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10 things you need to know today: February 18, 2013
Hugo Chavez returns home, LeBron James falls short, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
LeBron James tries to drive on Kobe Bryant during the 2013 NBA All-Star game at the Toyota Center on February 17 in Houston.
LeBron James tries to drive on Kobe Bryant during the 2013 NBA All-Star game at the Toyota Center on February 17 in Houston.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

1. HUGO CHAVEZ MAKES SURPRISE RETURN TO VENEZUELA
More than two months after undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba, Venezuela's 58-year-old socialist president returned home on Monday, perhaps tempering concerns that his illness would render him unable to resume his presidential duties after 14 years in power. "We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland," Chavez tweeted. "Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people!" Chavez's supporters celebrated the news, with fireworks going off in several Caracas neighborhoods. [Reuters]

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2. OBAMA GOLFS WITH TIGER WOODS; PRESS ANGRY ABOUT ACCESS
The president went golfing with Tiger Woods, U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk, and wealthy Democratic donor Jim Crane on Sunday during a holiday weekend in Florida, and the press is hopping mad about it. The White House barred media coverage of the golf excursion, spurring White House Correspondents Association President Ed Henry to express his group's "extreme frustration" about "having absolutely no access to the president of the United States this entire weekend." [Fox News]

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3. WEST BEATS EAST IN NBA ALL-STAR GAME
LeBron James may be the NBA's best player, but his Eastern Conference All-Star squad wasn't good enough to beat the West's brightest stars on Sunday night. All-Star MVP Chris Paul had 20 points and 15 assists to lead the West to a 143-138 victory, and Kobe Bryant had a clutch block on James in the game's final minutes to help seal the victory. [Associated Press]

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4. COUNTRY STAR MINDY MCCREADY, 37, DEAD FROM APPARENT SUICIDE
Troubled country sensation Mindy McCready was found dead in her Arkansas home on Sunday, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The death of the 37-year-old, mother of two comes just a month after her boyfriend committed suicide on the porch of the same home. McCready had long struggled with mental illness and addiction, and appeared on the VH1 show Celebrity Rehab[CNN]

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5. STEROIDS REPORTEDLY FOUND AT PISTORIUS' HOME
Steroids have reportedly been found at the home of the double amputee Olympic sprinter, who is accused of fatally shooting his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. According to The Sun, the drugs were discovered alongside other evidence of heavy drinking at the 26-year-old's residence. Authorities in South Africa have ordered that Oscar Pistorius be tested for steroids. The South African City Press says this may be a sign that Pistorius' defense team will argue he acted in "roid rage," acting violently from taking the performance-enhancing drugs. A bloody bat was also found at the crime scene, suggesting there was a struggle before Steenkamp's death. [The Sun, City Press]

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6. A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD WINS WEEKEND BOX OFFICE
The fifth Die Hard movie won the weekend box office, despite being pilloried by critics. The Bruce Willis action flick raked in $25 million over Valentine's weekend, followed by the Jason Bateman-Melissa McCarthy comedy Identify Thief, which made $23.4 million. Safe Haven, Escape From Planet Earth, and Warm Bodies filled out the rest of the top five. [USA Today]

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7. ARGO, ZERO DARK THIRTY SCORE TOP WRITERS GUILD AWARDS
Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio won the Writers Guild of America award for Best Adapted Screenplay at Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles, and Zero Dark Thirty writer Mark Boal won the award for Best Original Screenplay. Breaking Bad won for Best TV Drama Series, and Louie for Best Comedy Series. [E!]

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8. CORY BOOKER ON RUNNING FOR SENATE: '2014 IS A LONG WAY OFF'
The popular Newark mayor once shouted from the rooftops that he was interested in Frank Lautenberg's Senate seat. But since Lautenberg, 89, announced that he is not seeking another term, Booker is tamping down his rhetoric. He told CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday that he's focusing on New Jersey's gubernatorial and midterm elections. "As a Democrat in New Jersey, that’s where my focus is," Booker said. "Next year’s election for Senate will take care of itself, and again, I hope to be one of those people that the residents of New Jersey will consider giving that honor of fighting for them on a federal level." Booker added: "2014 is a long way off." [Washington Post

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9. MAKER'S MARK REVERSES DECISION TO DILUTE BOURBON
Rest easy, whiskey sippers: After a customer backlash, the company behind Maker's Mark bourbon has decided not to dilute its famous whiskey, after all. Last week, the company said it would lower the liquor's alcohol content to 42 percent from 45 percent due to a supply shortage. But after being "tremendously humbled" by irate customers, Maker's Mark has backtracked. "You spoke," the company tweeted Sunday. "We listened." [Associated Press]

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10. REPORT: FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS FUND TRAVEL FOR CONGRESSIONAL STAFFERS
An increasing number of foreign governments are paying for overseas trips for lawmakers and their staffs, reports The Washington Post. The newspaper's "examination of congressional disclosures revealed the extent of this congressional travel for the first time, finding that Hill staffers had reported taking 803 such trips in the six years ending in 2011. Lawmakers themselves are increasingly participating, disclosing 21 trips in 2011, more than double the figure in prior years." [Washington Post]

 

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