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10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2012
Syria reportedly agrees to a brief cease-fire, the iPad Mini goes on sale Nov. 2, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Apple introduced the iPad Mini on Oct. 23 after weeks of feverish speculation. The mini tablet is 7.9 inches. The company also unveiled a faster fourth generation full-size iPad.
Apple introduced the iPad Mini on Oct. 23 after weeks of feverish speculation. The mini tablet is 7.9 inches. The company also unveiled a faster fourth generation full-size iPad.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

1. SYRIA BACKS SHORT CEASE-FIRE PLAN
The Syrian government has promised to observe a cease-fire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, according to Lakhdar Brahimi, the peace envoy representing the United Nations and the Arab League. The three-day holiday starts Thursday. Several of the rebel groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, who reportedly agreed to the brief truce in a meeting with Brahimi, have also reportedly agreed in principle. Brahimi said he hoped it would be a first step toward a longer truce and, ultimately, a political resolution. "If this humble initiative succeeds," he said, "we hope that we can build on it." [Reuters]
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2. APPLE UNVEILS IPAD MINI
Apple shares dipped Tuesday after it ended months of speculation by unveiling the iPad Mini, a 7.9-inch version of its successful tablet. The new device will start at $329, allowing Google and Amazon to undercut it with their similar tables, which sell for $199. Analyst Bill Kreher tells The Wall Street Journal that the price point disappointed investors who wanted Apple to "step on the throats of Amazon and Google with its pricing." Other analysts said, however, that premium pricing would keep quality and profits high. The iPad Mini has nearly all the features of the original 10-inch iPad. It was unveiled in a pre-holiday refresh of nearly all of Apple's line, including a new razor-thin iMac, a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, and a fourth-generation iPad with slightly improved processors and battery life. [Wall Street Journal, Reuters]
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3. GOP SENATE CANDIDATE: RAPE FROM PREGNANCY IS 'SOMETHING GOD INTENDED'
In Indiana's surprisingly close race to replace Sen. Richard Lugar (R), Republican Richard Mourdock made a potentially costly comment on rape and abortion in a Tuesday debate against Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," Mourdock said, explaining his opposition to rape and incest exemptions in anti-abortion laws. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has cut an ad supporting Mourdock, disavowed the comment. Donnelly, who is also anti-abortion, said after the debate that he doesn't believe "my God, or any God, would intend that to happen." Mourdock has less than a 5-point lead in the polls. [New York Daily News]
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4. RATTLED MARKETS TRY TO REGROUP
Analysts expect the Federal Reserve to signal in a Wednesday statement that it will continue its bond-buying stimulus until the economy shows stronger signs of recovery, at least through the end of the year. Stocks appear poised to start the day mixed after sliding steeply Tuesday on a string of bad news from American companies that indicated tough economic times ahead. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 243.36 points, or 1.8 percent, to close at 13,102.53, its worst loss since June. Investors were spooked by disappointing earnings reports from corporate bellwethers like DuPont, 3M, UPS, and Xerox, which indicated that slowing economic growth in China and ongoing turmoil in Europe could be taking a toll on American companies. [Reuters, Wall Street Journal]
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5. BBC GRILLED OVER SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
Leaders of the British Broadcasting Corp. warned a government minister not to challenge their independence on Wednesday, after a parliamentary panel harshly criticized the institution's mishandling of a sexual abuse scandal. Members of the panel accused director general George Entwistle of showing an "extraordinary lack of curiosity" about the cancellation in December of a documentary revealing allegations that longtime BBC television host Jimmy Savile, who died last year at 84, was an insatiable pedophile. Culture Secretary Maria Miller wrote the head of the governing BBC Trust to say that the scandal had raised "very real concerns" about the public's trust in the BBC, which is funded by license fees paid by viewers. [New York Times]
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6. FORMER GOLDMAN TITAN GUPTA FACES SENTENCING
Fallen former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta faces sentencing Wednesday for insider trading. Gupta, the most influential Wall Street figure caught in a recent crackdown, was convicted three months ago of leaking secrets to a friend and former business associate, hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam. Prosecutors want Gupta, who also once ran the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm, to spend eight to 10 years in prison. Defense lawyers are hoping Manhattan U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff will go easy on him because of his lifetime of charity work. [Reuters]
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7. EX-CIA AGENT PLEADS GUILTY TO LEAK
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou has pleaded guilty to a charge of revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative. Under a plea agreement, Kiriakou will spend up to 30 months in prison, but federal prosecutors will drop four other charges, including disclosure of sensitive national security information to reporters. Kiriakou, whose work included helping capture al Qaeda suspects in Pakistan, got caught in the Obama administration's unprecedented crackdown on leaks after publicly speaking about the CIA's secret interrogation program and the use of waterboarding. [Washington Post]
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8. FLORIDA BRACES FOR TROPICAL STORM
A tropical storm watch has been issued for southeast Florida, as Tropical Storm Sandy gained strength in the Caribbean and headed north. The storm is expected to build to weak hurricane strength, and could begin pelting the Florida Keys and nearby parts of the state's mainland within two days. Its current track, however, has its strongest winds remaining offshore as it continues up the U.S. coast. [Tampa Bay Times]
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9. ROLLING STONES WARM UP FOR MASSIVE CONCERTS
The Rolling Stones are getting ready for sold-out November and December performances in London and New York, and the rock legends are reportedly planning to play some small warm-up shows in Paris, where they are rehearsing. Guitarist Ronnie Wood said the band might play under their Cockroaches alias. "So far everything has been [like] an operation, nose to the grindstone," he said. "We wanna give 200 percent." [NME]
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10. LONGORIA ENDS ROMANCE WITH QUARTERBACK
Actress Eva Longoria has reportedly broken up with New York Jet Mark Sanchez. The 25-year-old quarterback is telling friends the Desperate Housewives star, who is 37, decided to end their four-month romance before the Jets' Sunday game against the New England Patriots, according to the New York Post's Page Six column. [Fox News]

 

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