10 things you need to know today: March 9, 2012

The Week

Keystone fails in the Senate, Greece gets crucial debt relief, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. GOP KEYSTONE PIPELINE MEASURE DEFEATED IN SENATE
A Republican-sponsored measure that would have fast-tracked the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline was narrowly defeated in the Senate on Thursday. President Obama had lobbied Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, to reject the measure, which would have bypassed administration objections to the moving forward on the project before environmental impact studies are complete. Supporters of the 1,700-mile long pipeline say it will create jobs and lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil; opponents fear it could leak and lock the U.S. into a "dirty" form of crude that is difficult to extract. [CNN]
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2. GREECE SECURES MASSIVE DEBT SWAP
Greece has succeeded in convincing more than 85 percent of private investors holding its Greek-law bond to slash the value of their holdings and forgive more than 100 billion euros ($132 billion) in debt, clearing one of the last hurdles needed to secure a 130 billion-euro bailout package to avoid bankruptcy. Euro-region finance ministers have scheduled a conference call for Friday to decide if the swap merits proceeding with the bailout. [Bloomberg]
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SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: March 4, 2012

3. SYRIAN REBELS REJECT CALL FOR TALKS
On Friday, the leader of one of Syria's main opposition group rejected a call by Kofi Annan, former U.N. secretary general and recently appointed special envoy on Syria, for a dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition. Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council, called Annan's proposal unrealistic and "disappointing," and said "any political solution will not succeed if it is not accompanied by military pressure on the regime." [Associated Press]
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4. JOB MARKET APPEARS TO BE GROWING STRONGER
The U.S. Labor Department issues its monthly jobs report on Friday morning. Ahead of it, other signs suggest the job market is gaining steam. On Thursday, the Labor Departed reported that despite a slight uptick in weekly unemployment applications last week, the outlook is good. Since October, unemployment applications have fallen 14 percent, and, on average, the economy has added 200,000 net jobs per month from November to January. [Associated Press]
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5. WORLD POWERS URGE IRAN TO ALLOW NUCLEAR INSPECTIONS
In an atypical show of unity, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany on Thursday urged Iran to allow international inspector access to its Parchin military facility. Iranian media reports this week suggested that inspectors would be granted access to Parchin, but the International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran has not made official contact about such a trip. Recent satellite images suggest that Iran might be cleaning up evidence of nuclear activity at the site before allowing inspections. [Reuters]
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6. SOLAR STORM HAS LITTLE IMPACT
Scientists say the impact of one of the biggest solar storms in years, which hit Earth early Thursday, has been "pretty benign" so far, but that the storm's orientation could change and disrupt power grids, airline flights, and satellites. [Associated Press]
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7. SPANX FOUNDER MAKES BILLIONAIRE LIST
Sara Blakely, the founder of the Spanx shape wear company, graces the cover of Forbes' "billionaire" issue. At 41, she's the youngest self-made woman to gain entry into the billionaire's club. [Huffington Post]
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8. BULLY MOVIE CONTROVERSY CONTINUES
A 17-year-old high school student this week delivered a petition with more than 200,000 signatures to the Motion Picture Association of America protesting the R rating the organization gave a documentary called Bully. The MPAA responded by upholding the rating, but the film's studio, the Weinstein Company, believes the R rating will diminish the ability of the documentary on bullying to reach adolescent audiences and have a positive impact. It says it will continue to pressure the MPAA. [Entertainment Weekly]
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SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: March 8, 2012

9. COKE AND PEPSI TO CHANGE FORMULA
Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are changing their recipes in the U.S. to comply with a California law that demands cancer warning labels on drinks with certain levels of carcinogens. The companies had already made adjustments to chemicals found in their caramel colorings in California, but they will now do so nationwide. "Consumers will notice no difference in our products and have no reason at all for any health concerns," the American Beverage Association said in a statement. [Telegraph]
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10. CONTROVERSIAL GAME CHANGE DEBUTS SATURDAY
Game Change, the controversial, highly anticipated movie about the 2008 presidential election, airs Saturday night on HBO. Julianne Moore plays Sarah Palin and Ed Harris plays John McCain in the adaptation of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's bestseller. Palin has worked to discredit the film, but some reviewers say it actually humanizes her. [Washington Post]

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: March 1, 2012

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