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AP Top News at 5:40 p.m. EDT

Default fuels uncertainty, stock drop in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Argentina's economy minister says he is willing to hold further talks with holdout investors whose claim for bond payments forced the South American country into its second default in 13 years. Economy Minister Axel Kicillof spoke after returning from failed talks in New York.


Israel vows to destroy Hamas tunnels
JERUSALEM (AP) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel will destroy Hamas' tunnel network in the Gaza Strip designed for deadly attacks inside Israel, "with or without a cease-fire," as the military called up another 16,000 reservists to pursue its campaign against Palestinian militants in the densely-populated territory. Netanyahu's warning came as international efforts to end the 23-day-old conflict seemed to sputter despite concern over the mounting death toll. More than 1,422 Palestinians have been killed so far, including many civilians, according to Gaza health officials.


Abbas seeks broad support for war crimes charges
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Nearly a month into Israel's fierce assault on Hamas in Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is facing mounting domestic pressure to seek war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court. He has hesitated in the past because such a move would instantly put the Palestinians on a risky collision course with Israel. But with about 1,400 Palestinians killed in Gaza, according to health officials, Abbas has signaled he might move ahead - cautiously.


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Congress races to finish VA, highway bills
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress ran full-tilt into election-year gridlock over immigration Thursday and staggered toward a five-week summer break with no agreement in sight on legislation to cope with the influx of young immigrants flocking illegally to the United States. Prospects were considerably brighter for bipartisan measures to improve veterans' health care and prevent a cutoff in highway construction aid. Officials said both bills appeared likely to clear Congress by day's end, and that legislation to send Israel funds for its missile defense system might also pass.


Investigators reach Ukraine jet wreckage site
ROZSYPNE, Ukraine (AP) - As mortar fire landed nearby, an international team of investigators finally reached the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 wreckage site Thursday and got their first look at a scene experts fear has been badly compromised in the two weeks since the plane was blown out of the sky. For the families of the 298 victims, it was an important start in locating and recovering bodies still out in the open and building a case against those who perpetrated the tragedy.


Gas explosions kill 15, injure 228 in Taiwan
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan's National Fire Agency says 15 people were killed and 228 were injured a series of gas leak explosions in a southwestern city. The fire agency says five firefighters are among the dead.


W. Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) - The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa as security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone's capital Thursday looking for patients and others exposed to the disease. Fears grew as the United States warned against travel to the three infected countries - Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia - and Sierra Leone's soccer team was blocked from boarding a plane in Nairobi, Kenya, that was to take them to the Seychelles for a game on Saturday. Airport authorities in Kenya said Seychelles immigration told them to prevent the team from traveling.


AP Analysis: Putin cornered over Ukraine
MOSCOW (AP) - For Russian President Vladimir Putin, there are few options left in the Ukraine crisis and they all look bad. He is caught between a determined West demanding that he disavow the pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine and increasingly assertive nationalists at home urging him to champion the mutiny and send in the Russian army.


Libya Islamic militias declare control of Benghazi
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) - Islamic hard-line militias, including the group accused by the United States in a 2012 attack that killed the ambassador and three other Americans, claimed control of Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, after overrunning army barracks and seizing heavy weapons. The sweep in the eastern city is part of a new backlash by hard-liners against their rivals ahead of the sitting of a new parliament. In the capital Tripoli, escalating battles Thursday between militias prompted multiple foreign governments to scramble to get out their citizens as thousands of Libyans fled across the border into Tunisia.


In San Francisco real estate, $1M won't buy much
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco Association of Realtors President Betty Taisch has two words of advice for those who want to live here and think $1 million will buy them their dream house: Think again. In the souped-up world of San Francisco real estate, where the median selling price for houses and condominiums last month hit seven figures for the first time, the cool million that would fetch a mansion on a few acres elsewhere will now barely cover the cost of an 800-square foot starter home that needs work and may or may not include private parking.

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