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10 things you need to know today: January 27, 2014
Syria agrees to let women and children leave Homs, the price of stamps rises (again), and more
Cedra, a Syrian boy from the city of Homs, begs in a wealthy district of Beirut on November 16, 2013.
Cedra, a Syrian boy from the city of Homs, begs in a wealthy district of Beirut on November 16, 2013. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

1. Syria says women and children can leave Homs
The Syrian government said Sunday that it would let women and children leave the besieged and barricaded rebel city of Homs, provided the opposition cooperates. The concession came as the two sides held the second day of their first face-to-face peace talks in three years of civil war. Negotiators in Geneva also discussed releasing prisoners and giving aid convoys more access to the needy. On Monday, United Nations negotiator Lakhdar Brahimi plans to start talks on forming a transitional government. [Reuters]
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2. Hospital relents and takes pregnant, brain-dead woman off life support
A brain-dead Texas woman, Marlise Muñoz, will be taken off life support, after a hospital kept her on it for two months — against her family's wishes — because she was pregnant. Hospital officials cited a Texas law prohibiting hospitals from suspending "life-sustaining treatment" for pregnant patients. Muñoz's husband sued, arguing that the fetus couldn't survive and accusing the hospital of "cruel and obscene mutilation" of a dead body. A judge sided with him and ordered the hospital to turn off life support by Monday. [Los Angeles Times]
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3. Congressional negotiators near a deal on a new farm bill
Republicans and Democrats in Congress could reach an agreement on the long-delayed farm bill as soon as Monday, according to a report in The Washington Post. Negotiators worked through the weekend to hammer out a deal. Democrats appear to have won important concessions on food stamps in the new bill, which covers everything from domestic crop subsidies to global food aid. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has promised rural Republicans to get the bill passed, reportedly plans to muster GOP votes. [The Washington Post]
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4. Thai anti-government protest leader shot dead
A Thai opposition leader, Suthin Tharathin, was shot dead in Bangkok on Sunday in one of many clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces across the city. Activists picketed and padlocked polling places in the capital to sabotage early voting in the February 2 general election called by embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a bid to demonstrate support for her government. One third of the 152 early voting stations across the country were forced to close. [Financial Times]
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5. Snowden says people want to kill him over NSA leaks
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told German TV on Sunday that there were "significant threats" to his life related to his leaking of secret documents about NSA mining of telephone call logs and emails. Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, said he has no regrets, however. "I'm still alive and don't lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do," Snowden said. [Reuters]
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6. Egypt upends plan to pick a president and parliament
Egypt's interim leader said that the country would hold a presidential election, expected in April, before picking a new parliament, reversing the original order. Many political groups pushed for picking a president first, arguing it could help soothe political tensions and help smooth the path to restoring the country's fledgling democracy following last year's ouster of the country's elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. Expectations are rising that army chief and coup leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi will run. [Associated Press]
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7. U.S. launches strike against al Qaeda leader in Somalia
The U.S. military launched a strike against a suspected al Qaeda and al Shabaab leader in Somalia. The military was still "assessing the effectiveness of the strike," which took place in a remote part of the East African nation, a Defense Department official said. No details were immediately available, but NBC News, citing military sources, said the U.S. fired a missile at the alleged terrorist. [USA Today]
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8. Tata Motors leader Karl Slym falls to his death in Thailand
Karl Slym, managing director of Indian carmaker Tata Motors, died in an apparent freak accident in Thailand, reportedly losing his balance and falling from the 22nd floor to the fourth floor of the Shangri-La Hotel. Slym, 51, was hired by Ratan Tata to lead a turnaround at the company as it faced dwindling sales. He was in Bangkok for a Tata Motors Thailand board meeting. Slym, a Briton, joined Tata, which owns the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, in 2012. [The Economic Times]
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9. Stamp price hike takes effect
The price of first-class postage stamps is rising to 49 cents on Monday, up from 46 cents. Many people won't immediately feel any impact, because books of stamps they bought at the old rate will still be good. Regulators approved the hike in December as part of an effort to help increase revenue. Postal Service officials have been urging Congress to approve cutting Saturday deliveries and reducing retirees' health benefits to cut their annual losses, which totaled $5 billion last year. [Associated Press]
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10. Daft Punk, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis win big at Grammys
Daft Punk emerged as the biggest winner at the 56th annual Grammy awards Sunday night, taking five trophies, including the one for Album of the Year. The rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis was close behind with four awards. Other winners included Michael Buble, who won his fourth Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album award, as well as Ziggy Marley (Best Reggae Album) and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert (Best Spoken Word Album). [E! Online]

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Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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