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10 things you need to know today: January 9, 2014
Chris Christie is shaken by a traffic scandal, Utah stops recognizing its own gay-marriage licenses, and more
Christie at his State of the State address on Jan. 8.
Christie at his State of the State address on Jan. 8. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

1. Christie denies involvement in bridge-closing scandal
Newly-released emails suggest that members of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's staff orchestrated lane closings on the George Washington Bridge that caused traffic gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J., last September to punish the city's mayor for failing to support Christie's reelection campaign. Christie, facing an early test for his potential 2016 presidential candidacy, denied knowing anything about the stunt. He called it "unacceptable" and vowed to hold those involved accountable. [The New York Times, NBC News]
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2. Utah says it won't recognize gay marriages, for now
Utah is suspending recognition of the marriages of 1,400 gay couples who wed after a federal judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court this week put the lower-court ruling on hold pending the state's appeal. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert's chief of staff said that due to the high court's decision "same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice." [Reuters]
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3. Fed minutes fuel investor caution
Stocks closed mostly lower on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its most recent policy meeting suggesting that the effects of the central bank's bond-buying stimulus program might be fading. The declines, though modest, deepened market losses in the first five trading days of 2014 (the S&P 500 index is down 0.6 percent so far). January is usually a bullish month, so slow starts can be seen as a bad omen by investors. [MarketWatch, USA Today]
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4. The International Space Station gets four more years
President Obama has backed extending the life of the International Space Station to 2024, giving it four years beyond what was previously budgeted, the White House and NASA announced Wednesday. NASA said that with a full decade still ahead, the $100 billion orbiting outpost will be better able to crank out valuable scientific work and help build up the private space industry that will fly cargo and crews to the space station. [Florida Today]
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5. Canada confirms North America's first H5N1 death
Canada has reported the first fatal case of H5N1 bird flu in North America. The victim's symptoms first appeared during a trip to China, before a return flight from Beijing. Canadian health officials say the case was isolated and there was no evidence anyone else had been infected. The World Health Organization said there had been 384 fatal infections worldwide, mostly in Asia, by mid-December. [Associated Press]
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6. Cursing baby taken into protective custody
Nebraska authorities have taken a toddler into protective custody after the diapered child appeared in an online video in which he is berated with obscenities by adults, and responds by giving them the finger and saying, "Shut up, bitch." Omaha police said there was no evidence of a crime in the clip, but that their investigation had uncovered safety concerns. [CNN]
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7. German accused of participating in World War II massacre
An 88-year-old German man — identified only as Werner C. because of German privacy laws — was charged Wednesday with taking part in a June 1944 Nazi massacre in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, in which 642 people were gunned down or burned alive. It was one of the most notorious civilian slaughters of World War II, nearly wiping out the town's entire population. [Associated Press]
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8. Venezuelans protest ex-beauty queen's murder
The murder of soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex-husband in a botched highway robbery this week has ignited calls for the Venezuela's government to do something about rampant violent crime. The political opposition is planning a protest march on the national assembly. President Nicolas Maduro sent his private jet to fly Spear's parents in from Florida for her funeral, and vowed an "iron fist" against crime. [The Telegraph]
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9. Maddux and Glavine get into baseball's Hall of Fame
Two widely revered former Atlanta Braves pitchers — Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine — and ex-Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas were voted into baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Sportswriters voted nobody in last year in protest against the steroid scandal that has tainted the game. The anger is still there. Tainted home-run king Barry Bonds and pitcher Roger Clemens received fewer ballots in this vote than they did last year. [NPR]
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10. Rodman says he is sorry for bizarre rant
Dennis Rodman apologized Thursday for a rant on CNN in which he suggested that Kenneth Bae, an American imprisoned in North Korea, was to blame for his own arrest. Rodman said he had been drinking and was upset because his dream of "basketball diplomacy" was unraveling as players dropped out of a Wednesday exhibition game. The game went on as planned, though, and Rodman even sang "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. [Associated Press]

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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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