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10 things you need to know today: December 16, 2013
Peter O'Toole dead at 81, Ryan urges Republican senators to back budget deal, and more
 
Lawrence of Arabia star Peter O'Toole passed away Saturday. 
Lawrence of Arabia star Peter O'Toole passed away Saturday.  (AP Photo/File)

1. Peter O'Toole dead at 81
Actor Peter O'Toole died over the weekend, his agent said on Sunday. He was 81. O'Toole, the son of an Irish bookmaker, received eight Academy Award nominations over his career, but was best-known for his starring role in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The epic movie tells the story of T.E. Lawrence, a British soldier who led an Arab rebellion in the Middle East against the ruling Turks during World War I. [Los Angeles Times, New York Times]
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2. Ryan urges Republican senators to back budget deal
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on Sunday defended the two-year budget deal passed by the House, as the rare compromise headed for a what could be a tight vote this week in the Senate. Ryan, facing grumbling within the GOP, said Republicans had little chance of winning a "grand deficit-reduction bargain" now, but that the agreement he struck with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would boost the party's fiscal cred with voters. [Reuters]
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3. Syrian army helicopters hammer Aleppo
Bombings by Syrian army helicopters killed 83 people in the contested city of Aleppo on Sunday, according to an opposition group, the Local Coordinating Committees. At least 27 of the dead were children. Witnesses said the helicopter crews targeted 12 pro-rebel neighborhoods with "barrel bombs," oil drums filled with explosives and rolled out of helicopters indiscriminately. [CNN, Reuters]
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4. Michelle Bachelet wins Chile's presidency in a landslide
Former President Michelle Bachelet of Chile won back her old office in a runoff election Sunday. With 90 percent of the vote counted, the left-wing Bachelet led center-right rival Evelyn Matthei by 62 percent to 38 percent. Bachelet, who promised to "be a president for everyone of Chile," will be the first Chilean leader to serve two terms since Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990. [BBC News]
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5. Colorado school shooting victim is in a coma
Claire Davis, the 17-year-old Colorado girl shot at Arapahoe High School on Friday, is in a coma, her family said late Sunday. She was rushed to Littleton Adventist Hospital in critical condition after being shot at point-blank range and suffering a severe head wound. Police said the suspect, Karl Pierson, 18, went to the school with a shotgun, a machete, and Molotov cocktails seeking revenge after being dropped from the debate team. [KTIC]
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6. South Sudan coup attempt fails
South Sudan's military repulsed a coup attempt by disgruntled soldiers and politicians, top government officials said Monday. The effort was reportedly led by a former vice president of the country, the youngest nation in the world. Some troops at the main army base tried to raid a stockpile of weapons, but loyalist forces fought them off. President Salva Kiir has reportedly issued a dawn-to-dusk curfew. [Associated Press]
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7. U.N. flies relief supplies to desperate Syrians
The United Nations on Sunday airlifted food and winter supplies into Syria's mainly Kurdish northeast. Some of the areas receiving the aid, including blankets, food, and medical kits, have not seen aid deliveries since May. More than 100,000 people have died and millions have been forced to flee their homes in the nearly three-year civil war, and now there are reports that people are freezing to death in unusually harsh winter conditions. [Reuters, NBC News]
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8. Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine dies at 96
Actress Joan Fontaine, star of the Alfred Hitchcock classics Suspicion and Rebecca, died Sunday at the age of 96. Fontaine was the sister of fellow movie star Olivia de Havilland. The two sisters feuded for years — something Fontaine described in her memoir. Fontaine beat out de Havilland to win the Best Actress Oscar in 1942 for her role in Suspicion; de Havilland was nominated that year for Hold Back the Dawn. [USA Today]
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9. The new Hobbit film rules the weekend
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trounced the competition to finish its first weekend in first place at the box office. The Desolation of Smaug fell short of its prequel's debut last year — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took in $84.6 million in its first weekend. Still, the new Hobbit film finished far ahead of last week's No. 1, Disney's animated fable Frozen. The Desolation of Smaug's distributor, Warner Bros., expects it to do as well as last year's Hobbit, which grossed $1 billion worldwide. [Associated Press]
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10. Packers pull off a stunning comeback
The Green Bay Packers matched the biggest comeback in their team's history on Sunday, beating the Dallas Cowboys 37-36 after trailing 26-3 at halftime. Substitute quarterback Matt Flynn threw three touchdown passes in the rally, calling the win the biggest of his football career. The victory kept playoff hopes alive for the Packers, now 7-6-1. "It took me everything not to cry," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. [ESPN]

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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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