10 things you need to know today: March 5, 2013

The Week
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends the Venice Film Festival in 2009.
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends the Venice Film Festival in 2009.

The U.S. and China agree on North Korean sanctions, Chavez's health worsens, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. U.S. AND CHINA REACH DEAL ON NORTH KOREAn SANCTIONS
The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold closed-door meetings on North Korea, after the U.S. and China reportedly reached a tentative agreement on sanctions to punish Pyongyang for a February nuclear test. U.N. diplomats, speaking anonymously, said they hoped to get their first look at the draft resolution within hours. After North Korea's first two nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, the U.N. tightened inspections and seizures of banned items bound for the communist nation. China hasn't confirmed a deal, but says any response to the latest test must be "prudent and moderate" to prevent tensions from escalating. North Korea says it will cancel its 1953 cease-fire with South Korea if the new sanctions are approved. [Reuters, CBS]
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2. OBAMA'S APPROVAL RATING SINKS
President Obama's jobs approval rating tumbled to its lowest level in Gallup's three-day average since his November re-election. In the three-day period ending March 2, Obama had the approval of 46 percent of those polled. That was down from 53 percent a week earlier. The decline came as Obama and Congress failed to strike a last-minute deal to replace the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, and the reductions began kicking in as scheduled. Obama's disapproval rating also changed dramatically, rising to 46 percent from 40 percent a week earlier. [Politico]
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3. CHAVEZ'S CONDITION WORSENS
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, home from Cuba after cancer surgery, is suffering from a "new, severe infection" that has made it harder for him to breathe, according to a somber medical update issued by his government on Monday. The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public since heading to Cuba almost three months ago for his fourth operation since his diagnosis in 2011. His previous homecomings had been greeted with celebrating crowds, but he arrived home unannounced before dawn two weeks ago during the recovery from his last operation. [Reuters]
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4. ESCORT SAYS MENENDEZ PROSTITUTION CLAIM WAS FALSE  
A Dominican woman who said on video that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) paid her for sex has told authorities in the Dominican Republic that she was paid to make up the claim. According to court documents, the woman, Nexis de los Santos Santana, says two local lawyers gave money to her and another escort for help framing Menendez and a top donor, Salomon Melgen. The claims appeared to support allegations a tipster had made in emails to the FBI last spring. Menendez said on Monday the allegations were part of a right-wing smear campaign against him. "I've always said that these are all false," he said. [Washington Post]
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5. CHICAGO BRACES FOR WINTER STORM
A storm packing up to 10 inches of snow is heading toward Chicago on Tuesday, the latest in a series of brutal blasts of winter weather to lash the country's midsection. In preparation, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation dispatched more than 280 trucks to salt and clear major streets. "The whole area's going to be hit pretty hard," said Richard Castro, a local meteorologist. [Chicago Tribune]
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6. KENYANS AWAIT RESULTS OF CRUCIAL ELECTION
Kenyans on Tuesday awaited results in their country's presidential election, which an editorial in one local newspaper called a "turning point" for the East African nation. Kenya was long considered a stable exception in a troubled region, but that changed when post-election violence in 2007 and 2008 killed more than 1,000 people and brought the economy to a halt. In a record turnout, millions cast ballots on Monday, and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces criminal charges for the past violence, was leading his main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, with over a third of polling stations reporting, although election officials urged Kenyans to wait patiently for a final tally. [BBC News]
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7. PALESTINIAN-ONLY BUSES SPUR CONTROVERSY
Israel launched a pair of "Palestinian-only" bus lines in the West Bank on Monday, sparking cries of racism from peace activists but winning approval from at least some Palestinian riders. The government said the buses were meant as a "goodwill gesture" for Palestinian workers, who otherwise have to take long, circuitous rides to enter Israel. Officials also emphasized that Palestinians could still ride Israeli buses if they preferred. [USA Today]
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8. OBERLIN CANCELS CLASSES FOLLOWING RACIST INCIDENTS
Oberlin College, known for its liberalism, canceled classes on Monday and observed a "day of solidarity" after a series of hate-related incidents and vandalism. In the last month, slurs have been written on Black History Month posters, and the words "Whites Only" have been scrawled above a water fountain. In the latest incident, someone reported seeing, after midnight Sunday, a person in a white robe and hood reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan near the Afrikan Heritage House on the Ohio campus. "We believe these actions are the work of a very small number of cowardly people," said Marvin Krislove, college president. [New York Times]
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9. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION BACKS CELL-PHONE UNLOCKING
The White House on Monday called for allowing cell-phone customers to "unlock" their smartphones and tablets and take them from one wireless carrier to another. The move came in response to an online White House petition that drew more than 100,000 signatures protesting the ban, which makes it a federal crime for consumers to "unlock" newly purchased mobile phones so they can switch carriers. Wireless companies lock phones because they offer them to customers at discounted prices in exchange for long-term contracts, but tech-savvy users have used computer programs to get around the restriction. Despite the Obama administration's opposition, Congress would probably have to change federal copyright law to reverse the ban. [TIME]
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10. CASEY ANTHONY SAYS SHE LIVES OFF 'KINDNESS' OF OTHERS
Casey Anthony went to a bankruptcy hearing in Tampa on Monday, her first public appearance since her July 2011 acquittal for the murder of her daughter, Caylee. Anthony's lawyers say the 26-year-old — who has been widely vilified — has received threats. At the meeting, Anthony said that she has been living with friends, relying on unsolicited gifts to get by. She has no job, or car. "I guess you could say I'm living free off the kindness" of others, she said. [Washington Post]

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