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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

emojional
1:46 p.m. ET
Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Sen. Mikhail Marchenko has had it with emoji depicting same-sex relationships. He alleged the same-sex parenting and kissing emojing violate Russia's 2013 law against gay propaganda, according to translations of a Russian newspaper report from Quartz and BBC News.

Mikhail reportedly said the emoji "promoted non-traditional sexual relationships" and "denied family values." His complaint prompted a state media investigation into the emoji that could lead to them being banned from social media in Russia. Pro-gay emoji have been available on iPhones since 2012.

The Russian law allows for blocking pro-gay websites and fining individuals and businesses that publicly support gay rights. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
12:54 p.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Egyptian counterpart Sunday, marking the first time in six years the two nations have held strategic talks, Newsweek reports. Talks were suspended during the Middle East's Arab Spring uprising, where protests in Egypt forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

"Egypt remains vital ... to engagement and stability in the region as a whole," Kerry said.

The U.S. has given Egypt eight F-16 fighter jets, and will continue providing more support for the Egyptian military as they fight insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula. Kerry also emphasized the U.S. would continue to press Cairo on human rights issues, like jailing journalists.

Kerry will travel to Qatar next for meetings about fighting ISIS and enforcing the Iran nuclear deal. Julie Kliegman

lions
12:10 p.m. ET
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force apologized Sunday for sharing false news Saturday of another notable lion's death, ABC News reports. The group initially reported that Jericho, a companion of Cecil, the lion who was reportedly shot and killed by an American dentist in early July, had also been killed.

"I have now discovered that he is alive and well," Johnny Rodrigues said. "The cubs are also doing well."

Cecil and Jericho were not brothers, as has been reported, but they did oversee two prides together. Zimbabwe has asked the U.S. to extradite Cecil's alleged hunter. Julie Kliegman

torture
11:29 a.m. ET
Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

If Donald Trump becomes president, he might bring back waterboarding as an interrogation tactic, he said Sunday on ABC's This Week.

"When you see the other side chopping off heads, waterboarding doesn't sound very severe," he told Jonathan Karl.

Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have both issued bans on using enhanced interrogation tactics on detainees, most notably at Guantánamo Bay.

In his interview, Trump also criticized Obama for not doing enough for African-Americans during his presidency. And at Thursday's GOP primary debate, he said doesn't plan on attacking his opponents. Place your bets now on how many minutes that promise might last. Julie Kliegman

Climate change
10:19 a.m. ET

The White House released a video Saturday night previewing President Obama's Monday announcement of a proposal to limit carbon pollution released by the nation's power plants.

BREAKING: On Monday, President Obama will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan—the biggest, most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change. If you agree that we can't condemn our kids and grandkids to a planet that's beyond fixing, share this video with your friends and family. It's time to #ActOnClimate.

Posted by The White House on Saturday, August 1, 2015

The regulations proposed, tougher than those in a previous draft, will require 32 percent decreases from 2005 levels of carbon emissions by 2030. And at least 28 percent of a plant's generating power must come from renewable energy sources, NPR reports.

"Climate change is not a problem for another generation," Obama said. "Not anymore." Julie Kliegman

music to my ears
9:25 a.m. ET
Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images

Dr. Dre announced on his radio show Saturday he will release his first new album in 15 years, Rolling Stone reports. Compton: A Soundtrack, which he's releasing exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music Aug. 7, will feature artists including Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and the Game.

"I kept it under wraps, and now the album is finished," he said. "It's bananas. It's an 'inspired by' album. It's inspired by Straight Outta Compton."

Dre called the album his "grand finale." Julie Kliegman

$$$$$
9:13 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Puerto Rico defaulted Saturday, missing a $58 million debt payment on Public Finance Corporation bonds. Victor Suarez, the governor's chief of staff, said Friday the island only has enough money to operate until November if nothing is done to increase cash flow, Reuters reports.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced in June that Puerto Rico would need restructuring on an unpayable $72 billion in debt. The White House has said the U.S. will not bail out the territory. Julie Kliegman

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