RSS
10 things you need to know today: February 25, 2013
Argo wins Best Picture, Cuba's Raul Castro sets an end date to his presidency, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov and actor-producer-director Ben Affleck celebrate their Best Picture win for Argo.
Producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov and actor-producer-director Ben Affleck celebrate their Best Picture win for Argo. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

1. ARGO TAKES TOP OSCAR
Argo won the Academy Award for Best Picture on Sunday, marking the first time since 1990 that a film has snagged the top Oscar when its director wasn't also nominated. Argo also won awards for editing and best adapted screenplay. Life of Pi claimed the most wins overall with four Oscars, including an upset victory for Ang Lee over Steven Spielberg in the Best Director category. Spielberg's Lincoln took home just two trophies after getting a leading 12 nominations. In one of the evening's most notable moments, Daniel Day-Lewis made Oscar history by becoming the first man to win three Best Actor Oscars when he picked up the prize for his intense portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Spielberg's film. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. WHITE HOUSE LAUNCHES FINAL PUSH TO AVOID THE SEQUESTER
The White House on Sunday released details on how automatic spending reductions scheduled to start hitting on Friday would affect every state, in an 11th-hour effort to pressure Republicans into a compromise to avert the deep cuts. The cutbacks, known as the sequester, would slash $85 billion from domestic and defense spending in 2013, and reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over a decade. The policy was adopted in 2011 and was designed to be so draconian that it would force both sides to make concessions to reduce the deficit. Now both Republicans and Democrats have plans to avert the sequester, but neither side has the votes in Congress to get anything passed. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. RAUL CASTRO SAYS HE'S STEPPING DOWN IN 2018
Cuban President Raul Castro announced to the communist Caribbean nation's General Assembly on Sunday that he plans to retire after his second term ends in 2018, when he'll be 86. His brother and predecessor Fidel Castro, who ceded the position after falling ill in 2006, made a rare public appearance at the meeting. In a surprise move, the new parliament named rising Communist Party star Miguel Diaz-Canel as first vice president, meaning he will take over for Raul Castro if he can't serve his full term. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. SECOND WINTER STORM SLAMS GREAT PLAINS
A powerful winter storm — the second in just a few days — is slamming into the Great Plains on Monday. The storm has forced airline flight cancelations and school closures from Colorado to Texas. The National Weather Service said that parts of southeast Kansas, northwest Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle were facing "life threatening" and "crippling" blizzard conditions. "This storm has the potential to be more dangerous than last week's storm," Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said late Sunday. [CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. AFGHANISTAN BARS ELITE U.S. FORCES FROM KEY PROVINCE
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday ordered U.S. special forces to stay out of a strategic province adjoining Kabul, accusing Americans and Afghans working for them of torturing and abducting civilians. The ban is to take effect in two weeks. Karzai's government is signaling its commitment to taking a harder line against alleged abuses, but the move will come at a price. The elite American troops have played a lead role in the area in the fight against the Taliban, which have used the province, Maidan Wardak, as a staging area for attacks on the capital, Kabul. [Los Angeles Times, New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. ITALY FINISHES CRITICAL VOTE
Italians voted for a second and final day on Monday in elections that could prove critical as the country struggles to contain a severe financial crisis. A center-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani, a former industry minister, has a narrow lead in polls, but a surging protest vote against austerity and political scandals threatens to produce an unstable government with little chance of contending with the debt crisis plaguing Italy and the rest of Europe. "I don't think that whoever wins will last long or be able to solve the problems of this country," said one protest voter. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. NEW SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT TELLS THE NORTH TO DROP ITS NUCLEAR DREAMS
South Korea's first female president, Park Geun-hye, demanded at her inauguration on Monday that North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions and stop squandering its scarce resources on weapons. Park said that Pyongyang's recent nuclear test posed a "challenge to the survival" of the Korean people, and she urged her country's communist neighbor to "embark on the path to peace and shared development." Park, the 61-year-old daughter of former military strongman Park Chung-hee, warned in her inauguration speech that she would "not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people." [BBC News, Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. PALESTINIANS RIOT AFTER PRISONER'S DEATH
Hundreds of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli defense forces near the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday following the funeral of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian prisoner who died on Saturday in Israel's Megiddo prison. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest, but the Palestinian Authority claims Jaradat, 30, was tortured after being arrested last week for allegedly throwing a rock that injured an Israeli citizen. An autopsy showed that Jaradat had bruises and two broken ribs, although Israel's health ministry said the injuries probably happened during attempts to resuscitate Jaradat. [Jerusalem Post, BBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. EMBATTLED CATHOLIC CARDINAL STEPS DOWN IN SCOTLAND
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, is stepping down in the face of allegations of "inappropriate behavior" toward lower-ranking priests in the 1980s. O'Brien, the highest ranking cardinal in the United Kingdom, didn't mention the allegations — which he denies — directly in the statement announcing his decision, although he alluded to them with a line in which he said: "For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologize to all whom I have offended." O'Brien said he wouldn't participate in the upcoming conclave to pick a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. [USA Today, BBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. JIMMIE JOHNSON TAKES DAYTONA 500 CROWN
Jimmie Johnson won his second Daytona 500 race on Sunday, a day after a crash in a second-tier race left 28 fans injured at the famed speedway. Johnson took his first Daytona 500 crown in 2006, but hadn't placed higher than 27th in six years before this year's commanding victory. Danica Patrick made history by becoming the first female driver ever to lead the "Great American Race," and her eighth-place finish was the best finish ever for a woman. [Yahoo Sports]

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week