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  1. Hallelujah House Passes Violence Against Women Act J. Scott Applewhite

    1. House Passes Violence Against Women Act

    In what House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) called “probably the first positive act we’ve taken this Congress,” House Democrats joined with 87 Republicans to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday. The bill will grant more than $650 million over five years to states and local governments to provide transitional housing, legal advice, and other services to victims. VAWA will also include protections for immigrants and LGBT people, and grants Native American tribal courts the authority to prosecute non-American Indians. 

    February 28, 2013 2:24 PM

  2. HELPING OUT U.S. to Send $60M to Syrian Rebels AFP/Getty

    2. U.S. to Send $60M to Syrian Rebels

    The White House pledged Thursday to give $60 million in nonlethal aid to the Syrian opposition fighters, who have been fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s tyrannical rule for two years in a bloody civil war that has claimed as many as 60,000 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the policy shift at an international conference in Rome, where European nations are also expected to follow suit. The Obama administration has so far mainly stayed out of Syria, where the rebels’ allegiances have been at times unclear, although the president has roundly criticized Assad and supported tough sanctions against his regime. On Thursday, Kerry said Assad is “out of time and must be out of power.”

    February 28, 2013 8:50 AM

  3. gay rights Obama: Strike Down Prop 8 Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images

    3. Obama: Strike Down Prop 8

    It's time for the end of California's controversial Proposition 8, President Obama says. On Thursday, the White House urged the Supreme Court to strike down Prop 8, saying the voter-approved ban on gay marriage violates federally given equal rights for same-sex couples and does "not substantially further any important government interest." The stance is unprecedented, and marks the first time the administration has targeted state laws. The Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging the legality of Prop 8 on March 26.

    February 28, 2013 10:46 PM

  4. Crisis … Not Averted Senate Rejects Last Sequester Bills Alex Wong / Getty Images

    4. Senate Rejects Last Sequester Bills

    Time for Plan B! Wait, there is no Plan B? As expected, the Senate rejected rival bills aimed at preventing the looming sequester Thursday, meaning that $85 billion in automatic spending cuts will almost definitely kick in on Friday. Bills introduced by both Democrats and Republicans failed to receive the necessary 60 votes to pass. With no other plan in place to stop the sequester, the cuts will now be phased in over the next seven months. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cuts could lead to the loss of 750,000 jobs this year.

    February 28, 2013 3:48 PM

  5. Stop the Presses Businessweek Sorry for ‘Racist’ Cover

    5. Businessweek Sorry for ‘Racist’ Cover

    Bloomberg Businessweek’s new cover features the headline “The Great American Housing Rebound” accompanied by a…colorful illustration. To call it a misfire would be an understatement. “We still can't decide what's most offensive about it: the caricature of the busty, sassy Latina, the barefooted black man waving cash out his window, that woman in the upstairs left-hand corner who looks about as dim-witted as her dog?” writes The Atlantic, calling the cover “racist.” Ostensibly, Slate says, the cover “warns that minorities are buying houses again.” The magazine apologized Thursday morning: “If we had to do it over again we’d do it differently.”

    February 28, 2013 1:41 PM

  6. FIRED Groupon Cans CEO Andrew Mason Mark Lennihan/AP

    6. Groupon Cans CEO Andrew Mason

    Groupon, the online coupons pioneer, has ousted its CEO, Andrew Mason. The announcement came today after the stock tumbled on news of disappointing earnings. The young CEO has been a lightning rod for criticism as the daily-deal company has burned through cash rapidly.

    February 28, 2013 5:22 PM

  7. Any Day Now Senate Panel Delays Gun-Control Bills Rock River Arms AR-15 rifle. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

    7. Senate Panel Delays Gun-Control Bills

    Congress sure is taking its sweet time with those four gun control bills. The Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee delayed action on the bills by a week on Thursday, after Republicans said they needed extra time to study the proposed ban on military-style assault weapons. Though backers of the bill say that assault firearms have been the weapon of choice in several recent mass shootings, critics argue that a similar ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 had no impact on the nation’s homicide rate. Republicans also question whether a ban would violate Americans’ rights to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution. The panel will take up the four bills again next Thursday.

    February 28, 2013 3:07 PM

  8. SEQUESTER EFFECTS 300 Illegal Immigrants Freed from Jail Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer on Feb. 23. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

    8. 300 Illegal Immigrants Freed from Jail

    Around 300 illegal immigrants were released from detention centers in Arizona this week as a cost-cutting measure ahead of the sequester, immigration authorities said Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the release was in preparation for the $85 billion in spending cuts that are set to go into effect Friday—and insisted that the only people released had been determined to be a low public-safety risk. The White House insisted Wednesday that it did not order the release, which has already been criticized by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. John McCain, as well as other powerful Republicans, once again setting off a touchy debate in Washington over illegal immigration.

    February 28, 2013 6:55 AM

  9. Congrats

    9. Caro Wins 3rd Critics Circle Award

    Robert Caro's and Andrew Solomon's exhaustively researched tomes and Ben Fountain's penetrating war novel are among the winners of 2013's National Book Critics Circle Award on Thursday. Caro's The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (our review), the fourth volume in the series, won in the biography category. It's Caro's third NBCC award. Solomon's Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (our book bag) beat out favorite Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo in the nonfiction list. Debut novelist Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (our reviews here and here) also beat out contender NW, by Zadie Smith, for the fiction award. Leanne Shapton's Swimming Studies won the autobiography award, Marina Waner's Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (our review), received the criticism prize, while D. A. Powell's Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys was cited for poetry.

    February 28, 2013 6:30 PM

  10. TOKER Jennifer Lawrence Caught Smoking Weed? ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ / AFP

    10. Jennifer Lawrence Caught Smoking Weed?

    The Oscar is won. The poofy dress is off. And the joint is lit. Fresh off her Oscar win for Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence was photographed smoking what appears to be weed ... or at least a joint of some sort. The incident—which would largely be considered a gaffe among most young celebrities—is being praised as endearing by many members of the media. “If Jennifer Lawrence wants to chill with some weed and wine, then Jennifer Lawrence can chill with some weed and wine,” says Gilbert Cruz at New York magazine. After all, Lawrence did take a pretty hard tumble at the Oscars. Maybe it’s medical?

    February 28, 2013 5:50 PM

  11. PHONE HOME Spielberg to Head Cannes Jury Spielberg at the Oscars on Sunday. (John Shearer/Invision/AP)

    11. Spielberg to Head Cannes Jury

    It’s time we all moved on from Steven Spielberg’s loss at the Oscars—and he’s kicking things off. The Lincoln director will head the Cannes film festival jury in 2013, the festival announced Wednesday. This is hardly Spielberg’s first time in the South of France: his first film, The Sugarland Express, won best screenplay there in 1974; E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial premiered at the closing night of the 1982 festival; and The Color Purple was shown as a noncompetition film in 1986. Festival president Gilles Jacobs said it has been trying to get Spielberg for years, but “he’s always shooting a film. So this year when I was told ‘E.T., phone home,’ I understood immediately and replied, ‘At last!’”

    February 28, 2013 7:35 AM

  12. EMERITUS Pope: I’ll Be ‘Obedient’ to Successor Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty

    12. Pope: I’ll Be ‘Obedient’ to Successor

    "Thank you and goodnight." And with that, he's done. Pope Benedict XVI delivered his farewell address Thursday, pledging “unconditional obedience and reverence” to whomever his successor will be—and also hinted at infighting in the Vatican. He left the Vatican by helicopter. Benedict, 85, who cited ill health as his reason for leaving, will first live at the papal retreat castle in Castel Gandolfo and is expected to retire to a monastery on a hill inside the Vatican. Benedict, the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, has been criticized by Australia’s Cardinal George Pell among others. But he warmly embraced Italy’s Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who currently has 3–1 odds of becoming the next pope.

    February 28, 2013 12:00 PM

  13. TRAGEDY Newtown Dad: Pass Weapons Ban Neil Heslin testifies on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. (Alex Wong/Getty)

    13. Newtown Dad: Pass Weapons Ban

    Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse, died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, emotionally asked a Senate committee to pass the proposed assault-weapons ban during a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “Jesse was the love of my life,” said Heslin, who is separated from his wife. “It’s hard for me to be here today to talk about my deceased son. I have to. I’m his voice.” Heslin’s son was one of 20 children killed at the elementary school December 14, along with six adults; the shooter, Adam Lanza; and his mother. In the wake of the shooting, the White House and key Democrats have proposed reinstating the assault-weapons ban, but it faces stiff opposition in Congress from those opposed to gun control.

    February 28, 2013 7:11 AM

  14. WHISTLEBLOWER Bradley Manning Pleads Guilty in WikiLeaks Case BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

    14. WikiLeaks’s Manning Pleads Guilty

    Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of 22 charges against him in the WikiLeaks case on Wednesday, admitting that he helped engineer the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history. But the Army private denied that the leaks directly benefited al Qaeda—the most serious charge in the case. A military judge will now decide whether to accept the guilty plea, though prosecutors could still pursue the 12 remaining charges. The 10 charges he admitted to carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but Manning could face a lifetime sentence if convicted of aiding the enemy.

    February 28, 2013 12:06 PM

  15. FINANCIAL TROUBLE Sequester Votes Expected to Fail Mark Wilson/Getty

    15. Sequester Votes Expected to Fail

    With one day to go, the Senate is not expected to get the 60 votes needed to pass a Democrat-backed spending package, meaning cuts will likely go into effect Friday night. GOP leaders have offered a controversial plan to give the White House authority to implement the $85.3 billion in cuts for the fiscal year. It would give President Obama two weeks to bring a plan for the same level of cuts in order to avoid the indiscriminate sequester, but Republican lawmakers haven’t thrown support in for the plan. 

    February 27, 2013 11:05 PM

  16. BFFS Rodman, Kim Jong-un: Friends for Life? Jim Rogash/Getty

    16. Rodman, Kim Jong-un: Friends for Life?

    Wow, this sounds like a wacky buddy comedy. Former NBA star Dennis Rodman reportedly told North Korean dictator that he “had a friend for life,” according to a delegation spokesman. Rodman and Kim watched an exhibition basketball game between players from the U.S. and North Korea play in mixed teams, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the VICE media company told the Associated Press. It’s unclear what they discussed, but Detrick said that Rodman told Kim, “You have a friend for life.” Kim is said to be a die-hard basketball fan, and Rodman is in the country with three Harlem Globetrotters and a VICE television crew to film a documentary about life in North Korea for HBO.

    February 28, 2013 12:13 PM

  17. SUSPICIOUS Westminster Dog’s Death a Mystery Cruz's breed, the Samoyed, at Westminster (Cruz not picuted). (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty)

    17. Westminster Dog’s Death a Mystery

    Can we bring back the puppy parade for therapy after this story? Cruz, one of the dogs who participated in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show earlier this month, died shortly after the competition—and his handler and owner suspect foul play. According to handler Robert Chaffin, 3-year-old Cruz was healthy on the eve of the competition, and the dog’s veterinarian said Cruz had symptoms prior to his death similar to those in dogs that ingested rat poison. While the vet said she doubted that Cruz had been deliberately poisoned, Chaffin said it would have been extremely difficult for the dog to have accidentally ingested the poison—and it wouldn’t be the first time in Westminister’s history that it happened. Chaffin said he believes extreme animal-rights activists took matters into their hands.

    February 28, 2013 7:32 AM

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  19. WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS ...

    18. Girls Gone Wild Goes Broke

    It’s the end of an era, of sorts. Girls Gone Wild—the best thing to happen to ’90s eighth graders with VHS players or the worst thing to happen to parents with college-aged kids—has filed for bankruptcy. The company listed $10.3 million debt to Wynn’s Las Vegas. The resort has been trying to hunt down Joe Francis, the founder of GGW, for years after he didn’t pay $2 million in gambling debt in 2007. So, you know, keep your shirt on, everyone.

    February 28, 2013 12:40 PM

  20. CULTURAL ICON Famed Pianist Van Cliburn Dies Van Cliburn in 1959. (AP)

    19. Famed Pianist Van Cliburn Dies

    American pianist Van Cliburn has passed away at the age of 78. Cliburn won the top prize at the 1958 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow at the age of 23. It was a victory for the U.S. over the Soviets during the Cold War, catapulting the young man into a celebrity. He was even welcomed back to New York City with a ticker-tape parade and 100,000 people. A pianist as popular as Justin Bieber? That doesn’t happen anymore. He had been suffering from bone cancer.

    February 27, 2013 2:21 PM

  21. AFTER THE DISASTER Japan to Restart Nuke Plants Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo on Wednesday. (Pool photo by Issei Kato)

    20. Japan to Restart Nuke Plants

    Japan plans to restart its currently disabled nuclear reactors later this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday. Abe said the plants could restart as soon as July under stricter safety guidelines that will be overseen by the newly created Nuclear Regulation Authority—although Abe did not specify when any of the plants will be up and running, and news reports estimated it could take years for the aging plants to undergo the new rules. The World Health Organization said Thursday that women who lived in the surrounding area face a 70 percent greater risk for thyroid cancer, and the rate of leukemia increased by 7 percent for boys exposed as infants.

    February 28, 2013 6:46 AM

  22. reporter woes Obama Aide 'Yelled' at Woodward AP Photo

    21. Obama Aide 'Yelled' at Woodward

    Presidents should know not to mess with Bob Woodward. The Washington Post journalist got a rude awakening last week when he called an aide to President Obama to warn that an article he was writing would question the president's account of the sequester's origins. Woodward said he was yelled at for over an hour, then received an apology email that said "I think you will regret staking out that claim." The White House denies it was a threat. “They have to be willing to live in the world where they’re challenged,” Woodward says. “I’ve tangled with lots of these people ... I don’t think it’s the way to operate."

    February 27, 2013 9:58 PM

  23. BUMMER ‘Fifty Shades’ Author Goes Tame Will Oliver/AFP, via Getty

    22. ‘Fifty Shades’ Author Goes Tame

    Holy cow! For those of you who plowed through the titillating Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, don’t expect to get your jollies from E.L. James’s next book. At Vanity Fair’s Oscars party, the author said her next project won’t be “nearly so raunchy.” It gets worse: James revealed that she’ll probably write the story under another name. But how will we enjoy it?! Fear not, those thirsty for erotica—you can still find your inner goddess when Christian Grey and the gang hit theaters in the highly anticipated, and yet to be cast, film. Oh yeah.

    February 28, 2013 8:43 AM

  24. THANKS, WHALE EU Mulls Cap on Banker Bonuses Prime Minister Cameron in Riga on Thursday. (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Getty)

    23. EU Mulls Cap on Banker Bonuses

    It’s only a few years too late, Europe. The European Union leaders on Thursday struck up a provisional deal to cap bankers’ bonuses at the level of their annual salaries starting the next year. Many in Europe have blamed the financial meltdown on bankers’ inclination toward risks, although not everyone in Europe was happy to hear about the plan. One country in particular that is not pleased is Britain, which hosts the EU’s biggest banking center in the City of London—and many fear these rules will restrict growth and drive away talent. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that the EU should concentrate on other bank restrictions.

    February 28, 2013 7:15 AM