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10 things you need to know today: December 28, 2012
Schwarzkopf, commander of the 1991 Gulf War, dies, Russia bans U.S. adoptions, and more in our roundup of stories that are making news and driving opinion
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf during an interview in 1990. Schwarzkopf died Thursday at 78.
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf during an interview in 1990. Schwarzkopf died Thursday at 78. AP Photo/David Longstreath

1. GEN. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF, COMMANDER OF FIRST GULF WAR, DIES
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S.-led force that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, died on Thursday in Tampa, Fla., from complications stemming from pneumonia. He was 78. Schwarzkopf was hailed in his lifetime for orchestrating Operation Desert Storm, a triumphant success that not only liberated Kuwait, but inflicted massive damage on then-President Saddam Hussein's forces and Iraqi infrastructure, all with minimal casualties for the coalition. He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among other accolades. [New York Times]
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2. PUTIN SIGNS BILL BARRING U.S. ADOPTIONS
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a bill barring all U.S. adoptions of Russian children, in what is widely seen as retaliation for a new U.S. law that calls for punitive measures against Russians who have allegedly committed human rights abuses. In addition, the new Russian law will impose an asset freeze and a visa ban on any Americans deemed to have violated the rights of expatriate Russians. The adoption ban is opposed by children's rights advocates and the Obama administration, which accused Putin of hurting Russian orphans out of "political considerations." Analysts say the ban would likely exacerbate tensions between the two countries, after a much-heralded "reset" of relations at the beginning of Obama's first term. [Reuters]
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3. PAKISTANI TALIBAN SAYS IT WILL NEGOTIATE
Hakimullah Mehsud, a leader of the Pakistani Taliban, released a 40-minute video on Friday in which he said his group was willing to negotiate peace with the Pakistani government. However, Mehsud said the Taliban would not disarm, raising doubts about whether the Islamic extremist organization is serious about renouncing violence. "We believe in dialogue but it should not be frivolous," Mehsud said. "Asking us to lay down arms is a joke." Pakistan has long struggled with a Taliban insurgency in its northwest tribal areas, which the U.S. claims is a safe haven for terrorists. [Reuters]
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4. HARRY REID: WE'RE HEADED OVER THE FISCAL CLIFF
In a statement on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned that the United States is poised to go over the fiscal cliff on Dec. 31. Reid accused Republican House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of "waiting until Jan. 3 to get reelected as Speaker" before getting serious about negotiations with Democrats. Boehner's office immediately fired back, saying that Reid should "talk less and legislate more" and pointing to House legislation waiting for a response from the Senate. [Fox News]
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5. GEORGE H.W. BUSH IN INTENSIVE CARE 
George. H.W. Bush remains in the intensive care unit in a Houston hospital after suffering a "series of setbacks." According to Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath, the former president "remains in guarded condition" as doctors treat a "stubborn fever." The 88-year-old's latest round of medical problems began in November when he was admitted to the hospital for a lingering cough related to bronchitis. McGrath said the Bush family will release an additional statement "when events warrant it." [Detroit Free Press]
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6. LAPD RUNS OUT OF GIFT CARDS AT GUN BUYBACK EVENT
In response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa moved a planned event that allows city residents to trade guns for Ralph's grocery store gift cards, with "no questions asked," ahead by five months. The turnout for the event was high enough that the Los Angeles Police Department, which organized the event, actually ran out of gift cards to exchange for guns. Many who attended the event reported that their decision was directly tied to the massacre in Connecticut. [LAist]
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7. NELSON MANDELA DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL
Nelson Mandela has been discharged from the South African hospital where he has spent the past few weeks, though the former South African president will continue to receive home care. Mandela was admitted to the hospital in early December to be treated for a lung infection and gallstones. Though doctors are reportedly happy with Mandela's progress, many remain concerned about the overall health of the 94-year-old Mandela, who has been admitted to the hospital three times over the past two years. [BBC]
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8. NORTHEAST BRACES FOR MORE SNOWFALL
Areas in the Northeast are bracing for more snowfall this weekend, capping a week of frigid weather that blanketed the South, the Midwest, and the Northeast with snow. The ice-cold conditions led to at least 15 deaths. Meteorologists say the Northeast can expect between 1 to 3 inches of snow. [ABC]
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9. CONSUMER CONFIDENCE FALLS
Consumer confidence in the U.S. fell in December over concerns that Congress will be unable to avert the fiscal cliff, according to a new report released by the Conference Board on Friday. The Conference Board's index fell for its second straight month, to 65.1, from 71.5 in November. The Conference Board said consumers were most concerned about a slate of tax increases that will take effect at the end of the year if Congress fails to reach a budget compromise. [Associated Press]
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10. KATE WINSLET MARRIES NED ROCK'NROLL
After more than a year of dating, actress Kate Winslet and Ned Rock'nRoll, the nephew of business magnate Sir Richard Branson, married in a small ceremony in December. Winslet's reps confirm that the couple, who quietly got engaged over the summer, was wed at a ceremony so private that neither of the couple's parents was aware it was taking place. This is the third marriage for the actress, who was previously married to film directors Jim Threapleton and Sam Mendes. [Los Angeles Times]

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