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10 things you need to know today: January 15, 2013
Armstrong reportedly admits to doping, New York Senate moves on gun control, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Armstrong at the Livestrong Challenge Ride in Austin on Oct. 21: The International Cycling Union said on Oct. 22 that it would strip the cyclist of his Tour de France titles for alleged doping.
Armstrong at the Livestrong Challenge Ride in Austin on Oct. 21: The International Cycling Union said on Oct. 22 that it would strip the cyclist of his Tour de France titles for alleged doping. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

1. LANCE ARMSTRONG REPORTEDLY CONFESSES TO DOPING
Disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, according to The Associated Press. The Monday interview, scheduled to be aired on Thursday, marked his first public comment on the issue of doping since he was stripped of his record seven Tour titles in October and banned from the sport after a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Armstrong had used banned substances and blood-doping techniques throughout his career. Armstrong had vehemently denied cheating for a decade, despite mounting evidence and detailed accounts from teammates. [Washington Post]
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2. NEW YORK LAWMAKERS AGREE TO GUN-CONTROL MEASURES
New York is becoming the first state to follow through on promises to tighten gun-control laws in the wake of last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The state Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a few Democrats, approved bills late Monday expanding the state's assault-weapon ban and blocking the mentally ill from acquiring guns. The Democratic state Assembly, which is even more supportive of tighter gun laws, is expected to vote on the legislation on Tuesday. "Enough people have lost their lives," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "Let's act." [New York Times]
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3. FRANCE GETS BACKING FOR MALI INTERVENTION
France is deploying more troops to Mali to support the 750 soldiers President Francois Hollande sent last week to help the West African country's government halt the advance of al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels. The United Nations Security Council met Monday and unanimously backed the intervention, and West African military leaders are gathering Tuesday to discuss how to establish an alliance with the French. Hollande said Tuesday that airstrikes overnight — including some targeting a town, Diabaly, that rebels entered Monday — had "achieved their goal." U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the American military might help out with logistical and intelligence support. [BBC, CNN]
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4. PAKISTAN COURT ORDERS PRIME MINISTER'S ARREST
Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in a corruption case on Tuesday. The court gave authorities 24 hours to detain the prime minister — who is suspected of having taken millions of dollars in kickbacks in a deal to build two power plants — and 16 other current and former officials. The development came as populist cleric Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri, who may be backed by the military, demanded the resignation of the government in protests attended by thousands of people, fueling speculation that the military is quietly pushing to delay spring elections and put in place a military-backed caretaker government. [Reuters]
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5. GOVERNMENT DROPS SWARTZ CASE AFTER HIS SUICIDE
The Justice Department on Monday officially dropped all charges against Aaron Swartz, a web activist and co-founder of Reddit who committed suicide Friday. The charges were filed in July 2011 after Swartz allegedly hacked into an archive of MIT journals and downloaded more than 4 million articles, and could have landed Swartz in prison for more than 30 years. Relatives and supporters said the case strained Swartz, and they accused prosecutors of overreach — Swartz hanged himself just days after a potential plea deal fell apart. Dropping the case now is "too little, too late," his attorney, Elliot Peters, said. "[The dismissal] would have been welcome this time last week." [Boston Globe]
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6. JUDGE SAYS BOY RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING NEO-NAZI DAD
A California judge ruled on Monday that a 12-year-old boy was responsible for the May 2011 murder of his neo-Nazi father, Jeffrey Hall. Superior Court Judge Jean P. Leonard said plenty of adults had failed the child — his father, who tried to indoctrinate his son into his hate group, along with relatives and social workers. "There were so many warning signs," Leonard said. In the end, though, Leonard found the boy guilty of second-degree murder and of using a gun in a felony because he knew that killing his father was wrong, but still plotted the murder and tried to conceal his guilt by trying to hide the murder weapon, a .357 Magnum, under a mattress. [Los Angeles Times]
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7. OBAMA STEPS UP CALL FOR CONGRESS TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING
President Obama used the final news conference of his first term Monday to increase pressure on Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Obama said it was irresponsible for Republicans to use the threat of an economically disastrous government default as leverage to force spending cuts. Obama said raising the debt ceiling doesn't increase spending, it merely allows the government to pay the bills for projects and programs that Congress has already authorized. "We are not a deadbeat nation," Obama said. House Speaker John Boehner responded to Obama's remarks by saying that the consequences of allowing excessive spending to continue are just as dangerous as those that would come from failing to raise the debt ceiling. [CNN]
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8. WORKERS DIP INTO RETIREMENT SAVINGS TO GET BY
New data show that an increasing number of Americans are tapping into their 401(k)s to pay mortgages, credit card debts, and other bills, potentially putting their retirement at risk just as lawmakers consider cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits. More than one in four American workers with retirement savings accounts are taking out loans or making early withdrawals, siphoning off nearly one-fourth of the $293 billion that workers and employers deposit into the accounts annually. [Washington Post]
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9. CORONER REVISES CAUSE OF NATALIE WOOD'S 1981 DEATH
The Los Angeles County coroner issued a new report on Monday explaining that, due to bruises found on the body of actress Natalie Wood, the official cause of her 1981 death had been changed from "accidental drowning" to "drowning and other undetermined factors." Wood was found in the water off Catalina Island. She was last seen on a yacht on which she and fellow actors Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner, Wood's husband, were staying. The L.A. County Sheriff's Department reopened the case in November 2011. Instead of putting the matter to rest, however, coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran's report may only fuel the sense that there was more to the story. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. FORMER PRESIDENT BUSH SR. RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
George H.W. Bush, the oldest of America's four living ex-presidents, was sent home from a Houston hospital on Monday after a four-month stay. Bush, 88, spent part of his stay in intensive care being treated for complications related to bronchitis, an infection, and a stubborn fever. His doctor said the nation's 41st president will need ongoing physical therapy but has improved enough that he won't need any special medication. [NPR]

 

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