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10 things you need to know today: December 16, 2012
Newtown mourns for Sandy Hook victims, feds to visit gun shops to investigate, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Donna Soto, far right, along with her children Jillian, far left, Matthew, and Karly, mourn for her other daughter Victoria Soto, a 1st-grade teacher who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Donna Soto, far right, along with her children Jillian, far left, Matthew, and Karly, mourn for her other daughter Victoria Soto, a 1st-grade teacher who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

1. NEWTOWN MOURNS IDENTIFIED VICTIMS
Connecticut State Police on Saturday identified the 26 people who were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday morning. The victims included 20 children — 12 girls and 8 boys aged 6 or 7 — and six adults, including the school principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, who both reportedly lunged at suspected shooter Adam Lanza to try to stop him from hurting children. First-grade teacher Victoria Soto, 27, was also killed, after reportedly ushering her students into a closet and telling the shooter that they were in the gym. Each of the victims was shot numerous times, according to the medical examiner. President Obama will attend a private vigil in Newtown on Sunday night. Peter Lanza, the father of the suspected shooter, who was divorced from Nancy Lanza, who Adam allegedly shot and killed at home before driving to the school, released a statement, saying he is in a "state of disbelief." "Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured," he said. "Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy." [Hartford Courant, (2)]
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2. FEDS VISIT GUN SHOPS AFTER SANDY HOOK SCHOOL MASSACRE
Federal agents plan to fan out to dozens of gun stores in Connecticut to chase leads they hope will reveal more about the suspected Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, Adam Lanza, 20, who allegedly killed his mother at the home they shared, and then 26 people at the school before taking his own life. Among the questions the feds are hoping to answer, says The Associated Press: "Why did his mother, a well-to-do suburban divorcee, keep a cache of high-power weapons in the house? What experience did Lanza have with those guns? And, above all, what set him on a path to shoot and kill 20 children, along with the adults who tried to stop him?" Lanza carried at least three of his mother's guns to the school, but all of the victims at the school were shot with a rifle, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver said. [Associated Press]
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3. SOURCE: OBAMA WON'T ACCEPT BOEHNER'S NEW TAX OFFER
President Obama is reportedly not ready to accept an offer from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that would raise taxes on the country's highest earners in exchange for major cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare, says a source. The exact details of Boehner's offer were not made available. The source said the White House sees the offer as a sign of progress but doesn't believe that it's enough. The Boehner offer is the first significant sign of a shift in the Republican insistence that low tax rates set to expire on Dec. 31 be extended for all taxpayers. [Reuters]
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4. EGYPTIANS NARROWLY BACK CONSTITUTION
After the first round of a two-stage referendum, Egyptians have reportedly voted narrowly in favor of a constitution drafted by Islamists, but which has been opposed by liberals, secularists, and Christians who say the draft document tramples minority rights. Next week's second round is likely to give another "yes" vote as it includes districts that are more sympathetic towards Islamists, analysts say, meaning the constitution would be approved. Official results are not expected until after the second round of voting on Dec. 22. [Reuters]
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5. HILLARY CLINTON FAINTS, SUFFERS CONCUSSION
On Saturday a Clinton aide reported in a statement that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was at home recovering from a concussion after she fainted and hit her head. Clinton had been dehydrated from a stomach virus. Clinton will continue to work from home next week. The secretary previously canceled a trip to North Africa and the United Arab Emirates because of illness. [ABC News]
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6. REPORT: OBAMA TO TAP JOHN KERRY AS SECRETARY OF STATE
According to a Democrat who spoke to Kerry and reported the conversation to CNN, President Obama has decided to nominate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as the next secretary of state to replace Hillary Clinton when she departs her post. The expected nomination follows U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's decision Thursday to withdraw her name from consideration. She dropped out of the running after weeks of criticism from Republicans about statements she made about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Kerry, in his current role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has traveled the globe on behalf of the Obama administration to mend frayed relationships. [CNN]
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7. CONSERVATIVES MAKE COME BACK IN JAPAN ELECTIONS
Japan's former ruling conservative party, the Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled the country from 1955-2009, made a stunning comeback in elections Sunday, as the country becomes more anxious about a rising China and economic stagnation. The victory will put Shinzo Abe, a former prime minister, back in power, where he will likely pursue a tougher stance toward China and prevent the nation from abandoning nuclear energy, despite last year's Fukushima disaster. Voters have been disappointed with the current ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan, led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, because of their handling of the economy and last year's tsunami. [Los Angeles Times]
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8. PAKISTAN BATTLES MILITANTS AFTER AIRPORT ATTACK
After militants attacked an international airport in Peshawar on Saturday, leaving at least four civilians dead and dozens injured, Pakistani security forces on Sunday stormed a building near the airport where five militants had taken refuge. Three insurgents were killed during a shootout there, while the other two detonated their suicide vests. [Voice of America]
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9. OPPOSITION PROTESTERS DEFY RUSSIAN LAW
About 2,000 demonstrators from Russia's opposition took to the streets of Moscow on Sunday in an unsanctioned protest not far from the Kremlin where President Vladimir Putin runs the country. The protest without a permit was a "pointed act of defiance" says The New York Times, particularly by the two most prominent opposition leaders: Aleksei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist, and Sergei Udaltsov of the Left Front, a radical socialist group. By attending the rally, demonstrators showed they were unbowed by a law signed by Putin in June that imposes steep fines — of more than $9,000 for participants and more than $18,000 for organizers — for taking part in unsanctioned protests. The law is one of the numerous steps Putin has taken to crush political dissent. [New York Times]
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10. THE HOBBIT EARNS RECORD BOX OFFICE NUMBERS
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey became the highest grossing December Friday opener in U.S. history when it raked in $37.5 million on Dec. 15. The movie took in $28.1 million on Saturday and could bring in more than $85 million in the U.S. for the entire weekend. [Daily Mail]

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