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10 things you need to know today: February 6, 2013
British lawmakers back gay marriage, Lance Armstrong may be under criminal investigation, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Gay rights campaigners gather outside The Houses of Parliament on Feb. 5 in London.
Gay rights campaigners gather outside The Houses of Parliament on Feb. 5 in London. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

1. BRITISH LAWMAKERS BACK SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
Britain's House of Commons voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage, all but guaranteeing passage as the bill now heads to the House of Lords. It was a watershed moment for gays in Britain, where public support for same-sex marriage is very strong. The bill was passed with the strong support of Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party. Facing a predicament that in many ways resembles that of his conservative brethren in the U.S., Cameron has sought to reform the Tories as public opinion shifts away from them on gay marriage. "I am a strong believer in marriage," Cameron said. "It helps people commit to each other, and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married, too. This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger." [The Week]
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2. FIVE DEAD AFTER 8.0 EARTHQUAKE IN SOUTH PACIFIC
After an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, a tsunami warning was issued, and five people were killed when a 3-foot wave hit the Santa Cruz Islands. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a tsunami warning for several countries in the area, including Papua New Guinea and Fiji, but the center later canceled the alert. It also called off a tsunami watch it had sent out for a larger number of countries in the region such as New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia. [CNN]
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3. NORTH KOREAN PROPAGANDA VIDEO SHOWS MANHATTAN IN FLAMES
North Korea posted a video to its official YouTube channel, Uriminzokkiri, showing the dream of a young man. The dream starts out with a Korean-language caption informing us the man is imagining "soaring into space on board our Unha-9 rocket." The man's shuttle then rains missiles down on Manhattan, setting fire to high-rise buildings. "Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing," the caption reads. "It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze." The soundtrack accompanying the images is a light-rock instrumental version of the Michael Jackson–Lionel Ritchie song "We Are the World." By Tuesday afternoon, the video had been removed from YouTube after a copyright complaint from Activision, the maker of the video game Call of Duty, from which the fiery New York scene was lifted. Copies of the video have still made their away around the web. [New York Times
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4. LANCE ARMSTRONG UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
ABC News is reporting that disgraced Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong is under criminal investigation by the feds. According to the source, who agreed to speak on the condition that his name and position would not be used because of the sensitivity of the matter, "Agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering, and intimidation." An email to Armstrong's attorney was not immediately returned. Armstrong is currently under a lifetime ban in sport handed down by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He has until a Feb. 6 deadline to tell all under oath to investigators or lose his last chance at a possible break on the ban. [ABC News]
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5. TUNISIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SHOT DEAD
Protesters swept through the Tunisian capital of Tunis and Sidi Bouzid on Wednesday after the murder of opposition politician Chokri Belaid outside his Tunis home. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said the attack was a political assassination and a strike against the Arab Spring revolution that began in Tunisia in January 2011, when longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was driven out of the country. "More than 4,000 are protesting now, burning wheels and throwing stones at the police", Mehdi Horchani a resident of Sidi Bouzid, told Reuters. "There is a great anger." [Reuters]
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6. S&P INTERNAL EMAILS SHOW ALARM DURING MORTGAGE CRASH
A trove of emails exchanged among executives at Standard & Poor's, the nation's largest credit-ratings agency, has been unsealed, providing a glimpse into an institution that the Justice Department says fraudulently inflated credit ratings, with dire consequences for the entire economy. A March 2007 email sent by an S&P analyst borrows from the Talking Heads song "Burning Down the House," creating new lyrics: "Subprime is boiling over. Bringing down the house." In another 2007 email, an analyst responds to a question about his new job: "Job's going great. Aside from the fact that the M.B.S. world is crashing, investors and the media hate us and we're all running around to save face... no complaints." S&P said prosecutors cherry-picked emails and that it would vigorously defend itself from "these unwarranted claims." The government is seeking $5 billion in penalties to cover losses to investors like state pension funds and federally insured banks and credit unions. The amount would be more than five times what S.& P. made in 2011. [New York Times]
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7. CHICAGO CHANGES 911 RESPONSE RULES TO FOCUS ON HOMICIDE
Chicago has implemented changes to what kinds of 911 calls police officers will respond to in order to free up 44 cops to respond to the most serious crimes. Police officers are no longer responding in person to reports of vehicle theft, garage burglary, or crime where the victim is "safe, secure, and not in need of medical attention" and the offender is "not on the scene and not expected to return immediately." Those 911 calls are being transferred to the Chicago Police Department's Alternate Response Section, staffed by officers on light duty. The change comes as Chicago's homicide rate is on track to outpace the 2012 rate, in what could amount to some 730 homicides, higher than any one-year murder total in Chicago since 1997. [Chicago Sun-Times]
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8. ISRAEL VOWS JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF BULGARIA ATTACK
One day after a Bulgarian probe found that Iranian-backed Hezbollah was behind the 2012 bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that those responsible for the killings "will pay the price." Five Israelis and the Bulgarian driver were killed in the attack. After the bombing, some countries called on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group. [Associated Press
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9. TWITTER'S VINE APP CHANGES USER AGE RATING TO 17+
Vine, Twitter's video-sharing app that allows iOS users to create six-second video loops, has changed its user age rating to 17+ after some people began using the app to display pornography. The previous age rating was 12+, but users must now confirm that they are at least 17 before they can download Vine to their devices. Before the download begins a warning appears that describes the app of potentially including "frequent/intense sexual content or nudity," among other warnings of "infrequent" drugs, alcohol, tobacco, horror/fear themes, profanity/crude humor, and realistic violence. [TechCrunch]
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10. KRISTEN WIIG TO JOIN ANCHORMAN SEQUEL
Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig has joined the cast of the highly anticipated Anchorman: The Legend Continues, a sequel to the beloved 2004 comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, starring Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate. Director Adam McKay confirmed the news on Twitter. [MTV]

 

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