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10 things you need to know today: August 21, 2012
The GOP urges Akin to quit, Obama threatens action against the Syrian regime, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Demonstrators protest against military intervention in Syria outside President Obama's national campaign headquarters on June 26 in Chicago: Obama said Monday that the use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria would be the final straw that would force U.S. intervention.
Demonstrators protest against military intervention in Syria outside President Obama's national campaign headquarters on June 26 in Chicago: Obama said Monday that the use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria would be the final straw that would force U.S. intervention.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

1. GOP URGES AKIN TO QUIT SENATE RACE
Todd Akin, the Republican Senate candidate under the microscope for his controversial remarks about rape, is facing intense pressure from GOP lawmakers to call it quits Tuesday. House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and National Republican Senatorial Committee boss John Cornyn have all urged the Missourian to reconsider his candidacy. Akin created an uproar over the weekend, when he suggested in an interview that a woman's body could somehow prevent pregnancy in the case of "legitimate rape." Akin, who insists he will not pull the plug on his campaign, has until 6 p.m. to change his mind and withdraw his candidacy with "little difficulty." After that, the procedures for dropping out get much more complicated. [CNN]
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2. AFGHAN REBELS ATTACK TOP U.S. GENERAL'S PLANE
Afghan militants fired rockets into an American base in Afghanistan, hitting a U.S. Joint Chief of Staff's plane, military officials said Tuesday. U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey was not in the plane, and no one was injured during the attack at Bagram Air Field on Monday night. Dempsey, who traveled to the country for talks with NATO and Afghan commanders on a series of recent rogue shootings, departed the base on Tuesday. [Associated Press]
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3. ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER DEAD AT 57
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who ruled the country for 21 years, died in a hospital in South Africa late Monday night. The 57-year-old's health was rumored to be deteriorating after he hadn't been seen in public for about two months. The cause of death has not been revealed. "After attending medical services abroad, the prime minister passed away around midnight. It's time for his remains to come back in Ethiopia," said government spokesman Bereket Simon. Zenawi was largely regarded as an ally to the West against Islamic radicalism. [Reuters]
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4. OBAMA: MY 'RED LINE' ON SYRIA IS WMDS
President Obama, speaking for the first time about when his administration would feel forced to intervene in Syria's bloody civil war, said Monday that chemical or biological warfare is a "red line" for the United States. "That's an issue that doesn't just concern Syria. It concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us... We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people," he told reporters. It is widely believed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has access to chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. [Associated Press]
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5. ECUADOR: 'SUICIDAL' FOR BRITS TO ENTER EMBASSY
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said sternly on Tuesday that it would be detrimental for the United Kingdom to storm the Latin American country's embassy in London, where WikiLeaks secret spiller Julian Assange has been taking refuge since June. The Australian, who has revealed hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military documents, has been holed up as the two countries battle over his fate. Britain wants to extradite Assange to Sweden, where he faces charges of rape and sexual misconduct. "I think it would be suicidal for Great Britain to enter Ecuador's embassy. Later on, they could have their own embassies violated in all corners of the globe, and they'd have nothing to say about it," Correa told state TV. [BBC]
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6. APPLE SETS RECORD FOR MOST VALUABLE COMPANY
It's official: Apple Inc. is the most valuable company ever. Apple's surging stock pushed the company's value to a whopping $624 billion on Monday, beating a Microsoft record for market capitalization set during the internet boom. After a four-month slowdown, Apple's stock has risen recently — a spike that's being attributed to the upcoming launch of the iPhone 5 and the possibility of a cheaper iPad. [Wall Street Journal]
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7. MITT ROMNEY HAS BIG CASH ADVANTAGE
Bad news for President Obama: The commander-in-chief and the Democratic National Committee raised just $75 million in July, much less than the $91 million the campaign shelled out during the same period. It's also significantly less than the $101 million that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney raised last month. July marks the third consecutive month that Obama has spent more than he raked in, and Team Romney how has $60 million more in the bank than Obama does. [New York Times]
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8. ANOTHER MARS MISSION SET FOR 2016
NASA can't get enough of Mars. The space agency plans to send another rover to the Red Planet in 2016. The goal will be to use a a low-cost robotic lander to find out what makes the planet's core different from Earth. The mission will be spearheaded by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, lauded for the $2.5 billion Mars Curiosity rover, which is currently exploring Mars after a brave landing earlier this month. [Associated Press]
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9. NICKI MINAJ MAY BECOME AMERICAN IDOL JUDGE
Rapping diva Nicki Minaj is slated to join pop princess Mariah Carey to be a judge on the next season of American Idol. Multiple sources told Us Weekly that Minaj got the thumbs up from the show's producers. While neither Minaj nor American Idol have confirmed the report, one source told the magazine that "she is definitely doing it," while another said "[she is] 100% confirmed to judge." [US Weekly]
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10. ROSIE O'DONNELL SUFFERS HEART ATTACK
Comedian Rosie O'Donnell revealed Monday that she suffered a heart attack last week and feels lucky to be alive. The 50-year-old actress was able to act quickly upon suffering the heart attack, and credited her quick-thinking to internet research on her painful symptoms and a commercial she had recently seen about Bayer aspirin. "Thank god/saved by a tv commercial/literally," O'Donnell wrote on her blog, adding that doctors inserted a stent into her after discovering her coronary artery was 99 percent blocked. [People]

 

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