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10 things you need to know today: January 28, 2014
Congressional negotiators strike a farm bill deal, Obama to announce executive orders in the State of the Union, and more
The White House offers a window into Obama's State of the Union prep.
The White House offers a window into Obama's State of the Union prep. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

1. Republicans and Democrats strike a farm bill deal
House and Senate negotiators reached a deal on the long-delayed farm bill on Monday. The agreement would reduce spending on food stamps by $8 billion over a decade, or $800 million per year. That program had been a sticking point, with the GOP-led House originally passing $20 billion in cuts while the Senate, controlled by Democrats, wanted just $4.1 billion in reductions. The deal also slashes $19 billion from farm subsidies. House GOP leaders plan to bring the bill to a vote on Wednesday. [The Washington Times, NBC News]
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2. Obama to announce executive order in his State of the Union
President Obama is expected to announce in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that he is signing an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contract workers from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. It could be the first in a series of moves connected to the speech. With three years left in his presidency, Obama is facing low poll numbers and a deadlocked Congress. Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer, previewing the speech, says Obama will signal that he seeks compromise but "will not wait for Congress" when jobs and livelihoods are at stake. [Fox News]
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3. Ukraine prime minister offers to quit to ease crisis
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov submitted his resignation Tuesday "for the sake of a peaceful settlement of the conflict" between the government and opposition protesters. Parliament also abolished an anti-protest law that had further enraged activists who are calling for President Viktor Yanukovych to step down over his decision to scrap plans to strengthen ties with the European Union. In another conciliatory move, the government gave amnesty to protesters who briefly took over the Justice Ministry building. [Reuters, BBC News]
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4. Apple stock sinks after iPhone sales disappoint Wall Street
Apple shares dropped by 8 percent on Monday after the company failed to meet Wall Street's high expectations for iPhone sales over the holidays. Apple sold a record 51 million of its popular smartphones in the last quarter of 2013, but analysts had predicted the number would be 55 million. Another problem was the company's forecast for the months to come. Apple said it expected sales of $42 billion to $44 billion for the first quarter of 2014. Wall Street expected a couple billion more. [Reuters]
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5. Charlotte officer faces manslaughter charge
A grand jury on Monday indicted a Charlotte, N.C., police officer for voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a former Florida A&M football player, Jonathan Ferrell, who had banged on a house door, seeking help after a car wreck. The resident called police. Randall Kerrick was one of three officers who responded, but the only one to shoot. He fired 12 shots, hitting the unarmed Ferrell 10 times. The local NAACP questioned whether race was a factor. Kerrick is white. Ferrell was black. [Associated Press]
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6. New Snowden leaks say the NSA uses Angry Birds to spy
The National Security Agency has been developing ways to extract personal information on users of "leaky" smartphone apps, such as the Angry Birds game. The information transmitted from iPhone and Android apps ranges from screen size to age and location. Some apps can even divulge sexual orientation, according to the documents, which were provided to The New York Times, The Guardian in the U.K., and Pro Publica by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. [The Guardian]
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7. Egypt's military leader says it's his 'duty' to seek the presidency
Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, who ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last July, told his top generals that running for president was a "call of duty" for him. The remarks amounted to the clearest sign yet that he plans to seek the presidency in elections to be held as soon as April. He is now widely expected to become Egypt's sixth president, and the fifth from the country's military. Egypt's top military council on Monday gave him the green light to run. [The New York Times, BBC News]
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8. Former Marlboro Man dies of smoking-related disease
Actor Eric Lawson, one of the actors who depicted the rugged Marlboro Man in an iconic series of cigarette ads, died this month at 72 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is most frequently linked to smoking. Lawson, who appeared in Marlboro print ads from 1978 to 1981, was one of at least four Marlboro Man actors who have died of diseases related to smoking. "He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him," his wife, Susan Lawson, said. "He knew, yet he still couldn't stop." [Los Angeles Times]
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9. Florida's top court approves medical marijuana ballot question
A divided Florida Supreme Court ruled Monday that voters will get to decide whether to make their state the first in the South to allow medical marijuana use. The justices said a proposed amendment to the state's constitution meets all legal requirements, and can therefore go on the ballot in November. The issue could come up in the governor's race: Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott is opposed, while former Republican governor Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, is in favor. [Tampa Bay Times]
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10. Pete Seeger dies
Legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died in a New York hospital Monday night. He was 94. Leaving behind a rich artistic legacy, Seeger led the American folk revival while singing to support the labor movement in the 1940s and '50s, then the civil rights and anti-war movements. He went from being convicted of contempt of Congress in the '50s (for crossing the House Un-American Activities Committee) to performing at an inaugural concert for President Obama. [The New York Times]


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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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