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10 things you need to know today: December 9, 2013
Tech giants demand surveillance limits, protesters topple Lenin statue in Kiev, and more
 
Ukrainian protesters knock down a statue of Vladimir Lenin.
Ukrainian protesters knock down a statue of Vladimir Lenin. (AP Images/Sergei Chuzavkov)

1. Coalition of rival tech giants calls for surveillance limits
Eight leading tech companies, led by Google and Microsoft, launched a campaign on Monday urging President Obama and Congress to tighten limits on government surveillance. The coalition, alarmed by revelations about internet-data mining by the National Security Agency, called for the U.S. to lead a global effort to regulate online spying. The push marks an unprecedented effort by rival tech giants to work together to pressure Washington. [New York Times]
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2. Protesters topple Lenin statue in Kiev
Ukrainian protesters knocked down a statue of Vladimir Lenin on Sunday in anger at their government's rejection of closer ties with Europe in favor of boosting cooperation with Russia. Police said they were investigating the incident to determine who was responsible. A lawmaker from the nationalist Svoboda party claimed responsibility. "This is the end of Soviet occupation," the party tweeted. "End of (the) regime of shame and humiliation." [CNN]
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3. Winter storm marches up the East Coast
A freezing storm pushed up the East Coast from the South early Monday, forcing airlines to cancel flights and hampering road travel with snow and ice. Thirty-five thousand customers lost power in Northern Virginia, and the massive system was dumping up to a foot of snow, along with sleet and freezing rain, on areas expected to stretch from Maryland to Maine. [Reuters, Washington Post]
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4. Thai prime minister dissolves Parliament
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved Parliament on Monday and said she would call elections to restore calm after mounting protests. The announcement came as 100,000 protesters — opponents of Yinluck's brother Thaksin who was ousted in a 2006 coup — marched in Bangkok vowing to overthrow her. The protests demanding an end to the "Thaksin regime" continued despite Yingluck's announcement. [Fox News, Bangkok Post]
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5. Senators head for confrontation over Obama nominees
Democrats are preparing to launch a push to confirm President Obama's nominees for key judgeships and other positions in a two-week end-of-year session that begins on Monday. The effort comes after a controversial move last month by the Senate's Democratic leadership to limit Republicans' ability to delay the confirmations using the filibuster rule, which allows a minority to block legislation with just 41 votes. [Associated Press]
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6. Hagel discusses Pakistan's complaints about drone strikes
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Pakistani leaders on Monday to discuss complaints about the U.S. targeting of Islamist militants with drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas. Hagel is the first by a Pentagon chief to visit the South Asian terror-war ally in nearly four years. Pakistan says the strikes kill too many civilians and violate its sovereignty. [Reuters]
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7. More pilot whales die in Florida
Eleven more pilot whales were found dead Sunday in the Florida Keys, bringing the number of dead whales found in the past week to 22. Another 29 whales from the pod, which got stranded in shallow water off Everglades National Park, are missing. "Given our knowledge of past mass pilot whales strandings," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, "the outlook for finding the remaining whales alive is bleak."[CNN]
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8. Pyongyang acknowledges purge of Kim Jong Un's uncle
North Korea's state media confirmed Monday that leader Kim Jong Un's once powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, had been purged from the government. Jang's dramatic arrest on charges of corruption to womanizing are being interpreted as a warning intended to squelch criticism and consolidate the young Kim's power two years after he inherited it following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. [Associated Press]
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9. Admirers mourn Paul Walker in California
Thousands of fans of actor Paul Walker gathered Sunday to pay tribute to the late star of the Fast & Furious movie franchise. Mourners rode in a slow procession of muscle cars and motorcycles through the California industrial park where he and his friend, Roger Rodas, were killed in a November 30 car crash. Participants said they came out to remember Walker, 40, and to celebrate the culture of high-powered cars that his films promoted. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. Performing icons receive Kennedy Center honors
Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, opera star Martina Arroyo, and actress Shirley MacLaine received this year's Kennedy Center Honors for their impact on American culture. President Obama and top performers saluted the winners in a Sunday ceremony. Joel said the honor beat his six Grammys. "This is coming more from my country than just people who come to see me," he said. "It's a little overwhelming." [Associated Press]

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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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