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10 things you need to know today: November 18, 2012
Obama visits Thailand, Netanyahu warns of escalation, and more in our roundup of stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office on Nov. 18: Netanyahu warned of an escalation in Israel's Gaza offensive.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office on Nov. 18: Netanyahu warned of an escalation in Israel's Gaza offensive.

Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images

1. ISRAEL WARNS GAZA OF ESCALATION
Locked in a deadly, days-long conflict with Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that "the Israeli military is prepared to significantly expand the operation." Israel has spent the last several days bombing Gaza, in retaliation for militant-fired rockets targeting Israel. The Palestinian death toll since the conflict began Wednesday reportedly tops 50, while on the Israeli side, three people have been killed and more than 50 wounded. Thousands of Israeli troops are amassing on the border with Gaza, foreshadowing a potential ground invasion. President Obama defended Israel on Sunday, saying "no country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down" on its people, and that no peace is possible until Gaza stops firing missiles into Israeli territory. [Guardian, Associated Press]

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2. OBAMA VISITS THAILAND — MYANMAR UP NEXT
President Obama kicked off his three-day tour of Southeast Asia on Sunday. Landing in Bangkok, Obama visited the Wat Pho Royal Monastery with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and paid a visit to ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The 84-year-old monarch was born in Cambridge, Mass. President Obama will also hold a joint press conference with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and be the guest at an official dinner before heading to Myanmar on Monday. While the Thailand visit is largely seen as "a gesture of friendship to a long-standing partner and major non-NATO ally," the Myanmar trip is really the centerpiece of Obama's tour. His visit to the "once reclusive and autocratic state that has begun instituting democratic measures" will be the first ever by a sitting U.S. president. [Associated Press]

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3. BODY FOUND NEAR GULF OIL RIG EXPLOSION
After an explosion and fire devastated an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, divers found a body on Saturday below the oil platform. Twenty-two people were on board at the time of the accident. Eleven were evacuated safely, nine were taken to the hospital by helicopter, and two remained missing until this body was found. The search for the second missing man continues. Several of the injured workers suffered second- and third-degree burns over large parts of their bodies. The explosion was reportedly caused by maintenance workers using a torch to cut into a pipe with oil inside. [NBC News]

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4. PELOSI: NO FISCAL CLIFF DEAL WITHOUT TAX HIKES
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has expressed optimism in recent days that lawmakers will reach a bipartisan agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff (a series of steep tax hikes and spending cuts set to automatically take effect at year's end). But on ABC's This Week on Sunday, the liberal Californian insisted that there will be no deal without raising tax rates for America's wealthiest citizens, something Republicans have long opposed. "Just to close loopholes is far too little money," she said. [Associated Press]

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5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S TOP TWO TEAMS BOTH LOSE
College football's Bowl Championship Series was thrown into chaos on Saturday when the nation's top two teams both suffered their first loss of the season. Top-ranked Kansas State (10-1) was crushed 52-24 by lowly Baylor (5-5), ending its hopes of becoming national champion. And the second-ranked Oregon Ducks (10-1), who boast one of the country's most exciting offenses, were stifled by a surprisingly resilient Stanford (9-2), losing 17-14 in overtime. Now, undefeated Notre Dame is likely to rise to the top of the college rankings, and mighty Alabama, which suffered its first loss of the season just a week ago, has renewed hope of playing for the national title. [New York Times]

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6. MURDOCH RIPS 'JEWISH-OWNED PRESS'
News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch is taking aim at the media's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tweeting Saturday, "Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?" He did not elaborate further and his company has not commented. Murdoch, who owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, has been rumored to be considering buying the troubled Tribune Co., which owns a slew of publications including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. [Huffington Post]
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7. RUBIO VISITS IOWA
Too soon? Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio made his first post-election trip to Iowa this weekend, fueling speculation that he's already thinking about the 2016 presidential election. Iowa, of course, is where the critical first-in-the nation caucuses take place. Rubio's visit was ostensibly to celebrate Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's birthday, but he also offered up some political talking points. He said the best way to heal the nation's economy was not raise taxes on the richest Americans but rather to make "poor people richer." [CBS News]
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8. AFTER SANDY, NYC TO BULLDOZE HUNDREDS OF HOMES
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, but the damage will be long-lasting. New York City officials have announced they'll have to bulldoze approximately 200 homes severely damaged by the deadly storm. The homes in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island were deemed to be a danger to the public or nearby buildings. About 500 additional structures are being inspected. [The New York Times]
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9. MARONEY, OBAMA 'NOT IMPRESSED' IN PHOTO
President Obama and McKayla Maroney of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team posed for a photo at the White House, and the two donned Maroney's infamous "not impressed" face, immortalized from the moment she received a silver instead of a gold medal on the vault during London's 2012 games. The photo quickly went viral after Maroney posted it to Twitter. [The Daily Beast]

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10. CHRIS CHRISTIE DOES SNL
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie garnered laughs on Saturday Night Live, where he gabbed with Seth Meyers on "Weekend Update." After thanking his state's residents for their patience with the Hurricane Sandy cleanup, Christie poked fun at the fleece jacket he was seen wearing during the bulk of the storm, saying it's "basically fused to my skin at this point. I'm gonna die in this fleece." [NBC News]

 

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