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10 things you need to know today: November 26, 2012
Israel's defense minister will step down, Cyber Monday hits as online sales rise, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Israel's defense Minister Ehud Barak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in August in Kerem Shalom, Israel. Barak announced Monday that he would step down in January.
Israel's defense Minister Ehud Barak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in August in Kerem Shalom, Israel. Barak announced Monday that he would step down in January.
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

1. EGYPT'S MORSI TRIES TO CALM PROTESTS
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is scheduled to meet with the Supreme Judicial Council on Monday as protests escalate over Morsi's claim of sweeping new powers last week. Most of Morsi's edict was aimed at the judiciary, including a clause that granted him the right to shield his decrees from judicial review. Protesters and judges nationwide say that amounts to seizing dictatorial powers, and the unrest sent Egypt's stock market down nearly 10 percent on Sunday. Morsi says his new powers are only temporary, but the meeting with the judicial council is the latest sign he might be considering scaling back his order. [Voice of America]
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2. ONLINE RETAILERS BRACE FOR CYBER MONDAY
Retail analysts expect Americans to spend $1.5 billion online on Cyber Monday, the biggest internet shopping day of the year. A record number of shoppers hit stores over the long Thanksgiving weekend, which kicks off the holiday shopping season. Still, sales at stores were down by 1.8 percent. Sales online, however, shot up by 28 percent on Black Friday, exceeding $1 billion for the first time. The projections for Cyber Monday amount to a 20 percent jump over the Monday after Thanksgiving last year. "Online has been around 9 percent of total holiday sales, but it could breach 10 percent for the first time this season," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell more on Amazon, eBay, and other websites. [MarketWatch]
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3. CONGRESS READIES FOR MORE FISCAL CLIFF TALKS
More Republicans are backing away from a promise against raising taxes as lawmakers from both parties signal a willingness to compromise to avoid the "fiscal cliff" looming at the end of the year. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) became the latest GOP politician to break away from conservative activist Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge, saying on Sunday that he would be willing to "violate" the pledge to reach a deficit-reduction deal "for the good of the country." Lawmakers this week are expected to plunge back into talks on how to prevent the potentially devastating automatic spending cuts and tax hikes due to hit Jan. 1. [The Hill]
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4. ISRAEL'S DEFENSE MINISTER RETIRES
Ehud Barak, Israel's defense minister and a former prime minister, abruptly announced Monday that he is stepping down after January elections. "I feel I have exhausted dealing with political life, which has never been a passion of mine," he told reporters. Barak, a highly decorated former army chief of staff, led the opposition Labor Party until 2009, when it had a disastrous showing at the polls. He then joined the conservative Likud-led government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Barak's popularity was on the rise in Israel after the suspended offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. [The Telegraph]
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5. BANGLADESHI WORKERS PROTEST DEADLY FIRE
Thousands of Bangladeshi workers threw stones at factories and blocked streets in a Dhaka suburb on Monday to protest a garment-factory fire that killed 112 people over the weekend. An estimated 200 factories shut down for the day after the demonstrations erupted, and the government has declared a national day of mourning on Tuesday. The tragedy spurred renewed criticism over unsafe conditions in the factories that produce clothing and other export products, which are a linchpin of Bangladesh's economy. [Associated Press]
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6. GREECE AWAITS BAILOUT DECISION
Eurozone finance ministers are meeting on Monday in a third attempt to reach an agreement on releasing the latest chunk of bailout money Greece needs to stay afloat. Greece says it has held up its end of the bargain by enacting painful spending cuts and other austerity measures demanded by European leaders and the International Monetary Fund. "I'm certain we will find a mutually beneficial solution today," Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said ahead of what is expected to be the latest in a series of long, contentious meetings. [Reuters]
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7. 10 SYRIAN CHILDREN KILLED
Syrian opposition groups posted video online showing the bodies of 10 children, with their mothers grieving over them, who were allegedly killed Sunday when government MiG fighter jets destroyed a playground with a cluster bomb. Rebel leaders said the attack hit the village of Deir al-Asafir, east of Damascus and far from any opposition military targets, proving President Bashar al-Assad's military was bombing indiscriminately in civilian areas outside its control. "None of those killed was older than 15 years old," Abu Kassem, an activist in Deir al-Asafir told Reuters. The Syrian government says it doesn't even have cluster bombs, and said its weekend operations focused on stopping al Qaeda-linked terrorists from "killing and looting." [BBC]
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8. CATALAN VOTE DIVIDES SEPARATISTS
In Spain's wealthy Catalonia region, separatist parties won a majority of seats in the 135-seat local parliament, but the party of Catalan President Artur Mas took a drubbing. Mas, who has imposed unpopular spending cuts, called the early election to demonstrate support for his proposal to hold a referendum on independence from Spain's national government. His party won just 50 seats — down from 62 — signaling that although voters like the idea of independence, Mas is unlikely to be able to lead a united drive to defy Spain's constitution and break away from Madrid. [Reuters]
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9. NOKIA UNVEILS 'FACEBOOK' PHONE
Struggling Finnish cell phone maker Nokia is unveiling two new handsets, the Asha 205 and the brightly colored Nokia 206, in a bid to win over budget-conscious social media lovers. The Asha 205 has a full QWERTY keyboard and a dedicated Facebook button, and both boast a new "Slam" feature that uses a Bluetooth connection to automatically select the nearest phone for easy sharing of photos, music, or other transfers. Both are priced at $62, before mobile carrier subsidies, but lack high-speed 3G capabilities. [SlashGear]
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10. CHRISTIE'S POPULARITY SOARS AFTER STORM
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's handling of Hurricane Sandy sent his approval ratings skyrocketing, according to a poll released Monday. Only 56 percent of the Garden State's residents gave the pugnacious Republican top marks before his high-profile response to the superstorm that slammed into the Jersey Shore; now 77 percent approve of Christie's performance. Even 67 percent of Democrats now say Christie is doing a good job, up from 26 percent in October. [Wall Street Journal]

 

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