US Sending 600 Ground Troops to Eastern Europe

The Pentagon has announced initial deployments of 600 US ground troops to Eastern Europe, a presence which officials say will be sustained “until further notice.”

The troops will be split evenly, roughly 150 per country, among Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and is aimed at reassuring them over what the Pentagon dubbed “Russian aggression.”

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Palestinian Unity: Hamas, Fatah Agree to End Years of Division

Factions Aim to Form Unity Government in Five Weeks

Years of on-again, off-again talks between the two primary Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, have ended with a formal accord to end years of hostility, and a goal to form a unity government in the Palestinian Authority within five weeks.

westbankThe final deal was signed in Gaza City today, after recent talks went deep into the night, and Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh declared the “era of discord is ended.”

The most recent Palestinian elections came in 2006, when Hamas defeated Fatah by a surprisingly large margin, winning a significant number of seats in the legislative council.

Under pressure from the US, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas ultimately refused to recognize the results, and in the ensuing conflict Fatah took the West Bank, while Hamas took the Gaza Strip.

Since then, the two factions have remained at odds, and managed their respective territory independently. The lack of Palestinian unity has often been cited as a reason why they have not achieved statehood, though since the unity announcement today Israeli officials have suggested the deal, and not the lack of one, is the new excuse for statehood to be deferred.

Jihadists Now Control Secretive U.S. Base in Libya

A camp on the Libyan coastline meant to train terror-hunters has instead become a haven for terrorists and al Qaeda.
A key jihadist leader and longtime member of al Qaeda has taken control of a secretive training facility set up by U.S. special operations forces on the Libyan coastline to help hunt down Islamic militants, according to local media reports, Jihadist web forums, and U.S. officials.

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US ‘Disappointed’ by Palestinian Unity

State Dept: Reconciliation Could Complicate Peace Talks

The US State Department has issued a statement today declaring themselves“troubled” and “disappointed” by the news that the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reached a reconciliation agreement, ending years of violent acrimony. westbank

Officially, the State Department presented this as a problem that “affects peace talks” and could prevent the extension of the talks beyond the deadline of April 29, though no one seriously believed an extension was coming anyhow.

The reality is that dividing the Palestinians has been a fairly long-standing US policy, and the Fatah-Hamas split after the 2006 elections came in no small part because of US lobbying for Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to ignore the results.

The State Department had effectively failed at salvaging the peace talks weeks ago, and seems to be hoping to spin this unity deal as their excuse.

by Jason Ditz

Homeless Single Mom, Arrested After Leaving Kids In Car While On Job Interview

A homeless single mother in Arizona who struggled to make ends meet is in jail after she allegedly left her children in her car while she went on a job interview.

Shanesha Taylor was arrested on felony child abuse charges after Scottsdale police discovered her two kids, aged 2 years old and 6 months old, in a locked car.

scottsdaleScottsdale police responded after a witness reported a child crying from inside a Dodge Durango parked at an office complex on March 20. Police said that two children were left alone in the car with the engine off and the windows slightly cracked. The car was left parked in the sun and all the doors were closed.

AZFamily reports that the kids had already been in the car for 30 minutes when police arrived. Police said 35-year-old Taylor returned from her job interview about 45 minutes after officers came to the scene. She said she didn’t have anyone else to care for the kids while she was on an interview at an insurance company.

“She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job,” Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark told KPHO. “Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation.”

Taylor was arrested on two felony counts of child abuse. She remains in jail, and her children have been put in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Taylor’s arrest has spurred an online fundraising drive to help with her legal expenses, according to WTOP. At time of writing Friday, it had more than 975 supporters, and had raised more than $27,000 — three times more than its $9,000 goal.

The fundraising site acknowledges that Taylor made a “terrible mistake” but urges compassion.

There are a lot of us who feel she was just a victim to what an economy like this is putting struggling families through,” Amanda Bishop, who organized the fundraiser, told KMGH.

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