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10 things you need to know today: March 23, 2013
Obama plays peacemaker in Israel, Colorado legalizes same-sex civil unions, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk with President Obama on March 22.
Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk with President Obama on March 22. Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

1. CYPRUS DELAYS KEY TAX VOTE
Leaders in Cyprus are rushing to revise a formula for scoring a $13 billion European bailout, but still may not win the approval of foreign lenders. Indeed, parliament still hasn't voted on a controversial proposal to confiscate up to 25 percent of savings account holders' uninsured deposits above 100,000 euros. Europe's central bank has threatened to pull the plug on Cypriot banks on Monday if the country doesn't come up with a new rescue plan to help offset the cost of the $13 billion bailout with a tax on bank accounts. [New York Times]

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2. OBAMA BROKERS ISRAEL'S APOLOGY TO TURKEY
During his three-day trip to Israel, President Obama successfully brokered a detente between Israel and Turkey, restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time since 2010. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the way he handled the 2010 flotilla incident that resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish citizens. According to a statement from his office, Netanyahu "expressed his apologies to the Turkish people for any error that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete an agreement to provide compensation to the families of the victims." Netanyahu also reportedly assured Erdogan that the economic blockade around Gaza had been eased since the flotilla raid. [The New York Times]
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3. TITAN OF AFRICAN LITERATURE DIES
Famed Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, credited with radically changing the world's understanding of Africa with his first book Things Fall Apart, died Thursday at 82. Achebe's novel, first published in 1958, "gave voice to the previously unheard" and "triggered a revolution in fiction which continues to this day." The book, an exploration of the tragic effect of British colonialism on a traditional African man, has been published in 45 languages. [The Week]
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4. REPORT: GINGRICH AND SANTORUM ALMOST FORMED 'UNITY TICKET' TO FACE ROMNEY
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum considered joining forces to take down Mitt Romney during the 2012 Republican primary. The discussions to form a "unity ticket" came just before Romney's narrow primary win in Michigan in late February, the point at which Romney's nomination became virtually inevitable despite strong misgivings among the conservative base. The Gingrich and Santorum camps thought that an alliance would have unified conservative opposition to Romney and brought him down. "It would have sent shockwaves through the establishment and the Romney campaign," said Santorum's chief strategist John Brabender. [The Week]
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5. COLORADO LEGALIZES SAME-SEX CIVIL UNIONS
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper approved a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions on Friday, making the state the 15th in the union to recognize either same-sex marriage or civil unions. The law marks an important step toward reversing the state's anti-gay-rights reputation: Often known as the "hate state," Colorado restricted protections for gays in 1992 and banned same-sex marriage in 2006. "The gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual community is part of all of us," Hickenlooper told crowds of cheering same-sex couples after he signed the bill. [Associated Press]
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6. FCC CHAIRMAN STEPS DOWN
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced Friday that he is resigning "in the coming weeks." Genachowski has headed the FCC since June 2009. He tried to strike a centrist balance in setting the nation's broadband policy, but managed to upset both activists demanding more internet openness and industry giants — Verizon Wireless, for instance, is suing the FCC over its "network neutrality" rules. Genachowski's departure was expected, as was that of Republican commissioner Robert McDowell, who stepped down earlier in the week. [TIMENew York Times]
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7. POPE FRANCIS URGES DIALOGUE WITH ISLAM
On Friday, Pope Francis appealed for a more intense dialogue with Islam, addressing ambassadors from the 180 countries accredited with the Holy See, urging them to fight poverty, build peace, and establish "true links of friendship between all people." During Pope Benedict's papacy, relations between the Catholic Church and Islam were strained, due in part to remarks Benedict made in 2006, including the utterance, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman." Pope Francis insisted that it is crucial "to intensify outreach to nonbelievers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail." [New York Times]
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8. HARVARD STRIPPED OF QUIZ BOWL TITLES
Organizers of the National Academic Quiz Tournaments revoked four of Harvard University's Quiz Bowl titles after it was discovered that at least one student had illegally accessed information about the questions prior to the games. The wins, which happened in tournaments that took place between 2009 and 2011, were retroactively awarded to other schools. The Ivy League school is no stranger to academic scandal: The news comes just months after Harvard undergraduates were accused of elaborately cheating on a final exam. [Los Angeles Times]
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9. GOOGLE JOINS SMARTWATCH WAR
Google is charging into what appears to be a budding smartwatch war, according to the Financial Times. The company isn't confirming anything, but the company was awarded a patent last year on a "smart watch" with a "flip-up display," touchscreen, and camera. The report came just days after a Samsung executive said his company is working on its own smartwatch, which could rival a rumored Apple "iWatch." [Financial Times, PC Magazine]
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10. GEORGETOWN LOSES IN STUNNING NCAA UPSET
Florida Gulf Coast, a virtually unheard of 15th seed, pounded second-seeded Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, scoring an exciting 78-68 victory. This is only the seventh time in tournament history that a 15 seed has prevailed. For Georgetown, the loss continues a recent string of tournament misery. The Hoyas have lost to a double-digit seed in each of the last four years. [Yahoo]

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