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  • Gaza strikes kill 4, EU pushes truce plan

    Israeli air strikes have killed four Palestinians in Gaza as European governments sought UN action to end more than six weeks of bloodshed.

    Fighting flared anew on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed, with Israel insistent on its demand for security from rocket fire by Gaza militants, and Hamas defiant over its call for an end to eight years of Israeli blockade.

    The death toll since July 8 now stands at least 2087 Palestinians dead, three-quarters of them civilians according to the United Nations, and 67 on the Israeli side, nearly all of them soldiers.

    Two men aged 22 and 24 were killed in a strike on Nusseirat refugee camp early on Friday, emergency services said.

    Two more were killed in an air raid near neighbouring Deir al-Balah.

    The Israeli military said it struck around 20 targets overnight but did not give details.

    Israeli media said the government was seeking US diplomatic help to head off the European bid at the UN to end the violence, the deadliest since the 2005 end of the second Palestinian intifada or uprising.

    Washington has wielded its veto powers at the UN Security Council repeatedly in the past on behalf of its Israeli ally.

    But relations have been strained over the breakdown of US-brokered peace efforts and concerns over the scale of the civilian death toll in Gaza.
    The draft presented by Britain, France and Germany came after one submitted by Jordan on behalf of the Arab League had run into US opposition.

    The European text urged an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, and a lifting of the Israeli blockade.

    It proposed a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire and supervise the movement of goods into Gaza to allay Israeli security concerns.

    It also called for Gaza's return to the control of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, seven years after his loyalists were driven out of the territory by the Islamists of Hams.

    The text provides for the lifting of economic and humanitarian restrictions on Gaza to allow for a massive reconstruction effort.

    UN chief Ban Ki-moon has pledged help to rebuild Gaza, but warned that it would be "for the last time" after three wars in six years.

    But as the diplomatic pressure for a ceasefire intensified, Israel showed no sign of ending its deadly campaign to halt rocket fire by Gaza militants.

    The security cabinet authorised the call-up of up to 10,000 army reservists in a new troop rotation, Israeli media reported.

    Finance Minister Yair Lapid, regarded as one of the less hawkish members of the security cabinet, threatened further deadly attacks on Hamas commanders after three leading militants were killed in a pre-dawn strike on Thursday.

    Putin plays aid convoy wildcard on eve of key Ukraine talks

     When German chancellor Angela Merkel visits Kiev today, she could be forgiven for imagining she hears an ominous rumbling in the distance. Her talks with Ukraine’s leaders will begin a crucial week of negotiations aimed at ending the country’s bloody crisis, but it will now start not only with guns booming in the east, but a huge convoy of Russian military trucks rolling through disputed territory.

    By sending his aid convoy into Ukraine yesterday without its permission or the co-operation of the Red Cross, Russian president Vladimir Putin sent a message of defiance to Kiev and its western allies.

    He showed he is determined to regain the initiative in Ukraine, despite recent setbacks suffered by Moscow-backed rebels who want eastern regions to join Russia, and the impact of his country’s growing economic and diplomatic isolation.
    The convoy of almost 300 trucks – many of which are almost empty – adds another unpredictable element to a volatile conflict that has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. The first trucks arrived last night in Luhansk, a city that has been without power, running water and telephone connections for almost a fortnight, and an island of rebel resistance to the rapid recent advance of Ukrainian troops.

    The separatist strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk are now almost surrounded by government forces, raising hopes among Ukrainian military men that the insurgency could be crushed before tomorrow’s Independence Day celebrations.

    Kiev believes the aid convoy is Moscow’s way of slowing or halting the crackdown on the rebels, and could be used to provide a pretext for a full Russian invasion if it came under attack, either real or staged.

    It is not clear how long the trucks will stay in Ukraine, or even where they will attempt to go, with Russia potentially seeking to send them from Luhansk to Donetsk, through areas of fierce fighting. The convoy is Putin’s wildcard, and the fact he has played it now suggests Ukraine’s crisis is at a vital juncture.

    The 16 Best Towns To Live In, According To OUTSIDE Magazine

    With all the hustle, bustle, glitz and glamour you could ever want, urban centers are hard to pass up. But for the 1.5 million readers who casted their bracket-style votes inOUTSIDE magazine’s Best Towns Competition, that's certainly not the case.

    Between their "delectable dining scenes, friendly, walkable neighborhoods and unparalleled access to outdoor adventure," the top spots included in the publication's annual ranking are proudly showing what quality access to healthy eating options and green, open spaces looks like -- all while making the case for banishing the big city life.

    Check out how the pre-selected towns ranked this year (on a scale of 0 to 100), and see for yourself why you don't need a major metro to live large...-------MORE

    Russian Aid Convoy Drives Into Ukraine Seemingly Without Kiev's Approval

    Russia sent dozens of aid trucks into rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Friday without Kiev's approval, saying its patience had worn out with the Ukrainian government's stalling tactics. Ukraine called the move a "direct invasion."

    The unilateral move sharply raised the stakes in eastern Ukraine, for any attack on the convoy could draw the Russian military directly into the conflict between the Ukrainian government in Kiev and separatist rebels in the east. Ukraine has long accused Russia of supporting and arming the rebels, a charge Russia denies.

    The white-tarped semis said to be carrying food, water, generators and sleeping bags are intended to help civilians in the city of Luhansk, where government forces are besieging pro-Russian separatists. The city only 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Russian border has seen weeks of heavy shelling that has cut off power, water and phone lines and has left food supplies scarce.

    In the past few days, Ukraine says its troops have recaptured significant parts of Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-held city, and suspicions are running high that Moscow's humanitarian operation may instead be aimed at halting Kiev's military momentum. Fierce fighting has been reported this week both around Luhansk and the largest rebel-held city, Donetsk, with dozens of casualties.

    Four troops were killed and 23 wounded in the past 24 hours, the government reported at noon Friday.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross, which had planned to escort the Russian aid convoy to assuage fears that it would be used as a cover for a Russian invasion, said it had not received enough security guarantees to do so Friday.

    Ukrainian security service chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko on Friday called the arrival of the convoy a "direct invasion."

    "This is a direct invasion done under the cover of the Red Cross for the first time ever," Nalyvaichenko told reporters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. "These are military men who have been trained to carry cargo, trained to drive combat vehicles, tanks and artillery."

    He asserted that the half-empty aid trucks would be used to transport weapons to rebels and spirit away the bodies of Russian fighters killed in eastern Ukraine.

    He promised, however, that Ukraine will not shell the convoy.

    AP journalists heard the contents of many aid trucks rattling and sliding around on the country road, confirming that many vehicles were only partially loaded.

    Ukraine had authorized the entrance of a few dozen trucks, but the number of Russian vehicles entering the country through a rebel-held border point Friday was clearly way beyond that amount.

    Team India Manager: 'Our Culture Does Not Allow Girlfriends on Tour'

    Defeat is never a pleasant experience and quite predictably blame games have begun after India's humiliation in the five-Test series against England.

    In a swift move a couple of days ago, the BCCI appointed Ravi Shastri as the Team Director for the remainder of the tour and sent the fielding and bowling coaches on leave. This decision has virtually put chief coach Duncan Fletcher on notice. Thereafter, the focus has now shifted to players and all those, who accompanied them during the series.

    It has emerged that actress Anushka Sharma giving company to Virat Kohli did not go down too well with the manager of the Indian Test side, Sunil Dev. On returning to his hometown Delhi yesterday, Dev told mid-day that he wasn't too happy with the actress' presence.

    "I would have objected to her presence, but was helpless when I realised that permission was granted by BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) secretary Sanjay Patel."
    Prez not in loop?

    He added: "I doubt whether the secretary even spoke to the interim BCCI president Shivlal Yadav before granting permission.

    I am sure he (Yadav) would have turned down the request. Anushka stayed with Virat till the third Test. Foreign players do take their girlfriends on tours, but India's culture is different.

    SC to interpret LoP provision for Lokpal selection

     The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to interpret Leader of Opposition (LoP) provision for the purpose of appointment of Lokpal in which LoP is a selection committee member and asked the Centre to make its stand clear within two weeks, saying the legislation cannot be put in “cold storage”.

    Emphasising the importance of the post, a bench headed by Chief Justice R. M. Lodha said Leader of Opposition conveys the voice of a representative different from government in the House.

    It said LoP is a very important component (under Lokpal law) and the issue needs objective consideration in view of current political situation where at present there is no Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

    The bench also observed that the issue of LoP is relevant not only in Lokpal law but also in other existing and incoming legislations.

    It said the issue cannot be prolonged and the act cannot be put in cold storage, while posting case for final disposal for September 9.

    Congress, as the second largest party in the Lok Sabha with 44 seats, has been making a strong bid for the LoP post but the ruling BJP has not acceded, saying the opposition party does not have the requisite 10 per cent seats which meant it needed 55 to stake claim.

    Black Women Call Taylor Swift's New Video 'Really Troubling'

    Taylor Swift got herself into some hot water with the music video for her new single "Shake It Off." The clip features Swift trying and failing to fit in with a number of subcultures, including that of ballerinas and break-dancers, but the scenes causing an uproar are the ones in which Swift crawls between the legs of a line of twerking dancers.

    The clip has spurred a negative reaction from commentators including Odd Future's Earl Sweatshirt, who expressed his displeasure by tweeting that the video is "perpetuating black stereotypes to the same demographic of white girls who hide their prejudice by proclaiming their love of the culture."

    HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill discussed the controversy on Thursday with a panel that included comedian Amanda Seales, gender studies professor Treva Lindsey and writer Everdeen Mason, who doesn't believe Swift's use of twerking is racist.

    Check out part of the conversation in the video above, and catch the full HuffPost Live segment here.

    Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

    This Is What The MTV VMAs Looked Like In 2004

    The 2004 MTV VMAs don't look all that different from the event you may find yourself tuning into on Sunday, Aug. 24. Many of the major players are still famous today, but it should be noted that it was only a decade ago that there was not a Kardashian in sight. But seriously, the 2004 VMAs were held at Miami's American Airlines Arena where P. Diddy kicked things off by arriving via luxury yacht, Beyonce and Jay Z were just a little too matchy-matchy, and, mercifully, it was the first year they decided to forgo a host. Let's take a trip down memory lane before this year's awards.

    Lesbians Are Having More Orgasms Than Straight Women

    A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine focuses on how sexual orientation associates with orgasm frequency in single men and women. Researchers collected responses via a 2011 online questionnaire from 6,151 men and women between the ages of 21 and 65. They then only analyzed those response of a smaller subsample of 2,850 singles -- including 1,497 men and 1,353 women -- who had sex within the past 12 months.

    Participants were asked to identify their gender, sexual orientation and percentage of time they orgasm with a familiar partner on a scale of zero to 100.

    Although responses from the male participants did not vary much based on sexual orientation -- heterosexual men reported an 85.5 percent orgasm rate, gay men 84.7 percent, and bisexual men 77.6 percent -- responses from women showed notable variation. While heterosexual women reported orgasming 61.6 percent of the time and bisexual women reported 58 percent, lesbian women had the highest orgasm rate at 74.7 percent.

    In the study text, the researchers posit the higher lesbian percentage could be attributed to factors such as "self-identified lesbian women are more comfortable and familiar with the female body and thus, on average, are better able to induce orgasm in their female partners." Other reasonings include: length of the sexual encounter, attitude towards gender, sexual roles during intercourse and possible hormonal differences.

    Author Justin R. Garcia, MS, PhD, who is an assistant professor of gender studies and a director at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, explained the implications of the findings further in an email to The Huffington Post.

    "Little is known about orgasm occurrences among women and men of varied sexual orientations across the adult lifespan," he said. "Understanding the factors that influence variation in orgasm occurrence among sexual minority populations may assist in tailoring behavioral therapies for those of different sexual orientations."

    Kim Kardashian Is Back In A Bikini In Mexico Because Time Is A Flat Circle

    Kim Kardashian woke up today, and said "good morning" to Mexico.

    Less than a full month after her last stay in Punta Mita, the 33-year-old is back in a bikini and she just has one request:
    With her most recent trip to Ibiza, jaunts to the Hamptons and that family trip to Thailand, it's starting to look like Kim is racking up more vacation days than anything else ...

    UPDATE: Well, that was a quick trip. After working on her tan while she napped, Kardashian and her assistant learned it's "not easy taking a selfie [while] jet skiing." Later, she met up with husband Kanye West for "#MexicoNightsWithMySexyMan." And as it turns out the reality star's stay at the exclusive resort was just a quick one, since she posted a photo of the landscape and captioned it, "Bye Mexico! Every time we come it's a new set of memories & I'm grateful. Thank you Casa Aramara."

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