10 things you need to know today: March 28, 2013

The Week
Malala Yousafzai leaves the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, U.K. on Jan. 4.
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Malala Yousafzai leaves the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, U.K. on Jan. 4.

Banks reopen in Cyprus, Malala Yousafzai signs a book deal, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. BANKS REOPEN IN CYPRUS
Cyprus' banks are reopening on Thursday under tight government supervision to prevent a run on deposits. Depositors will only be allowed to withdraw about $380 a day. The Mediterranean nation's financial institutions have been closed for two weeks as Cypriot leaders negotiated a $13 billion bailout with Europe. The deal is the first in the euro zone that will force customers to help foot the bill for saving the banking system from collapse. Accounts containing more than $130,000 will be frozen, and a big chunk of those deposits will be siphoned off. [CNBC]
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2. U.S. DROPS PRACTICE BOMBS ON KOREAN BOMBING RANGE
The U.S. military said it sent two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on a practice sortie over South Korea on Thursday, the first time the Pentagon has ever publicly confirmed such a mission over the Korean Peninsula. The aircraft took off from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and dropped inert munitions on a South Korean bombing range 6,500 miles away in a demonstration of the U.S.'s ability to defend its ally from afar as tensions escalate with North Korea. The North has renounced its 60-year cease-fire with Seoul and threatened nuclear war in response to global condemnation and sanctions over its recent nuclear and long-range missile tests. [New York Times]
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3. JUSTICES QUESTION DOMA'S CONSTITUTIONALITY
At the conclusion of two days of hearings on gay marriage, a majority on the Supreme Court appeared inclined to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The justices, including the four liberals and swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, said that a federal law defining marriage intrudes on an area of the law traditionally left to the states. Defining marriage in a federal law, Kennedy said, overrules states "which have come to the conclusion that gay marriage is lawful." The court's decision is expected in June. [Washington Post]
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4. MANDELA HOSPITALIZED WITH LUNG INFECTION
Former South African President Nelson Mandela has returned to a hospital with a lung infection, the country's government said on Thursday. The former anti-apartheid leader is 94 years old, and his health has been deteriorating in recent years. He spent three weeks in a hospital in December, also for a lung infection, and in early March he checked in overnight for an examination. Mandela is conscious and aware. "We have full confidence in the medical team," said President Jacob Zuma, "and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery." [USA Today]
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5. YOUSAFZAI SIGNS $3 MILLION BOOK DEAL
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for advocating girls' education, has signed a $3 million deal to write her memoir. Malala, 15, was shot on a school bus in October just above her left eye, but survived because the bullet just grazed her brain. She is now recovering and studying in the U.K. Her book, I Am Malala, will be published in the U.S. by Little, Brown. "I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can't get education," Malala said. [Times of India]
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6. AURORA SUSPECT OFFERS GUILTY PLEA TO ESCAPE DEATH PENALTY
Attorneys for James Holmes said on Wednesday that, to escape the death penalty, he's willing to plead guilty to a murderous shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. The shooting last July left 12 people dead and 58 others wounded during a midnight screening of the latest Batman film. The plea offer shifts the future of the case to prosecutors, who are asking survivors and victims' families how they feel about capital punishment, and are expected to announce on Monday whether they plan to seek the death penalty. If they do, defense attorneys say they will "vigorously" defend Holmes, who has a history of mental health problems. [Denver Post]
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7. BANKRUPTCY JUDGE SIGNS OFF ON US AIRWAYS-AMERICAN AIRLINES MERGER
A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday approved a proposed $11 billion merger deal between US Airways and American Airlines. The judge, however, declined to authorize a $19.9 million severance package for Thomas Horton, who took over as CEO of American's parent company, AMR, in November 2011 after it filed for bankruptcy. The deal, which would create the world's largest airline, still must be approved by federal regulators. If it goes through, the merger will cap a flurry of consolidation leaving US Airways-American, United Continental, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines with 83 percent of the nation's airline passengers. [Bloomberg]
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8. JUDD DECIDES NOT TO CHALLENGE MCCONNELL
Actress Ashley Judd announced Wednesday that she would not challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for his seat in 2014. "After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family," Judd tweeted. Some Democrats liked the idea of a Judd candidacy, saying she would be one of the few people who could match McConnell's fundraising. Others feared that her views were too liberal for the state's voters, who backed President Obama's Republican rival, Mitt Romney, by a 23-point margin in November. Judd's decision leaves Kentucky Democrats without a prime candidate to oppose McConnell, who has the lowest approval rating in the Senate but still polls ahead of all potential challengers. [CBS News, The Week]
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9. PISTORIUS LAWYERS PROTEST BAIL CONDITIONS
A South African judge loosened Oscar Pistorius' bail restrictions on Thursday, allowing the double-amputee Olympic runner to travel to international competitions as long as he gives officials his travel plans in advance. Pistorius is awaiting trial for the February shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in his home. Pistorius, who's known as the Blade Runner because of the high-tech blades he uses in competition, has no immediate plan to return to the track, but "this might and this will change," said his attorney, Barry Roux, as he'll need to resume his career to support himself. [BBC News, Guardian]
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10. BULLS STOP HEAT WINNING STREAK
The Chicago Bulls on Wednesday put an end to the Miami Heat's 27-game winning streak, the second longest in professional basketball history. The 101-97 loss in Chicago's United Center stopped the defending NBA champions six games short of the 33-game record set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971 and 1972. Heat players and coaches said they avoided discussing the streak until it was over. Lebron James said the team quietly talked about it in the locker room after the game. "It's one of the best that this league has ever seen," the Heat star said. "We recognized that and rightfully so." [ESPN]

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