10 things you need to know today: February 23, 2015

Eddie Redmayne wins Best Actor.
(Image credit: (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP))

1. Birdman takes the Oscar for Best Picture

Birdman won best film at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday. Alejandro G. Iñárritu also won directing honors for the dark comedy, which stars Michael Keaton as a former movie superhero determined to do more meaningful work on Broadway. Birdman also won Oscars for original screenplay and cinematography. Julianne Moore won Best Actress for her role as a professor with early Alzheimer's in Still Alice, and Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor for his portrayal of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

Los Angeles Times

2. Mall of America increases security after threat

Shoppers crowded into the Mall of America on Sunday despite a threat of attack by an al-Qaeda-linked group. The Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab threatened the Bloomington, Minnesota, mall, as well as malls in Canada and London, in a video released a day earlier. The Obama administration called for vigilance. Al Shabaab was the Islamist group that claimed responsibility for a deadly 2013 mall attack in Kenya. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said security at the Mall of America has been increased, but anyone going should "be particularly careful."

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CBS Local The New York Times

3. Ukraine says rebel attacks are preventing it from withdrawing big guns

The Ukrainian government said Monday that it could not withdraw heavy weapons from the front line in eastern Ukraine because its forces remained under attack by rebels. The pro-Russian separatists ignored a new ceasefire deal last week and took control of the strategically important railway hub of Debaltseve. European leaders, who sponsored the peace deal, are hopeful the rebels will start respecting the truce now, but Kiev says it fears the rebels will continue their offensive.


4. Honda announces CEO's departure

Honda Motor Co. announced Monday that CEO Takanobu Ito is stepping down in June. He will be replaced by a relatively low-level engineer, Managing Officer Takahiro Hachigo. Ito, 61, has been chief executive since 2009. His tenure has been marred by defects in the Fit hybrid, recalls due to faulty airbags made by Takata Corp., and other perceived missteps. His efforts to trim costs also angered longtime suppliers and former executives. Still, the resignation came as a surprise.


5. Harsh weather kills 22 in Tennessee

Winter storms and record low temperatures in Tennessee have been blamed for at least 22 deaths — about half of them from hypothermia, state officials said Sunday. Gov. Bill Haslam put the state on a higher level of state of emergency over the weekend, making the hardest hit areas eligible for state and federal help. About 32,000 customers were without power in the state.

The Associated Press

6. Girl suicide bomber kills four in Nigeria

A girl estimated to be as young as 10 years old detonated explosives strapped to her body at a security checkpoint outside a market in the Nigerian town of Potiskum on Sunday, killing herself and five others. Dozens of people were wounded. The girl "refused to be checked at the gate to the market and an argument ensued," witness Ibrahim Maishago told Reuters. "She let off the bomb." Nobody immediately claimed responsibility, but the attack was similar to others by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.


7. West Coast ports resume normal work after deal ending contract dispute

West Coast seaports stepped up their activity over the weekend after employers and dockworkers struck a tentative labor deal. The number of dockworker assignments doubled compared to recent Sundays at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Work levels also returned to normal at more than two dozen ports from Washington to California, and the larger ports were expected to do extra work to clear a backlog after a month-long contract dispute.

The Associated Press

8. Home health aides follow fast-food workers' lead demanding better pay

Home care workers on Monday are launching two weeks of meetings and rallies in 20 cities to call for higher wages for low-paid workers. The campaign was inspired by similar efforts by fast-food and retail workers. The nation's two million home health aides make a median wage of about $9.60 an hour. Most work part-time, so their annual income averages $18,600. The leaders of the campaign say these workers should make $15 an hour and have the right to unionize so they won't have to live in poverty.

USA Today

9. Prominent Egyptian opposition leader sentenced to five years over protest

An Egyptian court sentenced activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a leader in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak, to five years in prison on Monday for violating a law banning protests. Twenty-four others were sentenced to three to 15 years. Abdel-Fattah was charged with inciting an unauthorized demonstration in November 2013 despite the anti-protest law imposed after the military ousted the next president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013.

Voice of America

10. Logano wins the Daytona 500

Joey Logano held off a late challenge by Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Jeff Gordon, who started out in the pole position, was going for his fourth victory in what he said would be his final start in the Great American Race. He led for 87 of the first 111 laps, but got caught in congestion in the race's final wreck and finished far back in the pack. Gordon said he was "a little bit sad this is my final Daytona 500," but it was "an amazing week and an amazing day."

AL.com Fox Sports

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Harold Maass

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 Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.