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10 things you need to know today: November 16, 2012
The CIA investigates the Petraeus affair, a brief Israel-Hamas cease-fire collapses, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
An Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteer works in an apartment that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants, killing three people on Nov. 15 in Kiryat Malachi, Israel.

An Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteer works in an apartment that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants, killing three people on Nov. 15 in Kiryat Malachi, Israel.

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

1. CIA INVESTIGATES PETRAEUS AFFAIR
The CIA has launched an investigation into the conduct of its former director, David Petraeus, who resigned last week after admitting to an extramarital affair. The intelligence agency's inspector general reportedly will focus on whether Petraeus misused government resources — jets, security, accommodations — to facilitate meetings with his lover/biographer Paula Broadwell. CIA officials say no evidence has surfaced suggesting Petraeus misused his office, but it's prudent to do an "exploratory" inquiry to be sure. Petraeus, who is testifying Friday before two congressional panels on the deadly Sept. 11 Benghazi attack, told CNN Thursday that he released no classified information to Broadwell, and the FBI has said its investigation into the scandal has turned up no apparent damage to national security. (Broadwell had classified documents on her computer, but they apparently didn't come from the CIA.) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered a review of ethics training for top brass in the wake of the scandal. [New York Times]
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2. BRIEF GAZA TRUCE UNRAVELS
A three-hour cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip collapsed on Friday as Palestinian militants fired a dozen rockets into Israel and the Israeli air force responded by bombing the house of a Hamas commander. Both sides had agreed to hold their fire while Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil visited the Palestinian territory as a sign of solidarity, although Israel warned that it would answer any "hostile fire from Gaza into Israel." Kandil called Israel's attacks a "disaster." Israel has started calling up 16,000 reserve troops, and is massing soldiers, tanks, and armored personnel carriers near Gaza as the threat of all-out war rises. On Thursday, militants fired rockets that hit near the city of Tel Aviv, which Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called a dangerous "escalation." [CBS News]
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3. OBAMA, TOP LAWMAKERS TO MEET ON FISCAL CLIFF
Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell are heading to the White House on Friday to start negotiations on avoiding the fiscal cliff looming at year's end. In case President Obama and House Speaker Boehner can't reach a deal to reduce the deficit and avert the cliff's automatic spending cuts and tax hikes, the Senate's bipartisan Gang of Six is putting together an alternative bill based on recommendations from Obama's fiscal commission, known as Bowles-Simpson. The senators aren't revealing details about their bargain, although Senate Republicans mostly agree that any deal will have to include actual tax increases — "real revenue," as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) puts it — while many House Republicans say they only want revenue increases coming from economic growth. [Washington Post]
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4. BP TO PAY $4.5 BILLION FOR GULF SPILL
The British oil company BP agreed Thursday to pay $4 billion to settle criminal charges stemming from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the company will pay $525 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission. As part of the deal, BP pleaded guilty to 11 counts of misconduct or negligence related to the death of 11 oil-rig workers, as well as misdemeanor counts for violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company could still face federal civil charges, which experts say could cost the company billions more to settle. [Washington Post]
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5. McDONALD'S REPLACES U.S. CHIEF
The president of McDonald's U.S. operations, Jan Fields, is stepping down less than a week after the world's biggest burger chain reported its first monthly sales decline in almost a decade. Fields will be replaced by Jeff Stratton, the company's global chief restaurant officer, effective Dec. 1. A spokesperson said the recent sales figures weren't the reason for the move. McDonald's has felt its dominance slip recently in the face of a weak economy abroad and increasing competition in the U.S. from Wendy's and Burger King as well as increasingly popular chains such as Chipotle and Panera Bread, which offer slightly higher-end fare. [Associated Press]
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6. HOSTESS — MAKER OF TWINKIES — GOES UNDER
Facing a crippling strike by bakers, Hostess Brands — the baker of Wonder Bread and snack aisle icons such as Twinkies and Ho Hos — announced Friday that it is asking a bankruptcy court for permission to shut down. The move would put the 5,000 members of the bakers' union, which is protesting a new contract, as well as more than 13,000 other employees, out of work. Hostess wants to auction its assets to the highest bidder, however, which could keep its most popular products on grocery store shelves. [CNN]
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7. TRAIN HITS PARADE FLOAT, KILLING 4
A freight train slammed into a parade float that was carrying wounded veterans and their spouses to an honorary banquet in West Texas. Four people were killed and several others injured, at least one critically. Witnesses said the train blared its horn but the flatbed tractor-trailer couldn't get off the tracks because there was another float in front of it. "I did see the panic on the faces of the people and saw some of them jump off," said one witness, who was sitting in a car at a nearby traffic light. [CBS News]
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8. JAPAN DISSOLVES PARLIAMENT
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of the country's parliament on Friday, paving the way for elections on Dec. 16. If, as expected, Noda's center-left ruling party loses, the country will get its seventh prime minister in seven years. Polls suggest the business-friendly, conservative Liberal Democratic Party, headed by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will win the most seats but fall short of a majority. That would put it in charge of a weak coalition split on how to address the country's looming problems, including a soaring debt, an aging population, and the debate over whether to phase out nuclear power. [Associated Press]
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9. WAR COURT ACQUITS CROAT GENERALS
A war crimes court in The Hague overturned convictions against two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, who were sentenced to prison last year over the killings of ethnic Serbs in the 1990s. The original ruling found that the generals were part of a conspiracy to rid Krajina, the Croatian region their forces were trying to retake, of all Serbs. The appeals judges said there was no such conspiracy, and said the trial court had erred in finding that artillery attacks ordered by the generals "were unlawful." [BBC News]
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10. REALITY STARS HOLD JERSEY SHORE BENEFIT
The cast of the reality show Jersey Shore joined other MTV stars Thursday night for a telethon, Restore the Shore, aiming to raise money to rebuild parts of the New Jersey coast devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The show's creators say they have an obligation to help the town of Seaside Heights, the haunt of Snooki, Pauly D, and the gang. The fundraiser will help resurrect the Seaside boardwalk, a linchpin of the local tourist economy. [NJ.com]

 

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