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10 things you need to know today: December 25, 2012
An ex-con kills two firefighters, a big storm threatens holiday travel plans, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Ho, ho, ho: A giant Santa Claus sits in front of a house in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Ho, ho, ho: A giant Santa Claus sits in front of a house in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Michael Heiman/Getty Images

1. FIREFIGHTERS SHOT DEAD IN 'TRAP'
A man who police identified as an ex-con reportedly shot two firefighters dead on Monday after luring them into his neighborhood in upstate New York by setting fire to a car and a house. "It does appear it was a trap," police said. The man also wounded two other firefighters, then shot at police who responded to the emergency before fatally shooting himself. Law enforcement officers used an armored vehicle to evacuate residents from dozens of homes on the shores of Lake Ontario in Webster, a suburb of Rochester. Police identified the attacker as William Spengler, who served more than 17 years in prison after being convicted for beating his grandmother, who was 92, to death with a hammer in 1980 in a house next to the one where Monday's attack took place. [CBS News]
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2. STORM THREATENS HOLIDAY TRAVEL
A massive winter storm is threatening to disrupt holiday travel plans as it sweeps across the central U.S., and parts of the South. A weaker storm is complicating matters as it soaks the Northeast with a "wintry mix." "Despite the 'more wet than white' forecast for the I-95 urban corridor, expect major delays at the major Northeast airport hubs Wednesday due to low cloud ceilings and strong winds," said Weather.com. Messy weather on highways could also make travel harder for the 93.3 million people AAA estimates will be venturing more than 50 miles from home over the holidays. [NBC News]
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3. PILGRIMS OBSERVE CHRISTMAS IN BETHLEHEM
Christians from all over the world shrugged off tensions in the Holy Land and war in nearby Syria on Monday as they converged on Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Many made their way to Manger Square, a popular pilgrimage spot in the West Bank town where Jesus was born. Many Catholics made trips to the Vatican City, where pilgrims and tourists joined Romans in St. Peter's Square for the opening of a Nativity scene late Monday. Crowds cheered as Pope Benedict XVI lit a peace candle on the windowsill of his chambers above the square. In a Christmas homily, the Pope asked people to consider whether their faith was reflected in their attitudes toward the homeless and refugees. "Do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him?" the pope said. [Fox News]
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4. CHINESE STOCKS RISE ON RECOVERY HOPES
Chinese stocks rose on Tuesday, with a major benchmark erasing its 2012 losses thanks to growing expectations that the country's economy — the second largest in the world — was gaining steam. One reason for the optimism is that investors are seeing signs that China's new leaders, who took over last month in a once-in-a-decade power transfer, "will take measures to reform the economy and the financial system will find China new growth drivers," said Wang Zheng, the Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co. [Bloomberg]
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5. RON PAUL LASHES OUT AT NRA
Rep. Ron Paul, a retiring former GOP presidential hopeful, on Monday said he strongly rejected a proposal by leaders at the National Rifle Association to put armed guards at every school. The NRA said the plan would help prevent another school shooting like the tragedy this month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a troubled 20-year-old man, Adam Lanza, killed 20 first-graders and six adults (after killing his mother at their home) before killing himself. "Government security is just another kind of violence," the libertarian Texas congressman said. "School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America." [Politico]
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6. JACK KLUGMAN DIES
Jack Klugman, a crusty character actor who became a sitcom icon in the 1970s as co-star of The Odd Couple, died on Monday. He was 90. Klugman played Oscar Madison, a sportswriter and slob who shared an apartment with a quirky neat freak named Felix Unger, played by the late Tony Randall. The Odd Couple, an adaptation of a popular Neil Simon play, ran from 1970 to 1975, and Klugman later played a crusading forensic pathologist in Quincy, M.E. Klugman was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974. He had a vocal cord removed in 1989, leaving his voice a whisper. Klugman died with his wife at his side. "He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it and he would encourage others to do the same," son Adam Klugman said. [New York Times]
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7. NETFLIX BLAMES AMAZON FOR OUTAGE
Netflix said via Twitter that its streaming video service was knocked out "across the Americas" on Christmas Eve "thanks to an outage of some of Amazon's cloud infrastructure." Amazon acknowledged that its cloud-computing services were having problems in its Northern Virginia region, and said it was "working to resolve issues." Netflix's cloud architect, Adrian Cockcroft, said that not all customers were having trouble viewing movies and TV shows using its service. "Some devices working, others not," he said on his Twitter account. [Wall Street Journal]
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8. KUWAIT TO HOST SYRIA CONFERENCE
Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al Sabah, said Monday that his country would host an international conference next month aiming to address the deepening humanitarian crisis in war-torn Syria. The United Nations last week appealed for $1.5 billion to help ease the "dramatically deteriorating" plight of millions of Syrian refugees. Opposition leaders have been expressing growing impatience with the international community's "silence" on the killing of civilians by the armed forces of President Bashar al-Assad. In Damascus, special international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with Assad but said that the 21-month-long clash between Assad and the opposition "still is a reason for worry." [Reuters]
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9. HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON ENDS WITH A WHIMPER
Retailers offered last-minute discounts as the Christmas shopping season ended with sales that failed to meet expectations stoked by a blockbuster start over Thanksgiving weekend. Some industry analysts said shoppers were scaling back on purchases, a potentially devastating trend for retailers, some of whom count on the holiday quarter for half of their annual profits. "The attitude of the shopper went from Christmas euphoria on Thanksgiving weekend to more subdued, to less frenetic," said retail strategist Thom Blischok of consulting firm Booz & Company's retail practice. [Voice of America]
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10. GUN LOVERS SIGN PETITION TO DEPORT PIERS MORGAN
Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition posted on the White House website demanding the deportation of British CNN talk show host Piers Morgan over his "effort to undermine the Bill of Rights" by making pointed calls for gun control in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a lone gunman armed with an assault rifle and two pistols killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14 (after, police say, he murdered his mother at their home). Following the massacre, Morgan called a guest, Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners for America, a "dangerous" and "unbelievably stupid man" for arguing that Americans needed more guns to prevent crime. [Reuters]

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