Saturday, January 3, 2009


Leaflets signed by the commander of the Israeli military were dropped over northern Gaza this morning, warning residents to "leave the area immediately" to ensure their safety, but the question is: where do 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza go?
Israeli tanks and troops have massed on the Gaza border, and an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said ground forces are prepared to enter Gaza when they receive orders to do so. Whether Israel is actually considering a ground invasion, or just posturing remains to be seen.
The Jerusalem Post reported Saturday that Hamas declared its members foiled an attempt by Israeli forces to move within the Gaza Strip. Hamas claimed the soldiers retreated after they were targeted by mortar shells. Israeli forces, however, claimed the "incident never happened."
A ground invasion could happen soon if international diplomacy fails to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, who have been trading cross-border fire for the past week.
Saturday morning update: Israeli artillery has started firing shells into the Gaza Strip as Israel continues its eighth day of attacks on the territory. The death toll of Palestinians has climbed past 450 and 2,250 have been injured since Israel's aerial bombardment began last week. Many, including President Bush, have called these actions a "proportional response to attacks on Israel from the Gaza."
Saturday afternoon update: Israel forces have entered their so-called "phase two," and entered the Gaza. See video below.

President-elect Barack Obama is expected to meet with congressional leaders Monday to discuss his proposal for the new economic stimulus plan, which leaders are now referring to as an "economy recovery plan," a Senate Democratic leadership aide said Friday. The President-elect will first meet with Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, Reid and Pelosi, then meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. Congressional Democrats are planning to vote on the "economic recovery plan" in the House next week and hope to have the bill ready for Obama to sign shortly after he takes office January 20. The Obama plan is said to include double the renewable energy production and make public buildings more energy efficient; money to rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and schools; funds to computerize the health care system, modernize classrooms, labs and libraries; money to help states pay their medicare bills; increase unemployment benefits and provide tax breaks to American workers. The main goal of his plan: to create 3 million new jobs. Most would come from the private sector.
AKA: Guess who's coming to dinner? Roland Burris, the self professed (and Gov. Blagojevich appointed) "junior Senator from Illinois," will arrive in Washington on Monday night. Why? He fully intends on going to work Tuesday, in the U.S. Senate. The new Senate will be sworn in Tuesday. Senate Democrats don't want to give Burris the oath of office because he was appointed by Gov. Blagojevich, who is facing federal public corruption charges for trying to sell the Obama seat in a variety of schemes.
Terry Gainer, the Senate sergeant at arms -- the former director of the Illinois State Police who goes back years with Burris from their Springfield days -- said that they are prepared for Burris to come knocking on the Senate door. "I do not believe there will be any physical confrontation. The Senate is not that kind of institution, and Burris is not that type of leader ... there will be a businesslike resolution to what occurs on Tuesday," Gainer said.
Pending final resolution, it's possible Burris will get some office space, a limited staff and maybe even be put on some kind of payroll. Though the senators may allow him on the floor, to hang around in the back, Burris could not vote or sit behind one of the desks in the Senate chamber.
Because it certainly appears that Blago is willing to go the distance with the impeachment hearings, Illinois leaders are rushing through the required steps towards his impending impeachment (currently in a special committee to advise), which appears all but certain now. While impeachment may be the talking point, it seems to me that negotiations should be the order of the day. What does Blago want? I am assuming seating of Burris in the Senate and limited to full immunity towards the federal corruption charges he currently faces would make his departure a slam dunk. This needs to go away, and quickly. Your case against him appears slightly thin, and you cannot afford to let him make you look stupid any more. This could drag out for quite some time. Give him what he wants, and make it go away. Then he can go home and write his best seller.

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