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10 things you need to know today: March 3, 2012
Obama talks tough on Iran, Major League Baseball changes its rules, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Ahead of a critical Monday meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama insisted that he's not bluffing about potentially using military force against Iran.
Ahead of a critical Monday meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama insisted that he's not bluffing about potentially using military force against Iran.
CC BY: The White House

1. U.S. SOLDIERS MAY BE PUNISHED FOR KORAN BURNING
Military officials have concluded that five American soldiers were involved in the inadvertent "incineration of a pile of Korans" last week in Afghanistan — an incident that sparked violent protests in which dozens of people died. Officials say the soldiers will be reprimanded, perhaps with a loss of rank, but probably not named publicly. "What they did was careless, but there was no ill will," one official said. [Washington Post]

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2. OBAMA CALLS STUDENT INSULTED BY LIMBAUGH
After right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh trashed Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke as a "slut" and a "prostitute" because she wants employers to pay for workers' birth control, President Obama called Fluke on Friday to offer his support. "He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women," Fluke said. "I just appreciated that very much." [Huffington Post]

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3. TORNADOES KILL DOZENS IN MIDWEST, SOUTH
The death toll from a week of powerful tornadoes rose to 41 after 28 people were killed Friday in four Midwestern and Southern states. Officials said 13 people died in Indiana, 12 in Kentucky, two in Ohio, and one in Alabama. "We are no match for Mother Nature at her worst," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said. [Reuters]

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4. OBAMA INSISTS HE'S NOT BLUFFING ON IRAN
Heading into a critical Monday meeting at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the president maintained that he "has Israel's back" should it enter into conflict with Iran, and would use military force to stop Tehran's nuclear program if necessary. "As president of the United States, I don't bluff," he said. [The Atlantic]

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5. BP REACHES DEAL WITH GULF SPILL VICTIMS
The oil giant behind the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, has reached a $7.8 billion settlement with businesses and individuals suing BP for damages. The settlement will be paid out of a $20 billion trust that BP set up to compensate spill victims. [Bloomberg]

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6. GM HALTS PRODUCTION OF CHEVY VOLT
General Motors is laying off 1,300 Detroit workers for five weeks while it temporarily stops producing Chevrolet Volt hybrid vehicles. Chevy struggled to sell 1,000 Volts in the U.S. in January, and has unloaded just 1,626 this year. The halt in production is meant to allow demand to catch up with the existing supply. [Detroit Free Press]

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7. YELP SOARS IN IPO
The online review site saw its stock open at $22 a share on Friday — up nearly 50 percent from its IPO price of $15 — before closing near $25. Yelp's performance was good for the third-best IPO of 2012, behind Proto Labs Inc. and Caesars Entertainment Corp. [Wall Street Journal]

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8. MLB EXPANDS PLAYOFFS TO 10 TEAMS
Ten teams will compete in Major League Baseball's playoffs this October — an expansion from the eight-team format of recent years. All six division winners will make the playoffs, along with four wild-card teams. The last time MLB expanded its playoff structure was in 1995, when it went from four teams to eight. [Associated Press]

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9. OCEAN ACIDIFIES AT WORRYINGLY FAST RATE
Our planet's oceans are becoming acidic faster than they have in perhaps 300 million years, researchers said. The sea is absorbing excess amounts of carbon dioxide in the air, which forces down the water's pH level. Ocean acidification could kill off oysters, coral reefs, and salmon, researchers warned. [Bloomberg]

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10. COSTA CONCORDIA CAPTAIN HAD CRASHED BEFORE
Captain Francesco Schettino, the much-maligned captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which crashed in January, killing 32 people, has made poor maneuvers before, a new investigation reveals. In 2010, Schettino damaged a luxury liner while speeding into a German port. [The Economic Times]

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