One of the elements that makes the most complicated crisis imaginable even more complex is that, after suffering the worst intel breakdown and human tragedy in their country's history, Israelis are being led into a war by a leader whose anti-democratic judicial overhaul efforts had been protested against by citizens (including reservists) who, by the tens of thousands, took to the streets for months. BiBi Netanyahu also staffed a government with those more qualified to protect him than his country, and recently threatened to fire Defense Chief Yoav Gallant because he urged a pause to the judicial overhaul efforts. And that was before the security breach. Now BiBi has much less support than he did before. But he's still in power, and he's still running things. This is critically important to Americans for two reasons. First, as you can see from Biden's visit and America's rapid military buildup in the region, there is an extreme concern that this war, if not managed with the right strategy and determined humanity, could lead to a much wider war with many players getting involved, regardless of Biden's warning: "Don't." Second, Israel's current predicament serves as a clear warning to America as we deal with a completely unserious (to put it mildly) House Majority, unable to put forth a non-insurrectionist candidate for House Speaker, and one of our two political parties being led by a self-consumed, uninformed, treacherous, lunatic, who makes Bibi look like Abraham Lincoln. Yair Rosenberg in The Atlantic (Gift Article): The End of Netanyahu. "Benjamin Netanyahu has always known what he wants his political epitaph to be. 'I would like to be remembered as the protector of Israel.' ... Following the worst anti-Jewish violence since the Holocaust, that promise has been irrevocably broken. The myth that Netanyahu assiduously cultivated about his leadership stands exposed as a self-serving fiction, and he will be forever remembered as the security hawk who presided over the greatest security failure in Israeli history. He will never be elected prime minister again." And another key element of Bibi's leadership: "By his own admission, he purposely propped up Hamas as a counterbalance to the more moderate Palestinian Authority in order to keep the Palestinian public divided and prevent a negotiated two-state solution."
+ In The Atlantic, Anne Applebaum connects more of the dots between Netanyahu's long political run and the chaos on one side of aisle in America. "There is a lesson here for Americans: We need to look hard at what happened in Israel, and start asking which security risks are posed by the scorn that American far-right politicians and propagandists now pour on the American military, the FBI, and of course the federal government as a whole." Netanyahu’s Attack on Democracy Left Israel Unprepared.
+ Reporters have been shown some raw footage to make it clear what happened on October 7. A Record of Pure, Predatory Sadism, "The videos show pure, predatory sadism; no effort to spare those who pose no threat; and an eagerness to kill nearly matched by eagerness to disfigure the bodies of the victims. In several clips, the Hamas killers fire shots into the heads of people who are already dead. They count corpses, taking their time, and then shoot them again. Some of the clips I had not previously seen simply show the victims in a state of terror as they wait to be murdered, or covered with bits of their friends and loved ones as they are loaded into trucks and brought to Gaza as hostages." And Hamas torture confirmed as Israeli forensics institute identifies victims. Many victims were burned alive or decapitated, and as Dr. Nurit Bublil, head of the DNA laboratory in Israel’s National Center for Forensic Medicine, explains: "This was not combat, or a military conflict, or a state conflict, or a political conflict. [Hamas] enjoyed the murders so much that they did everything they could do to celebrate the killing." (Like me, you can be pro-Palestinian, pro peace, pro two state solution, but you can't be pro-Hamas.)
+ NYT (Gift Article): Hamas Fails to Make Case That Israel Struck Hospital. (Hamas didn't have to make the case. The media made it for them.)
+ "This is not about whether Israel has the right to retaliate against Hamas for the savage barbarism it inflicted on Israeli men, women, babies and grandparents. It surely does. This is about doing it the right way — the way that does not play into the hands of Hamas, Iran and Russia." Thomas Friedman argues that if Israel enters Gaza without also entering into a new plan for peace, they're making a terrible mistake.
+ Obama's Thoughts on Israel and Gaza: "Israel has a right to defend its citizens against such wanton violence, and I fully support President Biden’s call for the United States to support our long-time ally in going after Hamas, dismantling its military capabilities, and facilitating the safe return of hundreds of hostages to their families ... The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region."
+ "The two women can recall details of the long, brutal history of clashes and wars pitting Israel against its neighbors to the north, east and south — and how those clashes sent fearful shock waves through Los Angeles, a city with one of the nation’s largest populations of Muslims and Jews. 'But it’s never been this bad,' they said, practically in unison." NYT (Gift Article): ‘I Love You. I Am Sorry’: One Jew, One Muslim and a Friendship Tested by War.
+ The US is urging Israel to delay a ground operation for more hostage negotiations, two additional hostages have been released ("Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, have been notified of their release from Hamas captivity. Both were abducted from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Their husbands remain in Gaza."), the bombing campaign has been escalated, more (but not enough) trucks with humanitarian aid enter Gaza, and Israel prepares incursion by land, air, and sea. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, NBC, and Times of Israel.
"The disparity highlights the inequality at the heart of American education: Starting very early, children from rich and poor families receive vastly different educations, in and out of school, driven by differences in the amount of money and time their parents are able to invest. And in the last five decades, as the country has become more unequal by income, the gap in children’s academic achievement, as measured by test scores throughout schooling, has widened." NYT(Gift Article): New SAT Data Highlights the Deep Inequality at the Heart of American Education.
"In March, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President on war-crimes charges, Putin hosted Xi in Moscow, where they described relations as the best they have ever been. Clasping hands for a farewell in the doorway of the Kremlin, Xi told Putin, 'Right now there are changes—the likes of which we haven’t seen for a hundred years—and we are the ones driving these changes together.' Putin responded, 'I agree.'" Evan Osnos in The New Yorker: China’s Age of Malaise. "Party officials are vanishing, young workers are 'lying flat,' and entrepreneurs are fleeing the country. What does China’s inner turmoil mean for the world?"
+ "The United States renewed a warning Monday that it would defend the Philippines in case of an armed attack under a 1951 treaty, after Chinese ships blocked and collided with two Filipino vessels off a contested shoal in the South China Sea."
"It was not long after Kellogg’s introduced the toaster pastry in 1964. But for several months one year (none of us can pinpoint the exact date), brown cardboard boxes arrived on our doorstep with an assortment of Pop-Tarts tucked inside. Strawberry. Raspberry. Brown-Sugar Cinnamon. We ate them all. After dinner. Sometimes hot, usually cold. With frosting and without." NYT (Gift Article): Confessions of a Pop-Tarts Taste Tester. (After reading this article, I realize I may have also been a Pop-Tarts taste tester, just an unofficial one...)
Don't Everyone Speaker at Once: "House Republicans will hear Monday from nine lawmakers vying to be the next speaker of the House, with a candidate forum that ushers in a grueling day of voting Tuesday." (One question: Do you believe in election results?) House GOP speaker race balloons to nine candidates.
+ Ven Diagram: "Venezuelans became the largest nationality arrested for illegally crossing the U.S. border, replacing Mexicans for the first time on record." (Immigration issues can't be addressed in a vacuum. How bad conditions are elsewhere impacts how many people want to come here.)
+ Photo Framed: "When disturbing online profiles appeared in her name, Melissa Trixie Watt was sure she knew who was behind the harassment. But she had to fight to get help from the police—and prove it in court." Wired: Someone Is Using Photos of Me to Talk to Men.
+ Eric Rolled: Forbes: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Launched A $100 Million Company With His Girlfriend. It’s Not Going Well.
+ Leaves Us Alone! If someone asks you to rake your leaves this Fall, just gently remind them that experts told you not to. WaPo: Why you should be lazy and leave your leaves in the yard.
"In a seasonal business, you are gambling your livelihood every single year." The only thing scarier than entering a haunted house is owning one.
+ In the ongoing shot ski competition with a Colorado ski resort, Park City once again broke a new world record for participants taking a shot all at once.
+ BBC: Tsingtao: Video shows Chinese beer worker urinating into tank. (The MAGA crowd still prefers drinking this over Bud Light.)