Last updated: March 16. 2013 10:06PM - 159 Views

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Same-sex benefits weighed

The military is poised to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of service members, U.S. officials said Tuesday, about 16 months after the Pentagon repealed its ban on openly gay service.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has not made a final decision on which benefits will be included, the officials said, but the Pentagon is likely to allow same-sex partners to have access to the on-base commissary and other military subsidized stores, as well as some health and welfare programs.

An announcement is expected to come in the next several days.

Iranian leader visits Egypt

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived to a red-carpet welcome and a kiss on the cheek by Egypt's new Islamist leader in a historic trip to strengthen relations between the two nations after decades of estrangement and suspicion.

Iran seeks a closer bond with Cairo as part of a strategy to broaden its influence in the Middle East at a time when Tehran's closest ally, Syria, is enmeshed in a civil war and Ahmadinejad faces increasing pressure from Arab states in the Persian Gulf.

President Mohammed Morsi warmly greeted Ahmadinejad at the airport in a stark recognition of Egypt's redrawn political landscape since an uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

Gallery chooses Pa. woman

The Smithsonian Institution named a leading Philadelphia museum executive and art historian to be the next director of the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday.

Kim Sajet, the president and CEO of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, will join the Smithsonian beginning April 1. She will oversee a collection of 21,000 objects, including such famous images as Alexander Gardner's cracked plate photograph of Abraham Lincoln and Gilbert Stuart's Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, among others.

Sajet, 47, said the Portrait Gallery is a young museum, established by Congress in 1962, but is special because people connect with people and their stories in its exhibits.

I think there's a tremendous desire nationally ... to touch base with the people who have contributed so much to America's history and made it what it is today, she said.

Small tsunami hits islands

A powerful earthquake off the Solomon Islands generated a tsunami of up to about 5 feet that damaged dozens of homes in the South Pacific island chain Wednesday, but authorities canceled warnings for tsunamis on more distant coasts.

There were no initial reports of deaths or injuries. Solomons officials reported two 4 foot, 11-inch waves hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island, damaging around 50 homes and properties, said George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister. Many villagers had headed to higher ground as a precaution, Herming said.

The tsunami formed after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck near Lata on Santa Cruz in Temotu province, the easternmost province of the Solomons.

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