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10 things you need to know today: March 10, 2012
Obama talks up the improving economy, Santorum hopes for a Kansas win, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Rick Santorum is poised to win most of the 40 delegates at stake in Saturday's Kansas caucuses.
Rick Santorum is poised to win most of the 40 delegates at stake in Saturday's Kansas caucuses.
REUTERS/Billy Weeks

1. KOFI ANNAN MEETS WITH SYRIA'S ASSAD
The former UN secretary general sat down with embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Saturday, but failed to win an immediate ceasefire in the nearly-year-long conflict that has killed thousands upon thousands of Syrians. Assad insisted that he wouldn't negotiate until his "terrorist" opponents back down. "No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability," he said. [BBC]

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2. OBAMA TOUTS STRONG JOBS NUMBERS
After the Department of Labor announced Friday that the economy added 227,000 jobs in February — the third straight month with a gain of more than 200,000 jobs — President Obama hailed the strong numbers on the campaign trail. "Day by day, we're restoring this economy from crisis," Obama said at a Virginia manufacturing plant. Taking a dig at his GOP challengers, the president added: "We can't go back to the same policies that got us into this mess." [New York Times]

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3. ISRAEL THREATENS IRAN STRIKE "IN MONTHS"
"We're not standing with a stopwatch in hand," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli media after returning from his D.C. trip. "It's not a matter of days or weeks, but also not of years. The result must be the removal of the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran's hands." [RT]

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4. RICK SANTORUM ROARS TOWARD KANSAS WIN
The former Pennsylvania senator is the strong favorite to win the bulk of Kansas' 40 delegates in Saturday's caucuses, especially since Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have largely ignored the socially conservative Sunflower State. "This is fertile soil for Santorum," Kansas political scientist Joe Aistrup tells Politico. "I think Santorum will rule the day." [Politico]

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5. BANK OF AMERICA TO SLASH MORTGAGE BALANCES
As many as 200,000 American borrowers will soon see their mortgage balances chopped by an average of $100,000 or more, Bank of America announced Friday. The reductions are part of a massive $26 billion settlement involving the nation's largest mortgage holders and underwater home owners. [CNN Money

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6. DISGRACED SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN RESIGNS
South Carolina Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned Friday, and pleaded guilty to seven counts of violating state ethics rules. Ard used campaign money to buy personal items such as iPads, football tickets, and a TV. The Republican was sentenced to five years probation and 300 hours of public service. [The State, AP]

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7. CONTROVERSIAL PALIN MOVIE PREMIERES TONIGHT
HBO's Game Change, based on the 2010 book by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann that chronicles the historic 2008 campaign, debuts Saturday at 9 p.m. Julianne Moore has won critical raves for her empathy-inspiring turn as Sarah Palin, though the former Alaska governor has branded the movie as "Hollywood lies." [Entertainment Weekly]
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8. X FACTOR OFFERS BRITNEY SPEARS $10 MILLION
Simon Cowell's Fox singing competition has reportedly offered the pop star $10 million to sign on as a judge, and Spears' fiance and agent is reportedly already negotiating the contract. [Access Hollywood]

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9. BEES HAVE PERSONALITIES, SCIENTISTS CLAIM
Scientists have long assumed that all bees are "interchangeable workers" who live to serve their queen. But new research shows that "some bees are thrill-seekers" who scout new hives. These "brave little nest scouts" make up roughly 5 percent of the typical colony. [TIME]

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10. LSD HELPS DRINKERS GIVE UP BOOZE
A new analysis of six studies conducted in the 1960s suggests that taking even a single dose of LSD has a "significant beneficial effect" on reducing alcohol abuse — an effect that can last as long as several months. [BBC]

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