Tag Archives: Israel

10 things you need to know today: December 4, 2013

Lift off!

Lift off! (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Week

A judge clears Detroit to slash pensions, SpaceX marks a new milestone, and more

1. Judge rules Detroit deserves bankruptcy protection
A judge ruled Tuesday that the city of Detroit can remain under bankruptcy court protection. The decision means the city can impose pension cuts on its employees to salvage its finances. Unions and pension managers had argued that giving the city such power violated retiree contract protections. The ruling could change the course of bankruptcies in other cities, where leaders had assumed pensions were untouchable. [BloombergNew York Times]
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2. SpaceX marks a new milestone with rocket launch
SpaceX launched a 224-foot rocket carrying a massive satellite from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday night. The SES-8 telecommunications satellite will be released in geostationary transfer orbit nearly 50,000 miles from Earth — about a quarter of the way to the moon — marking a record distance into space for the private company, which also has a contract to resupply the International Space Station. The launch had been delayed twice. [Los Angeles Times]
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3. Train engineer nodded off before deadly crash
The engineer of a New York commuter train that derailed early Sunday, killing four people, told investigators he was “in a daze” before the crash, CNN reported Tuesday. A union official said the engineer, William Rockefeller, apparently nodded off briefly just before the crash. The Metro-North Hudson Line train in the Bronx was traveling more than 50 miles per hour faster than the speed limit when it jumped off the tracks in a sharp turn. [CNNNew York Times]
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4. French investigators say Arafat wasn’t poisoned, after all
Yasser Arafat’s widow says French scientists have ruled out poisoning by radioactive polonium as the cause of the Palestinian leader’s 2004 death. Palestinians suspect Israel of poisoning Arafat, but Israel denies it. A recent Swiss lab report said Arafat’s remains had high levels of polonium, boosting suspicions of murder. Arafat’s widow, Suha, says she is “upset by these contradictions by the best European experts.” [Associated Press]
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5. Kim Jong Un fires his uncle, a rival
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly dismissed his powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who played a key role in his rise to power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. South Korean lawmakers said Tuesday that Kim appears to have forced out his uncle, who still had loyal followers in the old guard, to consolidate his power base and boost the influence of his younger supporters. [Reuters]
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6. Newtown 911 recordings are being released
Newtown, Conn., officials warned parents and other residents to prepare themselves emotionally for the release of nearly half an hour of 911 recordings from last year’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Town leaders had tried to keep the tapes private, but the state Freedom of Information Commission ordered them to be released. The town only recently dropped its challenge of the decision. [Reuters]
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7. Americans see the U.S. losing power abroad
For the first time in 40 years, a majority of Americans said the U.S. was less important around the world than it was a decade ago, according to a Pew survey released on Tuesday. Seventy percent of the poll’s respondents said America is not as well respected as it used to be. More than half said the U.S. should “mind its own business” instead of having an active foreign policy. [BBC News]
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8. Hezbollah accuses Israel of assassinating a top commander
A senior Hezbollah commander, Hassan al-Laqis, was gunned down outside his home just south of Beirut on Wednesday. The Lebanese Islamist militant group immediately announced the killing and blamed Israel, threatening swift repercussions for “this ugly crime.” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel had nothing to do with the killing. “They don’t need facts,” he said of Hezbollah, “they just blame anything on Israel.” [Associated Press]
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9. Space agency plans to plant a garden on the moon
NASA plans to send seedlings where no plant has gone before — the moon. The Lunar Plant Growth Habitat project aims to catch a ride with one of the private companies competing for Google’s Lunar X Prize, and plant basil, flowers, and turnips on the moon in late 2015. “They can test the lunar environment for us acting as a ‘canary in a coal mine,’” NASA said. “If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can.” [SlateNASA]
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10. Coroner completes autopsies after crash that killed Paul Walker
Universal Pictures said Tuesday that it was suspending production of the next Fast & Furiousmovie while authorities investigate the fiery crash that killed one of the franchise’s stars, Paul Walker. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said it had completed autopsies on two bodies found in the mangled limited-edition Porsche sports car. The results, expected Wednesday, should formally identify the bodies and determine who was driving. [Washington Post]

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10 things you need to know today: November 25, 2013

Netanyahu called the Iran nuclear deal a "historic mistake" on Sunday. 


Netanyahu called the Iran nuclear deal a “historic mistake” on Sunday. (AP Photo/Abir Sultan/Pool)

The Week

Obama reassures Israel about the Iran nuclear deal, deadly winter weather marches east, and more

1. Obama reassures Netanyahu about Iran nuclear deal
President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to reassure him that the U.S. would consult Israel on the implementation of a deal to freeze Tehran’s nuclear program. Hours earlier, Netanyahu called the pact a “historic mistake” that lifts sanctions in exchange for “cosmetic” steps Iran could easily reverse. Both Obama and Netanyahu reiterated their commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. [Politico]
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2. Deadly winter storm spreads ahead of Thanksgiving travel
The death toll from a harsh winter storm system pushing across the nation rose to 13 on Sunday. The frigid Arctic air spread across New Mexico and Texas after hammering the West Coast, causing deadly accidents on icy roads and forcing more than 300 flight cancellations Monday in Dallas alone. Freezing temperatures, rain, and flooding are expected in the Southeast on Tuesday, then up the I-95 corridor, threatening massive Thanksgiving travel delays. [Reuters]
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3. The Egyptian government outlaws public protests
Egypt’s military-backed interim government on Sunday approved a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people. The move was condemned by human rights groups as a repressive attempt to stifle protests by Islamists groups calling for the return of the country’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the military in early July. The law was approved 10 days after the end of three months of emergency rule. [Associated Press]
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4. Report says 11,000 Syrian children have been killed
More than 11,000 children have been killed in Syria’s civil war, according to a report released Sunday by the Oxford Research Group, a London think tank. Most of the young victims since the violence began nearly three years ago were killed in explosions. More than 1,000 of the children were either summarily executed or targeted by snipers, and 112 were tortured before being killed. [CBC]
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5. Afghan elders back a security deal with the U.S.
Afghan tribal leaders on Sunday endorsed a proposal to let a contingent of several thousand American soldiers stay behind to train and support Afghan forces after NATO pulls out at the end of next year. President Hamid Karzai, however, reiterated his reluctance to sign the agreement before his presidential elections scheduled for April. [Reuters]
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6. Pope displays St. Peter’s bones for the first time
Pope Francis on Sunday unveiled nine bone fragments that have been identified as the remains of St. Peter, the first pope of the Catholic Church. Francis displayed the relics — for the first time ever — during a mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The bones were discovered during the excavation of tombs under St Peter’s basilica in the 1940s, but had always been stored out of public view in the chapel of the papal apartment. [Sydney Morning Herald]
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7. Apple buys the company behind Microsoft’s Kinect sensor
Apple confirmed Sunday that it had purchased PrimeSense, the 3-D sensing company behind Microsoft’s Kinect sensor. Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet confirmed the deal, but declined to say how much it was worth. Financial newspaper Calcalist reported earlier this month that Apple paid $345 million for the Israel-based company, although some sources put the pricetag a little higher. [CNET]
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8. USPS offers reward to find mailman’s killer
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service on Sunday offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer of a postal worker gunned down while delivering mail Saturday night in Landover, Md., a Washington, D.C., suburb. Tyson Barnette, 26, was found dead in the street. Union leaders said the job has gotten more dangerous as cutbacks force more letter carriers to deliver mail into the night. [ReutersWashington Times]
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9. Iranian nuclear deal sends oil prices falling
U.S. stock futures pushed above last week’s record levels early Monday as oil prices fell thanks to the Iranian nuclear deal, which cleared the way for Iran to resume wider legal sales of its crude. The agreement, reached Sunday, requires Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The European Union responded by suspending its ban on tankers carrying Iranian oil. [MarketWatch]
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10. Second Hunger Games film sets a November record
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire generated $161.1 million in ticket sales over its debut weekend, from Thursday through Sunday, setting a November domestic box-office record. Seventy-one percent of the first Hunger Games‘ viewers were female, most of them young, but the sequel attracted a wider audience that was nearly evenly split by gender, a good omen for the future of what is officially now a major Hollywood franchise. [New York Times]

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10 things you need to know today: October 14, 2013

Meetings between Senate leaders have yet to result in a deal to end the government shutdown and avoid a federal default. 

Meetings between Senate leaders have yet to result in a deal to end the government shutdown and avoid a federal default. 

The Week

Shutdown talks stall in the Senate, gunmen kidnap Red Cross workers in Syria, and more

1. Senate shutdown talks fall short
Senate Republicans and Democrats failed on Sunday to break an impasse on a stopgap spending measure to end the two-week-old government shutdown. Congress also must raise the government’s borrowing limit by Thursday or risk defaulting on some of the nation’s debts. The two sides couldn’t agree on spending levels, but Republicans, who are suffering in the polls, also accused Democrats of “moving the goal posts” to humiliate the GOP. [CNNNew York Times]
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2. Demonstrators protest closing of the World War II Memorial
Conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, rallied on Washington’s National Mall on Sunday, blaming President Obama for the government shutdown that closed the World War II Memorial there. Demonstrators pushed past barriers and sang God Bless America. Some waved Confederate flags and called for impeaching Obama. [Associated PressNew York TimesCNN]
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3. Red Cross volunteers are kidnapped in Syria
Gunmen abducted seven Red Cross volunteers in Syria on Sunday, underscoring dangers faced by aid workers in the country’s civil war. The Red Cross team was traveling in a convoy through essentially lawless territory in northern Syria that is mostly controlled by anti-government insurgents. It was the latest in a series of kidnappings in the area, where some armed groups use ransoms to help bankroll their fighters. [Los Angeles Times]
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4. Mambo Kings author Hijuelos dies
Cuban-American author Oscar Hijuelos, the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, died in Manhattan over the weekend, The New York Times reported Sunday. He was 62. Hijuelos won his Pulitzer for the 1989 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, about two Cuban brothers who emigrate and try to make it as musicians in New York. [New York Times]
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5. Social Security increases will be unusually small next year
Social Security cost-of-living increases in 2014 will be the among the smallest since 1975, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press. The bump will be around 1.5 percent, the news agency calculated. That amounts to an extra $17 for the average recipient, who gets $1,162 a month. The exact amount will be determined after the Labor Department releases its September inflation report, which has been delayed by the government shutdown. [Associated Press]
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6. Pilgrims die in a stampede in India
At least 109 people were killed when pilgrims visiting a temple for a popular Hindu festival in India stampeded because of a rumor that the bridge they were crossing was about to collapse, authorities said Monday. Some of the victims were crushed, and others died after falling or jumping into the Sindh River below. Authorities fear that the death toll could rise because some bodies may have been carried down river. [Wall Street Journal]
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7. U.S. economists win a Nobel prize
Professors Eugene Fama and Lars Hansen of the University of Chicago, and Robert Shiller of Yale won the Nobel Prize in Economics on Monday for their work on asset pricing. While prices of stocks, bonds, and other assets are impossible to predict in the short term, the Nobel committee said, these economists have shown that “it is quite possible to foresee the broad course of these prices over longer periods, such as the next three to five years.” [Business Insider]
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8. Authorities find tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel
The Israeli army said on Sunday that it had discovered a mile-long tunnel into Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Military officials said the tunnel came up near a kibbutz, and could have been used to stage attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli civilians. Israel responded by cutting off deliveries of construction materials into Gaza. [BBC News]
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9. India gets battered by Cyclone Phailin
A mass evacuation is being credited with saving thousands of lives in India after Cyclone Phailin, the country’s most powerful storm in 14 years, buffeted the coast with 125 mph winds. The death toll in the eastern state of Odisha stood at 15 on Sunday — the last major storm to hit the state, in 1999, killed 10,000 people. Aid workers said a million could need help, though, because the storm tore apart tens of thousands of homes. [Reuters]
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10. Brady lifts Patriots over previously unbeaten Saints
Quarterback Tom Brady threw a 17-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left to give the New England Patriots a 30-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints, dashing the Saints’ effort to remain unbeaten in week six of the National Football League’s season. The TD capped a 68-second, 70-yard drive — with no timeouts — after half of the crowd had already gone home. [USA Today]

 

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10 things you need to know today: May 5, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the Herzl Museum on May 5 in Jerusalem.

This is one of my favorite features on The Week website…

The Week

Israeli strikes in Syria continue, the California wildfires calm down, and more

1. SYRIA CALLS ISRAELI ATTACK AN ACT OF WAR
A Syrian official called Israel’s attack against its military research facility a “declaration of war” on Sunday. Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad told CNN that the attack, which followed an airstrike late last week, represented an alliance between Islamic terrorists and Israel. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the Israeli military commented on the U.S. claim of an airstrike, but Israel has long said it would target any transfer of weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups. [CNN]
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2. TSARNAEV PARENTS REQUEST SECOND AUTOPSY
An independent autopsy on the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is scheduled to be performed Sunday, a step requested by Tsarnaev’s parents, who believe their sons were framed by the U.S. government. The Tsarnaevs say the autopsy results could undermine the U.S. officials’ account of Tamerlan’s death by showing that he was not run over by his brother, Dzhokhar. That, the parents believe, would throw into question law enforcement officials’ entire account of the case. [Boston Globe]

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3. EIGHT WESTERN SOLDIERS KILLED IN BLOODY DAY IN AFGHANISTAN
Eight soldiers with the American-led military coalition in Afghanistan were killed Saturday, making it the bloodiest day this year for Western troops fighting in the country. Two were shot in an insider attack, one died in a small-arms attack and five Americans were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb, according to statements from the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan officials. Seven of the slain soldiers were American. [New York Times]
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4. COOL AIR TAMPS DOWN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES
A big cool-down calmed a huge wildfire burning in Southern California’s coastal mountains Saturday. High winds and witheringly hot, dry air were replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity. “The fire isn’t really running and gunning,” said Tom Kruschke, a Ventura County Fire Department spokesman. Despite the favorable conditions, evacuation orders remained in place for residents of several areas. [Washington Post]
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5. NRA REACHES RECORD MEMBERSHIP LEVEL
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told organization members during a fiery speech Saturday that the “political and media elites” have tried to use Sandy Hook and other recent shootings “to blame us, to shame us, to compromise our freedom for their agenda.” He also said the proposed gun-control bill “got the defeat that it deserved.” The speech took place at a meeting that is part of the yearly NRA convention being held this weekend in Houston.LaPierre also said the NRA now has a record 5 million members. [ABC News]

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6. DURBIN USES BOSTON TO PUSH IMMIGRATION BILL
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin is using the terrorist bombings in Boston to push for his immigration reform bill. On Sunday’s State of the Union, Durbin said poor information sharing between federal agencies that came to light after the attacks would be fixed in the Senate’s immigration bill. “There’s not enough coordination between these different agencies so that we know someone should not have been readmitted to the United States,” the Illinois senator said. “Our bill addresses that directly.” The Senate begins work on its immigration bill this week. [Politico]

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7. MALAYSIANS TURN OUT FOR HISTORIC VOTE
Voting has ended in Malaysia in what is widely expected to be the most closely contested general election in the country’s history. It will be several hours before the first results are known. PM Najib Razak’s National Front coalition is up against Pakatan Rakyat, a three-party alliance headed by Anwar Ibrahim. Voters were faced with returning the ruling party, in power for 56 years, or choosing an untested opposition. Ahead of the polls, allegations of various forms of fraud emerged. [BBC]
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8. ORB WINS 139TH KENTUCKY DERBY
On a wet and muddy track at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Orb came from behind to win the 139th Kentucky Derby. It was the first Derby win for Shug McGaughey, Orb’s trainer, and Joel Rosario, Orb’s jockey. Orb, the co-favorite with Revolutionary at 6-1, will go on to attempt a Triple Crown victory. [CBS Sports]
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9. NEW YORK TO HAVE NATION’S LARGEST BIKE SHARE PROGRAM
Public transportation-friendly New York City plans to introduce the nation’s largest bike-sharing system, called Citi Bike, later this month. City officials say the nation’s largest bike-sharing system will begin with 6,000 bikes at 330 stations in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, with plans to expand eventually to 10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. [Wall Street Journal]
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10. MAYWEATHER RETAINS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
After a year off from boxing and two months in jail, Floyd Mayweather Jr. easily retained the world welterweight championship with a masterful one-sided beatdown of interim champ Robert Guerrero on Saturday night before a crowd of 15,880 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. [ESPN]

 

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Pete Souza Photos: President Obama’s Trip To The Middle East

Obama facilitates reconciliation between Israel and Turkey

The consensus with media types and most politicians is that President Obama was the consummate Commander-in-Chief during his trip to Isreal and neighboring countries…

The Obama Diary

President Barack Obama and Dr. Suleiman A.D. Al Farajat, a University of Jordan tourism professor, jump from a ledge of the Nabataean Amphitheater during a walking tour the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, March 23

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President Barack Obama shakes hands during a meet and greet at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, March 21

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President Barack Obama meets National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, left, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, in the conference room aboard Air Force One en route to Tel Aviv, Israel, March 20

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President Barack Obama greets members of Hora, a local children’s dance troupe, before departing Israeli President Shimon Peres’ residence in Jerusalem, March 20

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President Barack Obama watch a dance performance at the Al-Bireh Youth Resource Development Center in Ramallah, the West Bank, March 21, 2013. Dr. Samih Al-Abed, Chairman of the Board, Al-Bireh Youth Resource Development Center, left, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority are seated with the President

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President Barack Obama visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013. Standing with the President, from left, are: Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau; Israeli President Shimon Peres; Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu; and Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate

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President Barack Obama and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority enter the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the West Bank, March 22

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President Barack Obama watches as a vendor writes a name using colored sand in a bottle during a walking tour of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, March 23

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King Abdullah II of Jordan waves to President Barack Obama as he boards Air Force One at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, March 23

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All photos by Pete Souza – more here

All posts/photos/videos from the Middle East trip here

 

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Rachel Maddow Blasts Fox News For Skipping President Obama Medal Ceremony In Israel

Mediaite

On Thursday night in the Jerusalem residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres, American President Barack Obama received the Medal of Distinction, the highest honor that Israel’s government can award a civilian (and also a hunk of hardware that looks like it could be murder on the ole sciatica). As Rachel Maddow noted on Thursday night’s The Rachel Maddow Show, however, only some cable news viewers got to see that ceremony live: all of the cable news viewers who weren’t watching Fox News.

One of the most important functions that a news program can perform, and perhaps the most basic, is to inform the viewer. While technically a so-called “opinion” program, this short segment of The Rachel Maddow show was packed with information. For example, I already knew that Republican deity and former President Ronald Reagan never visited Israel, nor did George H.W. Bush, and that George W. Bush didn’t make the trip until late in his second term. However, I did not know that the Medal of Distinction/Dothraki Battle Shield was the highest honor the Israeli government can give to a civilian, or that President Obama is the only U.S. President ever to receive it. Information.

Viewers of the Maddow show who had missed news of the President’s trip would also have been informed of several events of the day, such as the heckler who interrupted President Obama’s speech to a group of students, or the weird robot snake he checked out, or clips from the speeches he gave that day.

One of the other ways that news programs inform viewers is by bringing them live video of newsworthy events, such as the first American president to be awarded the Medal of Distinction. It was the middle of the afternoon in the U.S., and both CNN and MSNBC carried the event live. As Rachel noted, though, Fox News had other business to attend:

Fox was running a commercial about how Sean Hannity thinks President Obama is strengthening Israel’s enemies. When I saw the Maddow segment, I sus[ected there might be more to the commercial (sorry, Rachel), that there might be some part at the end that sort of redeemed it, like “But they gave him a medal!!” But I checked, that was the whole thing.

I also checked the President’s schedule for Thursday, and as expected, the dinner and the award ceremony were covered by the White House traveling press pool. That means that whether or not Fox News aired the video of the first ever American president receiving Israel’s highest civilian honor, they paid for it.

Much has been made, recently, of a Pew study that compared the ratio of “opinion” to “straight news” among the three major cable networks, but it didn’t really take into account the quality of the programming. Rachel Maddow’s show, while containing heavy doses of commentary, also fulfills journalism’s duty to inform.

The study also made the assumption that “opinion” can’t also be news, an assumption belied by recent events (Robert Gibbs made news on several MSNBC opinion shows with a revelation about the drone program), and by one of the more pivotal moments in the 2012 presidential campaign. Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom made his now-infamous “Etch-a-Sketch” remark during an interview segment that Pew would have counted as “opinion.” The question was asked by comedianJohn Fugelsang.

On the flip-side, your straight news is only as good as the news you’re reporting. If you can’t get your facts straight, or you select which stories not to air based on something other than established news practices, then it doesn’t really matter how straight it is.

 

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What It Means To Be A Progressive: A Manifesto

Well stated…

Think Progress

People often ask what, exactly, do progressives believe?  Over the past few years, we’ve worked with a great group called the American Values Project, representing a cross section of leaders from think tanks, philanthropic organizations, and environmental, labor, youth, civil rights, and other progressive groups, to try to distill progressive beliefs and values into clear language in one digestible resource.

The result of this collective effort is called Progressive Thinking: A Synthesis of Progressive Values, Beliefs, and Positions.  The document is free and we encourage you to read, review, critique, and pass it around to others.  As the handbook states, the central progressive message is one of fairness and equality:

Our approach is simple to summarize and is built upon the ideas of generations of progressives from Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama:  everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does his or her fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. As progressives, we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at a decent, fulfilling, and economically secure life.  We believe that everyone should do his or her fair share to build this life through education and hard work and through active participation in public life.   And we believe that everyone should play by the same set of rules with no special privileges for the well-connected or wealthy.

The book is divided into sections outlining the overall progressive story, foundational beliefs about government, the economy, and national security, and the application of this framework to contemporary issues.  It also includes a number of useful speeches and essays that show progressive values and beliefs in action throughout our nation’s history.

In terms of values, Progressive Thinking breaks down the four pillars of progressive thought as follows:

1. Freedom.  In terms of our political foundations, the most basic progressive value is freedom. This also happens to be one of the most contested values in American life.  Progressives have a two-part definition of freedom:  “freedom from” and “freedom to”.  First, we believe that all people should have freedom from undue interference by governments and others in carrying out their private affairs and personal beliefs.  This includes our rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion as well as the freedom to control our own bodies and personal lives.  Second, we believe that all people should have thefreedom to lead a fulfilling and secure life supported by the basic foundations of economic security and opportunity.  This includes physical protections against bodily harm as well as adequate income, economic protections, health care and education, and other social provisions…

2.  Opportunity.  Complementing our commitment to human freedom is our belief in opportunity.  Like freedom, the concept of opportunity has two components:  one focuses on political equality and the other on economic and social arrangements that enhance our lives.  The first component of opportunity prohibits discrimination against anyone based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious faith or non-faith, or disability.  It also means embracing the diversity of American society by ensuring that all people have the chance to turn their talents and ambitions into a meaningful life, not just the rich and powerful or dominant racial and ethnic groups.  The second component of opportunity involves the conditions necessary for people to be secure and to move up in life—health care, education, a decent job, labor rights, a secure retirement…

3.  Responsibility.  Along with freedom and opportunity comes responsibility — personal responsibility and the responsibility we have to each other and to the common good.   Personal responsibility requires each of us to do our part to improve our own lives through hard work, education, and by acting with honesty and integrity.  Responsibility to others and to the common good requires a commitment to putting the public interest above the interests of a few and an understanding that strong families and communities are the foundation of a good society.  It means working to achieve greater social justice and economic conditions that benefit civil society broadly.  It demands an open and honest government and an engaged and participatory citizenry…

This requires pubic investments in things like transportation and trade, innovation, a skilled workforce, courts to protect patent rights and contract agreements, public safety and other measures that support the creation of wealth and help to make individual prosperity possible.  It also requires progressive taxation, meaning those who have and earn more should pay more to help support the investments in things like schools, transportation, and economic competitiveness necessary to advance the interests of all.

A key component of responsibility involves ecological and social sustainability.  This requires on-going stewardship of our land, water, air and natural resources, smart use of energy, and the responsible consumption of goods…

4.  Cooperation.  Rounding out these political values which are primarily directed at the rights, opportunities, and duties of individuals is the basic progressive value of cooperation.   Cooperation is the foundation of our most important social institutions including our families, our communities, and our civic and faith groups.  Freedom without cooperation leads to a divided society that cannot work together to achieve common goals and improve the lives of all.  Cooperation as a value requires that we try to be open-minded and empathetic toward others and that we are accountable for their well-being as they are accountable to us.  Progressives believe that if we blindly pursue our own needs and ignore those of others, our society will degenerate.

Successful families and communities cannot exist without cooperation.  We also value human interdependence on a larger scale and accept the importance of looking beyond our own needs to help others and find global solutions to global problems.

As progressives gear up for inevitable fights over taxes, budgets, and social policy, we shouldn’t forget about the importance of values in explaining who we are and what we want to achieve. We believe in freedom with opportunity for all, responsibility to all, and cooperation among all. We believe that the purpose of government is to advance the common good, to secure and protect our rights, and to help to create a high quality of life and community well-being. We want decent paying jobs and benefits for workers and sustainable economic growth. We want growing businesses producing the world’s best products and services. We want an economy that works for everyone, not just the few. We want all nations to uphold universal human rights and to work together to solve common challenges. This is what a progressive America looks like.

 

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Obama Does It Again – Speech Humanizes Palestinians To The Cheers Of Israelis (VIDEO)

I watched the president’s speeches in the Middle East and I agree that the one he made in front of the young people of Isreal was the best…

Addicting Info

President Obama gave a very good speech in Israel today. Within the speech he provided both words of support, words of adulation, words of criticism, but mostly words of encouragement.

All issues in the Middle East effectively have a religious component. It is for this reason early in his speech he illustrated the commonality of the major religions in the area.

For the Jewish people, this story is central to who you have become. But it is also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering and salvation. It is a part of the three great religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred. And it is a story that has inspired communities around the globe, including me and my fellow Americans.

He then went on to praise the many accomplishments of the Israelis, from the taming of the desert through kibbutzeem (ironically a form of agrarian socialism), to the establishment of a “democracy”, to its high tech industries, and much more. He implied America’s similarity in that America is a land built on immigrants. Israel is built on immigrants from Europe, Russia, Ethiopia, North Africa, and many other countries. The similarity is one that should have been excluded from the speech given that said immigration is based mostly on religious homogeneity.

The basic focus of his speech was on three tenets, security, peace, and prosperity. He seemed to use it effectively to also promote Israeli empathy for Palestinians, if one is to go by the cheers in the room and the reviews given by both Prime Minister Netanyahu and others.

The president did however take a swipe at Netanyahu’s government when he said in one of the most touching portions of his speech that likely spoke to the emotions of every mother or father, irrespective of nationality the following.

Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished.  It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.

He then went off script with the following.

I am going off script here for a second but; before I came here I met with a group of young Palestinians from the age of fifteen to the age of twenty two. Talking to them, they weren’t all that different from my daughters, they weren’t all that different from your daughters or sons. I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with those kids, they’d say I want those kids to succeed. I want them to prosper. I want them to have opportunities just like my kids do. I believe that’s what Israeli parents would want for these kids if they had a chance to listen to them and talk to them.

It was the President encouraging, given permission to Israelis to have empathy by stating what should be obvious; the humanity of all.

All in all most of the speech contained issues we all hear in the American Israeli dialogue and mutual support conversations.

The president had a message to the Israelis and Palestinians but one that should resonate at home.

“And let me say this as a politician. Political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change you want to see. Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. I know this is possible.”

Americans should take heed. Inasmuch as there are problems in the Middle East those needs taking care of, the American wealth and income disparity could cause degeneration in our society that creates our own conflict, not between Israelis and Palestinians but between the haves and the have-nots.

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Filed under Isreal, President Barack Obama, U.S. and Isreali Relationship

Wednesday Blog Roundup – 3-20-2013

Gun Reform Package Loses One Major Provision, Another In Danger…

Not Happening
Assault Weapons Ban won’t be in the Senate gun bill .

Crist-mentum
Now Dem Charlie Crist is ahead of current Republican Gov. Rick Scott by 12 points , ..

Sens: We’re Moving Too Fast!
Republican Senators struggle to come up with reasons to slow momentum for immigratio..

Are Paul Ryan’s 15 Minutes Over?
A new Rasmussen poll finds Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) approval rating has plummeted sinc..

“Marriage defender” Bill O’Reilly is divorced
Divorced “marriage defender” O’Reilly says gay marriage could lead men to marry goats..

Obama Arrives in Israel for Two-Day Trip
President Obama landed on Wednesday to begin a highly symbolic two-day visit to Israe..

OOPS: Rand Paul Makes Case Against The Pro-Life Agenda
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced “The Life at Conception Act,”..

Dear Michele Bachmann: 70 percent does not equal 6 percent
Math-challenged. Yes, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann is still at it, still being a..

Sanford advances to runoff, Colbert Busch wins Democratic nomination i..
Former governor Mark Sanford took a step closer to returning to elected office Tuesd..

NYPD Spent 1 Million Hours In Ten Years On Marijuana Arrests, Analysis..
New York Police Department officers have spent 1 million hours making 440,000 mariju..

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Filed under U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: March 19, 2013

The Week

Cyprus bailout heads to a vote, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural mass, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. RAND PAUL BACKS CITIZENSHIP PATH FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
As the GOP prepares to reach out to minority voters to repair its image, Sen. Rand Paul plans to use a Tuesday speech to endorse a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. Paul, a Kentucky senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate, is joining a growing group of prominent Republicans who are rejecting the party’s hardline positions on immigration in the wake of November’s elections, when Latino voters overwhelmingly backed President Obama and other Democrats. “If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you,” Paul plans to say, according to a copy of his speech obtained by The Associated Press. [Associated Press]
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2. CYPRUS READY TO REJECT BAILOUT TERMS
Cypriot lawmakers appear likely to reject a divisive tax on bank deposits in a vote scheduled for Tuesday, which could imperil a $13 billion European Union bailout the country needs to avoid a banking collapse. “It looks like it won’t pass,” says government spokesman Christos Stylianides. The vote has already been postponed twice as Cyprus’ new president, Nicos Anastasiades, tries to make the bailout terms more palatable. Angry depositors have been lining up at ATM machines trying to withdraw their money before the tax — 6.75 percent on accounts up to $130,000 and 10 percent on larger ones — can be imposed. [Reuters]
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3. BOMBERS STRIKE ON ANNIVERSARY OF IRAQ INVASION
Insurgents hit Shiite areas in Baghdad with a wave of bombings on Tuesday, killing at least 56 people and highlighting increasing sectarian tensions on the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The attacks, most of them car bombings, occurred over a single hour, and targeted small restaurants, bus stops, a police station, and busy streets. No one immediately claimed responsibility, but the strikes were similar to past attacks by al Qaeda in Iraq. [Associated Press]
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4. FRANCIS OFFICIALLY INSTALLED AS NEW POPE
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday to mark the official launch of his reign as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Hundreds of thousands of people joined dignitaries for the rite, which, at two hours, was an hour shorter, and simpler than the one that launched the papacy of Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI. The new pontiff, the first Jesuit pope, signaled his plan to abandon much of the Vatican’s traditional pomp, and reinvigorate the scandal-plagued church with a greater focus on the poor and disadvantaged. [Reuters]
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5. OBAMA PREPARES TO LEAVE FOR ISRAEL
President Obama is scheduled to depart Tuesday night on his first trip to Israel as president. Obama isn’t expected to push forward a new peace initiative. Middle East experts say he’s likely to focus on mending a sometimes rocky relationship with the Israeli government during the four-day visit, which comes less than two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government was installed. With new administrations in Israel and the U.S., says Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, there’s value in “just having a broad strategic conversation.” [ABC News]
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6. HILLARY CLINTON PUBLICLY BACKS GAY MARRIAGE
Hillary Clinton on Monday released a six-minute video announcing her support for gay marriage, becoming the latest politician to switch positions on the issue. The move fueled speculation that Clinton will run for president in 2016 — the other top contenders, including Vice President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also back gay marriage. “LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones,” Clinton says in the video. “And they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage.” [Politico]
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7. BLOOMBERG FIGHTS SMOKING BY HIDING CIGARETTES
A week after a court overturned his signature sugary drink regulations, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday proposed new legislation that would make it illegal for stores to publicly display cigarettes. Bloomberg said that “even one new smoker is one too many,” and that hiding cigarettes would keep some young people from picking up the habit, driving down the smoking rate for the city as a whole. Despite a drop in the smoking rate over the past decade, cigarettes remain a leading preventable cause of death, killing 7,000 New Yorkers per year, the city said. [NYC.govNew York Daily News]
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8. POLICE SAY WOMEN WERE PAID TO LIE ABOUT MENENDEZ 
Police in the Dominican Republic said Monday that a local lawyer had paid three Dominican women to lie and say they had been paid to have sex with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). One of the women allegedly received $300, and the other two $425 to make the false claims in videotaped interviews. Menendez said the announcement shows “that this was a smear from the very beginning.” Last fall, two Dominican women told the conservative Daily Caller website that Menendez had paid them for sex. The Daily Caller says it is still investigating whether the women who have recanted are the ones it interviewed. [Politico]
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9. FLORIDA STUDENT MAY HAVE PLANNED DORM MASSACRE
A former University of Central Florida student found dead in a dorm might have been planning a massacre before deciding to commit suicide instead. The dead man was identified as James Oliver Seevakumara, 30. He was found shot in the head in his bedroom in a residence hall, where he faced eviction after failing to enroll this semester after studying business administration at the Orlando school from 2010 to 2012. Officials said Seevakumara had a .45-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber tactical rifle, and backpack with four improvised explosive devices in it. Seevakumara reportedly started buying weapons and ammunition in February. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. LIL WAYNE RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
Rapper Lil Wayne has been released from the Los Angeles hospital where he was treated after suffering a seizure last week, his publicist tweeted late Monday. An online report on Friday suggested that the artist, born Dwayne Carter, was on life support near death, sparking panic among his fans. Lil Wayne’s associates swatted down the report as “nonsense,” and the rapper tweeted, “I’m good everybody… Thnx for the prayers and love.” [CNN]

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Filed under U.S. Politics