10 things you need to know today: December 11, 2012

 

The Week

 

Childhood obesity dips slightly, Cairo braces for dueling protests, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. OBAMA AND BOEHNER FISCAL CLIFF TALKS INTENSIFY
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have begun stepping up negotiations on avoiding the “fiscal cliff,” a series of deep spending cuts and expiring tax breaks that start taking effect in January. The White House and Boehner’s office held more negotiations on Monday to follow up on a meeting between Obama and Boehner over the weekend, even as Obama prepared to make a fresh pitch to American workers on Tuesday for his proposal to reduce the deficit — and avoid the fiscal cliff — with the help of tax hikes on the rich. People close to the talks say they have progressed over recent days, albeit slowly. Republicans appear resigned to accepting tax hikes and Democrats to swallowing reductions in Medicare spending in exchange — the haggling is over the details. [Reuters]
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2. CAIRO BRACES FOR DUELING PROTESTS OVER ISLAMIST CONSTITUTION
Nine Egyptians were injured on Tuesday as gunmen shot at people camping out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest President Mohamed Morsi’s efforts to push through a constitution written by his Islamist supporters. Opposition leaders called for a fresh day of massive street demonstrations to persuade Morsi to postpone a planned Dec. 15 referendum on the constitution. The protesters planned to converge on Morsi’s presidential palace. Cairo police braced for possible clashes with counter-demonstrators, as the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood was reportedly pushing for two “million-man” marches — with the slogan, “Yes to legitimacy” — in support of Morsi and the referendum. [BBC]
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3. CHILDHOOD OBESITY EASES IN CITIES
After rising for decades, childhood obesity rates inched down between 2007 and 2011 in several major U.S. cities, including New York and Los Angeles, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The improvement was small — just 5.5 percent in New York and 3 percent in L.A. — but health experts said it was still significant, as it offered hope that the childhood obesity epidemic might finally be reversing course. “It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years,” says New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, “so the fact that we have any good news is a big story.” [New York Times]
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4. NAVY IDENTIFIES SEAL KILLED IN RESCUE
The Navy has released the name of a Navy SEAL who was killed in a Sunday rescue mission to free an American doctor, Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Checque, 28, died of combat-related injuries, the Navy said in a statement. Dr. Joseph was abducted last Wednesday. U.S. General John Allen, commander of NATO-led foreign forces in Afghanistan, said he ordered the rescue after intelligence suggested Joseph was “in imminent danger of injury or death.” [Reuters]
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5. MANDELA RESPONDING TO TREATMENT IN HOSPITAL
Former South African president Nelson Mandela is responding well to treatment for a recurring lung infection, the national president’s office said on Tuesday. Mandela, 94, checked into a military hospital near the country’s capital, Pretoria, on Saturday, triggering widespread speculation and concern over the health of the revered anti-apartheid icon. The government took charge of Mandela’s care after the chaos that resulted from a stay at a public hospital in 2011 — journalists and curious citizens swarmed the hospital — but now reporters and many in the public are upset that few details are being released on his condition. [Associated Press]
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6. HSBC TO PAY RECORD $1.9 BILLION FINE
British bank HSBC will pay a record fine of $1.9 billion to settle charges of money-laundering, it was widely reported on Monday. The settlement stems from accusations that the bank used the U.S. financial system to carry out billion-dollar transfers for sanctioned countries like Iran and drug cartels in Mexico. HSBC is just the latest multinational bank to be punished for helping Iran. On Monday, Standard Chartered, Britain’s second-largest bank, agreed to pay $327 million to settle charges of doing business on behalf of Iranian clients. [New York Times]
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7. WOMAN CONVICTED OF KILLING FLORIDA LOTTERY WINNER
A Florida woman was convicted Monday for the murder of Abraham Shakespeare, a central Florida man who won millions in a 2006 lottery. Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore “got every bit of his money,” said Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner in closing arguments. “He found out about it and threatened to kill her. She killed him first.” Judge Emmett Battles sentenced Moore to mandatory life without parole, calling her “the most manipulative person” he had ever seen, and describing her as “cold, calculating and cruel.” [Associated Press]
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8. KIDS’ APPS COLLECT PERSONAL DATA
Sixty percent of randomly selected mobile applications designed for children collect personal information — including location data and phone numbers — without the permission of the young users’ parents, the Federal Trade Commission reported on Monday. The FTC is launching investigations into whether app companies are violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or the Federal Trade Commission Act. The agency is urging gatekeepers such as Apple and Google to do more to police app developers. “While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes protecting kids’ privacy,” FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said, “we haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids.” [Guardian]
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9. STRAUSS-KAHN, MAID SETTLE SUIT
Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and New York City hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo have signed a settlement related to the sexual-assault lawsuit she brought against Strauss-Kahn in August 2011. The suit stemmed from a May 2011 encounter between the two in New York’s Sofitel Hotel in which Diallo alleged that Strauss-Kahn, once a contender for the French presidency, forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to rape her when she arrived to clean his suite. Strauss-Kahn said that what happened with Diallo was a “moral failing,” but it was consensual. He resigned his position at the IMF, and countersued Diallo for defamation after she filed her civil suit when criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn were dropped. The details of the settlement announced on Monday were not made public. [Associated Press]
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10. RIVERA FANS HOLD VIGIL
Fans of Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera held a vigil outside her California home, mourning her apparent death in a Sunday plane crash in Mexico. “I think it’s a nightmare. It can’t be true,” one fan told a local TV station. “We love her songs, we love her music. We will never forget her,” fan Claudia Lopez said. Despite reports that there were no survivors, Rivera’s relatives said they still thought there was a chance that reports of her death were wrong. “We still have hope that she’s alive,” Pedro Rivera Jr., the singer’s brother, told the Press-Telegram. “It’s a 95 percent chance that she’s dead, but we have that belief because we don’t have a body. They found clothes. They found shoes, but they didn’t find any DNA.” [Los Angeles Times]

 

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