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10 things you need to know today: December 1, 2013
The White House calls the new HealthCare.gov a success, Auburn defeats Alabama, and more
 
Auburn had a stunning victory over in-state rival Alabama Saturday night.
Auburn had a stunning victory over in-state rival Alabama Saturday night. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

1. White House declares new HealthCare.gov a success
Following a frenzied race to fix the site, the Obama administration declared victory on Sunday in its effort to get HealthCare.gov working smoothly for the vast majority of users. In a six-page progress and performance report, administration officials said the troubled website could now handle at least 800,000 visitors per day. The new performance levels mark significant improvement after the ObamaCare website's disastrous Oct. 1 launch. Officials remain concerned about high volumes this month, with the potential for large numbers of people entering the site to apply for insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1. [Reuters]
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2. Train derails in New York City
A Metro-North train derailed shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday morning at Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, killing at least two. About 100 firefighters are responding to the scene amid multiple injuries. Two to five cars came off the track, though they did not enter the water, according to CNN affiliates. Service has been suspended on part of the Hudson Line. [CNN]
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3. U.S. and Afghanistan negotiations may lead to zero troop option
An increasing stalemate between the U.S. and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai has made the prospect of keeping no troops in Afghanistan after 2014, a "zero option," more realistic than the White House anticipated. After its longest war in history, the U.S. may have to dismantle the bulk of its counterterrorism infrastructure there and abandon Afghanistan's security forces. A wholesale withdrawal would also shut down ­foreign aid and sharply limit any U.S. diplomatic presence. The uncertainty over the long-term security deal has the potential to be particularly damaging on the eve of Afghanistan's presidential election, scheduled to take place next spring. [Washington Post]
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4. At least two die in Thailand protests
At least two people were killed after violence erupted between rival political factions in Thailand's capital late Saturday and early Sunday. It was the first violence during a week of protests aimed at unseating the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The raging protests are the largest in the country since 2010. [NBC News]
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5. Analysts hope North Korea will release American hostage soon
Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old American tourist and Korean War veteran who was detained from a plane departing from North Korea a month ago, may soon be released from detention. Yesterday, Pyongyang claimed that Newman had apologized for crimes during the Korean War and a recent trip. On Saturday, the White House urged North Korea to consider 85-year-old Merrill Newman's "advanced age and health conditions" and allow his return home, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council. The situation underscores the continuing danger of visiting the police state even after tourist hotels have popped up. [Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY]
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6. Retired general says U.S. has accepted Iranian nuclear enrichment
Retired Gen. Michael Hayden said on Fox News Sunday that last month's nuclear deal with Iran marks a reversal from previous agreements with the United Nations. "We have accepted Iranian nuclear enrichment," Hayden said, noting that the agreement conflicts with U.N. resolutions. Despite those reservations, Hayden said he's willing to see how the deal plays out in the long run. [Politico]
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7. Protesters storm Ukrainian capital
Thousands of pro-Europe demonstrators are marching through Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in protest of President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign an EU trade deal. President Yanukovych's refusal to sign the deal has already caused the violent dispersal of tens of thousands protesters denouncing that decision since last week. [BBC News]
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8. Actor Paul Walker dies
Paul Walker, star of The Fast and the Furious, died Saturday afternoon when a car he was in crashed and exploded in Santa Clarita, near Los Angeles, Calif. The driver also died. The actor was attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. [People]
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9. Auburn beats in-state rival Alabama
A last-second touchdown brought No. 4 Auburn to a 34-28 victory over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, upending the two-time defending national champion's BCS hopes. The stunning win helped Auburn clinch a spot in the SEC championship game. [ABC News]
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10. "World's ugliest dog" dies
The former "world's ugliest dog" died Thanksgiving morning. Elwood, a hairless Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix except for a tuft of white hair atop his head, died unexpectedly. The dog won his title in 2007 at the Marin-Sonoma County Fair in Calif., where he gained fans and inspired the children's book Everyone Loves Elwood. [TIME]

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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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