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10 things you need to know today: February 17, 2013
Rubio rejects Obama's immigration plan, Russia cleans up after meteor explosion, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Marco Rubio was one of eight senators to unveil a bipartisan plan for immigration reform.
Marco Rubio was one of eight senators to unveil a bipartisan plan for immigration reform. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1. RUBIO REJECTS OBAMA'S IMMIGRATION PLAN
After USA Today obtained the first draft of President Obama's immigration plan — which would create a new visa for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and allow them to become legal residents in eight years — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) issued a press release signaling his opposition. "It's a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress," Rubio's statement begins, before he calls the bill "half-baked and seriously flawed" and declares that it would "be dead on arrival in Congress." [Huffington Post, Associated Press]
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2. RUSSIA CLEANS UP AFTER METEOR STRIKE
On Saturday, thousands of Russian emergency workers descended on the area where a meteor exploded on Friday over the Ural Mountains to begin cleanup of damaged buildings and shattered windows. Divers had searched a lake near the city of Chelyabinsk, where a hole several feet wide had opened in the ice, but had so far failed to find any large fragments of the meteor, officials said. The scarcity of evidence on the ground fueled conspiracy theories over what caused the fireball and its huge shockwave. [Reuters]
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3. BLOODIED CRICKET BAT FOUND IN PISTORIUS HOME
South African police are investigating the discovery of a bloodied cricket bat found in the home of Olympian runner Oscar Pistorius, who was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp this week. Local reports say Pistorius may have used the bat to attack Steenkamp before allegedly shooting her four times. Detectives are also trying to determine if the bat was either used to break down the door of the bathroom where Steenkamp hid, or if she used it to defend herself against Pistorius. One report said that a post-mortem examination on the body of the 29-year-old model revealed that in addition to bullet wounds to the head, arm, hand, and hip, Steenkamp reportedly also suffered a fractured skull. Pistorius' family maintains that the shooting was an accident. [Telegraph]
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4. EXPLOSION IN PAKISTANI MARKET KILLS DOZENS
An explosion ripped through a market in the western Pakistani city of Quetta on Saturday, killing at least 63 people and wounding at least 180. The attack occurred in a neighborhood dominated by Hazaras, a Shiite ethnic minority that has suffered numerous attacks at the hands of Sunni militants in recent years. Police said the bomb was set off by a remote-controlled device and caused a building to collapse. A Jan. 10 attack, when a Sunni group bombed a snooker hall in Quetta, killed almost 100 Hazaras. [New York Times]
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5. JETS ESCORT PLANE AWAY FROM AREA WHERE OBAMA IS VACATIONING
Two F-16 military jets escorted a small plane away from a no-fly zone on Saturday above where President Obama is vacationing in Florida. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mike Humphreys said the planes forced the Cessna 152 to land in Witham Field in Stuart. Obama is spending the weekend with friends at the Floridian, a secluded yacht and golf club. [Huffington Post]
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6. POPE DELIVERS FIRST BLESSING SINCE RESIGNATION ANNOUNCEMENT
Pope Benedict XVI blessed the faithful on Sunday afternoon from his balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square, his first such appearance since announcing his resignation on Feb. 11. It was the pope's second-to-last Angelus blessing before he officially steps down on Feb. 28. Benedict asked believers to "continue praying for me and for the next pope." [CBS News]
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7. CNN CRUISE SHIP COVERAGE LEADS TO RATINGS BOOST
Although CNN was widely lambasted for its nonstop coverage of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship ordeal on Thursday, the network beat Fox News and MSNBC combined in the coveted 25-54 demographic for two crucial hours in primetime that day. CNN pulled in a total of 1.2 million total viewers during the two-hour block when the stalled ship was docking in Alabama. This was a 74 percent jump over the network's recent numbers. [Hollywood Reporter]
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8. SERIES OF CAR BOMBS LEAVE 35 IRAQIS DEAD
Several car bombs exploded in and around Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 35 people in mostly Shiite areas. The explosions came at the start of a local workweek and targeted outdoor markets. In recent days, Iraq has seen a rise in sectarian discord, and the attacks appear aimed at shaking Iraqis' confidence in the Shiite-led government. [CBS News]
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9. NEW JERSEY FIREFIGHTERS TO BUILD 26 PLAYGROUNDS TO HONOR NEWTOWN VICTIMS
The Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association of New Jersey plans to build 26 playgrounds to honor the victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. The playgrounds will be built in the states that were hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy in October — New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The group needs to raise $2 million for the effort. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. MICHAEL JORDAN TURNS 50
Basketball legend Michael Jordan turns 50 on Sunday. In an expansive profile, ESPN explains how Jordan continues to pine for his ball-playing days. "How can I find peace away from the game of basketball?" Jordan, who is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, asks in a moment of introspection. He attempts to stem the itch by playing golf and attending events with his new fiancee, so don't expect to see him playing basketball at 50, as he joked in 2009 during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. [ESPN]

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