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10 things you need to know today: January 1, 2014
The Supreme Court delays an ObamaCare provision, a Chinese obstetrician admits to selling babies, and more
 
Sonia Sotomayor isn't quite ready for that contraception mandate to take effect.
Sonia Sotomayor isn't quite ready for that contraception mandate to take effect. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

1. Supreme Court delays ObamaCare contraception mandate
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an order late Tuesday that temporarily exempts two Catholic nonprofits from new federal requirements to provide contraceptive coverage to employees. ObamaCare's contraception mandate, which became a controversial topic during the 2012 election, was set to go into effect today. While the Supreme Court order technically only affects these two groups, in practice the contraception mandate will be delayed for dozens of religious outfits that had filed similar appeals. [CNN]

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2. Peace talks set in South Sudan
The violent clashes that have erupted across South Sudan may soon be coming to an end. Forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and the supporters of Vice President Riek Machar have agreed to peace talks, which are expected to begin on Thursday. The deadly fighting, which started after Kiir accused his rivals of attempting to stage a coup, has been going on for more than two weeks. [CNN]
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3. Stocks have banner year in 2013
Investors had something to celebrate in 2013, the best year for stocks since 1997. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed out the year at an all-time high of 16,576.66 while the Nasdaq composite gained 38.3 percent in 2013. Standard and Poor's 500 was up 29.6 percent and closed at 1,848.36. [USA Today]
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4. Muslim Brotherhood faces asset forfeiture in Egypt
Egypt's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood continues. After weeks of violent fighting, the interim government has seized the assets of 500 Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Chief among those targeted is former President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the military after a tense standoff last summer. [CBS]
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5. Russian police arrest dozens after Volgograd bombings
A massive anti-terror dragnet by security forces has swept up dozens in Russia after a pair of bombings in Volgograd left at least 34 people dead. More than 5,000 police officers descended on the city in an attempt to find those responsible for the attack. About 1,500 buildings and 1,000 people have been searched since the investigation began. [CNN]
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6. Judge upholds most of New York's gun law
Proponents of gun control scored a win when federal Judge William Skretny upheld New York state's expanded ban on assault weapons as constitutional. But he also ruled that the state could not prohibit residents from loading more than seven rounds in their firearms, saying it was an arbitrary restriction. [New York Times]
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7. Maryland to start issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants
A new Maryland law that will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses is set to take effect today. Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the law, which is designed to make the roads safer by allowing the state to give these drivers both written and roadside tests, in May. Opponents argue the measure rewards those who are in the country illegally, but the bill passed both chambers of the state legislature by fairly wide margins. [Washington Post]
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8. Chinese obstetrician admits to selling babies
Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician standing trial in Shaanxi province, admitted to stealing newborns and then selling them to human traffickers. The doctor reportedly persuaded parents of sick children to give up parental rights. Zhang is accused of selling seven babies to a middleman between November 2011 and July 2013. All but one of the children was recovered. The seventh child died. [CBS]
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9. Utah asks Supreme Court to halt gay marriage
Utah officials are asking the Supreme Court to halt gay marriages after a federal judge struck down a state ban in December. The emergency appeal was filed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles these types of requests for Rocky Mountain states. Since the ban was lifted, more than 900 same-sex couples have obtained marriage licenses in Utah, and the state's Republican governor has directed agencies to comply with the order. [FOX]
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10. Netflix considering cheaper subscription offer
With an eye on Amazon's competitive pricing, Netflix is testing a cheaper subscription service. The company is considering a $6.99 option that will allow customers to stream videos on one screen at a time. Netflix currently has a deal that will allow subscribers to watch on two screens at a time for $7.99. [USA Today]
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Laura Colarusso
Laura Colarusso is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She has previously written for Newsweek, The Boston Globe, the Washington Monthly and The Daily Beast.

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