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10 things you need to know today: November 30, 2012
Palestinians celebrate U.N. recognition, the GOP rejects Obama's fiscal-cliff offer, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
A Palestinian demonstrates in the West Bank in support of the 2011 Palestinian bid for recognition of statehood at the U.N.
A Palestinian demonstrates in the West Bank in support of the 2011 Palestinian bid for recognition of statehood at the U.N. Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

1. PALESTINIANS CELEBRATE U.N. VICTORY
The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to grant the Palestinians "non-member observer state" status. Thousands of Palestinians cheered the news in the streets of Ramallah in the West Bank. The upgrade marks a leap forward in the quest for a Palestinian state, and means the Palestinians can now join the International Criminal Court and become members of certain U.N. agencies. The move was opposed by just nine of the U.N.'s 193 members — including the U.S. and Israel, which have argued that direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis are the only legitimate way to reach a two-state solution. The vote was also a major victory for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who had recently lost stature among Palestinians following a clash between Israel and Hamas, the PA's more militant rival. [Reuters]
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2. GOP REJECTS OBAMA'S FIRST FISCAL CLIFF OFFER
Republican House Speaker John Boehner rejected President Obama's opening proposal for a deficit reduction deal to avoid the fiscal cliff — economy-busting tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to hit starting Jan. 1. The plan, presented to Boehner by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Thursday, was heavy in Democratic priorities, with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years and $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending. Obama committed to cutting $400 billion from Medicare and other social programs, but left the details to be worked out later. Boehner said Democrats hadn't gotten "serious about real spending cuts." The White House said the GOP's refusal to hike tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans was hindering a deal. [New York Times]
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3. EGYPTIAN ISLAMISTS APPROVE CONSTITUTION
After a marathon 19-hour session, an Islamist-led assembly approved a final draft of Egypt's new constitution. President Mohamed Morsi is expected to sign the document on Saturday, then put it up to a vote by the Egyptian people as soon as mid-December. Morsi said he will give up his newly claimed sweeping powers as soon as a new constitution is adopted. The draft constitution limits presidents to two four-year terms in office, strengthens the parliament, and adds limited oversight of Egypt's powerful military. Secular and Christian representatives walked out of the assembly before the vote, complaining about ambiguities and sloppy language resulting from the rushed drafting process. [Reuters]
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4. EUROZONE JOBLESS RATE HITS NEW HIGH
Europe's unemployment rate hit a new high of 11.7 percent in October, and inflation dipped sharply from 2.5 percent to 2.2 percent, signaling that the pain from the currency bloc's recession is deepening. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Friday that austerity measures to reduce deficits are hurting the eurozone economy in the short-term, but that the region would begin to recover in the second half of 2013. The recovery is not far off, he said, but "we have not yet emerged from the crisis." [BBC]
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5. OBAMA AND ROMNEY VOW TO TALK AGAIN
President Obama and Mitt Romney dined on turkey chili in the president's private dining room on Thursday, their first meeting since Obama defeated Romney in the Nov. 6 election. White House officials declined to provide much detail on what the former election-season rivals discussed during their lunch, although press secretary Jay Carney says Obama is interested in the former Massachusetts governor's ideas on how to make the federal government more efficient. "They pledged to stay in touch," the White House said in a statement, "particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future." [Bloomberg]
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6. ONE POWERBALL WINNER VERIFIED
Missouri Lottery officials have verified one of the two winning tickets of the record $580 million Powerball lottery jackpot, and plan to announce details in a Friday news conference. Another winning ticket was sold in Arizona, but so far nobody has stepped forward there. Residents in Dearborn, Mo. (pop. 500), where the verified ticket was sold, were desperate to find out who won. "It's so exciting," said Kristi Williams, a cashier at the convenience store where the ticket was sold. "We can't even work." The only other lottery winner in the area was a farmer who won $100,000 a few years ago and bought himself a combine. [Associated Press]
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7. GEORGE H.W. BUSH AND BOB DOLE REMAIN HOSPITALIZED
Two of the nation's GOP elder statesmen are reportedly being treated in separate hospitals this week. Former President George H.W. Bush, 88, is in stable condition at a Houston hospital, where he was admitted last week for bronchitis. Doctors say his condition is improving and he could be released this weekend. Former Sen. Bob Dole, who battled then-VP Bush for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, is hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for what an aide called a "routine procedure." [National Monitor]
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8. BUSY HURRICANE SEASON ENDS
The Atlantic hurricane season officially comes to an end on Friday. When the storm season began this summer, government forecasters predicted between nine and 15 named storms — a near-normal season. The final tally turned out to be far busier, with 19 named storms. Most of the storms spun harmlessly out to sea, including Hurricane Michael, the season's biggest storm. The notable exception was Hurricane Sandy, which combined with two winter weather systems to devastate the mid-Atlantic coast as one of the most damaging storms on record. One reason for the unexpectedly intense season: El Niño, which tends to suppress tropical storms, failed to develop as expected. [WLRN]
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9. JUSTICES DISCUSS WHETHER TO RULE ON GAY MARRIAGE
The Supreme Court's nine justices are meeting in private on Friday to discuss whether to jump into the fight over gay marriage. The court has received five requests to review challenges to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which says marriages have to be between a man and a woman. Same-sex-marriage advocates say that's unconstitutional, because it denies lesbians and gay men equal rights, including access to federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive. An announcement on the justices' decision could come Friday afternoon or Monday morning. If they decide to take one of the cases, oral arguments would probably be heard in March. A ruling would come by late June. [Reuters]
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10. HALLE BERRY AND EX MAKE PEACE
Actress Halle Berry and her ex-boyfriend, Calvin Klein model Gabriel Aubry, have reportedly reached a truce after a drama-filled Thanksgiving Day brawl between Aubry and Berry's fiancé, Olivier Martinez. The fight, which left Aubry with two black eyes, occurred when Aubry dropped off his and Berry's daughter, Nahla, at Berry's Beverly Hills home. Aubry and Berry have been involved in a child-custody battle for months, since Berry announced plans to move to Paris. Lawyers for both sides say they have now reached an "amicable agreement" to "move forward." [New York Post]

 

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