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10 things you need to know today: July 18, 2013
Senators reach a compromise on student loans, Mandela's condition improves on his 95th birthday, and more
Thousands of people celebrate the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated on July 18 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Thousands of people celebrate the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated on July 18 in Pretoria, South Africa. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

1. SENATORS REACH DEAL ON STUDENT LOANS
A bipartisan group of senators reportedly reached a tentative deal late Wednesday to reduce rates on federally subsidized student loans, which doubled on July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The compromise would peg new loans to 10-year Treasury note interest rates — plus 2.05 percent for undergraduates, with a cap of 8.25 percent. The cap for graduate students would be 9.5 percent. Democrats had proposed simply extending the 3.4 percent rate for a year, but the GOP wanted a long-term fix. [Politico]
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2. SOUTH AFRICANS CELEBRATE MANDELA'S 95TH BIRTHDAY
A "steadily improving" Nelson Mandela marked his 95th birthday in a South African hospital, where he has been receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection since June 8. South Africans celebrated Mandela Day on Thursday with 67 minutes of public service, honoring the 67 years Mandela served fighting white-minority rule and then uniting the nation as president. Mandela has been in critical condition for weeks. His former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela called the birthday "a gift to the nation." [Reuters]
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3. ROLLING STONE BOYCOTTED OVER TSARNAEV COVER
Rolling Stone is facing a growing boycott over its cover featuring a dreamy photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. CVS and Walgreens drugstores, Tedeschi Food Shops, and supermarkets Big Y and Stop & Shop are refusing to sell the issue. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner saying the cover "rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment." The magazine defended the story as a valuable examination of "how a tragedy like this happens." [TIME]
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4. ANTI-KREMLIN PROTEST LEADER CONVICTED OF EMBEZZLEMENT
A Russian court convicted the country's most prominent opposition activist, Alexei Navalny, of embezzlement Thursday, and sentenced him to five years in prison. The decision marked a low point for the anti-Kremlin movement 19 months after Navalny led some of the biggest protests since the fall of the Soviet Union. Navalny was accused of conspiring to embezzle $480,000 from a state-controlled timber company in 2009, a charge he calls a fiction intended to silence him. [Wall Street Journal]
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5. HEADMISTRESS ALLEGEDLY FORCED INDIAN STUDENTS TO EAT TAINTED LUNCHES
Police in India are searching for the headmistress of a school where 22 students died after eating school lunches that were apparently laced with insecticide. Local police chief Sujit Kumar said the school's cook had warned that there was something wrong with the cooking oil in the school's kitchen. "But the headmistress rebuked her," Kumar said, "and chastised the children, and forced them to continue the meal." The headmistress fled after the primary school students became violently ill. [CNN]
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6. PANAMA CHARGES CREW OF NORTH KOREAN SHIP CARRYING MISSILES
Panama has filed charges against the crew of a North Korean ship caught with a cache of missiles and other military equipment hidden in a cargo of sugar, accusing them of endangering the public by illegally transporting weapons. Panama has asked the United Nations to look into whether the shipment violated a ban on sending arms to North Korea, which faces U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs. Cuba has said it was merely sending old, Soviet-era equipment to North Korea for repairs. [BBC News]
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7. QUEEN ELIZABETH GIVES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LAW HER BLESSING
Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday gave her royal stamp of approval to a bill passed by Parliament to legalize gay marriage in England and Wales. The queen's assent, considered a formality, cleared the way for the first same-sex marriages to take place next summer. Prime Minister David Cameron backed the bill, but debate in Parliament divided his Conservative Party. Religious organizations still can opt out of performing same-sex weddings. [Independent]
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8. FIRE FORCES THOUSANDS FROM THEIR HOMES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
California authorities ordered 6,000 people to evacuate their homes Wednesday night as a massive wildfire advanced through the mountains southwest of Palm Springs. The evacuation order affects 2,200 homes, and residents in another 1,900 threatened dwellings have been told to be packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice. Nearly 3,000 firefighters are trying to contain the blaze, which has blackened 19,400 acres and damaged 23 buildings, including seven homes. [Los Angeles Times]
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9. FORMER OASIS ROCKER GALLAGHER FACES PATERNITY SUIT
Celebrity journalist Liza Ghorbani is suing ex-Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher for $3 million in child support, saying the rocker fathered her baby, according to the New York Post. Ghorbani, 39, met the musician while writing a 2010 profile for The New York Times, called "A Night Out With Liam Gallagher." Gallagher, who is married to All Saints pop star Nicole Appleton, has not commented publicly. In a statement issued through a representative, he said he is "not going to comment on gossip." [New York Post, Ninemsn]
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10. TMZ SAYS GLEE WON'T BE CANCELED FOLLOWING MONTEITH'S DEATH
The executives behind Glee say the popular show is not being canceled due to the death of Cory Monteith, one of its stars, according to TMZ. The producers and writers reportedly have held an emergency meeting to begin figuring out how to work Monteith's character, Finn Hudson, out of the story. Monteith, 31, was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room on July 13, and the local coroner said he died of a heroin and alcohol overdose. [TMZ]

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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