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10 things you need to know today: February 14, 2013
Olympian Oscar Pistorius held for alleged murder, American and US Airways merge, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
In an $11 billion deal American Airlines and US Airways will merge, creating the world's biggest airline.
In an $11 billion deal American Airlines and US Airways will merge, creating the world's biggest airline. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

1. PISTORIUS HELD AFTER GIRLFRIEND KILLED IN HIS HOME
South African police arrested Paralympic champion runner Oscar Pistorius early Thursday, accusing him of fatally shooting his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in his home. Pistorius, 26, won two gold medals and a silver at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and he made sporting history by becoming the first double amputee to compete in the Summer Olympics, reaching the 400-meter semifinal. Pistorius is known by the nickname Blade Runner, as he races using carbon fiber-prosthetic blades. [New York Times]
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2. AMERICAN AND US AIRWAYS APPROVE MERGER
The boards of American Airlines and US Airways late Wednesday approved a plan to merge and create the world's biggest airline. The new mega-carrier will operate under the American Airlines name, but will be run by US Airways CEO Doug Parker. American CEO Tom Horton will stick around as chairman of the new company, at least temporarily. The $11 billion deal, which has been in the works since August, is expected to cap a period marked by bankruptcies and consolidation, leaving the U.S. skies dominated by four big carriers — American, United, Delta, and Southwest — that will control almost three-quarters of the nation's airline traffic. [Associated Press]
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3. POLICE, AWAITING I.D. OF BODY, END DORNER MANHUNT  
California police have officially ended the manhunt for suspected quadruple killer and former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner, a day after a shoot-out that left a cabin where he was believed to be hiding engulfed in flames. Investigators have not yet been able to identify a charred body found inside as Dorner's, San Bernardino Sheriff John McMahon said, but "we believe this investigation is over at this point." The shoot-out turned part of the Big Bear Lake ski area east of Los Angeles into a war zone, leaving one deputy dead. "The rounds kept coming, but the deputies didn't give up," McMahon said Wednesday. "Our deputy sheriffs are true heroes." [BBC]
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4. EUROZONE SLUMP DEEPENS
The eurozone's recession deepened in the final quarter of 2012, with the economy of the 17 member nations using Europe's common currency shrinking by 0.6 percent, according to official figures released Thursday. That was a bit worse than expected. Earlier, Germany, France, and Italy — all key members — reported contractions that were bigger than expected. Germany's 0.6 percent fall was its worst since the height of the financial crisis. "These are horrible numbers," says Carsten Brzeski of ING, although "we still expect growth to return in the course of 2013." [BBC]
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5. CARNIVAL SWEETENS OFFER TO PASSENGERS ON STRICKEN SHIP
Carnival Cruise Lines is upping the compensation it's offering the more than 3,000 passengers stuck aboard a stricken cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. The company has already offered those on board a full credit as well as a future credit for a trip of equal value, but now Carnival executives are throwing in another $500 in cash. Passengers who reached relatives by cellphone described hellish conditions, including sewage leaks, on the 900-foot Carnival Triumph. One medical expert described the ship, which lost propulsion after a fire on Sunday, as a "floating petri dish" where an outbreak of disease could occur any time. Now being towed by tug boats, the 14-story vessel is expected to reach Mobile, Ala., around 4 p.m. Thursday. [Reuters, CNN]
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6. IRANIAN COMMANDER KILLED IN SYRIA
Syrian rebels say they killed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander in charge of Tehran's reconstruction assistance in Lebanon near the Syrian town of Zabadani. The commander was killed as he returned to Beirut from Damascus, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is blaming "armed terrorist groups" and "mercenaries" for the attack. Iran has been a key supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the 22-month uprising against his regime, but this week an Iraqi newspaper reported that Tehran had started removing its diplomatic and intelligence archives from Damascus, fearing Assad's fall. [Reuters, Jerusalem Post]
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7. OBAMA MAKES POST-STATE-OF-THE-UNION TOUR
President Obama is scheduled to visit an Atlanta suburb on Thursday to promote early childhood education, one of the second-term priorities he listed in his Tuesday State of the Union address. Obama will visit a pre-kindergarten class to discuss his proposal for universal preschool. In his speech, Obama said studies show that children educated early "grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own." The Georgia visit comes a day after a stop in Asheville, N.C., where Obama repeated his call for an increase in the minimum wage, and a day before a trip to Chicago to stress his proposals to help the middle class and combat gun violence. [USA Today]
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8. DEFEATED SCOTT BROWN MAKES DEBUT ON FOX NEWS
Former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts followed in the footsteps of a long line of defeated Republican candidates Wednesday, when he made his debut as a contributor to Fox News. Brown, a telegenic former model who lost his seat in November to Elizabeth Warren, explained to host Sean Hannity why he decided not to run in a special election to fill the seat left by John Kerry when he was confirmed as secretary of state. Congress is "really dysfunctional and extremely partisan," Brown said. "I felt I could make a difference being on this show and doing other things." [Boston Globe]
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9. LEW WEATHERS TOUGH CONFIRMATION HEARING
Jacob Lew, nominated by President Obama to be Treasury secretary, faced tough questions Wednesday in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. One Republican grilled Lew over his hefty salary — nearly $1 million — during his tenure at bailed-out Citigroup. Lew defused the moment by calmly replying, "I was compensated for my work." Lew's performance left even critics expecting him to be approved by the committee and approved by the full Democratic-controlled Senate. "Frankly, I think you've done really well today," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the committee. "My gosh, I have nothing but respect for people like you who give yourself to our government." [New York Times]
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10. LADY GAGA CANCELS REMAINDER OF NORTH AMERICAN TOUR
Lady Gaga is canceling the rest of her "Born This Way Ball" tour due to a severe performance injury that has left her temporarily unable to walk. The pop star had already postponed four concerts on Tuesday, following a performance in Montreal, but decided to scratch the rest, too, after tests on Wednesday confirmed that she would need surgery for a "labral tear of the right hip," followed by "strict down time" for recovery. "I hid it from my staff, I didn't want to disappoint my amazing fans," Gaga wrote in a statement Wednesday. [MTV]

 

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