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10 things you need to know today: April 28, 2012
A Chinese dissident goes into hiding, the Secret Service prostitution scandal widens, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
After escaping house arrest, blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng released a YouTube video alleging corruption in the Chinese government.
After escaping house arrest, blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng released a YouTube video alleging corruption in the Chinese government.
YouTube

1. U.S. ECONOMY GROWS LESS THAN ANTICIPATED
The latest GDP report finds that the U.S. economy expanded by a disappointing 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012, as businesses scaled down their investments and government cutbacks, especially in defense spending, dropped for the sixth straight quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2011, GDP grew by 3 percent, and many analysts had expected Q1 2012 growth of about 2.5 percent. Still, a surge in consumer spending, thanks to a rise in auto sales, helped soften the blow. [Reuters]
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2. SECRET SERVICE SCANDAL WIDENS
As the Secret Service works to address the Colombian prostitution scandal that broke two weeks ago, new reports allege that agents' hard-partying impropriety was widespread, and occurred in at least four countries over 12 years. Although a Secret Service spokesman has called the claims just "rumors," many on Capitol Hill are pushing for an outside agency to take over the probe. [CBS]
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3. JUDGE BLOCKS RELEASE OF BIN LADEN DEATH PHOTOS
Ahead of the May 1 anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals, a federal judge ruled that Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, could not gain access to the video and photographs of the raid that left the al Qaeda leader dead. The group has claimed it is being "irreparably harmed" by the Obama administration's "unlawful withholding of requested records." Judge James Boasberg said "verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama bin Laden will have to suffice." [CNN]
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4. SENATE PROBE SAYS TORTURE IS INEFFECTIVE
After a nearly three-year-long investigation, Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats are expected to conclude that there is little evidence that "enhanced interrogation techniques" like waterboarding and sleep deprivation, used by the CIA on high-value prisoners during the George W. Bush administration, produced any counterterrorism breakthroughs. The panel was given access to millions of CIA records for the probe.[Reuters]

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5. OBAMA THREATENS TO VETO STUDENT LOAN PLAN
The U.S. House approved a $5.9 billion GOP measure that would maintain low interest rates on student Stafford loans, and while President Obama supports lower rates, he has threatened to veto the bill because financing it would slash funding for a provision of his health care law. Obama hopes to find another way to finance the bill. [CNN]
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6. CHINESE DISSIDENT ESCAPES HOUSE ARREST
Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest and is now in hiding with help from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Guangcheng released a video on YouTube Friday addressing Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in which he alleged widespread corruption in the Chinese government and recounted the brutal beatings he and his family endured at the hands of local officials. [CBS]
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7. SAMSUNG DETHRONES NOKIA
Samsung is now the largest cell phone brand in the world, ending Nokia's 14-year dominance of the mobile phone market, according to a new industry study. The study found that in addition to posting a record $5.15 billion quarterly profit, Samsung shipped 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter of 2012, up 36 percent from last year, while Nokia shipped 82.7 million. [Los Angeles Times]
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8. AUTHORITIES SAY MAD COW EUTHANIZED
The U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that the 10-year-old California cow found to have mad cow disease, which eventually destroys a cow's brain, had been euthanized. The dead animal came from a dairy farm in Tulare County, the nation's No. 1 dairy-producing county, so it was never destined for the meat market. This was the fourth case of mad cow disease ever discovered in the U.S. [Associated Press]
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9. STUDY: ANALYTICAL THINKING DECREASES FAITH
A study published in the journal Science finds that "prompting people to engage in analytical thinking can cause their religious beliefs to waver." In other words, "a lot of religious beliefs are grounded in intuitive processes," says Will Gervais, a co-author of the study. Gervais' article cites a study in which volunteers were asked questions with seemingly intuitive answers only to find that more analytic thinking was needed to yield the correct answers. That study found that people who chose more intuitive answers were more likely to report stronger religious beliefs. [Science Now]
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10. CHILD SERVICES PAYS OCTOMOM A VISIT
After Orange County Social Services received a complaint about the living conditions in "Octomom" Nadya Suleman's Los Angeles-area home, social workers came by, but found nothing to merit a deeper probe. The person who had filed the complaint reportedly said there was only one functioning toilet in the home and that the children had to use portable toilets. The person also claimed the children appeared unclean. Suleman was dubbed "Octomom" after she gave birth to octuplets in 2009 and started a media firestorm. [Los Angeles Times]

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