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10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2012
Obama responds to gun-control petitioners, Boehner cancels Plan B vote, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
President Obama tells the more than 197,000 people who have signed a petition for stricter gun-control laws, "We hear you."
President Obama tells the more than 197,000 people who have signed a petition for stricter gun-control laws, "We hear you." WhiteHouse.gov

1. HOUSE GOP VOTE ON 'PLAN B' IS CANCELED ABRUPTLY
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was forced to cancel a vote on his proposed fiscal cliff "Plan B" to raise taxes only on those making more than $1 million a year after he was unable to garner enough support for the measure. President Obama, who wants taxes raised on those making more than $400,000, had already said he would veto such a bill, and the Democratic-controlled Senate would not have passed it. Still, the canceled voted exposed the limits of Boehner's power in the House. "Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff," Boehner said. A deal to avert the looming tax hikes and spending cuts set to hit Jan. 1 will now have to wait until after the holiday recess. [The Week]
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2. NRA TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE A WEEK AFTER MASSACRE
The National Rifle Association will hold a press conference Friday, its first since the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which a rifle-wielding gunman killed 20 children and six adults. The 4.3-million-member NRA largely disappeared from public debate after the shootings, until releasing a statement on Tuesday, saying its members were "shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown." The NRA also promised "meaningful contributions" to prevent future tragedies. [Associated Press]
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3. OBAMA RESPONDS TO GUN-CONTROL PETITIONERS
On Friday, the White House released a video response to the more than 197,000 petitioners who have asked that the government act swiftly to implement legislation to limit gun access in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn. "We hear you," said President Obama. Reiterating his belief in the Second Amendment as the right of Americans to bear arms, Obama said that he has asked Congress to take up and pass "common sense legislation that has the support of a majority of American people, including banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips." He added that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an effort to draw up comprehensive legislation that will address improving mental health care and school safety. [USA Today]
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4. RIVAL GROUPS CLASH IN EGYPT AHEAD OF FINAL ROUND OF REFERENDUM
Rival protesters clashed in Egypt's second city of Alexandria, the day before a second and final round of voting in the country's constitutional referendum. Riot police fired tear gas to quell street battles between Islamists and opposition demonstrators. The secular-leaning opposition sees the proposed constitution as weakening human rights and opening the way to sharia-style strict Islamic laws under President Mohamed Morsi. [AFP]
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5. MALALA YOUSAFZAI ASKS FOR SCHOOL NOT TO BE NAMED AFTER HER
Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by Taliban militants in October, has asked that a school in Mingora not name itself in her honor because students there fear it would make them a Taliban target. Yousafzai intervened after the school was closed by violent demonstrations soon after a decision to rename it. "The protesters were not against Malala," said Kamran Rehman Khan, district coordination officer in Swat, "but [they] feared that the naming of the college could pose a serious security threat to them as well as their institution." [Telegraph]
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6. CORY BOOKER PLANS TO RUN FOR SENATE
Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced Thursday that he plans to run for Senate in 2014. He insisted that he is not yet launching a campaign, but that it's his "intention to run for U.S. Senate." Booker had been deciding whether to pursue a Senate run or a run against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is up for re-election next year. Recent polls showed Christie leading Booker 50 percent to 36 percent among the state's voters, but Booker said the numbers aren't what stopped him from running for governor, but rather that he wants to finish out his second term as Newark's mayor. [Star-Ledger]
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7. PUTIN CALLS EU ENERGY LAW UNCIVILIZED
Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized a European Union energy law — which seeks to create a single energy market and prevent those that dominate supply from also dominating distribution — as uncivilized. Russia is the EU's biggest natural gas supplier and in turn, the EU is Russia's biggest customer. However, an EU anti-trust case against Russian state giant Gazprom has strained relations. The two sides hold regular talks, as they will on Friday, though EU and Russian sources don't expect any progress in today's meeting. [Reuters]
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8. PETER MADOFF SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON
Peter Madoff, the younger brother of imprisoned Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for his role in the $65 billion fraud. Peter, 67, pleaded guilty in June to criminal charges including conspiracy to commit securities fraud for falsifying the books and records of the investment advisory company founded by his brother. Bernie Madoff was sentenced to a 150-year prison term in 2009. [NBC News]
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9. RIVAL TRIBES CLASH IN KENYA, 32 DEAD
Rival tribesmen in southeastern Kenya clashed on Friday, leaving 32 dead and at least 30 injured. The casualties included women and children. While it's unclear what incited the latest violence, the two tribes, the Pokomo and Orma, have fought for years over grazing rights, land, and water sources. Hundreds of officers have been dispatched to the area. [CNN]
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10. INSTAGRAM REVERTS TO OLD TERMS OF SERVICE
On Thursday night, just three days after announcing a new terms of service that would allow Instagram to sell users' photos, the CEO of the photo-sharing service announced that the company will be reverting to its old policy, which has been in effect since Instagram launched in October 2010. The move came after a backlash from users who threatened to shut down their accounts — and in some cases did — if the company followed through on its new policy. [CNET]

 

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