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Morning Briefing: Belfast protests continue over Union Jack flag flap

Loyalist protesters demonstrate against restrictions on flying Britain's union flag from Belfast City Hall in central Belfast January 5, 2013. Rioting began a month ago after a vote by mostly nationalist pro-Irish councillors to end the century-old tradition of flying the British flag from Belfast City Hall every day unleashed the most sustained period of violence in the city for years

Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on Jan. 9, 2013.

A Hall of Fame shut out?

Will anyone be honoured with entry into baseball's Hall of Fame today? The inclusion of several players suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs on this year's ballot has cast a pall over the annual event, leading some to speculate that no player will get the 75 per cent support needed to gain admission. The vote results will be unveiled at 2 p.m. EST. Regardless, Cooperstown will survive the controversy, writes The Globe's Jeff Blair.

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Union Jack raised, but Belfast protests continue

Protests continued overnight in Belfast, the sixth consecutive evening of unrest since city council voted to limit pole time for the British flag. The decision by a majority of councillors to fly the Union Jack only on 18 designated days instead of year round, sparked the protests that have led to the arrest of more than 100 people, The Globe's Paul Waldie writes from Belfast. As it turns out, the Union Jack was flying over Belfast City Hall yesterday – to mark the birthday of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Dismemberment suspect case resumes

The case of the man accused of killing and dismembering a Chinese student resumes today. But it is unclear if Luka Magnotta will appear at the hearing which is being held to hammer out details of his preliminary hearing set for March 11. Mr. Magnotta, who is also accused of mailing body parts to the Tory and Liberal offices in Ottawa, appeared at the last hearing into the case in June.

NHL governors meet to ratify deal

The NHL season will take one step closer to reality today when owners gather in New York to ratify the deal struck on the weekend. The vote by 29 owners will be followed by the players' expected ratification on Thursday. Training camp begins on Sunday, and the truncated season is expected to begin on Jan. 19. Here's The Globe's James Mirtle's analysis of the new agreement.

Will he or won't he?

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Amidst feverish speculation he is preparing to admit to doping, U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong is set to do an interview with Oprah Winfrey next week. The interview, the first since Mr. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins last year, will address "years of accusations of cheating" among other things, according to the talk show host . Last week, the New York Times reported that Mr. Armstrong was considering admitting to doping, despite having as vehemently denied it in the past.

Income disparity poses greatest risk

Amid a scary list of economic threats facing the world, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum ranks severe income disparity as the greatest risk over the next decade. Other risks include chronic fiscal imbalances and greenhouse gas emissions, The Globe's Tavia Grant reports.

Syrian rebels free Iranian prisoners

Syrian rebels have freed 48 Iranian hostages in exchange for the release of more than 2,100 civilian prisoners held by the Syrian government, Reuters reports. The rebels claim the Iranians, who were captured in August, were sent to fight for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Iran denied that, saying they were pilgrims.

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