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10 things you need to know today: November 15, 2012
Obama addresses the Petraeus affair, attacks escalate between Israel and Hamas, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
A plume of smoke rises over Gaza during an Israeli air strike, as seen from Sderot in Israel.
 

A plume of smoke rises over Gaza during an Israeli air strike, as seen from Sderot in Israel.

 

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

1. ISRAEL'S GAZA STRIKES CONTINUE
Israel launched a new round of airstrikes in Gaza on Thursday, after Islamist militants fired rockets into Israel, killing three civilians. The attacks came after the Wednesday killing of Ahmed al-Jabari, the top military commander of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Palestinian territory. Al-Jabari was killed in a pinpoint airstrike on his car. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday night to discuss concerns that the fighting would turn into all-out war, but took no action. "The message that must be taken from this meeting is the violence must stop," said Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, acting president of the 15-nation Security Council. [New York Times]
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2. OBAMA RESERVES JUDGMENT ON FBI'S PETRAEUS PROBE
The FBI's handling of the David Petraeus affair, which prompted the former CIA director's resignation last week, is coming under increasing scrutiny in Washington. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller was questioned by lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and President Obama addressed the matter publicly for the first time during a high-profile news conference in which he mapped out his plans heading into his second term. Obama said he hadn't seen any evidence that any classified material was exposed that might jeopardize national security. Obama, however, said he was "withholding judgment" on the FBI's handling of its investigation into the personal email communications of Petraeus and U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen. Allen exchanged numerous messages with Jill Kelley, the woman who sparked the FBI inquiry by complaining that she was receiving threatening emails that turned out to have been sent by Petraeus' lover, his biographer, Paula Broadwell. [Washington Post]
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3. XI JINPING TAKES REINS IN CHINA
China's ruling Communist Party unveiled its new leaders on Thursday, with Vice President Xi Jinping assuming the top spots on both the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's top tier, and the powerful military council. That effectively makes Xi China's top leader, though he won't become president until next spring. The other six members of the new standing committee are a mix of economic reformers and conservatives. Li Keqiang, a protégé of outgoing leader Hu Jintao, was tapped as the new prime minister. The change in power came at the end of the party's once-every-five-years congress. [Reuters]
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4. ROMNEY BLAMES "GIFTS" FOR LOSS
Mitt Romney, the defeated GOP candidate for president, on Wednesday ascribed his loss to "gifts" President Obama had showered on certain constituencies, including younger voters and minorities. "With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," he said on a conference call with his national finance committee. "Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women." He went on to say that Obama's health-care reform was a "huge" gift for Latinos and blacks. Romney's remarks come as the GOP continues its soul-searching quest to find out why the party is so unpopular with younger voters, minorities, and women. Republican governors Bobby Jindal (La.) and Scott Walker (Wis.) promptly denounced Romney's comments. "We have got to stop dividing American voters," Jindal said. "We're fighting for 100 percent of the vote." [New York Times]
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5. EUROPE SLIPS BACK INTO RECESSION
The eurozone has fallen into its second recession since the worldwide financial crisis hit in 2009, the EU's statistics office reported on Thursday. The total economic output of the 17 countries that use Europe's common currency declined by 0.1 percent in the second quarter, as production slowed in the region's powerhouse, Germany. That marked the second straight quarter of contraction for the eurozone's $12 trillion economy, which meets the official definition of a recession. Some economists say the double-dip recession was "self-made," caused by "excessive austerity" in struggling countries such as Greece and Spain, while others say tax hikes and spending cuts are necessary to keep ballooning government debts from doing even more damage. [Reuters]
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6. IRELAND INVESTIGATES PREGNANT WOMAN'S DEATH
Irish health officials promised an investigation that would stand up to "the scrutiny of the world" after the death of a pregnant woman who was denied a potentially lifesaving abortion sparked protests against the Catholic country's strict abortion laws. The woman, Savita Halappanavar, repeatedly requested that her pregnancy be terminated because she was miscarrying and her health was deteriorating. Doctors reportedly told her the baby wouldn't survive but delayed the procedure for several days because they detected a fetal heartbeat. Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died late last month, a week after being admitted to the hospital. [Irish Times]
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7. HIGH-CAFFEINE DRINK CITED IN DEATH REPORTS
Energy drinks are facing increasing scrutiny, as The New York Times reports that federal officials have received reports of 13 deaths over four years with possible connections to the highly caffeinated 5-Hour Energy beverage. Food and Drug Administration records show that 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in more than 30 cases involving serious injuries, including heart attacks. Last month, the agency acknowledged that another energy drink, Monster Energy, had been mentioned in five death reports. [New York Times]
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8. MYANMAR FREES PRISONERS BEFORE OBAMA VISIT
Myanmar ordered the release of 452 prisoners on Thursday ahead of President Obama's historic Monday visit — the first by a sitting American president. State media said the government's move was a gesture to "help promote goodwill and the bilateral relationship." Human rights activists said they weren't sure if any political prisoners had been released, which they found "extremely disappointing." Myanmar, also known as Burma, was a pariah nation during almost five decades of military rule, but the administration of President Thein Sein has made freeing political prisoners a key reform to restore relations with the U.S. and other countries. [Associated Press]
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9. PEOPLE PICKS SEXIEST MAN ALIVE
The readers of People magazine have named actor Channing Tatum the "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2012. The 32-year-old heartthrob, who played a male stripper in Magic Mike and an undercover cop in 21 Jump Street, said he and his wife, actress Jenna Dewan-Tatum, were shocked at the news. "My first thought was, 'Y'all are messing with me.'" He said he told his wife about the honor after "washing our dogs because they'd gotten skunked." [SodaHead.com]
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10. MOVIE MARKS ROLLING STONES ANNIVERSARY
The Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane debuts on HBO on Friday, marking the band's 50th anniversary. The film was put together by writer-director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture), who used 80 hours of interviews and thousands of hours of archival footage to splice together an intimate look focusing on the band's rise in the '60s and '70s. "I wouldn't go see a '50th Anniversary Rolling Stones' film because it sounds like a piece of merchandise you'd pick up at Best Buy," Morgen says. "But we figured we could really blow people's minds by doing something different: an art-experimental film." [Daily Beast]

 

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