crisis in Gaza
August 4, 2014
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An investigation by The New York Times shows that Israeli troops "paid little heed to warnings to safeguard" United Nations schools in Gaza, one of which was bombarded by artillery shells on July 30, killing 21 people, including many children. The report is the latest to question Israel's tactics in its ongoing conflict with the Islamic militant group Hamas, with critics contending that Israel has fired indiscriminately into civilian areas that exist cheek by jowl with militant hideouts in Gaza's crowded neighborhoods.

The Times reports that the Israeli military used artillery shells, rather than "smart" weaponry, to target the school. Such tactics are bound to result in civilian casualties, according to experts interviewed by the Times:

Artillery is a "statistics weapon," not a "precision weapon," experts said, generally fired from up to 25 miles away and considered effective if it hits within 50 yards of its target.

"Heavy artillery shelling into a populated area would be inherently indiscriminate," said Bill Van Esveld, a Jerusalem-based Human Rights Watch lawyer who investigates war crimes. "You just can't aim that weapon precisely enough in that environment because it's so destructive." [The New York Times]

An Israeli general who declined to speak on the record told the Times that such tactics were inevitable in war. "The orders are clear. But I find it very difficult to judge those fighters under fire and tell them, 'Look, please open your textbook and read out loud what we told you,'" he said. Ryu Spaeth

This just in
11:11 p.m. ET

Papua New Guinea was rocked by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake Tuesday, which hit 80 miles south of the town of Kokopo at a depth of 40 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

After the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves up to 3 feet were possible within 186 miles of the epicenter, The Associated Press reports. The country's National Disaster Center said it had not heard any reports of damage from residents, and acting director Martin Mose said the center was sending a message to villages near the coast to "take extra precautions in case a tsunami is generated." Papua New Guinea is on the Ring of Fire, where earthquakes often strike, and this quake was centered in the same area as two weaker ones that took place last week. Catherine Garcia

caught on camera
10:24 p.m. ET
iStock

Last summer, everyone was doing the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research — including one California police officer now charged with disability fraud.

Prosecutors say that a video posted online in July showed Pasadena police officer Jaime Robison, on disability for a lower back injury, lifting up a five-gallon bucket filled with ice water and pouring it over the head of another officer. Robison has been charged with four counts of insurance fraud, and prosecutors say that because she allegedly inflated her injuries, she cost the department up to $117,000, the Los Angeles Times reports. Prosecutors also think she exaggerated an injury in 2012 so she could collect over a year's worth of disability pay.

Robison pleaded not guilty on Friday. If she is convicted of all four charges, she could face up to six years and four months in county jail. Catherine Garcia

fancy fashion
9:42 p.m. ET

Everyone who attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit Gala goes with one goal: To turn heads. With this year’s theme being “China: Through the Looking Glass,” celebrities, socialites, and those who could spend thousands to get in showed up to the gala on Monday night wearing rich golds, fiery reds, and bold patterns. Here are just some of the more extravagant looks. —Catherine Garcia

Crime and punishment
8:49 p.m. ET
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As his relatives spoke on his behalf during the penalty phase of his trial Monday, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began to weep, one of the few times he has shown emotion while in court.

Tsarnaev was found guilty last month of all 30 charges against him in connection with the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Now, during the penalty phase, his relatives shared stories and anecdotes about the young man that many haven't seen since his family left Russia in 2002, The New York Times reports. Cousin Nabisat Suleimanova said through a translator people "wanted to hug him and not let him go," while aunt Shakhruzat Suleimanova said he and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout after the bombing, were "so good, they wouldn't hurt a fly."

The defense wants Tsarnaev to receive life in prison without parole, while the prosecution is arguing for the death penalty, saying he has shown no remorse for his actions. In addition to his family taking the stand, last week, former teachers spoke in his favor, saying he was "kind," "smart," and "loved by all." "I still love him," Becki Norris wrote on Facebook, despite the fact he did "unfathomably horrible things." Catherine Garcia

This just in
7:56 p.m. ET
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President Obama plans on naming Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, officials briefed on the matter said Monday.

Dunford served as commander of all allied forces in Afghanistan, and if his nomination is approved by the Senate, he will replace Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is expected to retire this summer. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serves as the most senior officer in the military and adviser to the president. Officials say Obama will also name Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, who is now leading the U.S. Transportation Command, as vice chairman. The White House is expected to make a formal announcement Tuesday. Catherine Garcia

that's not a banana
7:03 p.m. ET

Aldi supermarket employees in Germany found more than just fruit in shipments from Colombia: Workers in 14 different stores discovered a total of 850 pounds of cocaine in several boxes of bananas.

Police spokesman Stefan Redlich said the illicit cargo was found in boxes in Berlin and the neighboring state of Brandenburg, and is the largest amount found in the capital in a single operation. The cocaine is worth an estimated €15 million, or $16.7 million. In some boxes, more than 10 kilograms were found, wrapped in black plastic.

Redlich told the radio station RBB he thinks the smugglers made a "logistical error" somewhere along the way. "The route across the Atlantic is known by police," he said. "The wrong container was probably used when the merchandise was put on board ship. Or possibly, there wasn't time for the smugglers to unload it when it arrived in Hamburg." Investigators are still searching through boxes for more drugs, Deutsche Welle reports, and it's a bit of a déjà vu moment: In January 2014, workers at Aldi branches in Berlin found 140 kilos of cocaine in banana boxes. Catherine Garcia

#Benghazi
4:32 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton will testify this month before a congressional panel investigating the Benghazi embassy attack, a lawyer for the former secretary of state said Monday. Despite saying there was "no basis, logic, or precedent" for the committee's demand that Clinton testify, Clinton's lawyer said she was "fully prepared to stay for the duration" of the hearing.

Clinton has already testified about the attack before Senate and House committees, and a handful of previous federal investigations found no evidence to support allegations of serious wrongdoing on her part. However, Republicans conducting yet another investigation called for Clinton to testify once more following revelations about her use of a private email account during her tenure in the Obama administration. Jon Terbush

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