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War of words: Turkish PM Erdogan storms out at Davos after Gaza row with Israel’s Peres

Veering off-topic from the global meltdown, Turkey’s prime minister had his own meltdown today at Davos. See the CNBC video above and then read this BBC report, which captures only a bare hint of the full explosion:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos after an argument with Israel’s president.

Mr Erdogan clashed with Shimon Peres in a discussion on the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip, telling him: “You are killing people.”

Mr Peres said Mr Erdogan would have done the same had rockets hit Istanbul.

Mr Erdogan accused the moderator of not allowing him to speak and said he did not think he would return to Davos.

He was cut off as he attempted to reply to a passionate defence of Israel’s actions made by Mr Peres.

Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but relations have been under strain since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was elected to power in 2002.

“I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak,” Mr Erdogan shouted before marching off the stage in front of Mr Peres, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an elite audience of ministers and international officials.

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Cardinal calls Gaza ‘concentration camp’ — lit up by white phosphorus, observers say

Al Jazeera report on white phosphorus in Gaza.

As Chico Marx said, “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

That’s easy when it comes to Gaza. The Jewish state’s brutal use of white phosphorus — alleged over the weekend by observers on the ground dispatched by NYC-based Human Rights Watch — is lighting up the landscape.

However, most of the U.S. press (a notable recent exception is Newsweek) has its usual blind spot when it comes to Israel’s war on Gaza. As the Daily News noted late last week in “‘Concentration camp’ Gaza stirs fire”:

Relations between the Holy Land and the Holy See were tense Thursday night after a leading Vatican cardinal compared the besieged Gaza Strip to a concentration camp.

“Defenseless populations are always the ones who pay,” Renato Cardinal Martino told the Italian daily Il Sussidiario. “Conditions in Gaza increasingly resemble a big concentration camp.”

That drew a furious denunciation from Israeli officials, who said the comment was “based on Hamas propaganda.”

Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the son of Holocaust survivors, called on the Pope to apologize to Israel.

Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, defended his comments.

“They can say what they want, but the situation in Gaza is horrible,” he told the newspaper La Repubblica.

Confirming that is Human Rights Watch, whose observers belie Hikind’s claim that the brutality in Gaza is propaganda.

In fact, it’s even worse than the cardinal says, according to HRW.

You question the watchdog group’s credibility? HRW broke several major stories of U.S. atrocities in Iraq — including the horrific tale of the American soldiers in Fallujah who proudly called themselves the “Murderous Maniacs” and admitted to kicking the shit out of Iraqis just for the fun of it. (See my September 2005 item “U.S. Soldiers Reveal New Torture Tales.”)

Now, here’s what HRW says about what’s going on:

On January 9 and 10, 2009, Human Rights Watch researchers in Israel observed multiple air-bursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over what appeared to be the Gaza City/Jabaliya area.

Israel appeared to be using white phosphorus as an “obscurant” (a chemical used to hide military operations), a permissible use in principle under international humanitarian law (the laws of war). However, white phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. The potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza’s high population density, among the highest in the world.

“White phosphorous can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch.

If the Nazis had had white phosphorus — the 21st century version of napalm — they would have used it against the Jews.

Now for less bad news…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: ‘Adding to Recession’s Pain, Thousands to Lose Jobless Benefits’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Retail Bankruptcy Wave Expected’

N.Y. Times: ‘Storm Sinks Indonesian Ferry, 250 Feared Dead’

Bloomberg: ‘U.S. Consumers Keep Autos Longer, Shun Showrooms as Cuts in Payrolls Mount’

Drivers rattled by the worst U.S. labor market since World War II are hanging on to old autos longer instead of buying new models, threatening to crimp sales again in 2009 after demand plummeted to a 16-year low.

N.Y. Post: ‘INFANT DUMPED IN B’KLYN’

N.Y. Post: ‘Sex, Drugs & Death at Luxe Hotel’

A Long Island banana mogul at the center of a deadly sex romp at a tony Midtown hotel lives a double life – married suburban dad and…

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Plans To Keep Estate Tax’

Obama and congressional leaders plan to move soon to block the estate tax from disappearing in 2010.

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Signals His Reluctance to Look Into Bush Policies’

Barack Obama indicated that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping.

N.Y. Times: ‘Democrats Look for Ways to Undo Late Bush Administration Rules’

Harper’s: ‘The $10 trillion hangover:
Paying the price for eight years of Bush’ (Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes)

N.Y. Post: ‘ISRAEL VS. B’KLYN IN FAKE-AND-BAKE MATZO WAR’

Wall Street Journal: ‘New Playing Field In Electric Car Push’

Fewer barriers in electric-car production have leveled the playing field for newcomers hoping to compete against established car makers.

N.Y. Post: ‘PLACARD BLITZ NAILS DA COPS: PARKING-PERK ABUSERS’

Mayor Bloomberg’s crackdown on motorists who abuse official parking placards has snared a slew of detectives and investigators who work for the city’s prosecutors, the Post has learned…

N.Y. Times: ‘In Emphasis on Economy, Obama Looks to History’

Harper’s: ‘A Farewell to Dick Cheney’

Dick Cheney is the man that James Madison was warning us about.

Harper’s: ‘Harper’s Index: A retrospective of the Bush era’

Bloomberg: Paulson Bailout Fails to Give Taxpayers Buffett’s Terms With Goldman Sachs

Henry Paulson‘s bank bailouts, done under “great stress” during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, failed to win for U.S. taxpayers what Warren Buffett received for his shareholders by investing in Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The Treasury secretary made 174 purchases of banks’ preferred shares that include warrants to buy stock at a later date. While he invested $10 billion in Goldman Sachs in October, twice as much as Buffett did the month before, Paulson gained certificates worth one-fourth as much as the billionaire, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Goldman Sachs terms were repeated in most of the other bank bailouts.

Salon: ‘Bill Moyers on Israel/Gaza’ (Glenn Greenwald)

N.Y. Times: ‘Citi Is Urged to Replace Chairman’

Regulators are pressing Citigroup to shake up its board and replace its chairman in an effort to restore confidence in the beleaguered bank.

Newsweek: ‘If Obama is Serious: He should get tough with Israel’ (Aaron David Miller)

N.Y. Post: ‘PATERSON JOINS ISRAEL SUPPORTERS IN MIDTOWN’

Gov. Paterson joined an estimated 10,000 Israel supporters in Midtown yesterday to proclaim the Gaza offensive an act of self-defense. “We recognize the right of the state of Israel to…

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Eyeless in Israel’

N.Y. Times: ‘Few in U.S. See Jazeera’s Coverage of Gaza War’

Tel Aviv-based journalist Lisa Goldman takes the Israeli press to task over its coverage of the Gaza campaign. “For the most part, Gaza as a place inhabited by human beings has been ignored,” she writes of Israeli media coverage.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Timeline: The Gaza Strip, From Disengagement to Operation Cast Lead’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Israel hints at end of Gaza operations’

Israeli leaders hinted Sunday the Gaza assault might soon wind down, even as thousands of fresh reservists joined the battle and infantry units pushed toward the crowded heart of Gaza City.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Analysis: Ceasefire hinges on Egypt closing smuggling routes’

The Nation: ‘Can Labor Revive the American Dream?’

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘If at First You Don’t Succeed: Hasidic Singer, Subject of Rabbinic Ban, Tries Again’

Hasidic singing sensation Lipa Schmeltzer was set to perform last March before a crowd of thousands at Madison Square Garden’s WaMu Theater in New York. The concert, a charity fundraiser, was billed as “The Big Event.”

Then, less than three weeks before the concert date, 33 ultra-Orthodox rabbis — including some of the community’s most prominent figures — issued an edict banning attendance. The event, they warned, was likely to cause “ribaldry and lightheadedness.”

Deferring to the rabbis, organizers promptly canceled the concert. The ban, however, roiled the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, world, sparking an unusual public outcry in a community known for its scrupulous obedience to rabbinic authority.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘What Happens to Gaza When the Fighting Stops?’

Nation: ‘Moral Blindness on Gaza’ (Robert Scheer)

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Fact or Fiction?: The Story of the Fake Holocaust Memoir’

A children’s book based on Herman Rosenblat‘s Holocaust love story, which was recently exposed as a hoax, was pulled from bookstores. The East Village Mamele explains the scandal to her daughter.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘ABC’s hidden cameras unveil anti-immigrant prejudice’

Investment News: ‘Morgan Stanley, Citi in retail merger talks’

Nation: ‘Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction’ (Naomi Klein)

To end the bloody occupation, Israel must be the target of the same kind of global movement that finally ended apartheid in South Africa.

Nation: ‘Toward Peace in Gaza’

Investment News: ‘Rubin retires from Citi’

Nation: ‘Caroline and Me’ (Katha Pollitt)

Caroline Kennedy would like to be a senator. I don’t blame her. So would I!

Especially if Governor Paterson could just waft me into office, and I didn’t have to, um, you know, campaign. I’ll bet some parts of the job are really fun, and it’s public service, which is so uplifting. You think I’m joking, but every argument that has been advanced for Kennedy is just as true for me. She’s a mother, a writer, a person with no electoral experience or, so far as we know, longstanding interest in acquiring any–me too! She has more kids; I’ve written more books–I’d say it averages out.

Nation: ‘Obama Anoints Kaine, Praises (And Snubs?) Dean’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Big shakeup at fatal psych ward’


Fox News: ‘”Victims” of Madoff Scandal Do Math, Realize They Profited’

From Fox News: “Hundreds and maybe thousands of investors in Madoff’s funds have been withdrawing money from their accounts for many years. In many cases, those investors have withdrawn far more than their principal investment.” And more:

“I had a call yesterday from a guy who said, ‘I’ve taken out more money then I originally put in, but I still had $1 million left with Madoff. Should I file a $1 million claim?'” said Steven Caruso, a New York attorney specializing in securities and investment fraud.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Madoff vics: Let him rot in jail’

Madoff’s victims say it’s outrageous that he has been allowed to serve house arrest in his cushy East Side pad.

N.Y. Times: ‘Eight Years of Madoffs’ (Frank Rich)

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Prosecutors Push Back Deadline’

Federal prosecutors bought more time to focus on their investigation of Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion fraud scheme after they reached a deal with Mr. Madoff’s lawyers to delay the deadline to bring an indictment in the criminal case against him.

Prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan had faced a deadline Monday to convince a grand jury to indict the New York money manager on fraud charges or show at a public court hearing that there was “probable cause” to arrest him, but Mr. Madoff’s lawyers agreed Friday to give the government until mid-February to do so.

Delaying any indictment gives prosecutors time to investigate Mr. Madoff and others without having to prepare for trial, or negotiate a deal in which he agrees to plead guilty to certain charges in exchange for a lower prison sentence, says Anthony Barkow, a former federal prosecutor.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘AJCongress Crippled by Madoff Scandal’

Telegraph: ‘”Hellishly hot” sauce dedicated to Bernard Madoff’

Wall Street Journal: ‘New Ponzi Case Pursued’

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil charges against a Pennsylvania man accused of running a $50 million Ponzi scheme since at least February 1995.

Gothamist: ‘Bernie’s Weekend at Home, Before Judge’s Decision’

N.Y. Times: ‘GMAC Chairman With Ties to Madoff Steps Down’

Gawker: ‘Marc Rich Lost “Insignificant” Millions to Madoff’

N.Y. Times: ‘New Description of Timing on Madoff’s Confession’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Brother, at Arm’s Length?: Peter Was No. 2 and Close to Bernard; Investigators Now Scrutinizing Role’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Bernie Madoff’s bagman had everything to lose’

J. Ezra Merkin, former chairman of national lender GMAC, crashes to earth as the second biggest conduit for Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Funds of Funds & Madoff: “Like Presiding Over the Long-Term Funeral”‘

Advanced Trading: ‘Fund-of-Hedge Funds Lacked Technology to Avoid Madoff Losses’

Investment News: ‘Madoff scam hurts Mackenzie Financial’

HedgeFund.net: ‘Activist Gunning For Yeshiva Board’

A hedge fund is campaigning to fire the board of Yeshiva University because of its investment with Bernard Madoff.

HedgeFund.net: ‘Commentary From Our Publisher: Bernie, We Hardly Knew Ya’

HedgeFund.net: ‘Merkin Liquidation Stymied By NYU’

HedgeFund.net: ‘Woman Tied to Madoff in Hiding’

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‘Times’ declares war on news, gets right in your grille — for a change

The Times as Jimmy Cagney and the reader as Mae Clarke. It’s about time.

A banner day for the New York Times.

Newspapers that don’t go out for blood are worthless. The Times often should be itself flayed because it so often doesn’t take full advantage of its tremendous resources and usually undeserved clout and instead exudes arrogance and condescension.

This morning, however, its reporters slapped on their fedoras and got the goods, and their editors snapped out of it, rolled up their Brooks Brothers sleeves, and laid it on us.

Like Jimmy Cagney shoving a grapefruit into Mae Clarke‘s face in The Public Enemy (1931), Ethan Bronner‘s “U.N. and Red Cross Add to Outcry on Gaza War” calls a war a war and shoves the details into your face during your breakfast before you have time to take your first sip of coffee:

“International aid groups lashed out at Israel on Thursday over the war in Gaza, saying that access to civilians in need is poor, relief workers are being hurt and killed, and Israel is woefully neglecting its obligations to Palestinians who are trapped, some among rotting corpses in a nightmarish landscape of deprivation”.

You can see that Bronner’s piece doesn’t fiddle around with the paper’s usual stiff, officious lede followed by some boring, pseudo-analytical claptrap about how something affects decision-makers.

Bronner’s second paragraph is the kind of thing you usually see as the lede of such a story:

“The United Nations declared a suspension of its aid operations after one of its drivers was killed and two others were wounded despite driving United Nations-flagged vehicles and coordinating their movements with the Israeli military. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, called for an investigation by Israel for a second time in a week after the more than 40 deaths near a United Nations school from Israeli tank fire on Tuesday”.

The paper’s still not up to speed on the fact that many Jews, both here and in Israel (particularly in Israel), are angrily opposed to the war on Gaza.

The peace movement among Jews gets prominent play in the vibrant Israeli press and in other outlets around the world. But not in the U.S. media.

However, you can always go to New York’s own Forward, thank G-d, where the indefatigable Nathan Guttman‘s “Peace Groups Lose First Major Gaza Challenge On Capitol Hill: Attempts by Activists To Shape Resolution Come Up Short” opens a window on news that most of the rest of the U.S. press routinely ignores.

Enough of the negative stuff about negative stuff: The Times does deserve another kudos or two or three: Another example of today’s fired-up Times is a Paris dispatch from veteran Alan Cowell, “Gaza Children Found With Mothers’ Corpses”:

“The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday it had discovered “shocking” scenes — including small children next to their mothers’ corpses — when its representatives gained access for the first time to parts of Gaza battered by Israeli shelling. It accused Israel of failing to meet obligations to care for the wounded in areas of combat”.

Years ago, Cowell did a bang-up job writing such pieces day after day for the Times from apartheid-era South Africa. Now he’s filing stuff about apartheid-era Israel.

Even the paper’s editorial page this morning took off its kid gloves, dismissed its manservants and maids, and unleashed a sneer or two at its fellow Establishment members. Labeling the confirmation hearing for the new Secretary of Health and Human Services a “cuddly welcome for Mr. Daschle,” the editorial board climbed down from the pedestal it has built for itself and started punching at the incoming Obama regime:

“…The hearing before a Senate health committee was mostly a love-fest as senators from both parties expressed admiration for their former Senate colleague….

Unfortunately, the hearing did not tell us much at all about how the incoming Obama administration intends to pay for its emerging health care programs or how, for all of his smoothness at the hearing, Mr. Daschle will deal with the very real and very big differences his team has with Republicans on this and other vital issues.

Instead, the senators avoided asking such tough questions, and Mr. Daschle bent over backward to reassure Republicans that he would not try to ram anything too unpalatable down their throats….”

A welcome dose of cynicism instead of the expected deadly dull civility and caution.

Yes, there are still some nits to pick in the Times, but this morning the paper emits a louder buzz than usual.

Tally-ho! Release the hounds! The paper usually acts more like C. Montgomery Burns hounding the beleaguered folk in Springfield. This morning, it’s dogging a newspaper’s proper targets.

While you’re wiping the grapefruit off your face, click on these items, front-loaded this morning only with other Times pieces, most of which have surprisingly hard-hitting, newsy ledes…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: ‘Latinos Recall Pattern of Attacks Before Long Island Killing’

N.Y. Times: ‘Senate Allies Fault Obama on Stimulus’

N.Y. Times: ‘As His Inmates Grew Thinner, a Sheriff’s Wallet Grew Fatter’

N.Y. Times: ‘Fatal Avalanches Rattle Ski Country in the West’

N.Y. Times: ‘Bill Easing Unionizing Is Under Heavy Attack’

N.Y. Times: ‘Nationwide Inquiry on Bids for Municipal Bonds’

“The federal investigation that prompted Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico to withdraw his nomination as commerce secretary offers a rare glimpse into a long-simmering investigation of possible bid-rigging, tax evasion and other wrongdoing throughout the municipal bond business.

Three federal agencies and a loose consortium of state attorneys general have for several years been gathering evidence of what appears to be collusion among the banks and other companies that have helped state and local governments take approximately $400 billion worth of municipal notes and bonds to market each year”.

N.Y. Times: ‘For BlackBerry, Obama’s Devotion Is Priceless’

Bloomberg: ‘Excrement, Insulation, Bike Paths Trim CO2 Emissions in Cities’

Wall Street Journal: ‘A Wolfe in Regulator’s Clothing: Drug Industry Critic Joins the FDA’

N.Y. Post: ‘KID PERV IN AIDS SCARE’

Bloomberg: ‘Brokers Disdain Toaster Salesmen in Bank America’s Merrill Deal’

N.Y. Post: ‘SLAY FESS: REALTOR SENT ME OVER EDGE’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Business Warms to Obama, but Frictions Loom on Climate’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Gotti hit man dips his foe in acid, but loves mommy’

N.Y. Post: ‘CAROLINE HAS “A MINUS”: GOV’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Wall Street Is Big Donor to Inauguration’

N.Y. Post: ‘JUST LIKE OL’ CRIMES: NYPD’S LETUP STIRS FEARS OF ’80S FLASHBACK’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Brooklyn Nets Arena cutbacks? Bruce Ratner scales back plans; Star architect Frank Gehry may go’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Lehman Brothers Plans Private-Equity Spinoff’

N.Y. Post: ‘UPSTATE “PONZI” HITS CHURCHES’

N.Y. Post: ‘FORMER GOPER MIKE WANTS TO GET BACK IN’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Bailout Pact Of GM, U.S. Would Block A UAW Strike’

Bloomberg: ‘London Boom Time Bill Comes Due as Bankers Buy Coffee on Credit’

N.Y. Post: ‘PUSH VS. TERRORIST “CELLS”‘

N.Y. Daily News: ‘I snapped & whacked her: Chilling confession in Linda Stein slay aired’

N.Y. Post: ‘MTA’S “GREEN” BACKS’

N.Y. Post: ‘NY CIVIL WAR BONES FOUND’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Hedge-Fund Middlemen Get Pinched’

N.Y. Post: ‘RATTNER BLOWOUT: BOTTLENECK DEVELOPS IN POSSIBLE CAR CZAR APPOINTMENT’

N.Y. Post: ‘MORTGAGE RATES DROP’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Chevron Warns of Hefty Drop in Earnings’

Bloomberg: ‘Billion-Dollar U.S. Verdicts Vanish After Appeals, New Rulings’

N.Y. Post: ‘DTV DELAY BACKED BY OBAMA’

Bloomberg: ‘Obama Must Tackle Fannie, Freddie’s Federal Ties’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Panel Steps Up Criticism of Treasury Over TARP’

Bloomberg: ‘Al-Jazeera Said to Mull Bid for English Soccer’s Mideast Rights’


Bloomberg: ‘Madoff’s Three-Bedroom Riviera Retreat Belied Ponzi Scheme Role’

Bloomberg: ‘Merkin Intimidated Co-Op Board While Building Funds Madoff Lost’

N.Y. Post: ‘FINAL MADOFF PLUNDER PLAN’

Bloomberg: ‘Uma Thurman No Help to Arpad Busson in Madoff Fraud’s Nightmare’

Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S.: Madoff Had $173 Million in Checks’

Bloomberg: ‘Madoff Con Hits Boston, Home to Victim Shapiro, Ponzi’

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Blintzkrieg in Gaza; Madoff covers up family jewels


“Gaza medics in the line of fire,” from Al Jazeera


Congratulations to the New York Times. The word “war” made it into a front-page story this morning about Israel’s war on Gaza.

Ethan Bronner‘s piece even sports the word in its headline: “Gaza War Role Is Political Lift for Ex-Premier.”

As I noted yesterday, the Times has a particular problem calling a spade a spade in the Middle East. Witness one of its other war stories this morning, Steven Erlanger‘s “Rockets Fired From Lebanon Into Israel,” which generally avoids the word “war” and features this lede:

Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza threatened to broaden on Thursday as at least three rockets were fired into the north of Israel from Lebanon.

Yeah, “conflict.” Please. The pro-Israel New York Post has no problem calling this a war.

Even Israel’s government is calling its bombardment of Gaza “Operation Cast Lead.” Compare that with the B.S. euphemisms the U.S. is using in Iraq and Afghanistan: “Operation Iraqi Freedom and “Operation Enduring Freedom.”

Look, if people don’t want to call what’s going on in Gaza a “war,” I’ll settle for “blintzkrieg.”

There was a time, oh about 40 years ago, when the Jews of Israel were an underdog state with a sense of humor (especially among their American Jewish supporters) melded into their fight for survival. See this Time story from 1967, in the midst of what became known as the Six-Day War, that rounded up jokes about that “conflict” under the headline “Blintzkrieg” (supply your own ba-dum-pum rim shots after each line):

“It’s unfair,” said a U.A.R.[United Arab Republic] spokesman. “They have 2,300,000 Jews on their side. And we have none.” He denied, however, that Egypt had asked the Russians for their 2,500,000 Jews. Soon after the war’s start, Nasser made a brief guest appearance on the popular Cairo TV show, Where’s My Line? Reports from the second day of fighting indicated that the Egyptians had destroyed four Jeeps, a kosher mobile kitchen and 14 air-conditioned Cadillacs. The Israelis claimed 400 MIGs and 24 flying carpets. Ralph Nader launched a campaign to provide Arab tanks with back-up lights.

The unstoppable Israeli thrust through the Sinai Desert quickly became known as the blintzkrieg. It was led by the crack regiment known as the Bagel Lancers. When Israeli troops reached the Suez Canal, they grabbed the lox. At one point in the campaign, an Arab division spotted a lone Israeli sniper on a sand dune. The commander dispatched three men to get him. When they did not return, he sent a dozen. None of them came back. So he finally sent an entire company. Two hours later, one blood-splattered Egyptian soldier crawled back. “It was an ambush,” he explained. “There were two of them.”

The Six-Day War was a turning point. Forty years later, the laughter has died out. Israel acts less and less like an underdog and more and more like an overlord, thanks to its decades of harsh occupation policies, and as many commentators in Israel have noted with anguish, the decades of acting like occupiers have coarsened Israeli society.

The Jewish state’s grim throttling of Palestinians these days is pretty much unleavened by humor. Insanely orthodox. Humanism is also kosher, but you wouldn’t know it these days.

Anyway, I’m still willing to be assaulted by a blintzkrieg. Make mine raspberry…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘EX IS AN ORGAN MOANER’

N.Y. Times: ‘Sarkozy, Merkel, Blair Call for New Capitalism’

New Yorker: ‘Will the Times live?: More on the end of newsprint’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Macy’s to close 11 stores; other retailers report dismal sales figures’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Citigroup, Senators in Talks to Let Judges Modify Mortgages’

N.Y. Post: ‘TRIAL BY JEWRY: FEUDING BIZ PARTNERS EYE RABBINICAL JUDGE’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Hugo Chavez flips oil aid back on for Bronx poor’

New Yorker: ‘Beware of Pity’

Like so many Jewish writers of her generation, Hannah Arendt attempted in her work to shine the light of intellect on the extreme darkness she lived through…

New York: ‘The Worst Movies of 2008’

N.Y. Times: ‘China Losing Taste for Debt From U.S.’

As the global downturn has intensified, Beijing is starting to keep more of its money at home, which could have painful effects for U.S. borrowers.

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Promises Bid to Overhaul Retiree Spending’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Homeowners get soaked by shoddy homes’

N.Y. Post: ‘CRITICS LACE INTO BLOOMY’

This time, a picture was worth several dozen shoes. At least 150 pro-Palestinian New Yorkers rallied against Mayor Bloomberg for his recent trip to Israel and unfettered support of that country…

New Yorker: ‘Homelands’ (David Remnick)

N.Y. Post: ‘GOTTI HIT OF “ACID”: SON’S KILLER IN VAT’

Seeking Alpha: ‘Aftershocks from the Satyam scandal’ (via Bloomberg)

After admitting over $1B of value on its books was fictitious, Satyam (SAY) is dealing with the fallout, as are the accounting industry, investors and Indian markets. In frenzied premarket trading, Satyam shares lost 99.89% yesterday, plummeting from $9.35 to $0.01, and were halted before regular trading hours began.

New Yorker: ‘Barney’s Great Adventure: The most outspoken man in the House gets some real power.’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Dell to Cut 1,900 Irish Jobs, Shift Operations to Poland’

U.S. computer maker Dell Inc. announced Thursday it will slash its Irish work force and shift its European manufacturing operations to Poland in a move certain to undermine Ireland’s recession-hit economy.

Dell is Ireland’s second-largest employer, its biggest exporter and in recent years has contributed about 5% to the national gross domestic product. Economists warn that each Dell job underpins another four to five jobs in Ireland.

N.Y. Post: ‘GAL’S CORPSE ON BX. ROOF’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘New administrator blamed for faculty revolt at Bronx High School of Science’

N.Y. Post: ‘NEW FERRY TO CONNECT BROOKLYN TO GOVERNOR’S ISLAND’

New York: ‘Caroline’s Quiet Rebound’

N.Y. Post: ‘EMPIRE STATE DEATH PLUNGE’

N.Y. Post: ‘CON ED EYES NEW $5 JOLT’

Seeking Alpha: ‘Housing: Where Is the Bottom?’


Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Is a “Danger,” Argue Prosecutors’

N.Y. Post: ‘FEDS WANT BERNIE IN CAN FOR CLAMMING UP’

N.Y. Times: ‘UK Fraud Office Starts Madoff Investigation’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Chicago lawyer cursed by same name is Mad as hell’

N.Y. Times: ‘Elderly Madoff Investors in Financial Trouble’

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Jews v. Arabs: It’s war, even if the ‘Times’ tries to avoid calling it that

Al Jazeera reporting on the war in Gaza


Will somebody please call this a war?

You won’t find the word “war” in this morning’s lede story in the New York Times on Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza.

Is the Times afraid of offending New York’s Jews, especially the right-wing Jewish establishment? Is it fearful of provoking a slew of accusations from that hawkish establishment that the paper is antisemitic? Probably.

But that’s nuts. The word pops up several times in the city’s main Jewish newspaper, the Daily Forward, which is definitely not a lefty publication.

For example, the Forward‘s lede story this morning is from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (the Chosen People’s wire service), for whom Dina Kraft writes:

Just as in the summer of 2006, when the northern part of the country huddled in bomb shelters during the Second Lebanon War and the rest of the country carried on with its business, a new war has come that affects Israelis — at least in part — according to geography.

Practically all of the U.S. mainstream press goes through gyrations to avoid calling what’s going on in the Middle East a “war.”

That’s why if you want to read the un-P.C. skinny about the current war between Arabs and Jews and about the complex, murky, often slimy world of American-Israeli politics, you have to read the Forward. Or at least the press in other countries.

Depending on your political or gastronomic persuasion, order another bagel or sfiha and click on these stories…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘CAR FUMES KILL LOVERS’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Israel to Discuss Gaza Cease-Fire’

A high-ranking Israeli delegation was scheduled to arrive in Egypt to discuss the possibilities of a cease-fire in the Jewish state’s 12-day assault on the Gaza Strip.

N.Y. Post: ‘MAN FATALLY STABS HIS PIT BULL’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Job Test Spawns Culture of Cheating’

Online personality tests have helped retailers to automate hiring. But the tests are also creating a culture of cheating and raising questions about their fairness.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Dovish Jewish Groups Break Ranks, Call for Cease-Fire’

N.Y. Post: ‘UNEMPLOYMENT OUTAGE’

Department of Labor, please hold. A rush of out-of-work New Yorkers overwhelmed the state’s unemployment system yesterday, forcing the program’s automated phone banks and…

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Pushes States to Cover More Unemployed’

Village Voice: ‘Mayor Mike and the Yanks: City Hall gift-wraps another present for baseball’s richest team’ (Tom Robbins)

N.Y. Post: ‘New York City animal shelters scramble after strep outbreak kills dogs’

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Seeks to Mend Rift Over Panetta’

N.Y. Post: ‘OY VEY, WHAT A ‘SNATCH’: GEM BANDITS USE FILM-STYLE HASID DISGUISE’

N.Y. Times: ‘Facing Losses, Billionaire Takes His Own Life’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘You don’t scare me, thug’

A Queens grandmother who fought off a prowler said she wants to confront her attacker.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘As Bush Exits, Four High-Profile Felons Hope For Pardons’

…Public campaigns have been launched on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, the Navy analyst who was sent to jail for spying on behalf of Israel, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a leading neoconservative and former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Jewish philanthropist and former junk-bond king Michael Milken had his application for pardon submitted by Washington bigwig Ted Olsen.

N.Y. Post: ‘YANKEE PANKY: NEW SLUGGER’S SMOOCHY COUP’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Free perking for ex-MTA official’

N.Y. Times: ‘Israel Puts Media Clamp on Gaza’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘B’klyn stops being polite: The Real World comes to Brooklyn for its 21st season’

ABC: ‘The Burris Circus and the Politics of Race’

Onion: ‘Terror Experts Warn Next 9/11 Could Fall On Different Date’

Wall Street Journal: ‘India Outsourcer
Rocked by Fraud’

Satyam Computer Services Ltd. Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju Wednesday resigned admitting to falsifying company accounts and inflating revenue and profit figures over several years, sending the company’s shares plunging 78%…..

Satyam’s clients include General Electric Co., General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Applied Materials Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Sony Corp.

N.Y. Post: ‘45% FAVOR CAROLINE’

Forty-five percent of Americans want Gov. Paterson to name Caroline Kennedy to replace Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a poll released yesterday.

N.Y. Times: ‘Cuomo Aide Is Said to Try to Slow Kennedy Bid’

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Israel’s Stark Choice in Gaza: Cease-Fire or Regime Change?’

N.Y. Post: ‘”EX” SEX EXTORT ARREST’

N.Y. Times: ‘Specter Attacks Choice for Attorney General’

N.Y. Post: ‘POL BUS KILLS KID: CANDIDATE DEVASTATED’

A campaign bus for a candidate in the City Council’s special election killed a 9-year-old Queens boy scampering home from school yesterday…

N.Y. Observer: ‘Palm Beach Ponzi Pique: Why Did Madoff Bilk Own Mishpocheh?’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Tried to Stave Off Firm’s Crash Before Arrest’

Ten days before his arrest, Bernard Madoff received $250 million from a man who helped give him his start on Wall Street, a move that shows how the investment manager tried to raise cash to stave off his firm’s collapse.

Mr. Madoff received $250 million around Dec. 1 from Carl Shapiro, a 95-year-old Palm Beach, Fla., philanthropist and entrepreneur who is one of Mr. Madoff’s oldest friends and biggest financial backers, according to people familiar with the matter.

N.Y. Post: ‘SEC GAL FIRES BACK’

Former SEC exec Meaghan Cheung, who oversaw a 2006 probe of swindler Bernard Madoff’s firm, defended herself yesterday against claims that she and others blew it by not uncovering his huge…

N.Y. Post: ‘NYU “BERNED” FOR $94 MILLION’

New York University lost as much as $94 million when a hotshot money manager, against the school’s wishes, invested the cash with swindler Bernie Madoff, its lawyers told a judge yesterday…

 

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Mike Bloomberg launches preemptive trip to Israel; invasion of NYC unlikely

Waltz With Bashir, a movie that sprang from a previous Israeli invasion of Lebanon, won Best Picture from the National Society of Film Critics. A free Madoff Watch T-shirt to the reader who suggests the best title for the first movie spurred by Israel’s current invasion of Gaza.


On an overseas trip while Rome burns, Mike Bloomberg is acting as if term limits remained intact and he couldn’t run for another term.

The mayor’s in Israel, having a “blast,” as the Post puts it, during the invasion of Gaza.

While the rest of the city’s inhabitants are facing an onrushing New Depression, Bloomberg is occupied with the occupiers. Focusing primarily on getting his aides to make sure he stays alive, the mayor’s not exactly concentrating on the crisis back home. How does a New York City mayor keep schools, health clinics, transit service, and libraries from being slashed? He dunno.

Meanwhile, a woman was slashed while jogging behind Gracie Mansion. If Bloomberg had been at home, he (or his valet) might have peeked out the window and shooed away her attacker.

Lots of other news follows, for the all the good it will do you. Plus, at the end of this aggregation, see a cluster of Madoff Watch items…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Editor & Publisher: ‘Media Commentary Muted as Israel Invades’

N.Y. Post: ‘BLOOMBERG HAS ‘BLAST’ IN ISRAEL: TAKES SHELTER AFTER ROCKET ROCKS HIS “BOOM!” TOWN VISIT’

Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S. Transition Slows Negotiations Over Gaza’

N.Y. Times: ‘Gaza Hospital Fills Up, Mainly With Civilians’

Bloomberg: ‘Israel Troops Drive Deep Into Gaza; Sarkozy Leads Truce Effort’

N.Y. Times: ‘Activist Unmasks Himself as Federal Informant in G.O.P. Convention Case’

Vanity Fair: ‘The Good, the Bad, and Joe Lieberman’ (James Wolcott)

Bloomberg: ‘Journal of a Plague Year: Faith in Markets Cracks Under Losses’

N.Y. Times: ‘The End of the Financial World as We Know It’ (Michael Lewis)

N.Y. Post: ‘SLAY RAPS IN CRANE TRAGEDY’

It has been a year of record misery: the largest bankruptcy, bank failure and Ponzi scheme in U.S. history; $720 billion in writedowns and losses by financial institutions; $30.1 trillion in market valuation wiped out.

Bloomberg: ‘Buffett Has “Nowhere to Hide” Amid Berkshire’s Plunge’

N.Y. Times: ‘For Israel, Chance to Strike Before an Ally Departs’

N.Y. Post: ‘QNS. SLASHER HUNT: WOMAN, 86, BRUTALIZED IN HER BED’

N.Y. Times: ‘Woman Slashed While Jogging in Park Behind Gracie Mansion’

Vanity Fair: ‘The Ultimate Bubble?’

Media Week: ‘Kathy Griffin In Hot Water Over Comments on CNN’

Gawker: ‘Kathy Griffin’s “Dicks” Banned From Times, “Magic Negro” OK’

Bloomberg: ‘Engines of Recovery Flame Out as Economy Seeks Obama-Fed Rescue’

N.Y. Times: ‘Blood Sugar Control Linked to Memory Decline, Study Says’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Israel’s Ground Assault Marks Strategy Shift’

N.Y. Post: ‘GRAN GETS BOOT FOR CHRISTMAS’

Gawker: ‘Scientology Founder Slams Drugs That Might Have Saved Travolta’s Son’

Bloomberg: ‘Obama Moves to Counter China With Pentagon-NASA Link’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Stress and the city: New York is gripped by fear. Are we headed back to the bad old days of the 1970s?’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mayor Bloomberg whisked into bomb shelter in Israel as rocket fire erupts during solidarity trip’

N.Y. Post: ‘FISHY NUPTIALS FIASCO’

A proud father wanted the best for his daughter on her wedding day, but the fairy-tale event turned into a $100,000 fiasco that ended with the blushing bride kneeling over the toilet vomiting…

N.Y. Post: ‘FUMING MAD: SUIT OVER WEDDING MONOXIDE’

A Long Island couple whose wedding celebration evaporated in a cloud of carbon monoxide is still furious over unpaid expenses for the ruined reception…

Daily Beast: ‘Carnival of the Shameless: What do Dubya, Blago, Bernie Madoff, and Roland Burris have in common? No regrets!’ (Christopher Buckley)

N.Y. Post: ‘NARCO COP ‘ROID SLAP’

New York: ‘Stephon Marbury May Soon Destroy Celtics’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘”I’m not guilty,” yells bus driver’

New York: ‘The Catastrophe Capitalist: Short-seller Jim Chanos is having the time of his life through this crisis’

Muckety: ‘Ties to former Paterson aide may help Caroline Kennedy’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Thacher Proffitt: case closed: Downward spiral touched off by mortgage crisis claims its most prominent legal victim’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Residential permits down 74% in November’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Majority of arts groups cutting back’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Analysis: Gov. leaving Kennedy in limbo’

N.Y. Post: ‘SUPPORT FOR BUS MATRON: DISPATCHER FINGERED’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Hard Times: News brand shops assets to cut debt’

In the past year, The New York Times Co. has slashed the dividend it pays investors by 75%, cut the companywide head count by 8%, raised the newsstand price of the flagship paper while merging its sections, and consolidated two New York area printing plants into one.

Big steps, but apparently not big enough. The world’s foremost newspaper brand ended 2008 with its stock price down more than 60%. To raise $225 million to pay down long-term debt, the company is planning a sale-leaseback of part of its Renzo Piano-designed headquarters. It is also actively shopping its minority stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Like every other newspaper publisher, the Times Co. is grappling with an unprecedented collapse in print advertising and a dramatic slowdown in online ad growth. In the first nine months of 2008, revenues fell 7%, to $2.2 billion. Meanwhile, net income–which was boosted in the year-earlier period by the sale of the company’s broadcast unit–plunged 92%, to $27.3 million. The company, which has roughly $1 billion in debt, is negotiating with lenders over the more than $600 million in loans that are coming due this year and next.


Bloomberg: ‘SEC Said to Examine More Ponzi Schemes After Madoff’

FOX News: ‘Report: Former Madoff Employees Selling Memorabilia on eBay’

New Yorker: ‘Cheat, Pray, Love’

Crain’s New York: ‘Milberg rides Madoff: Scandal-plagued law firm rebuilds image, representing Ponzi scheme victims’

Huffington Post: ‘Madoff Employees Still Being Paid Despite Nothing To Do’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Why the Bernie Madoff Scandal Is a Good Thing’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Gives Prosecutors Details of His, Firm’s Assets’

Muckety: ‘Even Dr. Doom invested with Madoff’

Wall Street Journal: ‘How the SEC Can Prevent More Madoffs: Bolster its risk-assessment and enforcement staff’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Chasers Dug for Years, to No Avail’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Took Funds Near Arrest’

ABC: ‘The Safeguard Madoff Victims Missed: How Custodial Accounts at Banks Can Help Avoid Madoff-Type Schemes’

 

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Daily Flog: Obama strikes first in stab at replacing Cheney

As the nation’s first presidential return cast a favorable omen to Barack Obama — Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, voted for the Democrat 15-6, the first time in 40 years that the country’s historically first precinct has gone Democratic — let’s not forget about the guy who’s being replaced. From his official White House biography:

Throughout his service, Mr. Cheney served with duty, honor, and unwavering leadership, gaining him the respect of the American people during trying military times.

And don’t forget the other guy:

President Bush has worked with the Congress to create an ownership society and build a future of security, prosperity, and opportunity for all Americans.

How can we forget?

For news about Cheney’s replacement, watch CNN all day if you want, but if you’re stuck at your computer all day, you’d be better off with the BBC’s “Live Text: US Election Day 2008,” which reloads automatically.

My indefatigable colleague Roy Edroso will be hammering at the keyboard all day at Runnin’ Scared. Check him out.

Meanwhile, people are being raped and killed in the Congo. And you’re late with your mortgage payment. So . . .

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Global Research (Canada): ‘How McCain Could Win’

Slate: ‘The Coming Obama-Press War: It’s inevitable’ (Jack Shafer)

Wall Street Journal: ‘Homeowners Wait as Relief Plan Drags’

McClatchy: ‘Ailing economy takes toll on health’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Reputed Genovese capo indicted in ’77 murder’

“The feds Monday indicted a reputed Genovese capo for the 1977 murder of a gangster who, after his killer’s gun jammed, snarled: ‘What’re you gonna do now, tough guy?’ ”

Washington Post: ‘In Congo, a March Behind Rebel Lines: Renegade General Compels Thousands Displaced by War to Return Home and Sing His Praises’

Register (U.K.): ‘Philosophy, computing, and Republican desperation’

“In a last-ditch attempt to spook credulous Americans into voting for John McCain, a Republican congressman and his brother-in-law have offered $10,000 to a software-wielding Oxford don, asking for proof that Barack Obama’s memoir was written by former domestic terrorist William Ayers.”

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Wall St. scammer gets 6 1/2 year sentence, will pay back millions’

N.Y. Post: ‘BLIND DAD DIES AFTER MARATHON’

Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘Germany and France Compete for Role of Financial Savior’

“As tremors shake markets around the world, European partners Germany and France have gone separate ways in fighting the crisis. Sarkozy wants to bring banks and threatened industries under the government’s protection, but Merkel is opposing such state intervention.”

Jurist: ‘Federal judge orders Cheney aide to testify in VP records lawsuit’

Al Jazeera: ‘End of Chicago free-market ideas?’

Washington Post: ‘China Faces Faltering Economy’

“After first declaring itself unaffected by crisis, officials turn to bailouts to forestall unrest.”

Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘Obama and the Overseas Vote: Grassroots in the Age of Social Networking’

Al Jazeera: ‘Analysis: US battleground states’

In The News (U.K.): ‘Analysis: The DRC’s deep-rooted conflict’

“Latest estimates from the UN put the number of Congolese who have abandoned the homes in fear of their lives over the one million mark.”

N.Y. Times: ‘Afghan Officials Aided an Attack on U.S. Soldiers’

N.Y. Times: ‘Bin Laden’s Son Seeks Asylum in Spain’

Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘Court Says Kaczynski Can Be Called a Duck’

“A court in Poland ruled on Monday that it was not slanderous to refer to President Lech Kaczynski as a duck.”

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘Heavy rainfall could be linked to autism, scientists claim’

Christian Science Monitor: ‘Congo’s riches fuel its war’

N.Y. Times: ‘New Terrain for Panel on Bailout’

“A committee of five little-known officials is picking winners and losers among institutions seeking a slice of the bailout.”

 

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Daily Flog: Doom day — Election shakes, global bombings, massive firings

You can only pray that Tuesday’s election won’t be bollixed too severely by ridiculous voter-ID rules and other GOP-driven schemes designed to thwart democracy.

That is voter fraud, not the “voter fraud” that Republican operatives are braying about.

What’s scarier than the election shakes, the continuing financiopathic mood swings, a staggering loss of jobs (“Layoffs Sweep From Wall St. Across New York Area,” New York Times), and the hoarding of billions of dollars by hedge funds? A new wave of bomb blasts and bad behavior across the planet:

L.A. Times: ‘Suicide bomber penetrates Afghanistan government ministry, killing 3’

Irish Times (Dublin) ‘At least 29 die in bombings across northern Somalia’

BBC: ‘Chaos grips major DR Congo city’

Voice of America: ‘Serial Bomb Blasts Rock India’s Assam State’

And to top it off, we find out that many hospitals are doing a poor job of easing our pain. As McClatchy’s Robert S. Boyd reports, in “Adequate pain care sorely lacking for patients”:

Medical science has learned a great deal about the causes of pain and ways to relieve it, pain experts say, but for a host of reasons, the treatment of pain and suffering has improved hardly at all in recent years.

John Seffrin, the president of the American Cancer Society, calls this “a national health-care crisis of under-treated pain.”

Back to election bellyaching: Just the latest of many warnings come this morning not only on the macro level — L.A. Times: “Vote watchdogs warn of troubles on election day,” — but also on the local level — Evansville (Indiana) Courier & Press: “Voter registry concerns emerging.” Dateline Evansville:

Expectations of a record voter turnout Tuesday are being tempered by concerns about the accuracy of new registrations and whether local election officials are doing all they can to encourage voting.

The “accuracy of new registrations”? Some reporters mistakenly assume that the GOP-driven “fraud” propaganda points to a huge problem, but the second part — whether local election officials are doing all they can to encourage voting — is the real concern.

Meanwhile, some people even fear an assassination attempt on Barack Obama (cf. Martin Luther King Jr.). Paul G. Buchanan‘s essay — “Campaign Rhetoric As An Invitation To Violence” — via the New Zealand news site Scoop may be bloviated claptrap, but it’s interesting bloviated claptrap:

” . . . The subject is ugly, unthinkable in polite society, and impolitic to mention. That is the possibility of political assassination, specifically that of Barack Obama. Let us discuss it here. . . .

“In their negative campaigning, in the tone of their vitriol, in the repetition of false accusations and smears that lead their followers to believe that Obama is un-American, treasonous (for which the penalty under US federal statutes includes death, particularly in wartime), that he is a closet Arab, disguised Muslim, foreign born, etc., what the Republican campaign managers and their media surrogates are doing is something much more dangerous than trying to win an election.

“Elementary discursive analysis reveals the not-to-subtle cues to direct action embedded in the Republican campaign rhetoric. Put bluntly: by demonising Barack Obama, it is a subliminal invitation to murder. . . .”

Speaking of the devils, the Presidential Prayer Team — given God‘s well-known sense of humor, He/She definitely does not listen to entreaties from this donation-hungry crew — reminds us:

As we count down to the presidential election on 11/4, pray for God’s will to be done in our nation through the votes of citizens — that each one will consider the profound privilege and blessing of their vote and will cast it in a way that honors God.

Don’t get off your knees yet:

As dedicated intercessors gather at courthouses and public areas across the country for solemn assemblies and prayer gatherings on Sunday and Monday, Election Eve, pray for them as they meet, asking the Holy Spirit to guide and direct. Pray for safety for every gathering, for the powerful presence of God to graciously visit each one, and for many to be strengthened in their efforts. Are you aware of an election-oriented prayer gathering?

If not, you can do this from home:

Pray for First Lady Laura Bush as she celebrates her 62nd birthday with the President this weekend at Camp David; this year, her birthday falls on Election Day, 11/4. Pray for God’s richest blessings on her as she prepares for the next chapter of her life, giving thanks for the profound impact she has had for the past eight years, serving the nation and the world with strength, grace and dignity.

Yes, best wishes, Laura. Now get outta here. Seriously. Leave.

The rest of you? Keep clicking . . .

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

China Digital Times: ‘Experience the Censored Chinese Internet at Home!’

Washington Post: ‘Early Voters Breaking Records: Poll Shows 59 Percent of Ballots Already Cast Are for Obama’

Slate: ‘The Liberal Media and How To Stop It: You can’t. But these days, how much does it matter?’ (Jack Shafer)

N.Y. Post: ‘REV. ELVIS LOVED ME TENDER: CONFESSIONAL A SEDUCTION CHAMBER — SUIT’

Scoop (New Zealand): ‘Campaign Rhetoric As An Invitation To Violence’

N.Y. Post: ‘FDNY WIFE “TOO BLITZED” ‘

“A Staten Island mom accused of killing her fire-marshal husband was so drunk after the shooting that statements she made to a EMS captain should be thrown out, her lawyer told a judge yesterday.”

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Chancellor demands cheaper petrol as Shell posts record profits’

Washington Post: ‘Treasury, FDIC Near Deal on Mortgage Aid’

McClatchy: ‘Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis’

N.Y. Times: ‘Government Said to Be Discussing Plan to Aid Homeowners’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘The Triumph of Ignorance: Why morons succeed in US politics’

N.Y. Times: ‘Aggressive Fed Cuts Key Interest Rate by a Half-Point’

McClatchy: ‘Fed slashes rate again, nearing uncharted waters’

N.Y. Post: ‘SNOOPY DIDN’T HAVE TO DIE: DRUNK HUBBY KILLS WIFE’S BEAGLE — COPS’

IRIN: ‘Israel tries to block Gaza health conference’

N.Y. Post: ‘MIKE BENCHES STEPH IN OPENER’

Hurriyet (Turkey): ‘U.S. embassy in Syria shut over demo threat’

“The U.S. embassy in Damascus said it will be closed on Thursday due to the threat of demonstrations over a deadly American helicopter raid on a village near the Iraqi border.”

New Yorker: ‘Red Sex, Blue Sex: Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant?’

N.Y. Times: ‘A Question for A.I.G.: Where Did the Cash Go?’

N.Y. Post: ‘BEN’S BOOMERANG: MARTS GO DOWN, THEN UP, THEN DOWN ON FED RATE CUT

“Ben Bernanke’s wild-pitch rate cut bounced off Wall Street with a thud.”

New Yorker: ‘Odd Man Out: Chuck Hagel’s Republican exile’

New York: ‘Time Inc. to Restructure, Lay Off 600 Workers’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Hedge funds contemplate safer climate in US’

“A new front is opening up in the battle between London and New York to be the world’s dominant financial centre.

“Hedge funds, and the thorny question of where they decide to do business over the coming months, could mark a turning point in the delicate balance of power between the two market capitals.

“Despite widespread fears that hundreds of funds are poised to collapse, any shake-out in the industry will still leave hundreds of healthy firms with billions to invest.”

Financial Times (U.K.): ‘Outlook is bleak, say US chief finance chiefs’

Times of London (U.K.): ‘Hedge funds fear bankruptcy after Porsche squeeze’

Financial Times (U.K.): ‘Shock: Drudge loses his grip on US media!’

N.Y. Times: ‘Army and Agency Will Study Rising Suicide Rate Among Soldiers’

BBC: ‘Blind S Korea masseurs win case’

“A South Korean law which states that only the visually impaired can be licensed masseurs has been upheld in the country’s Constitutional Court.”

Times of London (U.K.): ‘US presidential rankings — numbers 32 to 22’

BBC: ‘China toxic egg scandal spreads’

BBC: ‘Second Gaza activist voyage docks’

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Daily Flog II: Hedge funds to the rescue; kitten-burgers in Peru

In the midst of the global financial crisis caused by Wall Street speculators, don’t sell Wall Street short.

Let the hedge funds do it for you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the speculators who have raked billions in profits from Wall Street in just the past decade. Now that the SEC’s three-week ban on short-selling is ending, hedge-fund managers can start gambling again on the planet’s future.

No matter how it goes, they’ll make out big-time. That’s what hedge-fund managers do — they hedge their bets.

This is a good thing. Just listen to Peter Sorrentino, a money manager at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati, which oversees $16.5 billion. Bloomberg quotes him in “Hedge Funds May Cut Volatility as Short-Sale Ban Ends”:

“Lifting the short ban restores the balance in the marketplace. It should bring liquidity back into the market, which will cap some of the volatility we’ve seen lately.”

Your $700 billion bailout didn’t work, so now the hedge-fund managers will step in with their cash to try to right things. Shouldn’t it have been the other way around?

At least you’re not in Zimbabwe, where the inflation rate has now soared to 231,000,000 percent.

Take a brief break from worrying about your financial future and worry about kittens and other things…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Pass the cat burgers: Desperate to read a story that’s not about the economy? Welcome to the outrage caused by Peru’s cat-eating festival.’

McClatchy: ‘Supreme Court shows little sympathy for whales beset by sonar’

L.A. Times: ‘Iraq play is a tragicomedy’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Sex addiction on the rise, from pop culture to Wall Street’

N.Y. Post: ‘TIN PAN ALLEY’S SAD TUNE’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Historian says Beatles were just capitalists, and not youth heroes’

Times (U.K.): ‘Picasso is too low-brow for the Louvre’

L.A. Times: ‘Surfers’ spirits sink as artificial reef near LAX is dismantled’

N.Y. Times: ‘NKorea May Be Developing Small Nuclear Warhead’

IRIN: ‘Efforts to fight “black cloud” in Cairo’

BBC: ‘Islamabad police complex attacked’

BBC: ‘Firefox users gain location tool’

Washington Post: ‘Man Finds Wrong House, Wrong Bed, Nice Family’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Former Hawaiian Tropic Zone creep accused in attacks on four women’

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Collateral damage in Wall Street, Afghan wars

Bankers on Wall Street, babies in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon finally concluded on Wednesday that U.S. troops did not kill seven Afghan civilians in an August air strike.

Actually, it was 33, including babies and toddlers, the U.S. Central Command finally acknowledged after being forced to investigate what it initially called a “successful” raid.

Oops. But the Pentagon got its mimeographs cranking almost immediately to try to contain the damage. An AP story carried by the BBC and other outlets reports:

A US military inquiry has found that an air strike on militants in western Afghanistan on 22 August killed many more civilians than first acknowledged.

US Central Command said 33 civilians, not seven, had died in the village of Azizabad in Herat province. While voicing regret, it said US forces had followed rules of engagement.

Afghan officials and the United Nations feared at the time that up to 90 people had died in the strike on Azizabad, including 60 children.

Video footage, apparently of the aftermath of the raid, showed some 40 dead bodies lined up under sheets and blankets inside a mosque.

The majority of the dead captured on the video were children, babies and toddlers, some burned so badly they were barely recognisable.

US forces had originally said seven civilians were killed in a “successful” US raid targeting a Taleban commander in Azizabad.

Now for the damage control. In a press release today entitled “Official Reaffirms Commitment to Preventing Civilian Casualties,” the Pentagon’s Donna Miles puts this bloodbath through the spin cycle:

As a follow-on investigation into an operation by Afghan National Army and U.S. forces in western Afghanistan that claimed civilian lives nears completion, a senior defense official here emphasized the U.S. military’s strong record of accountability and follow-through.

No doubt.

Working hard to stanch this gaping wound, U.S. military officials fire at will:

Pentagon flack Bryan Whitman: “No other military in the world goes to a greater extent to prevent civilian casualties. This is something that we take very seriously, and when we have allegations of loss of innocent life, we investigate it.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “We’re very concerned about this; it’s a high priority for us. We work at that hard, work at it harder, and then take another look to see what more we can do to limit innocent people who are killed when we go after our enemies.”

Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan: “That certainly is one of my top challenges, to try to make sure we have the right measures in place to minimize the possibility of civilian casualties.”

OK, OK, we get the point. But would it kill you to at least use the words “sorry” or “regret”?

At least we know similar tragedies won’t happen again, because at this moment, Gates is in Macedonia trying to drum up some troops for the increasingly grim Afghan War.

The Pentagon story “Gates Urges Southeastern European Nations to Send Troops to Afghanistan” notes:

Macedonia has 135 troops in Afghanistan and 80 in Iraq. It also has participated in many NATO exercises, and is considering augmenting its presence in Afghanistan as its forces end their deployment to Iraq in December, U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Philip T. Reeker said.

Yes, if you want peacekeepers, you naturally turn to the Balkans.

Or maybe send the Balkans troops to Wall Street and investment bankers to Afghanistan. Nothing’s working in either place.