(January 11) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day - The Explorer: Today's Headlines

(January 11) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

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Posted: Saturday, January 11, 2014 11:06 am | Updated: 11:08 am, Sat Jan 11, 2014.

1. Former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon dies

Ariel Sharon, the combative former prime minister of Israel who has been in a coma for eight years, has died at age 85. He had been in a vegetative state since suffering a massive stroke in 2006. Sharon was a general in Israel's army before becoming prime minister, dominating Israel's political scene. He was a fierce defender of Israel and a hero to many Zionists, while also stoking controversy and animosity among Palestinians by championing Israel's settlements and the construction of a giant barrier in the West Bank. [Guardian]

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2. Obama to speak about surveillance plans

The president will give a speech on Friday, Jan. 17, unveiling his new plans for federal surveillance practices. "The goal the president has set here is to take measures that create more transparency, introduce reforms that improve the system in a way that gives the American people more confidence," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. [Politico]

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3. Six New Jersey residents sue Chris Christie over Bridgegate

Lawyer Rosemarie Arnold filed suit against New Jersey's GOP governor over bridge traffic that allegedly resulted from a political vendetta. Arnold claims her clients were late for work, and one suffered a panic attack as a result of the traffic jam. [BBC]

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4. U.S. will recognize gay marriages in Utah

In a new video, Attorney General Eric Holder explains that the federal government will recognize the marriages of 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah. A federal court recently said such marriages were lawful, only to have its ruling stayed by the Supreme Court. Holder's announcement furthers the saga of state versus federal power in same-sex marriage rights. [New York Times]

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5. Central African Republic president resigns amid conflict

President Michel Djotodia resigned after a two-day summit in Chad to address the sectarian bloodshed in the region. Other African leaders are rumored to have lost patience with Djotodia's inability to curb the violence. [VICE]

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6. One of the 'Greensboro Four' sit-in activists dies

Franklin McCain, one of the original four protesters who sat at a whites-only counter in 1960, died Friday at 73. After the sit-ins, McCain graduated from N.C. A&T university with degrees in chemistry and biology and worked as a chemist for nearly 35 years. [NPR]

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7. U.S. to investigate chemical spill in West Virginia

The U.S. government declared West Virginia a state of disaster after a chemical spill led officials to warn at least 300,000 people to avoid the water. Federal authorities are opening an investigation into the spill that tainted a river with a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process. [The Guardian]

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8. Nigerian president announces release of 167 people arrested in Islamist insurgency

President Goodluck Jonathan had the prisoners detained during a military campaign to curb an Islamist insurgency in the region. The president has had difficulty combating the insurgency of a violent al Qaeda linked group, but released detainees amid pressures from Western governments for more transparency and better treatment of prisoners. [Reuters]

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9. Catching Fire becomes highest-grossing film of 2013

The second installment in the popular Hunger Games trilogy has banked more than $409 million domestically, surpassing Iron Man 3 to become the biggest earner of movies released in 2013. [Vulture]

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10. Target data breach was much worse than expected

Target announced Friday that its data breech over the holidays affected up to 70 million more customers than first believed. The total number of people who potentially had their data stolen is now 110 million, according to the retailer. [USA Today]

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