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10 things you need to know today: March 30, 2013
North Korea issues more threats, the Vatican defends the pope's feet-washing, and more in our roundup of stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Pope Francis waves as he presides over the Way of The Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome.
Pope Francis waves as he presides over the Way of The Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome. Franco Origlia/Getty Images

1. NORTH KOREA DECLARES STATE OF WAR WITH SOUTH KOREA
North Korea has said it is entering a "state of war" with South Korea in its latest escalation of rhetoric against its southern neighbor and the U.S. A statement promised "stern physical actions" against "any provocative act." North Korea has threatened attacks almost daily after it was sanctioned for a third nuclear test in February. It has also reacted angrily to annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises. The U.S. has condemned the North's "bellicose rhetoric", while China and Russia have called for an easing of tensions. North and South Korea have technically been at war since the armed conflict between them ended in 1953, because an armistice was never turned into a peace treaty. [BBC]

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2. VATICAN DEFENDS POPE'S ACTIONS ON GOOD FRIDAY
On Good Friday, the Vatican dismissed criticism of Pope Francis' decision to wash the feet of two women during a Maundy Thursday Mass at a Rome youth prison. The move came under fire from Catholic traditionalists who say that the rite is a re-enactment of Jesus washing the feet of the 12 apostles before his death, and thus should be limited only to men. Traditionally, popes have washed the feet of 12 priests during a solemn Mass in Rome's St. John Lateran Basilica. A 1988 letter from the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship states that only "chosen men" can be admitted to the foot-washing ceremony, but including women in the rite is a widespread practice in the United States and elsewhere. This is Pope Francis' first Easter celebrations as pontiff. [Washington Post]
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3. U.S. BUSINESS GROUPS NEAR IMMIGRANT LABOR DEAL
The nation's top business and labor groups are nearing agreement on a guest worker program for low-skilled immigrants, according to officials involved in the talks. An agreement between the labor and business communities would clear one of the last hurdles for an overall deal on immigration legislation in the Senate, which the bipartisan group hopes to introduce early next month. The United States Chamber of Commerce and the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation's main federation of labor unions, have been in discussions parallel to those of the Senate group, and have reached a tentative agreement about the size and scope of a temporary guest worker program, which would grant up to 200,000 new visas annually for low-skilled workers. [New York Times]
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4. RESCUES CONTINUE AFTER TANZANIAN BUILDING COLLAPSE
Rescuers in Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam, continued to search for survivors under a mountain of concrete and twisted metal Friday night following the collapse of a high-rise building. At least four people were dead and 60 missing after the 16-story building under construction collapsed, government and emergency officials said. Five children are believed to be among the missing. In addition to the deaths, at least 17 people were injured, said Suleiman Kova, a regional police commander. The Tanzanian Red Cross said rescue efforts would continue through the night. But the group also expressed relief, saying that casualty figures could have been far higher, but the streets were relatively empty of vendors and shoppers due to a holiday. [CNN]

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5. UNEMPLOYMENT RATES FALL ACROSS U.S.
Unemployment rates fell in 22 U.S. states in February, a sign that hiring gains are benefiting many parts of the country. The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in 12 states and were unchanged in 16. Nationally, the unemployment rate slid to a four-year low of 7.7 percent in February, down from 7.9 percent in January. Since November, employers across the country have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month, nearly double the average from last spring. States hit hardest during the recession, like Nevada and Florida, are showing improvement. One reason for the big drop is that people have stopped applying for jobs, but hiring accelerated, too. Overall, 42 states added jobs in February from January, and just eight lost jobs. The biggest monthly job gains came in Texas (up nearly 81,000) and California (up more than 41,000). [TIME]
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6. STUDY FINDS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN VACCINES AND AUTISM
A study just published in the Journal of Pediatrics found no correlation between autism and increasing antigen number through completion of the vaccine schedule up to age 2. The study, led by Frank DeStefano, was funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This topples one of the key pillars of  the "vaccines cause autism" argument, which is that the increase in the number of childhood vaccines over the years has increased autism prevalence. The twist in the study is that the children studied were born from 1994 to 1999, during a time when a single shot could contain more than 3,000 of the molecules that fire up the immune system. Today's vaccine-related antigen exposure is considerably less. [Forbes
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7. NAVY SEAL DIES IN PARACHUTE ACCIDENT
A Navy SEAL died following a parachute training accident, a Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman told ABC News on Friday evening. The SEAL, a senior chief, was participating in a routine free-fall training exercise at the USSOCOM Parachute Testing and Training Facility at Pinal Airpark in Arizona on Thursday when he, along with another SEAL, a petty first class officer, was injured, according to a Defense Department Official. The two men were evacuated to the University of Arizona Medical Center, where one of the SEALs died, according to the Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman. His family has been notified of the death. The second SEAL was in stable condition, a Department of Defense official said. The cause of the accident has not been officially determined, pending further investigation. [ABC News]
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8. JUDGE INDICTS PRINCIPAL IN SCHOOL CHEATING SCANDAL
A grand jury Friday indicted Beverly L. Hall, the former superintendent of the Atlanta School District, on racketeering and other charges, bringing a dramatic new chapter to one of the largest cheating scandals in the country. The grand jury also indicted 34 teachers and administrators in addition to Dr. Hall, who resigned in 2011 just before results of an investigation into the scandal was released. Hall could face up to 45 years in prison. Fulton County prosecutors painted a picture of a decade-long conspiracy that involved awarding bonuses connected to improving scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, the state's main test of core academic subjects for elementary and middle schools, and a culture where, in some schools, cheating was an acceptable way to get them. [New York Times]

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9. FACEBOOK TO ANNOUNCE ANDROID PHONE
Facebook will reportedly introduce a modified version of Google's Android operating system. This version of Android will reportedly put Facebook front and center and will debut on a handset made by HTC. "Imagine Facebook’s integration with iOS 6, but on steroids, and built by Facebook itself," says TechCrunch's Josh Constine. "It could have a heavy reliance on Facebook’s native apps like Messenger, easy social sharing from anywhere on the phone, and more." [NBC News]
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10. EPA REGULATIONS WILL TIGHTEN EMISSIONS REGULATIONS
The Obama administration proposed new regulations Friday to clean up gasoline and automobile emissions, claiming the new standards would provide $7 in health benefits from cleaner air for each dollar spent to implement them. The costs likely would be passed on to consumers in higher gasoline and automobile prices. The EPA said the new rule would reduce sulfur in gasoline and tighten automobile emission standards beginning in 2017, resulting in an increase in gas prices of less than a penny per gallon. The agency estimated it also would add $130 to the cost of a vehicle in 2025, but predicted it would yield billions of dollars in health benefits by slashing smog- and soot-forming pollution. The oil industry, Republicans, and some Democrats wanted EPA to delay the rule, citing higher costs. An oil industry study says it could increase gasoline prices by 6 to 9 cents a gallon. [TIME]

 
Terri is a freelance writer at TheWeek.com. She's a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, and has worked at TIME and Brides.

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