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Israel-Gaza Conflict…

Israel-Gaza conflict

Part of Jerusalem is seeing its worst flare-up in years. The abduction and killing of three Israeli teens who were on their way home from school in the West Bank brought the tensions to a breaking point in June, followed by the retaliation killing of a Palestinian teenager. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued to escalate since then with deadly Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket attacks. Israel has launched a military ground operation into Gaza.

For people living in the region, air raid sirens and sleeping in shelters has become a part of daily life. The effects of the conflict are rippling across the world, with protests cropping up in places like the U.S., Europe and Africa.

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Conflict areas can be unpredictable and dangerous. Please do not put yourself in potentially unsafe situations.

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Senior Obama Adviser On Impeachment: “I Would Not Discount that Possibility”…

Senior Obama adviser on impeachment: ‘I would not discount that possibility’

Senior Obama adviser on impeachment: ‘I would not discount that possibility’

Washington (CNN) – Dan Pfeiffer, a longtime aide and senior adviser to President Barack Obama, told reporters Friday that recent talk of impeaching the President should not be considered a long shot.

“I would not discount that possibility,” Pfeiffer said, pointing out that a CNN/ORC International poll released Friday indicated that a third of Americans think Obama should be impeached.

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Pfeiffer, who spoke to reporters at The Monitor Breakfast, pointed at recent attempts by House Republicans to sue the President as evidence that they would consider impeachment in the future.

“Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of this lawsuit, has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future,” Pfeiffer said. “I think that if the President enacted immigration reform that would certainly up the likelihood that they would contemplate impeachment.”

Although one-third of Americans endorsed impeaching Obama, according to the CNN poll, a sizable 65% said they wouldn’t take that step. There were also, expectedly, partisan divisions on the question with 57% of Republicans but only 35% of independents and 13% of Democrats backing a move to impeach Obama.

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, earlier this month called for Obama to be impeached over the growing number of undocumented children from Central American coming across the southern border.

In an opinion editorial for the conservative website Brietbart, Palin wrote that “(Obama’s) unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.'”

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment,” she continued.

Talk of Obama’s impeachment has long been a hallmark of the far right, but has experienced a recent uptick of late.

After President Bill Clinton in 1998 became only the second president to be impeached, his public approval hit 73%, the highest rating of his administration, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Pfeiffer, however, rejected the idea that impeachment would be a good thing for Obama and his lagging poll numbers.

“We take it very seriously and I don’t think it would be a good thing,” he said. “But I think it would be foolish to discount the possibility that Republicans would at least consider going down that path.”- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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Costa Concordia Nears End of Final Voyage…

Costa Concordia nears end of final voyage

Costa Concordia nears end of final voyage

• The rusting ship is at the mouth of the Italian port of Genoa

• The delicate operation to get it in a dry dock is being hampered by wind

Rome (CNN) — The crippled Costa Concordia cruise ship is nearing the end of its final voyage.

Refloated by salvage crews earlier this month, the rusting hulk reached the mouth of Voltri port in the Italian city of Genoa early Sunday.

The cruise ship, which ran aground ran in January 2012 off Giglio Island with more than 4,200 passengers aboard, will be eased into a dry dock at the port for salvage.

It managed to make the four-day journey in a convoy of vessels from Giglio to Genoa without major incident, despite one night of storms.

According to civil protection chief Franco Gabrielli, strong winds are hampering the delicate maneuvering needed to get the ship into the dry dock, which was expected to take five to six hours.

He told reporters waiting on the quay that they would not rush the operation or take unnecessary risks to dock the fragile ship.

One person still missing

Once the Concordia is locked in place in the dry dock, it will be searched for the remains of Russel Rebello, a 33-year-old waiter who is the only victim still missing in the tragedy. A total of 32 people were killed in the disaster.

Searches for Rebello are also underway in Giglio at the site where the ship had rested for the past 30 months.

“Hopefully this will be the start of closure for the family,” salvage master Nick Sloane told CNN from on board the Concordia. “I hope they find Russel.”

Environmental concerns prompted the decision to undertake the expensive and difficult process of refloating the Costa Concordia rather than taking it apart in the pristine Mediterranean waters where it ran aground.

It’s the largest salvage operation ever attempted — and the most expensive, at a cost of $1.5 billion so far.

Dismantling to take 2 years

The lengthy process of dismantling the wrecked ship is expected to take two years.

The first items to be removed will be passengers’ luggage and personal effects that are still stuck on board.

More than 80% of the Concordia will be recycled or reused, including copper wiring, plumbing pipes, kitchens and some of the plastic room fittings that can be repaired.

The remaining 50,000 tons of steel will be melted down and sold at the market price to be used to make construction girders, cars and even other ships.And since the wreck in early 2012, 24 metric tons of debris — including furniture, dishes, food, personal effects and ship parts — have been recovered from the seabed.

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Man: My Penis Was Mistakenly Amputated…

Man: My penis was mistakenly amputated

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American Doctor Infected With Ebola…

American doctor infected with Ebola

American doctor infected with Ebola

• Dr. Kent Brantly fell ill after treating Ebola patients in Liberia

• The current outbreak of Ebola virus is the deadliest ever, health officials say

An American doctor trying to quell the Ebola outbreak in Liberia is now infected with the virus, the organization for which he works said.

Dr. Kent Brantly is now hospitalized and undergoing treatment at an isolation center, the Christian humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse said.

The 33-year-old doctor had been treating Ebola patients and started feeling ill, Samaritan’s Purse spokeswoman Melissa Strickland said. Once he started noticing the symptoms last week, Brantly isolated himself.

His Ebola infection was confirmed Saturday.

Brantly, the medical director for Samaritan Purse’s Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia, has been in the country since last October, Strickland said.

“When the Ebola outbreak hit, he took on responsibilities with our Ebola direct clinical treatment response, but he was serving in a missionary hospital in Liberia prior to his work with Ebola patients,” she said.

Deadliest Ebola outbreak

Health officials say the current Ebola outbreak, centered in West Africa, is the deadliest ever.

As of July 20, some 1,093 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are thought to have been infected by Ebola since its symptoms were first observed four months ago, according to the World Health Organization.

Testing confirmed the Ebola virus in 786 of those cases; 442 of those people died.

Of the 1,093 confirmed, probable and suspected cases, 660 people have died.

And there are fears the virus could spread to the Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria.

Last week, a Liberian man hospitalized with Ebola in Lagos died, Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said.

Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, has a population of more than 20 million people.

The man arrived at Lagos airport on July 20 and was isolated in a local hospital after showing symptoms associated with the virus. He told officials that he had no direct contact with anyone with the virus nor attended the burial of anyone who died of Ebola. 

Another doctor infected

Confirmation of the death in Lagos followed news that a doctor who has played a key role in fighting the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone is infected with the disease, according to that country’s Ministry of Health.

Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan is being treated by the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres — also known as Doctors Without Borders — in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, agency spokesman Tim Shenk said.

Before falling ill, Khan had been overseeing Ebola treatment and isolation units at Kenema Government Hospital, about 185 miles east of the capital, Freetown.

Ebola typically kills 90% of those infected, but the death rate in this outbreak has dropped to roughly 60% thanks to early treatment.

Spread by bodily fluids

Officials believe that the Ebola outbreak has taken such a strong hold in West Africa due to the proximity of the jungle — where the virus originated — to Conakry, Guinea, which has a population of 2 million.

Because symptoms don’t immediately appear, the virus can easily spread as people travel around the region. Once infected with the virus, many people die in an average of 10 days as the blood fails to clot and hemorrhaging occurs.

The disease isn’t contagious until symptoms appear. Symptoms include fever, headache and fatigue. At that point, the Ebola virus is spread via bodily fluids.Health workers are at especially high risk, since they are in close contact with infected people and their bodily fluids. Adding to the danger, doctors may mistake the initial stages of an Ebola infection for another, milder illness.

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Hamas Agrees to Daylong Cease-Fire…

Hamas agrees to daylong cease-fire

Hamas agrees to daylong cease-fire

• NEW: Israeli PM tells CNN that Hamas is violating its own call for a cease-fire

• U.N. diplomat working for a “humanitarian pause”

Gaza City (CNN) — Not long after Israel resumed its offensive in Gaza on Sunday because of “incessant rocket fire” from Gaza, Hamas said it agreed to a 24-hour U.N.-mediated cease-fire, a move that prompted the United Nations to try to get Israel to accept the hiatus.

Diplomats worked to forge what they call a “humanitarian pause” as bursts of Israeli artillery fire echoed once again across parts of the territory, alternating with periods of quiet, and rockets from Gaza flew into southern Israel.

The Israeli Security Cabinet had agreed to a U.N. request late Saturday to extend a cease-fire that started Saturday morning until midnight Sunday (5 p.m. ET Sunday) — on the condition that its military could keep dismantling and destroying Hamas’ tunnels, according to senior Israeli officials.

Hamas rejected that idea, saying it won’t tolerate Israeli troops in the territory. And militants in Gaza fired mortars and rockets into Israel late Saturday and through Sunday morning, killing an Israeli soldier, the IDF said.

Israel then resumed its offensive.

“Following Hamas’ incessant rocket fire throughout the humanitarian window, which was agreed upon for the welfare of the civilian population in Gaza, the IDF will now resume its aerial, naval and ground activity in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.

But Hamas, the militant group that is in control of the besieged Palestinian territory, then changed its stance.

Hamas agreed to a 24-hour U.N.-mediated “humanitarian pause” starting at 2 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET), a text message from Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

“In response to the intervention by the United Nations and taking into account the conditions of our people and the upcoming Eid holiday, an accordance has been reached between Palestinian resistance groups to call a humanitarian calm for 24 hours,” Zuhri said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the call by Hamas for a cease-fire, saying it is violating its own call for a brief stoppage in violence.

Hamas, he told CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley,” is “continuing all its operations” and Israel will do what it can to protect its citizens.

Israeli forces aren’t targeting civilians in the country’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, he said.

“We’re faced with a very ruthless terrorist enemy,” he said, accusing Hamas of hiding behind “civilians as human shields.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is forming a delegation that would head to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to engage in more diplomacy in the Mideast conflict, Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior adviser to Abbas, told CNN.

Abbas is waiting for a final answer on the initiative from Hamas, he said.

U.N.: ‘Please don’t go back on the streets’

It is now up to Israel to decide whether it wants to accept the “humanitarian pause,” according to U.N. envoy Robert Serry, who is working around the clock for a pause in violence.

“I’m extremely concerned after both rocket fire and of course also Israeli operations are continuing. And I appeal on both sides to now show utmost restraint for this humanitarian pause to become effective, I hope as soon as possible,” Serry said. “This will allow civilians to resume their daily lives, both in Israel and in Gaza.”

Noting that fighting persists, Serry appealed to both sides “not to miss maybe this last opportunity for calm.” He urged Gazans to stay home until there’s a durable cessation in violence.

Serry, a Dutch diplomat, is the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.

“Please don’t go back on the streets or to your houses now until there is an effective cease-fire and an announcement to that effect is made,” he said on CNN. “It is still very dangerous for people in Gaza.”

Israel launched its ground incursion in Gaza 10 days ago with the stated aim of taking out the threat posed by the tunnels, which run under the border and have been used by militants to carry out attacks on Israeli soil.

The temporary truce in the conflict — which has killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Palestinian civilians — had enabled medical supplies to be brought into Gaza, families to emerge from shelters and people to dig out the dead from piles of rubble.

Death toll over 1,000

The IDF said Saturday that many Gaza residents were returning to previously evacuated areas despite repeated warnings, placing themselves at risk. It said operations against the tunnel threat continued and defensive positions were being maintained.

Palestinians found more than 100 bodies in areas that have been too dangerous to enter in recent days because of Israeli bombardment, Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra from the Gaza Ministry of Health told CNN.

Nearly 1,050 Palestinians have been killed and about 6,000 wounded since the Israeli operation against Hamas in Gaza started on July 8, al-Qedra said.

The Israeli operation started with airstrikes, and a ground incursion in Gaza followed on July 17.

Israel blamed Hamas for civilian casualties resulting from Israeli strikes, saying militants have embedded themselves among the civilian population.

“The IDF targets terrorist centers, but if residents are inadvertently hit, it is Hamas which is responsible given that it has — again — violated the humanitarian truce that Israel acceded to,” Netanyahu’s media adviser said. The IDF said Sunday that the one soldier killed overnight brought to 43 the number of Israeli troops killed in the Gaza operation. Two Israeli civilians have been killed.

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