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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Israel, Gaza Agree on Ceasefire after Eight Days of Violence

Israel and Hamas, the militant organization elected to rule over the Gaza strip, agreed today to an Egypt-sponsored truce after eight days of violence that claimed the lives of 162 Palestinians and five Israelis. At nine o’clock in the evening local time, the ceasefire took effect, with both sides claiming victory. Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, said in Cairo Israel “failed in its adventure,” while Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had intercepted most of the rockets fired at the nation, destroyed thousands of missiles, and razed many Hamas installations. The terms of the truce includes opening border crossings into Gaza, which would translate into an easing of the five-year blockade imposed by Israel on the coastal enclave. Egypt will act as a guarantor of the truce for the Palestinian side. Around 10,000 people took to the streets in Gaza to celebrate the agreement, while Netanyahu warned that “a more severe military action” may happen should the ceasefire not hold.

Greece Still Empty-Handed after EU Finance Ministers Meeting

The second emergency meeting of euro area finance ministers in eight days concluded, once again, without an agreement on Greece. While French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said a deal was “a whisker away,” Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samara reminded the group it wasn’t just about the future of his country, but the future of the entire Eurozone. “Our partners, along with the International Monetary Fund, also must do what they have committed to doing,” he said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the talks on Greece would continue on Monday, but warned there isn’t “one action, one solution in one fell swoop, one truth” to resolve the debt crisis. European leaders will meet tomorrow in Brussels for a summit that may determine the European Union’s budget for the next seven years. The negotiations are expected to be acrimonious, pitting the U.K. against everyone else.

Libya: Benghazi Police Chief Killed

Fraj Mohammed al-Dersi, the new head of security in Libya’s eastern city Benghazi, was shot and killed outside his home after leaving his office late yesterday evening. This is the latest in a series of unexplained assassinations that have cast doubts on the country’s ability to maintain security after the revolution that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Dersi had taken over his position after September 11, when U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three members of his staff were killed during an assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Dersi had formerly served in Gaddafi’s government at various security posts. While Libyan officials promised to reinstate control, it is generally understood that they do not have the means to fight militiamen, who have vowed to stop only after government leaders have been unseated. The U.S. State Department said today it “strongly condemned” the killing.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Quits, Citing Mental Health, Probe

U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., the Democrat from Illinois, announced today his resignation from Congress in the midst of a criminal investigation into his use of campaign funds. Jackson has been on medical leave since June, being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder, an illness that is characterized by extreme mood swings. “it is with great regret that I hereby resign … effective today, in order to focus on restoring my health,” said Jackson, the son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson. Jackson Jr. was elected to the House in 1995 and has been consistently reelected, including earlier this month. He is suspected of having used campaign funds to buy his home, but he was also named in an investigation into former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached for trying to sell the Senate seat President Barack Obama left vacant after his 2008 election. One of Jackson’s friends reportedly offered Blagojevich campaign contributions in exchange for the post. Special elections will be held to replace him.

European Space Agency Plans its Future with Rockets, Manned Missions

Member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) reached a compromise on future projects today, creating a €10.1 billion program ($12.95 billion) to upgrage Europe’s rocket Ariane 5, provide the propulsion for NASA’s new manned capsule Orion, and begin to plan for a new launcher, Ariane 6. The two largest contributors will be Germany, with €2.6 billion, and France, with €2.3 billion, but the U.K. will also take part, contributing €1.20 billion, including €20 million for the propulsion project. The news came as a surprise after uncertainty on each of the countries’ ability to contribute, since many of them are steeped in the debt crisis.

Evening Edition will not be published from San Francisco on November 22 and 23. Happy Thanksgiving to all. 

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