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10 things you need to know today: August 18, 2012
Pussy Riot gets two years in jail, Apple's stock soars to an all-time high, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Apple continues to dominate the market, having reached an all-time high Friday of $644.48 per share.
Apple continues to dominate the market, having reached an all-time high Friday of $644.48 per share.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

1. RUSSIAN ANTI-PUTIN BAND PUSSY RIOT GETS 2-YEAR SENTENCE
A judge in Moscow sentenced the three members of the punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," accusing the trio of blasphemy for storming onto the altar of Moscow's Russian Orthodox cathedral to sing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin. The supporters of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, say the trial is proof of Putin's crackdown on political dissent. The Pussy Riot ruling has drawn condemnation from a long list of celebrities, including Paul McCartney, Sting, and Madonna, but opinion is split in the band's heavily Russian Orthodox homeland. [Reuters]
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2. ALGERIAN DIPLOMAT TO TAKE OVER AS SYRIAN ENVOY
Former Algerian foreign minister and longtime U.N. diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, 78, has agreed to take over as peace envoy to Syria, after former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down from the position. Brahimi, who is known as a "strong-willed, independent broker," has also served as a U.N. envoy in Afghanistan and Iraq. Brahimi brings to the job a long history of working in the Arab and Islamic worlds, which the U.N. hopes will help him broker peace in Syria, where an estimated 18,000 people have been killed since March 2011, in an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. [Christian Science Monitor]
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3. APPLE STOCK SOARS TO ALL-TIME HIGH
Apple shares reached another all-time high Friday, hitting $644.48 each and besting the previous record set in April. Although the Cupertino, Calif., company missed Wall Street's sales forecast last quarter by $2 billion, the anticipated September launch of a new iPhone and a rumored mini iPad have investors bullish on the company again. If Apple's shares reach $663.68, it will become the most valuable company of all time, eclipsing the record Microsoft set in late 1999. [CNN]
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4. SOUTH AFRICA TO INVESTIGATE MINE MASSACRE
South African President Jacob Zuma has ordered an official inquiry into the police killing of 34 platinum mine workers on Friday at a mine in Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg. The massacre was the deadliest security operation in the country since the end of apartheid. A confrontation between striking miners, who were demanding higher wages, and police turned into a gun battle. Police spokesman Capt. Dennis Adraio said that there is video to prove that police used "all possible methods of crowd management using minimum force before having to resort to self-defense." In addition to the deaths, 78 people were wounded and 259 were arrested. [Voice of America]
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5. AHMADINEJAD: ISRAEL IS A 'CANCEROUS TUMOR'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drew criticism from the West while speaking at an anti-Israel protest in Tehran on Friday for referring to Israel as a "cancerous tumor" that would be destroyed. "The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land... In the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists," Ahmadinejad said on state television. Tensions between Iran and Israel have been particularly high recently, as Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu recently stood by his threat that Israel would consider bombing Iran in order to halt its nuclear research. [AFP]
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6. GROUPON STOCKS HIT NEW RECORD LOW
Groupon shares continue to tumble. The online deals website released a disappointing quarterly earning report late Monday, and the company's stock has set a new record low every day since Tuesday. On Friday afternoon, shares hit $4.59, down more than 75 percent from its initial public offering price of $20 in November. The Chicago-based company "blamed the weak economy in Europe and unfavorable currency-exchange rates," reports the Associated Press, but analysts say customers are likely overwhelmed by the explosion of copycat online-deals services. [Associated Press]
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7. TWITTER PUTS RESTRICTIONS ON THIRD-PARTY APPS
In a move designed to nudge Twitter users toward the microblogging site's proprietary apps, Twitter has implemented new rules that discourage independent software developers from creating their own Twitter apps. The new guidelines stipulate that independent software developers who create new Twitter apps will only be allowed a maximum of 100,000 users. Existing apps, with more than 100,000 users, Hootsuite, for example, can double their user base before Twitter imposes a hard cap on user base. [Reuters]
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8. UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASED IN 44 STATES IN JULY
The unemployment rate went up in 44 states in the month of July, the highest number of states to report a monthly increase in more than three years. The rate dropped in Idaho, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C., and was unchanged in four states. Although hiring improved in July, according to the jobs report released earlier this month, the national unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent, up from 8.2 percent. Unemployment rates can rise even when more jobs are created if more people are actively looking for work. [Associated Press]
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9. SEVERED HEAD, FOOT FOUND ALONG ONTARIO RIVER
Police are combing a section of the Ontario River in Mississauga, Ont., after a severed head and foot were found in and near the waterway this week. Authorities say the head is a woman's and the foot appears to have painted toenails, which leads them to believe it also belonged to a woman. They will conduct tests to determine whether the body parts are from the same victim. Police are also checking missing persons reports in the area. [CNN]
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10. HOPE SOLO ALLEGES ABUSE BY DWTS INSTRUCTOR
in her new book, Solo: A Memoir of Hope, soccer star Hope Solo reportedly alleges that last fall, when she was a contestant on ABC's reality competition show Dancing with the Stars, her dancing partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy "manhandled" her and once even slapped her. The Ukrainian-American dancer responded to the allegations by tweeting, "Always hated hypocrites and liars... but when someone is both AND an opportunist, I just feel bad for them. Can't win at someone's expense..." [Los Angeles Times]

 

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