Israel and Palestine
July 7, 2014
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President Obama has a new guest column in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, making an appeal for renewed peace negotiations with the Palestinians, as the region itself is spiraling into yet more conflict.

The column comes amid a new wave of violence, after the murder of three Jewish teenagers by what are believed to have been Palestinian assailants, followed by a separate murder of a Palestinian teen for which a group of Jewish extremists have been arrested. In addition, the Israeli military is engaged in airstrikes in Gaza against Hamas rocket-launching targets.

In the column, Obama restates the dedication of the United States to Israel's security. He then writes:

Peace is necessary because it's the only way to ensure a secure and democratic future for the Jewish state of Israel. While walls and missile defense systems can help protect against some threats, true safety will only come with a comprehensive negotiated settlement. Reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians would also help turn the tide of international sentiment and sideline violent extremists, further bolstering Israel's security.

Peace is also, undeniably, just. Just as the Israeli people have the right to live in the historic homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination. Palestinian children have hopes and dreams for their future and deserve to live with the dignity that can only come with a state of their own. And, in President Abbas, Israel has a counterpart committed to a two-state solution and security cooperation with Israel. Eric Kleefeld

Science!
1:10 p.m. ET

An individual's science knowledge is a "significant factor" in whether or not he or she believes it's safe to eat genetically modified foods, a Pew Research study finds. Adults who are more "science literate" than their peers are also more comfortable with the use of bioengineered organs for human transplant as well as the consumption of foods grown with pesticides:

The Pew study was intended to make sense of underlying patterns in public views about science. Researchers discovered that results were affected by political ideology, religion, education level, age, race and ethnicity, and gender. Men, for example, feel more favorably about eating GMOs than women do; women, on the other hand, more strongly oppose animal testing in research. The study — and all of the results — are available on the Pew Research Center's website. Jeva Lange

selfie nation
12:36 p.m. ET

For over 40 years, visitors have been instructed not to take photos in the White House. Today, Michelle Obama revealed a change in policy by ripping a sign in half in a video on her Instagram account:

Visitors still can't bring in video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods, or camera sticks. Your iPhone, though? Fair game! Take as many selfies with Bo and Sunny as you want. Jeva Lange

The big bucks
12:13 p.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton is on track to raise $45 million in the first quarter of her campaign, topping Obama's previous record of $41.9 million in his 2011 re-election campaign as the most money raised in a candidate's first three months.

On average, Clinton has raised $555,000 every day since she officially announced her run for the Democratic nomination for president in April. That's nearly $386 per minute. At this point in the 2008 presidential race, Clinton had only raised $36 million.

While a big chunk of Clinton's cash comes from high-dollar fundraisers, Bloomberg Business reports that 91 percent of Clinton's funds came from donations of $100 or less. Fundraising for the first quarter ended on Tuesday night and official fundraising totals for the quarter will be released in July. Becca Stanek

Dangerous Cutbacks
12:00 p.m. ET
Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images

The World Food Program has cut its food aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon in half, and food support for refugees in Jordan may soon come to a standstill due to a funding crisis, the organization said today.

Lebanon and Jordan are two of the five nations that host over four million Syrian war refugees, and the U.N. refugee agency said that funding has dropped to dangerously low levels.

Drastic cutbacks at the strapped-for-cash WFP have been on the horizon for months, and the organization has already been forced to make cuts. This month, food aid in Lebanon will drop to $13.50 a person per month. Additionally, if funds do not arrive before August, 440,000 urban refugees in Jordan may also be at risk of losing food support. The WFP says it needs $139 million to continue support for Syrian refugees through September. Emily Goldberg

Coming Soon
11:41 a.m. ET

Directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle, written by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin, and starring Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender, the new Steve Jobs biopic has a mighty pedigree — and this first trailer makes it clear that this take on the life of the late Apple co-founder is aiming to be a top contender in next year's Oscar race:

"What do you do? You're not an engineer. You're not a designer. You can't put a hammer to a nail," says fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) in conversation with Jobs. "So how come, 10 times a day, I read, 'Steve Jobs is a genius?' What do you do?"

"Musicians play their instruments," replies Jobs. "I play the orchestra."

It's a typically grandiose take on the life and career of Steve Jobs, but the trailer also hints at the darker side of his life. And while it certainly looks more promising than the Ashton Kutcher version, we won't know Steve Jobs' ultimate take on its legendary title figure until it hits theaters in October. Scott Meslow

Oh, Congress!
11:37 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

For the first time since its founding in 1934, the Export-Import Bank's charter expired at midnight on Tuesday. The federal agency, known colloquially as Ex-Im, helps U.S. businesses export products and provides loans and credit insurance to companies when private lenders view their ventures as too risky.

Though Ex-Im generated a surplus of $675 million to the Treasury last year, conservative advocates of small government saw the agency as an example of the government's over-involvement in business and thus advocated for letting the bank's charter expire.

Although the agency's ability to issue new loans ended at midnight, Ex-Im will likely remain up and running through Sept. 30, when its funding is estimated to run out — though there is a chance that Congress could reauthorize funding when it comes back in session next week. If Congress does not vote to reauthorize Ex-Im, companies say they would lose a competitive edge against Europe and China, where governments offer companies significant financial help. Becca Stanek

you're fired
11:03 a.m. ET
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Macy's is joining NBC and Univision in severing ties with Donald Trump. "We have no tolerance for discrimination in any form," the company said in a statement.

The business mogul and 2016 Republican presidential candidate has come under fire for saying during his presidential announcement that Mexican immigrants are "bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people."

A petition calling for the elimination of Trump merchandise from Macy's had already received 700,000 signatures, Business Insider reports. An earlier petition that gained more than 200,000 signatures called for NBC to fire Trump over his comments about Latinos. NBC has since dumped Trump.

Likewise, Spanish-language network Univision announced last week that it would not broadcast the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump co-owns. Yesterday, Trump responded with a $500 million lawsuit against the network, claiming they were infringing on his right to free speech. Jeva Lange

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