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10 things you need to know today: February 1, 2013
Former NYC mayor Ed Koch dies, senators grill Hagel in confirmation hearing, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Koch leaves an event in September 2011. The former New York City mayor died Friday at 88.
Koch leaves an event in September 2011. The former New York City mayor died Friday at 88. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

1. HAGEL GRILLED IN CONFIRMATION HEARING
Former senator Chuck Hagel faced sharp questioning from fellow Republicans Thursday in a hearing over his confirmation as President Obama's new secretary of defense. Sen. John McCain, a fellow Republican, grilled Hagel over his opposition to the 2007 troop surge in Iraq, while others focused on his past votes against sanctions on Iran or his statements on the influence of pro-Israel organizations in Washington. Hagel defended his record, although at times he appeared tentative, and administration officials expressed confidence that the marathon hearing wouldn't derail his confirmation. [New York Times, Washington Post]
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2. FORMER NYC MAYOR ED KOCH DIES
Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, a three-term Democrat who oversaw the city's financial recovery in the late 1970s, died Friday at age 88. Koch got started in 1977 in an era of high crime — a serial killer, the "Son of Sam," was at large, and a recent summertime five-borough blackout had been followed by looting. The city's finances were a wreck. Koch managed to balance the budget, restore confidence, and, in the bargain, became a symbol of the city with his feisty exuberance and "How'm I doin'?" tagline. [Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News]
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3. DEADLY EXPLOSION ROCKS MEXICAN OIL COMPANY HEADQUARTERS
An explosion in the basement of the Mexico City headquarters of Pemex, Mexico's state oil company, killed 25 people and injured more than 100 Thursday afternoon. The blast reportedly hit in the basement of the 54-story building, one of the Mexican capital's tallest, or, possibly, underneath an adjacent building. Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong says an investigation into the cause of the explosion will have to wait, as the immediate priority is freeing people still trapped in the wreckage and recovering the bodies of those killed. [Voice of America]
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4. RETIRED CARDINAL MAHONY RELIEVED OF DUTIES OF HANDLING OF ABUSE
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez has relieved retired Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of his remaining public duties over his mishandling of clergy sex abuse of children decades ago. The announcement came as the church released tens of thousands of pages of previously secret personnel files related to the alleged abuse of children by priests. "I find these files to be brutal and painful reading," Gomez wrote in a letter to his "brothers and sisters in Christ." "The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil." [Los Angeles Times]
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5. APPLE TAKES U.S. SMARTPHONE CROWN
Apple surged past all rivals to become the largest U.S. mobile phone maker in the fourth quarter of 2012, a first, according to Strategy Analytics. The iPhone maker took a 34 percent share of the market by shipping an estimated 17.7 million devices. Samsung came in second, selling 16.8 million smartphones for a 32.3 percent slice of the market. LG was way back in third, shipping 4.7 million units, or 9 percent. [TechCrunch]
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6. BODY FOUND MATCHING PHOENIX SHOOTING SUSPECT
Phoenix police on Thursday said that a body found lying in bushes matches the description of the suspect in a shooting at an office building that left one man dead and two other people wounded, one of them critically. Police could not immediately confirm that the body, with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, was that of the suspect, Arthur Douglas Harmon, but a car Harmon rented was found nearby. Harmon, 70, reportedly opened fire and killed a call-center CEO, Steve Singer, and severely wounded Singer's lawyer, Mark Hummels, when they were meeting to discuss a contract dispute. [ABC News]
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7. SENATE APPROVES TEMPORARY DEBT-CEILING DEAL
The Senate on Thursday passed a bill suspending the $16.4 trillion federal debt ceiling through May 19. The GOP-controlled House approved the legislation last week, so it now goes to President Obama for his signature. The compromise will allow the government to borrow enough money to continue paying its bills, at least for the next three months, which will delay a partisan standoff that threatened to hamper an already fragile economic recovery. [CNN]
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8. U.S. CITIZEN FOUND GUILTY IN CHRISTMAS-TREE BOMB PLOT
A Somali-American man faces a possible lifetime prison sentence after being found guilty on Thursday of trying to detonate a bomb at a 2010 Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore. The public was never in danger — the man, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, was arrested after trying to use his cell phone to blow up a fake bomb he got from undercover agents posing as Islamist militants. Defense attorneys argued that Mohamud, who was 19 at the time, had been entrapped by overzealous agents. Sentencing is set for May 14. [Reuters]
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9. DEADLY FIREWORK TRUCK BLAST IN CHINA
At least nine people were killed Friday when a truck carrying fireworks exploded on a highway bridge in central China, causing part of the span to collapse. Twenty-five vehicles, maybe more, plunged 100 feet to the ground. At least 13 injured people were pulled from the wreckage. The death toll could rise — Henan province highway police said on their official microblog that 11 people had died, and state-run radio reported that 26 people had been killed. [CNN]
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10. BEYONCE ADMITS LIP-SYNCING ANTHEM AT INAUGURATION
Beyonce confirmed in a Thursday press conference that she lip-synced her rendition of the national anthem at President Obama's second-term inauguration on Jan. 21. At the press conference about her upcoming Super Bowl performance, the pop star also belted out the Star Spangled Banner with no backup music. Then, speaking publicly for the first time about rumors circulating about her singing at the inauguration, she said she hadn't been able to rehearse enough and, being a "perfectionist," decided to sing along with a pre-recorded track because she "wanted to make him [Obama] and my country proud." [BBC]

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