The News Memo
Stories this week:
What are the odds of a perfect March Madness bracket?
While estimates vary, according to a math professor from Duke University, you have a 1 in 2.4 trillion chance to fill out the perfect bracket. After the first day of the tournament, ESPN reports only 0.25% of its millions of brackets online are still perfect.
New Zealand Advances Gun Restrictions in Wake of Devastating Terrorist Attack
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced sweeping gun restrictions in wake of the country’s deadliest attack, which left 50 dead and many more injured. Announcing the decision, Ardern said, “The time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end, and today they will.” The restrictions include a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-volume magazines.
The government will pay cash to gun owners for trading in banned weapons; those who don’t turn them in after a designated period of time will face penalties such as a fine or jail sentence. Some 250,000 people own an estimated 1.2-1.5 million guns in New Zealand. The measures have support from her party’s lawmakers and are expected to take effect in three weeks. The restrictions are very similar to those implemented in Australia following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre.
On Friday Mar. 15, a lone gunman with semiautomatic weapons began systematically killing Muslim worshippers at two different mosques in New Zealand. The suspect is a 28-year old Australian-born man, who published a manifesto shortly before the attack on a website where white supremacists converse. He also put a link to a Facebook live stream that broadcasted the graphic attacks over the internet for some 17 minutes. At least two people have since been charged for sharing the video (a New Zealand law prohibits sharing material showing terrorism or extreme violence). The shooter has been charged with murder and has chosen to represent himself in court.
Cyclone Idai, Flooding Wreck Havoc in Southern Africa
Cyclone Idai swept across the Indian Ocean before making landfall at Beira, Mozambique, last Thursday (Mar. 14). More than a week after it landed, heavy rain has brought deadly flooding (video footage). As of Mar. 21, there were over 240 dead in Mozambique, 300 in Zimbabwe, 50 in Malawi, and more than a million people have been displaced.
The death toll is expected to be significantly higher when all is said and done. Rescue officials say thousands are stranded on roofs and in trees, and many are at risk of contracting malaria and other respiratory illnesses, as clean water is in short supply.
It is one of the deadliest and severe storms to ever hit the Southern Hemisphere. Aid officials say the damage is extreme due to the amount of rain that hit highly-populated urban areas, which have mediocre water drainage systems. Humanitarian aid groups have been working around the clock, saving hundreds of people, while many others are sending money and supplies. The three countries hit are some of the poorest in the world - weak economic development and poor infrastructure will make the recovery extremely difficult.
If you didn’t know, cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes are different names for the same type of storm, that vary by region. A cyclone occurs in the Southwest Indian Ocean.
Flooding Sinks Much of the Midwest
Floodwaters along the Missouri River have caused havoc, sadness, and loss across midwest states including Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri this week. Termed a “bomb cyclone,” the combination of rain and melting snow has forced water above levees (barriers) and into rural farmland and towns, drowning thousands of acres of crops and killing livestock. The damage to some farm communities may be irreparable. Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska have all declared state emergencies this week. Three people total have been killed in Nebraska and Iowa.
“The flooding this year could be worse than anything we’ve seen in recent years” said Mary C. Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service. The flooding is expected to continue throughout the spring. Up to 25 states could experience flooding until May.
Flood effects in Nebraska, which has been the state hit hardest:
Mr. Trump accepted a request for federal aid on Thursday evening. The declaration will provide Nebraska with $1.5B in recovery money to rebuild infrastructure, businesses, and homes.
You can see satellite imagery and video footage of the flooding here.
Boeing: Federal Investigators have issued subpoenas and are probing the development process of the Boeing model that crashed two times in the last 5 months. Further, we learned that the two planes that crashed lacked a safety feature that Boeing previously charged extra for, but will now be made standard.
Brexit: EU leaders agreed to extend the withdrawal date (Mar. 29) to May 22 if British lawmakers agree to PM Theresa May’s deal (they have twice previously rejected it). If the deal is rejected, the new withdrawal date will be April 12.
U.S.-Israel Relations: Mr. Trump suggested a change in recognizing Israel’s control of Golan Heights, a sacred area of much historical and present tension between Israel and Palestine. It would be a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy.
Terrorist Attack in Netherlands: A 37-yr old Turkish-born man has been arrested in wake of a gun attack on a Dutch tram on Monday (Mar. 18), that left 3 dead and 5 injured. The shooter’s motive remains unclear.
Beto O’Rourke raised $6.1 M in the first 24 hrs of launching his campaign, outpacing the next two closest Democratic rivals, Bernie Sanders at $5.9 and Kamala Harris at $1.5.
We hope you enjoyed the Memo today. Enjoy the weekend :)
The News Memo is edited by Madeline Krumel