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Quotables
August 5, 2014
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Former President Jimmy Carter says Israel engaged in the "deliberate obstruction" of regional peace that led inexorably to its war in Gaza, and that the only way to end the conflict is for Israel to recognize Hamas as a political — not just military — player.

"Hamas cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise," Carter writes, along with Mary Robinson, in a Foreign Policy op-ed Tuesday. "Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor — one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people — can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons."

Also in the op-ed, Carter faults Israel for stonewalling multilateral attempts at peace and for dangerously isolating Palestinians in Gaza, saying the "necessary requirements for a human standard of living continue to be denied." And though he accuses both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes through their "deliberate" attacks on civilians, he reserves his strongest criticisms for the IDF.

"There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war," he writes.

More than 1,600 Palestinians have died in the war, the vast majority of them civilians. Jon Terbush

Fed cred
11:48 a.m. ET

The Fed, America's central bank, has two jobs. It's supposed to maintain full employment, and keep inflation from getting out of hand. Most people interpret the latter objective as simply stopping inflation from getting too high, but the responsibility actually goes two ways. Inflation also must be kept from getting too low, because it represents a shortfall of aggregate demand, prevents quick price adjustment, and makes a liquidity trap harder to avoid. Price stability, neither too low nor too high, is the mandate. That's defined by the Fed itself as an inflation rate of 2 percent.

Economist Jared Bernstein, in a letter to Fed chair Janet Yellen, points out that the Fed hasn't hit its inflation target for over three consecutive years — and it's actually getting worse over time:

The Fed is reportedly likely to raise interest rates — so it can get ahead of increasing inflation, supposedly — in September. It is hard to explain why. Ryan Cooper

early humanity
11:34 a.m. ET
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At the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, archaeologists uncovered a 10,000-year-old man-made monolith that they believe is evidence of a prehistoric civilization. The rock monument's momentous size (12 meters, or about 39 feet in height) suggests that quite a few people would have been needed to move it — something that would have been difficult if, as previously suspected, the inhabitants had been hunter-gatherers living relatively solitary lifestyles.

The find, which is actually the second of its type, has led archaeologists to suspect that civilization may have "already been shifting towards our modern way of life" earlier than previously thought, according to Evoanth. Together, the two monoliths (the other one was found in the Middle East) suggest that different groups in different parts of the world were beginning to develop a modern way of life simultaneously.

"What was it that was driving so many people, so far apart in the same direction?" asks Evoanth. We can't be sure, but it seems the scientists are one step closer to finding out. Becca Stanek

Wait... what?
11:01 a.m. ET
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Minnesota Sen. Al Franken released a letter from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday which sees the surveillance agency objecting to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on the grounds that it would give the government too much surveillance authority.

"The authorization to share cyber threat indicators and defensive measures with 'any other entity or the Federal Government,' 'notwithstanding any other provision of law,'" the DHS letter noted, "could sweep away important privacy protections." Some of the agency's other objections are more self-serving in nature, like its complaint that CISA would "increase the complexity and difficulty of a new information sharing program."

For civil liberties advocates, the problems with CISA are numerous, because the bill "allows vast amounts of personal data to be shared with the government, even that which is not necessary to identify or respond to a cybersecurity threat." More than 60 nonprofits and businesses have formed a pro-privacy coalition to oppose the passage of CISA. Bonnie Kristian

TMI
10:59 a.m. ET

We now know much more about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's sex life than we ever wanted.

The scene unfolded in a New Hampshire restaurant, with the presidential hopeful blurting to a startled crowd, "I'm a Catholic, but I've used birth control, and not just the rhythm method, okay?"

"My church has a teaching against birth control. Does that make me an awful Catholic? Because I believe, and practiced, that function during part of my life? I don't think so," Christie said. "But ya know what? I'm only going to find out when it's my time to be judged." In the foreground, a listener puts his head in his hands, while another giggles nervously in the background.

Watch the uncomfortable moment for yourself below. Jeva Lange

clinton cash
10:41 a.m. ET
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Bill Clinton was paid more than $16 million for his work in an honorary, advisory position with Laureate International Universities, the Daily Caller reports. The university is the world's largest for-profit educational outfit and is under the umbrella of Laureate Education, which also includes a nonprofit wing that received about $2 million in grants from the State Department during Hillary Clinton's tenure there.

While the multiple connections between the Clintons and Laureate were previously established by Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer, his estimate of Bill Clinton's salary in his honorary role was far lower — in the neighborhood of $1 million — than the $16 million he actually earned for lending the school a significant degree of credibility by association.

Several Laureate schools recently came under Department of Education scrutiny for financial reasons, while Hillary Clinton has criticized for-profit schools on the campaign trail. Bonnie Kristian

Meanwhile at the North Pole
9:23 a.m. ET
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Russia might be getting even bigger. On Tuesday, officials submitted a formal claim to the United Nations, asking for permission to seize a 460,000-square-mile chunk of Arctic seabed that reaches as far north as the North Pole, The Telegraph reports. The expansion has been on Russia's mind for awhile: The land was sought last October by the Russian Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, but the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea dictates that continental shelf claims are only allowed up to 200 miles from a nation's coastline, or as far as their land naturally extends underseas. For Russia, that would mean proving that the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge are natural extensions of the Russian continental shelf, something they've not done since 2001, when they first submitted their claim to the land.

But what's in the Arctic that Russia could possibly want so bad? Oil and natural gas reserves, of course — an estimated five billion tons worth.

In December 2014, Denmark made a similar grab for land off of the Lomonosov Ridge, which extends off of their territory of Greenland. Norway, Canada, and the United States may also make similar claims. Jeva Lange

book news
8:57 a.m. ET
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An independent bookstore in Traverse City, Michigan, is offering both "refunds and apologies" after representing Go Set a Watchman as a "nice summer novel." Instead, Brilliant Books says, Harper Lee's long-lost manuscript ought to have been sold as an "academic insight."

"It is disappointing and frankly shameful to see our noble industry parade and celebrate this as 'Harper Lee’s New Novel,'" the shop's website says. "This is pure exploitation of both literary fans and a beloved American classic (which we hope has not been irrevocably tainted). We therefore encourage you to view Go Set a Watchman with intellectual curiosity and careful consideration; a rough beginning for a classic, but only that.”

Brilliant Books says Go Set a Watchman is comparable to Stephen Hero, James Joyce's first draft of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, rather than a novel in its own right. "Hero was initially rejected and Joyce reworked it into the classic Portrait. Hero was eventually released as an academic piece for scholars and fans — not as a new Joyce novel. We would have been delighted to see Go Set a Watchman receive a similar fate."

Although Go Set a Watchman has remained a number one bestseller since its release last month, reactions have been mixed, particularly because To Kill a Mockingbird's hero, Atticus Finch, is portrayed as a racist in Go Set a Watchman. Becca Stanek

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