In war of attrition in Gaza, Israel kills
3 top Hamas
military commanders

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israel stepped up its campaign against Gaza’s ruling Hamas on Thursday, killing three of the group’s senior military commanders in an airstrike that pulverized a four-story home, the second such attack targeting top leaders in two days.

The pinpoint pre-dawn attack on Hamas’ inner sanctum was launched minutes after the men emerged from tunnel hideouts, a security official said -- displaying the long reach of Israel’s intelligence services.

The killing of the commanders, who played a key role in expanding Hamas’ military capabilities in recent years, was bound to lower morale in the secretive group, but might not necessarily diminish its ability to fire rockets at Israel.

Thursday’s strike in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, coupled with a Cabinet decision to call up 10,000 more reserve soldiers, signaled an escalation in the Israel-Hamas war after Egyptian cease-fire efforts collapsed this week.

Since July 8, fighting has claimed more than 2,000 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians, according to Palestinian officials and the U.N., and entire neighborhoods of Gaza have been destroyed. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a guest worker also have been killed.

Decades-old case shapes how
Ferguson police officer to be judged

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It started with a bottle of orange juice 30 years ago.


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The national legal standards that govern when police officers are justified in using force against people trace their lineage to a 1984 case from Charlotte, North Carolina. In that case, a diabetic man’s erratic behavior during a trip to a convenience store for juice to bring up his low blood sugar led to a confrontation with officers that left him with injuries from head to foot.

Dethorne Graham’s subsequent lawsuit against police for his injuries led to a 1989 Supreme Court decision that has become the prism for evaluating how police use force. As soon as Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9, the Graham v. Connor case became the foundational test for whether Wilson’s response was appropriate or criminal.

To most civilians, an 18-year-old unarmed man may not appear to pose a deadly threat. But a police officer’s perspective is different. And that is how an officer should be judged after the fact, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in the 1989 opinion.

"The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight," Rehnquist wrote.

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The riots this time: No violence after other police killings, but factors converge in Ferguson

There was little violence after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer last July. Peace prevailed when at least four other unarmed black males were killed by police in recent months, from New York to Los Angeles.

Then Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. And waves of rioting have convulsed the St. Louis suburb for more than 10 days.

Why Ferguson?

The response to Brown’s death turned violent because of a convergence of factors, observers say, including the stark nature of the killing in broad daylight, an aggressive police response to protests, a mainly black city being run by white officials -- and the cumulative effect of killing after killing after killing of unarmed black males.

"People are tired of it," said Kevin Powell, president of the BK Nation advocacy group, who organized peaceful protests after the Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was found innocent in Martin’s killing.

Ebola survivor thanks God, experimental drug and American doctors for saving life

ATLANTA (AP) -- Calling it a "miraculous day," an American doctor infected with Ebola left his isolation unit and warmly hugged his doctors and nurses on Thursday, showing the world that he poses no public health threat one month after getting sick with the virus.

Dr. Kent Brantly and his fellow medical missionary, Nancy Writebol, who was quietly discharged two days earlier, are still weak but should recover completely, and no one need fear being in contact with them, said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who runs the infectious disease unit at Emory University Hospital.

Brantly’s reappearance was festive and celebratory, a stark contrast to his arrival in an ambulance under police escort three weeks earlier, when he shuffled into the hospital wearing a bulky white hazardous materials suit.

"I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family," Brantly said, choking up as he read a written statement. Then he and his wife turned and hugged a parade of doctors and nurses, hugging or shaking hands with each one. For some, it was their first direct contact without protective gear.

After Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, were infected while working with Ebola victims in Liberia, their charity organizations, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM, reached out to top infectious disease experts for help.

Fighting rages in Ukraine as delayed Russian aid convoy begins advancing

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Fierce fighting raged in eastern Ukraine on Thursday in what appeared to be a last-gasp attempt by government troops to snatch back territory from pro-Russian separatists before the arrival of a Russian aid convoy overseen by the Red Cross.

Trucks loaded with water, generators and sleeping bags for desperate civilians in the besieged city of Luhansk began moving through Ukrainian customs after being held up at the border for a week, in part because of safety concerns and Ukrainian fears that the convoy’s arrival could halt the military’s advance.

The trucks in the 200-vehicle convoy were expected to cross into Ukraine on Friday morning on their way to Luhansk, a city with a war-reduced population of a quarter-million people, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Russian border.

At Russia’s urging, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a cease-fire during the humanitarian mission.

The Red Cross has said it needs assurances of safe passage from all sides to bring in the supplies and set up distribution points, so even without a formal cease-fire, Ukrainian government forces could be severely constrained in their movements once the trucks begin arriving.

Fans defiant as U.S. health study hits South Korea where it hurts -- in the noodles

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Kim Min-koo has an easy reply to new American research that hits South Korea where it hurts -- in the noodles. Drunk and hungry just after dawn, he rips the lid off a bowl of his beloved fast food, wobbling on his feet but still defiant over a report that links instant noodles to health hazards.

"There’s no way any study is going to stop me from eating this," says Kim, his red face beaded with sweat as he adds hot water to his noodles in a Seoul convenience store. His mouth waters, wooden chopsticks poised above the softening strands, his glasses fogged by steam. At last, he spears a slippery heap, lets forth a mighty, noodle-cooling blast of air and starts slurping.

"This is the best moment -- the first bite," Kim, a freelance film editor who indulges about five times a week, says between gulps. "The taste, the smell, the chewiness -- it’s just perfect."

Instant noodles carry a broke college student aura in America, but they are an essential, even passionate, part of life for many in South Korea and across Asia. Hence the emotional heartburn caused by a Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital study in the United States that linked instant noodles consumption by South Koreans to some risks for heart disease.

The study has provoked feelings of wounded pride, mild guilt, stubborn resistance, even nationalism among South Koreans, who eat more instant noodles per capita than anyone in the world. Many of those interviewed vowed, like Kim, not to quit. Other noodle lovers offered up techniques they swore kept them healthy: taking Omega-3, adding vegetables, using less seasoning, avoiding the soup. Some dismissed the study because the hospital involved is based in cheeseburger-gobbling America.

Opposition believes deadly chemical attack in Syria has largely been forgotten

BEIRUT (AP) -- The year since a chemical attack that killed hundreds near Damascus has been a strikingly good one for President Bashar Assad.

His deadly stockpile has been destroyed, but he has stayed in power, bought time and gotten world powers to engage him. Along the way, global disapproval has shifted away from Assad and toward the Islamic extremists who are fighting him and spreading destruction across Syria and Iraq.

In Syria, frustrated opposition leaders plan modest rallies Friday to commemorate an attack that they believe the world has largely forgotten.

For many Syrians, hopes for justice are fading and a deep sense of bitterness prevails. The U.S., which threatened to strike Assad’s forces but backed away at the last minute, is now bombing the Islamic State group in neighboring Iraq.

Calls for Assad’s ouster are no longer made publicly by Western officials.

Governor pulls National Guard from Ferguson; of 163 arrests, 7 are city residents

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) -- Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday ordered the Missouri National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson, where nightly scenes of unrest have erupted since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old nearly two weeks ago.

Since the guard’s arrival Monday, flare-ups in the small section of town that had been the center of nightly unrest have begun to subside. The quietest night was overnight Wednesday and Thursday, when police arrested only a handful of people in the protest zone.

"As we continue to see improvement, I have ordered the Missouri National Guard to begin a systematic process of withdrawing from the City of Ferguson," the governor said in a statement.

Demonstrations began after the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, and authorities have arrested at least 163 people in the protest area. Data provided Thursday by St. Louis County showed that while the majority of those arrested are Missourians, just seven live in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb. The vast majority, 128 people, were cited for failure to disperse. Twenty-one face burglary-related charges.

Meanwhile Thursday, St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch reiterated he has no intentions of removing himself from the case, and he urged Nixon to once and for all decide if he will act on calls for McCulloch’s ouster.

Gaza war splits U.S. colleges on whether to call off overseas study programs in Israel

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Some U.S. colleges are pulling students from overseas study programs in Israel as the Gaza war rages, though the relative calm beyond the immediate battle areas is raising questions in some quarters about why they had to leave.

Colleges say security was the top concern, citing advisories about hazardous travel from the U.S. State Department and from insurance companies that cover students for health, accidents, security and even the cost of evacuation.

"On the one hand, we want to introduce students to the dimensions of conflict," said Yehuda Lukacs, director of the Center for Global Education at George Mason University in Virginia. "But this was too much because their safety and security were challenged."

It’s not the first time colleges have withdrawn -- at least temporarily -- from overseas study programs because of conflict. Just recently, the University of Massachusetts Amherst suspended programs in war-torn Syria, and St. Lawrence University in New York called off its program in Kenya for fall, citing a State Department travel advisory. But the United States’ close ties with Israel, along with the distance of many of the programs from the central areas of conflict, are leaving colleges far from unified.

Suhaib Khan, a George Mason senior who worked in Ramallah in the West Bank in a program helping to promote Palestinian businesses, said he was "incredibly disappointed" that he was forced to leave prematurely. He arrived June 6 and left July 9, about a month early.