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10 things you need to know today: April 4, 2013
The U.S. deploys missile defenses against North Korea, Obama takes a pay cut, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
President Obama is digging into his pockets in a show of solidarity.
President Obama is digging into his pockets in a show of solidarity. Win McNamee/Getty Images

1. U.S. SENDS MISSILE DEFENSES TO GUAM
The U.S. is sending a missile defense system to Guam in the western Pacific to defend against a possible attack from North Korea, which said Wednesday that it had authorized plans for a nuclear attack against the U.S. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the North had moved what appeared to be a mid-range Musudan missile to its eastern coast. "The assumption remains that this is more bluster," said Rob Ryan, a strategist with RBS in Singapore. "But from here, we've reached a level of tensions that say things can't get too much worse without an actual exchange of fire." [Reuters, Bloomberg]
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2. OBAMA RETURNING 5 PERCENT OF PAY TO SHARE IN BUDGET CUTS
President Obama is returning 5 percent of his $400,000 salary in a show of solidarity for federal workers being furloughed due to the sequester budget cuts that took effect in March, administration officials said Wednesday. Officially, the president's pay can't be changed in the middle of a budget year, so Obama will write checks to the Treasury adding up to $20,000 between now and the end of the government's fiscal year in September. The news came a day after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said they were returning a share of their salaries to mirror the pay their department's civilian employees will lose when they are furloughed for 14 days before the fiscal year ends. [New York Times]
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3. TALIBAN COURTHOUSE ATTACK LEAVES 53 DEAD
At least 53 people have been killed in Afghanistan during a day-long battle that began Wednesday when suicide bombers dressed as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse in Farah province. The provincial governor, Akram Akhpewak, said the dead included 34 civilians, 10 security forces, and nine insurgents. The attack — a failed bid to free Taliban prisoners — was the latest demonstration of insurgents' ability to strike at government facilities despite heavy security. [USA Today]
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4. CONNECTICUT APPROVES TIGHTER GUN LAWS
Lawmakers in Connecticut, a state still reeling from December's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, passed what they called the toughest package of gun-control laws in the nation early Thursday. Supporters of the legislation — which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, says he will sign into law — say it will prevent tragedies by denying would-be killers "weapons of war." Police say Adam Lanza fired 154 shots in 4 minutes with a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. The vote angered gun-rights activists, who swarmed the state's Capitol carrying signs with slogans such as "Connecticut the Un-Constitution State." Opponents said stopping gun violence is "a mental health issue, not a firearms issue." [New York Times]
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5. CHINA LAUNCHES EFFORT TO CONTAIN NEW BIRD-FLU STRAIN
China said Thursday it was mobilizing its health system nationwide to fight a new strain of deadly bird flu that has killed three people. So far, 10 people in China have contracted the virus, H7N9. All of the confirmed cases have been in the east of the country. Other countries in the region are stepping up scrutiny of people traveling from China to prevent the strain from spreading. Japan has posted signs at airports urging travelers arriving from China to see a doctor immediately if they feel symptoms. Vietnam has banned poultry imports from China, and Hong Kong has activated an emergency plan for an influenza pandemic, stepping up monitoring of chicken farms and launching vaccination programs. [Reuters]
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6. NEW PROSECUTOR TAKES OVER ARYAN BROTHERHOOD OF TEXAS CASE
Federal authorities have named a new lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Braley, to pursue a 2012 indictment of 34 suspected members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang. Braley's predecessor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman, abruptly stepped aside on Tuesday after Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, whose office was involved in the investigation, and one of his assistants were gunned down over a span of two months. The government has called the indictments a "devastating blow" to the white-power gang, which has threatened law enforcement officers with revenge. Gov. Rick Perry plans to attend a memorial service for McLelland and his wife, who was also slain, on Thursday. [Reuters, Associated Press]
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7. CIVILIAN WORKER KILLED AT FORT KNOX
A civilian employee was killed Wednesday in a shooting that prompted a temporary lockdown at Fort Knox, an Army base near Louisville, Ky., which is home to 40,000 soldiers and their families. The victim was a civilian who worked for the Army Human Resources Command. He was shot in a parking lot located outside the command's headquarters. The Army is investigating the shooting as "a personal incident and not a random act of violence." The base where the shooting occurred is separate from the U.S. Bullion Depository, which holds much of the nation's gold reserves. That facility is commonly called Fort Knox, but it's located nearby. [ABC News]
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8. DEMENTIA CARE COSTS SKYROCKETING
The cost of caring for Americans with dementia is likely to double over the next 30 years, according to new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. Dementia affects nearly 15 percent of people aged 71 or older, roughly 3.8 million people, and treating them already costs at least as much as treating patients with heart disease or cancer. By 2040, the number will rise to 9.1 million people, according to the study. "It's going to swamp the system," said Dr. Ronald C. Petersen, who wasn't involved in the study but is chairman of the advisory panel to the federal government's recently created National Alzheimer's Plan. [New York Times]
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9. REPORT: APPLE PREPARING TO LAUNCH iTV
A research analyst says Apple is planning to start selling a 60-inch "iTV" later this year. Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets wrote in a research note on Wednesday that the set, which also might come in slightly smaller versions, would come with an "iRing" that will fit on a viewer's finger, and let the user control the TV by pointing at the screen. White also said the set would come with iPad-sized "mini iTVs" with 9.7-inch screens, which will receive video wirelessly around the house from the main TV. [Huffington Post]
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10. CARNIVAL SHIP IN TROUBLE... AGAIN
Carnival Cruise Line's Triumph went adrift in the Mobile River for several hours on Wednesday after near hurricane-force winds caused it to break loose of its moorings. The ship has been undergoing repairs at the Alabama Cruise Terminal since it was disabled by an engine fire in February, and spent four days crippled in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 people on board. The winds that sent it adrift this time also blew a security guard's hut into the water. The Coast Guard was still searching for the missing man early Thursday. [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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