Here are the top 10 stories you should read and watch on your lunch break:
(1) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday that the U.S. soldier responsible for the murder of 16 Afghan civilians over the weekend could face the death penalty. He also said the shooting must not "derail the U.S. mission in Afghanistan." The soldier was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury after sustaining a head injury in Iraq during a vehicle rollover in 2010, according to two U.S. military officials. But, he was subsequently prounounced fit for duty.
(2) Today, the GOP candidates will once again face off in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, as well as the Hawaii caucus. The Southern primaries are a must-win for Newt Gingrich. Polls show Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum in a close raise in both states. PolicyMic will be covering each race live. For more info, see the live blogs here: Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii.
(3) According to a shocking new poll, 52% of probable Republican voters in Mississippi say President Barack Obama is a Muslim. The poll was conducted by telephone of 656 likely Republican voters in Mississippi on March 10 and 11, has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points. Meanwhile, 45% of voters in Alabama said the same. Only 14% in that state said they consider him to be a Christian.
(4) President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron write an op-ed in the Washington Post today extolling the American-British relationship as a "partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share." Cameron is visiting Washington this week to discuss preparations for the NATO Summit in May, among other things. They write: "Our troops and citizens have long shown what can be achieved when British and Americans work together, heart and hand, and why this remains an essential relationship — to our nations and the world. So like generations before us, we’re going to keep it up. Because with confidence in our cause and faith in each other, we still believe that there is hardly anything we cannot do."
(5) There is no clear evidence that microfinance has any net impact on lifting poor people out of poverty. By 2008, the microfinance industry had grown to include at least 2,420 microfinance institutes in 117 countries. But, consensus is growing that microcredit should not be offered to the poorest of the poor due to the risk of harm. Failure to pay back a microfinance loan can strip poor people of all their remaining assets. More here.
(6) Trust your gut when making predictions. A new study led by Michel Tuan Pham of Columbia Business School says research participants who strongly trust their feelings are able to predict future levels of the Dow Jones average with 25% greater accuracy than people who didn't. In another experiment, 41% of people who trusted their feelings were able to correctly pick an American Idol winner, compared with just 24% of people with little trust in their feelings.
(7) Foreign Policy's Stephen Walt says media coverage of Iran has been woefully inadequate and misleading. He writes, "when prominent media organizations keep publishing alarmist pieces about how war is imminent, likely, inevitable, etc., this may convince the public that it is going to happen sooner or later and it discourages people from looking for better alternatives." Check out his top 10 media failures in the Iran war debate.
(8) Teri Christoph and Suzanne Haik Terrell, co-chairwomen of ShePAC say Democrats should reject Bill Maher's money due to his offensive comments toward women. They charge that Maher has advocated that someone should "choke this b***h" and argued that voters would prefer to see a female candidate "splayed out on the hood of a car" rather than making decisions in the Oval Office. A recent video produced by ShePAC highlights some of Maher's "greatest hits" against women and special needs children. Maher recently donated $1 million to a pro-Obama Super PAC
(9) Moderate background noise makes you more creative. Research participants were more creative when they were exposed to background noise of 70 decibels than when they were in a low-noise environment, say Ravi Mehta of the University of Illinois, Rui (Juliet) Zhu of the University of British Columbia, and Amar Cheema of the University of Virginia. The noise makes mental processing more difficult, which activates abstract cognition and thus enhances creative performance.
(10) Al Jazeera will broadcast a Syria documentary tomorrow night filmed entirely on iPhone due to safety concerns. The film, called "Syria: Songs of Defiance," follows a journalist on a journey amongst the uprising in Syria:
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