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AP Top News at 12:53 p.m. EDT

In Chinese shadow, Hong Kong fights for its future
HONG KONG (AP) - As skyscrapers around Hong Kong harbor erupted into a reverie of laser beams and giant digital displays during their synchronized nightly light show, one innocuous 28-story building near the water's edge had stayed dark for months, clad in bamboo scaffolding for a face-lift. Then, in June, the renovated tower came to life, flashing giant Chinese characters that some in Hong Kong saw as a warning.


Israel agrees to extend Gaza war truce by 4 hours
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel agreed Saturday to extend a 12-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war by four hours, a Cabinet minister said. In Gaza, a health official said the Palestinian death toll in 19 days of fighting had surpassed 1,000. The Cabinet minister, Yuval Steinitz, said a further extension of the humanitarian truce would be considered when the Israeli Security Cabinet meets later Saturday, after the end of the Jewish Sabbath.


AP PHOTOS: Brief cease-fire halts Gaza war
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - A brief cease-fire Saturday in the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas militants allowed thousands to return home to see the destruction. Palestinians walked through the concrete rubble that once used to be homes, collecting what keepsakes they could recover. Some openly wept when they saw what little remained. Two men poured water for birds left behind in one demolished home.


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US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said "free-wheeling militia violence" prompted the move. American personnel at the Tripoli embassy, which had already been operating with limited staffing, left the capital around dawn and traveled by road to neighboring Tunisia, with U.S. fighter jets and other aircraft providing protection, the State Department said. The withdrawal underscored the Obama administration's concern about the heightened risk to American diplomats abroad, particularly in Libya where memories of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in the eastern city of Benghazi are still vivid.


Ukraine launches offensive to retake Donetsk
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Ukrainian officials said their forces advanced to the outskirts of a key town north of Donetsk on Saturday as they try to retake the stronghold held for months by pro-Russia rebels. The move comes as Ukrainian forces appear to have gained some momentum recently by retaking control of territory from the rebels. But Russia also appears to becoming more involved in the fighting, with the U.S. and Ukraine accusing Moscow of moving heavily artillery across the border to the rebels.


AP Essay: Air tragedies bring grief without order
LONDON (AP) - When air travel goes wrong, the modern world has given us a script to follow. Forensic workers in coveralls descend on the crash scene. Police tape seals off the site and keeps the full horror at a distance. There is an orderly numbering of the dead and gathering of the evidence. Bodies are repatriated, funerals are held. Eventually, there is explanation.


US faces intel hurdles in downing of airliner
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - A series of unanswered questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shows the limits of U.S. intelligence gathering even when it is intensely focused, as it has been in Ukraine since Russia seized Crimea in March. Citing satellite imagery, intercepted conversations and social media postings, U.S. intelligence officials have been able to present what they call a solid circumstantial case that the plane was brought down by a Russian-made SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.


Some in 'torture' report denied chance to read it
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - About a dozen former CIA officials named in a classified Senate report on decade-old agency interrogation practices were notified in recent days that they would be able to review parts of the document in a secure room in suburban Washington after signing a secrecy agreement. Then, on Friday, many were told they would not be able to see it, after all.


At 50, Upward Bound still opens pathway to college
Nervous but determined, the 15-year-old boy walked into a conference room in Columbus, Ohio, for a fateful interview. If it went well, perhaps he'd have a chance to be the first member of his impoverished family to attend college. That was 34 years ago, but Wil Haygood - the renowned journalist and author whose writing inspired the film "The Butler" - says he remembers it "like it was yesterday."


Arizona execution renews debate over methods
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A third execution by lethal injection has gone awry in six months, renewing debate over whether there is a foolproof way for the government to humanely kill condemned criminals, and whether it's even worth looking for one. Death penalty opponents say any killing is an unnecessarily cruel punishment. Proponents may favor the most humane execution method possible, but many reject the idea that a few minutes or hours of suffering by a criminal who caused great suffering to others should send government back to the drawing board.