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10 things you need to know today: February 15, 2012
Obama meets with China's next leader, Iran's nuclear program advances, and more, in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
The Pentagon welcomes Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.
The Pentagon welcomes Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

1. OBAMA MEETS CHINA'S LEADER-IN-WAITING
President Obama was said to be "friendly but firm" when he met with Chinese heir apparent Xi Jinping on Tuesday. Obama said he welcomed China's "peaceful rise," but that the country must adhere to the same trade rules as other superpowers and improve its human-rights record. He also criticized China's recent veto, along with Russia's, of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. [Reuters]

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2. SYRIA TO HOLD CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM
As the Syrian military continues its violent crackdown on the opposition, President Bashar al-Assad ordered a referendum to draft a new constitution later this month to allow more political freedom. When the Syrian uprising began relatively peacefully last March, constitutional reform was one of the opposition's key demands. Since then, security forces have reportedly killed thousands. Now many opposition leaders say they'll settle for nothing less than Assad's resignation. [Associated Press]

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3. IRAN ANNOUNCES NUCLEAR "ACHIEVEMENTS"
Continuing to defy Western pressure to halt its nuclear program, Iran announced on Wednesday that its nuclear program is advancing. According to state media reports, Iran has built new uranium enrichment centrifuges and succeeded in making its own nuclear reactor fuel plates. The country continues to insist its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Meanwhile, Israel's ambassador to Thailand says bombs used in the thwarted attacks in Bangkok were similar to those used to target Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia earlier this week. [Telegraph]

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4. PEKINGESE WINS WESTMINSTER
A 4-year-old, 11-pound Pekingese named Malachy won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Tuesday night. More than 2,000 dogs of 185 different breeds competed in the show. Malachy is the first Pekingese to take top dog honors at Westminster since 1990, and only the fourth ever. [USA Today]

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5. OBAMA UP IN POLLS
According to a new New York Times/CBS News poll, President Obama's popularity is rising as the economy improves. His approval rating is at 50 percent, the highest it's been since May of 2010, excluding a short spike after Osama bin Laden was killed last May. [New York Times]

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6. COUNTERFEIT CANCER DRUG FOUND IN U.S. 
Swiss drug maker Roche has warned that fake versions of Avastin, a popular and pricey drug used to treat colon, lung, and other cancers, has been found in the U.S. While it has long been assumed that counterfeit drugs aren't a problem in the U.S., a string of recent incidents suggests that might be changing. [Wall Street Journal]

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7. ROMNEY FACING TOUGH RACE IN MICHIGAN
While his home state was once thought to be an easy victory, Mitt Romney is preparing for a tough battle in the Michigan presidential primary on Feb. 28. Recent polls show that Rick Santorum has surged into the lead in the state. Santorum has also gained elsewhere, and is now running neck-and-neck with Romney nationwide after his support doubled in recent weeks. [Washington Post]

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8. JEREMY LIN KEEPS WINNING
The New York Knicks' Asian-American sudden star added to his growing legend Tuesday night, hitting a winning three-point shot with less than a second left in the game. The Knicks beat the the Toronto Raptors 90-87, the sixth consecutive victory for the Knicks since Lin came off the bench to lead the team. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. NO PUBLIC MEMORIAL FOR HOUSTON
Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy, is planning a small, private funeral for her daughter at a Newark, N.J., church on Saturday. Despite previous reports to the contrary, the family is said to have no plans to hold a large, public memorial at New Jersey's Prudential Center. [ABC News]

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10. ANTIBIOTICS MAY NOT HELP WITH SINUS INFECTIONS
While doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics to treat sinus infections, a new study says they don't actually help in most of these cases. Study participants who received antibiotics did not experience an ease in symptoms or get better any faster than those who were given a placebo. [Reuters]

 

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