RSS
10 things you need to know today: January 29, 2013
Obama to discuss immigration reform, four arrested over deadly Brazilian fire, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
First-generation American children rally on behalf of their undocumented parents in D.C. in July 2010: Obama will talk up immigration reform once again on Tuesday.
First-generation American children rally on behalf of their undocumented parents in D.C. in July 2010: Obama will talk up immigration reform once again on Tuesday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1. OBAMA LAUNCHES IMMIGRATION REFORM PUSH
President Obama is launching a push for a swift immigration overhaul with a campaign-style event in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Obama's move comes a day after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a map for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the country. Obama pitched an immigration blueprint in 2011, but it went nowhere in Congress. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president "welcomes" the senators' plan, saying it shows that bipartisan support is "coalescing" behind immigration reform. Administration officials say Obama will endorse many of the senators' proposals, but go further with, for example, a faster path to citizenship. [Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. BOY SCOUTS MIGHT ALLOW GAYS
In what would be a striking reversal, the Boy Scouts of America is considering allowing gay Scouts and troop leaders, a spokesman for the group said Monday. Just seven months ago, the Boy Scouts ended a two-year investigation into the issue and concluded that it should stick with its ban on gays. Some local chapters and members of the group's national board — AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and James Turley of Ernst & Young — called for the board to reconsider, and a vote is planned for next week that would allow churches, civic groups, schools, and other organizations associated with Scouting to make their own decisions on whether to allow openly gay Scouts, employees, and volunteers. [USA Today]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. FOUR ARRESTED FOR DEADLY BRAZIL NIGHTCLUB FIRE
Brazilian police on Monday arrested four people in connection with a fire that erupted in a crowded nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria on Sunday, killing 231 people. The suspects include two owners of the club, which is called Kiss, along with a member of the band Gurizada Fandangueira and its security chief. Witnesses said that a flare in the band's pyrotechnic display ignited the blaze, which quickly filled the crowded club with smoke. About 50 of the victims were buried on Monday as Brazil began observing three days of national mourning. [BBC]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. EGYPTIANS RIOT DESPITE MORSI'S CALL FOR TALKS
Egyptian protesters attacked police stations in three cities along the Suez Canal, defying an overnight curfew the country's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, imposed to end days of violence. Morsi's political opponents rejected his call for a national dialogue to end the demonstrations, which erupted after a court sentenced 21 people to death for involvement in a deadly soccer riot in Port Said last year. At least two men died overnight in Port Said, bringing the death toll from the wave of violence to 52. The country's army chief warned Tuesday that the chaos could lead to "collapse of the state" if rival political groups can't reconcile. [Reuters, New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. SALMONELLA OUTBREAK SICKENS 16
At least 16 people in five states have been stricken with salmonella food poisoning linked to ground beef. Nine of the cases were in Michigan. The rest were reported in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Arizona. The people who fell ill ranged in age from 2 to 87, and about half of them were hospitalized. Seven of the Michigan patients said they had eaten a raw ground beef dish, kibbeh, at the same restaurant, which bought beef from two suppliers health officials say are "likely sources of this outbreak," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Detroit Free Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. SANDY RELIEF AID CLEARS CONGRESS
The Senate on Monday passed a $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief bill, sending the measure to President Obama for his signature three months after the superstorm slammed into the East Coast. Earlier this month, Obama signed a $9.7 billion flood insurance bill to help cover damage claims. Politicians and storm victims from New York and New Jersey, which bore the brunt of the storm, have criticized Congress for not acting faster. "Not one day has passed since Sandy made landfall that I haven't heard from my constituents wondering when Washington will remember them," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. [Los Angeles Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. DUTCH QUEEN TO ABDICATE
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced Monday that she is abdicating so that her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, can assume the throne in April. Unlike in the U.K., where monarchs tend to rule for life, Dutch kings and queens have a history of stepping down from their largely ceremonial role. Queen Beatrix's mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated, as did her mother, Queen Wilhelmina. Queen Beatrix, who turns 75 this week, said she was stepping aside after 33 years on the throne "out of conviction that the responsibility for our nation should now rest in the hands of a new generation." [Wall Street Journal]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. ISLAMISTS DESTROY ANTIQUITIES IN MALI
Islamist rebels reportedly burned a library holding thousands of priceless manuscripts — dating as far back as the 13th century — before they fled Timbuktu as government forces, aided by French soldiers, entered the Malian desert city. The insurgents had already smashed graves and holy shrines in the World Heritage site. UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural body, is trying to confirm the extent of the damage to the documents that were housed in the Ahmed Baba Institute. The U.K. is expected to confirm Tuesday that it is sending its first team of 40 military advisers to help train soldiers fighting the rebels. [Reuters, BBC]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. SYRIA'S ASSAD REPORTEDLY SAYS HIS WIFE IS PREGNANT
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his army embroiled in a bloody 22-month civil war, confirmed to unnamed "visitors" that his wife, Asma, is pregnant with their fourth child, according to an article published Monday in a sympathetic Beirut-based newspaper, al-Akhbar. The article strains to show that Assad remains "calm and in control," and suggests that he confirmed rumors of his wife's pregnancy, apparently as an example of his cool confidence. Previous unconfirmed reports suggest that Asma is due in March. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. GOOGLE MAPS OFFERS NEW DETAILS ON NORTH KOREA
Google added information on North Korea to its Google Maps application on Tuesday. The isolated communist country has been a giant blank since Google started providing its maps eight years ago. The capital, Pyongyang, was the only place labeled. Google managed to fill in everything from the secretive state's golf courses to its gulags with information provided through a crowdsourcing program called Map Maker. The release came three weeks after Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited North Korea in a private delegation headed by former New Mexico governor and diplomat Bill Richardson, and encouraged officials there to give their citizens access to the internet. [Wall Street Journal, Washington Post]

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week