Three Americans are among the worshippers murdered in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood Tuesday morning. Two assailants, believed to be local Palestinians, stormed the synagogue carrying knives, axes and a gun, and wounded at least eight others before being killed by police. The killings targeted at rabbis was the deadliest attack on Israeli civilians in more than three years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to “respond with a heavy hand” to the assault, which he blamed on “incitement” by Palestinian leadership.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Shinzo Abe wants a mandate. After the bad news broke that his nation has slipped into a recession, the prime minister announced he’s dissolving parliament and holding a snap election next month. He’s seeking public support to continue his “Abenomics” plan. He’s also pushed back by 18 months a planned tax hike. His party has broad support, and the Japanese probably won’t want much change — but if Abe gets his mandate, he still has a lot of work ahead to warrant that trust.
Sant Rampal won’t go easy. Police in northern India want the guru on a murder charge, but trying to take him into custody erupted into a violent battle that injured nearly 200. Reports say people have been kept inside Rampal’s ashram against their will, as tear gas, rocks and bullets flew outside. Allegedly Rampal and 38 followers clashed with another group in 2006, resulting in one person’s death. Indian holy men have followers in the millions, but the courts want Rampal to answer to an earthly judge.
The West is the real problem. While admitting that Moscow is baring its teeth with increased military exercises, Putin claims that Western powers were asking for it with provocative geopolitical moves, like expanding NATO. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a fairly good relationship with the ex-KGB officer until recently. Now the former East German says Putin has reverted to thinking of Eastern Europe as his stomping ground, and she warns that Europe will push back and ultimately prevail.
The St. Louis suburb beleaguered by racially charged protests and violence is waiting for a determination that many fear could reignite turmoil. The decision of whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of Michael Brown is due any time now, and Missouri’s governor has declared a pre-emptive state of emergency on the advice of the FBI. Authorities have also opted to sideline Ferguson police, letting county police deal with the anticipated unrest.
It was a manic Monday. Actavis announced a $66-billion bid for Botox-maker Allergan, and Halliburton said it would buy rival Baker Hughes for $34.6 billion, seeking to combine two of the world’s largest oil services firms. The $100-billion surge in deal-making put annual global mergers and acquisitions at $3.1 trillion, the highest since before the financial crisis. But workers won’t get to revel in the merger-mania — wages are stagnant, hiring is slow and layoffs tend to loom after consolidations.
Senate narrowly defeats Keystone XL Pipeline. (NYT)
Poll reflects resistance to Obama’s immigration plan. (USA Today)
France identifies ISIS militant from Kassig beheading video. (France 24)
Hong Kong police evict protesters from pro-democracy camp. (NPR)
EU may issue sanctions against Ukraine separatists. (DW)
Is he starting a new family? Officials confirm that Manson, 80, and Afton Elaine “Star” Burton, 26, have a marriage license and intend to wed. He’s doing life for convincing his “Family” cultists to carry out ghoulish murders in the late 1960s, including that of actress Sharon Tate. One devotee even shot at U.S. President Gerald Ford. Since California allows marriages in prison visiting areas, Manson can tie the knot with Burton, who runs several websites maintaining his innocence. But conjugal visits are not allowed.
Tough hits are for the field, not the home. That’s the message the Minnesota Vikings star got yesterday when the league suspended him without pay until next April. Peterson has been riding the bench since September — with pay — for allegedly hitting his four-year-old son with a switch. The running back, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge in court, plans to appeal the suspension. But some are beginning to question the league’s newly assumed role in doling out punishment.
Not done your holiday shopping yet? You may already be too late. Deals spread throughout November, coupled with stores’ racing to open their doors early on Thanksgiving Thursday, may soon render Black Friday little more than a historic footnote. At least that’s what seems to be happening as news of holiday shopping deals at mega-retailers like Walmart trickles out. “It used to be called Black Friday,” says one Walmart honcho. “Maybe we should just call it November.” Consider yourself warned.
Forget the zombie apocalypse: Imagine a worldwide cocoa deficit. Chocolate consumption outpaced production by 70,000 metric tons in 2013, and the gap could increase to one million tons by 2020. Farms are stretched, partly because Theobroma cacao — whose beans make chocolate — is a slow-producing crop that’s tough to improve. Growers are investing in new higher-production strains that won’t sacrifice flavor. But if that doesn’t work, it’ll mean smaller, more expensive bars. Chocoholics, stock up while you can.
Milk does a body good? Increasingly, experts say that message is being driven more by marketing than hard science. Various studies now link heavy milk consumption in adults with greater risks of cancer, heart disease and, most recently, bone fractures and even death. “There’s very little evidence that most adults need it,” one pediatrician says. What’s not disputed is that large sums of money are poured into promoting milk as a healthy drink. This subject deserves a closer read — perhaps with some cookies.
Remember Julian Assange, the infamous Australian editor who’s been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for two years to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape charges? Well, now his life, or something resembling it, is inspiring a sitcom. (Cue laugh track?) BBC Four is basing a new show on Assange’s extended diplomatic stay in Asylum, a satirical comedy about a whistleblower and an Internet millionaire trapped together in an embassy. The show will be out early next year — perhaps before Assange himself.
He’s got a $325-million swing. Giancarlo Stanton has sealed a 13-year extension with the Miami Marlins in a historic deal for the National League’s best hitter. And at $150,000+ per game and a no-trade clause, it’s a bargain, according to analysts. Despite ending his season in September after being hit in the face by a pitch, the fearsome batter still led the NL with 37 homers. Though the team had struggled, it’s now in contention with a talented young bullpen complementing its 24-carat bat.