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10 things you need to know today: October 17, 2013
Congress ends the shutdown and avoids default, Cory Booker wins a seat in the Senate, and more
 
Most political observers say the president won this round.
Most political observers say the president won this round. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

1. Congress passes bill to reopen the government, prevent a default
Congress voted late Wednesday to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. President Obama signed the bill just after midnight. Many Republicans, taking the brunt of public anger, voted with Democrats to accept a deal without the delays to ObamaCare they had demanded as a potentially disastrous debt default loomed. "We fought the good fight," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "We just didn't win." [Washington Post]
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2. New Jersey voters send Booker to the Senate
Newark Mayor Cory Booker easily won Wednesday's special election in New Jersey to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, he led conservative Republican Steve Lonegan 55 percent to 44 percent. The charismatic Booker will arrive in Washington as one of the nation's best-known Democrats. He'll join Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) as one of two African-Americans in the Senate. [New York Times]
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3. Iran talks more candidly than ever about its nuclear program
U.S. diplomats said Wednesday that Iran engaged this week in the most serious talks yet over its nuclear program, the latest in a series of signs that relations with Tehran are improving. Still, the Geneva meetings between Iran and six world powers yielded no solid concessions. "No one should expect a breakthrough overnight," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Follow-up talks are scheduled for November. [Reuters]
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4. Dozens killed in Laos plane crash
Forty-nine people were apparently killed on Wednesday when a plane from Laos' state-run airline crashed into the Mekong River in southern Laos, the government said. Rescuers didn't expect to find survivors. The twin-engine turboprop plane went down in bad weather as it was preparing to land at an airport five miles away. There were people from 11 countries on board, including one American. [Associated Press]
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5. Rights group says 30 million are living as slaves
Nearly 30 million people are living in modern-day slavery around the world, according to the new Global Slavery Index compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based human rights group. With overall figures higher than previous estimates (the International Labor Organization puts the number at 21 million), the report cites India as having the most people living as slaves, at 14 million total. Hillary Clinton said governments should see the report as a "call to action." [BBC News]
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6. Dutch diplomat assaulted by intruders in Moscow
Two men forced their way into the home of a high-ranking Dutch diplomat on Wednesday and beat him up. A week earlier, the Netherlands had to issue an apology after police allegedly beat a Russian diplomat in The Hague in what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a "rude violation" of diplomatic treaties. Tensions between the two nations have been rising since Russia arrested 30 Greenpeace activists on a Dutch ship protesting drilling in Russia's Arctic. [Wall Street Journal]
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7. Mark Cuban beats an insider trading charge
A Texas jury cleared billionaire Mark Cuban on insider trading charges. Prosecutors had said Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, used a private tip to avoid a major loss on a 2004 sale of Internet company stock. After the verdict was announced, Cuban accused regulators and government lawyers of lying and trying to bully him. He said the victory was sweet, but "not like winning a Mavs championship." [USA Today]
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8. Ohio considers compensating women held captive by Ariel Castro
A committee of Ohio legislators on Wednesday approved a bill offering compensation to Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, and Amanda Berry for the time they were held captive in the home of kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro, who hanged himself in his jail cell in September. The women would get $25,000 for each year, so Knight would get $275,000 for her 11 years of captivity, Berry $250,000, and DeJesus $225,000. The bill now goes to the full state House. [Reuters]
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9. House stenographer stuns lawmakers with rant
A long-time House of Representatives employee was sent for a mental examination after she walked up to the podium and launched a bizarre rant about God and Freemasons during the vote to end the government shutdown Wednesday night. The woman, a well-liked stenographer identified as Dianne Reidy, said the nation can't serve two masters. "This is not one nation under God. It never was..." she yelled into a mic, which wasn't on. [Washington Times]
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10. Miley Cyrus' new album debuts at No. 1
Miley Cyrus, fresh off her twerking splash, was back in the headlines on Wednesday after Billboard reported that her new release Bangerz had debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The album sold 270,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, making it her fifth album to top the charts. [Reuters]

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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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