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Nov. 18, 2012 at 10:50 PM
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Ban calls for Mideast cease-fire

JERUSALEM, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The head of the United Nations called for a Middle East cease-fire late Sunday, hours after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed 12 people, most from one family.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged an immediate end to the violence between the Israelis and Palestinians, which was headed into its sixth day. Ban said he would go to Cairo to try to help engineer a truce.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his government was willing to consider a cease-fire but only after a total halt to rocket fire on Israel, Israel Radio said.

Palestinian health officials said at least 26 Gazans were killed Sunday, including at least 14 women and children, the BBC reported.

The British network said more than 70 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since the latest outbreak of hostilities last week. Palestinian officials said at least 600 more have been wounded, The New York Times reported.

Israel's "Operation Pillar of Defense" has included more than 1,000 Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, while hundreds of Palestinian rockets have rained on Israel.

Israel said the bomb that wiped out 10 members of a family in its Gaza home and two neighbors was aimed at a top Hamas militant, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. Israeli subsequently said the Hamas militant in question, Yehya Bayaa, may have survived the attack. Hama vowed to retaliate.

Haaretz quoted Israeli military officials as saying the wrong house was hit because of a "technical error."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told reporters before his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday Israel is prepared to escalate its military operation.

The BBC said Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi warned an Israeli ground invasion will have "serious repercussions" and added Egypt would never accept it "and neither will the free world."

Obama says he always believes in prayer

BANGKOK, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama, answering a reporter's question on starting his Thailand by visiting a Buddhist monastery, said he always believes in prayer.

Obama, who arrived in Bangkok Sunday on the first leg of his Asia tour that would also take him to Myanmar and Cambodia, was asked at a media meeting about his visit to the royal monastery where he reportedly told a monk he would need a lot of prayer to help the United States avoid a fiscal crisis.

Though the question, apparently asked in a light vein, was directed at Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who accompanied Obama at the briefing, the U.S. leader said: "First of all, I always believe in prayer. I believe in prayer when I go to church back home, and if a Buddhist monk is wishing me well, I'm going to take whatever good vibes he can give me to try to deal with some challenges back home."

Obama went on to say he was confident of dealing with the U.S. fiscal situation.

McCain says couldn't OK any nominee

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Sen. John McCain said Sunday he couldn't vote for any nominee President Obama might put forth for secretary of state until he gets answers about Benghazi.

The Arizona Republican had said previously he would oppose Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, because of the details she initially provided about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," McCain went further, expressing a reluctance to approve any nominee to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said she does not intend to stay on in the post in Obama's second term.

"Under the present circumstances, I don't -- until we find out all the information as to what happened, I don't think you could want to support any nominee right now because this is -- this is very, very serious, and it has even larger implications than the deaths of four Americans," McCain said. "It really goes to the heart of this, quote, 'light footprint' policy that this administration has been pursuing. And all of the failures throughout Middle East that are now -- the chickens are now coming home to roost."

Murphy declares win over West in Florida

FORT PIERCE, Fla., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Democrat Patrick Murphy's camp declared victory Sunday over Republican Allen West in Florida's 18th Congressional District, based on unofficial results.

But West, the first-term incumbent, wasn't conceding and his campaign sought a hearing for further review of the votes, The West Palm Beach Post reported.

Murphy staked a claim to victory after the St. Lucie County Canvassing Board missed a noon deadline to finish its partial recount and submit its results to the Division of Elections. His lead had been widening as the recount progressed.

WPTV-TV, West Palm Beach, reported that after more than 37,000 St. Lucie County ballots were reviewed Canvassing Board member Tod Mowery said Murphy had 65,841 votes to 52,704 for West.

While the results have to be certified by the governor and secretary of state, Murphy campaign senior adviser Eric Johnson said the outcome was clearly in Murphy's favor.

"As far as we're concerned, this puts an end to it," Johnson said. "The West people demanded a recount. They got that retabulation and Patrick Murphy gained a margin of 242 votes.

"This election is over."

Murphy's unofficial lead is greater than the 0.5 percent difference needed to trigger an automatic recount under state law.

West's campaign manager, Tim Edson, said the situation was under review.

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