Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 6, 2015

Harold Maass
A Florida couple ties the knot.

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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Florida's ban on same-sex marriage comes to an end

Florida's gay marriage ban ended at midnight. Court clerks in many counties issued marriage licenses to awaiting same-sex couples before dawn. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel got started first, performing the state's first legally recognized same-sex marriages on Monday night. With the addition of 19.9 million Floridians, 70 percent of Americans now live in states where gay marriage is legal. [Time]


Oil prices sink below $50 per barrel

Oil prices dropped by more than 5 percent on Monday, with West Texas crude falling below $50 a barrel for the first time in more than five years. U.S. stocks plunged, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 331 points, or 1.86 percent, partly because investors feared that declining oil prices could be a sign that slowing economic activity is reducing demand for fuel. Oil prices have fallen by 50 percent since June due to a worldwide oil glut. Oil prices declined further early Tuesday. [The New York Times, Reuters]


Two New York police officers shot while investigating a robbery

Two plainclothes New York City police officers were shot while responding to a robbery in the Bronx on Monday night. Both of the officers were in critical but stable condition at St. Barnabas Hospital. Police officials emphasized that the officers were not targeted the way two officers murdered last month were. The wounded officers and three colleagues were investigating a grocery store robbery when two suspects opened fire. A manhunt is on for the gunman. [USA Today]


Boston Marathon bombing trial gets underway

Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured 260 others. It could take weeks to pick the jury's 12 members and six alternates out of a 1,200-person jury pool. The judge said the trial could start in late January and last as long as four months. Tsarnaev is accused of carrying out the attack along with his brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police days later. [The Washington Post]


Lebanon imposes visa requirement to limit entry of Syrian refugees

Lebanon on Monday began requiring Syrians to get visas before crossing the border, a move intended to reduce the influx of war refugees. More than three million Syrians have fled their country in the four years since a pro-democracy uprising broke out, then escalated into a civil war. Lebanon's government estimates that 1.5 million Syrians — 1.1 million of them registered with the United Nations refugee agency — now live in their nation of four million people. "This number is enough," Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said. [Los Angeles Times]


SpaceX delays historic launch

SpaceX postponed the launch of its fifth resupply mission to the International Space Station on Tuesday morning due to a problem with the second stage of its Falcon 9 rocket. The next window is on Friday. The flight will mark the first time the commercial rocket company will try to bring a rocket back for a soft landing, a step toward cheaper, quick-turnaround space flights. SpaceX will try to land the booster rocket on a drone platform in the Atlantic after it sends the Dragon capsule toward the space station with 5,200 pounds of cargo. [NBC News]


Jerry Brown starts unprecedented fourth term as California governor

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) was sworn in for an unprecedented fourth term on Monday. In a speech to the state Assembly, Brown praised lawmakers for working with him to balance the budget, hike the minimum wage, and address problems in an overcrowded prison system. "While we have not reached the Promised Land," Brown said, "we have much to be proud of." Brown served from 1975 to 1983 before term limits, then returned in 2011 to start the first of his final two terms. [San Jose Mercury News]


Former Miss America Bess Myerson dies at 90

Bess Myerson, the only Jewish woman ever crowned as Miss America, has died, The New York Times reported Monday. She was 90. Myerson won the title on Sept. 8, 1945, making her a cultural heroine days after the end of World War II. Her popularity in her hometown of New York City led to her appointment as the city's first commissioner of consumer affairs. She went on to head another city agency, and to advise three presidents. She lived her last years in relative obscurity — her Dec. 14 death went unreported for three weeks. [The New York Times]


U.K. reports 2014 was its warmest year on record

Last year was the hottest in the U.K. since the country started keeping records in 1910, the British Met Office said Monday. The average U.K. temperature was 9.9 degrees Celsius (49.82 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2014 — 0.2 degrees higher than the previous record in 2006. Eight of the country's 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2002. Five of Britain's six wettest years have occurred after 2000, bolstering evidence of climate change. [BBC News]


Two young U.S. ski prospects die in Austria avalanche

Two American ski-team prospects — Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19 — were killed Monday in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps. The men were skiing with four others near Rettenbach glacier when Berlack and Astle reportedly left the prepared trail, possibly setting off the avalanche. The other four skiers were not injured. "It's a shock for everybody," U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml said. "Two great boys, great athletes, good skiers. They were fun to have around." [The Washington Post]

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