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10 things you need to know today: June 28, 2013
The Senate passes a sweeping immigration overhaul, protesters greet President Obama in South Africa, and more
 
Thousands gather for an immigration reform rally in downtown Los Angeles, May 1.
Thousands gather for an immigration reform rally in downtown Los Angeles, May 1. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

1. IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL PASSES SENATE
The Senate voted Thursday to approve the so-called Gang of Eight's sweeping immigration reform bill. The centerpiece of the legislation is a provision that would allow the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. to apply for citizenship after meeting benchmarks over 13 years. The proposal now goes to the Republican-dominated House, which plans to consider a narrower version with no path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. [New York Times]
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2. OBAMA HEADS TO SOUTH AFRICA
President Obama heads to South Africa Friday on the second leg of his Africa tour. During his first stop, in Senegal, Obama received a warm welcome, but in South Africa students and unions marked Obama's arrival with protests against his use of armed drones against suspected Islamist insurgents and other foreign policies. The trip also could be overshadowed by public concern for the health of anti-Apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, 94, who is hospitalized in critical condition. [USA Today, Reuters]
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3. TSARNAEV FORMALLY INDICTED FOR BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING
The surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was formally indicted Thursday on 30 charges, including using weapons of mass destruction and killing four people. Seventeen of the charges released by a federal grand jury carry the possibility of the death penalty. The indictment says Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police, planned the attack for months after downloading bomb-making instructions from an al Qaeda magazine. [Boston Globe]
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4. SOPRANOS CAST AND OTHER ADMIRERS ATTEND JAMES GANDOLFINI'S FUNERAL
Friends and relatives gathered Thursday for the funeral of Sopranos star James Gandolfini, who died last week of a heart attack in Italy at age 51. The actor's Sopranos co-stars were among the 1,800 people who attended the service at a New York City cathedral. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was there, too. Colleagues eulogized Gandolfini as a caring man who tapped into his own vulnerability to become a great actor, and create one of the most iconic characters in TV history. [USA Today]
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5. U.S. SUSPENDS BANGLADESH'S TRADE PRIVILEGES OVER SAFETY CONCERNS
Leaders in Bangladesh on Friday angrily criticized a decision by President Obama to suspend trade benefits to their country over concerns for worker safety and labor rights. The move came after a yearlong U.S. review of working conditions in Bangladesh, where 1,127 people died in April when a building housing clothing factories collapsed. The suspension was mostly symbolic, though, as the country's garment exports were not eligible for U.S. duty cuts in the first place. [BBC News]
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6. QVC DROPS PAULA DEEN
Shopping channel QVC on Thursday became the latest company to break ties with Paula Deen following revelations that she has used racially offensive language in the past. The Food Network, Smithfield hams, Target, Home Depot, and Walmart have also dropped the embattled queen of high-calorie, Southern cooking. QVC said it was open to giving Deen a second chance some day. Fans are rallying behind Deen, and her next cookbook, due in October, shot to No. 1 at Amazon. [ABC News]
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7. ZIMMERMAN LAWYER CHALLENGES TESTIMONY OF TRAYVON MARTIN'S FRIEND
An attorney defending George Zimmerman against murder charges clashed Thursday with the prosecution's star witness, 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin shortly before Zimmerman shot the unarmed black teen. Jeantel said Martin told her a "creepy-ass cracker" was following him, and maintained that Zimmerman was the one who confronted Martin. Zimmerman says he fired in self-defense after Martin jumped him. [Associated Press]
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8. ECUADOR'S PRESIDENT SLAMS THE U.S. OVER SNOWDEN THREATS
In a fiery speech, Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, vowed not to bend to U.S. pressure to reject former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's request for asylum. After a U.S. State Department spokesman warned that the South American nation's economic ties with the U.S. could be jeopardized if it helps Snowden escape espionage charges for leaking classified information, Correa preemptively renounced preferential tariffs for his country's exports, calling Washington's pressure "outrageous." [CNN]
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9. RETIRED GENERAL BECOMES THE FOCUS OF A LEAK INVESTIGATION
A retired Marine general who was once among President Obama's favorite military advisers is the target of an investigation into the leak of classified information about U.S. cyberattacks intended to slow Iran's progress toward building a nuclear bomb. The general, James E. Cartwright, was once the second highest ranking officer in the U.S. military, serving as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011. A lawyer for Cartwright declined to comment. [New York Times]
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10. WESTERN BLACK RHINO IS DECLARED EXTINCT
The world's largest conservation network has declared Africa's western black rhino to be officially extinct due to poaching and insufficient conservation efforts. The International Union for Conservation of Nature warned that the subspecies of the black rhino — last seen in western Africa in 2006 — might not be the only one to vanish. The IUCN also warns that Africa's northern white rhino is "teetering on the brink of extinction," and Asia's Javan rhino is "making its last stand." [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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