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10 things you need to know today: August 17, 2012
A mine massacre rocks South Africa, Russian punk band found guilty of hooliganism, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Supporters of the jailed feminist punk band Pussy Riot demonstrate outside the Russian embassy in London on Aug. 17. Three members of the band were found guilty of hooliganism on Friday for a February protest at an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow.
Supporters of the jailed feminist punk band Pussy Riot demonstrate outside the Russian embassy in London on Aug. 17. Three members of the band were found guilty of hooliganism on Friday for a February protest at an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

1. FACEBOOK SHARES PLUMMET TO NEW LOW
The price of Facebook stock plummeted to a new low on Thursday as early investors were freed to cash in on their stakes. The sell-off of shares that had been locked up since the company's IPO left the once-prized stock below $20, a decline of nearly half of the original offering price of $38. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who once brushed off concerns about the company's falling stock price, conceded in a message to employees that it was "painful" to watch the swoon. And more Facebook shares will flood the market in coming months as lock-ups end on another 1.4 billion more shares. [Wall Street Journal]
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2. SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE KILL 30 MINERS
South African police officers killed more than 30 striking platinum miners on Thursday in the country's bloodiest security operation since the end of the apartheid era. Police were trying to disperse a crowd of 3,000 strikers, who last week walked off the job at the Lonmin PLC mine demanding higher wages. A group of miners carrying sticks and machetes charged, and the officers opened fire. The deadly clash appalled the country, rekindling memories of repression of poor blacks under white rule, and fueling frustration with the governing African National Congress among a population facing massive unemployment and growing poverty. [Associated Press]
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3. U.S. CONSIDERS RELEASING OIL RESERVES
After a spike in oil and gas prices since June, the White House is considering "dusting off old plans" to release part of the U.S. strategic oil reserves. The U.S. and other Group of Eight countries were considering such a plan in the spring to keep rising oil prices from deepening global economic problems and undermining the effectiveness of new sanctions on Iran's oil industry, but dropped the idea when prices dropped. "The logic behind a potential release in the spring is at least if not... more true today," the source said. [Reuters]
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4. AFGHAN POLICEMAN KILLS TWO U.S. SOLDIERS
An Afghan police officer killed two American soldiers on Friday, the latest in a flurry of deadly "green-on-blue" attacks. The Afghan officer was shot and killed. Last week, six U.S. service members died in one 24-hour period at the hands of Afghans in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold. So far this year, 30 such attacks have killed at least 39 coalition forces, including 23 Americans. [CBS News]
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5. DALLAS FIGHTS WEST NILE OUTBREAK
For the first time in more than four decades, the city and county of Dallas started aerial pesticide spraying Thursday night to stop a deadly outbreak of the West Nile Virus carried by mosquitoes. The area is the hardest hit part of Texas, which has reported 465 West Nile infections and 17 deaths, and local officials recently declared a state of emergency. The spraying is controversial, but Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said it was safe and necessary. "I cannot have any more deaths on my conscience because we did not take action," he said. [Associated Press]
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6. ARMY SUICIDES DOUBLE IN JULY
Twenty-six active-duty U.S. soldiers killed themselves in July, more than double the suicides in June (12), according to an Army report. The July tally, which brought the total for 2012 to 116, was the highest since the military branch began keeping suicide statistics. The Associated Press notes that the Army's suicide numbers are higher than those for other services, including the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, because the Army has more active servicemen to begin with. [Associated Press]
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7. RUSSIAN PUNK BAND FOUND GUILTY
A Russian court on Friday found three women in the punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism for singing a "punk prayer" against Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. The case has become a symbol of the government's intolerance of dissent. Celebrities from Paul McCartney to Madonna have called for the women to be freed, and protests are planned in three dozen countries around the world to call attention to the verdict. The women could face up to seven years in prison, although prosecutors requested a three-year term. [CBS News]
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8. U.K. AND SWEDEN PROTEST ASSANGE'S ASYLUM
The British and Swedish governments criticized Ecuador for granting political asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the U.K. is still under a "binding obligation" to send Assange, who's holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London, to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, and that the case has nothing to do with his website's release of secret U.S. documents. Sweden's foreign ministry said it is "unacceptable that Ecuador would want to halt the Swedish judicial process." Britain says it won't let Assange leave; Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, says he hopes talks will "overcome this." [BBC News]
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9. TIME, CNN REINSTATE COMMENTATOR ZAKARIA
TIME magazine and CNN are lifting a week-long suspension of journalist Fareed Zakaria after a review of charges of plagiarism in his recent column on gun control. TIME said Zakaria had made an "unintentional error" in an "isolated" case. "We look forward to having Fareed's thoughtful and important voice back in the magazine," the magazine said in a statement. [Reuters]
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10. ROMNEY'S TAXES BACK IN SPOTLIGHT
The controversy over Mitt Romney's tax returns has bubbled up again following a week of publicity over his new running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Romney sought to put the issue to rest by saying he has never paid a tax rate lower than 13 percent in the past 10 years, disputing a charge by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that Romney may have paid no taxes some of those years. The Obama campaign offered to drop the matter if Romney would release five years of his returns, instead of just two. [USA Today]

 

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