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10 things you need to know today: February 22, 2013 [Updated]
Pistorius awaits bail ruling, Hagel heads toward confirmation, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa finishes with gold in the Men's 4x100m relay T42/T46 Final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa finishes with gold in the Men's 4x100m relay T42/T46 Final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Gareth Copley/Getty Images

1. MILITARY CHIEFS WARN OF SEQUESTER BLOWBACK
After watching the sequester debate quietly, U.S. military leaders have begun warning that massive automatic budget cuts due to kick in starting March 1 will undermine the readiness of America's armed forces. Unless Republicans and Democrats can break an impasse and approve an alternative deficit-reduction deal, the Pentagon will lose $46 billion from its 2013 budget. Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, warns the cuts could crimp training for 80 percent of ground forces, including some heading for deployment, forcing troops already in Afghanistan to extend their tours. The Navy might have to delay sending the USS Harry Truman to the Persian Gulf, leaving the U.S. with one aircraft carrier instead of two in the vital oil shipping hub. [Washington Post]
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2. WINTER STORM BLASTS MIDWEST
The governors of Missouri and Kansas declared emergencies after a powerful winter storm left their states blanketed in more than a foot of snow in many places. Highways were littered with jackknifed trucks and stranded cars. Hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled, including that of Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, who was supposed to travel from Omaha to Washington, D.C., for a convention. The weather system stretched from southern South Dakota down to the Gulf Coast, producing blizzards in some areas, thunderstorms in others. Snow is expected to hit the Great Lakes states on Friday. [New York Times]
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3. HAGEL LINES UP VOTES NEEDED FOR CONFIRMATION
Chuck Hagel secured the votes he needs for the Senate to confirm him as defense secretary when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he would back the nomination. Shelby last week joined fellow Republicans in an unprecedented filibuster of the Pentagon nominee, but now he says Hagel, a former senator from Nebraska, is "probably as good as we're going to get." A confirmation vote is expected next week, although 15 GOP senators have sent Hagel a letter urging him to withdraw. [Associated Press, Washington Post]
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4. PISTORIUS AWAITS BAIL RULING
A South African magistrate is expected to rule Friday on whether double-amputee track star Oscar Pistorius will be granted bail as he awaits trial on charges that he murdered his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius doesn't deny that he fired four shots through a locked bathroom door early on Valentine's Day, killing Steenkamp. He says, though, that he thought an intruder was inside. Prosecutors say he knew Steenkamp was inside and intended to kill her. The bail hearing this week included some stunning revelations, including the fact that the lead prosecution witness, Detective Hilton Botha, faces attempted murder charges himself. He was dropped from the case on Thursday. [New York Times] [UPDATE: Pistorius has been granted bail.]
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5. DEATH TOLL RISES AFTER INDIA BLASTS
Authorities in India on Friday raised the death toll from twin bomb blasts at a crowded market a day earlier. They now say at least 16 people died and 117 were wounded when two bombs placed on bicycles exploded in the city of Hyderabad in what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a "dastardly attack." Police suspect terrorists, although they have not named a particular group. [CNN]
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6. SHOOTING, FIERY CRASH ON LAS VEGAS STRIP KILLS 3
Three people died Thursday on the Las Vegas Strip when someone in a Range Rover SUV shot and killed the driver of a Maserati, which smashed into a taxi that then exploded in flames, killing the driver and a passenger. The incident took place at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, a popular tourist area surrounded by casino resorts. "I looked out my window at Caesars Palace... and could see the fireball," witness John Lamb told the website of Las Vegas KLAS-TV's 8News Now. [Reuters]
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7. PETERSON SENTENCED TO 38 YEARS FOR MURDER
Former Illinois police Sgt. Drew Peterson screamed, "I did not kill Kathleen!" in court on Thursday, moments before a judge sentenced him to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Peterson said his conviction last fall was based on "rumors, gossip, outrageous lies, and, most importantly, unreliable hearsay." Prosecutors have said Peterson drowned Savio in a bathtub, and that they also might seek charges against him in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy. [Chicago Tribune]
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8. MORSI CALLS FOR ELECTIONS TO QUIET DISSENT
Egypt's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, has called for parliamentary elections in April in a bid to calm street protests against his rule. Opposition leaders said the move might only make matters worse. Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the main opposition alliance, National Salvation Front, wrote on Twitter Friday that Morsi's "decision to go for parliamentary elections amidst severe societal polarization and eroding state authority is a recipe for disaster." [Associated Press]
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9. MOTHER OF INDIAN GIRLS FOUND DEAD IN WELL SPEAKS OUT
Four people were detained Thursday in connection with the alleged rape and murder of three sisters — ages 6, 9, and 11 — who were found dead at the bottom of a well in western India. The case has sparked protests and inflamed tensions in India, which is still reeling from the horrific gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi in December. The girls' mother said they might have been found alive if police had responded quicker, and she called for the killers to be captured and publicly hanged. [CNN]
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10. FLU SHOT FAILING TO PROTECT MOST VULNERABLE
This year's flu shot is proving only 9 percent effective in protecting people 65 and older, the most vulnerable age group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday. Overall, the vaccine's effectiveness has been moderate, making people across all age groups 56 percent less likely to go to the doctor with the flu if they've had the shot. The hospitalization rate for the elderly, however, has been near the highest in a decade, at 146 per 100,000 people. [Associated Press]

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