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10 things you need to know today: December 24, 2012
India shuts roads and metro stations after protests, a GOP senator is arrested, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
An Indian protester chants as she braces herself against water fired from police cannons during a demonstration against the gang-rape of a young woman.
An Indian protester chants as she braces herself against water fired from police cannons during a demonstration against the gang-rape of a young woman. Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

1. SYRIAN ENVOY HOLDS TALKS WITH ASSAD
International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday and said he and Assad "exchanged views on the many steps to be taken in the future," but shared no details and no indication of progress toward a solution to end the nearly two-year civil war. "The situation in Syria is still worrying and we hope that all the parties will go toward the solution that the Syrian people are hoping for and look forward to," Brahimi said. This is Brahimi's third visit to Damascus since he was appointed to the position in August, and while he was able to broker a short-lived ceasefire in October, it's unclear what impact he is having on the bloody conflict that has claimed some 40,000 lives. [BBC]
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2. INDIA SHUTS ROADS, METRO TO QUELL ANTI-RAPE PROTESTS 
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appealed for calm to protesters involved in massive demonstrations in New Delhi. The demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday were prompted by the brutal beating and gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman last week. "I assure you that we will make all possible efforts to ensure safety and security of women in this country," Singh said. "We will examine without delay not only responses to this terrible crime, but all aspects concerning safety of women and children and punishment to those who commit these monstrous crimes." The victim of the rape remains hospitalized, and six suspects have been arrested. Some protesters have called for the death penalty. Several metro stations and roads were closed on Monday, resulting in smaller demonstrations in Delhi. [Voice of America]
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3. EGYPTIAN JUDGES REVIEW BALLOTS
Egyptian judges are investigating opposition charges of voting irregularities before officially announcing the results of the two-part constitutional referendum. Unofficial tallies reported on Sunday amounted to a 64 percent "yes" vote for the draft constitution, which was drawn up mostly by President Mohamed Morsi's Islamist supporters. Morsi sees the law as a vital step in Egypt's transition to democracy almost two years after the fall of military-backed strongman Hosni Mubarak. The opposition, including liberals, moderate Muslims, and Christians, says the document is too Islamist, ignores the rights of minorities, and would create more trouble in the Arab world's most populous nation. The final results are likely to be announced on Monday. [Reuters]
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4. AFGHAN POLICE OFFICER KILLS AMERICAN CONTRACTOR
A female Afghan police officer allegedly shot and killed an American contractor in Kabul police headquarters on Monday. More than 50 people have been killed in insider attacks in Afghanistan this year. Sometimes the perpetrators are soldiers and police officers, but they have also been people dressed like soldiers and officers. The suspect who reportedly carried out the Monday shooting has been on the police force for two years. The victim was a civilian contractor for ISAF who was working as an adviser to Afghan police, said Maj. Martyn Crighton, another ISAF spokesman. [CNN]
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5. GOP SENATOR ARRESTED FOR DUI
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) was arrested for driving under the influence in Alexandria, Va., after he ran a red light. Crapo failed several field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol level of .110. The senator released a statement: "I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance. I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter." Crapo will have to appear in court on Jan. 4. [CBS News]
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6. RUSSIA AND INDIA SIGN HUGE WEAPONS DEAL
Russia and India signed a $1.6 billion weapons deal on Monday for 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets that will be built in India from Russian components. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also agreed to a $1.3 billion contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters. While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen six-fold since 2000 and is expected to reach $10 billion this year, the growth has actually slowed in recent years as Moscow has lost several multi-billion contracts to Western powers. [Associated Press]
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7. SCIENTISTS REPORT FASTER WARMING IN ANTARCTICA
West Antarctica has warmed much more than scientists had estimated over the last half century. A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience says that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That's about twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. A potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is one of the hazards that have led experts to worry about global warming. Scientists say a breakup of the sheet, over a period that would probably last at least several hundred years, could raise global sea levels by 10 feet, possibly more. [New York Times]
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8. NORTH KOREA CALLS SOUTH KOREAN TOWER PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE
North Korea has accused rival South Korea of perpetrating psychological warfare because it illuminated a frontline Christmas-tree shaped tower. Pyongyang says the tower was lit because Seoul was humiliated by North Korea successfully putting a satellite into orbit Dec. 12. Pyongyang has warned of unspecified consequences because of the tower. North Korea allows sanctioned churches but many officials there associate Christianity with foreign interference. Seoul allowed Christians to light the tower for the first time in two years on Saturday. It goes dark Jan. 2. [Associated Press]
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9. NEWSPAPER SUES LANCE ARMSTRONG OVER LIBEL CASE
Britain's Sunday Times is suing disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong for more than $1.5 million over the settlement of a libel suit Armstrong filed in 2006. The newspaper paid Armstrong about $485,000 to settle the case after it reprinted claims from a 2004 book that he took performance-enhancing drugs. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency concluded this year that Armstrong led a massive doping program on his teams, and subsequently stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from cycling for life. [Associated Press]
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10. NEWSWEEK UNVEILS COVER OF LAST PRINT ISSUE
Newsweek, which will publish its final print edition on Dec. 31, released an image of its final cover. A black and white photo of the old Newsweek office building in New York City is overlaid with the headline "#LASTPRINTISSUE. The last issue contains a lengthy history of the magazine and essays from former Newsweek editors and writers. In 2013, Newsweek will become digital only. [Huffington Post

 

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