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10 things you need to know today: September 21, 2012
The last U.S. surge troops leave Afghanistan, Obama has a big cash advantage, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Obama greets guests during a White House event on Sept. 18: The Obama campaign had $88.8 million in its war chest at the end of August versus $50.4 million for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Obama greets guests during a White House event on Sept. 18: The Obama campaign had $88.8 million in its war chest at the end of August versus $50.4 million for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

1. LAST U.S. SURGE TROOPS LEAVE AFGHANISTAN
The last of the 33,000 American surge troops, sent to Afghanistan two years ago to combat increasing Taliban violence, have departed the country, according to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. That means there are now 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Panetta said the surge "accomplished its objectives of reversing Taliban momentum on the battlefield," although there has been a spike in insider attacks on foreign troops over the last year. The U.S. and its allies plan to leave completely by 2014. [Associated Press]
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2. PAKISTAN PROTESTS OVER FILM TURN VIOLENT
A new wave of violence hit Pakistan on Friday as demonstrators battled with police over the now-infamous anti-Islam video made by a filmmaker in the U.S. The wave comes as Pakistani authorities encouraged peace and declared Friday a "Day of Love for the Prophet Mohammed." In Peshawar, rioters set fire to two cinemas and clashed with police, who had to scatter them with tear gas. In Islamabad, protesters torched a toll both. At least five demonstrators were wounded and one was killed. [Reuters]
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3. SYRIA AIRSTRIKE LEAVES 30 DEAD
At least 30 people are dead and dozens wounded in northern Syria following an airstrike on a gas station by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The violence comes as Assad revs up attacks and tries to reassert his control in the country, which is embroiled in civil war. Thursday's airstrike was near the town of Ain Issa, about 25 miles from the Turkish border. According to activists, more than 23,000 people have been killed since the conflict began 18 months ago. [CBS News]
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4. OBAMA HAS BIG CASH ADVANTAGE
At the end of August, President Obama had about $88.8 million to spend on the final months before Election Day, significantly beating Mitt Romney's $50.4 million. According to new campaign fundraising reports, Romney also owes $15 million on a $20 million loan he took out that month. Romney and his allies raised about $111 million in August, compared with Team Obama's $114 million. [Associated Press]
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5. BROWN RIPS WARREN ON NATIVE AMERICAN CLAIM
Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown attacked his Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren and her disputed Native American ancestry during their first televised debate on Thursday night. Warren once listed herself as "Native American" on a job application, saying that she was part Cherokee. She later clarified that she was 1/32 Native American, saying she had been told as much by her mother, and had taken that fact at face value. "Elizabeth Warren said she was a Native American, a person of color. And as you can see, she's not," Brown said. [Boston Globe]
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6. CLINTON: NO PROOF STEVENS WAS ON HIT LIST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there is "absolutely no information or reason to believe there is any basis" behind a claim that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was on an al Qaeda hit list. The comments came after a source "familiar with Stevens' thinking" told CNN that the diplomat claimed to him that he was on such a list. Stevens was killed on Sept. 11 during a large protest in Benghazi. The U.S. is probing whether the attack was premeditated or was incited by an anti-Islam video made by a filmmaker in the U.S. [CNN]
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7. STUDY: LIFESPAN DROPS FOR LESS EDUCATED WHITES
The life expectancy of the least-educated whites in America has dropped by four years since 1990, according to a report in The New York Times. The biggest decline was for white women without high school diplomas. Their lifespan is 73.5 years, compared with 83.9 years for those with a college degree or more. Researchers said the reasons for the dip could include increased prescription drug overdoses, higher rates of smoking, rising obesity, and an uptick in the number of people without health insurance. [New York Times]
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8. NATIONALS, REDS SCORE PLAYOFF SPOTS
The Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds became the first Major League Baseball teams to secure playoff spots. On Thursday, Cincinnati beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 and the Nationals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1. The Nationals are the first D.C. baseball team to reach the postseason in 79 years. [Bloomberg]
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9. THOUSANDS WAIT IN LINE FOR IPHONE 5 RELEASE
Thousands across the world have been in line for days for Friday morning's release of the iPhone 5, which goes on sale at 8 a.m. local time in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the U.K. The phones are likely to fly off the shelves. Apple sold more than 2 million pre-orders for the device in the first 24 hours this week. Industry analysts say the company could sell as many as 10 million iPhone 5s by Monday morning. [CNN]
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10. FIONA APPLE ARRESTED FOR DRUGS
Fiona Apple is probably feeling like a criminal. The Grammy-winning singer was arrested in Texas after drug-sniffing dogs found hashish and marijuana on her tour bus. Apple, 35, was taken into custody at the same Sierra Blanca checkpoint where authorities previously busted singer Willie Nelson and rapper Snoop Dogg on drug charges. Apple was released after posting a $10,000 bail. [Reuters

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