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10 things you need to know today: May 17, 2012
The majority of births are now non-white, a Kennedy is found dead, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
A 2008 photo of Mary Richardson Kennedy: Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found dead in her home Wednesday. She had fought drug and alcohol problems.
A 2008 photo of Mary Richardson Kennedy: Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found dead in her home Wednesday. She had fought drug and alcohol problems.
AP Photo/Peter Michaelis

1. NON-WHITE BIRTHS NOW THE MAJORITY
According to Census Bureau data released Thursday, whites now make up less than half of the births in the U.S. In a 12-month period that ended in July 2011, 49.6 percent of babies born were non-Hispanic whites, while 50.4 percent were Asian, Hispanic, black, or of mixed race. The change marks a significant and long-expected milestone in U.S. history. "This is an important tipping point," said William H. Frey, the senior demographer at the Brookings Institution. It marks the "transformation from a mostly white baby boomer culture to the more globalized multiethnic country that we are becoming." [New York Times]
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2. JPMORGAN TRADING LOSS GROWS
According to sources familiar with the situation, the trading losses suffered by JPMorgan Chase have swelled to at least $1 billion more than the original $2 billion initially estimated last Thursday. When chief executive Jamie Dimon announced the losses last week, he warned that they could double within the next few quarters; in just four trading days, they've now reportedly grown by 50 percent. Still, the bank is said to still be fiscally sound overall, and, even with the huge, growing trading losses, analysts expect it to be in the black for the second quarter. [New York Times]
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3. IRAN SUPPLIES ARMS TO SYRIA
According to a confidential U.N. report, Iran is supplying the Syrian government with weapons, violating an international ban on arms sales. The news comes just as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the Russian media that rebels with backing from Lebanon and Turkey were to blame for the violence in the country. A recent Washington Post article reported that the U.S. was helping to arm the rebels, but the U.S. government has denied those claims. [CNN]
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4. RFK JR.'S ESTRANGED WIFE IS FOUND DEAD
Mary Kennedy, the 52-year-old estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found dead in her home in Bedford, N.Y., on Wednesday. An autopsy will begin Thursday, and local police say they are looking into a "possible unattended death." Anonymous sources with knowledge of the matter have said that Kennedy was found hanging and had left a note. Her death is the latest in a long string of personal tragedies for the prominent family, who have not commented on the circumstances of the death. [New York Times]
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5. PALIN ENDORSEE ON THE RISE AFTER WIN
After pulling off a surprise upset in Tuesday's Nebraska GOP primary against two better-funded and more well-known rivals, Deb Fischer is favored to win Nebraska's open seat in the U.S. Senate. Endorsed by Sarah Palin, Fischer is known for being a tough, formidable force in state politics and ran on a campaign declaring her "the true conservative." Fischer's primary win is being called "Sarah Palin's latest triumph." [Politico]
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6. ROMNEY RAISES $40.1 MILLION IN APRIL
Mitt Romney's campaign is expected to announce Thursday that it, along with the Republican National Committee, raised $40.1 million in April, a huge jump from the $12.6 million Romney raised in March. It nearly matches the $43.6 million President Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised last month. [New York Times]
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7. N. KOREAN BOAT HIJACKS CHINESE FISHING BOATS
The Chinese media is reporting that a North Korean boat has hijacked three Chinese fishing vessels, with 29 Chinese fisherman aboard them, and that North Korea is demanding 1.2 million yuan ($190,000) for their release. It's unclear what's behind the incident; China is one of North Korea's biggest allies and supplies the country with economic aid. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson says it is in close contact with North Korea and working to resolve the situation as soon as possible. [Washington Post]
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8. CLOSING ARGUMENTS BEGIN IN EDWARDS TRIAL
John Edwards' defense team finished making its case Wednesday, without calling the disgraced Democrat, his daughter, or his mistress to the stand. Legal experts say that was part of a strategy to cast the the case as being about the details of campaign finance law, not a sordid political sex scandal. Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday, and the jury should begin deliberating Friday. [Associated Press]
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9. AUTHORITIES RESCUE HORSE TWO MILES OFFSHORE
A horse that was spooked on a Southern California beach, and ran into the ocean was rescued two miles offshore by local and state authorities. Santa Barbara County's search and rescue team had to launch a helicopter to find the swimming horse; after it was located, it took rescuers two and a half hours to tow the horse to shore. [CNN]
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10. COFFEE DRINKERS LIVE LONGER
A study of 400,000 people, the largest survey ever done on the issue of coffee drinking, has found that those who drink java are slightly more likely to live longer, regardless of whether the coffee is regular or decaf. Researchers still have not determined why this is the case. [Associated Press]

 

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