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Update July 2017


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Update July 31, 2017

Putin says US will have to shed 755 from diplomatic staff

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on attending the military parade during the Navy Day celebration in St.Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday, July 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

By Nataliya Vasilyeva, Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday the United States would have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow three days after the U.S. Congress approved sanctions against Russia.

In response, the U.S. State Department deemed it "a regrettable and uncalled for act."

Russian's Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered a reduction by Sept. 1 in the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia. It said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to limit the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455 in response to approval of the new package of American sanctions. The White House has said U.S. President Donald Trump would sign those sanctions into law.

The legislation, which also targets Iran and North Korea, seeks to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

"We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won't be soon," Putin said in an interview televised on Rossiya 1, explaining why Moscow decided to retaliate. "I thought it was the time to show that we're not going to leave it without an answer."

Russia is open to cooperating with the U.S. on various issues, including terrorism and cybercrime, but instead it "only hears unfounded accusations of meddling in U.S. domestic affairs," he said.

Putin said more than 1,000 people are currently employed at the Moscow embassy and three U.S. consulates in Russia. They include both Americans and Russians hired to work in the diplomatic offices.

The Russian leader did not explain how the figure of 755 positions was calculated.

In a statement, the State Department said: "This is a regrettable and uncalled for act. We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it. We have no further comment at this time."

The State Department declined to give an exact number of American diplomats or other U.S. officials in Russia, but the figure is believed to be about 400, some of whom have families accompanying them on diplomatic passports.

The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various US diplomatic missions in Russia, including the embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg, are local employees.

Asked about the potential for additional sanctions against Washington, Putin described the reduction in diplomatic staff as "painful" and said he currently opposes further measures.

"We certainly have something to respond with and restrict those areas of joint cooperation that will be painful for the American side, but I don't think we need to do it," he said, adding that such steps could also harm Russian interests.

Putin mentioned space and energy as the main areas where Russia and the United States have successfully pursued projects together.

Along with the cap on the size of the U.S. diplomatic corps in Russia, the Russian foreign ministry on Friday said it also was closing down a U.S. recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

The diplomatic tit-for-tat started under former U.S. President Barack Obama. In response to reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S.
____
AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


In response, the U.S. State Department deemed it "a regrettable and uncalled for act."

Russian's Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered a reduction by Sept. 1 in the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia. It said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to limit the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455 in response to approval of the new package of American sanctions. The White House has said U.S. President Donald Trump would sign those sanctions into law.

The legislation, which also targets Iran and North Korea, seeks to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

"We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won't be soon," Putin said in an interview televised on Rossiya 1, explaining why Moscow decided to retaliate. "I thought it was the time to show that we're not going to leave it without an answer."

Russia is open to cooperating with the U.S. on various issues, including terrorism and cybercrime, but instead it "only hears unfounded accusations of meddling in U.S. domestic affairs," he said.

Putin said more than 1,000 people are currently employed at the Moscow embassy and three U.S. consulates in Russia. They include both Americans and Russians hired to work in the diplomatic offices.

The Russian leader did not explain how the figure of 755 positions was calculated.

In a statement, the State Department said: "This is a regrettable and uncalled for act. We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it. We have no further comment at this time."

The State Department declined to give an exact number of American diplomats or other U.S. officials in Russia, but the figure is believed to be about 400, some of whom have families accompanying them on diplomatic passports.

The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various US diplomatic missions in Russia, including the embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg, are local employees.

Asked about the potential for additional sanctions against Washington, Putin described the reduction in diplomatic staff as "painful" and said he currently opposes further measures.

"We certainly have something to respond with and restrict those areas of joint cooperation that will be painful for the American side, but I don't think we need to do it," he said, adding that such steps could also harm Russian interests.

Putin mentioned space and energy as the main areas where Russia and the United States have successfully pursued projects together.

Along with the cap on the size of the U.S. diplomatic corps in Russia, the Russian foreign ministry on Friday said it also was closing down a U.S. recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

The diplomatic tit-for-tat started under former U.S. President Barack Obama. In response to reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S.
____
AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


US bombers fly over South Korea after North's 2nd ICBM test

In this photo released by Japan Air Self Defense Force, U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers, top, fly with a Japan Air Self Defense Force F-2 fighter jet over Japan's southern island of Kyushu, just south of the Korean Peninsula, during a Japan-U.S. joint exercise Sunday, July 30, 2017. (Japan Air Self Defense Force via AP)

By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The U.S. also said it conducted a successful test of a missile defense system located in Alaska.

The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they performed a low-pass over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.

It said the mission was a response to North Korea's two ICBM tests this month. Analysts say flight data from the North's second test, conducted Friday night, showed that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang's weapons.

Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday during a visit to Estonia that the U.S. and its allies plan to increase pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear program.

"The continued provocations by the rogue regime in North Korea are unacceptable and the United States of America is going to continue to marshal the support of nations across the region and across the world to further isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically," Pence said. "But the era of strategic patience is over. The president of the United States is leading a coalition of nations to bring pressure to bear until that time that North Korea will permanently abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile program."

"The time for talk is over," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement. She denied reports that Washington would seek an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, saying that new sanctions that fail to increase pressure would be "worse than nothing."

Haley said a weak resolution would show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that "the international community is unwilling to challenge him," and singled out China, the North's biggest trading partner, as a country that must change its approach.

Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, called North Korea "the most urgent threat to regional stability."

"Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario," O'Shaughnessy said. "If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, told CBS' "Face the Nation" that North Korea's latest test presents a clear and present danger to the United States.

"I've spent time on the intelligence and at the briefings, and done as much reading as I possibly could," said Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "And I'm convinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to develop an ICBM."

Feinstein said the situation shows the danger of isolating a country.

"I think the only solution is a diplomatic one," she said. "I'm very disappointed in China's response, that it has not been firmer or more helpful."

The United States often sends powerful warplanes in times of heightened tensions with North Korea. B-1 bombers have been sent to South Korea for flyovers several times this year in response to the North's banned missile tests, and also following the death of a U.S. college student last month after he was released by North Korea in a coma.

The Hwasong-14 ICBM, which the North first tested on July 4, is the highlight of several new weapons systems Pyongyang launched this year. They include an intermediate range missile that North Korea says is capable of hitting Alaska and Hawaii, and a solid-fuel midrange missile, which analysts say can be fired faster and more secretly than liquid-fuel missiles.

General Lori Robinson, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, responsible for homeland defense, said in a statement that the ICBM launched Friday "served as yet another reminder of North Korea's continued threat to the United States and our allies." She said the command "remains unwavering in our confidence that we can fully defend the United States against this ballistic missile threat."

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system located in Kodiak, Alaska, was successfully tested on Saturday night, Alaska time. It said that a medium-range ballistic missile was air-launched over the Pacific, and that the THAAD system detected, tracked and intercepted the target.


Luggage screening intensified after Australia airplane plot

 

People crowd a terminal at Sydney's domestic airport as passengers are subjected to increased security, in Sydney, Australia, Monday, July 31, 2017. (Dean Lewins/AAP Image via AP)

By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Security remained heightened in airports around Australia with more intense screening of luggage after law enforcement officials thwarted what a police chief described on Monday as a "credible attempt to attack an aircraft."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton declined to comment on newspaper reports that Islamist extremists planned to kill the occupants of a plane with poison gas and that a homemade bomb was to be disguised as a kitchen mincer.

"Police will allege they had the intent and were developing the capability," Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Turnbull announced on Sunday that "a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane" had been disrupted, but revealed few details.

Four men arrested in raids in Sydney late Saturday — two Lebanese-Australian fathers and their sons — had yet to be charged.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said a court ruled Monday that the four could be detained without charge for seven days from their arrest under counterterrorism laws.

"We believe we have disrupted a legitimate and credible attempt to attack an aircraft," Colvin told reporters without elaborating.

Colvin and the government will not comment on media reports that the suspects were not previously known to Australian security officials and that their arrests followed a tip from a foreign intelligence agency.

"Australians can be assured that we have very fine intelligence services and we moved extremely quickly on this one and, as you can see, with the right outcomes," Turnbull said.

The Australian newspaper cited multiple anonymous sources saying that the plotters were constructing a "non-traditional" explosive device that could have emitted a toxic, sulfur-based gas to kill or immobilize everyone on the aircraft.

Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that the plotters planned to make a bomb from wood shavings and explosive material inside a piece of kitchen equipment such as a mincing machine.

Police raided five homes Saturday and removed a domestic grinder and a mincer used to make sausage, the newspaper said.

The plot involved smuggling the device on a flight from Sydney to the Middle East, possibly Dubai, as carry-on luggage, the newspaper said.

Fairfax Media reported the bomb was found in a home in inner-city suburb of Surry Hills, a few doors from the local mosque.

Turnbull declined to say whether the group was guided by someone overseas.

"It'll be alleged that that this was an Islamist extremist, terrorist motivation," Turnbull said.

Dutton urged travelers to arrive at Australian airports two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights to allow time for more screening. Luggage should be kept to a minimum and those accompanying travelers should not enter secured parts of terminals.

He declined to detail the threat that the security staff were searching for.

"There'll be lots of speculation around what the intent was ... but I don't want to add to that," Dutton told Nine Network television.

"Our focus now really is making sure that people who are planning a terrorist attack are thwarted," he added.
Security has been increased at Sydney Airport since Thursday because of the plot and has since been increased in all major Australian international and domestic terminals.

Turnbull would not speculate on how long airport security would remain elevated.

"They will be required for as long as the threat is assessed as requiring them," Turnbull said.

Australia's terrorist threat level remained unchanged at "probable."

Australia is a staunch ally of the United States and partner in military campaigns in the Middle East. The Islamic State group has highlighted Australia as a western target.

The plot was the 13th disrupted by police since Australia's terrorist threat level was elevated in 2014. Five plots have been executed.


'Dunkirk' conquers 'Emoji,' 'Atomic Blonde' at box office

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Harry Styles, from left, Aneurin Barnard and Fionn Whitehead in a scene from "Dunkirk." (Warner Bros Pictures via AP)

By Lindsey Bahr, AP Film Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)
— "The Emoji Movie" survived negative reviews but couldn't conquer "Dunkirk," which had enough fight left to conquer the box office for a second weekend in a row.

Down only 44 percent from its first weekend, director Christopher Nolan's World War II film earned $28.1 million to take first place, according to studio estimates on Sunday. "Dunkirk" has grossed $102.8 million domestically to date.
Sony Pictures Animation's "The Emoji Movie" finished second with $25.7 million. The film featuring the voices of T.J. Miller and Anna Faris as anthropomorphized emojis got pummeled by critics. It's currently resting at a dismal 8 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences still turned out.

"It's great when the critics and audiences are in sync but in the end it comes down to: Has the film reached the intended audience?" said Adrian Smith, Sony's president of domestic distribution. "Seeing these results, it clearly has."

Sony is expecting the film, which cost an estimated $50 million to produce, to play well for the rest of the summer.
The divide between reviews and a film's success has been a continuing topic this summer, as some films, such as "Baywatch," capsized under poor reviews, and others like "The Emoji Movie" seemed immune.

"Kids don't care about reviews, and there is a severe lack of family films in the marketplace," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore.

But "The Emoji Movie" also fell at the box office throughout the weekend after a strong Friday when it placed No. 1, which Dergarabedian thinks could be due to negative word of mouth on social media. By contrast, the extremely well-reviewed "Dunkirk" rose throughout the weekend.

Also holding on quite well is Universal Pictures R-rated comedy "Girls Trip," which fell a miniscule 36 percent from its debut weekend to take third place with $20.1 million.

Even in weekend two, "Girls Trip" beat out the splashy new Charlize Theron actioner "Atomic Blonde," distributed by Universal's boutique label Focus Features. "Atomic Blonde" opened in fourth with $18.6 million.

"We think it's a really solid opening for the movie and think that the film is going to have a nice long life at the box office for the summer," said Lisa Bunnell, president of distribution for Focus Features.

Theron produced and stars in the film about a British spy on a mission in Berlin near the end of the Cold War. It cost an estimated $30 million to produce. While reviews were generally positive, audiences gave the film a middling B CinemaScore, which could affect its word-of-mouth potential.

In fifth place was "Spider-Man: Homecoming" now in its fourth weekend in theater. The new web-slinger added $13.5 million which bumped its domestic total to $278.4 million.

"Homecoming" has now officially passed both "Amazing Spider-Man" movies at the North American box office, although it is still lagging significantly behind the Tobey Maguire "Spider-Man" films.

While the summer box office remains down from last year, audiences are still turning out for some of the buzzier specialty releases. Annapurna Pictures rolled out the Kathryn Bigelow film "Detroit," about an incident during the 1967 riots, a week before its nationwide launch in 20 theaters in 10 markets including Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Atlanta.

"We were doing early word of mouth screenings, and they were very strong. People were hanging in the lobby of theaters after talking and talking. We decided to kick-start the conversation early," Annapurna distribution president Erik Lomis said. "We're really excited to launch this picture."

"Detroit" earned a strong $365,455 from the limited launch.

Also playing well in limited release is the Al Gore-led climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," which took in $130,000 from four locations.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1."Dunkirk," $28.1 million ($45.6 million international).
2."The Emoji Movie," $25.7 million.
3."Girls Trip," $20.1 million ($2 million international).
4."Atomic Blonde," $18.6 million ($3 million international).
5."Spider-Man: Homecoming: $13.5 million ($19.7 million international).
6."War for the Planet of the Apes," $10.4 million ($20.5 million international).
7."Despicable Me 3," $7.7 million ($36.1 million international).
8."Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," $6.8 million ($13.7 million international).
9."Baby Driver," $4.1 million ($8.4 million international).
10."Wonder Woman," $3.5 million.
___
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. "Wolf Warrior 2," $125.5 million.
2. "Dunkirk," $45.6 million.
3. "Despicable Me 3," $36.1 million.
4. "The Founding of an Army," $24 million.
5. "The Battleship Island," $22.5 million.
6. "War for the Planet of the Apes," $20.5 million.
7. "Spider-Man: Homecoming: $19.7 million.
8. "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," $13.7 million.
9. "Transformers: The last Knight," $9.8 million.
10. "Baby Driver," $8.4 million.
___
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
___
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr


Today in History - Monday, July 31, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Monday, July 31, the 212th day of 2017. There are 153 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 31, 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.

On this date:

In 1556, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, died in Rome.

In 1875, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, died in Carter County, Tennessee, at age 66.

In 1919, Germany's Weimar (VY'-mahr) Constitution was adopted by the republic's National Assembly.

In 1930, the radio character "The Shadow" made his debut as narrator of the "Detective Story Hour" on CBS Radio.

In 1942, Oxfam International had its beginnings as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief was founded in England.

In 1954, Pakistan's K2 was conquered as two members of an Italian expedition, Achille Compagnoni (ah-KEE'-lay kohm-pahn-YOH'-nee) and Lino Lacedelli (LEE'-noh lah-chee-DEHL'-ee), reached the summit.

In 1957, the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations designed to detect Soviet bombers approaching North America, went into operation.

In 1964, the American space probe Ranger 7 reached the moon, transmitting pictures back to Earth before impacting the lunar surface.

In 1972, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton withdrew from the ticket with George McGovern following disclosures that Eagleton had once undergone psychiatric treatment.

In 1989, a pro-Iranian group in Lebanon released a grisly videotape showing the body of American hostage William R. Higgins, a Marine lieutenant-colonel, dangling from a rope.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in Moscow.

In 1992, the former Soviet republic of Georgia was admitted to the United Nations as its 179th member. Thai Airways Flight 311, an Airbus A310, crashed while approaching Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal; all 113 people aboard died.

Ten years ago: The Army censured retired three-star Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger for a "perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgments and a failure of leadership" after the 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan of Army Ranger Pat Tillman. The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for Sudan's Darfur region.
Five years ago: Three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade, cutting power to 620 million people in the world's biggest blackout. Wrapping up an overseas trip, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said in Warsaw that Poland's economy was a model of small government and free enterprise that other nations should emulate. At the London games, the team of Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman (AL'-ee RAYS'-mihn), Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber won the first U.S. Olympic team title in women's gymnastics since 1996. Michael Phelps broke the Olympic medals record with his 19th as the United States romped to a dominating win in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. Author, playwright, politician and commentator Gore Vidal, 86, died in Los Angeles.

One year ago: Pope Francis told young people who had flocked by the hundreds of thousands to a Catholic jamboree near Krakow, Poland, that they needed to "believe in a new humanity" stronger than evil, and cautioned against concluding that one religion is more violent than others. Ariya Jutanugarn (ahr-EE'-uh juh-TAN'-uh-garn) won the Women's British Open at Woburn for her first major championship and fourth LPGA Tour victory of the year.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Don Murray is 88. Jazz composer-musician Kenny Burrell is 86. Actress France Nuyen is 78. Actress Susan Flannery is 78. Singer Lobo is 74. Actress Geraldine Chaplin is 73. Former movie studio executive Sherry Lansing is 73. Singer Gary Lewis is 72. Actor Lane Davies is 67. International Tennis Hall of Famer Evonne Goolagong Cawley is 66. Actor Barry Van Dyke is 66. Actor Alan Autry is 65. Jazz composer-musician Michael Wolff is 65. Actor James Read is 64. Actor Michael Biehn is 61. Rock singer-musician Daniel Ash (Love and Rockets) is 60. Actor Dirk Blocker is 60. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is 59. Rock musician Bill Berry is 59. Actor Wally Kurth is 59. Actor Wesley Snipes is 55. Country singer Chad Brock is 54. Musician Fatboy Slim is 54. Rock musician Jim Corr is 53. Author J.K. Rowling (ROHL'-ing) is 52. Actor Dean Cain is 51. Actor Jim True-Frost is 51. Actor Ben Chaplin is 48. Actor Loren Dean is 48. Actress Eve Best is 46. Retired NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte is 46. Actress Annie Parisse (pah-REES') is 42. Actor Robert Telfer is 40. Country singer-musician Zac Brown is 39. Actor-producer-writer B.J. Novak is 38. Actor Eric Lively is 36. Country singer Blaire Stroud (3 of Hearts) is 34. Singer Shannon Curfman is 32. Actor Reese Hartwig is 19. Actor Rico Rodriguez is 19.

Thought for Today: "History is idle gossip about a happening whose truth is lost the instant it has taken place." — Gore Vidal (1925-2012).


Update July 29 - 30, 2017

Today in History - Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, July 30, the 211th day of 2017. There are 154 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 30, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill creating a women's auxiliary agency in the Navy known as "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service" — WAVES for short.

On this date:

In 1619, the first representative assembly in America convened in Jamestown in the Virginia Colony.

In 1792, the French national anthem "La Marseillaise" (lah mar-seh-YEHZ'), by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, was first sung in Paris by troops arriving from Marseille.

In 1864, during the Civil War, Union forces tried to take Petersburg, Virginia, by exploding a gunpowder-laden mine shaft beneath Confederate defense lines; the attack failed.

In 1916, German saboteurs blew up a munitions plant on Black Tom, an island near Jersey City, New Jersey, killing about a dozen people.

In 1918, poet Joyce Kilmer, a sergeant in the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment, was killed during the Second Battle of the Marne in World War I. (Kilmer is remembered for his poem "Trees.")

In 1932, the Summer Olympic Games opened in Los Angeles.

In 1945, the Portland class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, having just delivered components of the atomic bomb to Tinian in the Mariana Islands, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine; only 317 out of nearly 1,200 men survived.

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a measure making "In God We Trust" the national motto, replacing "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of many, one).

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a measure creating Medicare, which began operating the following year.
In 1975, former Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in suburban Detroit; although presumed dead, his remains have never been found.

In 1980, Israel's Knesset passed a law reaffirming all of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

In 1997, two men bombed Jerusalem's most crowded outdoor market, killing themselves and 16 others. Eighteen people were killed in a landslide that swept one ski lodge onto another at the Thredbo Alpine Village in southeast Australia.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, meeting at Camp David, forged a unified stand on Iraq, aiming to head off talk of a splintering partnership in the face of an unpopular war. Chief Justice John Roberts was taken to a hospital after a seizure caused him to fall on a dock near his summer home in Maine. A second South Korean hostage was slain by the Taliban in central Afghanistan. Death claimed Swedish movie director Ingmar Bergman at age 89; Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni at age 94; and Hall of Fame football coach Bill Walsh at age 75.

Five years ago: Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, on a visit to Israel, outraged Palestinians by telling Jewish donors that their culture was part of the reason Israel was more economically successful than the Palestinians. At the London Olympics, American teenager Missy Franklin won the women's 100-meter backstroke before Matt Grevers led a 1-2 finish for the U.S. in the men's race. The Chinese won their second straight Olympic title in men's gymnastics and third in four games after a dismal performance in qualifying.

One year ago: Sixteen people died when a hot air balloon caught fire and exploded after hitting high-tension power lines before crashing into a pasture near Lockhart, about 60 miles northeast of San Antonio. A gunman opened fire at a house party near Seattle, killing three 19-year-olds; a suspect pleaded guilty to aggravated first-degree murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to life without parole. Luke Aikins, a 42-year-old skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps, made history when he became the first person to make a planned leap without a parachute or wingsuit, landing in a net at the Big Sky movie ranch on the outskirts of Simi Valley, California. Actress-singer Gloria DeHaven, 91, died in Las Vegas.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Edd (correct) "Kookie" Byrnes is 84. Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is 83. Blues musician Buddy Guy is 81. Movie director Peter Bogdanovich is 78. Feminist activist Eleanor Smeal is 78. Former U.S. Rep. Patricia Schroeder is 77. Singer Paul Anka is 76. Jazz musician David Sanborn is 72. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is 70. Actor William Atherton is 70. Actor Jean Reno (zhahn rih-NOH') is 69. Blues singer-musician Otis Taylor is 69. Actor Frank Stallone is 67. Actor Ken Olin is 63. Actress Delta Burke is 61. Law professor Anita Hill is 61. Singer-songwriter Kate Bush is 59. Country singer Neal McCoy is 59. Actor Richard Burgi is 59. Movie director Richard Linklater is 57. Actor Laurence Fishburne is 56. Actress Lisa Kudrow is 54. Bluegrass musician Danny Roberts (The Grascals) is 54. Country musician Dwayne O'Brien is 54. Actress Vivica A. Fox is 53. Actor Terry Crews is 49. Actor Simon Baker is 48. Actor Donnie Keshawarz is 48. Movie director Christopher Nolan is 47. Actor Tom Green is 46. Rock musician Brad Hargreaves (Third Eye Blind) is 46. Actress Christine Taylor is 46. Actor-comedian Dean Edwards is 44. Actress Hilary Swank is 43. Olympic gold medal beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor is 40. Actress Jaime Pressly is 40. Alt-country singer-musician Seth Avett (AY'-veht) is 37. Actress April Bowlby is 37. Soccer player Hope Solo is 36. Actress Yvonne Strahovski is 35. Actor Martin Starr is 35. Actress Gina Rodriguez is 33. Actor Nico Tortorella is 29. Actress Joey King is 18.

Thought for Today: "Happiness is a reward that comes to those that have not looked for it." — Emile Chartier, French philosopher (1868-1951).


1 dead, 6 injured after knife attack at German supermarket

Police officers secure the area after a knife attack at a supermarket in Hamburg, Germany, Friday, July 28, 2017. (Paul Weidenbaum/dpa via AP)

By Geir Moulson, Associated press

BERLIN (AP) — A man armed with a kitchen knife fatally stabbed one person at a supermarket Friday in the northern German city of Hamburg and six others were injured as he fled, police said. He was overpowered and arrested.

The suspect is a 26-year-old who was born in the United Arab Emirates, police said, though they were still working to establish his nationality. Hamburg's mayor said that the man had apparently sought shelter in Germany and that authorities had been unable to deport him because he had no papers.

The assailant entered the supermarket in Hamburg's Barmbek district Friday afternoon and stabbed one man, who died at the scene. Police said the victim is believed to be a 50-year-old German.

After the assailant fled, he wounded a woman and four men with his knife before being overwhelmed by passers-by, police said. A fifth man was hurt while helping overpower the attacker, who was slightly injured, police said. Officers then arrested the assailant.

The wounded people, some of whom were seriously hurt, were taken to hospitals, authorities said.

Barmbek is in northeastern Hamburg, away from the downtown district.

Police said that they were "investigating in every direction." The news agency dpa quoted two witnesses at a nearby bakery as saying they heard the assailant shout "Allahu akbar!" as he held up the knife, but police did not confirm the report.

"Allahu akbar" means "God is great" in Arabic and has been used by Islamic extremists when carrying out violent acts.

Mayor Olaf Scholz said the assailant was a foreigner who was supposed to leave Germany but couldn't be deported because he had no papers, dpa reported.

"It makes me all the more angry that the perpetrator is apparently someone who sought protection here in Germany and then turned his hatred against us," Scholz said.

In December, a Tunisian whose asylum application had been rejected drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.


Russia's new UN envoy: World faces 'unprecedented threats'

Russia's new ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Alekseevich Nebenzia, left, shakes hands with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres when he presented his credentials, at United Nations headquarters, Friday, July 28, 2017. (Eskinder Debebe/United Nations via AP)

By Edith M Lederer, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia's new envoy to the United Nations took up his post Friday warning that the world is being confronted by "unprecedented threats and challenges" and declaring that combatting terrorism is a top priority.

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that as a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia "will continue contributing constructively to addressing those challenges, together with the international community."

"And we reaffirm our commitment to promoting peace, development and human rights," he said during a ceremony at which he presented his credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Nebenzia, a deputy foreign minister since 2013, replaced Vitaly Churkin who died in February. He previously was an adviser to Russia's U.N. delegation and deputy Russian representative at the U.N. office in Geneva.

Guterres called Churkin "one of the most brilliant diplomats ever" and stressed the importance of "effective cooperation" between the U.N. and Russia.

Nebenzia said the United Nations is the only universal international organization and the only place that gives all nations their own "legal voice."

After a private meeting with Guterres, he went to a General Assembly open meeting on combatting terrorism. He said "it is symbolic" that his first statement after presenting his credentials would be to the 193-member assembly, "the most representative body of our organization."

Nebenzia said terrorist incidents in Russia and elsewhere "show that the modern world needs everyone to work together."

Last month, the General Assembly voted to establish a new United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office and Guterres appointed a veteran Russian diplomat who has dealt with the issue, Vladimir Voronkov, to head it.

Nebenzia said the U.N. must play "the central coordinating role" in combatting terrorism. He added that reforms planned by Guterres should provide "significant results in improving the legal basis of counter-terrorism operations and will allow for targeted technical support to countries in need."

The Russian ambassador called for stepped up efforts to eliminate the conditions that lead to terrorism and said the most important tasks today are "to combat foreign terrorist fighters, to combat financing for terrorism and the spread of its ideology, including through the use of modern technology."


Defend Europe: Ship still off Cyprus over 'security warning'

A view of the C Star ship docked at Famagusta port in Turkish Cypriots breakaway northern part of the island of Cyprus, Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP Photo)

By Menelaos Hadjicostis, Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A ship chartered by a group that campaigns against migrant arrivals in Europe is staying at sea off Cyprus amid warnings of threats to the vessel from far-leftists, a spokesman for the anti-migrant organization said Friday.

Thorsten Schmidt, spokesman for the group Defend Europe, told the Associated Press that authorities from "more than one country" had warned that the security of the C Star is at risk and it should make frequent course changes. He didn't give any details of threats to the ship, which was keeping about 40 miles off the island's southern coast.

The vessel was thrust into the news Thursday when Turkish Cypriot officials in the island's breakaway north order the C Star and its nine-man crew to leave the port of Famagusta after briefly detaining them on suspicion of forging documents for 20 Tamils found on board.

Schmidt repeated his group's denial that it was trying to smuggle in migrants, saying "radical leftist" groups are mounting a smear campaign against Defend Europe with what he called false accusations of weapons smuggling and people trafficking.

Defend Europe officials said the Tamils were apprentice sailors who had just wrapped up training and wanted to catch a flight back to Sri Lanka.

But when the Tamils were taken to the airport, five asked for asylum and claimed they each had paid a trafficker in Sri Lanka as much as $16,000 to be taken to Rome, said Faika Deniz Pasha of the Refugee Rights Association, which has strongly criticized Defend Europe's anti-immigrant views.

On its Website, Defend Europe says an "invasion" by people entering illegally from Africa and elsewhere is "changing the face" of Europe, diminishing its safety while posing the risk that Europeans "will become a minority in our own European homelands."

Schmidt claimed activists from non-governmental groups at the north Cyprus airport coaxed the Tamils into applying for asylum with offers of help. Pasha said migrant advocates offered only their contact details and it was the Tamils themselves who called to ask for asylum.

Schmidt said the ship's Cyprus detention had delayed its mission for Defend Europe by a few days and it would head to Italy as soon as possible. He said the C Star would go to waters off Libya to "destroy" empty rubber boats that he claimed are being used by pro-migrant groups to ferry people to Europe in collusion with people traffickers.

Schmidt said the Tamil matter didn't involve Defend Europe, but was instead an issue for the owner of the C Star who made his own arrangements with the Tamils. Turkish Cypriot authorities transferred the ship owner to the island's internationally recognized south.

The ship originally picked up the Tamils from the East Africa nation of Djibouti. Schmidt said they were supposed to return to Sri Lanka from Egypt, but missed their flights when the C Star arrived there. Egyptian authorities told the ship to leave, so it headed to north Cyprus where it could also get cheaper fuel, he said.

Meanwhile, 10 Tamils who took flights from north Cyprus seeking to return to Sri Lanka were sent back to the Mediterranean island after being stranded at Doha airport where they were supposed to board connecting flights, Pasha said. She said authorities weren't allowing the men to leave the airport and they would be flown back to Doha as soon as possible. The 10 told aid group lawyers their connecting flights in Doha had been cancelled, she said.


Sessions hopes anti-gang effort will mend fences with Trump

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during his interview with The Associated Press, Friday, July 28, 2017, at the National Police Headquarters in San Salvador, El Salvador. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

By Sadie Gurman, Associated Press
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP)
— Attorney General Jeff Sessions is eager to use his aggressive work against the MS-13 street gang to help mend his tattered relationship with President Donald Trump. "I hope so," he said Friday, trying to turn the corner from a week of sour performance reviews from his boss.

"It's one of many issues that we share deep commitments about," he told The Associated Press from a private room in the headquarters of El Salvador's national police force, where he had met law enforcement officials to talk about quashing the violent transnational gang.

That common concern about MS-13 was on display Friday as Trump spoke about the gang in Long Island, where MS-13 violence has resurfaced with a vengeance, and as Sessions toured a gang stronghold, motoring around El Salvador's graffiti-laced streets alongside rifle-wielding police officers who had tried to clear the neighborhood of gangsters before he arrived. MS-13 has roots both in Central America and Los Angeles.

But in his speech vowing to crush MS-13, Trump never mentioned Sessions.

"These are animals," Trump told law enforcement officials and relatives of crime victims in Brentwood, in Suffolk County, New York, where MS-13 has been blamed for a string of gruesome murders, including the killing of four young men in April.

The president battered Sessions for days with a series of tweets calling him weak and ineffective, his discontent centered on Sessions' decision months ago to recuse himself from the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia. Sessions said Thursday he won't resign unless Trump asks him to and spoke loyally of the president while saying he was right to take himself out of that investigation after acknowledging he had met the Russian ambassador during the campaign.

Though thousands of miles apart, Trump and Sessions seemed aligned in their message against MS-13. The gang has become a focal point in the national immigration debate, although it is in some respects a homegrown organization and it is unclear how many of its members are in the U.S. illegally.

"It is in a very expansive mode and we need to slam the door on that," Sessions said in the AP interview. "We need to stop them in their tracks and focus on this dangerous group."

The intense focus on gang violence is a departure for a Justice Department that has viewed as more urgent the prevention of cyberattacks from foreign criminals, international bribery and the threat of homegrown violent extremism.

But alarm about the gang has grown as it has preyed on largely suburban, immigrant communities. Several top officials in Sessions' office have experience prosecuting the gang in Baltimore, Alexandria, Virginia, and other cities.

MS-13, or the Mara Salvatrucha, is believed by federal prosecutors to have more than 10,000 members in the U.S., a mix of immigrants from Central America and U.S.-born members. The gang originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s then entrenched itself in Central America when its leaders were deported.

MS-13 and rival groups in El Salvador now control entire towns, rape girls and young women, kill competitors and massacre students, bus drivers and merchants who refuse to pay extortion.

One purpose of Sessions' trip was to learn more about how the gang's activities in El Salvador affect crime in the U.S. Officials believe major gang leaders are using cellphones from Salvadoran prisons to instruct members who have crossed into the U.S. illegally to kill rivals and extort immigrants.

Zach Terwilliger, who prosecuted gangs in the Eastern District of Virginia before taking a position in the deputy attorney general's office, found that to be true in some of his cases.

"We have to coordinate our intelligence," Terwilliger said. "I don't think you can understand MS-13 violence and the way they conduct themselves in the U.S. unless you come down here." He and leaders of the department's criminal division traveled with Sessions.

During his two-day trip, his first visit to El Salvador, the attorney general wandered through a crowded jail where members of rival gangs wearing white T-shirts sat side-by-side in large cells, their backs facing the curious onlookers. He met members of a transnational anti-gang task force and pledged his support for El Salvador's Attorney General Douglas Melendez, congratulating him on charges laid over the last two days against more than 700 gang members, many of them from MS-13.

Sessions recalled early conversations he had with Trump about the gang. "He saw the violent murders in Islip, New York, and he's asked about it personally," Sessions said. Trump then crafted an executive order in the first weeks of his presidency, directing the Justice Department to go after transnational gangs, and Sessions was eager to make it a priority.


Today in History - Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, July 29, the 210th day of 2017. There are 155 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 29, 1967, an accidental rocket launch on the deck of the supercarrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin resulted in a fire and explosions that killed 134 servicemen. (Among the survivors was future Arizona senator John McCain, a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander who narrowly escaped with his life.)

On this date:

In 1030, the patron saint of Norway, King Olaf II, was killed in battle.

In 1588, the English attacked the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines, resulting in an English victory.

In 1890, artist Vincent van Gogh, 37, died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

In 1914, transcontinental telephone service in the U.S. became operational with the first test conversation between New York and San Francisco. Massachusetts' Cape Cod Canal, offering a shortcut across the base of the peninsula, was officially opened to shipping traffic.

In 1921, Adolf Hitler became the leader ("fuehrer") of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

In 1948, Britain's King George VI opened the Olympic Games in London.

In 1957, the International Atomic Energy Agency was established. Jack Paar made his debut as host of NBC's "Tonight Show."

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating NASA.

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford became the first U.S. president to visit the site of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland.

In 1981, Britain's Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in a glittering ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. (However, the couple divorced in 1996.)

In 1994, abortion opponent Paul Hill shot and killed Dr. John Bayard Britton and Britton's bodyguard, James H. Barrett, outside the Ladies Center clinic in Pensacola, Florida. (Hill was executed in Sept. 2003.)

In 2004, Sen. John Kerry accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's convention in Boston with a military salute and the declaration: "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."

Ten years ago: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived at Camp David in Maryland for a private dinner as well as meetings with President George W. Bush. Tens of thousands of Iraqis celebrated after Iraq beat three-time champion Saudi Arabia 1-0 to take the Asian Cup. Alberto Contador of Spain won the doping-scarred Tour de France. Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn took their places in the Baseball Hall of Fame. TV talk show host and newsman Tom Snyder died in San Francisco at age 71. French actor Michel Serrault died at age 79.

Five years ago: Standing on Israeli soil, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States had "a solemn duty and a moral imperative" to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. At the London Olympics, 123-pound North Korean weightlifter Om Yun Chol won a gold medal by lifting a then-Olympic-record 370 pounds in the clean and jerk. Dana Vollmer of the United States set a world record to win the 100-meter butterfly in 55.98 seconds. Yannick Agnel rallied the French to the gold medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay in 3 minutes, 9.93 seconds, pulling ahead of American star Ryan Lochte on the final lap. French film director Chris Marker died on his 91st birthday.

One year ago: Pope Francis visited the former Nazi death factory at Auschwitz and Birkenau in southern Poland, meeting with concentration camp survivors as well as aging saviors who helped Jews escape certain doom. Former suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson was given an additional 40 years in prison for trying to hire someone to kill the prosecutor who put him behind bars for killing his third wife.

Today's Birthdays: Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker is 85. Actor Robert Fuller is 84. Former Sen. Elizabeth H. Dole is 81. Actor David Warner is 76. Actress Roz Kelly is 75. Rock musician Neal Doughty (REO Speedwagon) is 71. Marilyn Tucker Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, is 68. Actor Mike Starr is 67. Documentary maker Ken Burns is 64. Style guru Tim Gunn is 64. Rock singer-musician Geddy Lee (Rush) is 64. Rock singer Patti Scialfa (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band) is 64. Olympic gold medal gymnast Nellie Kim is 60. Actor Kevin Chapman is 55. Actress Alexandra Paul is 54. Actor/comedian Dean Haglund is 52. Country singer Martina McBride is 51. Rock musician Chris Gorman is 50. Actor Rodney Allen Rippy is 49. Actor Tim Omundson is 48. Actor Ato Essandoh is 45. Actor Wil Wheaton is 45. Rhythm-and-blues singer Wanya Morris (Boyz II Men) is 44. Country singer-songwriter James Otto is 44. Actor Stephen Dorff is 44. Actor Josh Radnor is 43. Hip-hop DJ/music producer Danger Mouse is 40. Actress Rachel Miner is 37. Actress Allison Mack is 35. Actress Kaitlyn Black is 34. Actor Matt Prokop is 27.

Thought for Today: "An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it." — Don Marquis (MAHR'-kwihs), American journalist-author (born this date in 1878, died 1937).


Update July 28, 2017

Oct. 2 trial date set in Kim Jong Nam's killing in Malaysia

One of police cars carrying Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian suspect Siti Aisyah arrives at Shah Alam court house at Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, July 28, 2017.(AP Photo/Daniel Chan)

By Eileen Ng, Associated Press

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian judge set an Oct. 2 trial date Friday for two women accused of murdering the North Korean leader's half brother.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are accused of smearing Kim Jong Nam's face with the banned VX nerve agent at a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13. He died about 20 minutes later.

The women, who face a possible death penalty if convicted, say they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera TV show.

Judge Azmi Ariffin estimated the trial will last for two months.

The women appeared in court wearing traditional Malay dresses, smiling at their lawyers and embassy officials. They were handcuffed as they were led to the dock.

But after the judge left the room, Aisyah was in tears as her lawyer debriefed her.

The two women are the only suspects in custody in a killing that South Korea's spy agency said was part of a five-year plot by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to kill a brother he reportedly never met. Malaysian police have said four North Korean suspects fled the country the same day Kim Jong Nam was killed.

North Korea has a history of ordering killings of people it views as threats to its regime. While Kim Jong Nam was not thought to be seeking influence, his status as eldest son in the current generation of North Korea's founding family could have made him appear to be a danger to his half brother's rule.

Pyongyang has denied any role in the killing and has not even acknowledged that the dead man was Kim Jong Nam.


Al-Qaida says it has group in Kashmir to fight Indian rule

In this June 30, 2017 file photo, Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard at a temporary checkpoint during a curfew in downtown area of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)

By Aijaz Hussain, Associated Press

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Al-Qaida said for the first time it is active in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, announcing on a linked propaganda network that a militant from an indigenous rebel group would lead a new outfit of fighters opposing Indian rule in the disputed region.

The announcement was made Thursday by the Global Islamic Media Front, which said Kashmiri militant Zakir Musa will head al-Qaida-linked Ansar Ghawzat-ul-Hind. He recently left Kashmir's largest indigenous rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and is believed to have been joined by less than a dozen others.

Previously, no global jihadi groups have openly operated in Kashmir, a territory divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both entirely.

The propaganda network said the new group will "repel the aggression of tyrant Indian invaders, and through jihad, and with the aid of Allah ... we will liberate our homeland Kashmir."

In 2014, al-Qaida announced the creation of a cell in the Indian subcontinent, but it failed to attract significant support.

Musa issued a series of audio messages in April saying that Kashmir's struggle was for the Islamic cause and had nothing to do with nationalism, which would mark an ideological shift for some militants in Kashmir, where rebels have mainly fought for Indian-controlled portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan.

Separatist leaders, who challenge India's sovereignty over Kashmir, have repeatedly rejected the presence of outside groups, including al-Qaida, and have accused India of portraying the Kashmiri struggle as extremist.

Senior Indian police officer S.P. Vaid said troops will continue to fight militants irrespective of their affiliations.

"Anyone who picks up gun to fight against the state is a terrorist to us. Their party affiliation hardly matters to us," Vaid said.

However, he said police would closely monitor the impact of Thursday's announcement on militancy.

"It's hard to predict any impact immediately, though there is a concern that it might sway youth toward the radical ideology," he said.

Pakistan-based rebel group Lashkar-e-Taiba called the announcement a ploy by India to defame Kashmir's struggle for freedom.

It said in a statement that groups like al-Qaida "are being brought up to label the legitimate freedom struggle as terrorism."

India blames Lashkar-e-Taiba for a 2008 attack that left 166 people dead in India's commercial capital of Mumbai.

Musa was a close aide of Burhan Wani, a charismatic Kashmiri rebel leader whose killing last year triggered open defiance against Indian rule.

Wani's death and the resulting public fury brought the armed rebellion into the mainstream in Kashmir and revived a militant movement that had withered in recent years to only about 100 fighters in scattered rebel outfits. Officials say since Wani's killing, at least 100 young men have joined rebel ranks, some of them after stealing weapons from soldiers and police.

His death also cemented a shift in public behavior, with people displaying anger at Indian rule openly and violently when troops raid villages to hunt rebels.

Rebel groups have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir's mostly Muslim population, with most people supporting the rebels' cause against Indian rule.


Thrill ride was OK'd hours before deadly state fair accident

An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper removes a ground spike from in front of the fire ball ride at the Ohio State Fair Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Inspectors repeatedly looked over a thrill ride while it was assembled at the Ohio State Fair and signed off on it hours before it flew apart in a deadly accident that flung passengers into the ground, according to authorities and records released Thursday.

Investigators worked to find out what caused the opening day wreck, which killed a high school student who had just enlisted in the Marines. Seven other people were injured, including four teenagers.

The ride's Dutch manufacturer told operators of the same attraction at fairs and festivals around the world to stop using it until more is learned about what caused the malfunction.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich shut down all rides at the state fair and ordered them inspected again. He said it was too early to say whether inspectors missed something that led to the tragedy Wednesday night.

"It's a nightmare. It's a terrible situation," the Republican governor said.

Video taken by a bystander of the swinging, spinning Fire Ball ride in action captured a crashing sound. A section holding four riders came apart, and screams could be heard as at least two people were ejected and plunged toward the ground. Other riders were still in their seats as they fell.

Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, was thrown about 50 feet and was pronounced dead on the midway. The Marine Corps and school officials said Jarrell enlisted last week and was going to begin basic training next summer after his high school graduation.

"That was just this past Friday. Then he goes to the state fair and he is involved in this horrible tragedy. It's just devastating," said Capt. Gerard Lennon Jr., a naval science instructor in the Junior ROTC program at Jarrell's high school.

The injured ranged in age from 14 to 42. At least two were listed in critical condition. Some people were hit by debris.

Jarrell's girlfriend was among those seriously injured, her mother told The Columbus Dispatch. Keziah Lewis, a University of Cincinnati student, doesn't remember the accident and has pelvis, ankle and rib injuries, Clarissa Williams said.

"She kept asking for her boyfriend," Williams said. "I had to tell her he was the one who was deceased."
Kaylie Bellomy was in the next group waiting to board the Fire Ball.

"It was going for a minute and it was at its highest point and I saw somebody fall on the ride, and then a minute later the whole like row of seats fell off and hit the ground," Bellomy told WCMH-TV.

She said it was chaos afterward: "Everybody was running. I got ran over trying to get out of the way."

Records show that inspections on Fire Ball were up to date and a state permit was issued for the ride on Wednesday.
Ohio Department of Agriculture records showed passing marks on inspections of about three dozen items, including possible cracks, brakes, proper assembly and installation.

All rides at the fair are checked several times when they are being set up to ensure the work is done the way the manufacturer intended, Agriculture Director David Daniels said.

Ohio's chief inspector of amusement ride safety, Michael Vartorella, said the Fire Ball was inspected three or four times before the fair opened. He said some work on all the rides was delayed by heavy rains last week but the inspections were completed and not rushed.

State Highway Patrol Col. Paul Pride said inspectors are "basically going to do an autopsy on that machine" to figure out why it malfunctioned.

Amusements of America, the company that provides rides to the state fair, said it is committed to working with investigators to determine the cause. It said Fire Ball had been checked by its staff and independent inspectors before the fair opened.

Fire Ball swings 24 riders back and forth like a pendulum 40 feet above the ground while they sit in four-seat carriages that spin at 13 revolutions a minute, according to the company's website.

The ride's manufacturer, KMG, said the one at the Ohio fair was built in 1998 in the Netherlands. Forty-three of the rides, also known as the Afterburner, are in use around the world, 11 of them in the U.S., KMG said. None has had a serious malfunction before, it said.

After the accident, fairs in California, New Jersey and Canada shut down similar rides before the company issued its order.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also is investigating. It estimates there were 30,900 injuries associated with amusement attractions that required emergency room visits last year. It said there have been at least 22 deaths associated with amusement attractions in the U.S. since 2010.

The Ohio State Fair, which remained open Thursday, is one of the biggest state fairs in the U.S. It drew 900,000 people last year.

"Our hearts are heavy for the families of those involved in last night's tragic accident," fair officials said on Twitter.

AP writers John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio; Dan Sewell in Cincinnati; Mark Gillispie in Cleveland; Denise Lavoie in Boston; Mike Corder in Brussels; and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this story.


Apple kills iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle as music moves to phones

In this June 11, 2015, file photo, from left, an iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are displayed at an Apple store in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle have played their final notes for Apple.

The company discontinued sales of the two music players Thursday in a move reflecting the waning popularity of the devices in an era when most people store or stream their tunes on smartphones.

The iPod product line still remains alive, though. Apple plans to continue selling its internet-connected iPod Touch.

In a show of its commitment to the iPod Touch, Apple doubled the storage capacity of its top-of-line model to 128 gigabytes. That version costs $300. An iPod Touch with 32 gigabytes of storage sells for $200.

The Nano and Shuffle came out in 2005 as less expensive and smaller alternatives to Apple's standard iPod. The Cupertino, California, company stopped updating the Nano and Shuffle several years ago.

Apple has long predicted iPods would gradually fade away as more people bought iPhones or other smartphones capable of playing music.

The company's sales of iPods peaked in its fiscal year 2008 when the devices generated revenue of $9.2 billion. The then-nascent iPhone accounted for $1.8 billion in revenue that same year.

Last year, the iPhone generated revenue of nearly $136 billion. Sales of iPods have plunged by so much that Apple no longer provides specifics about the devices in its financial statements.


Today in History - Friday, July 28, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Friday, July 28, the 209th day of 2017. There are 156 days left in the year.

Today's Highlights in History:

On July 28, 1945, a U.S. Army B-25 bomber flying in heavy fog crashed into the 79th floor of New York's Empire State Building, killing all three people in the plane and 11 people in the building. The U.S. Senate ratified the United Nations Charter by a vote of 89-2.

On this date:

In 1540, King Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, was executed, the same day Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

In 1794, Maximilien Robespierre, a leading figure of the French Revolution, was sent to the guillotine.

In 1821, Peru declared its independence from Spain.

In 1914, World War I began as Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

In 1932, federal troops forcibly dispersed the so-called "Bonus Army" of World War I veterans who had gathered in Washington to demand payments they weren't scheduled to receive until 1945.

In 1959, in preparation for statehood, Hawaiians voted to send the first Chinese-American, Republican Hiram L. Fong, to the U.S. Senate and the first Japanese-American, Democrat Daniel K. Inouye, to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he was increasing the number of American troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000 "almost immediately."

In 1976, an earthquake devastated northern China, killing at least 242,000 people, according to an official estimate.

In 1977, Roy Wilkins turned over leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to Benjamin L. Hooks.

In 1984, the Los Angeles Summer Olympics opened.

In 1995, a jury in Union, South Carolina, rejected the death penalty for Susan Smith, sentencing her to life in prison for drowning her two young sons (Smith will be eligible for parole in 2024).

In 2002, nine coal miners trapped in the flooded Quecreek (KYOO'-kreek) Mine in Somerset, Pennsylvania, were rescued after 77 hours underground.

Ten years ago: Vice President Dick Cheney, with a history of heart problems, had surgery to replace an implanted device that was monitoring his heartbeat.

Five years ago: Syria's government launched an offensive to retake rebel-held neighborhoods in the nation's commercial hub of Aleppo. At the London Olympics, Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen set the first world record, winning the women's 400-meter individual medley in 4:28.43. Ryan Lochte of the U.S. won the men's 400-meter individual medley in 4:05.18.

One year ago: Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's convention in Philadelphia, where she cast herself as a unifier for divided times as well as an experienced leader steeled for a volatile world while aggressively challenging Republican Donald Trump's ability to do the same.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Darryl Hickman is 86. Ballet dancer-choreographer Jacques d'Amboise is 83. Musical conductor Riccardo Muti is 76. Former Senator and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Bradley is 74. "Garfield" creator Jim Davis is 72. Singer Jonathan Edwards is 71. Actress Linda Kelsey is 71. TV producer Dick Ebersol is 70. Actress Sally Struthers is 70. Actress Georgia Engel is 69. Rock musician Simon Kirke (Bad Company) is 68. Rock musician Steve Morse (Deep Purple) is 63. Former CBS anchorman Scott Pelley is 60. Alt-country-rock musician Marc Perlman is 56. Actor Michael Hayden is 54. Actress Lori Loughlin is 53. Jazz musician-producer Delfeayo Marsalis is 52. Former hockey player turned general manager Garth Snow is 48. Actress Elizabeth Berkley is 45. Singer Afroman is 43. Country musician Todd Anderson (Heartland) is 42. Rock singer Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) is 41. Country singer Carly Goodwin is 36. Actor Jon Michael Hill is 32. Actor Dustin Milligan is 32. Actor Nolan Gerard Funk is 31. Rapper Soulja Boy is 27. Pop/rock singer Cher Lloyd (TV: "The X Factor") is 24.

Thought for Today: "All youth is bound to be 'misspent'; there is something in its very nature that makes it so, and that is why all men regret it." — Thomas Wolfe, American author (1900-1938).


Update July 27, 2017

New York eyes textalyzer to bust drivers using cellphones

In this May 31, 2013 file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference to announce the increase in penalties for texting while driving in New York. New York state is set to study the use of a device known as the “textalyzer” that would allow police to determine whether a motorist involved in a serious crash was texting while driving.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

By David Klepper, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Police in New York state may soon have a high-tech way of catching texting drivers: a device known as a textalyzer that allows an officer to quickly check if a cellphone has been in use before a crash.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday directed the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to examine the technology and the questions about privacy and civil liberties its use would raise.

"Despite laws to ban cellphone use while driving, some motorists still continue to insist on texting behind the wheel — placing themselves and others at substantial risk," Cuomo said in a statement first reported by The Associated Press. "This review will examine the effectiveness of using this new emerging technology to crack down on this reckless behavior and thoroughly evaluate its implications to ensure we protect the safety and privacy of New Yorkers."

The device is called the textalyzer because of its similarity to the Breathalyzer, which is used to identify drunken drivers. Once plugged into a person's phone for about a minute, it will indicate whether a motorist was texting, emailing, surfing the web or otherwise using his or her cellphone before a serious crash.

Supporters of the technology say the officer would not be able to access personal information on the phone, such as pictures, emails or web browsing history.

The technology is still some months away from being ready, according to Cellebrite, the Israel-based tech company developing the device.

Digital privacy and civil liberties groups already have questioned whether the technology's use would violate personal privacy, noting that police can already obtain search warrants if they believe information on a private phone could be useful in a prosecution.

Many security experts are skeptical when it comes to promises that the textalyzer would only access information about phone usage, and not personal material, according to Rainey Reitman, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for civil liberties when it comes to digital technology.

"I am extremely nervous about handing a cellphone to a law enforcement officer and allowing them in any way to forensically analyze it," she said. "This is a technology that is incredibly problematic and at the same time is unnecessary. There are already legal avenues for a police officer."

Westchester County resident Ben Lieberman lost his 19-year-old son Evan Lieberman to a fatal car crash in 2011 and later discovered the driver of the car his son was in had been texting while driving. He's now a leading advocate for the textalyzer and has worked with Cellebrite on the project. He said he understands concerns about privacy but they're unfounded, noting the device would only tell police whether a driver had been breaking the law.

"A Breathalyzer doesn't tell you where you were drinking, or whether it was vodka or Jack Daniels, just that you were drinking," he said. "This is the right balance between public safety and privacy."

Count Emily Boedigheimer as a supporter of the idea. The Albany area resident said she's fine with police using a textalyzer, as long as there are rules about what police would be able to see.

"If you're texting and driving you're breaking the law and you're risking people's lives," she said during a lunchtime walk in downtown Albany on Wednesday. "Why can't you wait, or pull over, to make that one call or read your texts?"

The committee will hear from supporters and opponents of the technology, law enforcement officials and legal experts before issuing a report, Cuomo's office said. Particular areas of focus will include the effectiveness of the technology, constitutional and legal issues and how the device would be used in practice.

Sen. Terrence Murphy, a Westchester County Republican, this year sponsored legislation that would have set out rules for the use of the textalyzer. The bill didn't get a full vote, but Murphy said he believes it's only a matter of time before New York and other states adopt the technology.

"It's not if, it's when," he said. "This will literally save lives."

Under Murphy's bill, motorists who refuse to hand over their phones to officers could have their licenses suspended.

Twelve people were killed and 2,784 were injured in cellphone-related crashes in New York state from 2011 to 2015, according to figures from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research. State statistics show 1.2 million tickets for cellphone violations were issued in that period.


Spinning Ohio State Fair ride breaks apart; 1 dead, 7 hurt

Authorities stand near the Fire Ball amusement ride after the ride malfunctioned injuring several at the Ohio State Fair, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (Jim Woods/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A swinging and spinning amusement park ride called the Fire Ball broke apart on the opening day of the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday, hurling people through the air, killing at least one and injuring seven others.

Three of the injured remained hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday night, authorities said at a news conference.

"The fair is about the best things in life, and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Republican Gov. John Kasich.

The man who was killed was one of several people who were thrown when the ride malfunctioned, Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said earlier.

Dramatic video captured by a bystander shows the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air when it crashes into something and part of the ride flies off, throwing riders to the ground.

A company providing rides at the fair this year describes the Fire Ball as an "aggressive thrill" ride.

On its website, Amusements of America says that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball has become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company description of the ride says it swings riders 40 feet (12 meters) above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

The company did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Kasich said he has ordered a full investigation and also ordered that all fair rides be shut down until additional safety inspections can be completed.

The fair did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. In a post on its Twitter page it said: "There has been a report of a ride incident. We are investigating and will report information as available."
The Ohio State Fair runs through Aug. 6.


Michael Jackson estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4 million

In this combination photo, Quincy Jones appears at his home in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 9, 2004, left, and Michael Jackson arrives to court on March 2, 2005, in Santa Maria, California. (AP Photo/File)

By Brian Melley, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury on Wednesday found that Michael Jackson's estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4 million in royalties and production fees from "Billie Jean," ''Thriller" and more of the superstar's biggest hits.

The award from a Los Angeles Superior Court jury fell short of the $30 million the legendary producer sought in the lawsuit filed nearly four years ago, but well above the approximately $392,000 the Jackson estate contended Jones was owed.

The jury of 10 women and two men had been deliberating since Monday.

"This lawsuit was never about Michael, it was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did in the recording studio and the legacy of what we created," Jones wrote in a statement. "Although this (judgment) is not the full amount that I was seeking, I am very grateful that the jury decided in our favor in this matter. I view it not only as a victory for myself personally, but for artists' rights overall."

Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said he and his team were surprised by the verdict and would appeal it.

Weitzman and co-counsel Zia Modabber wrote in a statement that Jones was seeking money that wasn't owed to him.

"Any amount above and beyond what is called for in his contracts is too much and unfair to Michael's heirs," the lawyers said. "Although Mr. Jones is portraying this is a victory for artists' rights, the real artist is Michael Jackson and it is his money Mr. Jones is seeking."

Jones claimed in the lawsuit that Jackson's estate and Sony Music Entertainment owed him for music he had produced that was used in the concert film "This Is It" and two Cirque du Soleil shows that used Jackson's songs.

The lawsuit said the entities had improperly re-edited the songs to deprive Jones of royalties and production fees, and that he had a contractual right to take first crack at any re-edit or remix.

The Jackson camp held that Jones should only be paid licensing fees for songs used in those three productions. Jones claimed he was entitled to a share of the overall receipts from them.

The trial centered on the definitions of terms in the two contracts Jackson and Jones signed in 1978 and 1985.
Under the deals, for example, Jones is entitled to a share of net receipts from a "videoshow" of the songs. The Jackson attorneys argued that the term was meant to apply to music videos and not feature films.

Jury foreman Duy Nguyen, 28, said the contracts were the strongest pieces of evidence the jury considered, and said hearing Jones' testimony was also helpful.

He said he and many members of the jury are Jackson fans, but that didn't factor into the deliberations. He said the verdict amount was a compromise figure based on an expert's testimony.

Jones took the stand during the trial, and was asked by Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman whether he realized he was essentially suing Jackson himself.

Jones angrily disagreed.

"I'm not suing Michael," he said. "I'm suing you all."

The defense attorneys pointed out that Jackson's death in 2009 has already been lucrative for Jones, who made $8 million from his share of their works in the two years after the singer's death, versus $3 million in the two years previous.

"You don't deserve a raise," Weitzman said during closing arguments. "You can't have any more of Michael Jackson's money."

Jones insisted he was seeking his due for the work he has done rather than merely seeking money.

His attorney Scott Cole accused the defense of using "word games and loopholes" to deny Jones, the Hollywood Reporter said.

The producer worked with Jackson on the three-album run widely considered the performer's prime: "Off the Wall," ''Thriller" and "Bad."

Jackson's hits from those albums including "Billie Jean," ''Thriller" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" are among the songs Jones claims were re-edited.

The lawsuit initially set the amount Jones sought at least $10 million, but his attorneys later arrived at $30 million after an accounting of the estate's profits from the works.

Jones and Jackson proved to be a perfect partnership starting with 1979's "Off the Wall." Jackson gave a youthful pop vitality to Jones, who was known primarily as a producer and arranger of jazz and film soundtracks. And Jones lent experience and gravitas to Jackson, who was still best known to most as the child prodigy who fronted the Jackson 5.
___
Associated Press Writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.


Samsung Electronics logs record profit on memory chip boom

In this Wednesday, July 26, 2017 photo, a woman walks by an advertisement of Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S8 smartphone at its shop in Seoul, South Korea.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

By Youkyung Lee, AP Technology Writer

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics reported its all-time high quarterly profit on Thursday as its semiconductor profit surged to a record high thanks to booming demand for memory chips.

The South Korean company said its April-June net income was 10.8 trillion won ($9.7 billion), up 85 percent from 5.8 trillion won a year earlier.

The result beat expectations. Analysts forecast 10.1 trillion won in net profit according to FactSet, a financial data provider.

Operating profit jumped 73 percent over a year earlier to 14.1 trillion won ($12.7 billion) while sales rose 20 percent to 61 trillion won ($54.8 billion), in line with its earlier guidance.

Samsung, the world's largest maker of memory chips and smartphones, likely surpassed Intel's semiconductor revenue during the last quarter and outstripped Apple in quarterly earnings for the first time, if analysts' forecasts turn out to be correct.

Intel is due to report its earnings later Thursday. Apple, which is scheduled to report its financial results on Tuesday, is forecast to have booked $8.2 billion in net profit during the three-month period, according to FactSet, during a typically slow season for Apple.

Samsung's stellar performance that defies slow market demand in smartphone and TV sector is thanks to the unprecedented boom in the memory chip industry dubbed as "memory super cycle" by analysts. Increased uses of connected devices and mobile data have created strong demand for server memory to store, analyze and process data in data centers. Coupled with tight supply conditions, the surge in demand drove up the prices of memory chips over the past year, allowing the world's two largest memory chip makers, Samsung and SK Hynix, to enjoy an unprecedented level of profitability.

Nearly 60 percent of Samsung's quarterly income was generated by its semiconductor division, which booked 8 trillion won ($7.2 billion) in operating income on sales of 17.6 trillion won ($15.8 billion).

Samsung's other component business that produce high-end display panels called OLED for smartphones also posted a solid earnings gain as Samsung launched new Galaxy smartphones in spring using the advanced displays. The Galaxy S8 series of smartphones recorded higher sales than their predecessors, helping the company's mobile business to rebound from the fire-prone Galaxy Note crisis that cost more than $5 billion a year ago. Samsung said its mobile business booked 4.1 trillion won ($3.7 billion) in operating profit.

Looking ahead, Samsung said its third quarter profit may decline as its upcoming launch of the latest iteration of the Galaxy Note series would boost marketing expenses.

But its outlook on the semiconductor business remained rosy. Samsung said companies will continue to add server memory capacities and increase orders of memory chips for smartphones as they expand new server platforms, cloud services and launch new smartphone models during the second half of this year.


Today in History - Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, July 27, the 208th day of 2017. There are 157 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 27, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the Kerner Commission to assess the causes of urban rioting, the same day black militant H. Rap Brown told a press conference in Washington that violence was "as American as cherry pie. Americans taught the black people to be violent. We will use that violence to rid ourselves of oppression if necessary."

On this date:

In 1789, President George Washington signed a measure establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs, forerunner of the Department of State.

In 1866, Cyrus W. Field finished laying out the first successful underwater telegraph cable between North America and Europe (a previous cable in 1858 burned out after only a few weeks' use).

In 1880, British and Indian troops suffered a major defeat to Afghan forces during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.

In 1921, Canadian researcher Frederick Banting and his assistant, Charles Best, succeeded in isolating the hormone insulin at the University of Toronto.

In 1942, during World War II, the First Battle of El Alamein in Egypt ended in a draw as Allied forces stalled the progress of Axis invaders. (The Allies went on to win a clear victory over the Axis in the Second Battle of El Alamein later that year.)

In 1953, the Korean War armistice was signed at Panmunjom, ending three years of fighting.

In 1960, Vice President Richard M. Nixon was nominated for president on the first ballot at the Republican national convention in Chicago.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted 27-11 to adopt the first of three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

In 1980, on day 267 of the Iranian hostage crisis, the deposed Shah of Iran died at a military hospital outside Cairo, Egypt, at age 60.

In 1995, the Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington by President Bill Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young-sam.

In 1996, terror struck the Atlanta Olympics as a pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park, directly killing one person and injuring 111. (Anti-government extremist Eric Rudolph later pleaded guilty to the bombing, exonerating security guard Richard Jewell, who had been wrongly suspected.)

In 2003, comedian Bob Hope died in Toluca Lake, California, at age 100.

Ten years ago: The House sent President George W. Bush legislation to intensify anti-terror efforts in the U.S., carrying out major recommendations of the independent 9/11 Commission (Bush signed the measure into law). Former Qwest Communications chief Joe Nacchio (NAH'-chee-oh) was sentenced to six years in prison for illegally selling $52 million in stock while not telling investors that his telecommunications company faced serious financial risks. (Nacchio was released in September 2013 after serving 4 1/2 years.) Two Phoenix news helicopters collided and crashed while covering a police chase on live television, killing all four people on board.

Five years ago: Britain opened its Olympic Games in a celebration of Old England and new, even cheekily featuring a stunt double for Queen Elizabeth II parachuting with James Bond into Olympic Stadium. The International AIDS Conference closed in Washington, D.C. Tony Martin, 98, the romantic singer who appeared in movie musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s, died in Los Angeles.

One year ago: President Barack Obama, addressing cheering delegates at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, implored Americans to elect Hillary Clinton to the White House, casting her as a candidate who believed in the optimism that drove the nation's democracy and warning against the "deeply pessimistic vision" of Republican Donald Trump. More than a year after Freddie Gray, a black man, suffered a broken neck in a Baltimore police van, the effort to hold six officers criminally responsible for his death collapsed when the city abruptly dropped all charges in the case.

Today's Birthdays: TV producer Norman Lear is 95. Actor Jerry Van Dyke is 86. Sportscaster Irv Cross is 78. Actor John Pleshette is 75. Actress-director Betty Thomas is 70. Olympic gold medal figure skater Peggy Fleming is 69. Singer Maureen McGovern is 68. Actress Janet Eilber is 66. Rock musician Tris Imboden (Chicago) is 66. Actress Roxanne Hart is 63. Country musician Duncan Cameron is 61. Comedian-actress-writer Carol Leifer is 61. Comedian Bill Engvall is 60. Jazz singer Karrin Allyson is 55. Country singer Stacy Dean Campbell is 50. Rock singer Juliana Hatfield is 50. Actor Julian McMahon is 49. Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (NIH'-koh-lye KAH'-stur WAHL'-dah) is 47. Comedian Maya Rudolph is 45. Rock musician Abe Cunningham is 44. Singer-songwriter Pete Yorn is 43. MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez is 42. Actor Seamus Dever is 41. Actor Jonathan Rhys (rees) Meyers is 40. Actor Blair Redford is 34. Actress Taylor Schilling is 33. Singer Cheyenne Kimball is 27. Golfer Jordan Spieth is 24. Actress Alyvia Alyn Lind is 10.

Thought for Today: "Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock." — Will Rogers, American humorist (1879-1935).
 


Update July 26, 2017

Kurdish official says US role essential in post-IS Syria

Ilham Ahmed, the co-president of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the Kurdish-led forces backed by the US in Raqqa, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, in Kobani town, north Syria, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

By Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press

KOBANI, Syria (AP) — The Kurdish-led effort to secure Raqqa once it is liberated from the Islamic State group will require long-term U.S. political and financial support for the battered city's governance and reconstruction, a senior Syrian Kurdish official said Tuesday.

In an interview with The Associated Press in the Kurdish-administered town of Kobani, Ilham Ahmed said the U.S. role in the fight against IS must not end with the liberation of the Raqqa but should continue as a guarantor of stability until a political future for the war-torn country is charted.

Ahmed is the co-president of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led force currently fighting to liberate the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa from the militants. She is also a senior politician in the increasingly powerful Kurdish group that declared areas of self-administration in northern Syria last year, sparking the ire of Turkey, another U.S. ally.

Ankara considers the People's Protection Units, or YPG, the Kurdish militia that forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, as linked to the outlawed Kurdish insurgency in Turkey and fears their expansion along its borders.

"If the Americans want to protect the security of these areas and protect their (own) country from terrorism, they must continue until a democratic system is built in Syria," Ahmed said. She said the U.S. should recognize that the crisis in Syria is not only about defeating IS but also about building a democratic system that protects against radical groups taking over again.

Kurdish forces have gained confidence in light of open U.S. support to their forces, particularly as the battle for Raqqa took off. Despite Turkish protests, the U.S. sent new weapons and vehicles to the YPG to enable it in the fight against IS.

The U.S. has up to 1,000 troops in Syria mostly involved in training and advising the local forces against IS. The U.S. administration has made clear it does not intend to be engaged in post-liberation governance or rebuilding. U.S. officials say once Raqqa is liberated, the SDF will hand over local governance to the Raqqa Civilian Council, a local group of primarily Arab locals who will govern and administer essential services.

"Raqqa has been subjected to destruction of its infrastructure," said Ahmed, highlighting the beating the city has taken in the effort to retake it from IS.

"There are no more institutions. (Raqqa) is destroyed. This council has to be supported to reconstruct and to secure the daily needs of its residents so they can remain in their homes without having to migrate." 

When asked when US forces currently offering advice and training to the Kurdish-led troops in the battle will leave, Ahmed said she did not know, but added that they must continue to have a role until the contours of a future Syria take shape.

She said the Kurdish-led efforts to establish civil administrations in areas liberated from IS will offer "a model" for other areas in Syria, by allowing local groups to elect civil councils to administer themselves.

Raqqa, a predominantly Sunni Arab city, was the first city in Syria to be controlled by the IS militants, who declared it their de-facto capital in 2014. The Kurdish-led effort to form a new administration could inflame tribal and Arab sensitivities.

Ahmed said the current Raqqa council will be re-formulated once the city is liberated to include tribal notables not represented yet because they are still under IS control.

Ahmed said her group's effort needs U.S. political and financial support for the reconstruction of Raqqa but also for the legitimacy of her group's effort in creating the new political structure.

Ahmed's group has been campaigning for a federal system in Syria, arguing it will ensure representation and autonomy for ethnic and religious groups. She said Syria's Kurds, long ostracized before the war, can no longer be ignored in any future serious negotiations over the country's future.

The campaign for Raqqa city began on June 6, with swift advances from the east and west. But two weeks later, the campaign stalled amid stiff resistance from IS militants. Ahmed said it is normal for the campaign to slow down "as the battle nears its end."


US Navy fires warning shots near Iran ship in Persian Gulf

 By Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A U.S. Navy patrol boat fired warning shots Tuesday near an Iranian vessel that American sailors said came dangerously close to them during a tense encounter in the Persian Gulf, the first such incident to happen under President Donald Trump. Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guard later blamed the American ship for provoking the situation.

The encounter involving the USS Thunderbolt, a Cyclone-class patrol ship based in Bahrain as part of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, is the latest confrontation between Iranian vessels and American warships. It comes as Trump already has threatened to renegotiate the nuclear deal struck by his predecessor and after his administration previously put Iran "on notice" over its ballistic missile tests.

The Thunderbolt was taking part in an exercise with American and other coalition vessels in international waters when the Iranian patrol boat approached it, 5th Fleet spokesman Lt. Ian McConnaughey said. The Iranian ship did not respond to radio calls, flares and horn blasts as it came within 150 yards (137 meters) of the Thunderbolt, forcing the U.S. sailors aboard to fire the warning shots, McConnaughey said.

"After the warning shots were fired, the Iranian vessel halted its unsafe approach," the lieutenant said in a statement, adding that the Iranian vessel created "a risk for collision." Large ships can't stop immediately on the water, meaning getting close to each other risks a collision.

Video released by the Navy included a sailor giving a position off the eastern coast of Kuwait as the Iranian vessel sat directly in front of an American warship's bow. Another video included images of the Iranian ship off the Thunderbolt as its horn blared. The sound of machine gun fire followed.

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard instead blamed the Thunderbolt for the incident in a statement, saying the American vessel moved toward one of its patrol boats. It said the Thunderbolt fired into the air "with the intention to provoke and create fear."

Iran and the U.S. frequently have tense naval encounters in the Persian Gulf, nearly all involving the Revolutionary Guard, a separate force from Iran's military that answers only to the country's supreme leader. The last one to involve warning shots happened in January near the end of then-President Barack Obama's term, when the USS Mahan fired shots toward Iranian fast attack boats as they neared the destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. Navy recorded 35 instances of what it describes as "unsafe and/or unprofessional" interactions with Iranians forces in 2016, compared to 23 in 2015. Some analysts believe the incidents at sea are meant in part to squeeze moderate President Hassan Rouhani's administration after the 2015 nuclear deal, like hard-liners' arrests of dual nationals.

Of the incidents at sea last year, the worst involved Iranian forces capturing and holding overnight 10 U.S. sailors who strayed into the Islamic Republic's territorial waters. It became a propaganda coup for Iran's hard-liners, as Iranian state television repeatedly aired footage of the Americans on their knees, their hands on their heads.

Iranian forces view the American presence in the Gulf as a provocation by itself. They in turn have accused the U.S. Navy of unprofessional behavior, especially in the Strait of Hormuz, the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil trade by sea passes.

Meanwhile Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a sanctions package that imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo. Democrats said the new sanctions on Iran don't conflict with the Iran nuclear deal.

Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Richard Lardner in Washington contributed to this report.

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap . His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz .


Top Vatican official faces Australian court on sex charges

In this March 3, 2016 file photo, Australian cardinal George Pell reads a statement to reporters as he leaves the Quirinale hotel after meeting members of the Australian group of relatives and victims of priestly sex abuses, in Rome, Italy.(AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca, File)

By Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis made his first court appearance in Australia on Wednesday in a scandal that has stunned the Holy See and threatened to tarnish the pope's image as a crusader against abusive clergy.

Cardinal George Pell, Australia's highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis' top financial adviser, has maintained his innocence since he was charged last month with sexually abusing multiple people years ago in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as "historical" sexual assault offenses — meaning crimes that occurred years ago.

Pell entered the small courtroom dressed in a black suit, face devoid of expression as he took a seat behind his legal team. He said nothing during the brief hearing, which dealt largely with administrative matters. Though he has not yet entered a plea, his lawyer, Robert Richter, told the court that Pell planned to formally plead not guilty at a future court date.

"For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, I might indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has," Richter told the court.

The hearing lasted just minutes and was remarkably routine. Yet the image of one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church standing before a cramped courtroom overflowing with journalists and spectators was anything but.

With its pedestrian setting of bland white-and-wood-paneled walls and grey carpet, the Melbourne Magistrates' Court could scarcely have been further in both geography and atmosphere from the ornate and hallowed halls of the Vatican.

Though many clerics have faced allegations of sex abuse in recent years, Pell is by far the highest-ranking church official ever charged, and his case has rocked the Vatican.

Pell entered the courthouse flanked by Victoria state police, and received a smattering of applause from several members of a local parish who attended the hearing to support the cardinal. To them, Pell has been preemptively and unfairly condemned before the facts of the case are known.

"We're coming here open-minded — we'd like to hear the facts," said Trevor Atkinson, who has met Pell previously. "It's really a matter of giving him a fair go."

To others, the appearance in court of one of the church's most esteemed officials was a long overdue acknowledgement of the suffering felt by so many victims of clergy abuse.

Julie Cameron of Melbourne stood outside the courthouse holding a painting of Mary cradling an infant Jesus — an image she said was symbolic of the church's duty to protect children.

"This is where the actual Catholic Church has to go through renewal," Cameron said. "It has to acknowledge the crimes that were committed on children."

As Pell left the courthouse, a dozen officers from the Victoria state police force formed a protective circle around him, pushing their way through a media scrum as protesters and supporters shouted at the cardinal.

"We love you Cardinal Pell!" one woman yelled, while another screamed: "You were supposed to protect the children!"
Elida Radig of Melbourne wept as Pell was swept away from the crowd, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event.

"We have to be proud that here in Australia and here in Melbourne ... we are calling them to account," she said through tears. "We are leaders. We are going to clean up the church. We are going to clean up the whole world, protecting the children."

The case places both the cardinal and the pope in potentially perilous territory. For Pell, the charges are a threat to his freedom, his reputation and his career. For Francis, they are a threat to his credibility, given he famously promised a "zero tolerance" policy for sex abuse in the church. Advocates for abuse victims have long railed against Francis' decision to appoint Pell to the high-ranking position in the first place; at the time of his promotion in 2014, Pell was already facing allegations that he had mishandled cases of clergy abuse during his time as archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney.

In 2014, Francis created a commission of outside experts to advise him and the broader church about the best ways to fight abuse and protect children. But the commission suffered a credibility setback when two members who were abuse survivors left in frustration. And the commission's signature proposal — a tribunal to hear cases of bishops who covered up for abuse — was scrapped by the pope himself after Vatican officials objected.

So far, Francis has withheld judgment of Pell, saying he wants to wait for Australian justice to run its course. And he did not force the cardinal to resign, though Pell took an immediate leave of absence so he could return to Australia to fight the charges. Pell said he intends to continue his work as a prefect of the church's economy ministry once the case is resolved.

In recent years, Pell's actions as archbishop came under particular scrutiny by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children. Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse — the nation's highest form of inquiry — revealed earlier this year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children in Australia over the past several decades.

In testimony to the commission last year, Pell conceded that he had made mistakes by often believing priests over those who said they had been abused. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat.

But over the past year, the allegations against Pell moved beyond the way he had handled cases of clergy abuse to accusations that he, himself, had committed abuse. Australian detectives flew to the Vatican to interview him last year and last month, he was formally charged.

Police and prosecutors must present their brief of evidence to Pell's legal team by Sept. 8. The cardinal is next expected in court on Oct. 6.


Charlie Gard's parents ask court to let him die at home

This is an undated hand out photo of Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie Gard provided by the family, at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London. (Family of Charlie Gard via AP)

By Jill Lawless

LONDON (AP) — Charlie Gard's parents know their treasured son is about to die. They have one final wish — to take him home, put him to bed and kiss him goodbye.

The mother of the critically ill baby at the center of an international medical and legal battle returned to London's High Court on Tuesday, asking a judge to let the family take Charlie home for "a few days of tranquility" before his ventilator is disconnected and he is allowed to "slip away."

After months of court hearings over the 11-month-old baby's fate that drew attention from Pope Francis, U.S. President Donald Trump and people around the world, discussion came down to the mundane, heart-wrenching details of ending a life: How could Charlie be transported from a hospital to his parents' west London home? Could ventilation be maintained on the way? Would his ventilator fit through the front door of the house?

"The parents' last wish is to take Charlie home for a few days of tranquility outside the hospital," family lawyer Grant Armstrong said in a written statement.

He accused London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, of putting obstacles in the way.

The hospital's lawyer, Katie Gollop, said Great Ormond Street wanted "above all" to fulfill the parents' last wish, but also had to take the baby's best interests into account.

"The care plan must be safe, it must spare Charlie all pain and protect his dignity," she said.

The hospital said Charlie would be able to die with dignity, surrounded by his family, in a hospice. Armstrong said Charlie's parents regarded that as only "a notch better" than the hospital.

Judge Nicholas Francis, who has dealt with the emotionally draining case for months, said the sensitive issues cried out "for mediation" — not for the ruling of a judge. But so far attempts to find agreement have failed.

At the end of the hearing attended by Charlie's mother, Connie Yates, Francis said he felt a hospice, rather than the family home, would be best. The judge said he would make his final ruling on Wednesday.

"I don't think it's fair to prolong their suffering any longer," he said.

Charlie suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease. He has brain damage and is unable to breathe unaided.

His parents — Yates and her partner, Chris Gard, — have battled for months to take Charlie to the United States for an experimental treatment they believed would improve his condition. Doctors at Great Ormond Street opposed that, saying it would not help and could cause Charlie more suffering.

British courts and the European Court of Human Rights have all sided with Great Ormand Street, one of the world's leading children's hospital, in its bid to remove life support and let Charlie die naturally.

The case drew international attention after Charlie's parents received support from the pope, Trump and some members of the U.S. Congress.

U.S.-based activists flew to London to support Charlie's parents, and the case became a flashpoint for opposing views on health-care funding, medical intervention, the role of the state and the rights of the child.

Some commentators portrayed the case as a clash between family and the state, and U.S. conservatives used it to criticize Britain's government-funded health care system.

The feverish commentary led the judge to criticize the effects of social media and those "who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions."

At its heart, the case pitted the right of parents to decide what's best for their children against the authorities' responsibility to uphold the rights of people who can't speak for themselves. Under British law, children have rights independent of their parents, and it is usual for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child.

Offers of help for Charlie came from Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurology expert at New York's Columbia Medical Center and from the Vatican's Babino Gesu pediatric hospital.

Both said an experimental treatment known as nucleoside therapy had a chance of helping Charlie.

Great Ormond Street disagreed. It said the proposed treatment had never been tried on a human with Charlie's condition and no tests had ever been done on mice to see whether it would work on a patient like Charlie.

The hospital also raised concerns over Hirano's involvement, saying he had a financial interest in some of the compounds he proposed prescribing for Charlie. However, in a statement on Tuesday, Hirano said he had relinquished any financial connection to the therapy.

On Monday, Charlie's parents abandoned their battle for treatment, saying time had run out and the proposed therapy would no longer be effective because Charlie had severe and irreversible muscular damage.

"We are about to do the hardest thing that we will ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go," Chris Gard said.

The couple continues to insist Charlie could have been helped had he received the treatment sooner.

Bambino Gesu director Mariella Enoc shared that view, saying at a news conference Tuesday that experimental therapy "could have been an opportunity" to help Charlie, but it was now too late.

"I don't know if Charlie could have been saved, but I know that a lot of time was lost in many legal debates that served no purpose," the ANSA news agency quoted Enoc as saying.

Associated Press writers Danica Kirka and Leonore Schick in London and Frances D'Emilio in Rome contributed to this report.


Today in History - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, July 26, the 207th day of 2017. There are 158 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 26, 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

On this date:

In 1775, the Continental Congress established a Post Office and appointed Benjamin Franklin its Postmaster-General.

In 1788, New York became the 11th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1847, the western African country of Liberia, founded by freed American slaves, declared its independence.

In 1887, the artificial language Esperanto, intended as a universal form of communication, was published by its creator, Dr. L.L. Zamenhof.

In 1908, U.S. Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte ordered creation of a force of special agents that was a forerunner of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In 1945, the Potsdam Declaration warned Imperial Japan to unconditionally surrender, or face "prompt and utter destruction." Winston Churchill resigned as Britain's prime minister after his Conservatives were soundly defeated by the Labour Party; Clement Attlee succeeded him.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act, which reorganized America's armed forces as the National Military Establishment and created the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1952, Argentina's first lady, Eva Peron, died in Buenos Aires at age 33. King Farouk I of Egypt abdicated in the wake of a coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.

In 1971, Apollo 15 was launched from Cape Kennedy on America's fourth successful manned mission to the moon.

In 1986, Islamic radicals in Lebanon released the Rev. Lawrence Martin Jenco, an American hostage held for nearly 19 months. American statesman W. Averell Harriman died in Yorktown Heights, New York, at age 94.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 1992, singer Mary Wells died in Los Angeles at age 49.

Ten years ago: The Senate passed, 85-8, a package of security measures recommended by the 9/11 Commission. (The House followed suit the next day by a vote of 371-40; President George W. Bush signed the legislation into law.) Wall Street suffered one of its worst losses of 2007, closing down 311.50 or 2.26 percent, to 13,473.57.

Five years ago: The White House said President Barack Obama would not push for stricter gun laws, one day after his impassioned remarks about the need to keep assault weapons off the streets. With the Olympics Games as a backdrop, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney held a day of meetings with Britain's most powerful people; however, Romney rankled his hosts with comments he'd made upon his arrival calling London's problems with the games' preparation "disconcerting."

One year ago: A man armed with a knife killed 19 disabled people at a care home in Japan (a suspect turned himself in). Youree Dell Harris, the actress who became famous for playing the Jamaican psychic Miss Cleo, died in Palm Beach, Florida, at age 53.

Today's Birthdays: Jackson Five patriarch Joe Jackson is 89. Actor Robert Colbert is 86. Songwriter-music producer-label executive Fred Foster (co-writer of "Me and Bobby McGee") is 86. Actress-singer Darlene Love is 76. Singer Brenton Wood is 76. Rock star Mick Jagger is 74. Movie director Peter Hyams is 74. Actress Helen Mirren is 72. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Queen) is 68. Actress Susan George is 67. Olympic gold medal figure skater Dorothy Hamill is 61. Actor Kevin Spacey is 58. Rock singer Gary Cherone (sher-OWN') is 56. Actress Sandra Bullock is 53. Actor-comedian Danny Woodburn is 53. Rock singer Jim Lindberg (Pennywise) is 52. Actor Jeremy Piven is 52. Rapper-reggae singer Wayne Wonder is 51. Actor Jason Statham (STAY'-thum) is 50. Actor Cress Williams is 47. TV host Chris Harrison is 46. Actress Kate Beckinsale is 44. Actor Gary Owen is 44. Rock musician Dan Konopka (OK Go) is 43. Gospel/Contemporary Christian singer Rebecca St. James is 40. Actress Eve Myles is 39. Actress Juliet Rylance is 38. Actress Monica Raymund is 31. Actress Caitlin Gerard is 29. Actress Francia Raisa is 29. Christian rock musician Jamie Sharpe (Rush of Fools) is 28. Actress Bianca Santos is 27. Actress-singer Taylor Momsen is 24. Actress Elizabeth Gillies is 24.

Thought for Today: "Government is too big and important to be left to the politicians." — Chester Bowles, American diplomat, businessman, author — and politician (1901-1986).


Update July 25, 2017

Pakistan: Suicide bombing in Lahore kills 26, wounds 54

Pakistani rescue workers prepare to remove a body from the site of a deadly bombing in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

By Zaheeruddin Babar, Associated Press

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck near a police team in the eastern city of Lahore Monday killing at least 26 and wounding another 54, many of them police officers. An outlawed Taliban faction claimed responsibility.

Senior police officer Haider Ashraf said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted police guarding a demolition site at Kot Lakhpat's vegetable market on the outskirts of Lahore.

Ashraf said it was believed earlier that the bomb was in a car, but it was later discovered that the vehicle belonged to a police officer, among the eight officers killed.

He said many of 54 wounded are policemen and several bystanders were wounded by the impact of the powerful blast.
Ashraf added that near the blast site a high rise building houses important information technology offices but the apparent target was the police gathering.

The outlawed militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming they used a suicide bomber on a motorcycle.

Rana Sanaullah, the home minister of eastern Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital, said anti-state elements who want to see instability in the country were behind the attack.

"No matter what name they use, these terrorists are one but they cannot demoralize the Pakistani nation," said Sanaullah.

Malik Mohammad Ahmed, a spokesman for the Punjab government, said the blast occurred near the secretariat of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but that he was not in the office oat the time.

Sharif in a statement condemned the attack and called for the best possible medical service for the survivors.

The U.N. Security Council condemned "the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack" in the strongest terms and underlined the obligation of all countries to help Pakistan bring those responsible to justice. Members reiterated that "any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable."

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned attack in Lahore and called for those responsible to be brought to justice, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

"He supports the efforts of the government of Pakistan to fight terrorism and violent extremism with full respect for international human rights norms and obligations," Haq said.

Lahore has faced scores of terror attacks in recent years. A suicide bombing earlier this year killed 16 police on a busy road while another killed over 70 people during Easter last year.

Elsewhere in Pakistan Monday, gunmen riding on a motorcycle in Karachi opened fire on traffic police officers, killing one and critically wounding another, said Rao Anwar, a senior counterterrorism police officer.

Anwar said the gunmen also snatched away a dead officer's rifle and fired on another nearby police patrol but caused no casualties.


Israel removes metal detectors from holy site entrance

Israeli police officers dismantle metal detectors outside the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, early Tuesday, July 25, 2017.(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

By Karin Laub,Ian Deitch, Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel began removing metal detectors from entrances to a major Jerusalem shrine early Tuesday morning to defuse a crisis over the site that angered the Muslim world and triggered some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian clashes in years.

The Israeli security Cabinet had met for a second straight day Monday to find an alternative to the metal detectors, which were installed following a deadly Palestinian attack at the holy site.

Associated Press photos showed a worker dismantling one of the devices at Lions Gate before 2:00 a.m.

"The Security Cabinet accepted the recommendation of all of the security bodies to incorporate security measures based on advanced technologies ("smart checks") and other measures instead of metal detectors," Israel announced Tuesday morning.

It said the measure will "ensure the security of visitors and worshippers" at the holy site and in Jerusalem's Old City. It added that police will increase its forces in the area until the new security measures are in place.

Israeli media earlier reported high resolution cameras capable of detecting hidden objects would be deployed.

Israel erected the metal detectors after Arab gunmen killed two policemen from inside the shrine, holy to Muslims and Jews, earlier this month. The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence.

The fate of the site is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions.

Just a few hours earlier, Israel and Jordan resolved a diplomatic standoff after a day of high-level negotiations that ended with the evacuation of Israeli Embassy staff from their base in Jordan to Israel.

The crisis had been triggered by a shooting Sunday in which an Israeli embassy guard killed two Jordanians after one attacked him with a screwdriver. Jordan initially said the guard could only leave after an investigation, while Israel said he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

The crisis was resolved after a phone call late Monday between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Media reports had said the deal could see the embassy security guard released in exchange for the removal of the metal detectors.

The 37-acre walled compound in Jerusalem is the third holiest site of Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
It is also the holiest site of Judaism, revered as the place where biblical Temples once stood.

Jordan is the Muslim custodian of the site.

Netanyahu and Jordan's king discuss the shrine in their phone call, Jordan's state news agency Petra said.

The king stressed the need to "remove the measures taken by the Israeli side since the recent crisis broke out" and to agree on steps that would prevent another escalation in the future, Petra said.

Earlier, the head of Israel's domestic Shin Bet security agency had met with officials in Jordan to resolve the crisis, the worst between the two countries in recent years. Jordan and Israel have a peace agreement and share security interests, but frequently disagree over policies at the shrine.

Netanyahu's office said the Israeli-Jordanian contacts were conducted in an atmosphere of cooperation.

As part of intensifying diplomatic efforts, President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday. It was a high-level, on-the-ground attempt by the Trump administration to end the standoff between Israel and the Muslim world.

"I thank President Trump for directing Jared Kushner and dispatching Jason Greenblatt to help with our efforts to bring the Israeli embassy staff home quickly. I thank King Abdullah as well for our close cooperation," said Netanyahu.

Muslim leaders alleged Israel was trying to expand its control at the site under the guise of security by installing the metal detectors, a claim Israel has denied. The tensions have led to mass prayer protests and deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Israel has said the metal detectors are a needed security measure to prevent future attacks.

At one of the gates to the shrine, Israel set up metal railings of the type typically used for crowd control, to create orderly lines.

A media report has suggested that such railings could be part of a compromise that would enable the removal of the metal detectors.

Netanyahu's government faced growing domestic criticism in recent days, with some commentators saying it made hasty decisions affecting the most volatile spot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the United Nations, Mideast envoy Nikolay Mladenov warned of an escalation if the crisis over the metal detectors isn't resolved by the time of Muslim prayers Friday.

He told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors Monday that it is "critically important" that the status quo which has been in place at the site since 1967 is preserved.

Israel captured the shrine, along with east Jerusalem and other territories, in the 1967 war. Since then, Muslims have administered the shrine, with Jews allowed to visit, but not to pray there.

Meanwhile, Jordan's Public Security Directorate said it had concluded an investigation of the Israeli Embassy shooting which took place Sunday evening in a residential building used by embassy staff.

The security agency said the incident began when two Jordanians arrived at the building to set up bedroom furniture, including the son of the owner the furniture store, later identified as 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh.

It said a verbal dispute erupted between the son of the owner and the embassy employee because of a delay in delivering the furniture.

The argument took place in the presence of the landlord and a doorman, the agency said.

"The son of the owner attacked the Israeli diplomat and injured him," the statement said. It said the Israeli fired toward the teen, injuring him, and also struck the landlord who was standing nearby.

The two Jordanians died of their injuries at a hospital.

Earlier Monday, al-Jawawdeh's father, Zakariah, had called for an investigation, saying his son deserves justice. It was not clear if the findings of the security agency will satisfy him.

Laub reported from Jericho, West Bank. Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.


Immigrants wept, pleaded for water and pounded on the truck

 

James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla., left, arrives at the federal courthouse for a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

By Frank Bajak, Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The tractor-trailer was pitch-black inside, crammed with maybe 90 immigrants or more, and already hot when it left the Texas border town of Laredo for the 150-mile trip north to San Antonio.

It wasn't long before the passengers, sweating profusely in the rising oven-like heat, started crying and pleading for water. Children whimpered. People took turns breathing through a single hole in the wall. They pounded on the sides of the truck and yelled to try to get the driver's attention. Then they began passing out.

By the time police showed up at a Walmart in San Antonio around 12:30 a.m. Sunday and looked in the back of the truck, eight passengers were dead and two more would soon die in an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone tragically awry.

The details of the journey were recounted Monday by a survivor who spoke to The Associated Press and in a federal criminal complaint against the driver, James Matthew Bradley, who could face the death penalty over the 10 lives lost.

"After an hour I heard ... people crying and asking for water. I, too, was sweating and people were despairing.

That's when I lost consciousness," Adan Lara Vega, 27, told the AP from his hospital bed. By the time he came to, he was in the hospital, where his ID bracelet identified him by the last name Lalravega. Mexican consulate and U.S. officials later told AP the correct spelling was Lara Vega.

Bradley, 60, of Clearwater, Florida, appeared in federal court on charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death. He was ordered held for another hearing on Thursday.

He did not enter a plea or say anything about what happened. But in court papers, he told authorities he didn't realize anyone was inside his 18-wheeler until he parked and got out to relieve himself.

In addition to the dead, nearly 20 others rescued from the rig were hospitalized in dire condition, many suffering from extreme dehydration and heatstroke.

Mexico's foreign ministry released a statement Monday night that said "according to preliminary information," 25 of the migrants inside the rig were Mexican.

Four of those who died and 21 of those hospitalized are Mexican, the statement said. Some of the others inside the truck were from Guatemala.

Many of the immigrants had hired smugglers who brought them across the U.S. border, hid them in safe houses and then put them aboard the tractor-trailer for the ride northward, according to accounts given to investigators.

"Even though they have the driver in custody, I can guarantee you there's going to be many more people we're looking for to prosecute," said Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Bradley told investigators that the trailer had been sold and he was transporting it for his boss from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas. After hearing banging and shaking, he opened the door and was "surprised when he was run over by 'Spanish' people and knocked to the ground," according to the criminal complaint.

He said he did not call 911, even though he knew at least one passenger was dead.

Bradley told authorities that he knew the trailer refrigeration system didn't work and that the four ventilation holes were probably clogged.

The truck was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa. President Brian Pyle said that he had sold the truck to someone in Mexico and that Bradley was supposed to deliver it to a pick-up point in Brownsville.

"I'm absolutely sorry it happened. I really am. It's shocking. I'm sorry my name was on it," Pyle said, referring to the truck. He said he had no idea why Bradley took the roundabout route he described to investigators.

Bradley told authorities that he had stopped in Laredo — which would have been out of his way if he were traveling directly to Brownsville — to get the truck washed and detailed before heading back 150 miles (240 kilometers) north to San Antonio. From there, he would have had to drive 275 miles south again to get to Brownsville.

"I just can't believe it. I'm stunned, shocked. He is too good a person to do anything like this," said Bradley's fiancee, Darnisha Rose of Louisville, Kentucky. "He helps people, he doesn't hurt people."

One passenger described a perilous journey that began in Mexico, telling investigators he and others crossed into the U.S. by raft, paying smugglers 12,500 Mexican pesos (about $700), an amount that also bought protection offered by the Zeta drug cartel.

They then walked until the next day and rode in a pickup truck to Laredo, where they were put aboard the tractor-trailer to be taken to San Antonio, according to the complaint. The passenger said he was supposed to pay the smugglers $5,500 once he got there.

Another passenger told authorities that he was in a group of 24 people who had been in a "stash house" in Laredo for 11 days before being taken to the tractor-trailer.

Lara Vega told the AP that he was told by smugglers who hid him and six friends in a safe house in Laredo that they would be riding in an air-conditioned space.

The Mexican laborer from the state of Aguascalientes said that when they boarded the truck on a Laredo street Saturday night for the two-hour trip to San Antonio, it was already full of people but so dark he couldn't tell how many.

He said he was never offered water and never saw the driver. Lara Vega said that when people are being smuggled, they are told not to look at the faces of their handlers — and it's a good idea to obey.

Bradley told authorities that when he arrived in San Antonio, nobody met the tractor-trailer. But one passenger said six black SUVs were waiting to pick up the immigrants and were full in a matter of minutes. And San Antonio police said store surveillance video showed vehicles picking up some of the immigrants.

Lara Vega said he was deported from the U.S. three years ago but decided to take another chance because the economy is depressed where he lives with his wife, 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

"A person makes decisions without thinking through the consequences," he said, "but, well, thanks to God, here we are."

Associated Press writers Claire Galofaro in Louisville, Kentucky; Ryan Foley in Iowa City, Iowa; Scott McFetridge in Schaller, Iowa; Mike Graczyk in Houston, Elliot Spagat in San Diego; Peter Orsi in Mexico City; and Tammy Webber in Chicago contributed to this report.

Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas at http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv .


The Who's Roger Daltrey visits teenage cancer patients

 

Roger Daltrey, lead singer for the English rock band The Who, left, poses with Adam Kirk and his daughter Sawyer McGhee, a cancer patient, in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP photo/Dake Kang)

By Tom Withers, Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Roger Daltrey's voice may not soar as it once did. But even after 50 years of touring he hasn't lost his teenage spirit.

The Hall of Fame rocker, who has been an advocate for teen cancer patients for nearly three decades, visited with children, young adults and their families at Rainbow Babies Hospital on Monday. The Who's front man toured the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute, which was founded in 2012 to better serve young patients while they undergo cancer treatments and following their release.

"Teenagers for so long have been overlooked," said the 73-year-old, still on the road with longtime bandmate Pete Townshend. "Not nearly enough has been done for them."

For years, teenage cancer patients were hospitalized on pediatric floors or placed with older patients. After consulting with doctors researching treatments and recovery, Daltrey understood the need for teens to have a place of their own, where they could recover in surroundings more suited to their interests and maturity level.

"The light went on in my head with this one," said Daltrey, who first got involved with the Teenage Cancer Trust in 1989. "I was in the Who when I was 18 years old and without the support of this age group — adolescents and young adults — our business wouldn't be there. The music business is built mostly with this age group. It's an easy way for me to say, 'Thank you.'"

During his visit, Daltrey, whose iconic voice helped make Who songs such as "My Generation," ''Behind Blue Eyes" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" anthems for generations of fans, spent time with young cancer patients who have benefited from their time in facilities like the one at Rainbow Babies Hospital.

Daltrey quickly connected with several of the teens, who eagerly shared stories of being diagnosed and lengthy hospital stays. He had a warm word, hug or handshake for each of them and was happy to pose for photos.

For Adam Kirk, Daltrey's visit was a chance to meet a rock hero. The 40-year-old's daughter, Sawyer, has been fighting leukemia for months and Daltrey's face lit up when he saw the 1 1/2-year-old being carried toward him. Kirk came prepared for his meeting, getting Daltrey to sign a well-worn copy of "Who's Next," regarded as the band's signature album.

As he made his way around an outdoor, rooftop garden, Daltrey was approached by another dad who wanted to show his appreciation for the singer's charitable work.

Tyson Stiles presented Daltrey with a musical gift.

While his son, Ryver, spent nearly 300 days in the hospital after being born prematurely, Stiles recorded a short album that included songs he wrote about his son's ordeal.

"I wanted you to have a copy," Stiles said.

"Is it any good?" Daltrey asked.

"No, it's terrible," Stiles quipped as both men laughed.

Later, Daltrey donated a guitar signed by him and Townshend that will be permanently displayed in the Fowler Institute's in-patient unit.

Daltrey also shared memories of his previous visits to Cleveland. He and the Who first came to town in 1967.

"It's a lot different than it used to be," he said. "It was the dirtiest place I'd ever been to in my life.

Everything was covered in soot. But Cleveland audiences were some of the best we ever played for."


Today in History -Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, July 25, the 206th day of 2017. There are 159 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On July 25, 1967, a full-page ad in The Times (of London) called for the legalization of marijuana, saying the law against the drug was "immoral in principle and unworkable in practice"; among the signatories were all four of the Beatles, one of whom, Paul McCartney, paid for the ad.

On this date:

In 1593, France's King Henry IV converted from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism.

In 1866, Ulysses S. Grant was named General of the Army of the United States, the first officer to hold the rank.

In 1917, Nikon Corp. had its beginnings with the merger of three optical manufacturers in Japan.

In 1934, Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated by pro-Nazi Austrians in a failed coup attempt.

In 1946, the United States detonated an atomic bomb near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in the first underwater test of the device.

In 1952, Puerto Rico became a self-governing commonwealth of the United States.

In 1956, the Italian liner SS Andrea Doria collided with the Swedish passenger ship Stockholm off the New England coast late at night and began sinking; 51 people — 46 from the Andrea Doria, five from the Stockholm — were killed. (The Andrea Doria capsized and sank the following morning.)

In 1957, Tunisia became a republic.

In 1975, the musical "A Chorus Line" opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre, beginning a run of 6,137 performances.

In 1984, Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya (sah-VEETS'-kah-yah) became the first woman to walk in space as she carried out more than three hours of experiments outside the orbiting space station Salyut 7.

In 1992, opening ceremonies were held in Barcelona, Spain, for the Summer Olympics.

In 2000, a New York-bound Air France Concorde crashed outside Paris shortly after takeoff, killing all 109 people on board and four people on the ground; it was the first-ever crash of the supersonic jet.

Ten years ago: A presidential commission urged broad changes to veterans' care that would boost benefits for family members helping the wounded, establish an easy-to-use website for medical records and overhaul the way disability pay was awarded. The bullet-riddled body of one of 23 South Koreans held hostage in Afghanistan by Taliban kidnappers was found; eight other captives were released. Pratibha Patil (PRUH'-tee-bah puh-TIHL') was sworn in as India's first female president.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama embraced some degree of control on the sale of weapons but also told the National Urban League in New Orleans he would seek a national consensus on combating violence. NBC announced it had topped the $1 billion mark in advertising sales for the upcoming Olympic Games in London, topping the $850 million in ad sales for the Beijing games in 2008.

One year ago: On the opening night of the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia, Bernie Sanders robustly embraced his former rival Hillary Clinton as a champion for the same economic causes that enlivened his supporters, signaling it was time for them to rally behind her in the campaign against Republican Donald Trump. The FBI said it was investigating how thousands of Democratic National Committee emails were hacked (Wikileaks had posted emails suggesting the DNC had favored Clinton over Sanders during the primary season).

Today's Birthdays: Actress Barbara Harris is 82. Folk-pop singer-musician Bruce Woodley (The Seekers) is 75. Rock musician Jim McCarty (The Yardbirds) is 74. Rock musician Verdine White (Earth, Wind & Fire) is 66. Singer-musician Jem Finer (The Pogues) is 62. Model-actress Iman is 62. Cartoonist Ray Billingsley ("Curtis") is 60. Rock musician Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) is 59. Celebrity chef/TV personality Geoffrey Zakarian is 58. Actress-singer Bobbie Eakes is 56. Actress Katherine Kelly Lang is 56. Actress Illeana Douglas is 52. Country singer Marty Brown is 52. Actor Matt LeBlanc is 50. Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson is 50. Rock musician Paavo Lotjonen (PAH'-woh LAHT'-joh-nehn) (Apocalyptica) is 49. Actor D.B. Woodside is 48. Actress Miriam Shor is 46. Actor David Denman is 44. Actor Jay R. Ferguson is 43. Actor James Lafferty is 32. Actress Shantel VanSanten is 32. Actor Michael Welch is 30. Actress Linsey (cq) Godfrey is 29. Classical singer Faryl Smith is 22. Actress Meg Donnelly (TV: "American Housewife") is 16. Actor Pierce Gagnon is 12.

Thought for Today: "No matter what side of an argument you're on, you always find some people on your side that you wish were on the other side." — Jascha Heifetz (YAH'-shah HY'-fetz), Russian-born American violinist (1901-1987)..
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Putin says US will have to shed 755 from diplomatic staff

US bombers fly over South Korea after North's 2nd ICBM test

Luggage screening intensified after Australia airplane plot

'Dunkirk' conquers 'Emoji,' 'Atomic Blonde' at box office

Today in History - Monday, July 31, 2017


Today in History -Sunday, July 30, 2017

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Today in History - Saturday, July 29, 2017


Oct. 2 trial date set in Kim Jong Nam's killing in Malaysia

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Thrill ride was OK'd hours before deadly state fair accident

Apple kills iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle as music moves to phones

Today in History - Friday, July 28, 2017


New York eyes textalyzer to bust drivers using cellphones

Spinning Ohio State Fair ride breaks apart; 1 dead, 7 hurt

Michael Jackson estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4 million

Samsung Electronics logs record profit on memory chip boom

Today in History - Thursday, July 27, 2017


Kurdish official says US role essential in post-IS Syria

US Navy fires warning shots near Iran ship in Persian Gulf

Top Vatican official faces Australian court on sex charges

Charlie Gard's parents ask court to let him die at home

Today in History - Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Pakistan: Suicide bombing in Lahore kills 26, wounds 54

Israel removes metal detectors from holy site entrance

Immigrants wept, pleaded for water and pounded on the truck

The Who's Roger Daltrey visits teenage cancer patients

Today in History -Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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