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10 things you need to know today: March 8, 2013
Bill Clinton says DOMA is unconstitutional, Brennan is confirmed as CIA director, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, N.J., stands in front of the Supreme Court on Nov. 30.
Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, N.J., stands in front of the Supreme Court on Nov. 30. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1. BILL CLINTON CALLS FOR OVERTURNING DOMA
Former President Bill Clinton says in an op-ed published in The Washington Post that the Supreme Court should rule that the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed into law in 1996, is unconstitutional. "I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory," he wrote. "It should be overturned." The law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and therefore denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, even in the nine states where they can legally wed. DOMA will come before the Supreme Court on March 27. [CNN, Washington Post]
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2. BRENNAN CONFIRMED AFTER RAND PAUL'S FILIBUSTER
The Senate confirmed John Brennan as the next CIA director on Thursday in a 63 to 34 vote. First, though, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) used a rare, 13-hour "talking filibuster" to hold up the nomination and generate extraordinary scrutiny of the Obama administration's use of armed drones to kill terrorist suspects — a program Brennan has overseen. The confirmation process forced the administration to open up a bit about its secretive drone operations, which have devastated al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan but stoked fierce criticism. In response to Paul's questions, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote the senator saying the U.S. couldn't use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil. [Washington Post]
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3. NORTH KOREA LASHES OUT OVER SANCTIONS
North Korea said Friday that it was nullifying its nonaggression pacts with South Korea. The move was a defiant reaction to the United Nations Security Council's unanimous approval of new sanctions against Pyongyang over its February nuclear test. One of the Hermit Kingdom's top generals even said his country had nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, ready to fire. Not to be outdone, South Korea said that if its communist neighbor to the north does attack with a nuclear weapon, the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "will be erased from the earth." [New York Times]
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4. CHAVEZ ALLIES ARRIVE FOR FUNERAL
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cuban President Raul Castro, and other leaders have arrived in Venezuela for the Friday funeral of the country's late president, Hugo Chavez. The fiery, anti-U.S. populist, who dominated Venezuelan politics for 14 years, died Tuesday of a massive heart attack after a two-year battle with cancer. "He was the emotional pillar for all the revolutionary and freedom-seeking people of the region and the world," Ahmadinejad said. Venezuela's acting president, Nicolas Maduro, said Thursday that Chavez, who was 58, would be embalmed and put on display "for eternity" at a military museum after a state funeral and another week of lying in state. [CNN, Reuters]
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5. BIN LADEN SON-IN-LAW HEADED FOR NEW YORK COURTROOM
A top al Qaeda spokesman and son-in-law of the late Osama bin Laden is scheduled to appear in a federal court in New York on Friday on charges that he conspired to kill Americans. The suspect, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, was captured overseas. The case drew mixed reactions from Republicans. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said his arrest was a "very significant victory" in the fight against al Qaeda, but Sens. Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte said the decision to send a suspected enemy combatant to the U.S. instead of Guantanamo "makes our nation less safe." [Fox News]
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6. PAUL SAYS HE'S CONSIDERING A PRESIDENTIAL RUN
Fresh off his high-profile filibuster, which won widespread praise, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Politico that he is "seriously" considering running for president in 2016. Paul, up to now known mostly as a Tea Party firebrand, was on the fringes of the GOP radar screen since his election in 2010, until this week. He won new admirers with his 13-hour filibuster to delay the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA chief and force the Obama administration to answer questions about its use of armed drones. Now, he's thinking bigger. "I think our party needs something new, fresh, and different," he said. "I do want to be part of making the Republican Party again more of a national party, less than a regional party, which I think we're in danger of becoming." [Politico]
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7. KENYAN ELECTION MAY BE HEADED FOR RUNOFF
The vote count in Kenya's presidential election tightened on Friday, suggesting the crucial contest could be headed for a runoff. Frontrunner Uhuru Kenyatta is still in the lead, with most ballots counted four days after the vote, but he's below the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright. Kenyatta's main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, gained ground with the counting of his most loyal districts, but with 49.7 percent of the vote there's still a chance that Kenyatta could win without what would surely be a tense second round of balloting. [Reuters]
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8. TWO USS MONITOR SAILORS TO BE BURIED, AFTER 150 YEARS
The remains of two sailors from the USS Monitor will be buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery on Friday, on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War naval battle for which their ironclad ship is remembered. The Battle of Hampton Roads lasted two days, and the Monitor fought to a draw against a similar Confederate vessel, the CSS Virginia. It was the first confrontation between two ironclads. The Monitor made it through, only to sink nine months later in rough seas off Cape Hatteras. Sixteen members of the 62-man crew died. The wreck wasn't found until 1973, and the last two bodies recovered — found in the turret — will likely be the last Civil War dead to receive full military honors at Arlington. [Washington Times]
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9. BIEBER COLLAPSES BACKSTAGE IN LONDON
Pop idol Justin Bieber was taken to a hospital in London after collapsing backstage during a concert. The singer reportedly felt dizzy and stumbled backstage before fainting. He was treated with oxygen. Emergency personnel urged him to go to the hospital immediately, but sources told TMZ that he declined, saying he "had to finish the show for his fans." When the show was over, he went to the hospital for further care. [TMZ]
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10. DISNEY UNVEILS NEW LOOK AT OZ
Walt Disney Co. is putting its strategy of making new films out of classic stories to the test, with the Friday opening of Oz the Great and Powerful. The studio spent $225 million to tell the backstory of the wizard — a circus con artist named Oscar Biggs — who figured so prominently in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. "Disney seems to be collecting every myth, legend, and fantasy in the Western world with Marvel, the Muppets, Winnie the Pooh, and Star Wars," say UCLA film historian Jonathan A. Kuntz. "It's no surprise they've grabbed onto Oz." Boxoffice.com projects $75 million in opening weekend U.S. ticket sales. [Bloomberg]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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