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10 things you need to know today: December 23, 2012
Egypt approves its new constitution, Indian protests over gang-rape turn violent, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Delhi police try to disperse demonstrators protesting after the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman.
Delhi police try to disperse demonstrators protesting after the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman. Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

1. EGYPTIANS BACK NEW CONSTITUTION
An Islamist-backed Egyptian constitution won approval in a referendum, after a second-round of voting concluded on Saturday. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Mohamed Morsi to power in a June election, said an unofficial tally showed 64 percent of voters backed the charter. An opposition official also said their unofficial vote showed the result was a "yes" vote, while a party spokesman said there were abuses during the voting. Still the vote does not guarantee Morsi a smooth road ahead in his attempt to unify the country after a protracted political crisis. "The referendum is not the end of the road," said Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the main opposition group National Salvation Front. "It is only the beginning of a long struggle for Egypt's future." The new basic law sets a limit of two four-year presidential terms. It says the principles of sharia, Islamic law, remain the main source of legislation. It also says Islamic authorities will be consulted on sharia — a source of concern to Christians and others. [Reuters]
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2. PROTESTS OVER GANG-RAPE IN INDIA TURN VIOLENT 
Police in New Delhi used tear gas and water cannons this weekend to suppress demonstrations that erupted over the gang-rape and beating of a 23-year-old woman last week. Thousands of people gathered to protest the country's rape laws, as more and more people joined the fight to demand the death penalty for the six suspects who have been arrested for beating and raping the woman, a student, and then throwing her from a moving vehicle. Television footage showed that some demonstrators were injured in the melee. A police spokesman also told AFP that a journalist covering the protests in Manipur state in northeast India was killed in the protest by "police firing." The government has banned demonstrations over the gang rape of the student in Delhi. [BBC, Associated Press]
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3. LAST FUNERALS HELD FOR SANDY HOOK VICTIMS
On Saturday, the final victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were laid to rest. Funerals for Josephine Gay, 7, Ana Marquez-Greene, 6, and Emilie Parker, 6, were the last held during a week of services to remember the 20 children and six adults who were shot to death in the Newtown, Conn., school on Dec. 14. On Friday, church bells in Newtown marked the week since the tragedy, chiming 26 times to honor each of the victims at Sandy Hook. [Huffington Post]
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4. ITALY DISSOLVES PARLIAMENT, SCHEDULES NEW ELECTIONS
A day after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti resigned his position, President Giorgio Napolitano dissolved parliament, paving the way for elections in February that will focus on Monti's austerity policies. Napolitano said there was "no alternative" after Monti lost his majority because former premier Silvio Berlusconi withdrew his support. Monti may still pursue re-election. While he has overseen a recovery in Italy's bonds and repaired its tattered standing abroad, his agenda left Italians with higher taxes, rising unemployment, and a shrinking economy. [Bloomberg]
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5. U.N. ENVOY IN DAMASCUS TO MEET WITH ASSAD
International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Damascus on Sunday to hold talks with top Syrian officials, including President Bashar al-Assad, to discuss the ongoing civil war. Brahimi flew into Beirut and traveled by road to Syria because of heavy fighting near the airport in Damascus. Brahimi was last in Damascus on Oct. 19. Meanwhile Syria's information minister refuted comments by Syria's vice president last week saying that neither the rebels nor the Syrian forces could win the war. "There are 23 million people in Syria with their own personal opinions, this was one of those 23 million," the information minister said. [Reuters, Radio Free Europe]
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6. POLL: BOEHNER LEAST POPULAR MEMBER OF CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP
A new report released by Rasmussen found that 51 percent of likely voters rated House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) unfavorably, making him the most disliked member of congressional leadership, a position held for several years by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Boehner has taken a beating over his role in the now stalled fiscal-cliff talks and some say his speakership could be on the line. [Huffington Post]
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7. JUDGE WHO SENTENCED GIFFORDS' SHOOTER WANTS ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN
Judge Larry Burns, who sentenced Jared Loughner, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' shooter, to life in prison, is advocating for a national ban on assault weapons "to take the 'mass' out of mass shootings." Since Loughner killed six people and wounded Giffords and several others in January 2011, there have been six deadly mass shootings, he wrote in The Los Angeles Times. Burns, a conservative who is also a gun owner, added that while such a measure might not necessarily prevent shooting rampages, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would reduce casualties. [Los Angeles Times]
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8. CHAVEZ STABILIZING AFTER CANCER SURGERY
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that President Hugo Chavez' condition is becoming increasingly stable as he recovers from cancer surgery in Cuba. Chavez underwent surgery Dec. 11, about two months after being elected to another six-year presidential term. It was his fourth cancer-related operation since June 2011. Complications following the latest surgery and Chavez's silence since the procedure have thrown into doubt whether he will be able to return to Venezuela for his Jan. 10 inauguration. [Associated Press]
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9. FDA: GENETICALLY MODIFIED FISH NOT ENVIRONMENTAL THREAT
The FDA has released its assessment of the AquaAdvantage salmon, a genetically modified fish that grows faster than a regular salmon, saying that the fish would not have "any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment," clearing the way for the first approval of a scientifically engineered animal for human consumption. The FDA also said the genetically modified fish is unlikely to harm populations of natural salmon. The agency will take comments from the public for 60 days before making its report final. [Associated Press]
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10. SOURCES: JAGUARS WANT TIM TEBOW
According to NFL sources, quarterback Tim Tebow will almost certainly be released by the New York Jets and join the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 2013 season. The Jets can either trade Tebow or release him, but the team will reportedly honor his request to be released and therefore become an unrestricted free agent. Tebow has played very little with the Jets and was bypassed for third-string quarterback Greg McElroy when coach Rex Ryan benched Mark Sanchez as a starter this week. [ESPN]

 

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