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10 things you need to know today: May 24, 2013
The Boy Scouts ends its ban on gay youths, Obama announces limits on controversial drone strikes, and more
 
American citizens hold a banner that reads "Drones fly children die" during an anti-war rally in Pakistan on Oct. 5, 2012.
American citizens hold a banner that reads "Drones fly children die" during an anti-war rally in Pakistan on Oct. 5, 2012. AP Photo/B.K. Bangash

1. BOY SCOUTS ADMIT GAY YOUTHS, NOT ADULTS
The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to allow openly gay scouts into the organization, starting next January. The decision came after years of divisive internal debate and a corporate boycott, and reversed decades of BSA policy. The organization's national council approved the change by a comfortable 61 percent to 38 percent margin. But the Boy Scouts didn't consider lifting their ban on openly gay scout leaders, ensuring that the debate over the treatment of gays would continue. [New York Times]
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2. OBAMA DEFENDS DRONE STRIKES BUT PROMISES TO LIMIT THEIR USE
In a sweeping national security speech Thursday, President Obama said the U.S. had reached a "crossroads" in the terror war. He said the country now faces a narrower threat from small groups rather than major al Qaeda plots. Obama defended drone strikes, saying they had "saved lives," but called for limiting them and other post-9/11 counterterrorism tactics. He also renewed a vow to close the Guantanamo prison. Conservatives said Obama was underestimating the enduring al Qaeda threat. [Washington Post]
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3. INTERSTATE BRIDGE COLLAPSES NEAR SEATTLE
National Transportation Safety Board investigators are trying Friday to determine what caused part of an Interstate 5 bridge to fall into the Skagit River 55 miles north of Seattle on Thursday. Just before the collapse, a semitruck carrying a heavy load struck the side of the four-lane bridge. The collapse sent two cars plunging into the frigid water. Nobody was killed, but three people were rescued from the river and taken to hospitals. Two had hypothermia. [Reuters]
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4. IRS SUSPENDS LOIS LERNER, HEAD OF UNIT THAT TARGETED CONSERVATIVES
Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the unit that targeted conservative groups, has been placed on administrative leave. The move came a day after Lerner, who disclosed the targeting of "Tea Party" and "Patriot" groups two weeks ago, invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions before a House committee. Lawmakers said top IRS officials had asked Lerner to resign, but she refused. [CNN]
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5. U.K. OFFICIALS IDENTIFY SOLDIER HACKED TO DEATH BY EXTREMISTS
The British military on Thursday officially identified Lee Rigby, a drummer and machine gunner, as the off-duty soldier who was hacked to death in a London street by two Islamist extremists, who said they killed him in retaliation for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rigby, 25, served a tour in Afghanistan in 2009. His superiors described him as a "dedicated and professional soldier" and "a real character." He is survived by his wife and 2-year-old son. [Independent]
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6. AIRLINER MAKES EMERGENCY LANDING AT HEATHROW
A British Airways plane that had just taken off for Norway had to turn around and make an emergency landing at London's Heathrow airport on Friday, after it developed a technical problem that reportedly caused smoke to pour from one of its engines. Passengers were quickly evacuated by emergency slides. No one was hurt, but the incident briefly forced officials to close both runways at Europe's busiest airport. [Associated Press]
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7. RUSSIA SAYS SYRIA WILL ATTEND PEACE TALKS
A spokesman for Russia's foreign ministry said Friday that the Syrian government had agreed to participate in a peace conference in Geneva next month. Russia and the United States are organizing the talks in hopes of a deal to establish a transitional government and end the country's two-year civil war. Members of Syria's main political opposition group are meeting in Istanbul and discussing whether they'll participate in the peace talks. [New York Times]
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8. JURY DEADLOCKS ON JODI ARIAS' MURDER SENTENCE
A Phoenix jury deadlocked over whether to sentence Jodi Arias to death or life in prison for murdering her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, five years ago. Arias, 32, was convicted of shooting Alexander and stabbing him 30 times in what prosecutors described as a jealous rage after he said he wanted to date other women. The judge ordered a July 18 retrial of the penalty phase, setting up a condensed replay of the five-month trial's lurid, sexually graphic testimony. [Associated Press]
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9. ZIMMERMAN LAWYERS WANT TRAYVON MARTIN'S TEXTS ENTERED AS EVIDENCE
Lawyers defending George Zimmerman, who goes on trial in June for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin last year, released text messages from the slain Florida teen's cellphone in which he discusses fighting and smoking pot. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara says the information should be admitted as evidence to support Zimmerman's claim he shot Martin in self-defense. Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said Zimmerman's lawyers were attacking Martin's character to "pollute and sway the jury pool." [New York Times]
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10. AMANDA BYNES ARRESTED
Police arrested troubled actress Amanda Bynes in her New York City apartment after members of the luxury high-rise's staff reported seeing her smoking marijuana in the lobby. Police said that Bynes' 36th floor apartment reeked of pot when they arrived. While officers questioned the 27-year-old onetime Nickelodeon star, she allegedly threw a bong out the window. It didn't hit anyone. Bynes was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. [New York 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.

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