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10 things you need to know today: March 27, 2013
Petraeus apologizes, Obama names the first female Secret Service chief, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Secret Service agents watch the audience while President Obama speaks in March 2012.
Secret Service agents watch the audience while President Obama speaks in March 2012. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1. PETRAEUS SAYS HE'S SORRY FOR AFFAIR
David Petraeus apologized Tuesday night for the extramarital affair that derailed his career, in his first public speech since he resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency five months ago. The retired four-star general was invited to speak at the event — an ROTC dinner at the University of Southern California — before news broke of his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus said he's "keenly aware" that his actions have tarnished his reputation since then, and that he regrets causing "such pain" for his wife, Holly, and his friends and supporters. "Perhaps my experience can be instructive to others who stumble or indeed fall as far as I did," he said. [New York Daily News]
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2. SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT
The Supreme Court is stepping into its second gay-marriage case on Wednesday, as justices hear oral arguments on a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. The hearing comes a day after a similar one on California's same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8. The Defense of Marriage Act denies gay couples access to federal benefits — even if they are legally married under state law — because it defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The law was signed in 1996 by then-president Bill Clinton, who says he now believes it's unconstitutional. DOMA has already been rejected by four federal courts and two appeals courts. [BBC News]
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3. OBAMA NAMES FIRST FEMALE SECRET SERVICE CHIEF
President Obama is appointing 30-year Secret Service veteran Julia Pierson as director of the agency, White House officials said on Tuesday. She will be the first woman ever to head the agency, which is best known for providing protection for the president. Obama's selection of Pierson, who now serves as the agency's chief of staff, comes a year after a prostitution scandal involving 13 agents and officers exposed a macho culture in the agency. Pierson's predecessor, Mark Sullivan, announced his retirement last month after apologizing for the embarrassing mess. [Los Angeles Times]
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4. NORTH KOREA WARNS WAR COULD BREAK OUT SOON
North Korea cut off its last military hotline with South Korea and warned on Wednesday that "war may break out an any moment." The isolated communist regime has been making increasingly bellicose threats since facing global condemnation and tightening sanctions after its recent missile and nuclear tests, and has threatened to launch nuclear strikes against South Korea and the U.S., although experts say it doesn't have the technology to deliver a warhead to the U.S. mainland. [Reuters]
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5. NEW ACCOUNT BLURS STORY OF BIN LADEN RAID
A third member of Seal Team 6 has come forward offering details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and his account contradicts what a former comrade said in the February issue of Esquire. A SEAL member called "The Shooter" in the Esquire article said that he had shot bin Laden as they stood face-to-face and the al Qaeda leader reached for a gun. In an interview with CNN, the latest SEAL to talk says that version of the story is "complete b.s." The source essentially backs up the account of former SEAL "Mark Owen," who wrote in his book, No Easy Day, that a member of the special forces team shot an unarmed bin Laden from down the hall. [CNN, Huffington Post]
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6. NORTH DAKOTA ENACTS NATION'S STRICTEST ABORTION LAW
North Dakota's Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion law on Tuesday. The measure makes abortion illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Legal scholars say the law is likely to be overturned in federal court, as the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalized abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which usually takes 22 to 24 weeks. Dalrymple concedes the likelihood of a challenge, but says "this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade." [Christian Science Monitor]
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7. SPAIN CONDUCTS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF ARMSTRONG'S DOPING
Spanish authorities are investigating possible criminal charges against Lance Armstrong in connection with the former cycling champion's doping, which was described in a U.S. Anti Doping Agency report, according to ABC News. Armstrong lived in Spain for several years during his record run of seven consecutive Tour de France titles. Under Spanish law, it isn't a crime for an athlete to use performance-enhancing drugs, although a conviction for trafficking and distributing banned drugs carries a prison term of up to two years and fines of as much as 400,000 euros ($520,000). [ABC News]
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8. FOLLOWER ACCUSED OF TRYING TO SNEAK CHARLES MANSON A CELL PHONE
A California man, Craig Carlisle Hammond, has been arrested on charges that he tried to smuggle a cell phone to cult leader Charles Manson in prison. Manson, 78, is serving a life sentence for the 1969 "Helter Skelter" killing spree in Los Angeles, in which seven people were murdered. Over the years, Manson has reportedly been caught with a weapon and contraband cell phones, and has been accused of threatening a peace officer. Prison officials say contraband cell phones are dangerous, as they can be used for such things as planning escapes and ordering hits. [New York Daily News]
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9. SPACEX DRAGON COMPLETES SECOND SPACE STATION SUPPLY RUN
The privately built and owned SpaceX Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after its second resupply mission to the International Space Station under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The unmanned craft brought back 1 ton of old space-station equipment and science experiments. It was launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral in early March. With the space shuttle fleet retired, SpaceX, run by billionaire PayPal and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, is NASA's only option for two-way delivery to the space station, but a competitor, Orbital Sciences Corp., plans a test flight next month. [Associated Press]
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10. PICASSO PAINTING SELLS FOR $155 MILLION
Hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen has purchased Pablo Picasso's Le Reve from casino owner Steve Wynn for $155 million — the most a collector has ever paid for a work of art in the U.S. Wynn had agreed to sell Cohen the painting for $139 million, but the deal was canceled after Wynn accidentally put his elbow through the canvas. Cohen remained interested, however, as the work was being restored. [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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