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10 things you need to know today: December 18, 2013
The budget deal clears a Senate hurdle, India protests the arrest of a diplomat in New York, and more
Right wing activists in New Delhi protest the U.S.'s treatment of an Indian diplomat. 
Right wing activists in New Delhi protest the U.S.'s treatment of an Indian diplomat. 
(AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

1. Budget deal beats filibuster threat
A two-year bipartisan budget deal cleared a final major hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, when a majority of 67 senators beat the threat of a GOP filibuster and approved a final vote on the measure. It could be approved as soon as Wednesday. The budget plan would restore $63 billion in automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs, while trimming the deficit by reducing military and federal employee pensions. [New York Times]
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2. India protests arrest of diplomat in New York
Indian officials reacted angrily on Tuesday to the arrest and alleged strip search of India's deputy consul general, Devyani Khobragade, in New York City. Khobragade was accused of submitting false documents that overstated her housekeeper's pay to secure the woman a work visa. Indian officials said Khobragade was mistreated before posting $250,000 bail. India reportedly retaliated by stripping some U.S. officials in New Delhi of diplomatic privileges. [New York Daily News]
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3. Russia gives Ukraine a bailout, sparking new protests
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout on Tuesday, and slashed gas prices to strengthen its ties with the financially struggling country. The move will help Ukraine avoid bankruptcy, but it prompted fresh protests in Kiev by crowds angry at Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich for dropping a proposed trade deal with the European Union and renewing the former Soviet republic's close relations with Moscow. [Reuters]
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4. Harvard student charged with bomb hoax
Massachusetts prosecutors on Tuesday charged a Harvard undergraduate, Eldo Kim, with making a bomb threat that forced authorities to evacuate four buildings during final exams. Police said Kim, 20, sent emails to university police and administrators on Monday warning there were "shrapnel bombs" in the buildings, three of which were in historic Harvard Yard. The bomb-hoax charge is punishable with up to five years in prison. [Boston Globe]
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5. Hundreds die in clashes after South Sudan coup attempt
Fighting in South Sudan has killed up to 500 people as violence spread after an alleged coup attempt, United Nations diplomats said Tuesday. The oil-rich East African country's government said it had arrested 10 high-ranking politicians accused of being involved in the plot, and was searching for their leader, a former vice president. The turmoil comes just two and a half years after South Sudan, Africa's newest state, seceded from Sudan. [Associated Press, Reuters]
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6. Two dead in Reno hospital shooting
Two people were killed and another two injured Tuesday in a shooting spree at a Reno medical facility. Police said one of the dead was the alleged shooter, who appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators did not immediately say what firearm had been used, or what they believed to be the motive for the crime. [USA Today]
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7. Zimmerman painting fetches bids exceeding $100,000
A painting made by George Zimmerman, the man who shot Trayvon Martin but was acquitted on murder charges, had received a high bid of $110,100 on eBay as of early Wednesday. The 18-by-24-inch image features a blue American flag and part of the Pledge of Allegiance. "Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself," eBay user therealgeorgez posted. "I found a creative, way to express myself" that "allows me to remain indoors." [Los Angeles Times]
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8. U.K. police say Princess Diana was not murdered
British police said Tuesday that an investigation turned up "no credible evidence" to support suspicions that the British military had something to do with the deaths of Princess Diana, her boyfriend, and their driver 16 years ago. "Every reasonable line of enquiry was objectively pursued in order to fully evaluate any potential evidence," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement concluding the inquiry. [CNN]
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9. Two winners share the second biggest U.S. lottery prize ever
Two winning tickets were drawn Tuesday night for a $636 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot. Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the California Lottery, said the kitty might grow to $648 million once the numbers are tallied from last-minute sales, which Traverso said reached 25,000 tickets per minute. Either way, the prize will be the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, falling just short of the $656 million record. [CBS/AP]
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10. Obama appoints gay athletes to Olympic delegation
President Obama sent a message of protest to Russia over its anti-gay law, passed earlier this year, by announcing Tuesday that the White House delegation to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics would include a gay athlete, former tennis champion Billie Jean King. The delegation will not include the president, first lady, or the vice president for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. [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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