That’s the ball game. Villanova decisively beat Michigan 79-62 to claim the NCAAM title and its second championship in three years. After a tournament filled with upsets — including an FBI sting, players fighting with President Trump, and a series of cinderella stories for underdog teams — this was one of the only expected outcomes: The Wildcats were top-seeded from the beginning. And some think they could be back on top next year, with much of the team set to stay in place.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The Kremlin today announced that President Donald Trump invited Vladimir Putin to Washington during a telephone call last month. Addressing the claim, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Trump extended the invitation, but added that the White House was only one of the “potential venues” for the as-yet unscheduled meeting. Trump made the offer during the same telephone call in which he congratulated his Russian counterpart on his recent reelection — reportedly against strict advice not to — and failed to raise the issue of Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
How do you like them apples? After President Donald Trump levied high tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, Beijing has responded in kind with duties on 128 American goods, including tariffs of 15 percent on fruit and 25 percent on pork. China’s finance ministry says the penalties are necessary to balance damage done by Trump’s punishing tariffs, which it claims violate global trading rules. Later this week, the Trump administration is expected to announce a list of Chinese products it identifies as intellectual property violations.
After wishing the world a happy Easter this weekend, President Trump launched into a tirade about immigration. He blamed Democrats for laws that impede border agents, threatened to jettison NAFTA and demanded: “NEED WALL!” Trump also urged Congress to codify harsh immigration rules and tweeted, “NO MORE DACA DEAL.” That could mean the end of negotiations over a potential reprieve for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Courts have halted Trump’s attempt to kill the program, saying it must remain in place while legal challenges are heard.
It’s a sign of harmony. A group of South Korean musicians, including K-pop band Red Velvet, gave a peace concert in Pyongyang Sunday, attended by Kim Jong Un and his wife. State media described the North Korean crowd clapping, cheering and singing along — and reported that Kim’s “heart swelled” and that he asked questions about the songs after the show. The performance coincided with South Korea and the U.S. beginning their annual joint military drills. A landmark summit between North and South Korea is set for April 27.
Carlos Alvarado Quesada of the ruling Citizens’ Action Party is forecast to walk away with more than 60 percent of the vote. His main opponent, former evangelical preacher Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz, largely campaigned on opposition to same-sex marriage after jumping from the back of the pack to second place. At 38, Alvarado will be Costa Rica’s youngest president in modern history when he’s sworn in May 8. He’ll face pressure to lower the deficit, fight corruption and navigate the socially conservative country’s same-sex marriage issue.
Together with her former husband, Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first Black president, Madikizela-Mandela became a symbol of the struggle for a new country free from the racism of white minority rule. She died Monday after a long illness. Madikizela-Mandela rose to international fame campaigning for her husband’s release from prison, as well as for the advancement of Black South Africans — though her reputation was later marred by allegations of corruption and brutality against political opponents. The couple divorced in 1996, just six years after Mandela’s release.
The conservative media corporation, which dominates small American markets and owns 193 local stations across the country, has been criticized for forcing reporters to record a scripted warning against “biased and false news.” A video montage of many of the clips playing in unison went viral, prompting widespread outrage on social media. Critics called it “corporate authoritarian propaganda” and called out Sinclair’s scripted “must-run” segments as an attempt to foment fear. The company is planning a $4 billion merger with Tribune Media, which would increase its reach considerably.
The pontiff used his annual “Urbi et Orbi” address to call for peace in Syria, Israel and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a crowd of tens of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Easter Mass. Francis told world leaders to “end the carnage” and mentioned recent violence in Gaza, which left 15 Palestinians dead. Vatican City was under heavy security as police were wary of possible terrorist threats, while the pope offered hope that “dialogue and mutual respect may prevail over division and violence.”
Ground control to Major Tom. The Tiangong-1 was closely tracked as it entered Earth’s atmosphere last night and burned up, scattering debris toward the South Pacific. Launched in 2011, China’s first space lab — one-tenth the size of the International Space Station — was designed to perform docking and orbit experiments, and successfully hosted several missions. Its transmissions stopped in 2016, though, causing concerns that engineers had no control over the station’s reentry. Its successor, Tiangong-2, is already in orbit, and China is planning a permanent space station by 2022.
They’re getting to know themselves. Thanks in part to President Alexander Lukashenko’s policy of emphasizing the country’s Soviet past, Belarusians have been largely deprived of a clear national identity since gaining independence in the early 1990s. Now Lukashenko — who has long associated expressions of national pride with the opposition movement — is increasingly, if carefully, promoting a distinct Belarusian identity to prevent his country from falling prey to Russian propaganda. Even if it’s political calculation, observers say this quiet cultural rebirth is a natural social phenomenon that often follows colonial rule.