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10 things you need to know today: February 21, 2014
Ukraine's deadly violence escalates, Canada beats the U.S. for women's hockey gold, and more
Protestors shout patriotic slogans as they man the barricades in Kiev.
Protestors shout patriotic slogans as they man the barricades in Kiev. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic)

1. Yanukovych announces a peace deal as violence continues in Ukraine
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said Friday that he had reached a deal to end escalating bloodshed in Kiev by calling early elections, forming a coalition, and reducing his own powers. Fresh clashes between police and protesters put the tentative, European Union–brokered agreement in doubt. Opposition leaders were still discussing the draft deal. A day earlier, violence killed at least 70 people, as the E.U. imposed visa bans and other sanctions on Ukrainian officials. [The New York Times, Irish Times]
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2. Canada beats the U.S. for women's hockey gold
The Canadian women's hockey team came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat their U.S. rivals in the gold-medal game in Sochi. Canada, which tied the game with a last-minute goal in regulation time, sealed a 3–2 victory with another at 8:10 in overtime for its fourth straight Olympic title. The U.S. team's only gold came in 1998. The American men's team, which lost in overtime to Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic finals, will get a rematch in Friday's semis, to see who gets to play for the gold. [The Associated Press, Chicago Tribune]
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3. Obama meets with the Dalai Lama despite China protest
President Obama is scheduled to meet privately with the Dalai Lama on Friday. The Obama administration said the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader was visiting "in his capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader." China, which took control of Tibet in 1950, warned that the meeting would be a "gross interference in China's internal affairs" that would damage diplomatic relations between it and the U.S. [Time, The Wall Street Journal]
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4. Obama drops offer to trim Social Security in new budget
The White House said Thursday that President Obama's budget proposal won't include cuts to Social Security cost-of-living raises he offered last year. Aides said Obama had accepted the compromise in 2013 to start negotiations, but it got him nowhere, as the GOP refused to consider closing tax loopholes on the wealthy in return. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the change showed that Obama "has no interest in doing anything, even modest, to address our looming debt crisis." [The Washington Post, Reuters]
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5. World sweats through the fourth warmest January ever recorded
The U.S. — especially the Eastern half — has endured bitter weather so far this year, but the world as a whole experienced the fourth-warmest January on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday. As a whole, Earth was 1.17 degrees warmer last month than the 20th-century average. Most of Africa, South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe were particularly hot. Worldwide, only 2002, 2003, and 2007 have gotten off to a hotter start since records began in 1880. [The Associated Press]
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6. CDC warns Americans to get flu vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all Americans over age 6 — including pregnant women — to get flu vaccinations even though this exceptionally deadly season is winding down. The severity of this year's spread of influenza was due to a reappearance of the H1N1 swine-flu virus after a 2009 pandemic. In California alone, 405 people under age 65 have been killed by the flu this season. "Influenza can make anyone very sick, very fast," CDC Director Tom Frieden said, "and it can kill." [Los Angeles Times]
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7. Egypt puts Al Jazeera journalists on trial
Three Al Jazeera English journalists went on trial in Egypt on Thursday, accused of aiding terrorists. The charges stem from interviews with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group linked to ousted President Mohamed Morsi and branded as a terrorist group by the military-backed government. All three deny any wrongdoing, as do six others being tried in absentia. Human Rights Watch said the regime was trampling press rights by threatening journalists with prison "for doing their job." [Time, Reuters]
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8. Judge sends two men to prison for beating Giants fan
Two men pleaded guilty on Thursday to beating a San Francisco Giants fan, Bryan Stow, outside Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 2011. Stow, a 45-year-old paramedic and father of two, was left with brain damage. The judge called the men cowards and sentenced one of them, 31-year-old Louie Sanchez, to eight years in prison. Sanchez knocked Stow to the pavement, and admitted punching and kicking him while he was down. The other defendant, Marvin Norwood, got four years, most of which he has already served. [The Associated Press]
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9. California's record drought gets worse
California's drought — already the worst the state has ever recorded a month ago — got worse in the last few weeks, according to a weekly report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Every inch of the state is now "abnormally dry," up from 98 percent a week ago. Gov. Jerry Brown has called for people to cut water use by 20 percent. President Obama visited last week and announced an initiative to help farms and communities deal with the cost of the damage, expected to be in the billions. [CNN]
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10. U.S. skiers sweep gold in freeski halfpipe event's debut
American Maddie Bowman won the first gold medal in women's freeski halfpipe at the Sochi Winter Games on Thursday, completing a U.S. sweep of the top spots in the new Olympic event. David Wise won the men's competition on Tuesday. All four members of the U.S. team qualified for the women's final, but the others — Angeli Vanlaanen, Brita Sigourney, and Annalisa Drew — all fell on one of their runs. There was a lot of that going around. Six of the 11 finalists fell at least once. [USA Today]

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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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