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1. Sequester to take effect, important fiscal deadline looms. Barring a miracle, $85 billion in budget cuts will take effect at midnight tonight. The sequester will be phased-in through September, and calls for a total of $1 trillion in cuts in the next decade.
If that weren’t enough, the government will be forced to shut down on March 27 if Congress cannot reach a deal funding for government programs. The silver lining: This deadline provides politicians with an opportunity to modify the terms of the sequester before some of the most damaging cuts kick in.
2. House finally approves Violence Against Women Act. After a year of debate, the House accepted an extension to VAWA yesterday. The revised bill extends protection to same-sex couples, immigrants, and Native Americans. Obama is expected to quickly sign the bill into law.
3. White House submits brief supporting marriage equality. Late Thursday, Obama’s Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to strike down California’s Prop 8. While the brief restricts its argument to California’s gay marriage ban, it implies that similar laws across the country may be unconstitutional as well.
4. Manning admits to leaking files. Military-transparency hero Bradley Manning has admitted to submitting hundreds-of-thousands of government files to WikiLeaks. Bradley could face 20 years in prison for his crime. The military has yet to decide whether it will press forward with more serious charges, including aiding the enemy.
5. Scientists create rat mega-brain. Neuroscientists in North Carolina have successfully linked the brains of two rats. With training, one rat can solve a problem using data received from the brain of another.
6. Mixed results for Kerry on first trip as secretary. John Kerry’s first trip abroad has had its ups and downs. On the one hand, a German publication called Kerry “Europe’s last fan in Washington.” However, Syrian rebel leaders threatened to boycott a proposed meeting (they changed their minds, probably because of funds from the White House).  Foreign Policy has photos of the trip.

7. Protests erupt as Bangladesh condemns Islamist leader for 42-year-old crimes. 44 have died in protests ordered by the Jamaat party in Bangladesh following a verdict sentencing one of their leaders to death for crimes committed during the country’s struggle for independence.

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