Slatest PM: The Looming Ground War

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 16 2012 4:16 PM

Slatest PM: A Looming Ground War?

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

A GROUND WAR?: The Washington Post: "Israeli troops took up positions near the Gaza border Friday, and a senior government official said a ground war could be imminent, as Hamas militants continued to lob rockets into Israel and a missile landed near Jerusalem for the first time since 1970. The missile strikes outside Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel’s main population centers, dramatically raised the stakes in the ongoing standoff between Israel and Hamas, both of which are seeking new footing in a volatile region where the Arab Spring revolutions have empowered populist strains that largely favor the Palestinian cause."

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HOW HAMAS IS WINNING: Foreign Policy: "The rockets fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip crashed down harmlessly in open areas, but Hamas had nevertheless scored a propaganda victory: It had proved that it could endanger the lives of citizens in Israel's two largest cities. These latest attacks are just one indication of how, despite Israel's best efforts, Hamas's stockpile of rockets is only growing deadlier with time."

WHY ISRAEL IS LOSING: Janine Zacharia writing in Slate: "Israel’s response to these ongoing rocket attacks is justified. But being justified isn’t the same thing as being smart. The truth is Israel has been engaged in a low-grade war with the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip for five years now, with no plan besides a misguided military strategy for how to end it. ... Israel is growing ever more isolated just as its regional position becomes more insecure."

IN BETTER NEWS: It's Friday! Welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

MORE GOOD NEWS: Washington Post: "Republican and Democratic congressional leaders expressed optimism Friday about reaching a deal by the end of the year to avert the looming 'fiscal cliff' after what they said were 'constructive' talks with President Obama. ... The four Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate were unanimous after the initial round of talks in saying they were confident that they and the White House could agree on measures to raise federal revenue and cut spending before a Jan. 1 deadline ... [but] none immediately provided specifics of how they intended to do so."

ALSO ON CAPITOL HILL: New York Times: "In closed sessions before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on Friday, David H. Petraeus apologized to lawmakers about his affair with Paula Broadwell, which led to his resignation last week as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, but lawmakers said later that they did not ask about the matter. Instead, the focus of both hearings was the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, two months ago that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans."

SO WHAT DID HE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT?: Politico: "Petraeus testified Friday that the CIA knew the Benghazi attacks were conducted by terrorists, not a spontaneous demonstration, according to lawmakers who provided accounts of the closed hearing before Congress." Associated Press: "Lawmakers said Petraeus testified that the CIA's talking points written in response to the assault ... referred to it as a terrorist attack. But Petraeus told the lawmakers it was removed by other federal agencies who made changes to the CIA's draft."

SO THERE WERE NO NEW DEVELOPMENTS ON THE SCANDAL? We didn't say that. Associated Press:  "The two women at the center of David Petraeus' downfall as CIA director visited the White House separately on various occasions in what appear to be unrelated calls that did not result in meetings with President Barack Obama. A White House official said Paula Broadwell ... attended meetings in June 2009 and June 2011 on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building ... Florida socialite Jill Kelley ... and her sister had two 'courtesy' meals at the White House mess as guests of a midlevel White House aide in September and October, the official said. Kelley did not meet with Obama or any senior White House officials during any of her visits, said the official."

AND A DASH MORE: Washington Post: "A local news affiliate in Tampa has reported that Kelley accompanied Allen on a military flight from MacDill to Washington on at least one occasion. WTSP 10 News also reported that two years ago, as a guest of U.S. Special Operations Command, Kelley went skydiving with a parachute demonstration team that operates out of MacDill. Neither case appeared to violate military rules."

RIG EXPLOSION: Reuters:  "An oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico and operated by Houston-based Black Elk Energy burst into flames on Friday, leaving at least two people missing and badly injuring several others ... The U.S. Coast Guard said 11 people were airlifted to hospitals while nine others were evacuated to other nearby energy facilities. ... No fatalities have been confirmed but two workers are missing."

NO DEEPWATER: The rig in question is said to be a production platform and, better yet, one that wasn't producing at the time of the blast, something that greatly decreases the chances of a major oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon, unlike this rig, was a drilling platform that was operating in mile-deep water when it was destroyed by a blast, leading to the massive, months-long oil spill of 2010.

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