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AP Top News at 10:42 a.m. EDT

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, a tall column of 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.


Lawmakers try to seal $225M aid package for Israel
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic and Republican members of Congress are scrambling to seal a $225 million boost to Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system before they break this week for a month-long recess. But the House and Senate are at odds over process.


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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 multiple homes, adding to a rapidly growing civilian death toll Tuesday. The use of unguided rockets in fighting between government troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels has been causing a notable increase in casualties in recent days and drawn criticism from the U.N. and rights groups.


Immigration debate roils politics in ... Maine?
LEWISTON, Maine (AP) - In the whitest U.S. state, thousands of miles from the Mexican border, the debate over immigration is quickly becoming a central issue in one of the nation's most closely watched governor's races. With its close-knit communities and a practice of labeling non-natives as "from away," Mainers have a reputation for being insular. But they have also embraced the need for immigrants as the state's population ages and declines.


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.


$1,000 pill now hepatitis C treatment of choice
WASHINGTON (AP) - A $1,000-per-pill drug that insurers are reluctant to pay for has quickly become the treatment of choice for a liver-wasting viral disease that affects more than 3 million Americans. In less than six months, prescriptions for Sovaldi have eclipsed all other hepatitis C pills combined, according to new data from IMS Health. The prospect of a real cure, with fewer nasty side effects, is enticing thousands of patients to get treated for the first time.


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.


'Pawn Stars' TV star plans stores near famous shop
LAS VEGAS (AP) - The long parade of tourists who regularly stop by the downtown Las Vegas shop featured on the History Channel reality show "Pawn Stars" could soon have something better to do while waiting in line. Gold & Silver Pawn Shop co-owner Rick Harrison has drawn up plans for a Pawn Star Plaza shopping center that could boast six restaurants and about 16 small shops. The company's general contractor has submitted the proposal to the city planning department, and a review is expected in September, according to pawn shop general manager Theo Spyer.