We tell you five things you need to know this morning.
1. Ukraine negotiates with pro-Russian separatists. How the occupation of several administrative buildings in eastern Ukraine will end, and when, is totally unknown. Al Jazeera reports that pro-Russian occupiers rejected amnesty offers from Ukrainian authorities who threatened violence as a means of ending the protests. Meanwhile, BBC reports that Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine’s interim prime minister, has offered greater powers to the country’s eastern regions. Yatsenyuk is also preoccupied with his country’s energy supply. Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to cut gas exports to Ukraine—and possibly Europe, as a consequence—if the overstretched nation can’t repay debts to gas giant Gazprom.
2. Obama’s health secretary resigns. Kathleen Sebelius resigned, apparently of her own accord, after a five-year stint in Barack Obama’s cabinet and a rough few months rolling out the President’s signature legislative achievement. Technical glitches overshadowed the White House’s massive effort to enrol Americans in health insurance under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. Not even signing up seven million Americans could save Sebelius’s job. Obama will reportedly nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a budget director, in her place.
3. Mohamed Fahmy calls his trial a joke. The Egyptian-Canadian journalist on trial in Egypt complained loudly in a Cairo courtroom as prosecutors hoping to convict him and two Al Jazeera colleagues failed to produce meaningful evidence. The Associated Press reports that the court watched “a documentary on Somalia, a Kenyan press conference and another wildlife video.” Fahmy stands accused of terror-related crimes. He hollered from his cage—”This is a joke!”—to no avail, and will be back in court on April 22.
4. Deadly clashes hit western Iraq. Security forces and tribal fighters fought in Ramadi, the capital of the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, where Al Jazeera reports dozens of deaths. Elsewhere, a car bomb in Shia-dominated Sadr City killed at least six while another Baghdad bombing killed seven. Iraq Body Count, a website that tracks civilian fatalities in the troubled country, counted 64 deaths—the most in a single day since 71 died on March 19.
5. Prosecutors call Oscar Pistorius a liar. Gerrie Nel claimed Pistorius, the double-amputee South African Olympian who’s accused of murdering his girlfriend, was dishonest with the Pretoria courtroom. ”I think you’re trying to cover up for lies,” said Nel, a prosecutor. “I’m not convinced by your answers.” Pistorius tweaked his story about a home alarm: formerly, he said he thought he’d turned it off; yesterday, he was sure of it. Pistorius blamed fatigue for the discrepancy as Nel challenged his memory—and even the locations of items, including a pair of jeans, in his bedroom on the fateful night.