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10 things you need to know today: March 7, 2013
North Korea threatens to nuke the U.S., Obama courts GOP support for a budget, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
President Obama speaks during a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding on Feb. 26.
President Obama speaks during a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding on Feb. 26. Alex Wong/Getty Images

1. NORTH KOREA THREATENS A PRE-EMPTIVE NUCLEAR ATTACK
With the United Nations poised to impose tough new sanctions, North Korea pushed its hostile rhetoric into dangerous new territory on Thursday by threatening for the first time to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the U.S. and South Korea. The United Nations Security Council is meeting to consider the sanctions — a response to Pyongyang's nuclear test last month — on Thursday to block banks, companies, and North Korean diplomats from bringing in cash or materials that might support the isolated communist regime's missile and nuclear weapons programs. North Korea says the sanctions amount to "an act of war," and has been ratcheting up its threats for days, calling the 60-year-old cease-fire that ended the Korean War null and void, and saying it would nuke Washington and Seoul into "a sea in flames." [New York Times]
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2. OBAMA COURTS GOP SUPPORT FOR BUDGET DEAL  
President Barack Obama treated a group of rank-and-file Republicans to dinner at a Washington restaurant on Wednesday as part of an effort to jumpstart talks on a budget deal. Obama also plans to visit Capitol Hill as part of his most aggressive attempt in years to woo GOP legislators. Obama reached out in a bid to form his own coalition after talks with the Republican leadership bogged down — he insists tax increases be part of a "grand bargain" on the deficit; they say they've accepted enough revenue increases already. "The heart of the discussion tonight was, 'How do we get there?'" said Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), one of the dinner attendees. [Wall Street Journal]
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3. PAUL ENDS 13-HOUR FILIBUSTER
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wrapped up a filibuster early Thursday after tying up the Senate floor for 13 hours with rambling speeches aimed at blocking a confirmation vote on John Brennan, whom President Obama has nominated to lead the CIA. Paul, aided by other junior senators, used the spotlight to draw attention to the administration's use of armed drone aircraft to attack terrorists — a program Brennan has overseen. Paul said he wanted assurances the government would never launch drone strikes within the U.S. "Are you going to drop... a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?" he asked at one point. [Washington Post]
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4. CHAVEZ LIES IN STATE
Hugo Chavez's body is lying in state at the military academy in Caracas on Thursday. Family members, advisers, and leaders from Argentina, Bolivia, and Uruguay paid their respects on Wednesday, after hundreds of thousands of mourning Venezuelans filled the capital's streets to watch the hearse carrying Chavez's coffin pass by. The country's fiery, socialist president died of a massive heart attack after battling cancer for two years. Gen. Jose Ornella, head of the presidential guard, said he was with Chavez at the end. "He couldn't speak but he said it with his lips: 'I don't want to die. Please don't let me die,'" Gen. Ornella said, according to The Associated Press. [BBC News]
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5. KENYA'S PARTIAL VOTE COUNT CHALLENGED
Tensions are rising after Kenya's pivotal presidential election. Candidate Raila Odinga's running mate called for the vote count to be halted on Thursday, saying "we have evidence the results we are receiving have been doctored." Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, is trailing rival Uhuru Kenyatta in the partial count. Disputes over the East African nation's last election in 2007 triggered ethnic violence that killed 1,200 people. Kenyans turned out in record numbers for this week's vote, which was hailed as an opportunity for Kenya to repair the damage that followed the last vote and boost the country's stalled economy. [Reuters]
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6. GIFFORDS RETURNS TO SHOOTING SCENE TO SUPPORT TOUGHER GUN LAWS
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined other survivors of the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson at the scene of the attack to call for tighter gun-control laws. Six people died when Jared Lee Loughner, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, fired dozens of shots from a semiautomatic pistol into the crowd. Loughner was sentenced to life in prison in November. Giffords, her husband, Mark Kelly, and others urged Arizona's senators — John McCain and Jeff Flake — to back calls for universal background checks. "Be bold. Be courageous," said Giffords. "Please support background checks." [Los Angeles Times]
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7. BERLUSCONI SENTENCED TO A YEAR FOR PUBLISHED WIRETAP
An Italian court on Thursday sentenced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to one year in prison over the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap in his brother's newspaper, according to the Italian ANSA news agency. It's not his first legal setback, though. Berlusconi, who resigned in 2011 but ran again in elections last month, has already been sentenced to four years for tax evasion, although he is appealing that verdict, and he can appeal the latest one, too. Berlusconi is also on trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute known as "Ruby the Heartstealer." [CNN]
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8. LION KILLS VOLUNTEER AT ANIMAL SANCTUARY
A 24-year-old volunteer intern at the Cat Haven sanctuary in Northern California was killed Wednesday when she was mauled by a 5-year-old, 350-pound African lion. The woman, Dianna Hanson, was inside the cage when she was attacked, and officials at the sanctuary said they would investigate whether their safety protocols had been followed. A sheriff's deputy shot and killed the lion, named Cous Cous, to reach Hanson, but it was too late. The lion had been raised in captivity and reportedly hadn't been aggressive before — when it was three months old, comedian Ellen DeGeneres fed it with a bottle on her TV show. [CNN]
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9. DANCER SAYS HE ORDERED ATTACK ON BOLSHOI DIRECTOR, BUT NOT WITH ACID
Pavel Dmitrichenko, the top Bolshoi Ballet dancer accused of masterminding the sulphuric-acid attack on artistic director Sergei Filin, was denied bail in a Russian court on Thursday, after admitting that he ordered the attack but insisting he only wanted his accomplice to "beat him up." Dmitrichenko, 29, allegedly paid $1,400 for the attack to be carried out after his girlfriend, also a dancer in the famed company, didn't get a part she wanted. Filin suffered severe burns that disfigured his face and left him partially blind. [Daily Mail]
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10. TV'S RHODA DIAGNOSED WITH TERMINAL BRAIN CANCER
Valerie Harper, who played the iconic Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, revealed in a People magazine article on Wednesday that she has terminal brain cancer. Doctors have reportedly told her she has three months to live. The four-time Emmy winner was in rehearsals for the national tour of the Broadway show Looped, and began having trouble remembering her lines. She went to a hospital after her speech became slurred, and got the diagnosis in January. "I was stunned," Harper, 73, said of the diagnosis. "And in the next minute I thought, 'This could draw more attention to cancer research.'" [New York Daily News]

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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