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10 things you need to know today: February 26, 2012
Oscar night, voting in Syria, Jan Brewer's latest controversy, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer at last week's GOP presidential debate: Brewer declined President Obama's invitation to dine at the White House on Sunday.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer at last week's GOP presidential debate: Brewer declined President Obama's invitation to dine at the White House on Sunday.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

1. VIOLENCE CONTINUES AS SYRIA VOTES
Nearly a year into Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's lethal assault on pro-democracy rebels, the regime is touting a constitutional referendum that kicked off Sunday as a sign of reform. Syrians are voting on a draft constitution, though "widespread skepticism" remains as to whether the government will actually "stop slaughtering civilians." At least 34 people were killed in Syria on Sunday alone, as "analysts and protesters ridicule the constitutional referendum as window dressing." [CNN]

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2. AMERICA YANKS ADVISERS FROM AFGHAN MINISTRIES
After two top American military officers were shot and killed Saturday at Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, the U.S. made the "unprecedented move" of ordering scores of advisers to leave other Afghan ministries. Officials are still investigating Saturday's shooting, though they reportedly suspect it was continued retaliation for the U.S. military's inadvertent burning of Korans. [Wall Street Journal]

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3. SANTORUM AND ROMNEY TRADE BLOWS IN MICHIGAN
With Michigan's critical GOP presidential primary mere days away, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney "tried vigorously to undermine each other's conservative bona fides Saturday." Santorum insisted that Romney's history of passing health care reform in Massachusetts "disqualified" him, while Romney blasted Santorum as an unprincipled Washington insider. Michiganders head to the polls Tuesday. [Washington Post]

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4. ARIZONA GOVERNOR SNUBS OBAMA
Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.), who famously wagged her finger in President Obama's face on an airport tarmac last month, will not show up to tonight's annual National Governors Association black-tie dinner at the White House. Brewer said she had a scheduling conflict. At least one fellow GOP governor took issue with Brewer's decision. "When the president of the United States invites the governors to come to a formal dinner, you don't turn him down, OK?" said Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa). [Bloomberg]

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5. BP OIL SPILL TRIAL SET TO OPEN
Unless a settlement is reached in a matter of hours, BP will go on trial Monday in a New Orleans courtroom over "its culpability for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico," one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. A private plaintiffs group and the federal government are each reportedly seeking more than $25 billion in civil claims. "Legal fees alone will eventually run well into the billions of dollars." [Washington Post]

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6. OSCAR FANS EXPECT THE ARTIST TO DOMINATE
The Artist is expected to clean up when the 84th annual Academy Awards air at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight on ABC. The silent, black-and-white French film about a silent movie star struggling with the transition to talkies bagged 10 nominations, and is a heavy favorite to take home the coveted award for Best Picture. Tonight's ceremony will be hosted by Billy Crystal. [BBC]

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7. PAKISTAN BEGINS DEMOLISHING BIN LADEN COMPOUND
Several machines equipped with "powerful crane-like arms" have begun demolishing the three-story compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where al Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden was secretly holed up before being killed in a daring U.S. raid last spring. The Pakistani government did not announce the demolition in advance, and has yet to explain the motive behind tearing down bin Laden's compound. [Times of India] 

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8. HOSPITAL DISCHARGES NELSON MANDELA
Nelson Mandela, the legendary former South African president who helped end apartheid, was discharged from the hospital Sunday "after a keyhole abdominal examination showed there was nothing seriously wrong with the 93-year-old." [Reuters]

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9. ADAM SANDLER SETS EMBARRASSING RAZZIE RECORD
The 32nd annual Razzie Awards, "honoring the worst accomplishments in film," shamed Adam Sandler with a record 11 nominations for his roles as an actor, writer, and producer on Jack and Jill, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, and Just Go With It. The ceremony will be held on April Fool's Day. [Los Angeles Times]

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10. GUINNESS HONORS WORLD'S SMALLEST MAN
Chandra Bahadur Dangi, a 72-year-old Nepalese man who is just 21.5 inches tall, is now officially "the world's shortest living man and the world's shortest person recorded in Guinness' 57-year history." Dangi lives in a mountain village hundreds of miles from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. "His five brothers are all average height." [Associated Press]

 

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