10 things you need to know today: February 12, 2013

The Week

North Korea conducts a nuclear test, Obama preps for the State of the Union, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. NORTH KOREA STAGES LONG-THREATENED NUCLEAR TEST
North Korea confirmed Tuesday that it had conducted its third nuclear test, provoking immediate and harsh criticism from foreign leaders. President Obama called the long-threatened move a “highly provocative act” demanding “swift and credible action by the international community.” China, which had urged Pyongyang not to conduct the test, declared its “staunch opposition” but urged calm. The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Tuesday. North Korea’s official KCNA news service said the test involved a “miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force” than those the reclusive communist regime tested in 2006 and 2009, suggesting the country had made strides toward becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. [New York Times]
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2. CATHOLICS BRACE FOR SELECTION OF NEW POPE
The world’s 1.1 billion Catholics reacted in shock to the news that Pope Benedict XVI would be stepping down on Feb. 28 due to his advancing age and declining strength. Benedict became the first pope in six centuries to resign, and triggered an internal debate over whether his successor — expected to be elected by Easter, which falls on March 31 — should be someone looking to foster a smaller church with more fervent believers, or one with broader appeal and looser restrictions on everything from divorce to condom use. “If you run any business, whether it’s the papacy or a pizza shop, you have to consider if you focus on your core or where you’re expanding,” says Philip Jenkins, an expert on global Christianity at Baylor University. “The question is, who you are going to appeal to?” [Washington Post]
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3. OBAMA HEADS INTO CRUCIAL STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
President Obama is preparing to give his State of the Union address Tuesday night in what could prove a critical moment for his second term. Analysts say Obama has roughly a year to push through his policy priorities — regarding the economy, immigration reform, gun control, and more — before lawmakers begin focusing on the 2014 midterm elections, which could strengthen Republicans and hasten his transition to the “lame-duck” status of presidents ineligible to run again. That makes the speech an important opportunity to build momentum, says Tony Fratto, who was a White House spokesman under George W. Bush. “I don’t want to say it’s the last important speech he’s going to give,” Fratto says, “but the window for a second-term president is fairly narrow.” [Reuters]
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4. EGYPTIANS PROTEST AGAINST MORSI ON ANNIVERSARY OF MUBARAK’S FALL
Egyptian protesters clashed with riot police in front of the presidential palace in Cairo Monday night during a rally marking the second anniversary of the toppling of Hosni Mubarak. Police fired tear gas and water cannons as demonstrators threw stones and spray-painted walls telling the country’s democratically elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, to “leave.” Morsi’s supporters say rivals are trying to dismantle Egypt’s fledgling democracy, but opposition activists say Morsi is using his newfound power to impose an Islamist constitution and deprive them of their rights. [BBC]
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5. SUSPECTS CHARGED IN HADIYA PENDLETON KILLING
Chicago police have arrested two reputed gang members in connection with a shooting that killed 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton last month, just days after she performed with her high school band at President Obama’s second-term inauguration. Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery with a firearm in the Jan. 29 attack, which also left two other teens wounded. According to police, Ward confessed, saying he and Williams mistakenly thought some of Pendleton’s companions were members of a rival gang involved in the shooting of Williams last July. [Chicago Tribune]
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6. DORNER CHARGED WITH CAPITAL MURDER
California authorities filed formal murder charges Monday against former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner, a fugitive suspected of killing one police officer and trying to kill three others. In an online manifesto, Dorner allegedly claims he wants revenge for his firing from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008. Dorner was charged with capital murder in the ambush of Riverside Officer Michael Crain, meaning he could face the death penalty if caught and convicted. [USA Today]
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7. COURTHOUSE SHOOTING LEAVES THREE DEAD
Police say a man who was locked in a child-custody dispute opened fire in a Delaware courthouse lobby on Monday, killing two women before police fatally shot him. Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams said one of the women killed was the suspected shooter’s estranged wife, although police did not confirm that and cautioned that only they had access to confirmed information. “It happened so fast,” said courthouse employee Jose Beltran, who was entering the building as the first shots rang out. Two police officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries. [Associated Press]
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8. PANETTA EXTENDS MILITARY BENEFITS TO SAME-SEX COUPLES
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta extended 20 military benefits — including education, hospital visitation, family counseling, and more — to gay and lesbian couples on Monday in one of his final acts before he steps aside. Panetta said discrimination based on sexual orientation “has no place in the Department of Defense.” Some benefits, including health care and housing, are still only available to married heterosexual couples under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits heterosexual spouses get. [San Francisco Chronicle]
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9. SI SWIMSUIT ISSUE HITS NEWSSTANDS
Sports Illustrated is releasing the 50th anniversary edition of its popular swimsuit issue on Tuesday. For the second straight year, the eagerly anticipated magazine features model Kate Upton on the cover. Upton is the first model to win the coveted cover spot in consecutive years since Tyra Banks, who did it in 1996 and 1997. Others who have graced more than one cover Christie Brinkley (1979-81), Elle MacPherson (1986 and 1988), and Paulina Porizkova (1984 and 1985). [Bleacher ReportCBS]
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10. HACKERS AIR WARNING OF ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
Pranksters hacked into a Montana TV station’s emergency alert system and issued a brief warning that “bodies of the dead are rising from their graves” and attacking the living. The warning was aired during the Steve Wilkos show on KRTV in the middle of the “Teen Cheaters Take Lie Detectors” episode. The station quickly issued a statement assuring viewers that there was “no emergency.” [International Business Times]