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10 things you need to know today: January 31, 2014
The Justice Department seeks the death penalty for Tsarnaev, New York makes a deal on reforming stop and frisk, and more
Campaign pledge fulfilled. 
Campaign pledge fulfilled.  (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

1. Prosecutors ask for the death penalty for Tsarnaev
Attorney General Eric Holder has authorized federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect. Three people died and 260 were injured in twin explosions of two homemade bombs allegedly planted by Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shoot-out with police. Tsarnaev, 20, also faces state charges for the murder of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, whom authorities say the brothers murdered while fleeing. [The Boston Globe]
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2. New York says it is dropping its stop-and-frisk appeal
New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced a deal Thursday to drop an appeal of a judge's ruling calling for major reforms in the city's controversial stop-and-frisk crime reduction policy, which civil rights lawyers have said violates minorities' rights. De Blasio said the city had agreed to the appointment of a monitor to end the program's "overuse," delivering on one of his key campaign promises. The move, he said, would ensure that "everyone's rights are protected." [Newsday]
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3. Facebook stock soars
Facebook stock shot up by 16 percent on Thursday after a strong quarterly earnings report that exceeded Wall Street's expectations. Ad revenue was up by 76 percent year-over-year to $2.34 billion. The biggest gains came in mobile ads, which accounted for the majority of the social network's ad revenue for the first time. Facebook is also nearing 1 billion active users. The jump in the share price increased CEO Mark Zuckerberg's fortune by $3 billion (to $29.7 billion) before the day ended. [Mashable, NBC News]
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4 Amanda Knox's murder conviction reinstated
An Italian court on Thursday found Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, guilty of the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. The ruling reinstated a 2009 guilty verdict that was overturned on appeal. Knox was sentenced to 28 years and six months. She did not return to Italy for the trial after returning home when she won the first appeal. Knox said she was "frightened and saddened" by the verdict. Sollecito's lawyer vowed an appeal to Italy's highest court. [Reuters]
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5. Obama finds corporate help for the long-term unemployed
President Obama told CNN that 300 companies, including industry leaders such as Walmart, Apple, and Ford, have agreed to participate in a plan to find jobs for some of the nation's long-term unemployed, many of whom lost benefits at the start of the year. Obama said that many people who lost jobs in the recession have been out of work so long that employers are seeing the gaps in their résumés and "weeding them out" without even interviewing them. Obama said he would formally announce the plan on Friday. [CNN]
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6. Economic growth picked up in late 2013
The American economy grew at a strong annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday. That's slower than the summer's pace, but still better than the first half of the year, when tax increases and federal spending cuts slowed down the recovery. "What's encouraging is that consumer spending and business investment improved, showing healthier underlying growth in the economy," Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Michelle Meyer said. [The New York Times]
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7. Syria is stalling on chemical arms dismantlement, US says
The U.S. is accusing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using stalling tactics to delay the destruction of its chemical weapon stockpile. The dismantling of Syria's arsenal "has seriously languished and stalled," said Robert Mikulak, the U.S. representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The criticism marked an escalation in international skepticism that Assad was committed to surrendering his chemical arms. [Associated Press]
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8. Governor says Georgia wasn't prepared for winter storm
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) apologized on Thursday for the gridlock that left thousands of people stranded in cars and buildings as they tried to get home before a deadly, rare blast of snow and ice hit the Deep South this week. "The buck stops with me," he said. "We didn't respond fast enough. Our preparation was not adequate." Deal said he was ordering a review of state agencies involved in the response to the storm, which killed two people and caused 1,200 accidents in the state. [Time, The Wall Street Journal]
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9. Obama selects the next head of the NSA
President Obama has picked Vice Admiral Michael Rogers to be the next head of the National Security Agency, a senior Defense Department official said Thursday. Rogers, a cryptologist and head of the Navy's cyberwarfare arm, will also lead the U.S. cybercommand. Rogers' selection comes as the NSA faces widespread criticism for data mining tactics exposed in secret documents leaked by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. He will replace Director Gen. Keith Alexander, who's leaving in March. [USA Today]
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10. Researchers say climate change is threatening baby penguins
Penguin chicks are dying at increasing rates off the coast of Argentina, and a new study blames climate change. Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, monitored a colony of 400,000 Magellanic penguins from 1983 through 2010 — the longest record of a single penguin colony ever. They found that, while starvation and predators are usually the biggest killers, hypothermia claims the most chicks in years with heavy rainstorms, which are becoming increasingly common. [The Christian Science Monitor]

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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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