Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; 128 killed GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory's only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict. Despite devastating blows that left the packed territory's 1.7 million people cut off from power and water and sent the overall death toll soaring past 1,200, Hamas' shadowy military leader remained defiant as he insisted that the Islamic militants would not cease fire until its demands are met.
US, Europe impose tough new sanctions on Russia WASHINGTON (AP) - Spurred to action by the downing of the Malaysian airliner, the European Union approved dramatically tougher economic sanctions Tuesday against Russia, including an arms embargo and restrictions on state-owned banks. President Barack Obama swiftly followed with an expansion of U.S. penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy. The coordinated sanctions were aimed at increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his country's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine whom the West blames for taking down the passenger jet nearly two weeks ago. Obama and U.S. allies also warned that Russia was building up troops and weaponry along its border with Ukraine.
Shelling adds to mounting civilian toll in Ukraine DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Shells smashed into a residential neighborhood of Donetsk on Tuesday as Ukrainian forces intensified their campaign to encircle the rebel stronghold. The shelling killed at least two people, blew gaping holes in an apartment block and raised fears that the city is on the verge of severe bloodshed. Fighting also raged elsewhere in Ukraine's troubled east, bringing the death toll to at least 24 civilians and 10 soldiers over the past day. And it prevented international investigators once again from visiting the site of the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down earlier this month.
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Poll: Immigration concerns rise with tide of kids McALLEN, Texas (AP) - For nearly two months, images of immigrant children who have crossed the border without a parent, only to wind up in concrete holding cells once in United States, have tugged at heartstrings. Yet most Americans now say U.S. law should be changed so they can be sent home quickly, without a deportation hearing. A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds two-thirds of Americans now say illegal immigration is a serious problem for the country, up 14 points since May and on par with concern about the issue in May 2010, when Arizona's passage of a strict anti-immigration measure brought the issue to national prominence.
House to vote on slimmed-down bill for border WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans unveiled a slimmed-down bill Tuesday to address the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border by sending in National Guard troops and speeding migrant youths back home. The election-year measure would allow Republicans to say they tried to solve the humanitarian problem in South Texas, even though it stands no chance of becoming law. The bill would cost $659 million through the final two months of this fiscal year, far less than the $3.7 billion requested by President Barack Obama for this year and next, and a sharp reduction from the $1.5 billion initially proposed by the House spending committee. The cuts were designed to win over skeptical conservatives and give lawmakers something they could pass before leaving Washington at week's end for their annual August recess.
US appeals court blocks Mississippi abortion law JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's effort to close its last abortion clinic was overturned in federal appellate court on Tuesday. Advocates for the law said women with unwanted pregnancies could always travel to other states, but the judges said every state must guarantee constitutional rights, including abortion. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to block Mississippi's 2012 law requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Senate bill would end NSA phone records collection WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Patrick Leahy on Tuesday introduced a bill to end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records, a proposal that goes further than a similar House measure and has drawn support from civil liberties groups, the White House and Republicans. The bill represents the latest step in fulfilling a January promise by President Barack Obama to end the NSA's collection of domestic calling records. If enacted, it would represent the most significant change to come in the wake of the leaks of once-secret surveillance programs by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden.
Highway, bridge money at risk: Senate to vote WASHINGTON (AP) - Racing to adjourn for the summer, the Senate scheduled major votes Tuesday to keep federal highway funds flowing across the nation - billions of dollars to avert layoffs for construction workers and shutdowns of road and bridge projects just before the November elections. A smooth trip through Congress was anything but guaranteed. Senators in the afternoon started tinkering with a $10.8 billion bill the House passed last week that would pay for highway and transit aid to states through next May at current spending levels. Any changes would send the bill back to the House rather than to President Barack Obama for his signature enacting it into law.
$1,000 Sovaldi now hepatitis treatment of choice WASHINGTON (AP) - The price is sky-high, but so is demand. A new $1,000-per-pill drug has become the treatment of choice for Americans with hepatitis C, a liver-wasting disease that affects more than 3 million. Even with insurers reluctant to pay, Sovaldi prescriptions have eclipsed those for all other hepatitis C pills combined in a matter of months, new data from IMS Health indicate. The promise of a real cure, with fewer nasty side effects, has prompted thousands to get treated.
AP PHOTOS: Building boom in N. Dakota's oil patch WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - President Theodore Roosevelt once came to North Dakota's Badlands to find solitude and solace amid the area's "desolate, grim beauty." But Roosevelt's Dakota is barely visible today. The area's oil boom has resulted in an infrastructure-building frenzy as the rush for jobs and oil demands more roads, homes, food trucks and stores.