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10 things you need to know today: February 26, 2014
Obama tells the Pentagon to plan for total withdrawal from Afghanistan, child-obesity rates plummet, and more
 
Obama gave Karzai an ultimatum on Tuesday. 
Obama gave Karzai an ultimatum on Tuesday.  (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

1. Obama warns of a total withdrawal from Afghanistan
President Obama told the Pentagon to prepare a plan for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan at the end of the year, in case Afghan President Hamid Karzai doesn't sign a long-term security agreement. In a phone call Tuesday, Obama warned Karzai that a deal is necessary to allow a small contingent of Americans to stay behind to train and support local forces. Karzai wants to leave the decision for a successor to be elected in April, and his foot-dragging on the issue has deeply frustrated American officials. [The Telegraph]
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2. Childhood obesity drops sharply and unexpectedly
The child-obesity rate unexpectedly plunged by 43 percent in a decade among 2- to 5-year-olds, federal health authorities said Tuesday. Kids are drinking less sugary soda and consuming fewer calories, but experts said the declines weren't enough to explain the turnaround in obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama, who is leading a push to improve kids' eating and exercise habits, said she was "thrilled." [The New York Times]
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3. Home-price data suggest the housing recovery is cooling
Home-price gains slowed down in December, rising at a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.8 percent, down from 0.9 percent in November. The drop, reported in the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday, was the first since June, suggesting the housing recovery could be losing steam. Other housing data released early this year supported the notion of a slowdown. [Reuters]
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4. Asiana is fined for failing crash victims' families
The Department of Transportation on Tuesday fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to give adequate support to the families of passengers who were on Asiana Flight 214 when it crashed in San Francisco in July. It was the first fine ever under a 1997 law requiring airlines to follow a "family assistance plan" after crashes. The South Korean carrier said some of the shortcomings weren't its fault. [CNN]
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5. ObamaCare hits the 4 million enrollment milestone
The Obama administration said Tuesday that enrollment in health insurance plans through the ObamaCare exchanges had hit 4 million. The milestone suggested that people were continuing to pick plans at accelerating rates, with 700,000 enrollments in February. It remained unclear how many had followed through and paid premiums, however. The administration's initial target was 7 million by the time open enrollment ends March 31. [Los Angeles Times]
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6. Dingell's wife reportedly plans to run for his seat
A day after Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving House member ever, announced his retirement, party insiders said his wife, Debbie, plans to run to replace him. Debbie Dingell, 60, became an instant frontrunner for the seat, a safe one for Democrats. Her husband's support won't hurt. "She's been my guide, my counsel, my friend, and my closest adviser," Rep. Dingell, 87, said. [The Washington Post]
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7. Washington kicks out three Venezuelan diplomats
The U.S. expelled three Venezuelan diplomats on Tuesday in an apparent retaliation for the booting of three U.S. consular officials from Caracas on February 17. Venezuela's embattled socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, accused the Americans of supporting opposition efforts to topple his government. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Maduro should focus on the "legitimate grievances" of his people, not the U.S. [The Associated Press]
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8. Pressure mounts against Arizona anti-gay bill
Delta Air Lines, Apple, American Airlines, Marriott, and other companies on Tuesday urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow businesses in the state to cite religious beliefs to turn away gay customers. They said the law would conflict with their policies on creating equality in the workplace, and could cause firms to leave the state. Brewer associates said she was likely to veto the bill. [Bloomberg News, CNN]
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9. Peruvian glacier shrinks as temperatures rise
The world's largest tropical ice sheet — Peru's Quelccaya ice cap — is melting because of warming temperatures, according to a preview of a Dartmouth College study. "These tropical glaciers are shrinking very rapidly today," said Meredith Kelly, one of the study's authors. Some people believe other factors, including precipitation, are contributing to the shrinking of the ice mass. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
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10. Couple unearth record gold stash in their backyard
A Northern California couple are preparing to sell a record hoard of gold coins — dating from 1847 to 1894 — that they dug up in their backyard. The 1,427 coins have a face value of $27,980, but rare-coin dealers say they're worth $10 million. The couple, who are keeping their identities secret, found several decaying canisters containing the loot while walking their dog on their Sierra Nevada property. [San Francisco Chronicle]

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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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