This just in
August 2, 2014
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The Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, released a statement early this morning saying the Islamist Palestinian faction is not holding an Israeli officer who Israel claims was abducted in an ambush after a short-lived ceasefire had begun.

"Until now, we have no idea about the disappearance of the Israeli soldier," the statement, reported on by The New York Times, read. "We do not know his whereabouts or the conditions of his disappearance." Saying it had lost contact with its troops in the ambush, Hamas also suggested that the abducted soldier could have been killed by a subsequent Israeli assault: "Our account is that the soldier could have been kidnapped and killed together with our fighters."

Hamas and Israeli officials differ on the timing of a Friday clash that collapsed a 72-hour ceasefire brokered by the United Nations and Secretary of State John Kerry. A spokesman for the Israeli military, though, refuted the statement released by the Qassam Brigades, saying that the search for Second Lt. Hadar Goldin is ongoing and that Hamas is responsible for the abduction. Sarah Eberspacher

Presidential polling
3:33 p.m. ET
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If Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina were to face off in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup in Iowa right now, Fiorina would crush Clinton by double digits. A new The Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll has Fiorina beating Clinton 52-38 — a margin of 14 points. And while Fiorina was the Republican who beat Clinton by the widest margin in Iowa, she wasn't the only Republican to lead Clinton in a matchup. Clinton also trailed Jeb Bush by 10 points and Donald Trump by 7 points in Iowa.

While Clinton is still the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, her biggest competition, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), fared better than she did against Fiorina, Bush, and Trump in Iowa. Sanders only lags behind Fiorina by 3 points and behind Bush by 2 points; in a Trump matchup, Sanders leads by 5 points.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points. Becca Stanek

3:11 p.m. ET
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed President Obama's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, calling it "nothing short of crazy," The Associated Press reports.

"There is a reason the director of national intelligence said among those refugees are no doubt a significant number of ISIS terrorists," he told a crowd at a Michigan campaign stop Monday. "It would be the height of foolishness to bring in tens of thousands of people, including jihadists, that are coming here to murder innocent Americans."

But James Clapper, who Cruz refers to, has not said that. Rather, he's mentioned he's aware of the risk.

The Obama administration has also announced its plan to up its total refugee acceptance to 100,000 per fiscal year by 2017, a target designed to accommodate people fleeing Syria. As part of the September announcement, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed background checks would be a part of the process in an effort to keep ISIS fighters from infiltrating refugee pools. Julie Kliegman

This just in
2:54 p.m. ET
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House Speaker John Boehner announced Monday that the floor vote for his replacement will take place on Oct. 29, just one day before he is set to step down as speaker and resign from Congress. However, Boehner announced, the vote for the other two GOP leadership positions — majority leader and majority whip — will be delayed until after a new speaker is selected, changing the original plan for House Republicans to vote for all leadership positions on the same day.

Boehner's announcement comes just a day after two members requested a delay in the voting process, saying that it would "be presumptive to schedule elections without a vacancy for those posts," The Washington Post reports. As Politico explains, this delay "gives more time for conservatives to find a candidate to run against [Louisiana Rep. Steve] Scalise and Georgia Rep. Tom Price."

The new speaker will be left with the decision of when to hold the votes for lower-level leadership posts. Becca Stanek

This just in
2:34 p.m. ET

Russia warned Monday that it could not stop "volunteer" forces from fighting in Syria, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's assurances that the use of ground troops was off the table. However, according to a statement from the former commander of the Black Sea fleet, Vladimir Komoyedov, "A unit of Russian volunteers, conflict veterans, will probably appear in the ranks of the Syrian army." Sending in unmarked ground troops has become a familiar Russian tactic, after unidentified Russian forces seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and were later caught fighting the Ukrainian army in the ongoing conflict there; Admiral Komoyedov suggests that it would be those very veterans who would be appearing to fight in Syria.

Last week, Russia began air strikes that supposedly target the Islamic State and Syrian al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front. Many sources, however, have reported that the strikes instead hit Western-backed rebels. Jeva Lange

drill baby drill
2:20 p.m. ET
Justin E. Stumberg/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

BP will pay $20.8 billion in penalties for the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill, marking the U.S.'s largest ever settlement with a single entity, the Justice Department announced Monday. The number is up from the $18.7 billion figure originally announced in July.

The settlement includes payments for claims from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, along with local governments and the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act, NPR reports.

"BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

On April 10, 2010, a BP drilling rig blew out, leaking 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next three months. After 60 days of public comment on the settlement, the deal will go before a federal judge for final approval. Julie Kliegman

1:37 p.m. ET
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One day before the New York Yankees take on the Houston Astros in the American League's Wild Card matchup, the team announced left-handed pitcher CC Sabathia has checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.

"I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series," he said in the statement Monday. "It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father, and player."

Sabathia, 35, is widely considered one of the best pitchers in baseball, notching a Cy Young Award, World Series title, and six All-Star nods since he got his start with the Cleveland Indians in 2001. The pitcher said he plans to rejoin the Yankees after completing rehab.

"Being a baseball player means that others look up to you," Sabathia said. "I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help."

The Star-Ledger has the full statement here. Julie Kliegman

This just in
1:24 p.m. ET
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A red-eye American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Boston was diverted Monday morning after the pilot flying the plane became ill mid-flight and died, CBS reports. A spokesperson for the airline did not specify if the pilot died during the flight, although the co-pilot landed the plane alone and can be heard posting a call to air traffic control, describing a "medical emergency" in which the pilot was "incapacitated."

US Airways Flight 550 had 147 passengers on board; the co-pilot landed the plane safely in Syracuse, New York, where a replacement crew took over the flight and flew the rest of the way to Boston. "This is a terribly sad event and American Airlines is focused on caring for the pilot's family at this time," the airline's spokesperson said. Jeva Lange

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