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10 things you need to know today: January 10, 2013
Biden meets with gun-rights advocates, Obama's Cabinet takes shape, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
As head of the gun-violence task force, Vice President Joe Biden will have to present the president "concrete proposals" by the end of January.
As head of the gun-violence task force, Vice President Joe Biden will have to present the president "concrete proposals" by the end of January. Alex Wong/Getty Images

1. BIDEN MEETS WITH GUN-RIGHTS ADVOCATES
Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with leaders of the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups on Thursday as part of a review of gun-safety laws in the wake of last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. President Obama has promised to push legislation aiming to curb gun violence, and assigned Biden the job of heading a commission aiming to make recommendations by the end of January. Biden met with gun-control advocates and representatives of victims groups on Wednesday. "We are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing," Biden told members of the gun-safety groups, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "It's critically important we act." [CBS News]
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2. OBAMA'S NEW CABINET TAKES SHAPE
President Obama plans to name his chief of staff, Jack Lew, on Thursday as his replacement for outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the White House has announced. In his old job, Lew was involved in negotiations with congressional leaders over raising the debt ceiling, and that experience could be put to the test again immediately. Obama will have another Cabinet member to replace — Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the first Latina to head a major federal agency, said Wednesday she was stepping down. The White House said that three Cabinet members were remaining in their posts: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. [ABC News]
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3. NATO ACCUSES SYRIA OF INDISCRIMINATE MISSILE STRIKES
A NATO official said Thursday that the Syrian military had fired unguided, short-range ballistic missiles at targets inside their own country on Wednesday and last week. The official said the use of such weapons was a "reckless" escalation of the civil war that began with pro-democracy protests 21 months ago and has claimed 60,000 lives. "The use of such indiscriminate weapons shows utter disregard for the lives of the Syrian people," he said. Syria has Scuds in its arsenal, although NATO couldn't confirm the type of missile used. NATO is sending Patriot anti-missile batteries to protect its member Turkey from any missiles that might be fired across the border from neighboring Syria. [Reuters]
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4. KURDISH ACTIVISTS KILLED IN PARIS
Three women activists involved in the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group that has been fighting Turkish troops since 1984, were found dead in a Kurdish information center in Paris on Thursday. One of the dead was Sakine Cansiz, one of the PKK's co-founders. All three had been shot. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who visited the scene, said the deaths were "without doubt an execution," and called the killings "intolerable." The motive is not yet clear. The government of Turkey recently began talks with PKK leaders in an attempt to get the group to disarm. [Associated Press]
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5. FERRY CRASH INJURES DOZENS IN NEW YORK
A packed ferry boat slammed into a pier in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday, injuring roughly 60 people. The boat was traveling at a speed between 11 and 16 mph, and the impact was so strong that it sent passengers, many of whom were standing in line to disembark, crashing into walls, windows, and one another. "When we hit the dock everybody went flying," said Steve Mann, 39. At least two passengers who were flung down a flight of stairs were listed in critical condition with head injuries. Officials did not immediately say what might have caused the crash, although the 140-foot ferry, which was carrying 326 passengers and five crew members, had been involved in docking accidents before. [New York Times]
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6. GOOGLE'S SCHMIDT URGES NORTH KOREA TO END INTERNET ISOLATION
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Thursday that he and other members of a private delegation to North Korea told officials there that they were damaging their own economy by denying their citizens free access to the internet. "As the world is becoming increasingly connected," Schmidt said, "their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth." Schmidt traveled to the isolated communist nation with a private delegation led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Obama administration officials criticized the timing of the trip, which raised Pyongyang's profile a month after a rocket launch that violated international agreements. [Associated Press]
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7. BASEBALL HALL OF FAME REJECTS STEROID-ERA STARS
For the first time since 1996, baseball writers chose no new members to the sport's Hall of Fame. This week's voting marked the first time many of the superstars of the steroid era appeared on the ballot. Both Barry Bonds, the all-time home-run king, and Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards, could only muster half of the 75 percent needed for approval, making the vote what The New York Times called "the most resounding referendum yet on the legacy of steroids in baseball." "I'm not surprised we had a shutout," says Jeff Idelson, the Hall of Fame's president. "I wish we had an electee, but I'm not surprised given how volatile this era has been." [New York Times]
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8. NEW RULES DISCOURAGE RISKY HOME LOANS
Federal regulators on Thursday announced new rules aiming to prevent the kinds of high-risk loans that contributed to the housing market crash. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is requiring lenders to verify borrowers' financial records and ensure that their mortgages don't trap people into loans they can't afford to pay back. Banks have already tightened credit standards, so many borrowers won't find it any more difficult to get loans. The aim of the rules, which take effect next year, is to prevent the return of the "no-holds-barred lending" seen during the housing bubble. [ABC News]
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9. NATION GRIPPED BY WORST FLU SEASON IN YEARS
Health experts say the U.S. is suffering the worst flu season since the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 and 2010. One of the worst hit cities so far is Boston, where Mayor Tom Menino on Wednesday declared a public health emergency. There have been 18 flu-related deaths in Massachusetts this flu season, and four have been in Boston. One thing making the crisis so severe is that three flu or flu-like epidemics are hitting at once, reports The New York Times: The season started early with an exceptionally aggressive strain of the virus. There has also been "a surge in a new type of norovirus, and the worst whooping cough outbreak in 60 years." [NECN, New York Times]
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10. HOLLYWOOD AWAITS OSCAR NODS
Hollywood is on edge ahead of Thursday morning's announcement of the 2013 Academy Award nominations. The Oscars ceremony is next month. Film critics already have a shortlist of films expected to be in the running for best picture — Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, among the favorites, along with Ben Affleck's drama Argo and Quentin Tarantino's western Django Unchained. [BBC]

 

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