Controversy of the Day: Miss Universe Selfie Sparks International Crisis

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Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, took an innocent selfie with some of her fellow competitors on January 11 and posted it to Instagram. Little did she know this would start a firestorm of epic proportions throughout the Middle East.

Because that is the type of world we live in now.

The issue here is that- along with Miss Slovenia, and Miss Japan – Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, is also in the photo. And her country is not very happy about it, since they consider Israel to be an enemy state (they are technically still at war).

According to Lebanon's The Daily Star, some citizens want her to be stripped of her crown for such an atrocity.

"You could have avoided mingling with the Israeli contestant like previous Lebanese contestants have done throughout the years. And if you were harassed like you say, you could have at least avoided the huge smile [we see] on your face," wrote one critic on Twitter.

Matalon thinks the the whole thing is absurd.

"It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad," she wrote on Instagram. "Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country."

Miss Lebanon is taking a different approach to the outcry by both apologizing and denying any responsibility for the photo. In a re-post of the photo on Instagram (with Miss Israel cropped out) Greige says Matalon jumped in to take the shot last minute.

"Since the first day of my arrival to participate to [Miss Universe], I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with [Miss Israel], who tried several times to take a photo with me," she wrote.

The Miss Universe pageant issued the following statement in response to the controversy:

"It is unfortunate to know a photo of four smiling women from different parts of the world, working together at an event, could be misconstrued as anything other than what it is, a celebration of universal friendship, which the Miss Universe pageant is all about."

Thanks to this incident, the competition which airs on January 25, will likely have a much bigger audience.

Insane Video of the Day: Israel's Iron Dome Intercepts 15 Rockets at Once

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The video depicts men and women entering bomb shelters in an unidentified Israeli city.

Warning: The video is really loud.

Meanwhile in The West Bank of the Day

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A child in bunny costume playing peekaboo(?) with Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Soldiers.

CORRECTION (11/26): The photograph was misidentified as having been taken in Gaza and thereby implied that the boy is Palestinian. The photograph was actually taken in the West Bank city of Hebron by photojournalist Ziv Koren of an Israeli boy dressed up as a bunny during the Jewish holiday of Purim in 2003.

Meanwhile in (X) of the Day is a feature series bringing you the latest buzz from all over the continents with a special focus on non-English speaking parts of the world.

What is Iron Dome?

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If you've been following the news coverage of the Israeli Defense Forces' Operation "Pillar of Cloud" in Gaza, you probably heard about something called "Iron Dome," as seen in this recently uploaded video that's been making the rounds in the news. Iron Dome is the Israeli military's mobile air defense system designed to track, intercept and destroy short-range rockets or artillery shells launched from distances as far as 43 miles away (shown left). Since the beginning of the hostile exchange two days ago, the system has managed to shoot down at least 184 rockets out of nearly 500 that had been fired into Israeli territories, which isn't the highest performance record in its service history, but still, not too shabby.

You Saw This Coming of the Day

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As expected, a fog of war is looming over the Gaza Strip (and on Twitter) following the Israeli Defense Force's air strikes yesterday that killed the Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari and Hamas' retaliatory missile attacks overnight. As of 5:30 p.m. (ET) today, three Israelis and 19 Palestinians have been confirmed as casualties of the hostile exchange, during which 250 target sites were struck by the IDF and 274 rocket missiles were launched by Hamas militants. The toll is expected to rise as IDF reportedly began mobilizing 30,000 reserves along the border. Meanwhile on Twitter:

  • The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) took the news of airstrike operations to Twitter as its jets began attacking.
  • Within minutes, Hamas announced that its top leader had been assassinated by Israeli planes via Twitter.
  • Around the same time, IDF spokesman's office uploaded videos of air strike footage onto YouTube.
  • Twitter users responded with pro-Israeli #PillarOfDefense and pro-Palestinian #GazaUnderAttack hashtags.

You Saw This Coming of the Day is a feature series following the latest news in current events that have been on the ticking clock, as well as news and social media commentaries that are predictable or cyclical in nature.

Impending S**tstorm of the Day: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza City Kills the Military Leader of Hamas

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Palestine's Islamist group Hamas took a serious blow to its leadership today after a series of Israeli military air strikes killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the commander of Hamas' military wing. The military operation in Gaza was largely launched in response to the recent wave of rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled region that targeted Israeli territories and as a result, "a significant number of long-range rocket sites" have been destroyed, according to the Israel Defense Force officials. In reacting to the news, Hamas released a statement denouncing the air strikes as the basis for its "declaration of war" against Israel and further warned that "the Israeli occupation will regret and pay a high price."

UPDATED (1:45PM PT): IDF released the raw footage of the air strike via YouTube.

This Is All Kinds Of Right of the Day

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These women kick serious ass -- here's the intro to their inspiring story:

Skittish at first, then wide-eyed with delight, the women and girls entered the sea, smiling, splashing and then joining hands, getting knocked over by the waves, throwing back their heads and ultimately laughing with joy.

The women were Palestinians from the southern part of the West Bank, which is landlocked, and Israel does not allow them in. They risked criminal prosecution, along with the dozen Israeli women who took them to the beach. And that, in fact, was part of the point: to protest what they and their hosts consider unjust laws.