Israel and Palestine
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

ISIS Crisis
May 24, 2015
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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Sunday faulted Iraqi troops for allowing the Islamic State to conquer Ramadi, saying the homegrown forces lacked the "will to fight."

"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said in an appearance on CNN. "They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."

Last weekend, ISIS captured Ramadi as Iraqi troops fled and left behind weapons provided by the U.S. Days later, ISIS overran the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra as well. Jon Terbush

This just in
May 24, 2015
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Cleveland police over the weekend arrested 71 people who participated in largely peaceful protests following the acquittal of a police officer in the 2012 killing of two unarmed black people.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said protesters became more "aggressive" throughout the day, adding that officers only intervened when they "became violent and…refused to disperse."

On Saturday a judge acquitted officer Michael Brelo over a 2012 incident in which police, after mistaking the sound of a car backfiring for gunshots, fired 137 rounds into a vehicle, killing both occupants. Brelo climbed onto the car's hood and fired 15 times through the windshield, though the judge ruled prosecutors did not prove those shots killed the couple. Jon Terbush

This just in
May 24, 2015
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John Nash, the famed Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who inspired the film A Beautiful Mind, died Saturday in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. The 86-year-old Nash and his wife, Alicia, were both killed when the driver of their taxi lost control and slammed into a guardrail. Police said they believe neither Nash nor his wife, who were ejected from the vehicle, were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. Known for his work in game theory, Nash won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994. Jon Terbush

Texas Flood
May 24, 2015
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At least one person died and dozens of states of emergency were declared following widespread flooding across Oklahoma and Texas over the weekend. A firefighter in Claremore, Oklahoma, died while trying to rescue a colleague who became trapped in a storm drain, though the trapped firefighter was able to make it out safely. Flooding in the region forced more than 1,000 evacuations, with officials warning that even more rain on Sunday could trigger potentially "historic" flooding. Jon Terbush

WomenCrossDMZ
May 24, 2015
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An international coalition of female activists led by feminist Gloria Steinem on Sunday crossed the highly militarized border between North and South Korea in an effort to spotlight the need for reconciliation between the two nations. The group, WomenCrossDMZ, consisted of about 30 participants including Steinem and two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee. "We feel very celebratory and positive that we have created a voyage across the DMZ in peace and reconciliation that was said to be impossible," Steinem said. Jon Terbush

Foreign affairs
May 24, 2015
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The leader of Burundi's opposition party on Saturday was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in the capital of Bujumbura. Zedi Feruzi, the leader of the party Union for Peace and Development-Zigamibanga, and a bodyguard were shot dead by unidentified gunmen just one day after a grenade attack killed at least two civilians in the same city. Burundi has been rocked by unrest — including a failed coup — for weeks since President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term. Jon Terbush

Oops
May 23, 2015
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The Bank of England apparently needs a refresher on how to keep a classified project…classified.

An editor for The Guardian received an email on Friday, accidentally forwarded by the Bank's head of press, which details plans to research the financial repercussions of a British exit from the European Union. Nicknamed Project Bookend, the not-so-secret work was meant to be carried out by just a few senior officials, and examine how a "Brexit" would affect the country's export's and major cities' economies.

The email noted that any questions from the press should be answered by saying that "there is a lot going on in Europe in the next couple of months…that would be of concern to the Bank."

A note to the Bank's staff on the project: Take a good, long look at the "CC" field before you send any of Project Bookend's results. Also, consider a better name than Project Bookend. Sarah Eberspacher

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