“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What could Palestine possibly be upset about?

Posted on 11/29/2012 by Juan JUAN COLE
The confidence scam that Israel and the United States have been running on the Palestinians, of a “peace process,” is finally about to meet a well-deserved demise. There are now over 600,000 Israeli settlers on the Occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank (including the areas unilaterally annexed by Israel to its ‘district of Jerusalem’).
It now seems all but certain that the United Nations General Assembly will vote on Friday to grant the Palestine Authority “observer state” status at the United Nations, the same position enjoyed by the Vatican. It is an upgrade from “entity” recognized as “permanent observer.” Its primary significance is that as an observer, Palestine will have some of the same prerogatives of members within the UN legal structure. In particular, it will be in a much strengthened position to launch protests against the war crimes and crimes against humanity practiced by Israel against the Palestinians.

Aside from the new legal status of Palestine that will result, this event signals a sea change in the relationship of Europe to Palestine and Israel. For decades, Europeans felt guilt about the Holocaust, or saw the Israelis as underdogs, or viewed them as fellow Europeans facing barbarian hordes, and so consistently supported Israel against the Palestinians. That would still be the case if the Likud Party had not foolishly destroyed the Oslo Peace process and if Israeli governments had not implemented an illegal blockade on Gaza and pursued large-scale population transfer of Israelis into the Occupied West Bank, which is illegal under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The Lebanon and Gaza Wars, and the Israeli attack on the peaceful aide ship from Turkey, the Mavi Marmara, all drastically undermined Israel’s standing in the eyes of Europeans.
Reuters reported that “As of Wednesday afternoon Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland had all pledged to support the Palestinian resolution.” Other observers suggested that the same 11 that voted in 2011 for Palestinian membership in UNESCO were likely to repeat that vote this year, with the possible exception of Cyprus: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia and Spain. In addition, it was originally thought that the Netherlands might well vote for Palestine this time, since there has been a change of government there (they’ve now said now), and Portugal and Switzerland have already joined this group.

Once the Palestinians have gained a friend with the stature of France, in many ways the Israeli attempt to keep them in a box has already failed. Flanked by Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Switzerland, the pro-Palestinian bloc encompasses much of what was traditionally thought of as Western Europe. And Greece, after all, was the cradle of Europe.
Lots of reasons might be given for their willingness to give Palestinians their due. There is resentment of Anglo-American hegemony. These countries were all strong-armed by the Obama administration to deep-six the Palestinians, and they are refusing. The Irish now see Israel as doing to the Palestinians what the British used to do to them. Spain and France also have foreign policy aspirations in the Arab world. France has a significant Muslim voting bloc, which largely goes for the now-ruling Socialists.
But ultimately the real reason is that the high officials in Europe find the far right wing Israeli government and its Apartheid policies toward the Palestinians increasingly distasteful. The scales have just fallen from their eyes.
In the law, “standing” is a crucial concept. Standing dictates who has a right to bring a law suit. You can’t proceed with a civil action unless the judge agrees that you have standing. Typically, you couldn’t sue on behalf of your cousin if you weren’t affected by the alleged tort. Up until now, the “entity” of the Palestine Authority did not have the standing to bring complaints against Israel to the UN. But Palestine as a UN observer will have such standing, and it could be significant.
Since almost no one else in the US will do so, let me direct readers to the Palestinians’ own position paper on the step. (One of the consistent features of colonialism and Orientalism is that the oppressed are deprived of a voice first of all by being made invisible in mass media and only ever represented by their enemies and detractors. It is very rare that we see an actual Palestinian with good English interviewed about Palestine on American television evening magazine shows.)
As an “observer state,” Palestine can join UN bodies and can sign treaties. One it might like to sign is the Rome Statutes that created the International Criminal Court, a body that the United States and Israel, as hegemons, hate the way the devil hates holy water. Being a hegemon means never having to be tried for your war crimes (most of the government leaders prosecuted by the ICC so far have been from weak, despised African dictatorships).
As a member of the ICC, Palestine could then bring complaints against Israel for its annexation of Palestinian land and practice of Apartheid (which is recognized in the Rome Statutes as a war crime).
Whereas the US consistently vetoes all condemnations of Israel by the four other UN Security Council members, making sure that the Palestinians are always screwed over, it has no ability to stop the UN committees of the General Assembly, the UNGA itself, or the ICC from criticizing or sanctioning Israel. The US and Israeli tactic has been to prevent any official world body from ever producing a text condemning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, lest a body of international law grow up that would stand in the way of further Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, or of its creepy and illegal blockade of the civilians of the Gaza Strip. That tactic is about to be defeated.
The some 11 million Palestinians, promised a state (no, not Jordan) by the League of Nations and by the British mandatory powers, were largely uprooted and rendered stateless by a concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing by Jewish settlers in Palestine in 1947-48, who had been planted there by a combination of British imperial interests and the rise in Europe of a terrifying and vicious fascist racism in the 1930s.
The helpless, stateless Palestinians, many still living in refugee camps, were successfully slandered by Israel’s fanatic supporters as mindlessly violent oppressors of the Jews. When the West remembered National Socialism vividly, the Palestinians were depicted in Zionist propaganda as Nazis. At the height of the Cold War, the burghers, retailers and engineers among the Palestinians were painted as dangerous Communists. After 9/11, the Palestinians (among the more secular groups in the Middle East) were reconfigured as al-Qaeda. While some Palestinians (amazingly few) did mobilize some 20 years after the disaster of their expulsion from their homeland to resist further Israeli expansionism in the region, with the taking of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, and Israel has at times been embattled (so that you could understand fear of or anger toward its enemies) it was never acceptable to smear and marginalize an entire people.
Meanwhile, in the decade after the Oslo Peace Accords were signed in the early 1990s, the Israelis doubled the number of settlers on Palestinian land, land from which the Israelis had dishonestly pledged to withdraw by 1998 (they still haven’t withdrawn).

Egypt Today

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Germany plans to slap a fine of up to 25,000 euros on people having sexual relations with pets, but zoophiles plan to fight the move. They say there's nothing wrong with consensual sex and that the true violations of animal rights are taking place in the farming industry.

There really is no normal left. I saw this little blurb on der Spiegel and thought , naaah, it had to be a joke. maybe I did a Rip Van Winkle or was in a coma and it was 1 April 2013. Then I looked at the headlines and was relieved to see nothing has changed, Greece was saved again, the Euro rallied and as if we did not have enough troubles with the Middle East, they decided to dig up Arafat.

I returned to the Zoofilia story. At one time, I could have said with good conscience, it was a German thing. I had to get the picture of someone shagging Lassie out of my head. Perhaps there is something witty on YouTube about the subject.

There is, but I didn’t dare open any of them. They did not look like they were kidding.

I’ll leave that to someone else, and this is from someone who watched the entire video of Berg getting his head hacked off by the jihadis and this is The Elephant Bar and we have to  maintain some standards.


Monday, November 26, 2012

No government would ever license a drug that sends at least two per cent of its consumers insane. Or would they?

Schizophrenia: the Cannabis link:
Is this the 'tobacco moment' for cannabis?

The first in a groundbreaking series by Patrick Cockburn on the lessons of his son’s psychosis


Henry Cockburn was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2002 at the age of 20. Before that he was a heavy cannabis user. His father, Patrick Cockburn, The Independent's award-winning foreign correspondent, has long wondered whether the two were linked and spent months speaking to the world's leading experts in the field. In a four-part series prompted by his son's condition, he will examine the medical evidence linking sustained cannabis use with schizophrenia, before going on to look at the way the mentally ill have been let down by the health service and stigmatised by public opinion, and concluding on Thursday with his manifesto for a more humane and effective system – accompanied each day by Henry's account of his journey from pyschosis to a normal life.
For cannabis it is the "tobacco moment". The long-suspected link between consuming cannabis and developing schizophrenia has been repeatedly confirmed by recent studies. Observers say that for cannabis the present moment is similar to that half a century ago when scientific proof of a connection between smoking tobacco and cancer became so strong that no serious doctor or scientist could deny it.
Popular perception of the risks involved for the 2.3 million people taking cannabis in Britain over the last year has lagged behind evidence of its toxicity as shown in a mounting number of scientific studies. One recent expert survey of the evidence published by different scientists in different countries says that research "has consistently found that cannabis use is associated with schizophrenia outcomes later in life".
Sir Robin Murray, Professor of psychiatric research at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, says that studies show that "if the risk of schizophrenia for the general population is about one per cent, the evidence is that, if you take ordinary cannabis, it is two per cent; if you smoke regularly you might push it up to four per cent; and if you smoke 'skunk' every day you push it up to eight per cent".
The great majority of those taking cannabis suffer no ill-effects and may regard warnings about the drug's dangers as exaggerated and alarmist. This includes those taking "skunk", which today contains at least three times more THC, the major psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, than it did in the 1960s. A survey of cannabis confiscated by the police in 2008 showed that ordinary cannabis had about 4-5 per cent THC and "skunk" about 16 per cent. Less potent varieties are becoming more difficult to buy on the street while ever more concentrated ones are available on the internet.
For cannabis smokers diagnosed years later with schizophrenia the outcome is a lifetime battling with psychosis, including symptoms such as paranoid delusions, hostile voices and unexplained waves of terror and guilt. Many sufferers end up isolated, jobless, impoverished and with their lives ruined.
Pro- and anti-cannabis campaigners have furiously disputed the dangers of taking cannabis. Proponents of decriminalisation claim it is no more risky to health than junk food. But doctors and nurses treating the mentally ill in Britain have long noticed that a very high proportion of their patients are serious users of the drug, often starting to take it at a young age. Dr Humphrey Needham-Bennett, medical director and consultant psychiatrist of Cygnet Hospital, Godden Green in London, says that among his patients "cannabis use is so common that I assume that people use or used it. It's quite surprising when people say 'no, I don't use drugs'."
A psychiatrist leading an Early Intervention in Psychosis team in a large inner city area, who did not want to be identified, likewise says "it was not fashionable to say so in the 1990s, but any practising mental health professional would agree that if you smoked a lot of cannabis, particularly in your teenage years, there is a risk of psychosis. Studies coming out over the last five years have confirmed this."
Until very recently conventional wisdom was that while cannabis might have a toxic effect on the life of a minority of users, most people who took it would be unaffected. Consumption was a form of Russian roulette in which a live round was only occasionally fired, though when this did happen the effect could be ruinous.
It is this comforting belief that only a minority of cannabis users is at risk which is now in doubt according to new research showing that the danger to public health may be much wider than previously supposed. The study, published in August 2012, examines 1,000 people in Dunedin, New Zealand, who are one of the most intensively researched groups in the world from the point of view of their mental health.
All were born in 1972-73 and they took IQ tests and other mental functioning tests at the age of 13 and again at the age of 38. Every few years they were also asked about their use of marijuana. Those who smoked significant amounts as teenagers before the age of 18, while their brains were still developing, showed a significant 8-point drop in their IQ levels (between 90 and 110 is considered average) compared to people who were non-consumers. People starting to smoke cannabis after 18 have some reduction in their IQ, but nothing like as large as the younger group. Experts suggest the results may explain why teenage heavy cannabis users are frequently under-achievers.
Until about 10 years ago, cannabis was often seen as a "harmless" recreational drug, the effects of which should be sharply distinguished from heroin and cocaine. There was little research into cannabis as a cause of schizophrenia or as a factor exacerbating the condition once it was diagnosed, leading to "revolving door" cases that clog up such in-patient facilities that exist.
Zerrin Atakan, formerly head of the National Psychosis Unit at the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital and now a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, recalls: "I got interested in cannabis because I was working in the 1980s in an intensive care unit where my patients would be fine after we got them well. We would give them leave and they would celebrate their new-found freedom with a joint and come back psychotic a few hours later."
Dr Atakan became intensely interested in investigating the link between cannabis and mental illness, though this turned out to be easier said than done. She says: "I was astonished to discover that cannabis, which is the most widely used illicit substance, was hardly researched in the 1990s and there was no research on how it affected the brain." She intended to study how the brain was affected by THC using neuro-imaging. "We did eight grant applications and got nothing," she says. "We carried out studies without grants, which is generally unheard of, because you have to pay for imaging sessions using brain scanners."
Prior to about 2002, scientific evidence that cannabis could be risky for some was often discounted or ignored. One such piece of research was a study of some 50,000 Swedish army conscripts who joined the army in 1969-70. They were interviewed then and later about their drug consumption. The evidence from this very large sample was that heavy consumers of cannabis at the age of 18 were six times more likely than non-consumers to be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the next 15 years.
Epidemiological studies like this are now being confirmed by new studies of the brain through neuro-imaging. Dr Paul Morrison, a psychiatrist specialising in cannabis research, says: "Pretty well all the studies have been consistent in linking the use of cannabis and having a chronic [mental] disorder."
But the connection is not straightforward. Susceptibility to schizophrenia depends on genetic inheritance, but this in turn is highly complex since 62 genes so far have been identified as contributing to vulnerability to psychosis. Social and personal stress play a role, with immigrants and people from areas which are socially fragmented more likely to suffer from schizophrenia. Professor Murray says that there are few reliable figures on this, but "the incidence of schizophrenia in south London since 1964 has doubled".
Cannabis consumption has been falling in Britain as well as the rest of northern Europe since 2004, but the age when teenagers start taking the drug is also going down. There has been a nearly 20-fold increase in first-time use by under-18s, with 40 per cent of under 15-year-olds in the UK having used the drug. This is a dangerous trend. Dr Morrison says "adolescence seems to be the critical variable when the neuro-circuits are being sculpted and the personality is emerging". In fact, for the children of cannabis smokers the first impact of cannabis starts before birth according to post-mortems on the aborted foetuses of mothers who admit to taking cannabis.
Debate over the risks or lack of them stemming from cannabis has traditionally been rancorous and embittered, often revolving around the separate issue of decriminalisation. There is limited reference to long-term mental illness. The pro-cannabis lobby says that the so-called "war on drugs" has failed and legalisation or regulation should be tried, though critics argue that no government would ever license a drug that sends at least two per cent of its consumers insane.
Knowledge of the risks stemming from cannabis use as revealed by recent studies may be spreading, particularly as consumers become more aware of the greater toxicity of skunk. Professor Murray says that the average doctor may not know much about the dangers of cannabis, but "I think that the average 19-23-year-old knows more because they have a friend who has gone paranoid. People know a lot more about bad trips than they used to."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happiness can mean saying goodbye.

Catalonia vote: Early exit polls show region may be on road to independence
Catalans may have set their region on the road to independence as early analysis suggested they had handed their separatist leader a mandate to push for a break with Spain.
By Fiona Govan, Barcelona TELEGRAPH
8:53PM GMT 25 Nov 2012

As ballot boxes closed in the region's parliamentary elections, the first exit polls showed that voters had chosen to return the centre-right Convergence and Union (CIU) to power, giving them between 54 and 57 seats in the 135 seat regional assembly.
The party's leader and incumbent president, Artur Mas, had pledged to call a referendum on Catalan independence if returned to office.
The exit polls also showed that the separatist left wing ERC party appeared to have doubled its share of the vote, securing between 20 and 23 seats. That would make it the second largest party in parliament, according to exit polls published on Catalan television channel, TV3.
Two smaller parties that also back a referendum secured at least 15 seats between them.
The election results set the stage for a showdown with Madrid, threatening Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with the biggest political crisis since the nation's transition to democracy.
Mr Mas called the snap elections two years early centering his campaign on the promise of a Scottish-style referendum within four years, if his party secured a majority.
Although tonight's exit polls appeared to so far show his CIU party had fallen short of the absolute majority Mr Mas had hoped for - and in fact had secured marginally fewer than the 62 seats it won two years ago - there should be enough parliamentary support to push through a referendum on auto-determination.
Those parties in favour of a referendum are now likely to negotiate some form of coalition.
After casting his vote earlier in the day, Mr Mas, 56, said: "These are the most decisive elections in the history of Catalonia, the most transcendental, in which we all play a role as country, as a people.
Polls show up to 57 per cent of Catalans would vote yes to independence, a figure that has nearly doubled since the start of Spain's economic crisis in 2008.
Anger over "unfair" tax demands from Madrid have fueled separatist sentiment in the industrious and economically important region, as Spain suffers deep economic crisis and unpopular austerity measures.
Many voters believe the region, which boasts a strong cultural identity and its own language and contributes 20 per cent of Spain's economic output, would fare better economically as an individual state within the European Union.
But the drive for independence risks Catalonia being blocked out of the European Union, threatening devastating consequences for Catalan trade.
There is widespread perception that Catalonia's resources have been drained by Madrid with the region of 7.5 million residents paying about 15 billion euros more than it gets back from the national treasury every year.
Mr Mas was forced to go cap in hand to Madrid earlier this year to ask for a 5 billion euro lifeline to help meet operating costs in a region with a debt of 48 billion euros.
He has blamed tax transfers to Madrid as the root of the region's woes and tried to negotiate a new fiscal treaty, a move that was rejected by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
The regional election threatens to set Catalonia further on a collision course with Madrid with the central government warning it will fight any moves that could lead to the break-up of the eurozone's fourth largest economy.
Mr Rajoy, already battling to avoid an international bail-out for Spain and growing social unrest within a nation suffering 25 per cent unemployment, faces a looming constitutional crisis as his conservative government seeks to use all "available measures" to block such a referendum, which is banned under Spain's constitution.
There are fears that any move to independence by Catalonia could be swiftly followed by the Basque Country and force a renegotiation of terms across Spain's 17-semi autonomous regions.
But one of the biggest hurdles ahead is whether a newly independent Catalonia could remain within the European Union and the euro currency. Brussels has indicated that membership would not be automatic and it would have to join the queue. The admission process would likely be blocked by a vengeful Spain.
During weeks of campaigning the region has filled with Catalan national flags in a wave of separatist sentiment.
By 6pm, some 56 per cent of the 5.2 million eligible voters had visited the ballot box, some 8 points higher than in the last regional election two years ago.
"This is an historic moment," said Jordi Casas, 24, as he cast his vote at a polling booth in Barcelona. "The time has come to say 'enough'. Madrid doesn't represent our interests and now we want the chance to decide our own future."
Others have said the campaigning has focused too heavily on independence, while issues of the economy were set aside.
"I think these elections are a disgrace because countries are there to unite, not divide," said 65-year-old pensioner Josep.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The more things change, the more things remain the same in Egypt?

Egypt judges condemn 'unprecedent attack' by Mursi

Egypt's top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an "unprecedented attack" on the judiciary.
The president passed a decree earlier this week granting himself extensive new powers.
It includes a bar on any court dissolving the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution.
Thursday's decree sparked angry demonstrations, and attacks on offices of Mr Mursi's Islamist FJP party.
The president has said he is acting to protect the revolution.
In a statement, the Supreme Judicial Council called his move "an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings," and called on him to reverse it.
The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says this was a tough, if fairly predictable, statement and that the judges are considering going on strike.
There had been reports that the council was about to disband the constituent assembly for a second time, our correspondent adds, which could seriously derail the transition to democracy and further delay new parliamentary elections.
This, in turn, could deter Egypt's political leaders from taking tough decisions while they wait for the vote, he adds.
Fresh protests
Mr Mursi also sacked his prosecutor general on Thursday and gave himself the sole power to appoint a new one.
Our correspondent says that element is likely to be popular, as although Mubarak is serving a long jail term for ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising, many officials were acquitted, creating deep resentments.
The ruling also bans any challenging of the president's decisions and laws.
Both critics and supporters of Mr Mursi have staged rallies since the decree. Overnight, crowds gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, vowing to stage a sit-in.
A large opposition rally is also planned for Tuesday.
The US said earlier that Mr Mursi's move had raised concerns in the international community.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Would you really rather depend on your fellow man (the secular triumvirate of neighbors, church and charity) to provide assistance when those "other circumstances" kick in?

I don't know the answer (to the original question) but existential burden is non-uniformly distributed among families. That, coupled with declining wages since 2000, defines a demographic that is struggling, not for lack of abortion doctors and personal discipline, but the elusive (and controversial) "other" circumstances. Republicans say "That's life. Deal with it." Dems say "Yes It Is - And we are."

Yes, Virginia, there are Other Circumstances, and, no, they are not all immaculately conceived by poor decision-making.

The minority (and Caucasian) gangs that threaten urban stability should not be conflated with the middle class, which is exactly what the Republicans did in the recent election. (This might be the first presidential election that was lost out of sheer rudeness.) How big is the middle class? Say, approximately, 100% - 1% (rich) - 47% (poor) = 52% of households that depend on income over capital gains (and carried interest.)

Conservative commentary says the State is evil because it is coercive. Choice and the freedom of self-determination are compromised in the exchange for material comfort: The Faustian Bargain. My question is this: would you really rather depend on your fellow man (the secular triumvirate of neighbors, church and charity) to provide assistance when those "other circumstances" kick in? Not me. Hell fucking no. Those who consider federal privacy invasiveness alarming and inappropriate have obviously never resided in Small Town USA where everyone from the mayor to the animal control technician knows what size garbage bags you prefer.

To quote Dr. John - "Whatever I had to do to get the job did."

and the real winner is Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Hamas

Israeli Press Declares Victory for Hamas
By Ulrike Putz in Beirut SPIEGEL

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to claim Wednesday's ceasefire deal as a personal success. But not many seem to agree. Influential commentators in Israel believe that Hamas came out ahead -- and that the Islamist group has now been elevated to the status of negotiating partner.
If you believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Gaza offensive, which just came to a halt as a result of the Wednesday evening ceasefire agreement, was the jewel in the crown of his political career. "We need to navigate this ship of a state in stormy waters with responsibility and wisdom, that's how a responsible government acts," he said in praise of himself during a statement to the nation on Wednesday. "We've executed a military action but also stayed open for a diplomatic solution."
His comments were anything but brief, but the message was not a complicated one: Israel won, in part due to the brilliance of the prime minister. A leader, the subtext continued, who deserves to be re-elected in the January 22 vote. His statement, wrote the Jerusalem Post, "effectively ended an eight-day military campaign and began an election one."

Unfortunately for him, however, the Israeli press is not joining Netanyahu in praising Netanyahu. To be sure, most analysts agree that the current ceasefire bringing the Israeli Gaza operation "Pillar of Defense" to a halt is a positive development due to the return of calm to southern Israel. But in the Israeli press, Netanyahu's name was not among the victors listed on Thursday morning. Rather, leading commentators in the country agree that the primary beneficiaries from the week-long clash are the Hamas leadership and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who negotiated the truce.

A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's summertime election had led to significant distrust in the West. Now, writes Anshel Pfeffer in the influential Israeli daily Haaretz, the crisis has propelled Mursi into the role of an important regional statesman. The proof: As the ceasefire was being finalized this week, US President Barack Obama telephoned with Morsi multiple times.

Minor Victories
Pfeffer emphasized that even Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saw it necessary to thank Morsi for his role in bringing about a truce. Given Lieberman's hard-line stance, such a move counts as a mini-sensation in Israel. After all, the Israeli foreign minister is hardly a fan of Egypt or Hamas, having in the past called for the bombardment of the Aswan Dam and demanded that the Gaza Strip be treated as the Russians do Chechnya.
Hamas too has managed to extract minor victories from the conflict, according to analysts. For one, the Islamist leaders of the Gaza Strip inserted a clause in the ceasefire agreement which calls for at least a partial lifting of the blockade Israel imposed on the Palestinian area after Hamas came to power in 2006. Furthermore, the fact that the Hamas leadership didn't collapse in the face of heavy bombardment, along with the fact that their rockets continued to rain down on Israel throughout the conflict, has been interpreted as a success.
But even more important for the Islamists, according to Haaretz, is that their rockets were able to hit both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And they were able to position themselves as a negotiating partner for the Israeli leadership, guaranteeing them a role as an actor in the Middle East for at least the immediate future.
Indeed, one could argue that the Netanyahu administration has marginalized moderate voices in the Palestinian Territories in the last three years and prepared the groundwork for a Hamas resurgence. Simon Shiffer, the veteran writer for Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, writes that Hamas has now become the most influential Palestinian power because Netanyahu has undertaken negotiations with them while ignoring the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas.
A Failed Adventure?
Shiffer's colleague at Yedioth, Alex Fishman, would seem to agree. "Hamas has morphed from the enemy that must be brought down to the enemy that is the lesser of two evils," Fishman writes. Although Israel's official position remains that of not recognizing Hamas as a potential negotiating partner, he writes, Israeli leadership has now used the group to exert control over even more radical groups in the Gaza Strip. "Until just a few days ago, such ideas would have been considered blasphemy," Fishman writes.

The deal struck between Israel and the Islamists calls for an immediate stop to all aggression, to be followed by talks aimed at a lasting ceasefire. Border crossings into the Gaza Strip are also to be reopened soon. The goal is to make it easier for both goods and people to cross into the coastal territory following years of Israeli blockade. Hamas has said that the border crossings are to be opened within 24 hours of the beginning of the ceasefire. Egypt has been charged with monitoring the deal.

In the Gaza Strip, thousands took to the streets on Wednesday evening to celebrate what they see as a victory over Israel. Foreign journalists reported chaotic scenes of joy involving Hamas fighters firing machine guns into the air. Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, currently in Egypt, has also claimed victory. The government in Jerusalem, he said, had failed with its military "adventure."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer." He asked Americans to render their "sincere and humble thanks" to God for "his kind care and protection of the People of this Country."

Thanksgiving, 1789
George Washington's proclamation was not without controversy.

It is hard to imagine America's favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.
The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to "wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God."
The congressman made special reference to the Constitution, which had been ratified by the requisite two-thirds of the states in 1788. A day of public thanksgiving, he believed, would allow Americans to express gratitude to God for the "opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness."
Boudinot's resolution sparked a vigorous debate. Rep. Aedanus Burke of South Carolina objected on the grounds that a Thanksgiving was too European. He "did not like this mimicking of European customs, where they made a mere mockery of thanksgivings."
Rep. Thomas Tudor Tucker, also of South Carolina, raised two further objections. "Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do?" he asked. "If a day of thanksgiving must take place," he said, "let it be done by the authority of the several States.
It fell to a New Englander to stand up in support of Thanksgiving. Connecticut's Roger Sherman praised Boudinot's resolution as "a laudable one in itself." It also was "warranted by a number of precedents" in the Bible, he said, "for instance the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple."
In the end, the Thanksgiving resolution passed—the precise vote is not recorded—and the House appointed a committee. The resolution moved to the Senate, which passed it and added its own members to the committee.
The committee took the resolution to the president, and on Oct. 3 George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer." He asked Americans to render their "sincere and humble thanks" to God for "his kind care and protection of the People of this Country."
It was his first presidential proclamation, and it was well heeded. According to the "Papers of George Washington," compiled by the University of Virginia, Thanksgiving Day was "widely celebrated throughout the nation." Newspapers around the country published the proclamation and announced plans for public functions in honor of the day. Religious services were held, and churches solicited donations for the poor. Washington himself sent $25 to a pastor in New York City, requesting that the funds be "applied towards relieving the poor of the Presbyterian Churches," in the words of his secretary.
Thanksgiving feasts in New England at the time of the nation's founding were similar to those today, says Charles Lyle, director of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield, Conn. The museum recently hosted an 18th-century-style Thanksgiving dinner using recipes supplied by a local food historian, Paul Courchaine. Turkey and pumpkin pie were on the menu, along with venison pie, roast goose, roast pork, butternut squash, creamed onions, pottage of cabbage, onions and leeks, and Indian pudding, made from cornmeal and spices.
In a bow to contemporary tastes, several wines were served at the museum but not the one Americans were likely to have drunk in the 18th century—Madeira, a high-alcohol-content wine fortified with brandy. Before the Revolution, Madeira, which came from the Portuguese-owned Madeira Islands, was considered a patriotic beverage, since it was not subject to British taxation. It was Washington's favorite drink.
Washington was keenly aware of his role as a model for future presidents. He once remarked that "There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not be hereafter drawn into precedent." That included his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, which set the standard for Thanksgiving Proclamations by future presidents, a list that included James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and then every president up to the present day.
The tradition begun by George Washington has survived without further controversy. Since the original debate in the House in September 1789, no member of Congress has complained that Thanksgiving proclamations are too European, a violation of the separation of church and state or, most especially, not what the American people want.
Ms. Kirkpatrick, a former deputy editor of the Journal's editorial page, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. She is the author of "Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad" (Encounter Books, 2012)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chinese show US construction industry who’s daddy.

If the private emails of the head of the Central Intelligence Agency aren’t safe from police snooping, how safe do you think yours are?

…and please don’t say something foolish such as, “If you have nothing to hide, what is the problem?”

The Petraeus Affair, the Police, and Your Privacy

Time to rein in invasive police email snooping.
Ronald Bailey | November 20, 2012 REASON

If the private emails of the head of the Central Intelligence Agency aren’t safe from police snooping, how safe do you think yours are? As all of the world now knows, former general and CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell have engaged in some extramarital hanky panky. Without rehearsing the details of their liaison, the affair was uncovered when investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided their email accounts.
On what authority did the FBI obtain and read their emails? Largely its own. A senior FBI official or a federal prosecutor can simply issue an administrative subpoena, without a judge’s approval, requiring an Internet service provider to turn over emails and other electronic records without notifying the user. Unless charges are filed or information is artfully leaked to the media as in the Petraeus affair, the user may never know that law enforcement has been prying into their private data.
How can law enforcement get away with snooping into our emails and other documents stored online? After all, the Fourth Amendment guarantees the right of citizens “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,” against unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents without a warrant based on probable cause. It is long settled law that the police must get a warrant approved by a judge based on probable cause to look at a citizen’s personal mail or documents. But not if those documents are located on third party servers in the “cloud,” argue the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
The FBI’s claim to be able to access your private emails and documents rests on the agency's interpretation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986. When enacted more than 25 years ago, the ECPA updated wiretap monitoring and data storage provisions to protect against snooping by private third parties. The ECPA also required that law enforcement obtain a probable cause warrant from a judge to gain access to emails in transit, emails stored on a home computer, and unopened email stored remotely for 180 days or less.
However, the ECPA permits the police to use administrative and other subpoenas to look at opened emails and unopened emails stored remotely for more than 180 days whenever the police claim that they have “reasonable grounds to believe” that the information sought would be useful in an investigation. In contrast, the higher probable cause standard for obtaining a search warrant requires that the police show a judge the information being sought is actual evidence of a crime. The rationale justifying the use of a mere subpoena is that the opened emails are not being “stored” and those unopened for more than 180 days are “abandoned property” in which the owner no longer has any expectation of privacy. In addition, any messages in your sent box or draft messages are not considered to be stored and are thus open to police scrutiny.
Police snooping into our electronic communications is rising steeply as Google’s Transparency Report earlier this month made clear. In the first half of this year, U.S. law enforcement made about 8,000 demands for user information and Google complied with 90 percent of them. Oddly, Google does not reveal how many of the police demands for information about its customers were backed by probable cause warrants.
The ECPA was adopted before online services offered their customers cheap massive storage. Remember when you had to clean out your AOL mailbox every few weeks? Now I have nearly 120,000 emails (mostly unopened) in my Gmail inbox. Currently, the police interpret the law as giving them the right to read nearly every one of my emails and attached documents should they persuade themselves that it might be useful to do so in the course of an investigation.
Did the FBI get a warrant to look at the emails exchanged by Petraeus and Broadwell? “We don’t know,” says American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese. He pointed to a number of conflicting accounts in the news that suggested that they could have been obtained by simple administrative subpoena and that perhaps a warrant was later issued as the investigation proceeded.
Earlier this year, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) had introduced the ECPA Amendments Act that would have required law enforcement to obtain a probable cause warrant from a judge to gain access through third party providers to private emails and other documents stored on the Web. In addition, the police would have had three days in which to inform the customer of the warrant and the information obtained. Customer notification could have been delayed if the police can persuade a judge that it would, among other things, result in endangering the life or physical safety of an individual, provoking flight from prosecution, or in the destruction of evidence.
The ACLU's Calabrese adds that the ECPA needs further strengthening by requiring law enforcement agencies to issue periodic reports on how extensively the police are using their electronic surveillance powers. Congress and the public cannot regulate or object to activities that they cannot see. In addition, the ECPA needs a provision specifically mandating that information obtained in violation of the amended act not be admissible in court.
Now comes possibly bad news. CNET is reporting today that Leahy has done essentially a 180-degree turn and is now proposing to amend the ECPA in ways that would dramatically expand the power of law enforcment to surreptitiously read and monitor the private online communications of American citizens. The revised legislation, according to CNET, "Grants warrantless access to Americans' electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause."
However, Leahy's office (via Twitter) is denying the accuracy of the CNET report and insists that the proposed amendments to the ECPA will, in fact, require that "the disclosure of the content of email and other electronic communications by an electronic communication or remote computing service provider to the Government is subject to one clear legal standard --  a search warrant issued based on a showing of probable cause." The Senate Judiciary Committee may vote on the amendments next week.
If it turns out that Congress will not defend us against intrusive government surveillance, perhaps the courts will. For example, in 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in the case U.S. v. Warshak ruled, "The government may not compel a commercial ISP to turn over the contents of a subscriber’s emails without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause."
In the modern world, our private papers and communications are digitized and stored in the cloud. It is way past time that law enforcement’s invasive surveillance powers be reined in by extending the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures to cyberspace.
Disclosure: I am still a card-carrying member of the ACLU.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ahikar’s words, from an Aramaic papyrus of 500 B.C., found among the ruins of Elephantine, contains the simple observation that, “The word is mightier than the sword.”

It was so then and true today:
Israel has already lost the Public Relation’s War.

Ceasefire aims should include long-term solution for Gaza

It’s easy to see the twisted strategy behind the fusillade of rockets directed at Israel: Militants in Gaza are trying to burnish their credentials as leaders of the resistance. They provoked Israeli retaliation. Civilians are paying the price. It’s a devastating, all-too-familiar pattern.
But this time, the rockets are more powerful, killing three Israeli civilians last Thursday. And there are signs that Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, feels confident that its allies who have taken power in the Arab Spring will rally to its side. In this battle, Hamas is the aggressor. Israel is the victim. But in the cruel logic of Mideast politics, Israel will be safer and more secure by exercising wisdom and restraint. The Israeli response should be tough enough to send a message to those involved in the rocket attacks, but proportionate enough to ensure that Hamas can’t claim the moral high ground. The deaths of nine members of a Palestinian family in an Israeli rocket attack on Sunday, which is being investigated by the Israeli military, is a sign of how quickly, and seemingly accidentally, the moral ground can shift in a violent exchange such as this one.
Each side is threatening escalation. Hamas warned that it could resume suicide bombings. Israel has threatened a ground invasion. US officials should do all they can to press regional actors to broker a ceasefire before these escalations come to pass. Even if Israel does mount a ground operation to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, success would only be temporary, a repeat of Israel’s last major military incursion in 2009 — at the cost of many Palestinian civilian casualties and the loss of many Israeli soldiers, as well as risking a wider conflict.
Isolating Gaza isn’t a long-term solution. Last month, the leader of Qatar visited Gaza, breaking with the international effort to shun Hamas. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has planned a visit this week.

A permanent solution must be found that prevents dangerous missiles from being smuggled into Gaza again; proposals include placing a NATO or United Nations-backed force on Gaza’s border with Egypt. Such a solution should provide greater security to Israel, but also give hope to civilians in Gaza that the Israeli blockade on many types of material goods will soon be eased. So far, despite all its losses, Hamas has refused to agree to a ceasefire without an Israeli promise to lift the blockade immediately.
While only Israelis and Palestinians can truly make peace, the United States and its Arab allies must do all they can to keep the fading peace process alive.

If Hamas leaders hoped to rally Arab neighbors to its side, they may be disappointed. Few Arab leaders want this conflict to spread. Although Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party has blamed Israel for the violence, Morsi himself appears to be trying to broker a ceasefire. On Monday, Israeli president Shimon Peres praised Morsi for playing a “constructive role,” according to CNN.
So far, President Obama has given a boilerplate response to the conflict, reiterating Israel’s right to defend itself. That’s true enough. But Obama should do more to make it clear to people in the Mideast and beyond that the United States is a force for peace, and that America’s deepest concern is for innocent civilians on both sides. Obama should also show that he has not stopped pushing for wider acceptance of Israel in the Arab world and wider acceptance in Israel of a peaceful Palestinian state.
While only Israelis and Palestinians can truly make peace, the United States and its Arab allies must do all they can to keep the fading peace process alive. At the end of the day, it could prove to be the most important casualty of the rockets from Gaza.




Monday, November 19, 2012

in Israel the question was how to respond to aggression from Gaza, and in Gaza the question was how to respond to aggression from Israel. And each side considered its own use of force--what the other side called provocation--a response to provocation.

Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict?

NOV 16 2012, 6:02 PM ET - ATLANTIC

On Monday my Atlantic colleague Jeffrey Goldberg began a post with this sentence: "Rockets are flying from Gaza into Israel at a fast clip, and Israelis, it is said, are divided on the question of how to respond."
That same day I came across this report from Ma'an, a Palestinian news agency:
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions met on Monday in Gaza City to discuss Israeli attacks and threats of a wider operation in the enclave. 

Hamas called the meeting to try and avoid further casualties after Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in Gaza since Saturday, said Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Talal Abu Tharefa. 

Abu Tharefa told Ma'an any truce with Israel must include an end to Israeli airstrikes and attacks, adding that the Palestinian resistance would retain the right to respond to Israeli aggression.

So in Israel the question was how to respond to aggression from Gaza, and in Gaza the question was how to respond to aggression from Israel. And each side considered its own use of force--what the other side called provocation--a response to provocation.
On Thursday, after Israel had killed a senior Hamas military commander and his son, and a rocket from Gaza had killed three Israelis, I aired this question on twitter: "Does anybody know of a truly symmetrical timeline of Israel-Gaza escalation--including missiles from Gaza and Israeli strikes?"
A number of people sent links, but none of the timelines seemed wholly objective; all seemed to have at least a wisp of Israeli or Palestinian perspective. Happily, Emily Hauser, an American-Israeli writer who lived in Tel Aviv for 14 years, offered to do her best to assemble a symmetrical timeline from available sources. You'll find it below, with fatalities in boldface.
Since Emily didn't want to devote the rest of her life to this project, she had to choose a starting date, and she chose Nov. 8. But her preamble acknowledges that picking any date is in a sense arbitrary.
So examine this timeline and draw your own conclusions. I'll save my conclusion for the bottom of this post.

A summary of events in the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, Nov 8 - Nov 15

By Emily L. Hauser
Recent events in Israel and the Gaza Strip have been unusual only in scope. Violence and fear of violence is a near-daily reality for the residents of Gaza and Israel's southern communities. There's a constant back and forth, and on both sides, there's always something or someone to avenge.
For instance, some Palestinian sources date the start of this latest round of violence back to November 4, when Reuters reported the death of "an unarmed, mentally unfit man" who strayed too near the border fence, did not respond to reported Israeli warnings, and was then shot. Palestinian medics report that Israeli security personnel prevented them from attending to the man for a couple of hours, and say that he likely died as a result.
But it's genuinely impossible to date today's hostilities conclusively to one incident or another; even the "two-week lull" that some outlets have said preceded Nov. 8 (when the timeline below begins) was, according to Reuters "a period of increased tensions at the Israel-Gaza frontier, with militants often firing rockets at Israel and Israel launching aerial raids targeting Palestinian gunmen."
According to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of November 13, Palestinian militants had fired 797 rockets into Israel in the course of 2012 , and according to the Israeli human rights organization Btselem, between January 2009 (the conclusion of the last all-out Gaza war) and September of this year, 25 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, and 314 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces, with six more being killed by Israeli civilians.
Thursday, November 8
In an exchange of fire on the border of Gaza with militants from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Israeli forces killed a 12 year old (or 13 year old ) Palestinian boy. "The PRC said it had confronted an Israeli force of four tanks and a bulldozer involved in a short-range incursion beyond Israel's border fence with the Gaza Strip." Later, Palestinian fighters blew up a tunnel along the Gaza-Israel border, injuring one Israeli soldier. Reuters
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the incident as follows: "An IDF [Israeli military] engineering force located a number of powerful explosive devices to the west of the fence. After the IDF disarmed charges found on the Gaza side of the border, and were repairing the border fence, explosives in an underground tunnel were detonated, causing a large explosion...damaging a jeep and lightly injuring a soldier."Israeli MFA
Saturday, November 10
An IDF force patrolling near the border, inside Israel, was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from inside the Gaza Strip. Two soldiers were seriously injured. MFA
In retaliation, Israeli tanks fired into Gaza, killing four Palestinians; Palestinian fighters retaliated in turn with rockets into Israel; an Israeli air strike targeted a rocket crew, & killed a militant. "Popular Resistance Committees, said it had fired rockets at communities close to the border and the towns of Sderot and Netivot in southern Israel, in what it called 'the revenge invoice' for the deaths in Gaza." The IDF reports that "over the past few hours, 25 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel." Reuters
In addition to the four Palestinians killed immediately by Israeli fire, 38 were injured, one of them dying on November 13. As a result of additional Israeli artillery fire that day, 11 Palestinians, including a 10 year old child, were also injured. An Israeli drone fired a missile at members of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad in north Gaza, killing one militant. Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Sunday, November 11
Israeli government reports four civilians injured in rocket fire from Gaza; Israeli attacks result in one Palestinian civilian killed and dozens injured. Institute for Middle East Understanding
Sixty-four rockets and several mortars were fired into Israel; two Israeli homes hit directly. "A number of Israeli civilians were wounded by the rocket fire, although not seriously; several were treated for shock and there was extensive property damage." MFA
Ynet reported that over 100 Qassam rockets, mortar shells and Grads fired from Gaza into Israel in the course of 24 hours; the Israeli air force "struck several terror hubs in the Strip." Ynet
A Palestinian civilian was injured by Israeli artillery fire, and a militant killed in drone strike. PCHR
Monday November 12
Israeli warplanes opened fire on three different Gaza targets between the hours of 2:20 and 3:20 am; no casualties reported. PCHR
In the morning, damage was done to a private home inside Israel when a rocket hit its yard. A ceramics factory was later hit, and that evening, two rockets were intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" defense system. MFA
At 9:07 PM, HaAretz reported that "The representatives of Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip announced an agreement to hold their fire on Monday, following days of persistent rocket attacks.... However a matter of minutes later, two rockets [exploded] in open fields near [the southern town of] Sderot. No casualties or damage reported." HaAretz
Tuesday November 13
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh praised Gaza's main militant groups in Gaza for agreeing to the truce: "They showed a high sense of responsibility by saying they would respect calm should the Israeli occupation also abide by it," he said." Reuters
A rocket exploded in an open area in Ashdod. MFA
Wednesday November 14
Reports emerged that Israel has targeted Ahmed Jabari, head of Hamas's military wing; Israel confirmed the assassination, citing his "decade-long terrorist activity," and said that killing was the part of an operation in which the military struck 20 different targets across Gaza. HaAretz [Note: Later reports indicate that Jabari was considering a permanent truce agreement at the time of his assassination]
Over the course of the day, Israeli strikes killed 8 Palestinians, leaving 90 injured. The dead include a 65 year old man, a pregnant 19 year old, a 7 year old girl, and an 11 month old boy. Ma'an News Agency
At 10:17 PM, HaAretz summarized the day's rocket attacks: 60 rockets fired, of which the Iron Dome defense system intercepted 17; later entries for that night show another 12 rockets, some of them intercepted. HaAretz
One rocket hit an Israeli shopping center, damaging stores and a vehicle. MFA
Thursday November 15
At 6:45 AM, HaAretz summarized the early morning in Israel: "Throughout the night some 25 rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel; since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense 104 rockets have been fired toward Israel; 28 people suffer anxiety; two lightly wounded."
At 6:50 AM HaAretz reported: "Three Hamas operatives killed in two separate Israel Air Forces airstrikes.... Israel Defense Forces strikes in the Gaza Strip throughout the night leave 15 wounded."
At 7:32 AM, HaAretz reported that "According to a military source, overnight strikes in Gaza damage a substantial portion of Hamas' long-range missile infrastructure."
HaAretz reported that three Israelis were killed in Kiryat Malachi, about 20 miles north of Gaza, after more than a dozen more rockets were fired over the course of the morning and one hit the apartment building in which the Israelis had lived. HaAretz
Three Israeli civilians killed [as reported by HaAretz above]; two others seriously injured, one boy moderately injured, and two babies lightly injured. Elsewhere, rockets also struck a residence and a school. MFA
At 7:23 PM, HaAretz reported that the Israeli military reports striking 250 sites in Gaza since the start of the current operation, during which time 274 rockets had been fired at Israel, 105 of them intercepted .
At 9:50 PM, Israel reported having hit an additional 70 targets in Gaza.
At 11:00 PM, HaAretz reported that "according to Hamas figures, 16 Palestinians have been killed and 151 wounded in Gaza since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense (on Nov. 14). Hamas says it has fired 527 rockets at Israel, while Islamic Jihad has fired 138." HaAretz
At midnight, Ma'an reported that "on Thursday, Israel killed 11 Palestinians in Gaza [presumably including the 3 Hamas operatives noted above], including two toddlers, and militants returned fire killing three Israelis [as reported above by HaAretz et. al.] in a rocket attack on southern Israel. Islamic Jihad fired a Fajr missile at Tel Aviv [Israel's cultural center, and the farthest any rocket had ever been fired] and Hamas said it downed an Israeli reconnaissance drone over eastern Gaza." Ma'an
Note: I depended on a variety of sources to prepare this timeline because none, other than Reuters, can be considered strictly "objective" in the conflict - each comes from within the societies that have been at war with each other for decades, and as Americans learned during the Gulf War, that can lead venerable NGOs or news organizations to err on the side of national loyalty, even if unintentionally (and of course, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a direct party to the conflict).
Emily L. Hauser is an American-Israeli writer. She lived in Tel Aviv for 14 years and has studied and written about the contemporary Middle East for 25; she writes for Open Zion on The Daily Beast, and also at her own blog. She can be followed on Twitter at @emilylhauser.