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10 things you need to know today: March 19, 2013
Cyprus bailout heads to a vote, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural mass, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Pope Francis takes part in his inaugural mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 19.
Pope Francis takes part in his inaugural mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 19. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

1. RAND PAUL BACKS CITIZENSHIP PATH FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
As the GOP prepares to reach out to minority voters to repair its image, Sen. Rand Paul plans to use a Tuesday speech to endorse a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. Paul, a Kentucky senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate, is joining a growing group of prominent Republicans who are rejecting the party's hardline positions on immigration in the wake of November's elections, when Latino voters overwhelmingly backed President Obama and other Democrats. "If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you," Paul plans to say, according to a copy of his speech obtained by The Associated Press. [Associated Press]
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2. CYPRUS READY TO REJECT BAILOUT TERMS
Cypriot lawmakers appear likely to reject a divisive tax on bank deposits in a vote scheduled for Tuesday, which could imperil a $13 billion European Union bailout the country needs to avoid a banking collapse. "It looks like it won't pass," says government spokesman Christos Stylianides. The vote has already been postponed twice as Cyprus' new president, Nicos Anastasiades, tries to make the bailout terms more palatable. Angry depositors have been lining up at ATM machines trying to withdraw their money before the tax — 6.75 percent on accounts up to $130,000 and 10 percent on larger ones — can be imposed. [Reuters]
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3. BOMBERS STRIKE ON ANNIVERSARY OF IRAQ INVASION
Insurgents hit Shiite areas in Baghdad with a wave of bombings on Tuesday, killing at least 56 people and highlighting increasing sectarian tensions on the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The attacks, most of them car bombings, occurred over a single hour, and targeted small restaurants, bus stops, a police station, and busy streets. No one immediately claimed responsibility, but the strikes were similar to past attacks by al Qaeda in Iraq. [Associated Press]
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4. FRANCIS OFFICIALLY INSTALLED AS NEW POPE
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Square on Tuesday to mark the official launch of his reign as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. Hundreds of thousands of people joined dignitaries for the rite, which, at two hours, was an hour shorter, and simpler than the one that launched the papacy of Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI. The new pontiff, the first Jesuit pope, signaled his plan to abandon much of the Vatican's traditional pomp, and reinvigorate the scandal-plagued church with a greater focus on the poor and disadvantaged. [Reuters]
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5. OBAMA PREPARES TO LEAVE FOR ISRAEL
President Obama is scheduled to depart Tuesday night on his first trip to Israel as president. Obama isn't expected to push forward a new peace initiative. Middle East experts say he's likely to focus on mending a sometimes rocky relationship with the Israeli government during the four-day visit, which comes less than two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition government was installed. With new administrations in Israel and the U.S., says Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, there's value in "just having a broad strategic conversation." [ABC News]
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6. HILLARY CLINTON PUBLICLY BACKS GAY MARRIAGE
Hillary Clinton on Monday released a six-minute video announcing her support for gay marriage, becoming the latest politician to switch positions on the issue. The move fueled speculation that Clinton will run for president in 2016 — the other top contenders, including Vice President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also back gay marriage. "LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones," Clinton says in the video. "And they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage." [Politico]
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7. BLOOMBERG FIGHTS SMOKING BY HIDING CIGARETTES
A week after a court overturned his signature sugary drink regulations, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday proposed new legislation that would make it illegal for stores to publicly display cigarettes. Bloomberg said that "even one new smoker is one too many," and that hiding cigarettes would keep some young people from picking up the habit, driving down the smoking rate for the city as a whole. Despite a drop in the smoking rate over the past decade, cigarettes remain a leading preventable cause of death, killing 7,000 New Yorkers per year, the city said. [NYC.gov, New York Daily News]
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8. POLICE SAY WOMEN WERE PAID TO LIE ABOUT MENENDEZ
Police in the Dominican Republic said Monday that a local lawyer had paid three Dominican women to lie and say they had been paid to have sex with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). One of the women allegedly received $300, and the other two $425 to make the false claims in videotaped interviews. Menendez said the announcement shows "that this was a smear from the very beginning." Last fall, two Dominican women told the conservative Daily Caller website that Menendez had paid them for sex. The Daily Caller says it is still investigating whether the women who have recanted are the ones it interviewed. [Politico]
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9. FLORIDA STUDENT MAY HAVE PLANNED DORM MASSACRE
A former University of Central Florida student found dead in a dorm might have been planning a massacre before deciding to commit suicide instead. The dead man was identified as James Oliver Seevakumara, 30. He was found shot in the head in his bedroom in a residence hall, where he faced eviction after failing to enroll this semester after studying business administration at the Orlando school from 2010 to 2012. Officials said Seevakumara had a .45-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber tactical rifle, and backpack with four improvised explosive devices in it. Seevakumara reportedly started buying weapons and ammunition in February. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. LIL WAYNE RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
Rapper Lil Wayne has been released from the Los Angeles hospital where he was treated after suffering a seizure last week, his publicist tweeted late Monday. An online report on Friday suggested that the artist, born Dwayne Carter, was on life support near death, sparking panic among his fans. Lil Wayne's associates swatted down the report as "nonsense," and the rapper tweeted, "I'm good everybody... Thnx for the prayers and love." [CNN]

 
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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