William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 7:33 P.M. ET:

NEVER GIVE UP – Republican Congressman Allen West of Florida, presumably defeated in his bid for re-election, demanded and has received a recount in one county of his congressional district.  The recount is now underway.  Even local officials conceded there were odd aspects to the election numbers in their county.  West is a Republican sparkplug, three quarters inspirational figure and one quarter loose cannon.  We hope he wins.

MIDEAST – Most of the talk at this hour is about a possible ceasefire in the battle between Israel and the Iran-equipped Hamas.  This is a test of whether the new Egyptian government, run by the Muslim Brotherhood, can act responsibly and protect the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is signaling that he will agree to a comprehensive ceasefire if the rocket strikes into Israel stop.  A key question is whether all the "groups" firing rockets can be controlled by the authorities.

MYSTERY WOMAN – It's the second "other woman" in the Petraeus scandal, Jill Kelley, who is the most worrying.  Paula Broadwell, with whom Petraeus admits an affair, is well known in military circles.  But Kelley appears to be an ambitious socialite whose goals are murky.  A New York businessman is charging that Kelley asked him for an $80-million commission to use her influence to arrange a business deal with South Korea.  The businessman says he turned her down and thought she was a fake.  But Kelley has Lebanese roots, is known to have financial problems, and may have been in a position to acquire information of value to foreign entities.  That is not a charge.  I have no private information.  But it's a worry, and has been expressed publicly by at least one security expert.

November 17,  2012