News briefs: What to know locally, nationally and globally



UB announces new format for DIFCON series

UB’s Spring 2017 DIFCON series will have a different format than year’s past.

The series will take place from April 17-21 and will ask participants to own their differences and introduce a new debate-style format to address controversial topics influencing the nation.

A panel will encourage participants to share their viewpoints and allow attendees “to increase our capacity to negotiate deeply held beliefs and values across a terrain in which those values are contested, and perhaps even rejected by others,” according to Teresa Miller, vice provost for equity and inclusion.

UB students advance to ErieHack semifinals

Two UB students are advancing to the Buffalo regional quarterfinals of ErieHack, a tech company working to solve some of the challenges facing Lake Erie. The students, sophomores Michael Brown and Morgan Sansbury, created a text-message based water quality system called WaterWatcher. The pair of sophomores was one of four teams selected to advance to the ErieHack semifinals in Detroit on April 13, where they will compete for a chance to win one of four cash prizes, including the $50,000 grand prize.


People left homeless after Sunday fire

A two-alarm fire broke out early Sunday morning on Gibson Street near Broadway-Fillmore. The fire has left 17 people homeless – four adults and 13 children.

The second alarm sounded at 4:36 a.m. and firefighters were at the scene until 6:37 a.m.

Damages on one of the affected homes exceed $60,000 in damages to structure and contents. The Red Cross took care of the occupants, according to The Buffalo News.

Mayor Byron Brown commits to increasing funding for public schools

Parents argue the city isn’t doing enough for Buffalo Public Schools.

Parents and teachers met with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on Thursday to discuss their concerns. They are worried about funding and say Buffalo hasn’t increased funding in more than a decade.

Brown said he has given an additional $17.9 million to schools since 2006 and he pledged in his state of the city speech to add an additional $1 million.


U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley says U.S. is prepared to ‘do more’ in Syria

The U.S. is “prepared to do more” to combat Syria’s use of chemical weapons, which killed dozens of people, said ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley before a council at a UN session. This was a day after the U.S. military hit a Syrian plane home base.

“Every time Assad has crossed the line of human decency, Russia has stood beside him,” Haley said. “Assad did this because he thought he could get away with it because he knew Russia had his back. That changed last night.”

Steve Bannon removed from National Security Council

President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon was removed from his permanent seat at the National Security Council on April 5.

Bannon’s removal marks a demotion for Bannon. Bloomberg News first reported on Wednesday that Bannon's title was officially removed from the standing list of members of the National Security Council.

Trump authorized the reorganization of the National Security Council, adding Bannon as a permanent member to the council when he took office in January.

Bannon’s removal represents the influence of Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who took over the position after retired general Michael Flynn was fired.


Four dead following truck attack in Stockholm

A man has been arrested for suspected terrorism after crashing a beer truck into a department store, killing at least four, according to CNN. At least a dozen people were injured, four of them critically. A large bag of undetonated explosives was discovered inside the truck, which was stolen minutes before the attack. The attacker suffered burns from the explosives, which did not detonate properly. The suspect is a 39-year-old Uzbekistani man who had been on authorities’ radar previously, according to CBS News.

ISIS attacks Egyptian Coptic churches on Palm Sunday

Suicide bombers attacked two Coptic churches in Egypt Sunday, killing at least 40 people, according to The New York Times. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via its Aamaq news agency. The attacks come after the terror group expressed its intention to start a campaign of violence against Egyptian Christians. At least 92 people were injured in the attacks on St. George’s Church and St. Mark’s Cathedral.

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