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July 30, 2014
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After being called anti-Semitic for signing a letter condemning "the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza Strip," actress Penelope Cruz is clarifying her position.

"I don't want to be misunderstood on this important subject," she said in a statement. "I'm not an expert on the situation and I'm aware of the complexity of it. My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a ceasefire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border. I wish for unity, and peace...I believe in a civilization that can be capable of bringing the courage to have a world where humans can live side by side."

Cruz was one of several celebrities, including her husband, Javier Bardem, and director Pedro Almodovar, to sign an open letter that was released to Spanish media outlets earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter said. The letter, titled "Comunicado de la Cultura Contra el Genocidio Palestino," states that the signers "declare their outrage over the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza Strip against Palestinian civilians." Catherine Garcia

10:50 p.m. ET
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While he's in Europe next month, President Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, two people with knowledge of the plan told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

The meeting could take place before the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11 or after Trump visits Britain on July 13, one person said. The pair met twice during last summer's G20 summit. Earlier this month at the G7 summit in Canada, Trump appealed to the other members to let Russia back in the group; the country was expelled after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Catherine Garcia

10:20 p.m. ET
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With about 45 minutes left until landing, passengers on a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Baltimore on Sunday suddenly found themselves at a wedding.

Before the plane began its descent, a passenger named Renee, decked out in a white dress, got up and began walking down the plane aisle to meet her groom, Michael, at the front of the cabin. As the other passengers started to realize what was happening, they pulled out their phones and started recording. The wedding was officiated by the pilot, who used an intercom so everyone could hear what was going on.

The pilot announced that the pair met online four years ago, and had Michael promise to take Renee as his "travel companion when I become a Rapid Reward member," which got laughs from the crowd. Here's to a life of smooth sailing and no turbulence for the happy couple. Catherine Garcia

9:29 p.m. ET
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It's a quiet ending for a show that created shockwaves throughout its 27 years.

The Jerry Springer Show — which within the past few months aired programs with such titles as "Catfished by a Little Person," "Stop Pimpin My Twin Sister," and "Cold-Hearted Convicts" — has stopped filming new episodes, it was unceremoniously announced this week. Since its debut in September 1991, The Jerry Springer Show has produced 4,000 episodes. The talk show is syndicated, and NBC Universal that the CW and other networks will continue to air reruns.

Producers are dangling a carrot to fans, saying that "there is a possibility" that original episodes could be ordered in the future. While the show is known for its outrageous guests, gratuitous violence, and overall crassness, it's not making as big of an impact in a world dominated by reality TV shows. Springer "was lapped not only by other programs, but by real life," television historian David Bianculli told The Associated Press. Catherine Garcia

8:37 p.m. ET
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On Thursday morning, the White House is expected to announce its proposal to merge the Departments of Labor and Education, a person with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

Over the last month, the White House has gone through a review of the different cabinet agencies, looking for ways to make the federal government smaller. The merger would likely need to be approved by Congress, and isn't the only change being eyed by the White House; there's also been discussion of renaming the Department of Health and Human Services to something closer to its previous moniker, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, The Journal reports.

The Education Department is already one of the smaller government agencies, with 3,900 employees, while the Labor Department has 15,000 employees. Catherine Garcia

8:00 p.m. ET
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Ivanka Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening how thrilled she is that her dad, President Trump, signed an executive order that stops the separation of children from their parents at the border.

Nowhere in her tweet did Trump note that it was a self-made crisis, as her father's administration was behind the policy. "Thank you @POTUS for taking critical action ending family separation at our border," she said. "Congress must now act + find a lasting solution that is consistent with our shared values; the same values that so many come here seeking as they endeavor to create a better life for their families."

Before Wednesday, Ivanka Trump never publicly commented on the policy or news that infants and toddlers were in "tender age" facilities, although the president said after signing the executive order that his daughter and first lady Melania Trump both pressed him to do something about the forced separations. On Sunday, the first lady's office said she "hates to see children separated from their families," and wanted Democrats and Republicans to unite for comprehensive immigration reform. A White House official told The Washington Post that over the last few days, Melania Trump, an immigrant from Slovenia, "became even more vocal about her thoughts and opinions on the topic." Catherine Garcia

7:15 p.m. ET
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After actor Peter Fonda tweeted about her 12-year-old son, Barron, on Wednesday morning, first lady Melania Trump had her office contact the Secret Service.

In response to the administration's policy of taking children away from their parents at the border, Fonda tweeted, "WE SHOULD RIP BARRON TRUMP FROM HIS MOTHER'S ARMS AND PUT HIM IN A CAGE WITH PEDOPHILES AND SEE IF MOTHER WILL STAND UP AGAINST THE GIANT ASSHOLE SHE IS MARRIED TO." Fonda later deleted the tweet, and "sincerely apologized" for tweeting "something highly inappropriate and vulgar about the president and his family in response to the devastating images I was seeing on television."

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director told The Hill that the tweet was "sick and irresponsible." Catherine Garcia

6:45 p.m. ET
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Burger King has apologized for an ad that ran on VK, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, promising 3 million rubles ($47,000) and a lifetime supply of Whoppers for any woman impregnated by a soccer player competing in the World Cup.

Burger King's Russian division is known for dreadful campaigns, The Guardian reports; in one advertisement for a buy one burger get one free deal, the company used the image of a 16-year-old rape victim. After pulling the World Cup ads, Burger King apologized on VK, calling the campaign "too offensive." Catherine Garcia

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