Israel and Hamas accept Egyptian cease-fire proposal, clearing way
for resumption of talks
CAIRO (AP) -- Israel and the Hamas militant group accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal Sunday, clearing the way for the resumption of talks on a long-term truce to end a month of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip that has taken nearly 2,000 lives.
The announcement marked the second time in less than a week that the bitter enemies had agreed to Egyptian mediation. A similar three-day truce last week collapsed in renewed violence over the weekend.
The truce took effect at midnight (2101 GMT), preceded by heavy rocket fire toward Israel. In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the cease-fire would allow humanitarian aid into battered Gaza neighborhoods and the reopening of indirect talks on a more lasting and comprehensive deal.
Hamas is seeking an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade against Gaza, while Israel wants Hamas to dismantle its formidable arsenal of rockets and other weapons.
Palestinian negotiators accepted the proposal early Sunday after meeting with Egyptian officials throughout the weekend. Israeli officials concurred later. Both delegations are back in Cairo.
After dead are buried, Gaza’s nearly 10,000 wounded are living reminder of ravages of war
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- When an Israeli airstrike hit the Gaza home for the handicapped where she was staying, Sally Saqr was left shattered.
But after a week, her mother had to take the 20 year old home because Gaza’s main Shifa Hospital needed the bed as more broken bodies flowed in every day from the bombardment.
Saqr has been severely handicapped since birth because of complications during delivery. She can’t speak, her body never developed beyond the size of a child. She was able to walk -- with difficulty -- but after her wounds in the July 12 airstrike, she couldn’t walk at all, and had to be put in diapers because she couldn’t reach the bathroom.
Her mother has been overwhelmed. Saqr is in excruciating pain and screams in her sleep.
"My burden is heavy," said her 36-year-old mother, Soumah Abu Shanab. "Now I must feed her, bathe her and change her diapers." She spoke as three visiting nurses changed Saqr’s dressings. Saqr clutched a box of medicine. Just holding it distracts her from the pain.
Turkey begins evacuating wounded Palestinians for treatment in Turkish hospitals
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country has started to evacuate wounded people from Gaza to Turkey for treatment.
Erdogan did not provide details, but the state-run Anadolu Agency said a Turkish air ambulance left for Israel late on Sunday to transport four people to Turkey for treatment in hospitals in the capital Ankara. The agency said a child was among the wounded.
Erdogan made the announcement during a victory speech hours after he was elected president in Turkey’s first direct vote for the position.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said this week that Turkey was working to establish an air corridor to bring the seriously wounded to Turkey.
Kurds retake 2 towns
from Sunni militants in Iraq, first victory after weeks of retreating
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Reinvigorated by American airstrikes, Kurdish forces retook two towns from Sunni militants Sunday, achieving one of their first victories after weeks of retreating, a senior Kurdish military official said.
Kurdish peshmerga fighters were able to push the militants of the Islamic State group out of the villages of Makhmour and al-Gweir, some 45 kilometers from Irbil, Brig. Gen. Shirko Fatih said.
The United States launched a fourth round of airstrikes Sunday against militant vehicles and mortars firing on Irbil as part of efforts to blunt the militants’ advance and protect American personnel near the Kurdish capital.
U.S. warplanes and drones have also attacked militants firing on minority Yazidis around Sinjar, which is in the far west of the country near the Syrian border.
In the Kurdish capital on Sunday, the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, said American military support has been effective thus far, but, he added, peshmerga soldiers require more firepower to defeat the militants.
Despite decades of setbacks, supporters
of Equal Rights
Drafted by a suffragette in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment has been stirring up controversy ever since. Many opponents considered it dead when a 10-year ratification push failed in 1982, yet its backers on Capitol Hill, in the Illinois statehouse and elsewhere are making clear this summer that the fight is far from over.
In Washington, congresswomen Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., are prime sponsors of two pieces of legislation aimed at getting the amendment ratified. They recently organized a pro-ERA rally, evoking images of the 1970s, outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Recent Supreme Court decisions have sent women’s rights back to the Stone Age," said Speier, explaining the renewed interest in the ERA. The amendment would stipulate that equal rights cannot be denied or curtailed on the basis of gender.
Participants in the July 24 rally directed much of their ire at the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling. In a 5-4 decision, with the majority comprised of five male justices, the court allowed some private businesses to opt out of the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge.
"They could not have made the Hobby Lobby ruling with an ERA," Maloney said.
Fighting rages in rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine; government demands that rebels surrender
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Fighting raged in the city of Donetsk on Sunday, as government forces continued to close in on the rebel stronghold and pro-Russian insurgents backed away from an unconditional cease-fire offer that they announced just the day before.
With a string of military successes and broad support for its campaign from the West and most of its domestic base, Kiev has taken a hard line against the rebel forces and promised it will only relent when the separatists surrender. Donetsk remained a ghost town on Sunday, with few civilians daring to venture outside as explosions rang out every few minutes and burnt-out buses and buildings smoldered from the night before.
In a statement Saturday, newly elected rebel leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko appeared to call for a cease-fire without stating any preconditions. But on Sunday, rebel spokeswoman Elena Nikitina repeated the rebels’ earlier stance, telling the Associated Press that talks on the conflict could only begin if the Ukrainian army withdrew from the region -- something Kiev is unlikely to do.
She also denounced the government as "incapable of negotiating."
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said that the only way for the rebels in Donetsk to save their lives would be to "lay down their arms and give up." He said the Ukrainian side hadn’t seen the rebels show any real willingness to cooperate.
Mother of black Missouri teenager killed by police wants officer jailed
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) -- The mother of an 18-year-old black man shot and killed in a St. Louis suburb says she doesn’t understand why police didn’t subdue her son with a club or Taser, and she says the policeman who shot him should be jailed.
Lesley McSpadden says her son, Michael Brown, had graduated from high school and was headed to college.
McSpadden was speaking at the site of the Saturday killing. She says police have not explained why her son was confronted by the officer.
"I would like to see him fired," McSpadden said Sunday. "I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty."
Police say the unarmed man was shot multiple times after a scuffle involving the officer and two people. The officer has been put on leave.
A year after hundreds killed in crushed sit-in, Egypt’s divisions still
drawn in blood
CAIRO (AP) -- Around 6:30 a.m., police armored vehicles rumbled up to the barricades at the edges of the anti-government sit-in where thousands of Islamists had camped out for weeks in a Cairo square.
First came tear gas. Then quickly, police started using machine guns. Every five minutes, student Mahmoud el-Iddrissi remembers, they swept the barricade with bullets. A friend next to him stood to throw a firecracker and immediately fell, shot in his neck and shoulder.
The scene on Aug. 14, 2013, was the start of the biggest massacre in modern Egyptian history, as security forces crushed the sit-in by Islamist supporters of Mohammed Morsi, the elected president who had been removed by the military a month earlier. At least 624 people were killed during 12 hours of mayhem in Cairo’s Rabaah el-Adawiyah Square, though rights groups have said the toll may be several hundred higher.
An Associated Press investigation into the day shows that commanders gave security forces virtually carte blanche to use deadly force. Authorities contend police only responded with live ammunition on anyone who fired on them -- and eight policemen were killed by gunmen in the square during the assault.
But broad orders given to the security forces, revealed to AP, emphasized crushing resistance. The orders to police were to "act according to the situation and by degrees of escalation," two generals in the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, told the AP. But also, security forces were told to expect protesters to have weapons and were free to swiftly move to eliminate them, they said.
California considers ‘yes means yes’ law to prevent university sexual assaults
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- College students have heard a similar refrain for years in campaigns to stop sexual assault: No means no.
Now, as universities around the country that are facing pressure over the handling of rape allegations adopt policies to define consensual sex, California is poised to take it a step further. Lawmakers are considering what would be the first-in-the-nation measure requiring all colleges that receive public funds to set a standard for when "yes means yes."
Defining consensual sex is a growing trend by universities in an effort to do more to protect victims. From the University of California system to Yale, schools have been adopting standards to distinguish when consent was given for a sexual activity and when it was not.
Legislation passed by California’s state Senate in May and coming before the Assembly this month would require all schools that receive public funds for student financial assistance to set a so-called "affirmative consent standard" that could be used in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault allegations. That would be defined as "an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision" by each party to engage in sexual activity.
Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. The legislation says it’s also not consent if the person is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep.