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10 things you need to know today: August 26, 2013
Inspectors head to the site of Syria's chemical attack, Miley Cyrus offers a bizarre VMA performance, and more
 
Miley Cyrus and a bunch of giant bears at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York City. Yes, this happened.
Miley Cyrus and a bunch of giant bears at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York City. Yes, this happened. Rick Diamond/Getty Images for MTV

1. U.N. INSPECTORS HEAD TO SCENE OF CHEMICAL ATTACK
United Nations weapons inspectors left Damascus on Monday to examine the scene of last week's alleged deadly chemical attack in Syria. The team turned back under sniper fire, but planned to resume the mission later in the day. President Bashar al-Assad denied that his forces were behind the chemical attack, and warned the U.S., which is threatening a "serious response," that a military intervention would end in "failure just like in all the previous wars they waged." [New York Times, Los Angeles Times]
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2. GIANT WILDFIRE GROWS IN YOSEMITE
A California wildfire pushed deeper into Yosemite National Park on Sunday, threatening two groves of giant sequoia trees that are among Earth's oldest living things. The so-called Rim Fire has now scorched 15,000 acres in the park — plus 120,000 acres more outside of it — and could continue to grow in an "extreme" way, officials said, due to extremely dry fuels and inaccessible terrain. The fire also is nearing a reservoir that supplies 85 percent of San Francisco's water. [NBC News]
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3. AUTHORS SAY FIVE NEW SALINGER BOOKS ARE COMING
The authors of a new J.D. Salinger biography and documentary say five previously unseen books by the reclusive author will be published posthumously starting between 2015 and 2020. David Shields and Shane Salerno say in Salinger, scheduled to be released Sept. 3, that one of the books would center on Catcher in the Rye protagonist Holden Caulfield. Another volume would feature more stories about the Glass family of Franny and Zooey. [New York Times]
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4. KARZAI ASKS PAKISTAN FOR HELP RESTARTING PEACE TALKS
Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on Monday, and urged him to help restart peace talks with the Taliban. Karzai pulled the plug on talks in June, angered that the Taliban had opened a diplomatic office in Qatar using the flag and name they used when they ruled Afghanistan. Sharif promised his help, but the Pakistani newspaper Dawn warned that all sides should "prepare for continuation of the status quo." [Associated Press]
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5. WALL STREET PIONEER MURIEL SIEBERT DIES
Muriel "Mickie" Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, died over the weekend. She was 80. Siebert arrived in New York City in 1954 without a college degree, but talked her way into jobs with several securities firms. Frustrated because she was paid half the commissions men received for the same deals, she asked a client how to get a job that would pay her equally. His reply, she said, was, "Don't be ridiculous! Buy a seat and work for yourself." [CNN]
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6. BO TRIAL ENDS IN CHINA
The corruption trial of former Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai, whose wife was convicted of murdering a prominent British businessman, ended on Monday. Bo pushed back during the five days of testimony with an unexpectedly forceful defense, calling one witness a liar and saying one of the businessmen who allegedly bribed him was a "mad dog" trying to frame him. Prosecutors said Bo's "whimsical" defense was inconsistent with the facts, and that he deserved "no leniency." The court said a verdict would come at a later date, possibly in a few weeks. [Reuters]
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7. COLIN POWELL CALLS ZIMMERMAN VERDICT QUESTIONABLE
Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on Face the Nation that the verdict clearing George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin's killing was "questionable," but that the racially charged case would be forgotten too soon to have a lasting impact on the civil rights debate in the U.S. Powell, who was the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged President Obama to speak out more on race issues to keep them in the spotlight. [Associated Press]
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8. BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS CONSIDERS NEW RULES FOR RECOGNIZING TRIBES
The U.S. Interior Department is overhauling its rules for recognizing American Indian tribes, in an effort to streamline the approval process. The changes could make it easier for groups to gain recognition — for example, by requiring that tribes demonstrate political continuity since 1934 instead of since "first contact" with European settlers. Some communities and already recognized tribes say they fear the new rules could trigger battles over land claims. [Associated Press]
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9. AMAZON OUTAGE KNOCKS PROMINENT APPS OFFLINE
Amazon's web services experienced a glitch on Sunday that apparently caused outages for several hours for several big-name websites and apps, including Netflix, Instagram, and Vine. Amazon advertises that its services are more reliable than those that companies can run on their own servers, but since its outages affect so many sites they tend to make a splash on social media, even when they're brief. [Wall Street Journal]
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10. TIMBERLAKE SHINES AND CYRUS STUNS AT MTV AWARDS
Justin Timberlake took the video of the year crown at Sunday's MTV Music Video Awards. He also received the Michael Jackson Vanguard Video Award, and treated the crowd to a medley of his hits and a reunion with the four other members of 'N Sync, the boy band that launched him to stardom. But he and the other winners had to compete for attention with Miley Cyrus, as the former Disney star shocked the crowd with an outrageous twerking exhibition. [CBS News, CNN]

 
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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