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10 things you need to know today: February 18, 2014
The White House celebrates the stimulus' fifth anniversary, Jimmy Fallon debuts as Tonight Show host, and more
 
Jimmy Fallon brings The Tonight Show back to New York after a 42-year absence. 
Jimmy Fallon brings The Tonight Show back to New York after a 42-year absence.  (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

1. Republicans and Democrats renew debate over the stimulus
The White House released a report on Monday crediting President Obama's economic stimulus law with creating millions of jobs on the fifth anniversary of the legislation's passage. Obama said the $787 billion law, passed when Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, averted a second Great Depression. Republicans, most of whom fought Obama over the stimulus, disputed the White House claims. House Speaker John Boehner said it was nothing but "big promises and big spending with little results." [Reuters]
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2. Jimmy Fallon debuts as Tonight Show host
Jimmy Fallon took over as host of NBC's Tonight Show on Monday, promising to make fun of everyone he can in the coveted late-night spot vacated by longtime host Jay Leno this month. In his first week, Fallon will welcome a parade of A-list guests, including Jerry Seinfeld, Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Fallon has moved the show back to New York from California, where it was taped under Leno and his predecessor, Johnny Carson. [Los Angeles Times, The Wrap]
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3. Tesla's Musk reportedly met with Apple
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly met with Apple executives last spring, when analysts were speculating that the iPhone and iPad maker might acquire the electric car trailblazer, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday. Officials at Tesla and Apple had no comment. Apple also has been looking into medical devices, including technology to predict heart attacks. The company has been accused of losing its innovative edge since the death of Steve Jobs. "They need the next big thing," one analyst said. [San Francisco Chronicle]
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4. U.N. panel says Kim Jong Un could be prosecuted
A United Nations panel on Monday sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warning that he could face prosecution for crimes against humanity. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea said Kim presides over a brutal state "that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," using everything from murder to sexual violence to mass starvation to terrorize "the population into submission." [CNN]
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5. Pakistan halts peace talks with the Taliban
Pakistan's government suspended peace talks with the Taliban on Monday after militants reportedly killed 23 paramilitary soldiers they had taken prisoner. A Taliban faction claimed responsibility, saying the prisoners — members of the Frontier Corps — were killed in retaliation for the alleged killing of Taliban prisoners held by the government. "We want to make it clear to the government that we know how to take revenge," said Omar Khalid Khurasani, a spokesman for the Taliban in the Mohmand tribal region. [The New York Times]
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6. Americans win ice dancing gold
Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold medal for ice dancing at the Sochi Olympics on Monday. They were the first Americans ever to win the event. The pair skated to "Scheherazade" by Rimsky-Korsakov, beating out longtime rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who took the silver medal, and Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia, who won bronze. [ESPN]
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7. Three former Barclays employees face charges in Libor scandal
The U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office announced Monday that it planned to file criminal charges against three former Barclays employees — Peter Johnson, Jonathan Mathew, and Stylianos Contogoulas — in connection with the Libor scandal that has rocked the country's banking industry. The British prosecutors said they were charging the trio with conspiring to manipulate benchmark interest rates between June 2005 and August 2007, bringing to 13 the number of people charged in the investigation so far. [MarketWatch]
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8. Florida State President Eric Barron picked to lead Penn State
Penn State's trustees on Monday chose Eric Barron, president of Florida State and a former Penn State professor and dean, to lead the university as it recovers from the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal. Barron's selection ended a 15-month search. He will replace President Rodney Erickson, who will retire when his contract runs out in June. Barron will get a five-year contract worth $1 million a year. [The Washington Times]
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9. A giant asteroid flies past Earth
A giant asteroid three times the size of a football field zoomed harmlessly past Earth on Monday night at 27,000 miles per hour. A collision with a space rock that big could potentially be disastrous, but this one sailed past 2.6 million kilometers away — almost nine times farther away than the moon. The fly-by was broadcast live online thanks to high-powered telescopes on the Canary Islands off West Africa. The show was too faint to be seen with small backyard telescopes. [Reuters, National Geographic]
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10. Americans confronted by clown shortage
The U.S. is running low on clowns. Membership in the World Clown Association, the country's largest trade group in the business, has fallen from 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004. Leaders of the association say one big problem is that young people simply aren't interested in clowning as a career. "What's happening is attrition," said Glen Kohlberger, president of Clowns of America International, another group with dwindling numbers. "The older clowns are passing away." [Daily News]

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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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