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July 24, 2014
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Americans are increasingly split on Israel's ongoing military action in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, a new Gallup poll suggests, as more and more reports have emerged of civilian casualties.

The exact wording of Gallup's question was: "Do you think the Israeli actions in the current conflict with the Palestinian group Hamas over the past few days have been – [ROTATED: mostly justified (or) mostly unjustified]?"

The result is a close one: 42 percent say Israel's actions have been justified, 39 percent say the actions have been unjustified, a gap that is within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The survey of American adults was conducted July 22 and 23.

The poll's sub-groups also shows a genuine partisan divide: A clear majority of Republicans say that Israel's actions have been justified; but among both Democrats and independents, pluralities say that Israel's actions are not justified.

By contrast, Hamas doesn't have many American friends at all. The corresponding question for the actions of Hamas results in only 11 percent who say they have been justified, against a whopping 70 percent who say they are not justified. Israel has claimed that Hamas is actually the party responsible for civilian casualties, accusing the group of intentionally using the population as human shields — as well as for having launched the many rocket attacks to which Israel is responding in the first place.

This poll result seems to differ from a CNN poll released on Monday, which showed 57 percent of Americans saying Israel was justified. On close inspection, though, that poll asked a much more broadly phrased question, about Israel having a general right of military response, rather than the specific actions taken: "Do you think Israel was justified or unjustified in taking military action against Hamas and the Palestinians in the area known as Gaza?" This might account for some part of the difference between the two polls. Eric Kleefeld

3:29 p.m. ET
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Gene Wilder passed away at the age of 83, his family said Monday. Wilder was best known for playing Willy Wonka in the titular 1971 film, as well as for having roles in the Mel Brooks comedies The Producers and Young Frankenstein.

Wilder was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1989, but had been in remission since 2000. Wilder's nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman told Variety the actor died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. Jeva Lange

3:12 p.m. ET
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Children in Greensville, South Carolina, are claiming that a clown is trying to lure them into the forest, CBS News reports. "There has been several conversations and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or person dressed in clown clothing … trying to lure children into the woods," the property manager of Fleetwood Manor wrote to residents in a letter, which requested that if the clown was spotted, residents immediately call the police.

Greensville County deputies said that a woman and her son reported seeing "a clown in the woods" around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 21. Another witness said she saw a clown near the garbage dumpster, and that the clown waved at her, she waved back, but the clown did not walk toward her. Some children additionally reported that "several clowns" had tried to pursue them into the woods with money, CBS News reports, although the Greensville County Sheriff's Office said it only has one filed incident report about the clown sightings.

"Witnesses told investigators that they believed the clowns lived in a nearby home, but a deputy wrote in the Aug. 21 police report that he followed a trail through the woods to the home and found no evidence related to the clown sightings," CBS News writes. Jeva Lange

2:26 p.m. ET

Nobody exactly enjoys jury duty, but fulfilling one's civic duty is certainly a little better when you're doing it with Taylor Swift:

The formerly Nashville-based singer reported to the local courthouse Monday morning after conspicuously missing Sunday night's VMAs — although her early morning roll call in Tennessee likely played a major part in her absence.

The photos aren't even illegal since they were taken while the jurors were waiting in the jury assembly room. Selfie away, everyone! Jeva Lange

1:47 p.m. ET
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The numbers of tourists heading to Spain, Portugal, and other sunny European nations have increased up to 30 per­cent this year compared with 2015, CNN reports. Experts say travelers are eager to avoid destinations seen as potential terrorist targets. France, the world's top destination for international travelers, has seen visitor spending falling for the last year, perhaps due to the rash of terrorist attacks it experienced in recent months. Egypt has experienced a nearly 50 per­cent drop in visitors this year. The Week Staff

12:28 p.m. ET
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Donald Trump on Monday commended Huma Abedin for choosing to leave her husband, former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. And given Abedin is a top aide to Hillary Clinton, Trump also used the opportunity to slam a longtime enemy.

"Huma is making a very wise decision. I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him," Trump said in his statement. He then added: "I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It's just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this."

Trump has in the past called Weiner a "pervert sleaze," a "perv," and the "greatest sleazebag of our time" on Twitter and in speeches. Weiner "will send anything that he has out over Twitter, or any other form of getting it out," Trump has warned in the past.

Weiner responded to the insults before, calling Trump "F---face Von Clownstick" on his now-deleted Twitter. Jeva Lange

12:08 p.m. ET
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The 2016 U.S. Open begins Monday with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic as top seeds going into the tournament.

With 12 Grand Slam titles already under his belt, Djokovic has had a bit of a rough summer, losing in the third round of Wimbledon and the first round in the Rio Olympics. He'll be challenged by Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and Juan Martin del Porto in Queens.

The women's competition will also be tight, with the unseeded Monica Puig — who won gold at the Rio Olympics — poised to make a run. Venus Williams, a two-time champion and the No. 6 seed, could also break into the finals. Still, FiveThirtyEight gives Serena Williams with a 55 percent chance of winning the tournament, which would be her 23rd Grand Slam victory and make her the winningest Grand Slam player in Open-era history. (The record is currently held by Steffi Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam titles.)

For more U.S. Open predictions, read The New York Times' dark-horse picks or brush up on the major storylines of the tournament at Sports Illustrated. Jeva Lange

12:04 p.m. ET

At the MTV VMAs on Sunday night, Beyoncé performed a lengthy, show-stopping medley of songs from her hit visual album, Lemonade. But somewhere between coordinating adorable mother-daughter outfits and unabashedly laying out the raw emotions of marital infidelity, the songstress also found time to thoroughly make Chance the Rapper's day:

Amazing moment between #Beyonce and #ChanceTheRapper backstage at the #VMAS

A video posted by BG The King (@byrongraffiti) on

As BuzzFeed notes, this wasn't the first time the Chicago-born rapper met Beyoncé. And even if it's worse than looking crazy, I have to admit: I'm pretty jealous of Chance the Rapper right now. Kimberly Alters

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