The Brattleboro Reformer has many colleagues around the country producing news for our "sister" papers. The Daily DFM is a "top picks" of today's national news. Consider it a collection of "things you should know, today."

1. 5 controversial issues the Supreme Court will debate this year

2. See the 10-hour fire that destroyed a 1,000-year-old Chinese city

3. Judge sends $7 flea market Renoir back to museum

By Ian Shapira/The Washington Post

This undated image provided by the Potomack Company shows an apparently original painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir that was acquired by a woman from Virginia who stopped at a flea market in West Virginia and paid $7 for a box of trinkets that included the painting.

This undated image provided by the Potomack Company shows an apparently original painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir that was acquired by a woman from Virginia who stopped at a flea market in West Virginia and paid $7 for a box of trinkets that included the painting. Potomack Company/AP Photo

WASHINGTON - The saga of an Impressionist painting stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art decades ago and allegedly purchased for $7 at a West Virginia flea market came to an end Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Va. when a judge rendered her verdict: Renoir Girl is losing her Renoir.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema awarded the painting to the BMA at the expense of the woman who dubbed herself "Renoir Girl," ending a bizarre art drama that generated coverage from the Los Angeles Times to "Good Morning America." The decision wiped out a potential six-figure windfall for Loudoun County, Va. driving instructor Martha Fuqua, who claimed that in 2009 she found "On the Shore of the Seine" in a box containing a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll.

"Darn," said Fuqua, 51, when she was contacted by phone after the ruling. Asked if she was disappointed, she said, "Of course," before hanging up. She didn't attend Friday's hearing, which was filled with stolen-art rubberneckers and reporters.

Her tale initially burst into the headlines in September 2012, when Fuqua, then identified only as Renoir Girl, tried auctioning off the 5 1/2-by-9-inch landscape, which she hoped would sell for as much as $100,000. In the run-up to the auction, two things were known about the painting: The piece had been bought at a Paris art gallery in 1926 by Herbert May, the husband of Saidie May, a prominent BMA donor. And the painting somehow had gone missing since May's purchase. Initially, the BMA said it had no record of the painting ever being in its possession.

But days before the sale at the Potomack Company in Alexandria, a Washington Post reporter found evidence in the BMA's own records that the May family had donated the painting to the museum in 1937. Armed with those records, BMA officials made an unexpected discovery: a loan registration document showing that the painting was reported stolen from a November 1951 exhibition. Baltimore police unearthed a copy of the original police report.

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4. Add visiting these 'Frozen' like ice castles to your winter to-do list

By Holly Ramer/Associated Press

In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 photo, patrons tour an ice castle at the base of the Loon Mountain ski resort in Lincoln, N.H. The ice castle begins to grow in the fall when the weather gets below freezing and thousands of icicles are made and harvested then placed around sprinkler heads and sprayed with water. The castle will continue to grow as long as the temperatures stay below freezing. Jim Cole/AP

LINCOLN, N.H. - Farming is tough during a New Hampshire winter - unless you're growing icicles.

At the base of Loon Mountain in Lincoln, an ice castle not unlike the frosty palace in the Disney movie "Frozen" is rising from the ground, one icicle at a time. It's one of three ice castles being built by the same company - the others are in Breckinridge, Colo., and Midway, Utah - this winter.

Brent Christensen, who now lives in Hawaii, started his Ice Castles company a few years ago after spending several winters building elaborate slides and ice towers for his kids in his backyard in Utah. He initially sprayed water onto wooden frames, only to be left with a tangled mess of splintered wood in spring. The next year, he experimented with blocks of ice, building a small igloo to which he added chunks of snow and ice.

"During that process, I almost accidentally started thinking about icicles," he said. "At first it was just for cosmetics. I thought, 'This will look really cool.' And then, with time, I stumbled on the idea of crisscrossing the icicles, and that's when I found you can actually grow them in certain ways."

Eventually, he approached ski areas about building larger structures that could serve as temporary art installations and tourist attractions, and the idea took off. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to build the castles, the largest of which spans about an acre, and visitors pay $8 to $10 to walk through them. About 8,000 people have visited the New Hampshire castle since it opened Dec. 27.

Matt Brown, of Somerville, Mass., who toured the castle last week, said he recently saw "Frozen" and was curious to see how a real ice castle compared to the movie version.

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5. Waste district raises towns' fees

By MIKE FAHER / Reformer Staff

Carrie Allen sorts through recycled glass, plastic, tin and aluminum materials on the sorting line at the Windham Solid Waste Management Distribution

Carrie Allen sorts through recycled glass, plastic, tin and aluminum materials on the sorting line at the Windham Solid Waste Management Distribution Center in Brattleboro. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)

BRATTLEBORO -- The cost of recycling is going up in 19 area towns.

The board of Windham Solid Waste Management District, which sorts and resells recyclables gathered in the region, has approved a budget that raises assessments in each member town by 9 percent for next fiscal year.

Officials blame the rate hike largely on a stagnant market for recyclables. And Executive Director Bob Spencer warned that there is no way to tell for sure whether the district's diminished revenue projections will turn out to be accurate.

"We believe they're conservative, but the wild card is what happens on the world economic stage," Spencer said. "If the economy improves, it will be better."

Collected recyclables arrive regularly at the management district's Old Ferry Road headquarters in Brattleboro. But officials say the amount of such material is declining, as are the revenues the district receives from the resale of recyclables.

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