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10 things you need to know today: November 8, 2012
Obama returns to work, Greece approves cuts despite protests, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
A fireman tries to extinguish a fire as protesters clash with police outside the parliament buildings in Athens. Greeks tried unsuccessfully to stop the government from approving more budget cuts.
A fireman tries to extinguish a fire as protesters clash with police outside the parliament buildings in Athens. Greeks tried unsuccessfully to stop the government from approving more budget cuts.
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

1. OBAMA CONFRONTS LOOMING FISCAL CRISIS
Newly re-elected President Obama returned to Washington from Chicago on Wednesday to launch negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress to strike a deal to reduce the deficit and avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Fears that gridlock would prevent a deal sent stocks into a nosedive Wednesday. On Capitol Hill, leaders on both sides of the aisle promised flexibility to avoid triggering $600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of the year, which economists warn would push the U.S. into another recession. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans, who have stood fast against proposals to raise taxes on the rich as part of a bipartisan debt-reduction package, are "willing to accept new revenues" out of a desire to "do what's best for our country." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it was "better to dance than to fight." [New York Times]
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2. NEW STORM SLAMS AREAS HIT BY SANDY
A powerful nor'easter hammered the East Coast from Delaware to Maine with 60 mile-per-hour winds and wet snow, downing power lines and complicating the recovery in communities that were devastated by the deadly superstorm that hit the region just nine days earlier. Power had been restored to all but 607,000 customers in New York and New Jersey by Wednesday, but by early Thursday another 60,000 had lost electricity. Staten Island, a New York City borough hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, was expected to get seven inches of snow by early Thursday. "It's Mother Nature's one-two punch," said Mayor Cory Booker of Newark. [CNN]
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3. CHINA BEGINS POWER TRANSFER
China's ruling Communist Party launched a week-long meeting to launch a carefully choreographed, once-in-a-decade transfer of power to a new crop of leaders over the next five months. President Hu Jintao, who is preparing to step aside after 10 years on the job, urged his colleagues to stamp out corruption, which has triggered public anger at the government. "Nobody is above the law," Hu told 2,309 delegates and invited guests, as well as his successor, Vice President Xi Jinping, and other party notables. "If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state." [Associated Press]
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4. GREECE APPROVES CUTS DESPITE PROTEST
Greece's parliament narrowly approved a new wave of austerity measures on Thursday to qualify for a fresh dose of bailout money the government needs to avoid defaulting on its debts. The vote passed over heated opposition, and despite a two-day general strike by workers who said the government's deep spending cuts and tax hikes were killing the economy. As the lawmakers debated the move, nearly 100,000 people gathered in Syntagma Square in central Athens chanting, "Fight! They're drinking our blood!" [Reuters]
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5. TURKEY WANTS MISSILES FOR SYRIA BORDER
Turkey is reportedly planning to ask its fellow members of NATO to put Patriot missiles along its border with Syria, to keep that country's civil war from spilling onto Turkish territory. Putting Patriot missile batteries on the edge of Syria would, in effect, turn the part of the country abutting Turkey's southern border into a no-fly zone, protecting refugees and rebel fighters from devastating airstrikes by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. [New York Times]
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6. LEGALIZED MARIJUANA FACES CHALLENGES
In this week's elections, voters made Colorado and Washington the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, but passing the ballot initiatives was just the first step toward loosening drug laws. The federal government could sue to block parts of the laws, or at least impose a chilling effect by sending threatening letters reminding pot vendors that they're violating federal drug laws. "This is a symbolic victory for (legalization) advocates," says Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the Obama administration's drug czar, "but it will be short-lived." [Reuters]
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7. FLORIDA VOTE COUNT DRAGS ON
Florida is the nation's biggest swing state, but it didn't matter in the presidential election this year. President Obama won re-election and returned to Washington to get back to work, yet Florida election officials are still counting votes to determine whether Obama or Mitt Romney will get the Sunshine State's electoral votes. As of Wednesday, Obama had 49.8 percent of the vote to Romney's 49.2 percent, but thousands of votes remained to be counted. Florida officials can't say when they'll have a final tally, but counties have until noon Saturday to announce their unofficial results. [Associated Press]
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8. ANTI-MUSLIM FILMMAKER FACES JAIL
Mark Bassely Youssef, the man behind an anti-Muslim film that stoked violence across the Middle East, will spend a year in prison under a plea deal over unrelated probation violations. Youssef, an Egyptian-born Christian who is a U.S. citizen, has used several aliases, and has admitted to several of the charges against him, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license. Members of the cast and crew of the anti-Islam movie, Innocence of Muslims, say Youssef also lied to them about the nature of the film. Before his arrest, Youssef went into hiding as enraged Muslims demanded he face harsh punishment. A Pakistani cabinet minister even offered $100,000 to anyone who killed him. [Associated Press]
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9. STRONG QUAKE HITS GUATEMALA
Guatemala's Pacific coast was hit Wednesday by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 48 people and rattled buildings from Mexico City to San Salvador. Landslides buried roads, cutting off the most devastated areas from the rest of the Central American country for roughly 24 hours. The quake cut off power to about 73,000 people. "It's really a tragedy," President Otto Perez Molina said, "and we will do all we can to help the families that are suffering." [BBC News]
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10. WALMART MOVES BLACK FRIDAY EARLIER
Walmart is nudging the start of the holiday shopping season two hours earlier than ever this year, kicking off its Black Friday deals at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, makes a quarter of its annual sales during the holiday season, and it's betting that recession-weary Americans are going to be ready to open their wallets. It's offering waves of deals triggered at 8 p.m., 10 p.m., and 5 a.m. Friday, and guaranteeing customers they'll be able to get the sale items, including some iPad 2s, even if they sell out. [Bloomberg]

 

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