BEHIND THE NEWS: Outside the box

January 6, 2009 1:47:42 PM PST
Well, it's not brain surgery. Or come to think of it, maybe it is.

This is for sure: no one can accuse Barack Obama of not thinking outside the box, at least sometimes.

Leon Panetta is an intriguing pick for CIA director, what his lack of experience in the world of intelligence gathering but with his respected reputation in the world of management - business and politics.

Now comes Obama's apparent choice for Surgeon General: Sanjay Gupta, the neurosurgeon and CNN correspondent. The news was first reported by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, and it says that Gupta is interested.

Take two aspirin and stay tuned.

We'll have the latest on the Obama transition, tonight at 11.

We're also at the border separating Israel and Gaza, as fighting continues. Our N.J. Burkett - the only local TV reporter from our area in the region - will have the latest. (Follow N.J. on Twitter)

I think we're doing something right when people on both sides of the Israeli - Palestinian dispute let us know they're angry about our coverage. We've heard from people of all stripes; that's something that happens when discussing this issue. I heard, especially, over what I wrote in this space last night, about Hamas facilities located in residential neighborhoods. I pointed out that police stations are always in communities, and used the NYPD precincts as an example. Would anyone accuse the NYPD of using civilians as "shields?" - I asked, dripping with sarcasm. But tempers are so quick to flare over the issue of the Middle East that several people pounced.

We appreciate your feedback.

And I reassure you -- and please re-read the column and breathe deeply -- that I was NOT for a nanosecond comparing the NYPD to a terrorist organization.

Today's development is different from the debate last night; this time, there appears to have been intentional civilian shields, and it raises anew the question: When does a military attack a target if the overwhelming majority of people are non-combatants?

Israeli military says a mortar was fired today from a United Nations schoolyard in Jubaliya, into Israel. Israelis fired a single shell back. At least 30 Palestinians were killed and 55 were hurt inside the school - a school that sheltered Palestinian families who fled from their home. Israel later identified two of the casualties at the site as Imad and Hassan Abu Askhar, who served as heads of the Hamas mortar units in Gaza. Israel's statement says the country "regrets the loss of any innocent civilian lives." (Read more)

Burkett will have the latest on the attack, and the war.

Also at 11, call it a sign of the times. Thirteen Broadway shows closing in a three-week period.

Nine this past Sunday, four more over the next 10 days. The box office was up over the holidays -- thanks to the influx of international tourists. But the economy is taking a toll on Broadway.

And we'll preview an interview Nightline is airing tonight with New York Gov. David Paterson. Paterson tells ABC's Terry Moran that he will wait until Hillary Clinton officially leaves her U.S. Senate seat before appointing a replacement. And on the selection of Caroline Kennedy (or anyone else) Paterson says that "there is a lot of pressure on me to make the decision early. There are a lot of reports every day. We have the rumor of the day around here that I have to appoint someone. I am not going to be coerced. I am not going to be unduly persuaded. And I'm not going to be pushed around."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's tracking the icy mess that's hitting our area, and Scott Clark will have the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after the season premiere of "What Would You Do?" with John Quinones.

BILL RITTER


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