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10 things you need to know today: September 8, 2013
Rebels seize a Christian town in Syria, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to meet at the U.S. Open finals on Monday, and more
 
Novak Djokovic hits a backhand shot during his 4-hour match against Stanislas Wawrinka at the US Open semifinals on Saturday.
Novak Djokovic hits a backhand shot during his 4-hour match against Stanislas Wawrinka at the US Open semifinals on Saturday. Al Bello/Getty Images

1. al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels seize Christian village
Rebels including al-Qaeda-linked fighters gained control of Maaloula, a Christian village 26 miles northeast of the capital Damascus, on Sunday. The advance was spearheaded by the Jabhat al-Nusra, exacerbating fears about Islamic extremists within the rebel ranks. The development came as President Obama's administration continues efforts to win congressional backing for military strikes against Syria over an alleged chemical attack in August. Obama will address the American people on Tuesday to continue pressing his case. [TIME]
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2. German magazine reveals NSA's smartphone-tapping capabilities
The National Security Agency can crack protective measures on iPhones, BlackBerry, and Android devices, giving it access to nearly all smartphone users' data, according to a report Sunday in German magazine Der Spiegel. The magazine described the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ setting up dedicated teams to gather intelligence on specific individuals, such as terrorists. [The Associated Press]
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3. McDonough: "Common sense test" suggests Assad carried out chemical attacks
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough argued on CNN's State of the Union Sunday that there's more than enough evidence to suggest that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had carried out attacks on his own people. "Here's the common-sense test. The material was used in the eastern suburbs of Damascus that had been controlled by the opposition for some time. It was delivered by rockets, rockets which we know the Assad regime has and we have no indications that the opposition has," McDonough said. [Politico]
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4. Police break up Independence Day protests across Brazil
Police used tear gas to contain anti-corruption protests on Saturday in several Brazilian cities, violently stopping demonstrators from disrupting Independence Day military parades and a soccer game between Brazil and Australia. The protests were much smaller than the massive demonstrations that shook Brazil in June. [Reuters]
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5. Abbott wins Australia's prime minister election, ending Labor Party rule
Tony Abbott became Australia's latest prime minister after a sweeping election victory Saturday that ended six years of Labor Party rule. Abbott, the leader of the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition, benefited from a wave of public bitterness over a hated carbon emissions tax, worries about a flagging economy, and frustration over government infighting. [Washington Post]
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6. Rodman leaves N. Korea, refuses to aid in prisoner release
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman left North Korea on Saturday and refused to push for the release of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in a labor camp after being arrested last year. American officials have been working to obtain Bae's release as tensions have eased between the countries. [New York Times]
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7. Scotland Yard issues apology to Prince Andrew after mistaking him for an intruder
Scotland Yard apologized Sunday after mistaking Prince Andrew for an intruder in Buckingham Palace's gardens on Wednesday and ordering him to verify his identity. The incident happened two days after a man was arrested on suspicion of burglary inside the palace. Police said no weapons were drawn in the incident involving the Queen's second son, who has an apartment and office at Buckingham Palace. [BBC]
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8. Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics
The International Olympic Committee chose Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Games in voting Saturday in Buenos Aires. The Japanese capital beat out bids from Madrid and Istanbul. Tokyo previously hosted the Summer Games in 1964. Japan's bid billed the city as the safe choice, despite radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant. [CNN]

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9. Study shows e-cigarettes to be as effective as nicotine patches
According to a study published in the Lancet medical journal, e-cigarettes work about as well as nicotine patches in helping smokers quit. The study is the first major piece of research to show that the products, which deliver a nicotine mist using a cigarette-shaped pipe, can actually benefit smokers. Public health experts still don't fully embrace the popular e-cigarettes, which are not yet regulated. [NBC News]
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10. Djokovic and Nadal to meet in U.S. Open final Monday
No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal will battle it out in Monday's U.S. Open final after semifinal wins Saturday. Djokovic beat Stanislas Wawrinka, the No. 9 seed, while Nadal defeated No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet to advance. Djokovic and Nadal already have met 36 times, more than any two players in the Open era. [USA TODAY]

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Terri is a freelance writer at TheWeek.com. She's a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, and has worked at TIME and Brides.

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