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10 things you need to know today: November 13, 2012
Another top general comes under investigation, Obama begins debt meetings, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
Gen. John Allen testifies on Capitol Hill in March: Allen, who was scheduled to be promoted to head of U.S. European Command, is under investigation for emails he exchanged with Jill Kelley, a woman associated with the uncovering of former CIA Director David Petraeus' affair.
Gen. John Allen testifies on Capitol Hill in March: Allen, who was scheduled to be promoted to head of U.S. European Command, is under investigation for emails he exchanged with Jill Kelley, a woman associated with the uncovering of former CIA Director David Petraeus' affair.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

1. PETRAEUS SCANDAL SPREADS
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has opened an investigation into a trove of "inappropriate communications" from Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to Jill Kelley, the target of harassing emails from Paula Broadwell, the mistress of former CIA Director David Petraeus. (FBI agents also searched Broadwell's North Carolina home on Monday, reportedly to see if she had any classified documents). The FBI uncovered the Allen emails in its investigation of the Petraeus affair, and referred them to the Pentagon. That fact, plus Panetta's decision to let Allen continue his duties without a suspension, suggests that the 2010-2012 communications constitute an infraction of military rules, not federal laws. Allen, who reportedly maintains that he did nothing wrong, is up for promotion to head of U.S. European Command and the commander of NATO forces in Europe; President Obama has put his nomination on hold. [Associated Press]
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2. OBAMA LAUNCHES DEBT TALKS
President Obama is launching a campaign to pressure Republicans and Democrats in Congress to strike a deficit-cutting deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, a collection of economy-busting tax hikes and spending cuts due to hit at the end of the year. On Tuesday, Obama is scheduled to meet with labor and civic leaders, and on Wednesday he'll sit down with business leaders, including the chief executives of Ford, IBM, and Walmart. Obama has said his re-election last week gave him a mandate to close the deficit with a balanced approach that includes spending cuts and tax hikes on families earning more than $250,000 a year. Republican House Speaker John Boehner says he's against raising tax rates, but would consider finding other ways to boost revenue, such as closing tax loopholes. [Reuters]
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3. SUSAN RICE EMERGES AS LIKELY CLINTON SUCCESSOR
Despite early indications that Sen. John Kerry was in line to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Monday that United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice would "almost certainly" get the job. The Times said that although Rice is "the favorite," both she and Kerry "have a reservoir of good will in the Oval Office," and if Kerry doesn't get Clinton's job he could be in line to become the next secretary of defense. [Politico]
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4. REFUGEES FLEE SYRIAN JET STRIKES
A Syrian jet bombed the rebel-held town of Ras al-Ayn along the Turkish border on Tuesday. It was the second day of the airstrikes, which have killed an estimated 30 people. Turkish ambulances rushed to the border to carry wounded Syrians to hospitals on the Turkish side. Thousands of refugees have poured into Ceylanpinar, the Turkish town just over the border from Ras al-Ayn, since fighting began in the area three days ago. [Associated Press]
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5. MICROSOFT WINDOWS CHIEF LEAVES
In what analysts called a "shocking" development, the head of Microsoft's Windows unit, Steven Sinofsky, has left the company just after the launch of Windows 8, the most radical revamp of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system since 1995. Sinofsky had been considered one of the most likely candidates to be the giant software company's next CEO. Instead he's now the latest and most prominent in a parade of high-profile departures as CEO Steve Ballmer firms up control as the company struggles to compete with Apple and Google in mobile computing. [Reuters]
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6. GAZA STRIKES CONTINUE
Israeli jets bombed three targets in Hamas-controlled Gaza overnight — a weapons depot, and two sites believed to be used by Palestinian militants to fire rockets into Israel. Hamas leaders said they had convened a meeting of Palestinian militant groups and gotten them to agree to a cease-fire. Only one rocket was fired into Israel on Tuesday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel reserved the right to launch a larger military response if the cross-border attacks resumed. "It is certainly not over," Barak said. [Bloomberg]
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7. DALAI LAMA TO CHINA: INVESTIGATE TIBETAN DEATHS
The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, called on China's leaders to investigate the cause of a recent surge in self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese rule. Eight people, including two on Monday, have set themselves on fire in the last six days, as China's Communist Party holds a national congress to launch a once-in-a-decade transfer of power to a new generation of leaders. Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of encouraging the often deadly protests, but he said "narrow-minded Communist officials" are stoking desperation and frustration among Tibetans by cracking down on their traditional Buddhist culture. [Associated Press]
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8. EUROPE GIVES GREECE MORE TIME
Eurozone finance ministers on Monday gave debt-burdened Greece an extra two years — until 2016 — to cut its deficit to 2 percent of its gross domestic product. By adopting a spare budget and imposing painful tax hikes and spending cuts, said Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, "Greece has done a big part of what it was supposed to do." The finance ministers, meeting in Brussels, pledged to make up for Greece's spending shortfalls in the meantime to keep it financially fit enough to continue using the euro, Europe's common currency. [Bloomberg]
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9. U.K. RELEASES TERROR SUSPECT
British authorities freed radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada on bail Tuesday, after a court ruled that he was unlikely to get a fair trial if sent to Jordan to face decade-old terrorism charges. European Court judges had ruled that there was no reason to suspect that Jordan would mistreat Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, but the British court said prosecutors might use testimony obtained by torture to win a conviction. Abu Qatada was held in Britain for seven years, though never charged with a crime. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the British government is still determined to deport him. He'll remain under constant surveillance. "He should not be in this country," Clegg said. "He is a dangerous person." [BBC News]
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10. ELMO PUPPETEER DENIES ABUSE ALLEGATIONS
Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street's popular Elmo character, took a leave of absence on Monday after being accused of having had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Clash, 52, said he had a relationship with the accuser, but said it didn't begin until the young man was an adult. The accuser first brought his allegations to executives at the Sesame Workshop in June, when he was 23. "It was between two consenting adults," Clash said, "and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was." [Associated Press]

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