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10 things you need to know today: May 20, 2013
New IRS revelations, Taylor Swift wins big at the Billboard awards, and more
Taylor Swift with her trophies on May 19.
Taylor Swift with her trophies on May 19. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

1. OBAMA'S LAWYERS KNEW ABOUT IRS CASE FOR WEEKS
President Obama's top lawyer found out weeks ago that Internal Revenue Service employees had improperly targeted conservatives groups, a White House official said Sunday. The White House counsel didn't tell Obama, however. The president only learned about the controversy when the public did, two weeks later. Critics said the president's lawyers should have kept him better informed, but others said it was right not to involve him, to avoid the appearance of White House meddling in the investigation. [Wall Street Journal]
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2. YAHOO BOARD AGREES TO BUY TUMBLR FOR $1.1 BILLION
Yahoo's board agreed on Sunday to buy the trendy social blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The deal is seen as a critical part of Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer's risky attempt to turn around the struggling internet pioneer. Yahoo still has a huge online audience, but it's losing ground with young people. Tumblr has 100 million users, many of them teens and twenty-somethings who use the service to exchange links, photos, and blog posts, so it gives Yahoo instant power in social media. [Los Angeles Times]
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3. NORTH KOREA CONTINUES MISSILE TESTS
North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea off its north coast on Monday. The launches were the fifth and sixth the communist regime conducted in three days. South Korea condemned the maneuvers, saying they would only stoke tensions in the region. North Korea said it was merely holding legitimate military exercises "to cope with the mounting war measures from the U.S. and South Korea," which have held joint military training recently. [Reuters]
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4. COMMUTER RAIL ACCIDENT SPELLS TRAFFIC NIGHTMARE
Connecticut commuters faced a chaotic trip to work on Monday morning as workers repaired damage on the United States' busiest rail line after the collision of two trains over the weekend. More than 70 people were injured after the Friday derailment of a Metro-North passenger train that crashed into a commuter train between Fairfield and Bridgeport. Officials warned Sunday of lengthy detours and hours of traffic jams as about 30,000 affected commuters head to work by road. [Reuters]
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5. HEZBOLLAH HELPS SYRIAN FORCES RETAKE KEY CITY
Syrian government forces reclaimed most of the strategic rebel-held city of Qusayr on the Lebanon border Sunday, marking a serious setback to opponents of the Assad regime. The government got help from Lebanese fighters from the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah. Both loyalists and rebels said the battle for the city could determine who reigns in the heavily contested Homs province, and Hezbollah's involvement increased the danger that the fighting will spill over Syria's borders. [BBC News]
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6. TWO ELITE FBI AGENTS DIE IN TRAINING ACCIDENT
Two FBI agents on an elite counterterrorism team were killed three days ago during a training exercise on a ship off the coast of Virginia Beach, the FBI said Sunday. The agents — Christopher Lorek, 41, and Stephen Shaw, 40 — were members of the agency's Hostage Rescue Team, which is based at Quantico in northern Virginia. At least four agents have now died in Hostage Rescue Team training since the unit was established in 1983. [Washington Post]
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7. TORNADOES RAVAGE OKLAHOMA, MIDWEST
A barrage of tornadoes hit Oklahoma and parts of the Midwest on Sunday and Monday, killing at least one person. At least 300 homes were destroyed in Oklahoma alone. As many as 28 tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, and Iowa, although some of the twisters may have been called in several times. One, which touched down near Wellsont, Okla., was estimated to be a half-mile wide. "It's tearing up everything," CNN affiliate KFOR's helicopter pilot said. [CNN]
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8. FLORIDA TOWN WAITS FOR WINNER OF RECORD POWERBALL JACKPOT TO EMERGE
Residents from the small Florida town of Zephyrhills (pop. 13,337) were awaiting word Monday on the identity of the person who bought the record-breaking $590.5 million Powerball jackpot, which was sold in the local Publix supermarket. The drawing was held on Saturday, but nobody immediately claimed the prize. "It never happens this quickly," lottery spokesman David Bishop said. "If they know they won, they're going to contact their attorney or an accountant first." [Associated Press]
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9. TAYLOR SWIFT LEADS BILLBOARD AWARDS
Taylor Swift dominated the 2013 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday, leading all artists with eight wins, including top artist and top Billboard 200 album, for Red. Rihanna and Gotye each took four awards, and several others, including Justin Bieber, won three. Bieber, accepting the first-ever Milestone Award for musical innovation, pushed back against tabloid gossip about his personal life. "I'm an artist, and I should be taken seriously," he said. [ABC News]
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10. STAR TREK BEATS IRON MAN 3
Star Trek Into Darkness knocked Iron Man 3 out of the top spot at the box office in the U.S. and Canada on its opening weekend. The latest installment in the classic space franchise hauled in $70.6 million, while the Marvel superhero sequel fell into second place with $35.2 million after several weeks on top. Still, analysts had expected Star Trek Into Darkness to earn millions more. The last film in the franchise, 2009's Star Trek, made $75 million in its first weekend. [Reuters]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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