Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israel escalated its military campaign against Hamas on Tuesday, striking symbols of the militant group's control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the strip's only power plant in the heaviest bombardment in the war so far. Hours after the power plant was hit, thick black smoke still rose from the plant's burning fuel tank. The station's shutdown was bound to lead to further serious disruptions of the flow of electricity and water to the 1.7 million people packed into the narrow Palestinian territory.
China: Ex-security czar Zhou under investigation BEIJING (AP) - China's ruling Communist Party announced an investigation into a feared ex-security chief on Tuesday, demonstrating President Xi Jinping's firm grip on power and breaking a longstanding taboo against publicly targeting the country's topmost leaders. The party's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said on its website that it is investigating Zhou Yongkang, 71, for serious violations of party discipline, but gave no details. Such an announcement typically paves the way for the official to be ousted from the party and face prosecution.
China reports deadly attack in northwest BEIJING (AP) - A mob armed with knives rampaged through part of China's volatile northwestern region of Xinjiang and police responded with gunfire, leaving dozens of people dead in the latest violence blamed on Islamic militants, state media reported Tuesday. Many other people were injured in the violence Monday in Shache county near the city of Kashgar, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
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Lawmakers try to seal $225M aid package for Israel WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic and Republican members of Congress scrambled Tuesday to seal a $225 million boost to Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system before they break this week for a month-long recess. As the Gaza war escalates, Israel is proving to be among the few subjects uniting lawmakers. Members of both parties have introduced legislation backing the Jewish state, condemning the Palestinian militant group Hamas and seeking a tougher Iran policy. Iron Dome is the priority, but the House and Senate are at odds over process.
Shelling adds to mounting civilian toll in Ukraine DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Shelling in at least three cities in eastern Ukraine has hit a home for the elderly, a school and several apartment blocks, adding to a rapidly growing civilian death toll Tuesday. Among the victims were five people killed when the home for the elderly was struck by artillery fire in Luhansk, according to the separatist rebels in control there. Russian television showed images of bodies in wheelchairs covered with blankets.
Sources: EU adopts tough new sanctions on Russia BRUSSELS (AP) - Frustrated by the apparent ineffectiveness of previous sanctions and outraged by the deaths of 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over eastern Ukraine, the European Union adopted tough new economic sanctions against Russia Tuesday, two diplomats said. The measures include an arms embargo, a ban on the sale of dual use and sensitive technologies, and a ban on the sale of bonds and equities by state-owned Russian banks in European capital markets, the diplomats told the Associated Press.
Lavrov and Kerry talk about Cold war-era arms deal MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's Foreign Ministry says the chief diplomats from Russia and the United States have discussed the situation in Ukraine and the fulfillment of a Cold War-era arms control deal that the U.S. has accused Russia of violating. It said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the issue of compliance with the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in a phone call Tuesday.
Despite good news, benefit programs face problems WASHINGTON (AP) - Despite some good news, Medicare and Social Security still face long-term financial problems as millions of baby boomers reach retirement. Social Security's disability program is already in crisis as it edges toward the brink of insolvency. Getting relief from a slowdown in health care spending, Medicare's giant hospital trust fund won't be exhausted until 2030, the government said Monday. That's four years later than last year's estimate.
Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute. These consumers fall behind on credit cards or hospital bills. Their mortgages, auto loans or student debt pile up, unpaid. Even past-due gym membership fees or cellphone contracts can end up with a collection agency, potentially hurting credit scores and job prospects, said Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank.
NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules CHICAGO (AP) - The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports. College sports' governing body also agreed to implement a single return-to-play policy spelling out how all teams must treat players who received head blows, according to a Tuesday filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Critics have accused the NCAA of giving too much discretion to hundreds of individual schools about when athletes can go back into games, putting them at risk.