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10 things you need to know today: June 12, 2012
U.S. families' net worths plunge, a coroner rules in an Australian dingo case, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
This 1982 photo shows Lindy Chamberlain and her husband Michael the day a coroner ordered her to face a charge of murdering her infant daughter Azaria, reversing an earlier verdict that the baby was slaughtered by a dingo. A coroner ruled on June 11, 2012, that a dingo did in fact take Chamberlain's baby.
This 1982 photo shows Lindy Chamberlain and her husband Michael the day a coroner ordered her to face a charge of murdering her infant daughter Azaria, reversing an earlier verdict that the baby was slaughtered by a dingo. A coroner ruled on June 11, 2012, that a dingo did in fact take Chamberlain's baby.
Bettmann/CORBIS

1. AVERAGE FAMILY NET WORTH PLUNGES 40 PERCENT
According to a Federal Reserve study released Monday, the net worth of the average American family plummeted almost 40 percent from 2007 to 2010, from $126,400 to $77,300, a level not seen since the early '90s. Much of the drop is attributed to crashing housing prices. The median family income also fell during the same period, from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010. "It fills in details to a picture that we already knew was quite ugly, and these details very much underscore that," economist Jared Bernstein, a former adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, says of the survey. "It makes clear how devastating [the economic crisis] has been for the middle class." [Reuters]
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2. CORONER CONFIRMS DINGO DID TAKE AUSSIE BABY
A coroner in Australia has brought closure to a 32-year-old case that attracted international attention, finding that a dingo did indeed take 9-week-old Azaria Charmberlain from her parents' tent at a campsite near Ayers Rock decades ago. A 1981 inquest into the incident also put the blame on a wild dog, but an inquest the following year charged the baby's mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, with murder and the father with being an accessory after the fact. That decision was eventually overturned, but only after Chamberlain-Creighton had served more than three years in prison. After a third inquest in 1995, the baby's cause of death was left as open. The case inspired a 1988 film, Cry in the Dark; Meryl Streep played Chamberlain-Creighton. [Associated Press]
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3. COMMERCE SECRETARY TAKES MEDICAL LEAVE
The White House announced late Monday that Commerce Secretary John Bryson will take a medical leave of absence. Bryson caused two car accidents in Southern California on Saturday and was cited with a felony hit-and-run. The Commerce Department says he had suffered a seizure and had "limited recall" of the accidents. Bryson will now undergo medical tests. Thus far in the investigation, police say there are no signs that drugs or alcohol were involved. [CBS/Associated Press]
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4. SANDUSKY ACCUSER GIVES GRAPHIC TESTIMONY
The sexual abuse trial against Jerry Sandusky got underway Monday with a 28-year-old man known as "Victim 4" giving a detailed account of the abuse he says he suffered for five years as a teenager in the late '90s. Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State, faces 52 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a period of 15 years. [Associated Press]
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5. ARIZONA VOTES FOR GIFFORDS REPLACEMENT
On Tuesday in southeastern Arizona, voters will decide who will serve the six remaining months of Gabrielle Giffords' term; the Democratic congresswoman resigned from her position after she was injured in a 2011 shooting. The special election pits Ron Barber, a Democrat and former aide to Giffords who was also injured in the shooting, against Jesse Kelly, a retired Marine who lost to Giffords in 2010 by a narrow margin. The closely watched race is seen as an indicator of the political climate heading into November. [Washington Post]
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6. L.A. KINGS WIN STANLEY CUP
The Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 6-1 Monday night in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup. It's the first time the Kings have won hockey's grand prize since the franchise was founded in 1967. [Yahoo]
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7. RUSSIANS PROTEST AGAINST PUTIN
Some 18,000 people marched through pouring rain in Moscow on Tuesday to protest against Vladimir Putin's recent return to the presidency for a third term. On Monday, armed police raided the homes of some of the demonstration's most prominent leaders. It wasn't clear what the authorities were looking for. [BloombergAFP]
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8. U.N.: SYRIAN CHILDREN USED AS HUMAN SHIELDS
According to the United Nations' annual report on children and armed conflict around the world, Syrian government forces and their allies have killed, maimed, tortured, and sexually abused children as young as 9 years old, and even used them as human shields. It's the first time Syria has been included on the annual so-called "list of shame," which documents governments and armed groups that brutalize children. [Associated Press]
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9. REPORT: JPMORGAN KNEW OF TRADE RISKS
Sources familiar with the situation say executives and directors at JPMorgan were alerted to risky trades some two years before they cost the financial giant more than $2 billion. The unnamed sources say JPMorgan could have avoided the botched bets that could end up costing it more than $5 billion over time. [Wall Street Journal]
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10. APPLE TO DITCH GOOGLE MAPS
At its Worldwide Developers' Conference Monday, Apple debuted its new mobile mapping service. Apple's maps will replace Google Maps on iPhones and iPads with the release of iOS 6 in the fall. Mapping is one of the most popular functions on smartphones, and iPhones and iPads have thus far come preloaded with Google Maps. The upcoming change signals the increasingly bitter rivalry between Google and Apple as the mobile industry evolves. [Reuters]

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