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10 things you need to know today: February 17, 2012
GM's record profits, a prize-winning journalist's death, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
General Motors assembly plant in Arlington, Texas.
General Motors assembly plant in Arlington, Texas.
Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/Corbis

1. GM STOCK UP ON RECORD HIGH PROFIT
General Motors on Thursday reported a record profit of $7.6 billion for 2011. The company's stock surged on the news, closing at $27.17, its highest point since last August. Because of a profit-sharing deal, GM will pay autoworkers $7,000 each, on average, and the Detroit economy is expected to reap significant spinoff benefits. With Ford and Chrysler distributing similar bonuses, several states with auto factories will get a boost. [Detroit Free Press]

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2. NY TIMES JOURNALIST DIES COVERING SYRIA
Anthony Shadid, a Pulitzer-prize-winning New York Times reporter who covered the Middle East for years, died Thursday while on assignment in Syria. He apparently suffered a fatal asthma attack while sneaking out of the country with smugglers. "Anthony died as he lived — determined to bear witness to the transformation sweeping the Middle East and to testify to the suffering of people caught between government oppression and opposition forces," Jill Abramson, the Times' executive editor, wrote in a staff email. [New York Times]

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3. NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLY PASSES GAY MARRIAGE
New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Republican Gov. Chris Christie is expected to veto the measure. [Associated Press]

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4. LAWMAKERS STORM OUT OF CONTRACEPTION HEARING
Female Democrats walked out of a heated debate Thursday on mandated insurance coverage for contraception, saying a congressional committee chairman — Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — was blocking female witnesses and only allowing men to testify. "Where are the women?" asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) before she stormed out. "I look at this panel [of witnesses], and I don't see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning." [Politico]

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5. WEEKLY JOBLESS CLAIMS HIT FOUR-YEAR LOW
The Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits had fallen to 348,000. That's the fewest claims since March 2008. In other positive economic news, the U.S. has seen a rise in new building permits, which suggests growing optimism in the construction industry. [New York Times]

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6. FACING SCANDAL, GERMAN PRESIDENT RESIGNS
German President Christian Wuff, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, resigned Friday after being caught in a corruption scandal related to a home loan and reported attempts to block the story from being reported in a German tabloid. [Guardian]

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7. PAKISTAN TEMPERS TALIBAN PEACE HOPES
Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Friday that it is "unrealistic" and "preposterous" to expect Pakistan to deliver the Taliban's leader to peace talks. While it's not clear if Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked for access to Taliban chief Mullah Omar at a three-way summit in Islamabad with leaders from Pakistan and Iran this week, in the past he has called on Pakistan to facilitate communication with the insurgent group. [Associated Press]

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8. GOOGLE TRACKS IPHONE USERS
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google and other ad companies have used a special code to bypass privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser and track users as they surf the web on iPhones or desktop computers. Google says the report "mischaracterizes what happened" and that it isn't collecting personal information. [CNET]

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9. TAYMOR TO GET SPIDER-MAN PAY DAY
Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Broadway's debacle-turned-hit, have settled with Julie Taymor, the legendary director they fired from the show last March. As part of the settlement, Taymor will receive $9,750 a week in royalties. The settlement does not affect Taymor's separate federal lawsuit against the producers. [New York Times]

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10. HALL OF FAMER GARY CARTER DIES AT 57
The New York Mets' Hall of Fame former catcher, Gary Carter, died Thursday after battling brain cancer. Carter was known for his effervescent personality and hitting a bottom-of-the-10th single in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that helped the Mets turn things around to win the series. [Associated Press]

 

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