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10 highlights of the week

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Commentary Writer

Return of the screen

1| Colo. theater where massacre occurred reopens

The details: The Aurora, Colo., movie theater where 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage this summer reopened Thursday for a private night of remembrance. The theater hosted a screening of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" for survivors, relatives and emergency personnel who were involved.

Cartels cringe

2| U.S. commandos to train Mexican drug war forces

The details: The Pentagon is aiding Mexico in a new U.S.-based special operations headquarters to teach Mexican security forces how to hunt drug cartels. The tactics are reportedly derived from the way special operations teams hunt members of al Qaeda.

Goodbye, Rapiscan

3| Naked-image scanners to be removed from U.S. airports

The details: The Transportation Security Administration announced plans to remove more than 150 naked-image Rapiscan scanners. The company failed to produce software that would upgrade the machines to produce a generic image of a passenger in order to obscure private parts.

Beam me up, Leo

4| NASA successfully beams images to the moon with a laser

The details: NASA scientists successfully beamed a picture of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" to a spacecraft orbiting the moon -- marking an important step in laser communications. The team divided the image into sections, transmitting them with a pulsing laser to the orbiter at a data rate of about 300 bits per second.

No more excuses

5| Parents petition for control of failing LA school

The details: Parents in Los Angeles are seeking to take control of a failing elementary school by invoking California's controversial "parent trigger" law to force change. Parents of 68 percent of the students in the school signed the petition.

Hot housing market

6| Home prices are up

The details: Multiple offers, even bidding wars, are back as the housing market in the Washington region continues to heat up. Meanwhile, the number of foreclosures has plunged as the local housing market continues to recover from the 2008 collapse.

Stopping at 24

7| No tax hike in Md.

The details: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is not seeking a tax hike in his latest budget proposal -- for the first time since he took office in 2007. Since then, O'Malley has raised taxes and fees on Maryland residents 24 times.

401(k) 4 U?

8| Va. mulls pension shift

The details: Virginia House Speaker William Howell, R-Stafford, wants to replace the commonwealth's defined-benefit pension plan, which is only 64 percent funded due to investment losses, with more sustainable 401(k) retirement plans for all new state employees.

New accountability officer

9| Keeping an eye on MWAA

The details: Lynn Deavers, a U.S. Department of Transportation attorney, will replace Kim Moore as the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's in-house federal watchdog. MWAA management is under federal scrutiny after a 2012 inspector general's report uncovered mismanagement and nepotism.

Not lighting up

10| Teen smoking declines

The details: Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel announced that youth smoking rates in Virginia plummeted 55 percent to the lowest point in a decade. Just 13 percent of high school students said they smoked in 2011, down from more than 25 percent in 2001.

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