TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The Senate could stay open through the weekend if spats over a handful of nominees are not resolved soon. New Mexico's Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage. Obama commuted the sentences of eight inmates serving long sentences on crack-cocaine charges as part of his administration's continued push to reform inconsistent penalties for drug offenses. The Duck Dynasty controversy now has real politicians talking about it; tens of millions of Target shoppers are victims of a huge data breach; and government workers are far less happy than their private-sector buddies.
NEW MEXICO SUPREME COURT APPROVES GAY MARRIAGE: The unanimous ruling puts an end to the state's rather confusing system that allowed same-sex unions in some counties but barred them in others. New Mexico is the 17th state to legalize gay marriage, adding to a list that just last month saw Illinois and Hawaii join the ranks. (Zelie Pollon, Reuters)
ALL THE STATES THAT ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN ONE MAP: On a map that increasingly reflects the nation's red-blue divide, 17 states plus D.C. allow gay marriage now, while 10 recognize unions and partnerships. Thirty-three states have banned the practice. (Ahuja/Chow, WaPo)
OBAMA COMMUTES SENTENCES FOR EIGHT INMATES: In one of his last actions of the year, the president commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates serving time for crack-cocaine offenses. All are being released within the next 120 days, and six had been serving life in prison. (Charlie Savage, NYT)
McCONNELL-REID FEUD OVER NOMINEES THREATENS TO KEEP SENATE IN SESSION: The chances of the upper chamber working through the weekend ticked up with Mitch McConnell saying today he opposed the nomination of John Koskinen, Obama's pick to run the IRS. Harry Reid vowed earlier in the day to keep the Senate open as long as it takes to get a vote on his last round of nominees. (Alexander Bolton, The Hill)
REID PEGS JOBLESS BENEFITS AS MAIN ENTREE IN 2014: The "first thing [for the Senate] is to make sure that those people who are waiting and waiting to find a job still get the important check that they deserve." The majority leader said he is hoping for a vote by Jan. 7 on the bill offered by Sens. Jack Reed and Dean Heller that extends unemployment insurance for three months. (Seung Min Kim, Politico)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The first family departs for their annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii. The Senate is in session and could vote on a number of nominees, including that of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve. The House is out of session.
GRINCH VISITS TARGET: Data for more than 40 million Target shoppers was stolen between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. (Nicole Perlroth and Elizabeth Harris, NYT)
THE INEFFICIENCY OF CHRISTMAS: Christmas is the exact opposite of economic efficiency. Here's why. (Tim Fernholz, Quartz)
GOVERNMENT WORKERS' WOES: Federal employees are far less happy than workers in the private sector. (Lillian Cunningham, WaPo)
DUCK DYNASTY: The controversy surrounding the reality-television star's homophobic opinions has now drawn commentary from real, actual politicians. (Matt Berman, NJ)
LIBERAL POPULISM RISES AGAIN: Bill Clinton and Tony Blair's "third way" liberalism is fading as liberal populism makes a comeback in the U.S. and U.K. (Ron Brownstein, NJ)
CHRONIC ILLNESS IN AMERICA: The next First World problem: "It's not just that Americans are getting sicker. It's that young Americans are getting sicker." (Leah Sottile, The Atlantic)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly sticks to her white Santa Claus guns. And to nobody's surprise, Stephen Colbert's favorite person, Bill O'Reilly, comes to her defense. (Reena Flores, NJ)
40 PHOTOS FROM 2013 OF RIDICULOUSLY CUTE BABY ANIMALS: Because we all need to appreciate adorable brother and sister lion cubs every now and again. (Summer Anne Burton, BuzzFeed)