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10 things you need to know today: February 19, 2012
Iranian warships deploy, Obama reconsiders a slogan, Elizabeth Smart gets married, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Barack Obama at a "Change You Can Believe In" rally in Las Vegas in September 2008: This year, Obama is expected to replace his "hope and change" mantra with a new slogan.
Barack Obama at a "Change You Can Believe In" rally in Las Vegas in September 2008: This year, Obama is expected to replace his "hope and change" mantra with a new slogan.
REUTERS/David Allio

1. OUTED ARIZONA SHERIFF QUITS ROMNEY CAMPAIGN
Arizona's Paul Babeu, the tough-on-immigration Pinal County sheriff who gained national fame in 2010 after appearing in John McCain's "danged fence" ad, acknowledged on Saturday that he is gay, and stepped down as Arizona co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. But Babeu, who is also running for Congress, "forcefully denied charges that he threatened" a Mexican ex-lover with deportation when their relationship went south. "All of the allegations are false except one," Babeu said: "I am gay." [Politico]

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2. LOVED ONES SAY GOODBYE TO WHITNEY HOUSTON
At a Saturday ceremony in New Jersey, Kevin Costner, who starred with Whitney Houston in the 1992 film The Bodyguard, "moved funeral-goers to tears with his heartfelt words about the 'sweet miracle'" of Houston's life. "Off you go, Whitney. Off you go. Escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. And when you sing before him, don't you worry... You'll be good enough." [New York Daily News]

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3. IRANIAN WARSHIPS ENTER THE MEDITERRANEAN
For just the second time since Iran's 1979 revolution, Tehran sent warships through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean Sea. An Iranian navy commander said the deployment was meant to show the Islamic republic's "might," while also delivering a "message of peace and friendship." It remains unclear how many ships crossed the canal, or what exactly they will do in the Mediterranean. [Agence France Press]

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4. OBAMA LOOKS TO REPLACE 'HOPE AND CHANGE'
The "change we can believe in" slogan that helped carry Barack Obama to victory in 2008 is getting an update for the "new reality" of 2012. The campaign is roadtesting slogans including "winning the future," "greater together," and "we don't quit." For now, campaign posters simply say, "Obama 2012." [Reuters]

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5. POPE BENEDICT HONORS 22 NEW CARDINALS
New York's Timothy M. Dolan was one of 22 new cardinals created Saturday by Pope Benedict XVI in a Vatican City ceremony. There are now 125 cardinals — essentially, "princes of the church" — who are under age 80, "and thus eligible to vote for the next pope." More than half of the cardinals are Europeans. Just three of the 22 new cardinals "hailed from the developing world: Brazil, India, and Hong Kong." [New York Times]

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6. FOXCONN VOWS TO IMPROVE WORKING CONDITIONS
Foxconn Technology, a giant manufacturer of gadgets for Apple, Dell, and HP, promised Saturday that it would increase salaries at its Chinese factories by 16 to 25 percent — to about $400 per month. Foxconn also said it would reduce overtime hours. Criticism has spiked in recent weeks over the punishing working conditions at Foxconn and other Apple suppliers. [New York Times]

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7. SYRIAN PROTESTERS MOVE CLOSER TO ASSAD'S PALACE
Anti-government protesters marched through a middle-class suburb of Damascus to get quite close to President Bashar al-Assad's palace "in the biggest such demonstration seen so close to the heart of the capital since the uprising started 11 months ago." Said one protester: "I hope President Assad opens the window of his office and sees how Damascenes are shouting against him and his regime." [Sydney Morning Herald]

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8. GREEK RIOT POLICE GUARD PARLIAMENT
As European leaders prepared to convene in Brussels to decide whether to give Greece the $171 billion bailout it needs to avoid bankruptcy, "riot police shielded Greece's national parliament," where hundreds of Greek demonstrators were gathered to protest the sharp cuts to Greece's economy that are needed to win the European bailout. [Reuters]

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9. ESPN APOLOGIZES FOR RACIST JEREMY LIN HEADLINE
After the New York Knicks' Jeremy-Lin-fueled seven-game winning streak was snapped by the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night, ESPN ran the feature headline "Chink in the Armor" on the mobile version of its website. The headline, which "was extremely insensitive and offensive considering Lin's Asian-American heritage," was changed 35 minutes later to "All Good Things." ESPN issued an apology, and is conducting "a complete review... to ensure this does not happen again." [Huffington Post]

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10. ELIZABETH SMART GETS MARRIED
The former kidnapping victim, who has since become "an advocate for missing children and occasional television news commentator," exchanged vows with her boyfriend in Hawaii on Saturday. A decade ago, in a case that shocked and captivated Americans, the 14-year-old Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Utah home, and was repeatedly raped by a "homeless streat preacher" during what Smart described as "nine months of hell." [Reuters]

 

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