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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 17, 2016

Julie Kliegman
Vahid Salemi/Associated Press
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1.

Iran has met terms of nuclear deal, U.N. says

Iran has complied with the terms of the July international deal to curb its nuclear program, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday. The U.S. and five other world powers agreed to lift economic sanctions on the nation when the U.N. verified its compliance. Iran will gain access to billions of dollars in frozen accounts overseas. The deal should "bring prosperity and progress to the country," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a speech to parliament Sunday.

2.

Jason Rezaian, other U.S. prisoners leave Iran

Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and other U.S. prisoners in Iran were flown out of the country Sunday. They were first headed to Switzerland, and then to a U.S. military base in Germany for medical examination. Rezaian and three other prisoners were released as part of a prisoner swap that saw clemency for seven Iranians charged or imprisoned in the U.S. on sanctions violations. A fifth American was released in a separate move from the deal.

3.

Obama declares state of emergency over Flint water contamination

President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan, on Saturday in light of the city's ongoing water contamination crisis. The move was requested by Gov. Rick Snyder (R) so that the city could receive federal aid. Flint's tap water became contaminated in 2014 when the city switched supplies. The elevated lead levels found in the water can lead to behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and kidney ailments. Also on Saturday, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders called on Snyder to resign.

4.

Clinton, Sanders prepare for last face-off before Iowa caucuses

As Bernie Sanders posts strong polling numbers in early voting states, he'll face off with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the party's last debate before the Iowa caucuses. Longshot candidate Martin O'Malley will also take the stage in South Carolina. Watch starting at 9 p.m. ET on NBC News or YouTube.

5.

President announces plan to reform unemployment insurance

President Obama proposed a plan Saturday that would provide wage insurance to unemployed workers who take new jobs with lower pay. "It's a way to give families some stability and encourage folks to rejoin the workforce — because we shouldn't just be talking about unemployment; we should be talking about reemployment," Obama said in his weekly address. The president also proposed mandating that all states provide unemployment insurance for at least 26 weeks, a threshold nine states currently don't meet.

6.

ISIS reportedly carries out massacre in Syria

The Islamic State killed 300 people in Syria on Saturday, according to a state news agency. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British agency, reported late Saturday that at least 135 people had been killed, about 80 of whom were soldiers and pro-government militiamen. The rest were apparently civilians. Syrian state media said some of those killed were crucified and beheaded. The terrorist group was also thought to have taken civilians hostage, moving them toward ISIS headquarters in Raqqa.

7.

SpaceX to attempt Falcon 9 barge landing

SpaceX is set to make its third attempt Sunday at landing a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge in the open ocean. Elon Musk's company designs rockets to be reusable after landing, a factor that could greatly reduce costs of accessing space. The launch attempt is set to take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch window opens at 1:42 p.m. ET.

8.

Céline Dion loses husband, brother 2 days apart

Daniel Dion, an older brother of Canadian singer Céline Dion, died Saturday due to cancer. He was 59. Just two days earlier, on Thursday, Dion's husband, René Angélil, died at 73. He had throat cancer. After Angélil died, Dion canceled her Jan. 16 and Jan. 17 performances in Las Vegas.

9.

Jada Pinkett Smith speaks out against lack of Oscars diversity

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith criticized the Academy Awards' all-white acting nominees on social media Saturday, suggesting a possible boycott. "Should people of color refrain from participating all together[sic]?" she wrote on Facebook. "People can only treat us in the way in which we allow." Her husband, Will Smith, is one of many actors of color in critically acclaimed films that missed the cut. He starred in Concussion in 2015.

10.

Patriots, Cardinals advance to conference title games

The New England Patriots are one step closer to winning back-to-back Super Bowl championships. Tom Brady & Co. beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 on Saturday to earn their spot fighting for the AFC championship versus either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Denver Broncos. On the NFC side, Larry Fitzgerald won the game for the Arizona Cardinals 26-20 in overtime after Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers tied it up in regulation with a Hail Mary. The Cards will face either Seattle or Carolina for the conference title.