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10 things you need to know today: February 19, 2013
Obama pressures GOP over budget cuts, Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa finishes with gold in the Men's 4x100m relay T42/T46 Final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa finishes with gold in the Men's 4x100m relay T42/T46 Final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Gareth Copley/Getty Images

1. OBAMA TURNS UP PRESSURE ON GOP TO AVOID BUDGET CUTS
President Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday on the need to avert the deep, automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester, that are due to hit in less than two weeks. Aides say Obama is trying to increase pressure on congressional Republicans to accept a Democratic plan that would temporarily block the across-the-board reductions, replacing them with more targeted cuts and new taxes on some people making more than $1 million. GOP leaders say they, too, want to avoid the cuts — enacted under a 2011 budget deal as a way to force a compromise — but warn they'll take effect if Democrats insist on a deal including new taxes. [Los Angeles Times]
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2. PROSECUTORS REVEAL DETAILS IN PISTORIUS CASE
South African prosecutors said Tuesday that Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic track star who competed against able-bodied athletes in the 2012 Olympics, killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day last week by firing four shots through a locked bathroom door at his house. The prosecutors said it was a case of premeditated murder, because Pistorius, a double amputee known as "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fiber racing prosthetics, put on prosthetic legs and walked more than 20 feet before firing. Defense lawyers said "this is not a murder." Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp, a model, was still in bed when he fired into the door, fearing there was an intruder inside. [New York Times, Associated Press]
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3. SANDY HOOK SHOOTER REPORTEDLY WANTED TO MATCH NORWAY MASSACRE
Law enforcement officials think Adam Lanza might have been trying to outdo Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, when he headed to Sandy Hook Elementary School with an assault rifle and other weapons in December, CBS News reported. The unnamed sources said Lanza picked the Newtown, Conn., school because it was "the easiest target" and had the "largest cluster of people," making it a place where a killer could exceed Breivik's death toll. Police say Lanza gunned down 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook before killing himself. [CNN]
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4. LOS ANGELES LAKERS OWNER JERRY BUSS DIES
Jerry Buss, longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, died Monday at age 80. Buss, a self-made millionaire, bought the basketball team in 1979, and was a charismatic leader who masterminded the team's flashy, entertaining style. In his 34 years in charge, the Lakers won 10 NBA championships with a blend of marquee players — from Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal — and big-name coaches. "Jerry Buss was more than just an owner," says Pat Riley, coach of four of Buss' 10 title teams. "He was one of the great innovators that any sport has ever encountered." [Associated Press]
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5. SECURITY FIRM SAYS CHINA'S MILITARY IS A PROLIFIC HACKER
A U.S. cybersecurity firm says a secretive Chinese military group, Unit 61398, has "systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data" from at least 141 corporations and other organizations around the world. The U.S.-based computer security company, Mandiant, said the Chinese military unit is one of the "most prolific cyber espionage groups" in the world. Beijing called the report "unprofessional" and "irresponsible," saying that hacking attacks are anonymous and hard to trace, and Mandiant has no tenable evidence behind its accusations. [BBC]
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6. MICROSOFT BEGINS TRANSITION FROM HOTMAIL TO OUTLOOK.COM
Good-bye, Hotmail. Microsoft announced that it will phase out its old email service by summer, automatically switching its 350 million users to the company's new service, Outlook.com. Microsoft introduced a beta version of the new message site in August. Since then, it has piled up 60 million users. This week, the software giant opened up Outlook.com to any user who wants to try it, part of the company's ongoing bid to woo people away from Google's Gmail. [NBC News]
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7. DARING DIAMOND HEIST AT BRUSSELS AIRPORT
Belgian police said Tuesday that eight armed and masked men broke through a security fence and drove into Brussels' international airport, then stole diamonds worth $50 million from the hold of a plane bound for Switzerland. The men flashed their weapons, then, without firing a shot, grabbed the gems and quickly drove off in two vehicles, one of which was found, burned, nearby. "What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum," said Caroline De Wolf of the Antwerp World Diamond Center. [Associated Press]
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8. ACTIVISTS PROTEST ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW AFTER ARREST
The arrest of an immigrant-rights activist and a father of six in Tucson sparked protests by activist groups against Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigration on Monday. "This is unjust," Alma Hernandez, a spokeswoman for civil rights organization Corazón de Tucson, yelled in Spanish to a crowd of 300 in front of the Tucson Police Department. Raúl Alcaráz Ochoa was arrested by agents along with the other man, Rene Meza Huerta, after a traffic stop by Tucson police, who determined that Meza Huerta was in the country illegally. The Border Patrol said Alcaráz Ochoa was arrested for trying to prevent Meza Huerta's detention. [Los Angeles Times]
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9. HACKERS HIJACK BURGER KING'S TWITTER ACCOUNT
Pranksters hacked Burger King's official Twitter account on Monday, and used it to tout the burger chain's arch rival, McDonald's. The hackers changed Burger King's profile page, adding a photo of McDonald's trademark golden arches, and a line claiming that Burger King "just got sold to McDonald's because the whopper flopped." Several vulgar tweets were also posted before Burger King executives could get the account frozen. McDonald's tweeted that it "had nothing to do with the hacking." [Yahoo News]
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10. FERGIE AND ACTOR JOSH DUHAMEL ARE EXPECTING
Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie announced on Monday that she's pregnant. She posted photos of herself and her husband, actor Josh Duhamel, as toddlers, and tweeted: "Josh & Me & BABY makes three!!!." It is the first child for the 37-year-old Fergie — whose full name is Stacy Ferguson — and Duhamel, 40. They were married in 2009. [Reuters]

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