National News

Arkansas Governor

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson asked state legislators to change language in a “religious freedom” bill passed on Tuesday, saying the bill posed a threat of potentially allowing discriminatory behavior in the state. Hutchinson’s decision follows the passage of a similar bill passed last week in Indiana by Governor Mike Pence. (NPR News)


Atlanta School Cheating Scandal

Elementary and middle school principals and teachers from an Atlanta school district were charged with racketeering on Wednesday. Eleven of 12 educators were found guilty, having changed test scores on Atlanta standardized testing, and face a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. An investigation in 2011 found widespread cheating had occurred over the course of several years and at over 40 schools throughout Georgia. (New York Times)


National Cybersecurity Sanctions

A U.S. sanctions program went into effect Wednesday through a presidential executive order. The program, which is the first of its kind, gives its administration the authority to penalize foreign individuals who pose a threat to U.S. cybersecurity with attacks or commercial espionage. The order calls threats to U.S. cybersecurity a “national emergency” and gives the treasury secretary the authority to target dangerous foreign individuals with economic sanctions. The program’s administration said they have yet to identify potential targets. (Washington Post)


International Spotlight


Explosion In Mexico

An oil rig owned by Pemex Oil Company in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on Wednesday, resulting in a fire and leaving four dead and 45 injured. According to reports from Pemex, the explosion did not result in a spill but only minor runoff into the area. About 300 employees were evacuated and employees who escaped said they were able to survive by jumping into the shallow waters surrounding the plant. (ABC News)

 Iran Nuclear Talks Extended

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry decided to remain in Switzerland to continue negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, extending the deadline originally set for Wednesday to at least Thursday morning. The talks between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., Russia and Iraq, have reportedly not gone well. The Iranian government has not yet made any commitments to curtail its nuclear program. According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, the U.S. and international community are prepared to walk away from the negotiations if talks stall. (Washington Post)



The Islamic State of Iran and the Levant (ISIL) has reportedly entered the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, where fighting broke out Wednesday. The region has been a frequent battle zone over the last three years, with only 15,000 of the pre-war population of 200,000 remaining. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has reportedly requested Syrian officials allow aid in the camp, which has been severely damaged by street fighting and shelling. (The Guardian)

A version of this story appeared on page 10 of the Thursday, April 2, 2015 print edition.