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10 things you need to know today: January 8, 2016

Harold Maass
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1.

U.S. market indexes drop in worst 4-day start to a year ever

U.S. stocks plunged on Thursday, capping the worst four-day start to a year in the three-decade history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. After fresh signs of economic trouble in China, the Dow lost 392 points, or 2.3 percent, extending its decline since the end of 2015 to 5.2 percent. The S&P 500 index dropped by 2.4 percent, and the Nasdaq by 3 percent. Stocks in China rallied on Friday and Europe posted modest early gains after Chinese government funds bought local shares for the second time this week to boost the country's market after it dropped by 12 percent in four days.

2.

Obama hosts town hall meeting on guns

President Obama defended his executive actions on gun control in a town hall meeting Thursday at George Mason University in Virginia. Obama said he has "respect" for people who want a gun for hunting, but "it makes sense to keep guns out of the hands of people who would do others harm." Several participants asked Obama tough questions on whether his measures, including expanded background checks for gun buyers, would infringe on the rights of gun owners. The National Rifle Association declined to participate.

3.

Paris police kill knife-wielding man on Charlie Hebdo attack anniversary

Paris police shot a man who tried enter a police station wielding a knife on Thursday. The man reportedly yelled "Allahu Akbar" (God is great), and carried a fake explosive belt and an image of the Islamic State flag, the Paris prosecutor's office said. The incident came on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, in which Islamist extremists killed 12 people at the satirical magazine's headquarters. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the courage of French security personnel.

4.

U.S. urges lower sugar intake in new dietary guidelines

The federal government on Thursday released its first new nutritional recommendations since 2011, urging Americans to tightly limit their sugar intake but telling them it is fine to drink up to five cups of coffee daily. Government scientists now recommend that Americans get no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. That means that people should cut back from the current average of 22 teaspoons of sugar daily to no more than 12 teaspoons. The good news: Eggs and other foods rich in cholesterol are not as bad as once thought.

5.

Fingerprints of fugitive Paris attacks suspect found in Brussels apartment

A Belgian prosecutor said Friday that investigators had found the fingerprint of Salah Abdeslam, a fugitive suspect in the Paris terror attacks, in a Brussels apartment. Prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said the apartment appears to have been used as a bomb factory before the Nov. 13 attacks, in which Islamist terrorists killed 130 people. Abdeslam is believed to have used the same property as a hideout after the attacks.

6.

New York settles lawsuits over surveillance of Muslims

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will appoint an independent civilian monitor for the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism activities, court documents revealed Thursday. The move is part of a deal to settle two lawsuits over surveillance of Muslims — including secret files on Muslim neighborhoods and recorded sermons — since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The city admits no wrongdoing under the agreement. City officials said the terms, including a prohibition against investigations based solely on religion — merely codifies policies already in place.

7.

Bomb kills dozens of police in Libya

A suicide truck bomb exploded at a Libyan police academy on Thursday, killing at least 60 people and wounding 200. An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack, which came as Islamist militants try to expand their influence in the North African nation by exploiting the instability that followed the 2011 overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi. The explosion occurred as 400 recruits gathered early in the morning at the center in Zliten, on the coast between Tripoli, the capital, and the port of Misrata.

8.

Two Middle East refugees charged with supporting overseas terrorists

Two Palestinian men from Iraq who came to the U.S. as refugees have been arrested in California and Texas on charges of supporting Islamist terrorists overseas, U.S. officials said on Thursday. One of the men, Omar Faraj Saeed al-Hardan, was arrested in Houston. The other, Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, 23, was detained in Sacramento. Neither was accused of plotting an attack in the U.S., but one was charged with supporting the Islamic State overseas.

9.

Jobs report expected to show healthy gains in December

Economists expect the federal jobs report on Friday to show that employers added a solid 200,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain at 5 percent for a third straight month, according to data firm FactSet. The Labor Department reported that the economy added a healthy 211,000 jobs in November. Analysts say the end-of-year jobs report is critical, because if it meets expectations it could help stabilize markets rattled by China's economic trouble.

10.

2015 second hottest year on record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Thursday that 2015 was the second hottest year in the U.S. on record. The average temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 54.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.4 degrees above the last century's average. The only hotter year since records began being kept in 1895 was 2012, when the average hit 55.3 degrees, NOAA said. It was the 19th straight year above the 20th century average.

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