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10 things you need to know today: May 9, 2012
A would-be bomber is a double agent, North Carolina bans gay marriage, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state, confirming what was already a state law, and making it the last state in the south to say yes to such a ban.
Voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state, confirming what was already a state law, and making it the last state in the south to say yes to such a ban.
AP Photo/Allen Breed

1. WOULD-BE BOMBER IS A DOUBLE AGENT
The would-be suicide bomber at the center of a foiled al Qaeda plot to blow up a U.S.-bound plane is actually a double agent working for the CIA and Saudi intelligence agencies, officials reported Tuesday. The double agent was to sneak the specially designed explosive, believed to be the work of "master bomb maker" Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, aboard the plane in his underwear, but instead, he handed it over to U.S. authorities. The thwarted bombing marks the third failed attempt by al Qaeda to attack the U.S. with "fiendishly clever devices." Officials say this special, non-metallic bomb likely would have been detected with a body scanner used at U.S. airports, but security checks at foreign airports can be less vigilant. [Associated Press]
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2. N.C. PASSES GAY MARRIAGE BAN AMENDMENT
North Carolinians voted Tuesday to outlaw same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only "between one man and one woman." Gay marriage was already prohibited in the state, but now the ban will become part of the state constitution. Experts say that because the language of the amendment is so vague, the rights of unmarried straight couples could also be affected. Opponents of the referendum are regrouping Wednesday to decide how best to fight it. [CNN]
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3. LONGEST-SERVING GOP SENATOR LOSES PRIMARY 
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) was voted into retirement Tuesday, as Indiana Republicans cast their ballots for Richard Mourdock, the two-term state treasurer who was backed by the Tea Party and outside groups seeking a more conservative candidate. Lugar has served 36 years in the Senate, and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) called his primary loss "a tragedy." [CNN]
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4. ROMNEY SWEEPS THREE STATE PRIMARIES
With no serious competition to fend off, Mitt Romney swept Republican primaries in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana on Tuesday, closing in on, but not yet reaching, the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. Romney now has 934 delegates; Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has an estimated 92 delegates, has yet to drop out of the race. [CBS News]
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5. TWO U.S. FLIGHTS EXPERIENCE SECURITY SCARES 
On Tuesday night, security threats halted two Southwest Airlines flights, both traveling from Orange County, Calif., to Phoenix. A bomb squad and canine units were brought aboard one plane, while authorities received a "non-specific threat" for the other. Both planes were eventually cleared for travel. [CNN]
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6. TOYOTA QUARTERLY PROFIT QUADRUPLES
In a strong sign of recovery, Toyota reported Wednesday that its profit for the January-March quarter had quadrupled to 121 billion yen ($1.5 billion) and forecasted profits rising to 760 billion yen ($9.5 billion) for the fiscal year. The Japanese automaker saw profits tumble after last year's earthquake and tsunami, as well as flooding in Thailand, all of which affected factories and its supply chain. [Associated Press]
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7. ANONYMOUS ATTEMPTS MAJOR TWITTER HACK
Hackers purporting to be part of the Anonymous group released the passwords and usernames for what first appeared to be 55,000 Twitter accounts. Closer examination revealed that about half of the accounts were duplicates and many others were accounts that had already been suspended or were spam. Still, Twitter says it is taking the security breach seriously and investigating. [New York Times]
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8. OCEAN GARBAGE PATCH RAPIDLY GROWS
According to new research, the great mass of plastic trash in the ocean known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" has increased 100-fold over the last four decades. The patch is about the size of Texas. According to the study, all that trash is causing profound changes to the marine ecosystem, including an unexpected boom in the population of insects called "sea skaters." [MSNBC]
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9. RUSSIAN PLANE DISAPPEARS OVER INDONESIA
A Russian plane disappeared from radar screens on Wednesday during a demonstration flight from Jakarta. Forty-four passengers were onboard the Sukhoi Superjet-100, which was starting to make its descent before it vanished from the radar in a mountainous area. [UPI]
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10. ROCK SINGER CONSIDERS SEX CHANGE
Tom Gabel, the lead singer of punk band Against Me!, tells Rolling Stone that he is considering gender reassignment surgery. Gabel says he has a condition called gender dysphoria, and has long felt alienated from his body saying, "growing up, my experience with transsexualism was nothing but shame." He plans to take hormones, get electrolysis, and change his name to Laura Jane Grace, but, he says, he'll remain married to his wife. [Associated Press]

 

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