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10 things you need to know today: November 21, 2013
The U.S. and Afghanistan reach a security pact, North Korea arrests an American tourist, and more
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday outlined the security deal to a consultive council of elders. 
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday outlined the security deal to a consultive council of elders.  (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

1. Washington and Kabul reach a security pact
The U.S. and Afghanistan agreed on a security deal to allow thousands of U.S. training and counterterrorism troops to stay behind after NATO forces withdraw at the end of 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, however, told tribal leaders meeting on Thursday to consider the pact that he wouldn't sign it. He said that it should be left for his successor after elections next year. U.S. officials fear an extended delay could derail the plan. [Reuters, Wall Street Journal]
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2. U.S. vet, 85, is detained in North Korea
U.S. and Chinese diplomats met in Beijing on Thursday to discuss securing the release of an 85-year-old American tourist who has been detained in North Korea for more than three weeks. The man, Korean War veteran Merrill Newman of California, was reportedly yanked off a plane as it prepared to depart Pyongyang. Newman's son, Jeff, said his dad has been interested in North Korean culture for years and just wanted to see the country. He said his dad had been held since October 26 even though he "had all the proper visas." [CNN]
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3. Illinois formally legalizes gay marriage
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage in his state. That made President Obama's home state, where Democrats hold the governor's office and majorities in both legislative chambers, the 16th to permit gay marriage. The state legalized same-sex unions in 2011, but Quinn said the new law would complete some "unfinished business" and help ensure that "love is not relegated to a second-class status" for anyone. [Associated Press]
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4. Drone strike kills a senior Haqqani network militant
A suspected U.S. drone strike killed a leader of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network at an Islamic seminary in northwestern Pakistan early Thursday. The group is one of the main enemies of U.S. and other foreign forces in neighboring Afghanistan. The strike was the first inside Pakistan since an attack that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud on November 1, triggering a power struggle within the fragmented insurgency. [Reuters]
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5. Obama and Clinton honor John F. Kennedy
President Obama and former President Bill Clinton honored John F. Kennedy on Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. The solemn ceremony was the first in a series of events leading up to Friday, the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. Before the visit to Kennedy's grave, Obama awarded Clinton and 15 others, including Oprah Winfrey, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Kennedy created. [USA Today]
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6. Fed minutes frighten overseas investors
Global stocks dipped early Thursday after the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, in which the U.S. central bank's leaders indicated they would probably start tapering their economy-stimulating bond purchasing program in the "coming months." Fed members also suggested they might slow the asset purchases even without definitive evidence that the job market is improving. [Associated Press]
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7. Police identify shooting suspect in Paris
French authorities have arrested a suspect in the shooting at a Paris office of the left-leaning newspaper Libération. Police identified the alleged shooter as Abdelhakim Dekhar, who was jailed in 1998 in connection with a string of fatal shootings in Paris. Prosecutors said Wednesday that Dekhar's DNA matched evidence from the crime scenes. Police acting on a tip arrested him in a parking garage. [BBC News]
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8. Serial killer executed in Missouri
White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin was executed in Missouri on Wednesday after the Supreme Court rejected his request for a stay. The appeal delayed his death by a few hours. Franklin was sentenced to die for the murder of Gerald Gordon outside a St. Louis synagogue in 1977, but he has been blamed for 22 killings in what authorities say was a three-year killing spree intended to start a race war. [CNN]
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9. Lance Armstrong settles fraud case
Disgraced former cycling champion Lance Armstrong reached a settlement in a civil fraud case hours before he was scheduled to testify in a Thursday deposition. Armstrong was facing pretrial discovery in a lawsuit filed against him by Acceptance Insurance, which paid him $3 million in bonuses for winning the Tour de France in 1999 through 2001, more than a decade before he admitted to doping. [USA Today]
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10. Nuts can save your life
Eating nuts can reduce your risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and several other ailments, according to Harvard research published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Over the three-decade study, people who regularly ate nuts were 20 percent less likely than those who didn't to die of any cause — even if they didn't exercise. One of the authors said the benefits are comparable to those of exercising or avoiding trans fats. [Boston Globe]

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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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