World and Nation

Shorts (left)

Jewish group criticizes Beck for Soros remarks

Fox News host Glenn Beck was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish advocacy organization, on Thursday in response to a televised segment about financier George Soros and the Holocaust.

Throughout three programs this week, Beck has portrayed Soros, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, as a “puppet master” who is “notorious for collapsing economies and regimes all around the world” and whose “next target” is America. Citing Soros’ statements about the decline of the dollar, Beck said, “Not only does he want to bring America to her knees, financially, he wants to reap obscene profits off us as well.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, took issue with Beck’s depiction of Soros as a “Jewish boy helping sending the Jews to the death camps,” calling it “offensive” and “horrific.”

On his Fox program Tuesday, watched by about 2.8 million people, Beck said that during the Holocaust, the 14-year-old Soros “used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off.”

Those aboard crippled cruise ship tugged to shore

SAN DIEGO — They arrived at the dock just after 8 a.m., hanging off the balconies at every level, clapping and cheering, looking something like a boatload of refugees eager to debark in a prosperous land. Here, after all, they would be able to get hot showers, toilets that flush and fresh food.

The roughly 3,300 passengers on Carnival’s Splendor cruise ship had been at sea for more than 72 hours without electricity, the result of a fire early Monday in the ship’s engine room.

Most of them were eager to tell their tales of survival — how they sat by the pool for hours, unable to jump in because there was no chlorine pump, or how they passed the time by rewriting the lyrics of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song to tell of their own woes.

They waited in lines for more than an hour to get their meals of Pop-Tarts, hot dog salads, pickle sandwiches and warm yogurt.

Walmart’s free shipping adds pressure for smaller retailers

For years, Walmart has used its clout as the nation’s largest retailer to squeeze competitors with rock-bottom prices in its stores. Now it is trying to throw a holiday knockout punch online.

Starting Thursday, Walmart Stores plans to offer free shipping on its website, with no minimum purchase, on almost 60,000 gift items, including many toys and electronics. The offer will run through Dec. 20, when Walmart said it might consider other free-shipping deals.

Even before Walmart’s surprise move, shipping prices were this holiday season’s predicament for online retailers. In a bid for cost-conscious consumers, Target and J.C. Penney introduced their most aggressive free-shipping programs ever, and Sears, Toys “R” Us, Williams-Sonoma and others were trying to match the success of Amazon’s shipping program, offering unlimited two-day shipping for an annual fee.

But given Walmart’s scale and influence in the marketplace, its free pass for shipping sets a new high — or low — in e-commerce. And it may create an expectation among consumers — free shipping, no minimum, always — that would make it harder for smaller e-commerce sites to survive.
 —Stephanie Clifford and Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times