As Kerry says more work needed to for 7-day pause, Israel warns of stepped up group operation

JERUSALEM (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that more work was needed to reach a deal between Israel and Hamas for a seven-day truce in the Gaza war. Israel’s defense minister warned that the military may soon broaden its ground operation "significantly."

The tough statement by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, coupled with Kerry’s inability to broker even a temporary cease-fire after a week of shuttling around the region, signaled the fighting is likely to drag on, with more than 820 Palestinians and 38 people in Israel killed so far.

In a statement issued shortly after Kerry spoke at a press conference in Cairo, Yaalon’s office quoted him telling troops in the field that "you need to be ready for the possibility that very soon we will instruct the military to significantly broaden the ground operation in Gaza."

"Hamas is paying a very heavy price and will pay an even heavier price," Yaalon said. "At the end of the operation, Hamas will have to think very hard if it is worth it to taunt us in the future."

Israel has said a key objective of its ground operation is to destroy Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border -- and Israeli media have said the military wants more time to complete the mission.

U.S.


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says Russia is firing across the border into Ukraine and moving in heavy artillery

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said five salvos of heavy rockets were fired across the border near the town of Kolesnikov in the Luhansk region in the country’s east. A border crossing point near Marynovka was fired on twice with mortars, also from the Russian side, while Ukrainian forces shot down three Russian drones, Lysenko said.

If true, the allegations mean Moscow is playing a more direct role in the fighting than it has been accused of up to now -- a dangerous turn in what is already the gravest crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

In addition, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the U.S. has seen powerful rocket systems moving closer to the Ukraine border and that they could be put into the hands of the Russian-backed separatists as soon as Friday.

Obama urges Central American leaders, House Republicans to help slow influx of young migrants

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pressing for swift action, President Barack Obama on Friday urged Central American presidents and congressional Republicans to help ease the influx of minors and migrant families crossing the southwest border of the U.S.

He emphasized to the regional leaders that despite U.S.compassion for migrant children, those who do not have a proper claim to remain in the U.S. will be turned back.

While citing progress in stemming the flow, Obama called on House Republicans to act urgently on his request for emergency spending. With one week left before Congress’ August recess, Republicans on Friday were trying to unite behind a plan that would spend about one-fourth of the amount in Obama’s proposal.

"It is my hope that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will not leave town for the month of August for their vacations without doing something to help solve this problem," Obama said after meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. "We need action and less talk."

Obama played down a proposed pilot program that his administration is considering that would give refugee status to young people from Honduras. White House officials said the plan, which could be expanded to Guatemala and El Salvador, would involve screening youths in their home countries to determine whether they qualify for refugee status.

Taiwan plane crash survivor crawls out, phones father from nearby house to pick her up

XIXI, Taiwan (AP) -- The 10 survivors of Taiwan’s worst air disaster in more than a decade include a 34-year-old woman who called her father after scrambling from the wreckage and seeking help at a nearby home.

Hung Yu-ting escaped through a hole in the fuselage that opened up after the plane plowed into homes Wednesday while attempting to land on the outlying resort island of Penghu, killing 48 people. She used the phone at the nearby house to call her father.

"She called me on the phone to say the plane had crashed and exploded but that she had already crawled out and I should come right away to get her," said Hung’s father, Hung Chang-ming, who lives just a few hundred meters (yards) from the crash site.

Hung rushed to the scene, but his daughter had already been taken away by rescuers.

"When I was halfway there the fire was still really big, but it was smaller when I arrived on the scene," Hung told reporters. "There were two other injured outside and the first ambulance had already taken away three, including my daughter."

Investigators, soldiers converge on desolate Air Algerie crash site in Mali; black box found

PARIS (AP) -- Aviation experts, criminal investigators and soldiers began converging Friday on an isolated patch of restive Mali to search for clues that might explain why an Air Algerie jetliner fell from the sky in a storm and apparently disintegrated on impact.

French authorities said the catastrophe was probably the result of extreme bad weather, but they refused to exclude other possibilities, like terrorism, without a full investigation. All 118 people aboard the plane were killed.

The loss of flight 5017 wiped out whole families. Nearly half of the dead were French. The passenger list also included other Europeans, Canadians and Africans. The six crew members were Spanish.

One man pleaded with French officials not to hold back any information about the crash that killed his brother and other family members.

"Tell us. Especially give us an explanation," Amadou Ouedraogo asked on BFM-TV.

Official: Suspect in deadly hospital shooting was upset about gun ban, intended
to kill others

MEDIA, Pa. (AP) -- A psychiatrist’s patient ranted about a gun ban at a suburban medical complex before opening fire there, killing his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist before the doctor pulled out his own weapon and fired back, authorities said Friday.

Dr. Lee Silverman emptied his gun’s chamber, striking patient Richard Plotts several times, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said. Plotts by then had shot the caseworker in the face and fired several shots at Silverman, including one that grazed his temple and another that struck his thumb, he said.

Plotts had 39 unspent bullets on him when he was wrestled to the ground at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, just southwest of Philadelphia, and police believe he had planned to use them.

"If the doctor did not have a firearm, (and) the doctor did not utilize the firearm, he’d be dead today, and I believe that other people in that facility would also be dead," Whelan said.

Plotts was sedated but in stable condition after surgery Thursday for his gunshot wounds, police said. They expected to arraign him at his Philadelphia hospital bedside on Friday, charging him with murder in the death of caseworker Barbara Hunt and other crimes.

’That is very concerning’: Transcript shows legal talks that occurred during 2-hour execution

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) -- U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake was attending a ceremony for a judicial colleague when he received an urgent -- and unusual -- request: Lawyers for a condemned inmate wanted him to stop an execution that didn’t seem to be working.

"He has been gasping, snorting, and unable to breathe and not dying," lawyer Robin C. Konrad told the judge over the phone Wednesday, according to a transcript. "And we’re asking -- our motion asks for you to issue an emergency stay and order the Department of Corrections to start lifesaving techniques."

The judge asked his law clerk to quickly locate a phone number for an attorney for the state so he could find out what was happening. They conferenced in Jeffrey A. Zick, who was getting updates from the scene from Arizona’s corrections chief.

What followed provided a window in to the nearly two-hour execution of 55-year-old Joseph Rudolph Wood as the defense lawyer pleaded to stop it and the Arizona attorney assured the judge everything was fine. In the middle of the arguments, Zick informed them that Wood had died.

The execution brought new attention to the death penalty debate in the U.S. as opponents said it was proof that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. On Thursday, the state’s top prison official said Arizona would temporarily put on hold any future executions as it reviewed what happened to Wood.