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10 things you need to know today: December 23, 2013
The ObamaCare enrollment deadline arrives, Americans get out of South Sudan, and more
Non-critical United Nations staff are relocated out of South Sudan on Dec. 22.
Non-critical United Nations staff are relocated out of South Sudan on Dec. 22. (REUTERS/UNMISS/Handout via Reuters)

1. Deadline hits for early 2014 ObamaCare coverage
A key deadline for ObamaCare enrollment has arrived. Monday is the last day most Americans can sign up for insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges to have their coverage take effect on Jan. 1, as the law requires. Call centers have been beefed up to help consumers confused by the ObamaCare website's botched launch and a flurry of late policy fixes. President Obama on Sunday urged those without coverage to sign up online. [Politico, Fox News]
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2. U.S. citizens evacuated from rebel turf in South Sudan
Fifteen Americans were evacuated from a United Nations compound in the rebel-held town of Bor in South Sudan on Sunday. The evacuation came a day after U.S. Special Operations forces tried to get the Americans out but had to turn back when their three Osprey aircraft came under small-arms fire that injured four American service members. President Obama said he would take further military action if necessary to protect Americans. [New York Times, Associated Press]
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3. Apple's China distribution deal lifts its stock
Apple stock jumped by 3.7 percent in pre-market trading on Monday after the company confirmed a distribution deal with China Mobile that will give the iPhone maker access to a market dominated by rival Samsung. The Chinese mobile carrier will be launching iPhone sales next month. Some analysts say iPhones are priced to high for Apple to expect big sales, but news of the deal gave U.S. stock index futures a boost early Monday. [CNBC, Reuters]
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4. Extreme weather turns deadly
Severe weather, including tornadoes, killed at least seven people as volatile conditions spread up the East Coast on Sunday. While many areas were hit with icy storms, Philadelphia and New York got record high temperatures. The temperature in New York's Central Park hit 71 degrees, breaking a 1998 record of 63 degrees, and the wild weather in the area is expected to continue as temperatures plunge to near freezing by Monday night. [Reuters, CNN]
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5. Appeals court declines to halt Utah gay weddings
A federal appeals court on Sunday rejected Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's request for an emergency stay to prevent officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a lower-court judge ruled Utah's gay-marriage ban unconstitutional. The state will ask the original judge to stay his own ruling on Monday as it pushes its appeal, arguing that gay couples rushing to get wed will be harmed if their marriages are later invalidated. [Reuters, Salt Lake Tribune]
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6. Bangladeshi factory owners face charges for deadly fire
Police in Bangladesh on Sunday charged the owners of a garment factory with culpable homicide in connection with a fire that killed 112 workers last year. A series of recent tragedies — including the collapse of a factory complex in April in which more than 1,100 workers died — has spotlighted unsafe conditions in the world's second-largest garment industry, but this is the first time factory owners have been prosecuted for negligence. [Associated Press]
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7. Al Qaeda says it is sorry for Yemen attack
Al Qaeda's Yemen branch on Sunday issued a rare apology for an attack on a hospital attached to the Defense Ministry that killed 52 people in December. Qassim al-Rimi, commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninula, said in a video posted online that one of his fighters disobeyed an order not to enter the hospital. "Now we acknowledge our mistake and guilt," al-Rimi said, promising "blood money for the victims' families." [Associated Press]
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8. Freed Pussy Riot members call their release a PR ploy
Two members of the punk band Pussy Riot were released from Russian prisons on Monday and promptly denounced their amnesty as a publicity stunt by President Vladimir Putin. The women were sentenced to two years for "hooliganism" after performing an anti-Putin song in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. They were due to be freed within three months, and said Putin let them out early to improve Russia's image ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics. [Voice of America]
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9. Rodman leaves North Korea
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman left North Korea on Monday without saying whether he had seen leader Kim Jong Un. The two established an unlikely friendship during Rodman's two earlier basketball diplomacy visits to the secretive communist state. The visit came a week after the execution of Kim's once-powerful uncle sparked speculation about the future of his regime. [Associated Press]
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10. Manning breaks NFL record for touchdown passes
Peyton Manning threw his 51st touchdown pass of the season on Sunday, breaking Tom Brady's NFL record. Manning threw four touchdowns — three of them in the fourth quarter — to lead his Denver Broncos to a 37-13 victory over the Houston Texans. Brady, meanwhile, won a record 11th division title as a starting quarterback when his team, the New England Patriots, beat the Ravens to win the AFC East crown. [Sports Network, SBNation]

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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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