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10 things you need to know today: March 2, 2013
The sequester hits, Taco Bell UK falls victim to horse meat, and more in our roundup of stories that are making news and driving opinion
John Boehner arrives at the Capitol after discussing the sequester at the White House with President Obama on Friday.
John Boehner arrives at the Capitol after discussing the sequester at the White House with President Obama on Friday. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

1. OBAMA BLAMES CONGRESS FOR SEQUESTER
As the dreaded $85 billion in government spending cuts known as the sequester took effect Friday, President Obama blamed Congress for failing to agree on a deal that would avert those reductions. Obama said middle-class families will "have their lives disrupted" and as many as 750,000 jobs could be cut. When asked at a press conference why he couldn't reach a compromise with Republicans, the president responded with a somewhat botched mashup of Star Wars and Star Trek references, saying he couldn't do a "Jedi mind-meld and convince them to do what's right." [The Guardian]
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2. JUDGE REDUCES APPLE'S PATENT REWARD AGAINST SAMSUNG
In a blow to Apple, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh overturned part of a previous ruling in the controversial patent case between electronics makers Apple and Samsung on Friday. The ruling, in which Koh reversed her decision regarding about half of the electronic devices at the center of the case, resulted in the reduction of Apple's $1 billion patent reward to a much smaller $589.9 million. The reversal is a bad sign for Apple, as the company continues to fight legal battles in order to defend its patents against rising electronics makers. [Wall Street Journal]
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3. SEQUESTER WEIGHS ON STOCKS
Stock markets sputtered around the world after Congress failed to reach a deal to avoid $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts before the Friday deadline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by 84 points in early trading before regaining its footing. The sequester created uncertainty that could put a damper on the recovery and distract Congress from the hard choices needed to reduce long-term deficits, financial experts said. "If they could get this fixed, the economy is poised to take off," Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said. [CNN]
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4. HORSEMEAT FOUND IN EUROPEAN TACO BELL'S GROUND BEEF
Taco Bell has fallen victim to the ongoing European horse meat scandal: British food regulators revealed Friday that they detected horse meat in Taco Bell UK's ground beef products. The company said in a statement that the tainted beef came from a single supplier, and added that its U.S. market is completely unaffected. [Reuters]
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5. GROUPON SHARES RISE AFTER CEO FIRED
Groupon shares got a nice bounce early Friday, a sign that investors approved of the board's decision to fire Andrew Mason, the company's eccentric CEO and founder, on Thursday. Mason got the boot a day after the daily-deals service reported a worse-than-expected quarterly loss that sent Groupon's stock price plummeting by 24 percent. Groupon was once considered the next big thing among internet startups, but it has been struggling lately in the face of competition and a general cooling of enthusiasm for services offering limited-time bargains. [MarketWatchWall Street Journal]
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6. LOTTERY WINNER WAS POISONED TO DEATH
A coroner officially ruled on Friday that the mysterious death of lottery winner Urooj Khan was a homicide. The coroner reported that Khan, a Chicago shop owner who died just days before he was to collect his winnings from a $1 million scratch-off lottery ticket, died of cyanide toxicity, confirming his initial diagnosis in January. Chicago police will now begin investigating the case as a murder. [CNN]
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7. GIRLS GONE WILD FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
The company behind the pornographic Girls Gone Wild videos has filed for bankruptcy protection, citing $16 million in debts. The company, which has sold millions of the videos and DVDs since 1997, listed a $10.3 million debt owed to Wynn Resorts casino owner Steve Wynn. Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis was ordered last year to pay Wynn $40 million in damages for defamation and emotional distress. A Los Angeles jury found that Francis had falsely claimed that Wynn threatened his life over a gambling debt. The Los Angeles company said the filing would not affect domestic or international operations. [Reuters]
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8. FLORIDA MAN SWALLOWED BY SINKHOLE
Jeff Bush, 36, was presumed dead Friday after a sinkhole opened up beneath his bedroom in his Seffner, Fla., home on Thursday night. The 30-foot-wide, 20-foot-deep sinkhole opened up Thursday night at around 11 p.m. Bush's brother, Jeremy, tried to rescue him but was unsuccessful. "I couldn't find him," Jeremy Bush told an ABC News affiliate through tears. "I thought I could hear him hollering for me to help him." Listening devices and cameras that were sent into the hole "did not detect any signs of life," police said. [ABC News]
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9. BPA CHEMICAL TIED TO HIGHER ASTHMA RISK IN KIDS
According to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) — which is found in many plastic containers and in the linings of metal cans that hold food — may put children at a higher risk for asthma. BPA has been linked to a number of health concerns, including breathing problems, obesity, increased blood sugar levels and behavioral issues. "We are observing increased risk of wheeze and asthma at fairly routine, low doses of exposure to BPA," said lead researcher Dr. Kathleen Donohue, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York City. [HealthDay]
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10. ONE DAY AT A TIME STAR BONNIE FRANKLIN DIES
Actress Bonnie Franklin, who played Ann Romano, the mother on the hit CBS sitcom One Day at a Time, died Friday after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 69. Before her run on One Day at a Time, Franklin had a recurring role in Gidget, and guest roles in such 1960s series as The Munsters, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Please Don't Eat the Daisies. She also garnered a Tony nomination for Applause, a musical adaptation of All About Eve. [USA Today

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