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10 things you need to know today: May 23, 2013
The U.S. acknowledges killing four American citizens with drones, Oklahoma tornado damage estimates exceed $2 billion, and more
The deadly tornado that tore through Moore, Okla., leaves a daunting recovery in its wake.
The deadly tornado that tore through Moore, Okla., leaves a daunting recovery in its wake. AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

1. HOLDER CONFIRMS DRONES HAVE KILLED FOUR U.S. CITIZENS
On the eve of a Thursday speech in which President Obama is expected to announce new limits on his drone program, Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged for the first time in a letter to Congress that the U.S. had killed four American citizens with drone strikes since 2009. One — Anwar al-Awlaki — was specifically targeted. The others were not. Samir Khan was killed in Yemen with Awlaki. Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed a month later. Jude Kenan Mohammed died in a strike in Pakistan. [BBC News, New York Times]
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2. BRITISH SOLDIER HACKED TO DEATH BY ISLAMISTS IN LONDON
British intelligence chiefs held an emergency meeting Thursday after two suspected Islamist terrorists hacked a soldier to death with meat cleavers on a south London street in front of horrified witnesses. One of the men, his hands dripping with blood, said in a video clip filmed by an onlooker that the killing was retaliation for the death of Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas. "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you," the man said in a local accent. [Reuters]
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3. OKLAHOMA TORNADO DAMAGE EXPECTED TO EXCEED $2 BILLION
Authorities estimated that the damage from the tornado that ravaged Moore, Okla., this week could exceed $2 billion, making it one of the most damaging twisters in history. The tornado, with winds of 200 miles per hour or more, killed 24 people, flattened two elementary schools, and damaged as many as 13,000 homes as it tore a 1.3-mile-wide path through the Oklahoma City suburb. In response, Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said he would propose an ordinance requiring reinforced shelters in all new homes. [Associated Press]
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4. MAN KILLED BY FBI IMPLICATED TSARNAEV IN 2011 TRIPLE MURDER
Shortly before he died, a Chechen immigrant killed by an FBI agent this week implicated himself and deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a grisly 2011 triple murder, an apparent drug rip-off. The man, Ibragim Todashev, was being questioned in his Orlando apartment about his friendship with Tsarnaev. He reportedly snapped as the agent pushed him to sign a confession in the unsolved Massachusetts murders, lunging at the FBI agent with a knife before being shot dead. [CNN, CBS News]
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5. JAPANESE STOCK RALLY ENDS ABRUPTLY
Japan's seven-month stock rally came to a jarring end on Thursday as the benchmark Nikkei index plunged by 7.3 percent after weak manufacturing data from China suggested that Asia's main economic engine was slowing down. Investors were also worried at signs the U.S. Federal Reserve might end its bond-buying stimulus program as soon as June. The Nikkei had climbed by 70 percent in the last 12 months, fueled by Japan's aggressive stimulus program known as Abenomics. U.S. stock futures also fell. [CNN, Associated Press]
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6. WASHINGTON MAN ACCUSED OF SENDING RICIN-LACED LETTER TO JUDGE
Federal authorities arrested a Washington state man, 37-year-old Matthew Ryan Buquet, on Wednesday and charged him with mailing a letter laced with ricin to a judge in Spokane. There was no evidence to suggest that the deadly poison on the envelope in the case was linked to the batch used on letters addressed to President Obama and other officials that were intercepted last month. A court employee intercepted the Spokane envelope, too, after noticing a "suspicious substance" on it. [Reuters]
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7. KERRY MAKES MIDEAST PEACE PUSH
Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting separately with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday during a two-day trip aimed at getting the two sides to resume peace talks. Kerry will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders, then travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah to talk with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Negotiations broke down in 2008, but Kerry expressed optimism that they could now be restarted. [Bloomberg]
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8. WEST POINT SERGEANT ACCUSED OF VIDEOTAPING NAKED FEMALE CADETS
An Army sergeant who worked at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has been accused of secretly videotaping naked female cadets in the bathroom and shower. The Army confirmed Wednesday that it had removed Sgt. 1st Class Michael McClendon from the academy and charged him with cruelty and maltreatment, indecent acts, and other crimes. The case comes at a time when the military is facing intense pressure to stamp out rampant sexual assaults and harassment in the ranks. [New York Times]
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9. SYRIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET TO CONSIDER TALKS WITH ASSAD
Members of Syria's main opposition coalition are gathering in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday to start three days of discussions on whether to enter into peace talks with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. and Russia are trying to organize a conference next month in Geneva to negotiate terms for an interim government, but members of the Syrian National Coalition say they won't consider participating unless Assad agrees in advance to leave. [Voice of America]
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10. JAPANESE CLIMBER, 80, BECOMES OLDEST TO SCALE EVEREST
An 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer, Yuichiro Miura, reached the top of Mount Everest on Thursday, becoming the oldest climber ever to scale the world's tallest peak. "This is the best feeling in the world," Miura told his family in a phone call from the summit. "I never imagined I would become the oldest man to get here, at 80." Miura, who also climbed Everest at 70 and 75, might not hold his record for long, though. An 81-year-old from Nepal is heading up next week. [Telegraph]

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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