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10 things you need to know today: November 10, 2012
Petraeus resigns, Obama braces for the fiscal cliff, and more in our roundup of stories that are making news and driving opinion
President Obama gets back to work, addressing the looming fiscal cliff on Friday.
President Obama gets back to work, addressing the looming fiscal cliff on Friday.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

1. CIA DIRECTOR PETRAEUS RESIGNS OVER AFFAIR
CIA Director David Petraeus stunned the Washington establishment on Friday by abruptly stepping down from his post, citing an extramarital affair. While other officials may have survived such an indiscretion, the nation's spy master could not. With his access to highly classified information, concerns may have lingered that by harboring a secret of his own, Petraeus could potentially be blackmailed into disclosing the country's most valuable secrets. (Update: According to Slate, Petraeus' mistress was his biographer.) It's an ignominious end for the most famous general of modern times, who made his name leading the 2007 surge in Iraq under President George W. Bush, overseeing the war in Afghanistan under President Obama, and literally writing the book on how to use U.S. military might to fight scrappy insurgencies. [The Week]

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2. OBAMA PLANS WHITE HOUSE MEETING ON FISCAL CLIFF
President Obama addressed the looming fiscal cliff — $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to begin Jan. 1 — from the White House on Friday, telling Congress that the "the majority of Americans agree" that the wealthiest citizens should pay higher tax rates, and that those making less than $250,000 a year should not have to see their tax rates increase. Obama, signaling that he would sign a bill that avoids a middle-class tax increase "right now," added that the government's "top priority has to be jobs and growth." The president has also invited congressional leaders to the White House next week to begin negotiations on how to avoid the fiscal cliff. [Politico]
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3. SYRIA'S ASSAD AGAIN DENIES CIVIL WAR
In an interview with RT, a Russian cable channel, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insisted that his country is not in the midst of a civil war. "We do not have a civil war," Assad said. "It is about terrorism and the support coming from abroad to terrorists to destabilize Syria," the embattled despot told the Russian station, reprising his oft-repeated charge. The rare interview aired Friday and was conducted in Assad's presidential palace in Damascus. Some 20,000 to 30,000 people have been killed since the anti-Assad uprising began last year. [Los Angeles Times]
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4. SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW VOTING RIGHTS ACT
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case challenging a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, landmark legislation that outlawed election discrimination against blacks and other minorities. At issue is Section 5 of the law, which forbids certain states and localities with a history of discrimination from changing their voting laws without federal approval. Critics of the law say that the provision is outdated, and that it therefore represents an unconstitutional burden on affected states, most of which are in the South. Defenders of the law contend that it is still necessary, alleging that Republican state legislatures have only recently passed laws designed to suppress minority turnout. Members of the Supreme Court's conservative majority have expressed skepticism about Section 5's constitutionality in the past. A decision in the case, Shelby County v. Holder, is expected before the end of the court's 2012-13 term. [Washington Post]
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5. TENS OF THOUSANDS WANT NOBEL PRIZE FOR MALALA
Close to 90,000 people have signed a petition to nominate Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl and education activist shot by the Taliban, for a Nobel Peace Prize. "Malala doesn't just represent one young woman, she speaks out for all those who are denied an education purely on the basis of their gender," said Shahida Choudhary, the creator of the Change.org petition. [Washington Post]
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6. OBAMA TO MAKE HISTORIC ASIAN VISITS
President Obama will make Asia his first overseas destination since his re-election, with historic visits to Myanmar and Cambodia this month. Obama will head to an annual international economic summit meeting in Cambodia and stop in Thailand and Myanmar. No sitting U.S. president has ever visited either Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, or Cambodia. The president's planned visit to Myanmar drew criticism from human rights groups who worry that a presidential visit there is premature, as the country slowly moves toward democracy, while ethnic violence and detainment of political prisoners continues. [New York Times]
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7. EXPERIMENTAL MALARIA VACCINE FALLS SHORT
A large-scale test of the world's first experimental malaria vaccine — involving more than 6,500 African infants — produced disappointing results, with the risk of malaria reduced by just 30 percent. The results, released Friday, showed the vaccine providing less than half the protection it did in a previous smaller trial involving infants. GlaxoSmithKline, which produces the vaccine, is going to continue working on the drug. "We've been at this for 30 years, and we’re certainly not going to give up now," chief executive Andrew Witty said. [Voice of America]
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8. DISRUPTIVE JETBLUE PILOT FREE TO GO HOME
Clayton Osbon, the JetBlue pilot who, during a cross-country flight in March, left the cockpit and began yelling about religion and terrorists, is free to go home rather than be committed to a mental health facility. Osbon had been charged with interference with a flight crew, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. A forensic neuropsychologist testified in a short, unpublicized trial that Osbon had a "brief psychotic disorder" brought on by lack of sleep. Osbon will not be able to fly or board a commercial plane without a judge's or his probation officer's permission. At least 10 passengers have sued JetBlue over the March incident. [Associated Press]
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9. PHILIP ROTH QUITS WRITING
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth, 79, announced in an interview with a French magazine that his book Nemesis, published in 2010, will be his last. "I do not intend to write for the next ten years," Roth said. "To tell you the truth, I'm done... I no longer feel this fanaticism to write." According to Salon, when Roth's publisher Houghton Mifflin reached out to Roth directly, he told a publicist that the news is true. [Salon]
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10. LAKERS FIRE COACH MIKE BROWN
The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown after a disappointing 1-4 start, and just one month into his second season with the team. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff coached Friday night's game against Golden State, but the Lakers will still conduct a national search for a long-term replacement. Among the rumored candidates: Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Sloan, Nate McMillan, and Phil Jackson. [Los Angeles Times]

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