagree on how much of a setback this is for the talks with a Tuesday deadline looming. [The New York Times, Los Angeles Times]

2.

Two bodies found in rubble from Manhattan apartment building collapse

Search crews recovered two bodies on Sunday from the smoldering rubble where a gas explosion destroyed four New York City apartment buildings last week. Twenty-two other people were injured. Authorities were trying to confirm that the bodies found were those of two people unaccounted for after the explosion and fire — Moises Lucon, age 27 or 28, and Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The disaster drove 144 people out of homes in 11 buildings. [Reuters]

3.

Duke and Michigan State win to round out Final Four

Duke and Michigan State won the final two Elite Eight games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Sunday, rounding out a Final Four that also includes Wisconsin and a dominant Kentucky team that has the longest undefeated season in history. Duke, a regional No. 1 seed, beat No. 2 seed Gonzaga 66-52 to put coach Mike Krzyzewski in his 12th Final Four. Michigan State, a No. 7 seed, took the East Region championship with a 76-70 overtime victory over No. 4 seed Louisville. [USA Today]

4.

British parliament dissolved, starting election campaign

Queen Elizabeth II dissolved the British parliament on Monday, officially launching a 40-day campaign ahead of May 7 elections. The move marked the symbolic end of a five-year coalition government between incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives and the center-left Liberal Democrats. Cameron is promising a 2017 referendum on staying in the European Union if he wins, but the Conservatives are locked in an unusually tight race with opposition Labour as the campaign begins. [The Globe and Mail, The Christian Science Monitor]

5.

Olmert convicted in bribery retrial

A Jerusalem court on Monday found Ehud Olmert guilty of accepting money from a U.S. supporter before becoming Israel's prime minister in 2006. Olmert was forced to resign in 2009 over corruption allegations. He was acquitted in this case, then retried after a former aide produced recordings of Olmert discussing bribes. When Olmert left office he said he was on the verge of a Palestinian peace deal with the Palestinians. His departure set up elections won by hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu. [The New York Times]

6.

Apple's Tim Cook slams so-called religious freedom laws as anti-gay

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a Washington Post opinion piece condemning Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics say promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians. Cook, who publicly announced last year that he is gay, said the Indiana law and similar ones in 20 states are part of a "very dangerous" wave of laws that "rationalize injustice" by protecting businesses that deny services to gays citing religious beliefs. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence blamed critics' "shameless rhetoric" for the controversy. [The Washington Post, NBC News]

7.

Cockpit recording shows Germanwings captain desperately tried to get back into cockpit

The captain of Germanwings Flight 9525 can be heard on the cockpit voice recorder shouting, "Open the damn door!" shortly before the airliner crashed into the French Alps last week, killing all 150 people on board, the German magazine Bild reported Sunday. The captain, Patrick Sondheimer, had told co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, that he needed to go to the bathroom because he had not had the opportunity before the plane left Barcelona for Dusseldorf. Sondheimer tried for eight minutes to get back into the cockpit after Lubitz locked him out. [Los Angeles Times]

8.

Medicare spending on hepatitis C treatment skyrockets

Medicare spent $4.5 billion in 2014 on new drugs to treat the liver disease hepatitis C, according to newly disclosed federal records. The total expense last year was 15 times greater than the amount spent the previous year on older forms of treatment. The new drugs can cost more than $1,000 a day. The increase costs will be borne largely by taxpayers, but some of the burden will fall on patients in the form of higher deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket costs for Medicare's 39 million seniors and disabled enrollees. [The Dallas Morning News]

9.

Ex-HP chief executive Carly Fiorina says presidential bid very likely

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said Sunday that the probability she would run for president was "higher than 90 percent." Fiorina ran HP for six years before resigning under pressure in 2005 after the computer maker's stock price fell sharply. She then served as an advisor to 2008 Republican nominee John McCain. Fiorina said she would make a final decision on whether to seek the GOP nomination depending on how much support and financial backing she could line up. [Business Standard]

10.

Woods set to drop out of golf's top 100 for first time since 1996

Tiger Woods is set to fall out of professional golf's top 100 ranked players for the first time since 1996, when he broke into the elite group with his first PGA tour victory. The once dominant Woods recorded the highest round of his career last month when he shot an 82 at a tournament in Phoenix. Woods, who has been plagued by back problems and his short game, fell to No. 96 last week and could sink to No. 102 after the latest results are calculated into new rankings. [The Independent]