(Jan. 7) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day - The Explorer: Today's Headlines

(Jan. 7) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

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Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 8:48 am

1. Seminoles take BCS championship with last-minute touchdown

On Monday night, Florida State defeated Auburn, 34-31, with a last minute touchdown to win college football's last Bowl Championship Series title game. The undefeated Seminoles clawed their way back after trailing most of the game, then, with just 13 seconds remaining, clinched the championship with a TD pass from Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston to the Seminoles' best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin. [The New York Times]

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2. Senate confirms Yellen as next Fed leader

The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the next head of the Federal Reserve on Monday, its first day back after the holidays. President Obama's nomination of Yellen, outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's No. 2, passed by a 56 to 26 vote, with some Republicans calling for tighter oversight of the central bank opposing her. Yellen will be the first woman to lead the Fed. [The Washington Post]

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3. Frigid weather leaves airports in chaos

The "polar vortex" bringing sub-zero temperatures to much of the U.S. has disrupted air travel across the country, with 4,000 flights canceled on Monday as the blast of arctic air spread from the Midwest to the East. JetBlue suspended operations entirely at Boston's Logan Airport, New York's JFK and LaGuardia airports, and New Jersey's Newark Airport for 17 hours, with plans to reopen Tuesday. [The New York Times, New York Daily News]

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4. Supreme Court stops Utah gay marriages pending an appeal

The Supreme Court granted Utah's request to temporarily halt same-sex marriages in the state pending an appeal of a December ruling legalizing them. The justices, however, said nothing of the status of 1,000 gay couples who got married immediately after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that an amendment to the state constitution, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. [Chicago Tribune]

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5. Chicago's ban on handgun sales is overturned

A judge ruled Monday that Chicago's ban on handgun sales was unconstitutional. The ban was intended to reduce the city's notoriously high levels of gun violence, but U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang said that since the U.S. Constitution's guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, people must have a legal way to acquire them. The decision won't take effect until the city has a chance to appeal. [Reuters]

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6. "Jihad Jane" sentenced to 10 years

Colleen R. LaRose, a Pennsylvania woman who used the online alias "Jihad Jane," was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday for participating in a failed plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. LaRose now says she has sworn off violent, radical Islam. She could have faced life in prison, but received a lighter sentence partly because of her cooperation in other terrorism cases since her 2009 arrest. [NBC News]

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7. White House accelerates arms deliveries to help Iraq

The Obama administration has decided to supply drones and speed up missile shipments to Iraq to help the Shiite-led government battle a resurgence of al Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists in western Anbar province, the White House said Monday. Iraqi forces are preparing an assault to retake the city of Fallujah. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged residents to drive out the "terrorists" so military action wouldn't be necessary. [BBC News]

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8. L.A. sheriff expected to retire following jail scandal

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca reportedly plans to announce as early as Tuesday that he is resigning. Baca's decision to retire rather than face what was expected to be a tough fight for reelection comes a month after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against 18 current and former sheriff's deputies accused of beating inmates and visitors at county jails, and trying to obstruct an investigation into jail corruption. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. SNL hires a black female cast member, Sasheer Zamata

Saturday Night Live announced Monday that it had hired black comedian Sasheer Zamata as its newest cast member. The show had been criticized for its lack of diversity. Two black male cast members, Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah, recently said they would no longer dress in drag to portray black women. Zamata, 27, has worked with the improv group Upright Citizens Brigade and performed standup in New York. [Associated Press]

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10. Downton attracts a record PBS audience for its season premiere

Downton Abbey lured in 10.2 million viewers for the first episode of its fourth season, the biggest audience for a drama series premiere in PBS history. The ratings, reported Monday, also marked a 22 percent increase over last year's opener. And there's good news for viewers addicted to the British period drama about the aristocratic Crawley family — a fifth season of Downton is already in the works. [Vulture]

Compiled by theweek.com

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