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10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2013
A Fed surprise boosts stocks, McCain slams Putin in Pravda, and more
 
McCain slammed Putin for coddling dictators and rigging elections in Pravda
McCain slammed Putin for coddling dictators and rigging elections in Pravda (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

1. The Fed unexpectedly decides not to slow its stimulus
Stock indexes surged to record highs late Wednesday after the Federal Reserve, in a surprise move, said it would continue buying $85 billion in bonds and other assets every month to stimulate the economy. Investors had expected the Fed to taper off, but Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the job market hadn't improved enough yet. With mortgage rates rising and Congress cutting spending, he said, the recovery could falter if the Fed cut back now. [Forbes, Los Angeles Times]
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2. McCain responds to Putin's op-ed by slamming the Russian president... in Pravda
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption and repression in an opinion article published Thursday on Pravda's English-language website. Responding to Putin's recent New York Times op-ed mocking American exceptionalism, McCain said Putin coddles tyrants (including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad), jails dissidents, and rigs elections. "Russians deserve better than Putin," he wrote. [Reuters]
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3. House Republicans push defunding ObamaCare despite the risk of a shutdown
Bending to pressure from Tea Party conservatives, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday unveiled a plan tying the money needed to keep the government open on October 1 to stripping funding for ObamaCare. A vote is scheduled for Friday, although Democrats controlling the Senate flatly reject the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said GOP "anarchists" would rather force a disastrous shutdown than compromise. [New York Times]
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4. Navy Yard reopens three days after deadly rampage
The Washington Navy Yard reopened Thursday morning for the first time since a gunman, identified as Aaron Alexis, killed 12 people on Monday before he was shot dead by police. Investigators are still searching for a motive, although they know the former Navy reservist was paranoid and hearing voices. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of how Alexis, who worked for a defense contractor, got security clearance despite the red flags. [ABC News, Associated Press]
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5. Assad denies his forces used sarin gas despite U.N. evidence
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a defiant interview aired by Fox News Wednesday night, repeated his denial that his forces had used chemical weapons. Assad blamed the August 21 attack that the White House says killed 1,400 people on terrorist rebels. Buried inside a report by United Nations inspectors, however, is evidence indicating that rockets containing sarin were fired from areas controlled by elite military units loyal to Assad. [Fox News, New York Times]
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6. Second private company sends a spacecraft to the space station
Orbital Sciences Corp. on Wednesday successfully launched a two-stage Antares rocket carrying an unmanned Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station. The craft's maiden flight would mark a significant milestone for NASA, giving it a second private company capable of resupplying orbiting astronauts. Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has already proved it can make the trip. [Orlando Sentinel]
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7. Facebook apologizes for ad with a photo of girl who committed suicide
Facebook on Wednesday banned a dating website that posted an ad with a picture of Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old who killed herself after images of her rape were posted online and went viral. The ad, purchased by Ionechat, included a photo of Parsons that had been featured in many stories about her suicide. "Find Love in Canada!" the ad said. Facebook apologized and quickly removed the ad, calling it a "gross violation of our ad policies." [Think Progress]
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8. Iran releases prisoners as Rouhani heads to the U.S.
Iran unexpectedly freed 11 prominent political prisoners on Wednesday in a gesture of goodwill on the eve of a trip to the U.S. by the country's new president, reformist cleric Hassan Rouhani. Analysts called the move a potentially significant step toward Rouhani's pledge to repair the Islamist republic's relationship with the U.S. Rouhani also said his administration "will never develop nuclear weapons." [New York Times, MSNBC]
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9. Egyptian soldiers raid a pro-Morsi stronghold
Egyptian security forces clashed with Islamist gunmen on Thursday in a raid aimed at regaining control of a town, Kerdasa, near Cairo that is controlled by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. An Egyptian general was killed in the fighting. The army-backed interim government essentially pulled out of the area after an August 14 attack on the town's main police station left 11 officers dead. [Reuters]
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10. '70s boxing great Ken Norton dies
Former heavyweight boxing champion Ken Norton died Wednesday at a Nevada medical facility, where he was recovering from a stroke. He was 70. Norton, the father of former NFL linebacker Ken Norton Jr., was known for a series of great bouts in the 1970s against Muhammad Ali. In 1973, Norton broke Ali's jaw in their first fight, winning in a split decision, then lost a rematch six months later. Ali won their final contest, in 1976. [CNN]

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Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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