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10 things you need to know today: January 8, 2013
Alabama crushes Notre Dame, former Rep. Giffords pushes for gun control, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
The mascot and cheerleaders of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate after defeating Notre Dame 42-14 to win the BCS championship.
The mascot and cheerleaders of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate after defeating Notre Dame 42-14 to win the BCS championship. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

1. ALABAMA TROUNCES NOTRE DAME FOR SECOND STRAIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 2-ranked Alabama steamrolled No. 1 Notre Dame in college football's BCS championship game Monday night. It was the Crimson Tide's second consecutive national title, and its third in four years. The 42-14 win amounted to the second-biggest rout in a title game since the BCS era began in 1999, and it gave Alabama its ninth national top ranking by The Associated Press, breaking a tie with Notre Dame. The fate of the Fighting Irish may have been sealed in the final minute of the first half, when Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, the game's offensive MVP, ran for one touchdown and caught a pass for another, giving his team a 28-0 lead. "They just did what Alabama does," said Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's star linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist. [Associated Press]
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2. GIFFORDS LAUNCHES GUN-CONTROL PUSH
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, unveiled a website focused on pushing for tighter gun laws on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Arizona shooting rampage that killed six people, and left Giffords critically wounded. "Since that terrible day, America has seen 11 more mass shootings — but no response from Congress to prevent gun violence," Giffords wrote on the website. Giffords and Kelly also wrote an opinion article that appeared in USA Today announcing their push to raise money to counter the influence of the gun lobby and posted it on their "Americans for Responsible Solutions" website. "The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve fellow citizens and leaders who have the will to prevent gun violence in the future," they wrote. [CNN]
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3. VENEZUELANS OPPOSE DELAY OF AILING CHAVEZ'S INAUGURATION
Venezuela's opposition says President Hugo Chavez's government is violating the South American nation's constitution by delaying his inauguration, scheduled for Thursday, as he recovers from cancer surgery in Cuba. The socialist leader's supporters say the date is a mere "formality," and Chavez can mark the official start of his third six-year term whenever he's healthy enough to leave the hospital and return home. His political rivals disagree, saying that, with Chavez incapacitated, the head of the country's Congress, Diosdado Cabello, is next in-line for the presidency and he should be sworn in temporarily. "If the president of the republic does not take office (on Jan. 10), the country cannot be left in a power vacuum," said Tomas Guanipa of the opposition Justice First party. [Reuters]
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4. ANTI-CENSORSHIP PROTEST GROWS IN CHINA
A protest against government censorship in China escalated on Tuesday, as supporters of one of the country's most influential reformist newspapers clashed with advocates of the Communist Party waving portraits of Mao Zedong. Journalists at the newspaper, Southern Weekend, are demanding the dismissal of the top propaganda official in Guangdong province, long considered a bastion of relative press freedom in a highly censored nation. They say he edited out a call for greater respect for constitutional rights from a New Year's editorial, and replaced it with praise for Communist Party policies. [New York Times]
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5. LATEST DRONE STRIKE KILLS EIGHT IN PAKISTAN
A missile fired from a U.S. drone reportedly killed eight people Tuesday in northwest Pakistan, a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border. One of the dead was a foreign al Qaeda tactician, who was either from Somalia or the United Arab Emirates. The latest drone attack came a day after retired U.S. General Stanley McChrystal said that drones helped U.S. soldiers but fueled anti-American anger, so using them too much could jeopardize American security. On the same day, President Obama nominated counterterrorism expert John Brennan, a key architect of the drone program, to be the next director of the CIA. [Reuters]
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6. OFFICERS RECALL FIRST MOMENTS AFTER COLORADO THEATER MASSACRE
Police officers on Monday described in court the chaos they saw when they arrived on the scene of the Aurora, Colo., movie-theater shooting rampage in July. The officers said screams and tear gas still filled the darkened cinema, where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 others during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Outside, they arrested the suspect, onetime University of Colorado neuroscience doctoral student James Holmes, who surrendered without a struggle, although some officers at first thought that Holmes, wearing a helmet, gas mask, and head-to-toe body armor, was a cop. The testimony came in what is expected to be a week of preliminary hearings in which prosecutors try to convince a judge they have enough evidence to put Holmes on trial. [Reuters]
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7. RECORD HEAT FUELS WILDFIRES IN AUSTRALIA
More than 130 fires are continuing to spread across southeast Australia, fanned by high winds and record temperatures. The fire danger in several parts of New South Wales has been rated as "catastrophic," meaning that if new blazes break out they will be uncontrollable. Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged people living in these areas to be alert, and prepared to flee if necessary. "The word catastrophic is being used for good reason," she said. "This is a very dangerous day." [BBC]
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8. DEPARDIEU FAILS TO SHOW UP TO FACE DRUNK-DRIVING CHARGES
Actor Gerard Depardieu's feud with French authorities escalated on Tuesday, when he failed to show up for a hearing to face drunk-driving charges. Depardieu announced last month that he was moving to Belgium to protest President Francois Hollande's proposal to hit the wealthy with a 75-percent "supertax," and on Monday he personally accepted a Russian passport from President Vladimir Putin. Depardieu has admitted to driving his scooter while inebriated in Paris last month, and if he had made it to the hearing he would have probably faced a small fine and penalty points against his driver's license. Now he faces a criminal court hearing with a maximum penalty of two years in prison. [Telegraph]
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9. EUROZONE UNEMPLOYMENT HITS NEW HIGH
The unemployment rate across the eurozone rose to 11.8 percent in November, an all-time high, according to newly released figures from Eurostat, the official European statistics agency. The increase was only slight — the rate was 11.7 percent in October — and there have been signs that things improved a bit in December. Still, joblessness has hit critical levels in the most debt-burdened countries in 17-nation eurozone, such as Greece, Spain, Cyprus, and Portugal. The highest rate was in Spain, which is facing a deep recession and posted an unemployment rate of 26.6 percent. [BBC News]
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10. PEOPLE DISCHARGED UNDER 'DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL' GET RELIEF
Some former soldiers discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays in the military are now entitled to full separation pay — rather than half — under a settlement between the federal government and the ACLU. The deal applies to veterans discharged since late 2004 who otherwise would have received full separation pay. "It makes no sense to continue to penalize service members who were discharged under a discriminatory statute that has already been repealed," says attorney Joshua Block of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. [BuzzFeed]

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