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10 things you need to know today: October 3, 2012
Obama and Romney prepare to face off, a suicide bombing kills 27 in Syria, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
President Obama
President Obama
Pete Marovich, Christ Zuppa/ZUMA Press/Corbis

1. OBAMA, ROMNEY TO FACE OFF IN DENVER
Let's get ready to rumble. President Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney will face off Wednesday night at the first presidential debate, in Denver. Politicos say Romney, who is slightly behind in the polls in critical swing states, needs a stellar performance if he wants to reverse the numbers. The debate, which is about domestic policy, will kickoff at 9 p.m. EDT. It will be moderated by PBS' Jim Lehrer, who will  focus on a different topic for each of the six 15-minute segments in the 90-minute debate. [Politico]
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2. SUICIDE BOMBING KILLS 27 IN SYRIA
At least 27 people have been killed in the Syrian city of Aleppo, following a series of suicide bombings, according to a government official. The explosions rocked the main square in the government-controlled, commercial hub. There were few details about the blasts, but activists say they were likely the result of a car bomb. The siege on Aleppo is the latest in a string of attacks, as fighting intensifies between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels trying to oust him. [Associated Press]
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3. REPORT: COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICES ARE 'SHODDY'
Congressional investigators will release a report Wednesday ripping the Department of Homeland Security. The report criticizes the department for not using local fusion centers, which make up the bulk of the country's domestic counterterrorism program, to produce more valuable intelligence reports. The report says the centers are "oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism." [New York Times]
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4. BIDEN GAFFES, GOP POUNCES
Vice President Joe Biden had a major "oops moment" when he remarked Tuesday that the middle class had been "buried" during the last four years. In Charlotte, Biden argued Romney would hike taxes for the middle class, asking how he can justify "raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years?" Of course, Obama was in office during that period. Romney and Paul Ryan immediately pounced, saying they agreed with Biden. [Washington Post]
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5. GUNMEN KILL 25 STUDENTS IN NIGERIA DORM
Gunmen stormed a college residence in Nigeria, killing at least 25 students. The overnight attack took place at the Federal Polytechnic College in Mubi. "The killers went from room to room, slaughtering them one by one," said one witness. The executive secretary of the Northern States Christian Association in Nigeria, Daniel Babayi, said it was likely the killings were retaliation after 156 people were arrested and accused of being members of an Islamist militant group last month. [Reuters, Voice of America]
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6. STUDY: TEEN DRINKING AND DRIVING IS DOWN
The number of high school students who drink and drive is down 54 percent from two decades ago, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 10.3 percent of teen drivers said they've driven while intoxicated, significantly down from the 22.3 percent in 1991. The dip is being attributed to stricter laws, retailer compliance checks, and even the sluggish economy. "Teens are especially sensitive to increases in gasoline prices and declines in economic conditions, which might have decreased their miles driven since 2007," the report said. [Los Angeles Times]
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7. MCQUEARY SUES PENN STATE FOR $4 MILLION
Mike McQueary, Penn State's former assistant football coach and key witness in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial, filed a whistleblower lawsuit seeking $4 million in damages. McQueary testified that he caught Sandusky in a locker room with a young boy in 2001 and reported it to head coach Joe Paterno. When the charges were filed, however, McQueary was put on administrative leave without pay. The lawsuit says McQueary's "employment was terminated in a discriminatory fashion" and his reputation ruined. [Bloomberg]
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8. U.S. BIRTHS DOWN FOR FOURTH YEAR
The baby bust continues. Births in the U.S. have fallen for the fourth year in a row, the government announced Wednesday. Analysts are saying that the decline is proof that the distressed economy has weakened the enthusiasm for more children. But the dip isn't as big as it was in previous years. The decline in 2011 was just 1 percent, compared to the 2 or 3 percent drop in other recent years. [Associated Press]
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9. HOFFA SEARCH TESTS COME BACK NEGATIVE
Tests on soil samples from a Michigan property, where union boss Jimmy Hoffa was believed to be buried, came back negative. Cops re-opened the famous cold case after receiving a tip that Hoffa, who mysteriously vanished in 1975, had been stowed under the driveway in a residential neighborhood in Roseville. There were no signs of Hoffa, or anybody else in the latest round of testing. [Associated Press]
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10. FOO FIGHTERS GO ON INDEFINITE HIATUS
Grammy Award-winning band The Foo Fighters is going on an indefinite hiatus. Frontman Dave Grohl told ABC News in a statement that he's "not sure when the Foo Fighters are going to play again," adding that "it feels strange to say that, but it's a good thing for all of us to go away for a while. It's one of the reasons we're still here. Sometimes it's good to just... put it back in the garage for a while." Grohl insisted the band isn't calling it quits completely. [ABC News]

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