Good News From Gaza

There are signs of hope trickling in from Gaza. Some say this rump state may have the world's fastest growing economy (though its base point was not very high). There are signs that Fatah and Hamas may agree to an Egyptian proposal aimed at reconciliation between the two groups. Palestinian leaders backed away from seeking war crimes charges in the United Nations against Israel (under American pressure, no doubt). And the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for video footage of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whose 2006 capture helped spark war in the region, is a positive sign.  

These baby steps are not insignificant. The peace process there is still the elephant in the room, wherever Arab diplomats meet to discuss what to do about Israel, Iran, and other vexing issues. The settlement debate has received the most attention, and Israel's apparent thumbing of its nose at the Obama administration, but there is real progress being made on other fronts.

Obama has backed away from calls for a settlement "freeze" (and instead called for "restraint"). That is an unwelcome sign. Yet while Netanyahu government is trying to create a new set of facts on the ground, from which to work from when all the parties hammer out peace, the bigger threat is that Afghanistan will suck up all of Obama's time, attention, and energy and the Middle East peace process will get shelved. The other thing to watch is that whenever progress is made in the region and peace appears on the (admittedly distant) horizon, a spoiler will appear who is intent on wrecking the process.

California wildfires death toll climbs to 50

Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
  • 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
  • On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
Keep reading Show less

Too much sleep results in cognitive decline, researchers find

We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.

Photo: Vladislav Muslakvo / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
  • Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
  • Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less