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10 things you need to know today: January 4, 2013
Boehner wins another term as speaker, Gabbie Giffords heads to Newtown, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) holds the gavel during the first session of the 113th Congress on Jan. 3.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) holds the gavel during the first session of the 113th Congress on Jan. 3. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

1. BOEHNER KEEPS HIS JOB IN AN UNUSUALLY CLOSE VOTE
John Boehner won a second term as speaker of the House on Thursday, beating Democrat Nancy Pelosi in a 220-192 vote on the opening day of the 113th Congress. It was the narrowest margin in a speaker vote since 1997, and Boehner almost faced the embarrassment of having to go to a second round of voting to win a majority, as a dozen hardline conservatives withheld their votes in a rebuke of the Ohio Republican's leadership. The conservatives who opposed Boehner — some abstaining, others casting ballots for people who weren't in the running, including recently ousted Tea Party Rep. Allen West — were still seething over his handling of the fiscal-cliff fight, which ended with Democrats pushing through a deal that included tax hikes for the wealthy. An emotional Boehner, fighting back tears, vowed to use his second term to reduce the debt to keep it from "draining free enterprise." [Reuters]
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2. GIFFORDS TO VISIT NEWTOWN
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a shooting spree that killed six people in Tucson two years ago, plans to visit Newtown, Conn., on Friday to meet with families of the 20 children and six adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The office of Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who has been invited, said Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, is scheduled to attend with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords, who has made a remarkable recovery from a gunshot wound to the head, has become an advocate for gun control since her injury, met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday to discuss the need for tougher gun laws in the wake of the Newtown rampage. [Associated Press]
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3. VENEZUELA'S CHAVEZ BATTLES COMPLICATIONS FROM CANCER SURGERY
As opposition politicians demanded more information on Hugo Chavez's health, a government spokesman said the Venezuelan president was suffering from a "severe lung infection" that developed in his fourth operation for cancer. The surgery took place on Dec. 11, and Chavez, 58, has been confined to a hospital in Cuba ever since. Chavez's rivals have demanded to know what will happen if he can't attend a ceremony next week where he is to be sworn in for a fourth term, as opposition activists speculate about a split between his chosen successor, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, and National Assembly Head Diosdado Cabello, who takes charge if Chavez can't. [BBC]
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4. WOMEN BEAT INDIAN LAWMAKER ACCUSED OF RAPE
On the day when police officially filed charges in the deadly gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, an angry crowd stripped and beat a lawmaker who had just been accused of sexually assaulting a woman on Wednesday. Local television stations aired footage showing woman ripping off the shirt of Bikram Singh Brahma, a member of the Congress Party, after a man accused the lawmaker of raping his wife while staying in the family's home. The women also hit Brahma in the face and stomach before several men started hitting Brahma, too. The incident followed a wave of protests and an outburst of anger of widespread abuse of women in India that erupted over the gang-rape case, in which a group of men raped and beat the young medical student for an hour on a bus. She died later of her injuries. [New York Times]
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5. TEEN SHOT BY TALIBAN DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for advocating girls' education, was released from a U.K. hospital on Thursday. After nearly three months of treatment, her doctors determined that "she would benefit from being at home" with her parents and two brothers, officials said. In late January or early February, she will return for complex cranial reconstruction surgery "as part of her long-term recovery," her doctors said. The 15-year-old was shot by a Taliban gunman who boarded the bus taking her home from school. The bullet entered just above her left eye, and grazed her brain. [Telegraph]
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6. CHINA BLOCKS REFORMIST WEBSITE
The Chinese government shut down the website of a leading pro-reform magazine on Friday, shortly after the publication ran an article calling for political reform and constitutional government. The magazine, Yanhuang Chunqiu (China Through the Ages), posted a New Year's message saying that "the abuses caused by political reform lagging economic reform" were causing instability in China, and urged the country's new leadership to confront the "urgent task" of reforming the country's communist political system. Analysts have been looking for signs that China's president-in-waiting and new party chief Xi Jinping might allow more free expression and grassroots democracy. Online commenters said people expecting the government to change "need to wake up." [Reuters]
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7. HILLARY CLINTON RETURNING TO WORK
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to return to work next week after three weeks of medical treatment after she fainted and hit her head in December. "She's sounding terrific, upbeat, raring to go," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday. Clinton was released from a New York hospital late Wednesday after being treated with blood thinners after a blood clot was discovered near her brain. Doctors expect her to make a full recovery, but her time back on the job will probably be brief, as she plans to step down later this month when President Obama's second term begins. Obama is expected to officially nominate Sen. John Kerry to replace her within days. [Washington Post]
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8. REGULATORS CLEAR GOOGLE IN ANTITRUST CASE
The Federal Trade Commission, after a two-year investigation, has determined that Google didn't violate antitrust laws by delivering search results that highlight its own services. The FTC did, however, find that Google had misused broad patents on cell-phone and wireless technology, and the company agreed to make the technology available to competitors. The settlement, released Thursday, constitutes a major victory for Google and allows it to avoid a costly and lengthy battle similar to the one Microsoft fought in the 1990s. That antitrust battle helped competitors challenge Microsoft's tech dominance, and now the weakened software giant is among the loudest voices complaining that Google is using its ubiquitous search engine to unfairly squelch competition. [New York Times]
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9. CONGRESS PREPARES TO VOTE ON SANDY AID
The House is expected to hold a vote — promised by Speaker John Boehner — on Friday to approve a $9.7 billion bill to pay flood insurance claims filed by victims of Hurricane Sandy. If the House signs off on the measure, as expected, the Senate plans to pass it in an uncontested vote within hours. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has warned that the National Flood Insurance Program will run out of money next week without extra cash for claims stemming from the superstorm that devastated the mid-Atlantic coast in October. [Associated Press]
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10. IRAN AGREES TO NUCLEAR TALKS
Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Friday that his country had agreed to hold talks later this month with the U.S. and five other countries determined to get Tehran to curb its nuclear program. The six powers — the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, Germany, and China — have tried to get Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment program, which the country's leaders insist is intended for peaceful purposes, not weapons. Three rounds of talks held since April have gone nowhere, but neither side has wanted to break off the negotiations for fear that the only option then would be a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by Israel, and war. [Reuters]

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