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10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2012
The London games kick off, Amazon's CEO backs gay marriage, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
The Red Arrows Royal Air Force Acrobatics team helped kick off the London Olympics on Friday.
The Red Arrows Royal Air Force Acrobatics team helped kick off the London Olympics on Friday.
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

1. OLYMPIC GAMES KICK OFF IN LONDON
Britain on Friday opened the London Olympics with a lavish, three-hour spectacle orchestrated by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. Drawing on a diverse array of cultural touchstones — from Shakespeare and Mary Poppins, to James Bond and the Beatles — the show was a frenetic survey of British history that included a provocative rendering of the Industrial Revolution, which ushered in Britain's domination of the globe in the colonial era. In comments before the ceremony, Boyle explained that he didn't want to whitewash his country's past. Queen Elizabeth II formally declared the opening of the games, which will last until August 12. [Associated Press]
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2. U.S. ECONOMY GROWS BY JUST 1.5 PERCENT
The U.S. economy grew by just 1.5 percent in the second quarter, surpassing expectations of 1.4 percent, but "losing momentum" the economy seemed to be gaining earlier this year. Consumers curbed purchases, factories received fewer orders, and exports leveled off. "The sluggishness of the recovery makes the United States more vulnerable to trouble in Europe, and increases the likelihood of more stimulus from the Federal Reserve, which has lowered its forecasts in recent weeks." [New York Times]
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3. REPORT: OBAMA MOVES TO HELP SYRIAN REBELS
According to Reuters, the White House has drafted a presidential directive called a "finding" that would authorize the U.S. to provide greater covert assistance to Syrian rebels, who are battling government forces in Aleppo, the country's largest city. It's unclear whether Obama has signed the document, but it would seek to help rebels by sharing intelligence on the unyielding regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and increase supplies of communications equipment — while stopping short of arming anti-government fighters. Obama has been criticized for moving "too cautiously" as Assad's forces have killed thousands in the more than year-long crisis. But on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled a shift in the U.S. response to the bloody conflict, noting that the administration would be "increasing our efforts to assist the opposition." [Reuters]
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4. JPMORGAN RESHUFFLES TOP MANAGEMENT 
JPMorgan announced a "broad reshuffling" of its top management on Friday, including promoting Matt Zames to chief operating officer. Zames had taken over as chief investment officer to replace Ina Drew, who resigned in May after news broke that the division she oversaw was responsible for a $5.8 billion trading loss. Zames' promotion to COO is "being read on Wall Street as the clearest sign yet that he is being groomed to succeed [current CEO Jamie] Dimon." The management reorganization, which also appoints several co-CEOs to run different JPMorgan divisions, is the second round of top personnel changes since the loss, which has prompted two congressional hearings and led to investigations from international regulators. [USA Today]
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5. AMAZON CEO GIVES $2.5 MILLION FOR GAY MARRIAGE
Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, and his wife Mackenzie have agreed to donate $2.5 million in support of a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington state, where the online retailer has its headquarters. The couple's gift has doubled the money available to the proponents of Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state by affirming a law that passed the legislature this year. "Courts or lawmakers have declared gay marriage legal in six other states, but backers of such measures have never succeeded at the ballot box." [New York Times]
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6. BEIJING UPDATES RAINSTORM DEATH TOLL TO 77
Beijing increased the death toll from last week's record rainstorms to 77, after originally reporting 37. A number of Chinese bloggers had expressed skepticism at the original estimate, claiming that the government was trying to downplay the devastation so as not to highlight the city's infrastructure problems that likely caused some deaths. The July 21 storm dumped as much as 16 inches of rain on Beijing, the most in six decades. [Bloomberg]
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7. MARYLAND COPS ARREST MAN SAYING HE'S THE JOKER
Police in Maryland say they have arrested 28-year-old Neil Prescott of Crofton, Md., after he allegedly made threats to his employer, office supply company Pitney Bowes, in two phone calls on Monday. Prescott was apparently upset about losing his job and reportedly said, "I am the real Joker, and I'm going to blow everyone up" — referring to the villain in the Batman comics. Law enforcement officials are taking the threats very seriously in light of the shooting in Aurora, Colo., last week that left 12 dead as they watched the Christopher Nolan Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Numerous guns were also recovered from Prescott's apartment. Julie Parker, a spokeswoman for the Prince George's County police, said Friday that authorities had "thwarted a terrorist threat." [NBC News]
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8. SEVERE STORMS COULD BE DESTROYING OZONE
Researchers at Harvard University have released a new study that suggests that strong thunderstorms could be damaging protective ozone in the upper atmosphere. The scientists found that water vapor ejected into the stratosphere by strong thunderstorms can actually set off an ozone-depleting chemical reaction. The depletion of the ozone layer is problematic because ozone protects humans from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, which are known to cause skin cancer. [Washington Post]
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9. ANAHEIM POLICE SHOOT AT BURGLARY SUSPECT
Police in Anaheim, Calif., opened fire Friday on a suspected burglar just days after cops fatally shot two men and sparked protests in the Southern California city. It was unclear whether anyone was injured in the incident, in which police responded to a burglar alarm at a condominium complex at 3:15 am on Friday. After 24 people were arrested in the protests sparked by the previous police shootings, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI agreed to investigate. [Associated Press]
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10. BRISTOL PALIN TO RETURN TO DWTS
ABC announced its lineup for the all-star edition of its dance-competition show Dancing With the Stars, which debuts Sept. 24. Returning dancers include Bristol Palin, Pamela Anderson, Kirstie Alley, Drew Lachey, and Helio Castroneves, among others. [Entertainment Weekly]

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