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Friday, Jan 30th

Last update10:32:28 PM GMT

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NGO: Israel to build 450 new units in West Bank

New Israeli settlementsThe Israeli government on Friday published tenders to build 450 settler homes in the West Bank, the head of an NGO that monitors settlement activity told AFP, in what a senior PLO official called a “war crime.” The Housing Ministry denied the tenders were new.

“It’s the opening of the settlement floodgates,” said Daniel Seidemann, head of the Terrestrial Jerusalem group, adding that the announcements were the first since October 2014 and unlikely to be the last before the March 17 general election.

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Early GOP slipups dog new congressional majority

BoehnerHouse Speaker John Boehner candidly summed up the other day how the first month of the Republican-controlled 114th Congress has gone.

“Yes, there have been a couple of stumbles,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters. When Republicans assumed the gavel in both chambers of Congress for the first time in eight years as a result of their election victories in November, they came in with a game plan:

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Mitt Romney not running a third time

RomneyMitt Romney will not run for president a third time, he said Friday on a conference call with donors, a surprise announcement that caps three weeks of fevered exploration.

“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I have decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” the former Massachusetts governor, reading from a script, said during a five-minute call.

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White House announces precision medicine initiative

Obaba personal medicine initiativeA new initiative announced by the President Barack Obama Friday will see renewed efforts to collect more than a million genetic samples for research on individualized medical treatments.

Personalized or targeted medicine is the future of health care, doctors say. But from a research and execution standpoint, it's currently only in its infancy. The basic idea is that the specifics of a person's genetic makeup, or genome, can dictate the types of treatments and medications ideal for each individual.

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Battle with IS kills senior Kurdish general, 8 of his troops

ISIS kills Kurdish GeneralClashes with Islamic State militants killed a senior Kurdish military commander and eight of his fighters just outside the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday, officials said.

Attacks elsewhere killed 27 people, with twin bombs hitting a crowded market in Baghdad and a suicide bomber targeting pro-government Shiite militiamen who were manning a checkpoint outside a city north of the Iraqi capital.

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South Africa grants parole to apartheid hitman

apartheidt hit man paroledApartheid-era death-squad leader Eugene de Kock, dubbed “Prime Evil” for his role in the torture and murder of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s, was granted parole on Friday after 20 years in prison.

"In the interest of nation-building and reconciliation I have decided to place Mr. De Kock on parole," Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha told a news briefing, adding that the date and location of De Kock’s release would be kept secret.

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Bomb blast kills scores at Pakistan mosque

pakistan bombingAn explosion ripped through a Shia mosque in Pakistan on Friday, just as worshippers were gathering for prayers. The blast killed 35 people and wounded dozens more, underscoring a growing tide of sectarian violence in the South Asian nation.

Attacks against religious minorities have been on the rise in Pakistan, where armed Sunni armed groups often target mosques frequented by Shia, whom the groups do not consider to be true Muslims.

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Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL oil pipeline

Senate passes Keystone pipeline billThe Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment.

The 62-36 vote advanced a top priority of the newly empowered GOP, and marked the first time the Senate passed a bill authorizing the pipeline, despite numerous attempts to force President Barack Obama's hand on the issue. Nine Democrats joined with 53 Republicans to back the measure.

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The Strange Firing Of One Of The Country’s Most Inflammatory Anti-LGBT Spokespeople

Brian FscherOne of the most vocal opponents of LGBT equality, Bryan Fischer, is apparently no longer a spokesman, nor the “Director of Issues Analysis,” for the American Family Association (AFA), an anti-LGBT hate group.

Despite being related to comments Fischer has been making on his radio show for years, the firing seems to serve the purpose of providing political cover to some 60 members of the Republican National Committee who will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel on AFA’s bill, as first reported by Rachel Maddow Wednesday night.

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