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  1. TERRIFYING London Theater Ceiling Collapses Bruno Vincent/Getty

    1. London Theater Ceiling Collapses

    Firefighters rushed to rescue people trapped under part of a ceiling that collapsed during a performance at London’s Apollo theater on Thursday. According to a liveblog of the incident, audience members reported hearing “a lot of creaking” during the first half of the evening performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but many assumed it was “part of the scene.” Roughly 76 people were hurt, but no critical injuries have been reported. Independent reporter Simon Usborne was in the theater at the time and has tweeted a photo of audience members with head injuries. He told Sky News that he saw a “curtain of dust falling” before the collapse. 

    December 19, 2013 4:03 PM

  2. YOU’RE EXCUSED Obama Commutes 8 Crack Sentences Carolyn Kaster/AP

    2. Obama Commutes 8 Crack Sentences

    Eight federal inmates imprisoned for crack cocaine offenses are expected to have their sentences commuted by the president on Thursday. The unprecedented move by Obama is seen as a further rebuke to the severe mandatory penalties for drug crimes loosened by 2011’s Fair Sentencing Act, as the inmates likely would have received lighter sentences under current law. “The bottom line…is that there are several thousand more where they came from,” said Julie Stewart, founder of the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. The inmates, who are serving sentences ranging from 15 years to life, would be released within 120 days.

    December 19, 2013 1:12 PM

  3. I Do New Mexico OKs Gay Marriage Pool photo by Dan Boyd

    3. New Mexico OKs Gay Marriage

    And New Mexico makes 17. The state's supreme court on Thursday affirmed the right to same-sex marriage, handing gay-rights advocates another statewide victory. In its decision, the court ruled that prohibiting same-sex couples from receiving the benefits of marriage “violates the Equal Protection Clause” of the state’s constitution. Other states that have affirmed the right to gay marriage this year include Illinois, Hawaii, and New Jersey. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, granting federal benefits to couples whose marriages are recognized by their state.

    December 19, 2013 1:28 PM

  4. 'unbecoming' Drunk, Womanizing General Fired Handout/Reuters

    4. Drunk, Womanizing General Fired

    Can you still get fired for "conduct unbecoming a gentleman"? Ask two-star Major General Michael Carey, who was dismissed in October after drinking and carousing with women during a government trip to Russia for nuclear security talks, according to an internal investigation report. Interviews with delegation members showed Carey, who oversaw the U.S. stock of intercontinental missiles, was rude, drank nonstop throughout the July trip, went for late rendezvous with women he'd met in Moscow, and showed up late to meetings. He was reassigned and is now the special assistant to the commander of Air Force Space Command.

    December 19, 2013 9:26 PM

  5. Jersey rates DREAM Act Comes to New Jersey Kena Betancur/Getty

    5. DREAM Act Comes to New Jersey

    Undocumented New Jersey students who went to high school in the Garden State will be eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges very soon. Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to pass the DREAM Act legislation, but first he will veto the bill, send it back to the state assembly for changes, and then sign it. The law will grant the same eligibility for out-of-state students who went to private New Jersey high schools, although Christie originally objected to it. "Shame on all of you who accused me and others of playing politics with this issue," he told a press conference on Thursday.

    December 19, 2013 5:57 PM

  6. so long, smokers NYC Bans E-Cigs in Public Spaces AFP/Getty

    6. NYC Bans E-Cigs in Public Spaces

    It won't be long until smokers are forced back onto the chilly sidewalks. New York City has banned the increasingly popular electronic cigarettes from bars and restaurants after the City Council passed a bill that tacks the device onto a 2002 prohibition of smoking in public spaces. Advocates argue the e-cigarettes, which emit vaporized nicotine, give off potentially unsafe emissions, while critics argue there isn't enough scientific basis. The ban will go into place 120 days after Mayor Bloomberg signs it, which he is expected to do.

    December 19, 2013 7:05 PM

  7. MOOCHERS Rep. to Poor Kids: No Free Lunch Stephen Morton/Getty

    7. Rep. to Poor Kids: No Free Lunch

    Children, they’re such takers. Now, Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston plans to teach them that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” and he means it literally. Kingston told a local Republican Party group that the school lunch program for low-income students is too expensive and sends the wrong message about our society. “Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria…” he said. He’s not the only Peach State politician to propose such a plan: in 2011, Newt Gingrich suggested poor children could work as school janitors. 

    December 19, 2013 8:26 AM

  8. DEATH TOLL Execution Rates Near 20-Year Low Georgia Department of Corrections/Getty

    8. Execution Rates Near 20-Year Low

    Executions in the U.S. continued their steady decline in 2013, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that advocates for the abolition of capital punishment. There were 39 executions this year, 16 of which came from the state of Texas. This marks the second time in 19 years executions have fallen below 40. There have been 80 death sentences so far in 2013, a slight uptick from last year, but far below the peak of 315 in 1996. One reason noted for the decline was a shortage in lethal injection drugs caused by some European manufacturers’ refusal to export them for executions. 

    December 19, 2013 10:43 AM

  9. Big Guns NRA Raised $256 Million Adrees Latif/Reuters

    9. NRA Raised $256 Million

    With $256 million, you could buy a lot of ammo and votes. That's how much the National Rifle Association raised in 2012, it's most lucrative year since Barack Obama was elected president. Mass shootings certainly were not bad for business: the NRA raked in $73 million worth of contributions. Three individuals donated at least $3 million. (Membership dues are the rest of the purse.) The group spent $20 million on federal elections in 2012, which certainly was on the mind of the U.S. senators who voted down a plan for expanded background checks last April, which was introduced after the Sandy Hook massacre.

    December 19, 2013 2:33 PM

  10. OUT AND PROUD Brian Boitano Announces He’s Gay Jonathan Fickies/Getty

    10. Brian Boitano Announces He’s Gay

    Not only are top officials opting out of the official U.S. delegation to the Sochi Olympics in protest of Russia’s anti-gay laws, they’re sending openly gay Olympic athletes in their place. And Brian Boitano announced Thursday that he is one of them. “I am many things: a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just part of who I am,” the Olympic figure skating gold medalist said in a statement, coming out publicly for the first time. Boitano was appointed by President Obama to participate in the opening ceremony delegation along with openly gay tennis Star Billie Jean King. Olympic ice hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow, who is also gay, was chosen to represent the U.S. in the closing ceremony delegation.

    December 19, 2013 1:25 PM

  11. SHOCKER Putin to Pardon Khodorkovsky Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty

    11. Putin to Pardon Khodorkovsky

    Russian President Vladimir Putin shocked the world Thursday morning by announcing he would immediately pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The richest man in Russia was convicted of fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering in what was widely considered to be a politically motivated trial. Amnesty International considers Khodorkovsky to be a prisoner of conscience. 

    December 19, 2013 7:46 AM

  12. DEFIANT Rev. Defrocked for Gay Wedding Matt Rourke/AP

    12. Rev. Defrocked for Gay Wedding

    Rev. Frank Schaefer was officially defrocked Thursday by the United Methodist Church for officiating his gay son’s wedding. A jury of Methodist pastors found the Pennsylvania pastor guilty of violating the church’s rules last month and suspended him, but gave him the opportunity to agree to follow the Methodist Book of Discipline before forcing him to resign. Schaefer said he thinks the book is discriminatory against gay people and refused to quit—so they defrocked him.

    December 19, 2013 10:54 AM

  13. JUSTICE Men Guilty in U.K. Beheading Metropolitan Police/AP

    13. Men Guilty in U.K. Beheading

    Two men have been found guilty in the May murder of 25-year-old British soldier Lee Rigby. The pair, Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, killed Rigby—nearly beheading him in the middle of the street—the defense argued, because they believed they were fighting a holy war against Western aggression in Muslim countries. While announcing the verdict, the judge read witness accounts that the two men “looked pleased with what they had done." Protestors soon gathered outside the court to demand capital punishment, which British law does not allow. 

    December 19, 2013 8:19 AM

  14. UNDER PRESSURE Harvard Bomb Hoaxer Stressed Josh Reynolds/AP

    14. Harvard Bomb Hoaxer Stressed

    Eldo Kim, the Harvard student accused of sending a bomb threat to get out of his exams, was defended by his lawyer, who explained the 20-year-old was “under a great deal of pressure,” both from finals at the demanding university and the anniversary of his father’s death. The South Korean native was released on $100,000 bond and he cannot go back onto campus. He now faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    December 19, 2013 7:25 AM

  15. BASKETBALL DIPLOMACY Rodman Balling in N. Korea Kyodo/Reuters

    15. Rodman Balling in N. Korea

    The recent execution of Kim Jong Un’s second in command didn’t make a dent in the blossoming friendship between the North Korean leader and the basketball has-been, Dennis Rodman, who arrived in the country Thursday to train the national team. The aging bad-boy told reporters he doesn’t fear for his safety in the communist country, and reiterated his hope that basketball would bring the feuding nations together. “I hope this is going to engage American people, especially Obama, to just to try to talk to them," he said.

    December 19, 2013 7:22 AM

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  17. JEALOUS Putin: ‘I Envy Obama’ Ivan Sekretarev/AP

    16. Putin: ‘I Envy Obama’

    Poor Putin. Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about fugitive leaker Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations and admitted he was jealous of President Obama’s spying impunity. “I envy him because he can do something like this and get away with it,” he said. He went on to downplay the seriousness of the crimes for which Snowden is hiding out in the country saying, “There’s nothing to be happy about and there is nothing to be sad about because espionage is one of the oldest professions in the world, just like some other well-known professions we won’t mention here.”

    December 19, 2013 7:14 AM

  18. friends, again Senate Passes Budget Deal Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    17. Senate Passes Budget Deal

    It's a Christmas miracle. After clearing the House last week, the Senate agreed on Wednesday to a bipartisan budget deal that would avert another government shutdown in January. Passing with a vote of 64 to 36, the spending plan will now go to President Obama, who has indicated he will sign it. The plan, negotiated by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, will guide the budget into 2015, and lessens the severity of sequestration while reducing the deficit by $20 billion.

    December 18, 2013 5:01 PM

  19. give it up Obama Panel: End NSA Collection Jose Luis Magana/AP

    18. Obama Panel: End NSA Collection

    It's a bad week for the National Security Agency. Two days after the NSA's collection activity was deemed as likely unconstitutional by a federal judge, on Wednesday a White House panel recommended the agency give up its database of an estimated 1 trillion phone records to phone companies or a private third party. The information could be tapped by the government "when such access is justified." The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies also suggested the NSA be barred from asking companies to build "backdoor" access into their software, and stopped from stockpiling hacking tools to penetrate computer systems.

    December 18, 2013 4:08 PM

  20. YOU’RE OK Blood Pressure Markers Moved David McNew/Getty

    19. Blood Pressure Markers Moved

    Congratulations, you might no longer have high blood pressure. A government-backed study is changing guidelines for managing hypertension, suggesting older patients only be prescribed medication for levels of 150/90 or higher, not 140/90, the previous recommendation. The change could be good news for older patients whose pill boxes are already filled to the brim, though some doctors worry the eased threshold could leave the condition untreated and elevate the risk for heart attacks and strokes. These new guidelines follow a similar pullback on cholesterol targets last month.

    December 19, 2013 7:34 AM

  21. HELLISH Brits Pull Citizens From S. Sudan AFP/Getty

    20. Brits Pull Citizens From S. Sudan

    The British government is evacuating its citizens from embattled South Sudan, due to concerns for their safety in a country seemingly headed into civil war. Intense fighting has rocked the world’s newest nation in the last week, with hundreds killed and thousands more forced from their homes. President Salva Kiir has blamed the violence on his former vice president, Riek Machar, who he has accused of leading an attempted coup, a charge that has been denied. Leaders and officials from other countries and the U.N. are working on a peaceful solution, which seems unlikelier by the day.

    December 19, 2013 7:12 AM

  22. SAFE FLIGHT Max Baucus to Be China Ambassador Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

    21. Max Baucus to Be China Ambassador

    President Obama is reportedly set to nominate Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus as the next ambassador to China. Baucus, the third longest-serving senator in this Congress, already announced he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2014 and his early departure could leave a Senate spot open for Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to appoint someone—widely speculated to be Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who is already running for the seat. Putting him on a plane to China would also remove one of the Affordable Care Act’s critics, a happy accident, no doubt. Baucus has the experience in China, too: He’s traveled there extensively and has worked on trade issues with Beijing since the 1990s.

    December 19, 2013 7:09 AM

  23. BAD DEAL 40M Target Customers Hacked Eric Thayer/Reuters

    22. 40M Target Customers Hacked

    This puts the black in Black Friday. Target is investigating what could be one of the largest breaches of consumer data involving information for approximately 40 million customers that began the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, and may be ongoing. Investigators say the data—which includes customer names, card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes—was probably taken by way of software installed on card swipers at checkout lines. The retailer has apologized and said it is “working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.”

    December 19, 2013 7:31 AM

  24. waders no more ‘Duck Dynasty’ Suspends Robertson Karolina Wojtasik/A&E

    23. ‘Duck Dynasty’ Suspends Robertson

    Duck Dynasty isn't taking Phil Robertson's homophobic comments in stride. The patriarch of the hit A&E program has been suspended indefinitely from the reality show after telling GQ magazine that gay behavior leads into bestiality and then "sleeping around." He added that the "sin" was "not logical." The network told E! it's "extremely disappointed" in Robertson's comments that "are based on his own personal beliefs."

    December 18, 2013 8:37 PM