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Wednesday, Aug 20th

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Israel spied on John Kerry during peace effort – report

Israel spied on KerryIsrael eavesdropped on the US secretary of state, John Kerry, during doomed peace talks with the Palestinians last year, the German news weekly Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.

The article said the Israelis and at least one other secret service listened in on Kerry’s conversations as he tried to mediate, in a development that Der Spiegel said was likely to further strain ties between Israel and the United States.

Kerry regularly spoke by telephone with high-ranking officials throughout the Middle East during the negotiations that finally collapsed earlier this year.

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Large Gaza Protest Outside White House

Anti Israel protestA pro-Palestinian rally and march on the White House drew thousands today, turning Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Square, the park opposite the White House, into a sea of demonstrators.

Waving Palestinian flags, chanting, “Free free Palestine” and “five, six, seven, eight, Israel is an apartheid state,” and holding signs that read “Free Palestine, Let Gaza Live,” the demonstrators gathered around a small stage in the park and eventually marched down Pennsylvanian Ave.

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Cheesecake Factory is America's most unhealthy food franchise

cheesecake factoryBoasting three of the ten most calorie-heavy meals in America, Cheesecake Factory has taken the cake (and eaten it too) in the Center for Science in the Public Interest's annual Xtreme Eating survey -- earning the unofficial title as America's most unhealthy restaurant.

Topping the charts (and tipping the scales) are: Bruléed French Toast at an impressive 2,800 calories and 93 grams of saturated fat; Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic totalling 2,410 calories; and Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, a slice of which accounts for 1,500 calories.

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Gaza official: 10 dead after strike near UN school

gaza deadA Gaza health official says 10 people have been killed by a strike near a United Nations school in the embattled coastal territory.

Ashraf al-Kidra says another 35 were wounded after the hit near a boys' school in the southern town of Rafah that is sheltering people displaced by the 27-day conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Witnesses said the attack happened while people were waiting in line for food supplies. It was not immediately clear whether the strike was the result of Israeli or Palestinian fire.

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IDF declares death of missing officer Hadar Goldin

IDF soldier deadThe IDF spokesman announced early on Sunday morning that at 11:25 p.m. on Saturday, the Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Brigadier Gen. Rafi Peretz, declared the death of IDF officer Lt. Hadar Goldin, who fell in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday.

The decision was made according to the findings of a special board, headed by the rabbi, who consideration medical, halachic and other relevant considerations.

The message was delivered to the family by the Head of Personnel, Major General Orna Barbibay and Peretz.

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Fast-food workers fight McDonald's as battle for better wages heads to court

McDonald's workers go to courtRichard Eiker has worked for McDonald's for 25 years. For the last 18 he has been at the same Kansas City restaurant working in maintenance, mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing grease out of the deep fat fryers. He has no illusions about who he works for: McDonald's. The burger chain begs to differ.

Over the last 30 years fast food jobs have come to take an ever larger part of the US labour market. In 2013 3.6 million people worked for fast food restaurants in the US. But most – 76% – worked for franchisees and not directly for the companies whose logos adorn the restaurants. Wages, hours, benefits – increasingly hot topics in this low-paying industry – have to be negotiated with the franchisee. That may be about to change.

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Federal defenders barred from massive clemency drive

federal defenders barred from appealsThe Obama administration’s ambitious plan to extend clemency to thousands of prisoners suffered a serious blow Thursday after the agency that oversees the federal courts said that hundreds of federal public defenders and other court-appointed attorneys were not authorized to represent inmates in the process.

The decision, laid out in a memorandum written by the top lawyer for the Administrative Office of the Courts, effectively bars such lawyers from drafting or submitting clemency petitions because the Constitution does not guarantee inmates the right to legal representation in such procedures.

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CIA Torture Was Unnecessary, Senate Report To Conclude

Remsfeld and BushA U.S. Senate committee report will conclude that the CIA's use of harsh interrogation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks yielded no critical intelligence on terrorist plots that could not have been obtained through non-coercive methods, U.S. officials familiar with the document said.

Foreshadowing the impending release of a report expected to suggest that the "enhanced" techniques were unnecessary and also to accuse some CIA officers of misleading Congress about the effectiveness of the program, President Barack Obama said on Friday that the CIA "tortured some folks." He had banned the practices soon after taking office in 2009.

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Dangerous toxins found in Toledo water treatment plant; 400,000 Ohioans put on 'do not drink' order

Toledo water toxicDon't drink the water, Toledo.

About 400,000 Ohioans were told not to drink their tap water after dangerous toxins seeped into Toledo's water.

Scientists found the harmful organisms in Toledo's Collins Park water-treatment plant early Saturday. Consuming the water can lead to nausea, fever and skin irritation, officials said. Boiling the water will only make the toxins worse.

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