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Sarkozy in hot water in Israel

Nicolas Sarkozy may want to keep his opinions to himself next time Benjamin Netanyahu comes to Paris -- that is, if he ever wants to come back.

Israel's foreign ministry has accused France of unacceptable meddling in its internal affairs over a reported comment by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

He was quoted by Israeli TV calling for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who leads a far-right party, to be sacked.

The plea, which has not been confirmed nor denied by officials, was allegedly made during a meeting with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu last week.

Israeli Arab leaders have accused the foreign minister of anti-Arab racism[...]

Israeli Channel Two reported that President Sarkozy advised Mr Netanyahu to "get rid" of Mr Lieberman during their meeting in Paris.

He also suggested that his predecessor Tzipi Livni be restored to the post, according to the report.

"You need to get rid of this man... You need to remove him from this position," Mr Sarkozy reportedly said, to which Mr Netanyahu replied that "in private [Mr Lieberman] is pragmatic".

Sarkozy also compared Lieberman's private pleasantness to French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has often been attacked for anti-Semitic comments. Regardless, given that the meeting was private, it would be interesting to learn who leaked the details to Israeli TV. 

GERARD CERLES/AFP/Getty Images

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Pirates and their booty: the study.

The Economix  blog at the New York Times describes a new book on the economics of pirates -- The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates by Peter Leeson. Who knew such a perfect confluence of the interesting and the awesome existed?

It focuses on the heyday of piracy in the late 17th and early 18th century -- back when the Barbary pirates spurred the young United States to its first military engagement, off the coast of Tripoli. The NYT summarizes: 

During this age, there seem to have been between 2,000 and 3,000 pirates, which is large relative to the Royal Navy (which had 13,000 seamen) but small relative to the number of movies subsequently made about piracy. The pirates were, unsurprisingly, youngish men (generally in their mid-20s) from England or its colonies. The majority of mischief that has been done throughout history has been done by young people with XY chromosomes. Their ships were often quite large, containing crews that could reach 200 souls, and the profession was lucrative. While merchant seamen earned 25 pounds a month (about $6,000 in current currency), a pirate could earn 4,000 from a single conquest. Mr. Leeson reports that some pirates were earning 100 pounds a month.

Admittedly, piracy was dangerous, but so was all seafaring. Maybe my children are showing good sense in their attraction to the piratical lifestyle. Those high wages meant that, unlike the British navy, pirates rarely had to rely on conscription. Although captured pirates often claimed to be serving against their will, in reality, pirate ships rarely had trouble finding voluntary recruits.

And, it turns out Leeson, a professor of capitalism at George Mason, is a pirate expert...lots of interesting studies linked on his (hilarious) website