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Monday, Sep 15th

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US State Department says Israel appears to be targeting family of murdered Arab teen

Marie HarfA State Department spokeswoman accused Israel of targeting the family of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in recent arrests.

Following the teen’s abduction and murder in a Jerusalem forest on July 2 by three Israelis, Israeli police arrested his cousin Tariq Abu Khdeir, an American citizen, at a protest on July 5. Tariq Abu Khdeir, who has since returned to the United States, says police beat him while he was held. On July 28, Israel arrested another American cousin, also named Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

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Environmental groups warn of 'taint' by official on nuclear regulator decisions

William MagwoodNearly three dozen environmental groups are pressing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to postpone key votes until after outgoing commissioner William Magwood steps down, warning his involvement would "taint" the agency.

The NRC is scheduled to hold two votes on nuclear waste storage and reactor licensing on Aug. 26, but Magwood does not plan to leave for his new gig until Aug. 31.

Earlier this year, Magwood announced he would join the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency on Sept. 1, as its director general.

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Rights groups call on Israel to allow investigators into Gaza

war crimes gazaHuman Rights Watch and Amnesty International renewed a call to Israel on Wednesday to allow the groups access to Gaza via the Israeli-controlled border, saying in a joint press release that the resumption of fighting makes it more important than ever for their investigators to monitor the situation.

“The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll mounts,” Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s director of Research and Crisis Response, said in the release.

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Israeli air strike kills three Hamas commanders in Gaza

Israelis kill Hamas leadersAn Israeli air strike killed three senior Hamas commanders in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a clear sign of its intention to hit the group's armed leadership days after a ceasefire failed.

Hamas, which dominates Gaza, named the men as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, the three highest-ranking casualties it has announced since Israel started its offensive six weeks ago.

All three, killed in the bombing of a house in the southern town of Rafah, had led operations against Israel over the past 20 years, the Islamist movement said.

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Doctor with Ebola expected to be released from Atlanta hospital

Ebola doctor cured and released from hospitalThe American doctor being treated for Ebola at an Atlanta hospital has recovered and is expected to leave the hospital Thursday.

Dr. Kent Brantly, who contracted the highly contagious and almost always deadly virus while treating patients in Liberia, is expected to leave the hospital following a press conference at 11 a.m.

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Oil spill reported in North Dakota

Oil spill North DakotaThe government of North Dakota said it was responding to the spill of oil from a broken pipeline in the northern part of the state near the Canadian border.

The North Dakota Department of Health said it was responding to an oil spill about six miles southeast of Westhope. The agency said the spill was the result of a broken pipeline at a site owned by drilling company Enduro Operating.

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BofA in $16.5 billion deal with U.S. over mortgage bonds

Bank of AmericaBank of America Corp is expected to pay more than $16.5 billion to end investigations into mortgage securities that the bank and its units sold in the run-up to the financial crisis, in a deal that could be announced as early as Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said.

The bank has been hammering out the final details of the record-breaking accord with the U.S. Department of Justice and is expected to pay around $9 billion in cash and the rest in assistance to struggling homeowners.

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US tried but failed to free US hostages in Syria

James FoleyA US secret military mission had "recently" tried but failed "to free a number of American hostages held in Syria", the Pentagon has revealed.

It did not say whether the US troops had also tried to rescue US journalist James Foley, a video of whose beheading by Islamic State appeared on Tuesday.  However, senior US officials - speaking on condition of anonymity - said this was the case.

IS said Foley's death was revenge for US air strikes on its fighters in Iraq.

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Expert witness in US execution cases will no longer defend states' methods

Execution defense quitsAn anesthesiologist said he would no longer act as an expert witness for states defending their lethal injection methods, creating another hurdle for corrections departments scrambling to find workable execution systems.

Mark Dershwitz, a University of Massachusetts anesthesiologist and pharmacologist, was the expert called by Ohio in support of its new two-drug combination that led to a troubling 26-minute execution in January.

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