Gaza war rages with Hamas, Israel exchanging fire despite truce pledges ahead Muslim holiday

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.

The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

After initially rejecting an Israeli offer Saturday for a 24-hour truce, Hamas said Sunday that it had agreed to hold fire ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. But as Israel’s Cabinet met to discuss the offer and the ongoing war, rockets rained down on southern Israel and Israeli strikes could be heard in Gaza.

Each side blamed the other for scuttling the efforts.

Hamas said that "due to the lack of commitment" by Israel, it resumed its fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas showed it could not be trusted after it violated other cease-fire efforts.

Status quo toward women persists at Comic-Con despite increased attention on sexual harassment

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Amid the costumes and fantasy of this weekend’s Comic-Con convention, a group of young women drew widespread attention to a very real issue -- allegations of sexual harassment at the annual comic book convention.


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Geeks for CONsent, founded by three women from Philadelphia, gathered nearly 2,600 signatures on an online petition supporting a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con.

Conventioneers told Geeks for CONsent they’d been groped, followed and unwillingly photographed during the four-day festival.

Meanwhile, what Geeks for CONsent and others regarded as blatant objectification continued at this year’s convention. Scantily clad women were still used as decoration for some presentations, and costumed women were described as "vaguely slutty" by panel moderator Craig Ferguson. When Dwayne Johnson made a surprise appearance to promote "Hercules," 10 women in belly-baring outfits stood silently in front of the stage for no apparent reason.

Groping, cat-calling and other forms of sexual harassment are a larger social issue, not just a Comic-Con problem. And many comics and movies still portray women as damsels in distress. But Geeks for CONsent says things are amplified at the pop-culture convention where fantasy and character costumes play such a large role.

Fighting intensifies near MH17 disaster site; Ukraine seeks to take control over area

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukrainian armed forces mounted a major onslaught against pro-Russian separatist fighters Sunday in an attempt to gain control over the area where a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed earlier this month.

The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, released satellite images that it says back up its claims that rockets have been fired from Russia into eastern Ukraine and heavy artillery for separatists has also crossed the border.

A four-page document released by the State Department seems to show blast marks from where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images, sourced from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 -- after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Moscow has angrily denied allegations of Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s foreign ministry over the weekend accused the U.S. of conducting "an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, ever more relying on open lies."

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone Sunday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, urging him to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, said a State Department official. Kerry did not accept Lavrov’s denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of the call.

U.S. releases images
as proof Russia gave rockets to separatists, shelled Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists has crossed the border.

The images, which came from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, show blast marks where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 -- after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The four-page memo is part of the Obama administration’s push to hold Russia accountable for its activities in neighboring Ukraine, and the release could help to persuade the United States’ European allies to apply harsher sanctions on Russia.

The timing of the memo also could be aimed at dissuading Russia from further military posturing. The Pentagon said just days ago that the movement of Russian heavy-caliber artillery systems across its border into Ukraine was "imminent."

Moscow has angrily denied allegations of Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s foreign ministry over the weekend accused the U.S. of conducting "an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, ever more relying on open lies."

Ebola kills senior doctor at Liberia’s largest hospital,
health official says

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) -- One of Liberia’s most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying to combat an outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa -- the largest ever recorded.

Dr. Samuel Brisbane was treating Ebola patients at the country’s largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, when he fell ill. He died Saturday, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister. A Ugandan doctor died earlier this month.

The American, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, was in Liberia helping to respond to the outbreak that has killed 129 people nationwide when he fell ill, according to the North Carolina-based medical charity, Samantha’s Purse.

He was receiving intensive medical care in a Monrovia hospital and was in stable condition, according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Melissa Strickland.

"We are hopeful, but he is certainly not out of the woods yet," she said.

U.S., Europe seek to find pressure points
on Putin over Russia’s actions in Ukraine

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Months after Russia annexed Crimea and stepped up support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe and the United States are still searching for a way to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course.

Targeted economic sanctions and threats of tougher ones have yet to alter what western officials say is Moscow’s growing backing for the rebels, including the shelling of Ukrainian military targets in southeast Ukraine from inside Russian territory and alleged plans to boost weapons supplies.

The Pentagon says the movement of Russian heavy-caliber artillery systems across its border into Ukraine is "imminent." That escalation of military posturing is not the retreat the West was hoping sanctions would encourage.

Putin has been walking a tightrope in recent months, limiting his involvement in the Ukraine crisis just enough to avoid truly biting Western sanctions. But the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet July 17, blamed by the U.S. and Ukraine on pro-Russian rebels -- possibly with Russian help -- might have changed the equation, galvanizing support among reluctant Europeans for additional penalties.

The European Union has said it will enact more sanctions on Russia by the end of the month and the United States, which had imposed its toughest sanctions just a day before the plane went down, is expected to follow suit.

Utah man seeks to prove FBI has video of Oklahoma bombing that shows 2nd person

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

What some consider a far-flung conspiracy theory will be at the forefront during a trial set to begin Monday in Salt Lake City. The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was brought by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue against the FBI. He says the agency won’t release security camera videos that show a second person was with Timothy McVeigh when he parked a truck outside the Oklahoma City federal building and detonated a bomb, killing 168 people. The government claims McVeigh was alone.

Unsatisfied by the FBI’s previous explanations, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups has ordered the agency to explain why it can’t find videos from the bombing that are mentioned in evidence logs, citing the public importance of the tapes.

Trentadue believes the presence of a second suspect in the truck explains why his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, was flown to Oklahoma several months after the bombing, where he died in a federal holding cell in what was labeled a suicide. His brother bore a striking resemblance to the police sketch that officials sent out after the bombing based on witness descriptions of the enigmatic suspect "John Doe No. 2," who was the same height, build and complexion. The suspect was never identified.

"I did not start out to solve the Oklahoma City bombing, I started out for justice for my brother’s murder," Jesse Trentadue said. "But along the way, every path I took, every lead I got, took me to the bombing."

Trial for 3 charged
in deadly salmonella outbreak set to start
in south Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) -- Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

A federal indictment unsealed in February 2013 brought charges against the head of Peanut Corporation of America and several others stemming from the outbreak tied to peanuts processed by the company. It was an unusual move by the federal government, which rarely prosecutes companies in food poisoning cases.

Federal investigators found filthy conditions at the company’s Georgia plant and said the employees even fabricated certificates saying peanut product shipments were safe when tests said otherwise.

Company owner Stewart Parnell invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before a congressional committee in February 2009. Emails obtained by congressional investigators showed that he once directed employees to "turn them loose" after samples of peanuts tested positive for salmonella and then were cleared in another test.

Several months before the outbreak, when a final lab test found salmonella, Parnell expressed concern to Georgia plant manager Samuel Lightsey, writing in an Oct. 6, 2008, email that the delay "is costing us huge $$$$$."