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UN Shelter in Gaza Comes Under Fire

UN Shelter in Gaza Comes Under Fire

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — The United Nations body responsible for Palestinian refugees  — UNRWA — reported Thursday that one of its designated shelters in Northern Gaza was hit.Initial reports suggest at least 15 Palestinian civilians were killed and scores more were injured.  UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the explosion tore through the courtyard of a school in Beit Hanoun filled with Palestinian civilians waiting to obey evacuation orders.Eyewitnesses blamed the bloodshed on an Israeli tank shell.Gunness said Israel knew the coordinates of the school and had not granted his requests for safe passage.  But the Israeli Army denied this. It said a Hamas rocket may have been responsible and it has opened an investigation.

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Sudanese Woman Condemned to Hang Reportedly Flies to Italy

Sudanese Woman Condemned to Hang Reportedly Flies to Italy

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME) — A woman sentenced to death for marrying a Christian has flown to Italy, according to a report from the BBC.Meriem Ibrahim, 27, was sentenced to be flogged and hanged to death in Sudan for marrying a Christian and converting from the Muslim faith to Christianity. Ibrahim’s story drew outrage from people across the globe as her story went viral on social media under the “#savemeriam” hashtag and world leaders condemned the harsh sentence.Ibrahim, who was raised by her Christian mother, was eight months pregnant at the time of her sentence and has since given birth.Ibrahim and her family flew on an Italian government plane, accompanied by Italian minister Lapo Pistelli, the BBC reports. Pistelli posted a photo to Facebook showing the group with the caption, “With Miriam, Maya, Martin and Daniel, in a few minutes of Rome. Mission accomplished.” 
Pope Francis reportedly met with Ibrahim and her family for about 30 minutes in his private residence at the Vatican. The pope thanked Ibrahim for “her steadfast witness of faith,” a Vatican spokesman said, according to the Catholic News Service.

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Hockey Player Shares Story Behind Queen Elizabeth’s Photobomb

Hockey Player Shares Story Behind Queen Elizabeth’s Photobomb

@_JaydeTaylor/Twitter(LONDON) — Photobombs happen all the time. A photobomb by Queen Elizabeth — smiling no less — does not.Jayde Taylor, an athlete competing in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games with the Australian women’s hockey team, was warming down with her teammate Brooke Peris when the Queen stopped by to say hello. It was at that point that Taylor snapped the photo.
“Brooke and I planned it so that when she came out the door she would be behind us. And then she came out and smiled at the camera!” Taylor told ABC News. “We were in the right spot at the right time.”However, meeting the royal may have surpassed the experience of taking a photo with her.”She asked us a bit about the pitch, how we were going and told us to enjoy our time here,” Taylor said. “She was lovely. Really, really lovely.”
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Seven Hundred Dead or Missing this Year in Plane Tragedies

Seven Hundred Dead or Missing this Year in Plane Tragedies

Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The numbers are stark, and chilling.Four commercial planes have crashed or disappeared in just four months this year and, perhaps more startlingly, 700 lives have been lost.The latest news of tragedy in the skies came …

Woman in Stilettos Ascends Kilimanjaro

Woman in Stilettos Ascends Kilimanjaro

Rima Suqi(NEW YORK) — If Rima Suqi was going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, she resolved to do it in style. The writer, who called herself “a little bit of a shoe person,” reached the top of the spectacular summit in a pair of stilettos.Suqi told ABC News that she had devised the solo trip to Tanzania almost a year in advance as a meaningful way to fete her 40th birthday, which she celebrated the day after the ascent. But she admitted that her choice of footwear was not quite so intentional.”I don’t honestly know what made me think to do it,” she said, before adding that she figured it would be “an opportunity for a good picture.””It’s 40,” she said. “Forty is kind of a big deal. You’ve got to do something.”Besides, she reasoned, were she at home to mark the milestone, she would “probably be in a heel and red lipstick, too.”As she wrote in a postcard published on Fathom.com, Suqi toted the strappy sandals up the face of the mountain. After she arrived at the peak, she swapped her hiking boots for the stilettos, slicked on a layer of berry-red Chanel lipstick, and asked her bemused guide to snap “a mini photo shoot.””He loved it,” she said. “I think at first he looked at me like I was slightly crazy, but then he loved it and he did say nobody had ever done that before.”According to Suqi, the sartorial stunt was not just for show.In a diary entry dated from the trip, Suqi wrote: “This climb is really a metaphor for life. Ups, downs, easier patches, rough patches. People who look after you, feed you, provide shelter, help you when you are sick and provide encouragement when you are down. You just take it slow — pole, pole — and try to find your way at your own pace.”And as in life, so too at Kilimanjaro: It never hurts to look your best. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

UN Will Investigate Possible War Crimes in Gaza

UN Will Investigate Possible War Crimes in Gaza

iStock/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) — The United Nations Human Rights Council voted Wednesday to establish a commission of inquiry into incidents in Gaza, investigating whether any war crimes have been committed in the area.  The United States was the only county to vote against establishing the investigation, while Britain, Germany, and France abstained. Addressing the U.S. decision, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the country had no issue being the sole vote against the commission, adding that the U.S. will continue to stand up for Israel, “even if it means standing alone.” Experts on the Geneva Convention are sounding the alarm on unrest in Gaza, with Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch telling the BBC that both sides in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict may be guilty of war crimes. “We see very serious violations of the Geneva Convention, the rules designed to spare civilians the hazards of conflict, which apply to both Israel and Hamas,” Roth said. Conflict in the region shows little sign of letting up as the death toll continues to climb. The U.N. says nearly 75 percent of the almost 700 Palestinians killed were civilians. Meanwhile, Israel claims to be targeting militants and accuses Hamas of using innocent people as human shields. Two Israeli civilians and more than 30 soldiers have lost their lives. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.N.’s decision a “travesty,” adding that it, “should be rejected by decent people everywhere.” Netanyahu claimed that while Hamas is “committing a double war crime” by firing rockets at Israeli civilians, Israel has “gone to unprecedented lengths” to protect Palestinian civilians by dropping leaflets, making phone calls, and sending text messages. “The HRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas’ decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques,” the Prime Minister said.”By failing to condemn Hamas’s systematic use of human shields and by blaming Israel for the deaths that are caused by this grotesque human shields policy, the HRC is sending a  message to Hamas and terror organizations everywhere that using civilians as human shields is an effective strategy.”
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More than 80 Killed in Nigeria Bombings

More than 80 Killed in Nigeria Bombings

iStock/Thinkstock(KADUNA, Nigeria) — More than 80 people were killed in twin bombings in northern Nigeria on Wednesday. The attacks targeted a prominent Muslim scholar, Shaykh Dahiru Usman Bauchi, and may have also been aimed at former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari, according to reports from American officials. The U.S. State Department extended its sympathies to the family and loved ones of the victims killed. “We call on Nigerian authorities to fully investigate these attacks, and we urge all Nigerians to avoid reprisals and continue to practice the interfaith cooperation that violent extremists seek to undermine,” Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement.
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Dutch Mayor Sorry He Said Putin’s Daughter Should Be Deported from Netherlands

Dutch Mayor Sorry He Said Putin’s Daughter Should Be Deported from Netherlands

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images(AMSTERDAM) — The mayor of a Netherlands city has apologized for suggesting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter should be kicked out of the country.Pieter Broertjes, mayor of Hilversum, made the comment during a radio interview Wednesday, The Guardian reported. His dig at Maria Putin, who reportedly lives in South Holland, comes as the Netherlands mourns victims of a Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down by a missile in Ukraine last week. Ukrainian authorities have alleged that Russia is responsible for the attack.Broertjes apologized on Twitter, saying his comments were “not wise,” but that they “stemmed from a feeling of helplessness that many people will recognize.”About two-thirds of the 298 passengers aboard the doomed plane were Dutch, Malaysian authorities said. As bodies of victims are flown home to families, the Dutch government declared Wedneday a day of mourning.Unlike their dad, Putin’s two daughters Maria and Katerina have largely avoided the media spotlight, but The Guardian reports that Maria lives in Voorschoten with her Dutch boyfriend, not far from Hilversum, where Broertjes presides.U.S. officials haven’t confirmed the origin of the missile attack on July 17.
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Airline with Missile Defenses Goes to Israel When US Carriers Won’t

Airline with Missile Defenses Goes to Israel When US Carriers Won’t

iStock/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) — As the grounding of American air carriers flying to Israel was extended Wednesday, one major Israeli airline — one of the only ones in the world boasting high-tech anti-missile defenses –  says it’s braving potential rocket attacks to fly home to Tel Aviv. “In light of flight cancelations to Israel by foreign air carriers we would like to inform you that El Al, as always, will continue to fly from and to Israel,” the airline wrote on its website. “The company will continue to keep Israel’s skies open, and will be at your service any time.” The company said it’s also adding flights “to accommodate stranded passengers.”The FAA first told U.S. airlines not to head to Israel on Tuesday in response to a rocket strike “approximately one mile” from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. In what he called a “show of solidarity,” former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew from New York to Tel Aviv on an El Al flight Wednesday.El Al, the national airline of Israel, has reportedly equipped its planes with some form of anti-missile tech since the mid-2000s, a move that came in response to an attack on an Israeli chartered aircraft in late 2002 in Mombasa, Kenya. Two shoulder-fired rockets narrowly missed their target then, and El Al and other Israeli airlines have been preparing for a repeat ever since.In the years following the failed attack, El Al turned to Flight Guard, a combination of several technologies reportedly including early warning systems and flares designed to confuse any heat seeking missiles. The use of flares was controversial, with some European airports purportedly concerned that the flares, if fired, could cause damage below. Israeli newspaper Ynet reported that Israeli defense officials felt those concerns were a “misunderstanding.”Regardless, in recent years, El Al and the Israeli government sought to upgrade civilian airline defenses. Last February the Israeli Defense Ministry announced a new countermeasure system, dubbed Sky Shield or C-MUSIC, installed on a Boeing 737 had been successful in live fire tests.According to the defense think tank IHS Janes, the new system, housed in a pod under the fuselage, employs an infrared missile-tracking camera, an “infrared (IR), ultra-violet (UV), or radar missile-approach warning (MAWS) sensor to detect a missile launch in the very early stages of an attack,” and a laser system meant to jam the incoming missile’s “seeker” and “cause it [the missile] to be diverted away from the aircraft.”Israel’s Channel 2 reported the new system costs $1 million per plane and will be installed on several Israeli airlines, including El Al, that fly “sensitive routes.”For the most part, the defensive systems have been designed to defeat shoulder-fired rockets, also known as MANPADS, which can menace a plane near takeoff and landing, as opposed to larger and radar-based anti-aircraft missile systems like the SA-11 — the one the U.S. believes shot down Malaysian Airlines MH17 while the plane was at cruising altitude in Ukraine last week.When Moammar Gadhafi’s dictatorship in Libya fell in 2011, thousands of MANPADS were believed to have been looted from government armories, stoking the fears of American counter-terrorism officials that the relatively cheap, easy-to-use weapons could target a civilian airliners in the region.“Personally, I think that the terrorism threat is the main threat these days dealing with civilian transportation,” former El Al President and CEO Elyezer Shkedy says in a promotional video for the Sky Shield system.Missile countermeasures are widely used by military planes and several times, the U.S. government and American airlines have looked into adding their own countermeasures to civilian flights, but declined due to the high cost and comparatively low risk of a MANPAD attack in the homeland. Recent events in Israel and in Ukraine, however, have renewed interest in the defense systems.Sen. Mark Kirk told The Washington Post he was petitioning the FAA to rethink security measures.“I think they should actively look into mounting active defenses on civil aircraft that are carrying hundreds of people,” Kirk said.
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Two Ukrainian Jets Shot Down, Defense Ministry Says

Two Ukrainian Jets Shot Down, Defense Ministry Says

iStock/Thinkstock(KIEV, Ukraine) — Two Ukrainian military jets were shot down Wednesay according to Ukrainian defense officials who charged that they were downed by missiles fired from the Russian side of the border.The planes, identified as Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets, were hit in the Donetsk region of the country not far from where the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was knocked out of the sky last week. It is also where Ukrainian forces are battling separatist rebels outside the city of Donetsk, one of the last separatist strongholds.The fate of the planes’ pilots was not immediately known.It happened at 12:30 p.m. Ukraine time (5:30 a.m. ET) while the planes were flying at roughly 6,000 feet, said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.The spokesman said missiles were fired from Russian territory and repeated himself saying, “from across the border” in Russia.The Ukrainian rebels are ethnic Russians and the U.S. and other Western countries have accused Russia of fomenting instability in Ukraine and aiding the rebels by supplying weaponry and volunteers.The Sukhoi SU-25 are single seat combat fighter jets. That same type of jet was shot down by a missile July 16.The shoot-down of the jets over the town of Saur Mogila came in the same rebellious eastern part of the country where MH17 was shot down, killing 298 people on board. The MH17 flight was believed to have been shot down by a BUK anti-aircraft missile system.Shortly before word of Wednesday’s shoot-down came, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told ABC News that he’s very concerned Russia has not stopped the flow of heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine where ethnic Russians are trying to break away from Ukraine.Fighting is currently taking place on the outskirts of Donetsk, one of the separatists last strongholds.“We are very concerned that Russia has not pulled back on the flow of heavy weapons,” Pyatt said. “What needs to happen is Russia needs to stop sending weapons and fighters across the border.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Taiwan Plane Crash in Typhoon’s Tail Kills 47

Taiwan Plane Crash in Typhoon’s Tail Kills 47

iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) — A passenger plane trying to land at a Taiwan airport in stormy weather in the tail end of a typhoon crashed and killed 47 people, authorities said.The TransAsia Airways turboprop plane crashed and caught fire in the Penghu Islands, an archipelago off the western coast of Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration says the TransAsia plane was carrying 54 passengers and four crew.Taiwan had been battered by Typhoon Matmo. The center of the storm had moved on to China, but the Central Weather Bureau was advising heavy rain to fall through the evening for Taiwan.

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The Slow, Sad Journey Home for Victims of Malaysia Airlines Tragedy

The Slow, Sad Journey Home for Victims of Malaysia Airlines Tragedy

(EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands) — The bodies of victims from last week’s Malaysia Airlines crash are headed home, being flown to the Netherlands as the Dutch government declared a day of national mourning.Meanwhile, the black boxes from MH17 were delivered to the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters at Farnborough, a spokesman told ABC News. Investigators expect to be able to download the info from the recorders within 24 hours. There is no significant damage to them.Ukraine prepared a departure ceremony at the airport in Kharkiv for the passengers and crew of Flight17, which was shot down Thursday with 298 people on board, most of them Dutch citizens.Sixteen bodies left aboard a Dutch C130, with an Australian C130 carrying an additional 24 bodies, authorities said.The people of the Netherlands await the arrival of the bodies at Eindhoven Airport, the second-largest airport in the Netherlands. Church bells will ring across the country, five minutes before the two military planes touch down. Then a trumpet will sound, signaling the arrival of the planes. There to meet the planes will be the relatives of the victims and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as well as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.Following the arrival of the victims’ remains will be a minute of silence. A motorcade will carry the bodies to a military facility where authorities will work to identify the bodies, a process that could take months to complete.Transport of the remains will continue for at least three days.Wreckage from the aircraft fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been battling the Kiev government since April.Senior U.S. intelligence officials presented evidence Tuesday that they say shows the plane was shot down by a Russian-made SA-11 missile, and that Russia “created the conditions” behind the shoot-down.Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, in Australia for the International AIDS Conference, said that the people who shot the plane down are just as responsible even if they didn’t intend to shoot down a civilian flight.“The people who did it and the people who made it possible for them to do it by giving them this weaponry, which could only have been used in an illegal way, do not in any way diminish their responsibility because the people they killed were different from the people they thought they were killing,” Clinton said.
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Costa Concordia Being Towed to Final Destination

Costa Concordia Being Towed to Final Destination

Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images(ROME) — The Costa Concordia set sail for its final voyage on Wednesday.With the help of more than a dozen tugboats, the cruise ship that crashed off the coast of Tuscany on Jan. 13, 2012 — killing 32 people — is heading up the Italian coast to the port city of Genoa, where it will be scrapped.Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, called the send off “a moment of great satisfaction.” The $2 billion salvage operation has been the most costly and complex in history.
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Astronaut Sees Israeli-Gaza Conflict from Space

Astronaut Sees Israeli-Gaza Conflict from Space

Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The death, destruction and chaos from the Israeli-Gaza conflict has been captured in striking photos on the ground, but even astronauts can see the fighting as it unfolds.Alexander Gerst, a European astronaut working at the International Space Station, captured a photo of rocket fire and explosions apparently being exchanged between Israeli and Gaza as the ISS flew over the region Wednesday night.“My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel,” he wrote from hundreds of miles above Earth.

My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel pic.twitter.com/jNGWxHilSy
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 23, 2014

The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Wednesday that it has not lifted its ban against travel to or from Tel Aviv’s international airport and will prohibit travel there for an additional 24 hours.
The list of airlines that chose to follow the American air agency’s guidelines extended past the U.S., with Air Canada, Lufthansa, German Wings and Air France canceling their scheduled flights in addition to US Airways, Delta and United. 
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American Circus Troupe Stuck in Israel Due to FAA Ban

American Circus Troupe Stuck in Israel Due to FAA Ban

Jessica Hentoff/Circus Harmony(TEL AVIV, Israel) — A circus troupe that traveled from St. Louis to Tel Aviv, Israel to take part in a cross-cultural exchange expected to be doing backflips as part of their routine, but not when it came to their travel plans.Jessica Hentoff is one of the chaperones for Circus Harmony, a Missouri circus group that has been traveling to Israel since 2007 to work with a youth circus in Galilee that includes both Jewish and Arab children.The Americans’ trip was scheduled to end on Wednesday after spending two weeks training and performing in Israel, but the temporary ban preventing U.S. carriers from flying in and out of Ben Gurion Airport means that their departure has been pushed back to Monday.”We came despite the conflict because we felt we would be safe in the Galilee,” Hentoff, the artistic and executive director of the non-profit circus group, told ABC News.Hentoff traveled with nine American children between the ages of 9 and 20, who are all members of a troupe called the St. Louis Arches. When they arrived in Galilee, they connected with 18 young members of a local circus troupe and performed several shows throughout northern Israel.The performers are thrilled about the delay.”My students had actually been begging me to extend our stay here in Israel,” Hentoff said Tuesday night. “At this point, they only know it will be for 24 hours. However, the soonest flight we could get does not leave until Monday night.”The gymnasts are not the only ones stranded by their airlines. Dozens of flights have been canceled and airlines have not said when they will resume their regular schedule after the Federal Aviation Administration banned commercial airlines from flying into Tel Aviv’s international airport on Tuesday. The ban was instituted after a rocket launched by Hamas landed one mile away from the airport.The FAA only regulates American air carriers, but other international companies including Turkish Airlines, Air France, Scandinavian Airlines and Lufthansa followed its lead. British Airways and Russian carrier Rossiya have continued their scheduled flights into Israel, as has the country’s commercial airline El Al. “It is the grown ups in the group — myself and two chaperones — who are wanting to return to the U.S. to get back to work,” Hentoff told ABC News. “Of course, their parents are very anxious to have them home. We are also missing some important events at our circus.”The students are making the most of their extended trip, however, with a swimming trip at a kibbutz scheduled for Wednesday and plans for more shows during their five extra days.”Our host families are gracious. Our children are resilient. They are more than that. They are an amazing example of what can happen when you focus on what connects you instead of what divides you,” Hentoff said.
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China Hammered by Second Typhoon in Two Weeks

China Hammered by Second Typhoon in Two Weeks

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(BEIJING) — The powerful typhoon Matmo slammed in China’s southeastern coastal province of Fujian Wednesday as China was still recovering from typhoon Rammasun, which killed dozens earlier this month.Matmo, with sustained winds of 85 mph, brought heavy rains, downed trees and threatened landslides.According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the category-two typhoon will lead to 300 millimeters of rainfall in Shanghai. The nearby Zhejiang and Anhui Province will also be impacted.Matmo –  the first typhoon to make landfall on Taiwan in 2014 — tore through Taiwan earlier Wednesday and is blamed for two deaths and one missing person.
It’s the second typhoon to hit China in less than two weeks after Typhoon Rammasun rampaged across the Philippines, China and Vietnam.
Rammasun, the strongest typhoon to hit southern China in 41 years, left 46 dead in China and another 25 missing.China’s Fujian Province has around 37 million people, only slightly less than California. The population of Zhejiang beats Fujian by about another 20 million.
In preparation for the typhoon, authorities in eastern Zhejiang province ordered fishing boats to return to port and hastened the harvesting of ripe crops, Xinhua said.The typhoon is expected to alleviate the scorching heat in southern China. Xinlangningbolvxing, an account that posts tourism information about Ningbo city in Zhejiang province, took an optimistic view. “Too hot, isn’t it? Here is good news,” the account posted, “Zhejiang will fall under the influence of Matmo tomorrow. At least it will be cool with the rain and wind, no?” Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Cockpit of Malaysia Airlines Plane Remains Unguarded Amid Pleas to Preserve, Protect Evidence

Cockpit of Malaysia Airlines Plane Remains Unguarded Amid Pleas to Preserve, Protect Evidence

(KIEV, Ukraine) — Fields with wreckage from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane remained completely unguarded Tuesday amid international calls for the evidence to be protected and secured from looters.
A team of international experts was on their way to the rural Ukrainian town of Donetsk to examine the crash site first hand, but until then, the plane wreckage remains out in the open.
One field, miles from the main crash site, was littered with debris and completely unguarded, reported ABC News’ Kirit Radia.
Another clearing had the remains of the cockpit of the plane, with pilots’ bags, flight plans, and maps scattered throughout, open to the elements as well as looters.
Both sites had several pieces of metal that appeared to be burned and had small holes–which would inevitably be important to investigators because they may give clues about the nature of the surface-to-air missile that was used to shoot down the plane.
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What Happens When Online Dating Meets the Middle East

What Happens When Online Dating Meets the Middle East

iStock/Thinkstock(RAMALLAH, Palestine) — Dating is hard, but it’s even harder if you’re trying to meet someone in the capital of a war-torn region like Palestine, according to excerpts from a new blog called PalesTINDER.
The Tumblr page posts singles’ conversations from the dating apps Tinder and Grindr, revealing that there really is no escaping the area’s political tensions amid attacks in Israel and the Gaza Strip– even if you’re just trying to spark a conversation.
“It started as my roommate and I were sitting on the couch like, ‘Let’s see what’s happening on Tinder,’” Caitlin Kent, 26, told ABC News from Ramallah, Palestine, where the San Francisco native works at a summer camp.
But Kent said she was shocked by the “racist” responses she got when other users learned she lived in Ramallah, and decided to gather screenshots of similar conversations her friends in Palestine had, and posted them on a blog.
Now the excerpts, which Kent says are all from her or her friends’ personal conversations, are gaining traction online, highlighting how even something innocent like an online chat can spiral into heated political discussion.
In one conversation, someone claiming to be from Tel Aviv, Israel, refuses to visit Ramallah because he says he doesn’t want to be killed. In another, someone assumes the other party is a Hamas supporter because she is in Palestine.
Yet another conversation brings up Romeo and Juliet — a way to justify an Arab and a Jewish person speaking to one another.
The dialogue can go both ways, as tensions have been high between Israelis and Palestinians for decades.
Kent, who blurred names and faces before she posted the snapshots online, said the blog isn’t designed to shed light on what dating life is like there, but just serves as further proof of how divisive the Middle East has become.
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Irish Cafe Bans ‘Loud’ American Tourists

Irish Cafe Bans ‘Loud’ American Tourists

iStock/Thinkstock(WATERVILLE, Ireland) — “Loud American’s [sic]” strike again. A café in southern Ireland was spotted proudly displaying a sign that read, “No bus/coach or, loud American’s [sic]. Thank you.”
The photo started receiving national attention after Maurice Campbell posted it to Twitter.
“I was a bit taken aback,” Campbell told ABC News. “I mentioned it to them and said it was a very strange sign, and he [the owner] just sort of looked at me.”
Campbell was vacationing in Waterville, a village on the Ireland southern coast below Killarney when he came upon Peter’s Place Café and the sign.
“It seems like a guy who is running a place very much in his way, and he serves who he wants to and that’s the way of it,” Campbell said. “I would have thought if it said no Africans, it would have caused a very different sort of trouble. It’s a bit much.”
Campbell, who resides in Northern Ireland, was especially surprised by the sign since that area is heavily reliant on tourism.
“What surprised me is that nobody from the local community had asked him to take it down, because, goodness, it’s not a very welcoming thing when people are traveling around,” he said. “We’re all very happy to see Americans come – so many of you have origins of some sort in Ireland – and we like you to come spend your dollars. You’re as welcome as are the flowers in May. So it’s not good to see somebody putting something like that up.”
There are probably very few businesses that would publicly share the café’s sentiment in a country that has welcomed a record number of American visitors in 2013, and is on pace to surpass that for 2014, according to Tourism Ireland. Ireland hosted more than one million American visitors who spent about $1 billion in 2013, and American tourists tend to stay longer and spend more than the average tourist.
“The United States continues to be one of the strongest markets for tourism to the island of Ireland. 2013 was a record year for American visitors to Ireland – even surpassing our previous best year of 2007,” Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said in a press release. “We are determined to ensure the success continues.”
Locals share that sentiment, with Niall O’Driscoll tweeting out in response to Campbell’s photo, “Sorry you had to see that. I’m from Cahersiveen, the town before Waterville, and we welcome all Americans loud or quiet.”
Peter’s Place Café did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.
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Kerry Says Egyptian Cease-Fire Plan Still Workable

Kerry Says Egyptian Cease-Fire Plan Still Workable

State Department photo/ Public Domain(CAIRO) — Secretary of State John Kerry said his first full day of meetings in Cairo to discuss a resolution to the Israeli-Hamas violence was “constructive,” but there were no immediate signs of any progress towards a cease-fire.As he has for the past few days, Kerry reiterated that the United States believes that a proposal released by Egypt for an immediate end to hostilities is the best way forward, and that only Hamas is left to sign on to that plan.“While we still obviously have work to do, it’s also clear to me from each of the parties that I’ve met with that there is a framework available to end the violence. And that framework is the Egyptian initiative that has been put forward,” Kerry said on Tuesday.The secretary made those remarks while addressing reporters at the Egyptian presidential palace, where he met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.Kerry, dispatched there by President Obama, also spoke in more urgent and descriptive language than he has in recent days about the humanitarian crisis facing residents of Gaza, many of whom cannot move out of danger, despite Israeli warnings to do so.“We have watched the humanitarian crisis in Gaza grow worse day after day: people losing their homes, all of their possessions, their access to food and water, their entire way of life,” Kerry said.He added that the loss of lives on both sides of the border was unacceptable and that he would be working for the “next days” to help Egypt, a key broker in the talks between Israel and Hamas, achieve a lasting cease-fire agreement.“For the sake of thousands of innocent families whose lives have been shaken and destroyed by this conflict on all sides, we hope we can get there as soon as possible,” Kerry said.
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