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Morning Briefing: Ruling expected on Luka Rocco Magnotta's request to ban media and public from hearing

Luka Rocco Magnotta in a courtroom sketch, Jan. 9, 2013 in Montreal.

Mike McLaughlin

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on March 12, 2013.

Judge to rule on banning public from Magnotta hearing

A Quebec judge is expected to rule today on the exceedingly rare request to ban the public and media from the preliminary hearing of Luka Rocco Magnotta, who is accused of first-degree murder in the death and dismemberment of student Lin Jun. For more on the case, read this piece by The Globe's Les Perreaux.

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Iran's Ahmadinejad criticized for consoling Chavez's mother

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing criticism from his country's ultra-conservative clergy for a photo of him consoling the mother of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez that shows them hugging at the South American leader's recent funeral in Caracas. The embrace violates a strict Islamic tenet that prohibits unrelated members of the opposite sex from touching. However, a similar photo has surfaced – presumably doctored by Mr. Ahmadinejad's allies in Tehran – showing Mr. Ahmadinejad instead embracing Egyptian Mohamed ElBaradei, former director-general of the UN nuclear watchdog.

Conclave to elect new pope begins today

The Catholic Church's 115 voting-age cardinals celebrated mass this morning and are expected to enter the Sistine Chapel around 11:45 a.m. EDT, when they will begin the task of electing the next pope. The first ballot is expected to come shortly thereafter, which will be marked by smoke from the chapel chimney – black for an inconclusive vote, white for the winner. The conclave is expected to last at least two days and no longer than four. After today, four ballots will be held each day until one cardinal achieves a two-thirds majority.

For up-to-the-minute coverage of the papal election, follow The Globe's live blog featuring reports from Rome correspondent Eric Reguly.

North Korea issues fresh threats

Facing more international sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened today to "wipe out" a South Korean island, Agence France-Presse reports. Pyongyang announced its unilateral withdrawal from the armistice with South Korea yesterday and troops on both sides have launched war exercises. For more background on the tense situation, read this story by The Globe's Mark MacKinnon.

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Judge to rule on banning public from Magnotta hearing

A Quebec judge is expected to rule today on the exceedingly rare request to ban the public and media from the preliminary hearing of Luka Rocco Magnotta, who is accused of first-degree murder in the death and dismemberment of student Lin Jun. For more on the case, read this piece by The Globe's Les Perreaux.

Manitoba chiefs snub education talks

Manitoba chiefs have rejected the Harper government's vision for aboriginal education, claiming Ottawa is trying to "bypass" first nations leaders and shirk its treaty responsibilities, The Globe's Kathryn Blaze Carlson reports. The boycott is the latest blow to consultations over the First Nations Education Act, which have been mired in boycotts and protests since they began in January.

Falkland Islanders endorse British rule

In a historic referendum, the tiny population of the Falkland Islands has overwhelmingly voted to remain an overseas territory of Britain. Just three votes of a total of 1,517 were cast against maintaining the link, The Globe's Paul Waldie writes.

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