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10 things you need to know today: March 15, 2013
GOP Sen. Rob Portman backs gay marriage, Samsung unveils its Galaxy SIV, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
The Samsung Galaxy SIV sparkles upon its debut.
The Samsung Galaxy SIV sparkles upon its debut. Allison Joyce/Getty Images

1. GOP SEN. PORTMAN DROPS HIS OPPOSITION TO GAY MARRIAGE
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a prominent mainstream conservative who was vetted as a possible 2012 running mate for Mitt Romney, reversed his longtime hard-line opposition to gay marriage on Thursday night. Portman became the first sitting Senate Republican, and one of a very few GOP federal officeholders, to openly support same-sex marriage, saying he arrived at the change of heart after two years of soul-searching that started when he learned his 21-year-old son, Will, is gay. "It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective," Portman said, "and that's of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have." [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
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2. OBAMA STRESSES COMMITMENT TO ISRAEL'S SECURITY AHEAD OF VISIT
President Obama said in an interview broadcast in Israel Thursday that the U.S. would do whatever it takes to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Obama is preparing for a trip to Israel next week — his first to the country as president. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once marked the "red line" where it would be too late to prevent Tehran from going nuclear, and that time appears to be approaching in Netanyhu's estimation. "We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don't want to cut it too close," Obama said. When asked if he would order an attack if Iran refused to rein in its nuclear program, Obama said: "When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table." [Reuters]
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3. NEXT UP AT CPAC: ROMNEY
Mitt Romney, the GOP's defeated presidential nominee, will make his first public speech since election night on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. Romney struggled through the campaign to win over a skeptical Republican base, once trying to reassure the base by saying he had been a "severely conservative governor" in Massachusetts. But at a CPAC gathering focused on the future and bouncing back from November election setbacks, Romney is being received as "kind of last year," in the words of one participant. "I'm ready for some new blood," said Laurie Pettengill, a former New Hampshire state representative. [Politico]
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4. SAMSUNG UNVEILS THE GALAXY SIV
Samsung Electronics finally unveiled its hotly anticipated Galaxy SIV smartphone on Thursday, culminating an intense PR blitz with a packed event at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The latest version of the South Korean company's wildly popular device has a screen slightly larger than the newest iPhone. It also has some innovative new features, including Smart Scroll, which scrolls the screen to the best angle when the front camera detects someone looking at the phone. Samsung is already the world leader in smartphone sales, and the new Galaxy marks its best shot yet at challenging Apple's dominance in the U.S. market. "This is Samsung's time right now," said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. [New York Times]
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5. ASSAULT RIFLE BAN CLEARS SENATE COMMITTEE
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a new ban on semiautomatic, military-style assault rifles. The vote, split along party lines, came after a heated meeting in which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who proposed the legislation, whether the First Amendment could be curtailed in the same way he says the assault rifle ban limits the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. "I'm not a sixth grader," Feinstein responded. The measure, part of a package of gun measures pitched in response to the December Sandy Hook school massacre, now goes to the full Senate, where it's likely to be blocked by a GOP filibuster. [CNN]
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6. PHYSICISTS SAY THEY'VE FOUND THE ELUSIVE HIGGS BOSON
Scientists reported Thursday that they believe a particle discovered at the world's largest atom smasher last year is indeed a Higgs boson, potentially marking the end of the 50-year quest to find the so-called "God particle." Scientists believe the elusive, sub-atomic speck helps other tiny particles passing through it stick together to form atoms. The discovery, announced at a conference in Italy, would help explain how the Big Bang created the universe from nothing 13.7 billion years ago — a breakthrough considered an automatic favorite to win a Nobel Prize. [Associated Press]
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7. REUTERS EDITOR ACCUSED OF CONSPIRACY
Federal authorities on Thursday charged a Reuters social media editor, Matthew Keys, for allegedly helping the hacker cooperative Anonymous attack the website of his former employer, a Fox-affiliated local TV station in Sacramento, Calif., as well as The Los Angeles Times' website. (Both are owned by the Tribune Company.) Keys boasted on his blog in 2011 that he had communicated with "top level hackers within Anonymous." Keys said he communicated with them as a journalist, and offered no guarantees of confidentiality. The Justice Department charged him with conspiracy, saying he gave Anonymous usernames and passwords after he was fired from the TV station, and told the hackers to "go f**k some s**t up." [Huffington Post]
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8. TWO MORE CARNIVAL SHIPS HOBBLED DURING CRUISES
A month after the Carnival Triumph's nightmare cruise made headlines, Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines is having problems with two other ships. The Carnival Legend, which can carry 2,100 passengers, was limping toward its home port in Tampa, Fla., on Friday after skipping its final stop at Grand Cayman island due to problems with its propulsion system. The Carnival Dream is stuck at port in St. Maarten following the failure of its emergency diesel generator. [NBC News]
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9. GLITCH DELAYS SOME TAX REFUNDS
A software glitch is delaying income-tax refunds to 660,000 people by up to six weeks, the Internal Revenue Service says. The problem affects only certain taxpayers who filed between Feb. 14 and Feb. 22, and claimed education tax credits, which provide up to $2,500 for college expenses, or the Lifetime Learning credit, which provides up to $2,000. Turbo Tax users were not affected, but tax preparing giant H&R Block said some of its clients were. [Associated Press]
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10. NADAL DEFEATS FEDERER
In a renewal of one of tennis' great rivalries, Rafael Nadal demolished an injury-hampered Roger Federer on Thursday to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open. Nadal's 6-4, 6/2 victory marked his 19th win in 29 meetings with his rival, and his first hard-court tournament since returning from knee problems. Federer was clearly struggling with a back injury, but Nadal relished the win. "Well, it's amazing, no?" Nadal said in an on-court interview after the match. "For me, just to be back in the competition is fantastic." [New York Times]

 
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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