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10 things you need to know today: April 15, 2012
North Korea's leader gives his first public speech, deadly tornadoes hit the Midwest, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
A damaged house in Thurman, Iowa: A massive tornado system ripped through the Midwest and Plains over the weekend, killing five in Oklahoma.
A damaged house in Thurman, Iowa: A massive tornado system ripped through the Midwest and Plains over the weekend, killing five in Oklahoma.
Eric Francis/Getty Images

1. NORTH KOREAN LEADER TOUTS MILITARY PROWESS
Giving a public speech on Sunday for the first time since assuming the leadership of North Korea, Kim Jong-un said that his "first, second, and third priorities" are to beef up the military. Kim also declared that strength in military technology is "no longer monopolized by imperialists," before introducing a parade of weapons that included what appeared to be the largest missile the North has ever unveiled. The speech came just days after the North's embarrassing, failed rocket launch. [New York Times]
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2. TORNADOES TEAR THROUGH MIDWEST, KILLING 5
Tornadoes ripped through the Midwest and Plains on Saturday and Sunday, killing five people in Oklahoma. The massive storm system damaged houses, a hospital, a jail, an Air Force base, and other buildings in the region. Storms were also reported in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. At least 10 tornadoes were reported in Kansas alone, mostly in the western and central sections of the state. [Associated Press]
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3. MILITARY STAFF MAY BE PART OF SCANDAL
Five Department of Defense service members may have been involved in an incident of "misconduct" allegedly involving 12 Secret Service members and at least one prostitute. The incident led to the agents' removal from Cartagena, Colombia, where they'd been working during President Obama's visit for the Summit of the Americas. [CBS News]
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4. TALIBAN LAUNCHES ATTACKS ACROSS AFGHANISTAN
In their biggest offensive this year, Taliban militants coordinated at least four simultaneous attacks across Afghanistan today, targeting government buildings and international agencies. Police issued a statement saying the areas, in Kabul and Jalalabad, are under control, though fighting continues. A Taliban spokesman claimed that several Afghan and foreign troops had been killed, but that report could not immediately be verified. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
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5. U.N. TO SEND CEASEFIRE MONITORS TO SYRIA
The United Nations will send an advance team of 30 unarmed observers to Syria on Sunday to start monitoring a shaky ceasefire, even as a surge in violence on the ground threatened to derail international efforts to end more than a year of bloodshed. In Homs, an opposition stronghold, activists reported the first shelling by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad since the U.N.- and Arab League-brokered ceasefire officially took effect April 12. [Reuters]
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6. EGYPT DISQUALIFIES 10 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES 
Egypt's May 23 presidential election was thrown into turmoil when 10 candidates, including several frontrunners, were barred from the race on Saturday. Among the most high-profile disqualifications were deposed leader Hosni Mubarak's ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat al-Shater, and Salafist politician Hazem Abu Ismail. The disqualified candidates have until Monday to appeal the decision. [AFP]
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7. IRAN, WEST HAIL NUCLEAR TALKS
Though expectations ahead of Saturday's nuclear talks between Iran and six Western powers were initially low, both sides expressed satisfaction with the meeting, including E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who called it "constructive and useful." Iran chief negotiator Saeed Jalili agreed that they made "some progress," but he acknowledged "some points of difference." Still, the groups agreed to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad to continue to discuss what Iran should do to alleviate suspicions of its nuclear activities. [Associated Press]
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8. OBAMA URGES ROMNEY TO RELEASE PAST RETURNS
President Barack Obama called on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release his past tax returns. Obama said that it's important for candidates to be "as transparent as possible," adding that the act of releasing tax returns is "just carrying on a tradition that has existed throughout the modern presidency." [Associated Press]
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9. OFFICIAL: EVIDENCE OF REMAINS AT TITANIC WRECK
Human remains may be embedded in the mud of the North Atlantic where the New York-bound Titanic came to rest when it sank 100 years ago, James Delgado, the director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration said Saturday. A 2004 photograph, released to the public for the first time this week, shows a coat and boots in the mud at the shipwreck site. "These are not shoes that fell out neatly from somebody's bag right next to each other," Delgado said. [Associated Press]
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10. BEE GEES' ROBIN GIBB GRAVELY ILL
Singer and songwriter Robin Gibb — who with his brothers, Maurice and Barry, made up the Bee Gees — is in a coma in a London hospital after contracting pneumonia during his battle against cancer. The 62-year-old singer had surgery 18 months ago for an unrelated condition, when doctors discovered a tumor that they diagnosed as colon cancer. [Telegraph]

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