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10 things you need to know today: December 11, 2013
Congress reaches a two-year budget deal, Mary Barra becomes the first woman to run GM, and more
 
Murray and Ryan say their budget deal will prevent a shutdown in January.
Murray and Ryan say their budget deal will prevent a shutdown in January. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

1. Congressional negotiators reach a budget deal
House and Senate budget negotiators agreed Tuesday to raise military and domestic spending over two years and shift the burden of across-the-board cuts to other programs. The two-year deal eliminates $65 billion in spending cuts under the sequester, while saving $25 billion by extending 2 percent cuts in Medicare by an extra two years. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said the pact would prevent a government shutdown in January. [New York Times]
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2. Mary Barra becomes first woman to run GM
General Motors on Tuesday named Mary Barra as its new chief executive. She's the first woman in history to head a major U.S. automaker. Barra, a longtime GM executive who most recently served as an executive vice president, will replace CEO Dan Akerson on Jan. 15. Barra is the latest in a series of women named to lead companies, including Yahoo, Lockheed Martin, and Hewlett-Packard, in industries long dominated by men. [Washington Post]
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3. South Africans line up to pay their last respects to Mandela
Thousands of South Africans lined up Wednesday for a chance to file past the body of Nelson Mandela lying in state, a day after a massive memorial service for the late anti-apartheid icon. The body is on display below the façade of the Union Buildings in Pretoria — where Mandela was sworn in as South Africa's first black president 19 years ago. Mandela's body will remain there until his funeral on Sunday. [New York Times]
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4. Obama gets grief for being cordial to Raul Castro
President Obama faced criticism from GOP lawmakers after shaking hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial in South Africa on Tuesday. Cuba-born Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Fla.) called the image "nauseating." The White House said Obama's focus was honoring Mandela, and the gesture didn't signal a change in Washington's arms-length policy toward the former Cold War rival. [Los Angeles Times]
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5. Ukrainian officials try to break up protest camp
Hundreds of Ukrainian riot police stormed a camp of protesters in the central square of the capital, Kiev, early Wednesday, knocking down barricades and tents. Demonstrators resisted, shouting "Shame!" and singing the former Soviet republic's national anthem. The clashes marked an escalation in the response to protests that began in late November after President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from plans to strengthen ties with the European Union. [Associated Press]
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6. Missing family found alive in freezing Nevada mountains
Rescuers found two adults and four children, who had been missing in Nevada for two days, in subzero temperatures. Authorities said the two adults — James Glanton, 34, his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25 — did everything right after their Jeep rolled off a dirt road and down an embankment in remote mountains. They lit a fire and heated rocks to keep their two children and two young relatives, all between 3 and 10, warm and to prevent frostbite. [CNN]
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7. California charges "revenge porn" website creator with extortion
A 27-year-old California man, Kevin Bollaert, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly running a "revenge porn" website that posted sexually explicit photos of women without their permission, then allegedly extorted money from them to take them down. Ex-boyfriends and former husbands allegedly posted the images, along with the women's names and links their Facebook profiles. Bollaert allegedly created another site offering to remove the posts for $350. [CNN]
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8. Uruguay approves over-the-counter sales of pot
Legislators in Uruguay on Tuesday legalized growing, selling, and smoking marijuana. The new law will make the South American nation the first ever to create a sanctioned market for the long-banned drug. The law will take effect in four months, allowing Uruguayans to grow six marijuana plants at home per year, and buy pot over the counter from licensed pharmacies. Some called the move a risky experiment; others said it would curb drug trafficking. [Reuters]
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9. Woman pleads guilty of sending ricin-laced letter to Obama
A Texas actress pleaded guilty Tuesday to making the toxic ricin agent that was sent in letters addressed to President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in May. Under a plea deal, the woman — Shannon Guess Richardson, 36 — would spend 18 years in prison followed by five years on supervised release. Richardson, whose career included a small part in The Walking Dead, tried to blame her husband for the crime. [Reuters]
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10. Satellite records coldest temperature ever
Scientists announced this week that a NASA satellite had measured a temperature minus 135.8 degrees on a desolate ice plateau in East Antarctica — the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth. "It's more like you'd see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles," said ice scientist Ted Scambos, who announced the data at an American Geophysical Union meeting. The official record low — taken with a thermometer — is minus 128.6 degrees. [USA Today]
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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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