The Top 10 Stories of February 18, 2013

By Duane Shank 2-18-2013

Quote of the day.
“All I ever wanted to see was a movement of people to stop climate change and now I’ve seen it.” Bill McKibben, founder of, speaking to an estimated 35,000 people in Washington, DC protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

1. Obama offering immigration plan as backup.
The White House is downplaying its draft proposal as merely a backup plan if lawmakers don't come up with an immigration overhaul of their own. It won't be necessary, Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike are telling the Obama administration.
(Associated Press)

2. States worry about rate shock during shift to new health law.
Less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama's healthcare law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself.
(Los Angeles Times)

3. Gun shops running short of ammo.
Gun shops are running low on ammunition from a run by customers fearful of potential gun-control legislation, according to gun retailers and customers.
(USA Today)

4. Voting Rights Act challenged as cure the South has outgrown.
An Alabama county contends that a main provision of the law that requires it to get permission before making changes that affect voting, has outlived its purpose of protecting minorities.
(New York Times)

5. Fiscal trouble ahead for most future retirees.
For the first time since the New Deal, a majority of Americans are headed toward a retirement in which they will be financially worse off than their parents, jeopardizing a long era of improved living standards for the nation’s elderly, according to a growing consensus of new research.
(Washington Post)

6. NATO can work within Afghan air strike ban.
The top American commander in Afghanistan said Sunday that he believes the U.S.-led NATO coalition can operate effectively despite the Afghan president's decision to ban Afghan security forces from requesting air strikes in residential areas.

7. Renewed push for Afghans to make peace with Taliban.
Frozen for months last year as another fighting season raged in Afghanistan, and as election-year politics consumed American attention, diplomats and political leaders from eight countries are now mounting the most concerted campaign to date to bring the Afghan government and its Taliban foes together to negotiate a peace deal.
(New York Times)

8. UN: Both sides committing war crimes in Syria.
Syrians in "leadership positions" who may be responsible for war crimes have been identified, along with units accused of perpetrating them, U.N. investigators say. Both government forces and armed rebels are committing war crimes, including killings and torture, spreading terror among civilians in a nearly two-year-old conflict.
(Al Jazeera)

9. Shia Hazaras refuse to bury Pakistan bomb dead.
Ethnic Hazara women in the Pakistani city of Quetta are refusing to bury the bodies of scores of people killed by a huge bomb in a Shia commercial area. Shia Muslim Hazaras are furious at what they see as a lack of protection from local and national forces.

10. As Africa rises, Europe loses grip on Catholic power base.
After the resignation of Pope Benedict, African and Latin American cardinals could emerge as candidates to succeed him. Catholicism's European power base is under threat and the election of a new pope could be a historic moment for the church.

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