The Top 10 Stories of March 18, 2013

By Duane Shank 3-18-2013

Quote of the Day.
"It is a gesture to underline relations which have been developing over the recent years and to express my wish that our friendly ties flourish even more during this new era.” Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world''s Orthodox Christians, on why he will be the first to attend a papal investiture since the split between the eastern and western churches in 1054.
(Associated Press)

1. A Senate plan alters waiting periods for immigration.
The nation’s 11 million [undocumented] immigrants would have to wait a full decade for a green card but could earn citizenship just three years after that, under a provision being finalized by a bipartisan group of eight senators working to devise an overhaul of immigration law.
(New York Times)

2. Maryland Assembly votes to repeal death penalty.
The legislation, which passed the Senate last week, now goes to the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who claimed a long-sought victory. Aides said he will sign the bill in coming weeks.
(Washington Post)

3. Obama in Israel: Symbolism over substance. 
President Barack Obama spent his first term dismissing the idea of a symbolic visit to Israel: He didn’t want to go there unless he had something concrete to accomplish. But his four-day trip that begins Tuesday night is symbolism on steroids.

4. Small-arms treaty moving forward at UN, faces opposition from the NRA.
The National Rifle Association, which is battling a raft of gun control measures on Capitol Hill, also has an international fight on its hand as it gears up to oppose a U.N. treaty designed to restrict the flow of arms to conflict zones.
(Washington Post)

5. Francis delights crowd on first Sunday as pope.
In his first Sunday appearance from the papal apartment overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis charmed a huge crowd by infusing the message of the Gospel with personal recollections and a smattering of humor.
(New York Times)

6. As drone monopoly frays, Obama seeks global rules.
President Barack Obama, who vastly expanded U.S. drone strikes against terrorism suspects overseas under the cloak of secrecy, is now openly seeking to influence global guidelines for their use as China and other countries pursue their own drone programs.

7. Israel to ask Obama to use air strikes in case of Syrian missile transfer.
Israel will use President Obama''s visit on Wednesday to try to persuade the U.S. to carry out air strikes on Syria if there is evidence that Syrian missiles are to be handed over to Hezbollah in Lebanon, or at least to give full support to Israeli military action to prevent the transfer.

8. Karzai opponents talk to Taliban.
Afghan opposition parties, frustrated with the government''s lack of progress in making peace with the Taliban, have opened their own channel for negotiations with militant groups in hopes of putting their imprint on a deal to end 11 years of war.
(Associated Press)

9. Pakistan’s civilian government completes its term without a coup.
Pakistan’s Parliament completed its term Saturday and the coalition government was dissolved, the first time in the country’s history that a democratically elected government has served its full five years in office.
(McClatchy News)

10. UN body adopts women''s rights declaration.
A United Nations policy-making body has agreed upon a declaration urging an end to violence against women and girls despite concerns from conservative Muslim countries and the Vatican about references to women''s sexual and reproductive rights.
(Al Jazeera)

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