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10 things you need to know today: January 24, 2013
The Pentagon lifts the ban on women in combat, Apple's stock sinks, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a disabled Iraq war veteran, reminds us that women have long been in combat.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a disabled Iraq war veteran, reminds us that women have long been in combat. Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

1. BAN ON WOMEN IN COMBAT TO BE LIFTED
Pentagon officials say outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta plans to announce Thursday that the military is lifting a ban on women in combat roles. The groundbreaking move, which was recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would reverse a rule that was imposed in 1994 and excludes female soldiers from nearly 25 percent of active-duty roles, including the infantry. Female veterans and others, however, have pointed out that women have frequently been thrust into combat — and demonstrated heroism — in a decade of counterinsurgency missions with no conventional front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lifting of the ban follows the repeal of the ban on openly gay service members, another major policy change. [Washington Post]
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2. APPLE DISAPPOINTS INVESTORS
Apple's stock dropped by 11 percent in after-hours trading after the company released its quarterly results, even though the company's $13.1 billion in net profit beat Wall Street estimates. Apple sold a record number of iPhones (47.8 million) and iPads (22.9 million). Investors, however, are worried that Apple looks like it won't be able to sustain its meteoric growth as it faces rising competition from Samsung, Google, and other rivals, and as it experiments with cheaper devices that will offer smaller profit margins. [The Week, New York Times]
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3. CLINTON CLASHES WITH REPUBLICANS OVER BENGHAZI
In heated hearings on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton forcefully defended the Obama administration's handling of the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, last year. Clinton faced sharp criticism from Republicans in six hours of hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. One of the most memorable exchanges came when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) accused administration officials of misleading the public by suggesting the attack grew out of a protest rather than a terrorist plot. "What difference, at this point, does it make?" Clinton asked. "It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again." [Washington Post]
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4. NORTH KOREA WARNS OF NUKE TEST
North Korean military leaders said Thursday that they would conduct a nuclear test — their third — in response to expanded United Nations Security Council sanctions approved this week. The U.N. move was meant to punish the reclusive communist regime for launching a long-range rocket to carry a satellite into orbit in December. North Korea's National Defense Commission says Pyongyang won't be deterred, and plans to test more missiles capable of delivering warheads to the U.S., "the sworn enemy of the Korean people." [Associated Press]
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5. HOUSE PASSES BILL TO SUSPEND DEBT CEILING
The Republican-led House voted Wednesday to temporarily suspend the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. If the Senate passes the measure and President Obama signs it into law, the federal government will be able to pay its bills and avoid defaulting on its loans — at least through May 18. The move buys Republicans and Democrats time to debate how to reduce the deficit and reconcile their "contrasting visions and about how to fix this problem," said House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). [USA Today]
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6. KERRY HEADS INTO CONFIRMATION PROCESS
Sen. John Kerry, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of State, is scheduled to go into his confirmation hearing Thursday morning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he has led for the past four years. Unlike some members of Obama's second-term national security team, Kerry is expected to breeze through. Obama picked the Massachusetts senator to succeed Hillary Clinton after another top contender, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration due to Republican criticism of her handling of the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. [Reuters]
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7. KANSAS MOVES TOWARD ELIMINATING ITS INCOME TAX
Kansas lawmakers on Wednesday got their first look at a bill drafted by Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislators in an effort to push the state toward eliminating income taxes. The state this month enacted the biggest tax cut in its history. It has also turned over most of its Medicaid system to private insurers. The new bill would cut taxes even more, on the road toward doing away with the state income tax entirely in what Kansas GOP leaders hope will be a model for fiscal conservatives in other states. [New York Times]
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8. UNEMPLOYMENT HITS A NEW HIGH IN SPAIN
Spain's unemployment rate rose by one percentage point to 26 percent in the final quarter of 2012, its highest level since measurements began, in the 1970s. The country has been struggling through a recession since late 2011 — its second since 2009 — and its economy shrank at the fastest pace since the downturn began in late 2012, partly due to deep government spending cuts. Six million of the nation's workers are now out of work, and "we haven't seen the bottom yet," says Citigroup strategist Jose Luis Martinez. [Reuters
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9. SEAU'S FAMILY SUES OVER LATE NFL STAR'S HEAD INJURIES
The family of Junior Seau, a former football star who committed suicide last year at age 43, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the NFL, helmet maker Riddell, and others of downplaying the dangers of on-the-field head injuries. Seau's relatives said the league "propagated the false myth" that brutal collisions are an acceptable part of the game, even though they can leave players with neurological damage. Seau played 20 seasons for the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots. Tissue samples from his brain showed that he had a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma. [New York Times]
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10. NO. 1 DUKE ROUTED BY MIAMI
The Duke Blue Devils, the top-ranked team in men's college basketball, suffered a stunning defeat on Wednesday night, losing 90-63 to the No. 25-ranked Miami Hurricanes. The defeat, before a sold-out crowd in Miami, was the third-worst ever for a No. 1 team. Duke hadn't lost a regular-season game by such a wide margin since 1984. Miami took control with a 25-1 run in the first half. "It wasn't demoralizing," Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon said. "They played better." [ABC News]

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