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Morning Briefing: Putin gives sanctuary to celebrity tax refugee Depardieu

In this Dec. 11, 2010 file photo Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, and French actor Gerard Depardieu, left, attend the Russian Museum, in St. Petersburg. Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who has been sparring with his native country over taxes, has been granted Russian citizenship. A brief announcement on the Kremlin website said President Vladimir Putin signed the citizenship grant on Jan. 3, 2013.

Alexei Nikolsky/AP

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on Jan. 3, 2013.

Another golden opportunity missed

Canadians will have to settle for bronze at best in the world junior championship, as a lacklustre Canadian team was bested 5-1 by the Americans. The Canadian squad was dominated throughout by the Americans, reports the Globe's Roy MaGregor from Ufa, Russia. Canada will go on to face either Russia or Sweden in Saturday's bronze medal game.

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Meanwhile, back at the NHL talks….

No news is probably – maybe? – good news at the seemingly endless effort to salvage something from the NHL season. The midnight deadline has come and gone for the NHL players association to file a "disclaimer of interest," which would effectively set in motion a process to dissolve the union. That suggests there's still enough good will and progress to continue with back-and-forth efforts to reach a settlement in the long-standing dispute. The two sides will meet again this morning.

Drone attack takes out high profile Taliban commander

A U.S. drone attack has killed a senior Taliban commander in north west Pakistan. Mullah Nazir, a leader of one of the four major militant groups in Pakistan, was killed along with five fighters when missiles struck the vehicle they were travelling in Wednesday evening. A high-profile commander, he was the target of a suicide bombing in November that was blamed on rival factions.

Ontario government to impose contracts on teachers

Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten is expected to announce this morning that she will impose new contracts on teachers, a move that would trigger more political protests. The announcement comes a day after Premier Dalton McGuinty sent an open letter to teachers hinting that the government would take that step.

Alleged attackers charged with rape, murder

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Five of the men accused of raping a 23-year old Indian university student have been formally charged with rape and murder in the case that has sparked outrage and protest around the world. Tests are being conducted on a sixth suspect to determine whether he should be tried as an adult. Police are asking for the death penalty in the case. The woman, whose name has not been released, later died as a result of injuries sustained in the Dec. 16 attacks,

Newtown students resume classes

The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School return to classes today. Two weeks after a gunman slaughtered 20 schoolmates and six staff at the school in Newtown, Conn., students start taking lessons again at a school in the neighbouring town of Monroe. The Monroe school – renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School in memory of the slain students and staff – is under heavy police guard and was described by one official as "the safest school in America."

Welcome, Comrade Depardieu

Celebrity tax refugee Gérard Depardieu has found a new home – if he wants it. The Oscar-nominated French actor, who has been waging a very public battle with the French government over a plan to increase taxes on the rich, has been granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin. The news, announced on the Kremlin website, is the latest twist in the clash over the tax plan, which was struck down by a court in December but is expected to be resubmitted by the government this year. Russian authorities offered no explanation for why the offer of citizenship was being extended to Mr. Depardieu, who has threatened to turn in his passport over the French tax plan.

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