Posted Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, at 4:11 PM
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THE LATEST ON GAZA: Reuters: "Israel bombed dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday and said that while it was prepared to step up its offensive by sending in troops, it preferred a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian rocket fire. Mediator Egypt said a deal for a truce to end the fighting could be close. The leader of Hamas said it was up to Israel to end the new conflict it had started. Israel says its strikes are to halt Palestinian rocket attacks."
MIXED MESSAGES: New York Times: "The top leader of Hamas dared Israel on Monday to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire in the six-day-old conflict, as the Israeli military conducted a new wave of deadly airstrikes on the besieged Palestinian enclave, including a second hit on a 15-story building that houses media outlets. ... Speaking at a news conference in Cairo, where the diplomatic efforts were under way, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, suggested that the Israeli infantry mobilization on the border with Gaza was a bluff on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. 'If you wanted to launch it, you would have done it,' Mr. Meshal told reporters. He accused Israel of using the invasion threat as an attempt to 'dictate its own terms and force us into silence.'"
RISING DEATH TOLL: The latest reports suggest that more than 90 Palestinians have been killed and another 700 injured by strikes from Israeli warplanes and drones since the air campaign began last Wednesday. Hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas, meanwhile, have claimed the lives of three Israelis and injured scores more, figures that would likely be much higher if not for Israel's Iron Dome defense system, which has intercepted most—but not all—of the missiles that have rained down across the country.
THE IRON DOME, PART I: Time magazine: "[The missile-defense shield] is destroying about 90 percent of the rockets and missiles that Hamas ... is firing into southern Israel, Israeli officials say. ... 'We keep tweaking it,' says the senior official, who declined to be identified. 'In one of the recent exchanges, one of the batteries was 100% [successful]. That means, to me, that Iron Dome is capable of 100% [across the board] — I don’t think it was entirely a fluke.' He said he didn’t know how many missiles and interceptors were involved in the salvo; an Iron Dome battery typically consists of a radar unit and three launchers, each outfitted with 20 Tamir interceptor missiles. The bottom line: the more rockets Hamas fires, it seems, the better at stopping them Iron Dome becomes."
IRON DOME, PART II: NPR's Marketplace: "Israeli officials joke that a 'cult of the Iron Dome; has developed, as Israelis have started running out of their homes, rather then into their bunkers, to film Iron Dome at work. ... Speaking in a busy cafe near the Israel-Gaza border, Amos Harel, a military analyst for Israel's newspaper Haaretz, keeps a close eye on the Iron Dome battery just a few hundred feet away. 'The fact that so many rockets have been intercepted managed to affect considerably the number of casualties on the Israeli side. There is therefore less pressure on the government than there would have been if we'd had the 15 or 20 funerals on the Israeli side. They feel they have a little more space to maneuver,' Harel says."
HOW DO YOU AIM A ROCKET ANYWAY? An Explainer from 2006: "In military terms, a 'rocket; refers to an unguided, self-propelled weapon. Once the ... militants have picked a target in Israel—say, the city of Haifa—all they have to do is point the rocket in the right direction, set the firing tube at the appropriate angle off the ground, and let 'er rip. They can figure out the direction with a computer and a compass. But to get the angle, they need to check the distance to the target against published data for the particular make of rocket they're using. Then they can improve the accuracy of the attack by correcting the launch angle for temperature, altitude, and wind."
AFTERNOON WEB LEADS: NYT: Hamas Leader Dares Israel to Invade Amid Gaza Airstrikes; WSJ: Intel CEO to Retire Early; WaPo: Death toll rises as Gaza Strip conflict expands; LAT: Israel and Hamas continue to trade staggering blows.
IN BETTER NEWS: Wall Street Journal: "Hostess Brands Inc. and its striking union agreed to mediation Monday to avoid the immediate liquidation of the baker of Ho Hos, Twinkies and Wonder Bread. Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y., said attorneys representing Hostess and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union will participate in mediation Tuesday in a bid to avoid the loss of more than 18,000 jobs. ... If it isn't successful, then Hostess will return to court Wednesday morning to seek to move forward with its liquidation."
DIPLOMATIC TIME WARP: Reuters: "It won't be mistaken for a Nixon-goes-to-China kind of moment. But President Barack Obama's visit to Myanmar on Monday sometimes felt like a return to an earlier era of presidential diplomacy—and his aides were determined to make sure that no one missed its historic significance. ... There was the cautious first meeting with reformist President Thein Sein to keep him on track, landmark talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a speech to the Burmese people at a university steeped in the country's turbulent political history. But there were also a few unscripted parts that underscored how strange it was for Obama to be feted by cheering crowds lining the streets of Yangon little more than a year after ordering aides to explore rapprochement with the long-shunned Southeast Asian country after decades of military rule."
DON'T FORGET ABOUT SYRIA: AFP: "European Union foreign ministers dealt a new blow to President Bashar al-Assad's regime Monday, saying they viewed Syria's just-formed National Coalition 'legitimate representatives; of Syria's people. A statement issued by the bloc's 27 ministers after a day of talks welcomed the November 11 formation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. 'The EU considers them legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people. This agreement represents a major step towards the necessary unity of the Syrian opposition,' it said."
IRRESISTIBLE HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Even Apes Have 'Midlife Crises,' Study Finds
PUT SOME CLOTHES ON: Los Angeles Times: "A year after passing an ordinance to gently regulate al fresco nudity — requiring that naturists place something between their seats and public seating — city officials are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to ban public nakedness outright. Well, almost outright. This being San Francisco, there are exceptions..."
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