RSS
10 things you need to know today: March 26, 2013
The Supreme Court debates gay marriage, Amanda Knox's acquittal is overturned, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Amanda Knox reacts after her murder conviction was overturned in October 2011 by an Italian court.
Amanda Knox reacts after her murder conviction was overturned in October 2011 by an Italian court. REUTERS/Tiziana Fabi/Pool

1. SUPREME COURT ENTERS GAY-MARRIAGE DEBATE
The Supreme Court is finally stepping into the legal battle over gay marriage. On Tuesday, the justices begin hearing oral arguments in a challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban. Two gay couples challenged the ban — Proposition 8 — saying it violates their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The case could serve as the final word on gay marriage if the court's nine justices rule that there is a constitutional right to gay marriage. If the court reaffirms an appeals court ruling, however, the case would only affect California. The appellate judges said the state couldn't withdraw the right to marry once it had extended it to the roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed before Prop. 8 was approved. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. ITALIAN COURT ORDERS NEW MURDER TRIAL FOR AMANDA KNOX
Italy's highest court on Tuesday ordered former American exchange student Amanda Knox to face a new trial in the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. The ruling was the latest in a string of reversals in the case, which divided public opinion in Italy and the U.S. Knox and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaelle Sollecito, were initially convicted in 2009, then acquitted by a Perugia appeals court and released in November 2011. The case now goes back to another appeals court, although it remains unclear whether Knox will return willingly for the trial. She is studying creative writing in her home state, Washington, and has written a book, Waiting to be Heard, that is expected to be published on April 30. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. NORTH KOREA TAKES AIM AT U.S. BASES
North Korea said on Tuesday that it was aiming rockets and artillery at "all enemy objects" on U.S. military bases in Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. mainland after U.S. bombers flew close to its air space. The country ordered its military to be combat ready, marking the latest in a series of belligerent statements since the U.S. and South Korea began joint military drills this month. North Korea has also threatened to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. and South Korea — although experts don't believe it has the capability — as retaliation for sanctions imposed after its recent missile and nuclear tests. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. REPUBLICAN SENATORS THREATEN TO FILIBUSTER GUN BILL
Conservative Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) say they plan to hand-deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday, threatening to filibuster Democratic legislation that would tighten the nation's gun laws. Reid plans soon to bring up proposals to crack down on interstate gun-trafficking and require background checks on all gun buyers. Reid dropped a controversial ban on sales of military-style assault rifle sales from the bill, but promised to hold votes on that as an amendment to the bill. [Politico]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. BEREZOVSKY DIED BY HANGING
British police have determined that Boris Berezovsky, one of Russia's first post-communist oligarchs, died by hanging. Berezovsky, who was 67, was found dead over the weekend inside a locked bathroom in his mansion outside London. He reportedly left no suicide note, but an autopsy showed no signs of a physical struggle. Berezovsky was once a billionaire power broker in Russia. He helped Vladimir Putin come to power before becoming a fierce critic of his former ally and fleeing for Britain in 2000. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. GUN STORE CANCELS MARK KELLY'S ASSAULT-RIFLE PURCHASE
An Arizona gun store owner on Monday canceled Mark Kelly's recent purchase of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, because the gun-control activist and retired astronaut was buying the gun to make a political point, not for his personal use. Kelly is the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting rampage that left six others dead. Kelly, who has joined Giffords in calling for banning assault rifles and requiring universal background checks, said he wanted to buy the rifle to "to have firsthand knowledge about how easy it is or difficult it is to buy a weapon like that." [CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. CYPRUS SCHEDULES BANKS TO REOPEN THURSDAY
Cyprus postponed the reopening of some of its banks, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, to make sure the banking system runs "smoothly" on the first day of business after the approval of the Mediterranean nation's $13 billion bailout plan. Cyprus' banks are now scheduled to reopen on Thursday. They have been closed since March 16 to prevent a run by customers desperate to get their money out after Europe's initial rescue plan called for a one-time tax on all accounts to help pay for the bailout, which is needed to prevent the banks from collapsing. The new plan drains money only from deposits over $130,000, which will remain frozen. [BBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. OBAMA CREATES FIVE NEW NATIONAL MONUMENTS
President Obama on Monday established five new national monuments. One, the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, will increase measures to protect 242,550 acres of federal land in northern New Mexico. Another includes Washington's San Juan Islands, an archipelago of more than 450 islands in Puget Sound. The other new monuments are the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, the First State National Monument in Delaware, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. POWERBALL WINNER IDENTIFIED
Pedro Quezada, a 44-year-old deli worker and father of five, claimed a $338 million Powerball payout on Monday. "I just learned now, right now," the jubilant native of the Dominican Republic said as he was swamped by reporters. "Ay, Dios!" Quezada will take a $211 million lump sum — or $152 million after state and federal taxes. "I'm going to help a lot of people, whatever they need," he said. [New York Daily News]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS HITS 40
The Young and the Restless, daytime TV's top-rated soap opera since 1988, marks its 40th anniversary on Tuesday. No one remains from the cast of the show's March 26, 1973, debut, but current cast member Jeanne Cooper made her first appearance just six months later. Playing grande dame Katherine Chancellor, she's now the longest-tenured cast member. "God knows it's claimed a big part of my life," said the 84-year-old actress, who credits good writing and good characters for the show's longevity. "As you got older, they got a year older. Whether you were wealthy or whatever your status is, our show hit the human being." [Washington Post]

 
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.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week