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10 things you need to know today: April 11, 2012
An 8.6 earthquake hits Indonesia, George Zimmerman's lawyers quit at a presser, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Craig Sonner, left, and Hal Uhrig, attorneys for George Zimmerman, said at a press conference that they have lost contact with their client, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Craig Sonner, left, and Hal Uhrig, attorneys for George Zimmerman, said at a press conference that they have lost contact with their client, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

1. QUAKE STRIKES OFF INDONESIA, PROMPTING TSUNAMI WARNING
On Wednesday, a massive 8.6 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, 308 miles from the city of Banda Aceh, sparking fears of a tsunami. The quake was felt throughout the region, from southern India and into Thailand. A tsunami watch has been issued for countries near the Indian Ocean, and panicked citizens are fleeing to higher ground. Tsunami watches are issued as a precaution, but the warnings do not necessarily mean a tsunami is imminent. In December 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake off of Indonesia caused a massive tsunami that left 230,000 dead. [Associated Press]
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2. PUNDITS CONSIDER THE SANTORUM EFFECT
Following Rick Santorum's Tuesday announcement that he is suspending his campaign, commentators are discussing what the former Pennsylvania senator accomplished with his presidential bid. They note that his "miraculous" campaign pushed the GOP to the right and brought social issues, like access to birth control and gays in the military, to the forefront. On a shoestring budget, Santorum rose to national prominence to become a serious threat to Mitt Romney. [Associated Press]
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3. LAWYERS DITCH GEORGE ZIMMERMAN
On Tuesday, George Zimmerman's former lawyers, Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner, held a news conference to announce they would no longer represent the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February. The attorneys said Zimmerman hadn't returned phone calls or responded to emails since Sunday. "He is largely alone. You might even say he is emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case," Uhrig said. Special prosecutor Angela Corey, whom Zimmerman contacted against the advice of his former attorneys, has said she will make an announcement this week about the case. [Associated Press]
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4. U.N. CALLS FOR IRAN'S HELP WITH SYRIA
At a press conference in Tehran Wednesday, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan called for Iran to be "part of the solution" in the Syria crisis, because it is one of the country's closest allies. Despite the fact that violence continues and that the regime failed to pull troops out of towns and cities to meet its April 10 ceasefire deadline, Annan remains hopeful that the truce might be salvaged. "I think by 6 in the morning on the 12th, Thursday, we should see a much improved situation on the ground," he says. [Telegraph]
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5. BEST BUY CEO ABRUPTLY QUITS
On Tuesday, Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn resigned amid a probe into allegations of personal misconduct, details of which were not given. His unexpected departure comes as the big box electronics retailer struggles to compete with online offerings. [Reuters]
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6. PHILIPPINES, CHINA IN NAVAL STANDOFF
The Philippines has dispatched its largest naval vessel to a remote lagoon in the South China Sea after eight Chinese fishing boats were allegedly spotted illegally collecting large amounts of marine life. China has complained that its fishermen are being harassed and urged the Philippines to pull back. [CNN]
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7. NORTH KOREA FUELING ROCKET
On Wednesday, North Korea fueled a long-range rocket for a controversial launch later this week. Japan, South Korea, the U.S., and others see the rocket launch as a violation of a U.N. resolution banning North Korea from developing missiles and nuclear weapons. Pyongyang insists that the rocket will only carry a weather satellite. [USA Today]
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8. MASS. SENATE RACE IS "NECK-AND-NECK" 
New polls show that Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren are "running neck-and-neck" in the Massachusetts Senate race. One recent telephone survey has Warren at 46 percent and Brown at 45 percent. [Huffington Post]
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9. TOM HANKS TO PLAY WALT DISNEY
Tom Hanks is in talks to play Walt Disney in a film project called Saving Mr. Banks. It tells the story of how Disney spent 14 years trying to get Mary Poppins made. (The "Mr. Banks" in the movie title refers to one of the book's main characters.) Emma Thompson is in talks to play P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins book. [Variety]
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10. SIMPSONS CREATOR REVEALS SPRINGFIELD SECRET
Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, has revealed one of TV's biggest secrets: The inspiration behind Homer and Co.'s fictional hometown of Springfield. Groening tells Smithsonian magazine that the Simpsons' Springfield was named after Springfield, Ore., not far from where he grew up, and that he also took inspiration from Father Knows Best, which was set in a place called Springfield. [USA Today]

 

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