- Associated Press - Saturday, August 2, 2014

Soldier believed captured by Hamas declared dead as Israel signals scaling back Gaza offensive

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli soldier the military feared had been abducted by Palestinian gunmen in a firefight that shattered a temporary ceasefire in Gaza has been declared dead, ending what could have been a nightmare scenario for Israel hours after it signaled it plans to scale back its operation against Hamas militants.

The military announced early Sunday that 23-year-old Hadar Goldin of the Givati infantry brigade had been killed in battle on Friday. Israel’s defense minister, along with the chief military rabbi, met with the soldier’s family at their home in the town of Kfar Saba.

Hundreds of people from around the country had gathered outside their home, praying and showing their support. There was an outpouring of grief when the military’s announcement was made public.

“Prior to the decision, all medical considerations, religious observances, as well as additional relevant issues were taken into consideration,” the military said.

The Israeli military had previously said it believed the soldier was grabbed in a Hamas ambush about an hour after an internationally brokered cease-fire took effect Friday morning. Hamas on Saturday distanced itself from the soldier’s alleged capture, which had prompted widespread international condemnation. U.S. President Barack Obama, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and others had called for his immediate and unconditional release.

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US doctor infected with Ebola in Africa at Atlanta hospital for treatment in isolation unit

ATLANTA (AP) - The first Ebola victim to be brought to the United States from Africa was safely escorted into a specialized isolation unit Saturday at one of the nation’s best hospitals, where doctors said they are confident the deadly virus won’t escape.

Fear that the outbreak killing more than 700 people in Africa could spread in the U.S. has generated considerable anxiety among some Americans. But infectious disease experts said the public faces zero risk as Emory University Hospital treats a critically ill missionary doctor and a charity worker who were infected in Liberia.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received “nasty emails” and at least 100 calls from people saying “How dare you bring Ebola into the country!?” CDC Director Tom Frieden told The Associated Press Saturday.

“I hope that our understandable fear of the unfamiliar does not trump our compassion when ill Americans return to the U.S. for care,” Frieden said.

Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who will arrive in several days, will be treated in Emory’s isolation unit for infectious diseases, created 12 years ago handle doctors who get sick at the CDC, just up the hill. It is one of about four in the country, equipped with everything necessary to test and treat people exposed to very dangerous viruses.

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5 things to know about Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 700 people

Three West Africa nations are struggling to control an outbreak of Ebola. The virus was first discovered nearly four decades ago in Congo in a village near the Ebola River. Since then there have been sporadic outbreaks.

Five things to know about Ebola and how it is spread:

1. WEST AFRICA OUTBREAK NOW LARGEST IN HISTORY. The current outbreak in the neighboring countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has sickened more than 1,300 people and killed more than 700 since March. The outbreak is unusual for West Africa as the disease is typically found in the center and east of the continent.

2. SOME PEOPLE HAVE SURVIVED EBOLA. While the fatality rate for Ebola can be as high as 90 percent, health officials in the three countries say people have recovered from the virus and the current death rate is about 60 percent. Those who fared best sought immediate medical attention and got supportive care to prevent dehydration even though there is no specific treatment for Ebola itself.

3. EBOLA CAN LOOK LIKE OTHER DISEASES. The early symptoms of an Ebola infection include fever, headache, muscle aches and sore throat. It can be difficult to distinguish between Ebola and malaria, typhoid fever or cholera. Only in later stages do people with Ebola begin bleeding both internally and externally, often through the nose and ears.

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Syrian rebels cross into Lebanon, raiding town and capturing troops in most serious incursion

BEIRUT (AP) - Rebels fighting in Syria’s civil war crossed into Lebanon and raided a border town Saturday, killing and capturing security force members in the most serious incursion into the tiny country during its neighbor’s 3-year-old conflict.

The rebels, who included foreign fighters, demanded to trade soldiers and police officers it captured in Arsal for some of the “most dangerous detainees,” the Lebanese army said in a statement. Masked gunmen roamed the streets as Lebanese helicopter gunships flew over the town, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the capital, Beirut.

A Lebanese army general told The Associated Press that the gunmen attacked army positions near Arsal and troops returned fire. Another official said the gunmen also took control of the main police station in the town.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that Arsal residents later freed police officers at the station, though rebels captured some weapons and released several detainees. It said gunmen killed two residents near the police station.

A picture posted online allegedly showed gunmen in Arsal driving away with about a dozen men, two of them in police uniforms. The photograph corresponded to other AP reporting about the attack.

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Arriving in US at 10, Honduran man, now 22, hopes for asylum: ‘I’d feel like I’m free’

When he arrived at the Texas border, Celvyn Mejia Romero was a scared 10-year-old, with a machete scar and memories of a murdered uncle as reminders of why he’d embarked on a long, perilous journey from Honduras.

He feared staying in his homeland and desperately wanted to join his mother in the U.S. In July 2002, he and two cousins - 6 and 14 - ended up near Brownsville after traveling by train, bus and foot. He remembers his grandmother, who lived in Arimis, Honduras, preparing to send him away, handing him a bag of food, some water and telling him: “‘Get on the bus. Don’t look back. … Don’t come and hug me. Don’t say goodbye.’”

“That,” he now says, “made me cry.’”

Twelve years later, Mejla Romero is still fighting to stay in America. His tenacious - and unusually long - bid for asylum offers a singular glimpse into the complex world of immigration law and rules that many legal experts say are fiendishly difficult for anyone, especially kids, to negotiate. And yet at 22, Mejia Romero, who has lived longer in the U.S. than in his native Honduras, is hoping he’ll prevail.

“I think if I win this case … all my nightmares would end because I’d know I’m not going back there,” he said in an interview from his lawyers’ office in Boston. “I’d feel like I’m free. … I would feel happy, happy, happy. It would be the best day of my life.”

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Slain World War II soldier’s son to get long-lost Purple Heart, meet man who saw dad’s death

CHICAGO (AP) - John Trinca couldn’t remember the name of the soldier who died right next to him minutes after they met during World War II, and all Thomas Bateman Jr. knew of his father’s death was that it happened in 1945 in the Philippines.

The two will meet for the first time Sunday thanks largely to Tom McAvoy, who made good on a quest to return a lost war medal he found as a child in Chicago that only had the recipient’s engraved name as a clue: Thomas Bateman.

This year - 69 years after a bullet from a Japanese machine gun killed Pvt. Thomas Bateman - their stories intersected for the first time, giving them answers to questions that tugged at them for years. At this weekend’s ceremony, the slain soldier’s son will receive the lost Purple Heart his father paid for with his life.

“I had a newspaper article that my grandmother kept that said he was killed and that’s about all I knew,” said Bateman, 69, who was just shy of his first birthday when his father was killed.

The men learned of one another thanks to Purple Hearts Reunited, a foundation that works to return the medals to their recipients or their recipients’ families. Zachariah Fike, a Vermont National Guard captain who was awarded the medal after he was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010, has managed to reunite about 100 Purple Hearts with their rightful owners since starting the foundation.

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Jewish man’s hate crime case over black man’s attack resurrects old wounds in NYC neighborhood

NEW YORK (AP) - Yitzhak Shuchat, a white member of a civilian patrol group, and Andrew Charles, the black son of a police officer, came face to face in 2008 in a neighborhood with a history of racial strife - that much is certain.

But six years later, the circumstances of the encounter in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn remain murky, even as prosecutors pursue charges against 28-year-old Shuchat alleging he attacked Charles because of his race. Shuchat’s supporters in the neighborhood’s Orthodox Jewish community have reacted with dismay over what they call a hate crime investigation gone awry.

Authorities “took a minor incident and made it into a very serious situation,” said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is Jewish. “This could have been resolved a long time ago. It makes absolutely no sense.”

The case received renewed attention last month when deputy U.S. Marshals retrieved Shuchat from Israel after he lost a lengthy extradition fight. He pleaded not guilty July 18 in a Brooklyn court to second-degree assault as a hate crime, attempted assault and other charges and was released on $300,000 bail put up by Jewish benefactors.

Prosecutors have yet to explain why they’re treating the case as a racial incident, said Shuchat’s attorney, Paul Batista. In other hate crime cases, there are typically racial slurs or other clear evidence of bias.

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McConnell, Grimes trade jabs as a political picnic serves up snark in Kentucky’s Senate race

FANCY FARM, Ky. (AP) - For a church picnic, the congregation at Fancy Farm is anything but reverent.

Hundreds of people flocked to this small western Kentucky town on Saturday to cheer and jeer their way through speeches from Republican Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes at a church fundraiser that doubles as the official start of Kentucky’s campaign season.

Some Republican supporters carried signs touting “Alison’s dilemma … be a devout Democrat or a real Catholic.” On the Democratic side, a supporter held a sign asking “What would Jesus do? Vote 4 Grimes.”

Competing in one of the most-watched Senate races in the country, McConnell and Grimes put some snark of their own in their usual campaign rhetoric - and sat just a few feet away from each other in a rare joint appearance. So far, their expensive campaign has been waged mostly through TV ads and news releases.

While Grimes, a Catholic, and McConnell, a Baptist, have hardly mentioned faith in their pitches for votes, religion was on display in the parish of the St. Jerome Catholic Church almost as much as the barbecue served up to picnickers and politicos.

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Mom said ‘Thank you, Jesus’ after medical examiner ruled police chokehold caused man’s death

NEW YORK (AP) - After her son was placed in a police chokehold and died saying, “I can’t breathe,” Gwen Carr would wake up screaming, “Let him go! Give him air!” she said Saturday. When she heard his death had been ruled a homicide, she said, her first words were, “Thank you, Jesus!”

Carr and eight other relatives of the late Eric Garner attended a rally in Manhattan led by the Rev. Al Sharpton that celebrated the homicide ruling issued Friday by the city medical examiner.

Sharpton said the ruling is “probable cause” for the quick arrest of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the white police officer who used the chokehold on Garner, who is black, on July 17 on Staten Island.

Sharpton said the Staten Island district attorney, Daniel Donovan, “needs to say, ‘I’m moving forward to an arrest’ or ‘I’m deferring to the federal government.’”

Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, added, “I just want them to do the right thing and give me justice for my husband.”

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Robert Kennedy Jr., actress Cheryl Hines wed at Kennedy family compound on Cape Cod

HYANNIS, Mass. (AP) - Robert Kennedy Jr. and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actress Cheryl Hines are now husband and wife.

The couple married Saturday before family and friends gathered at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod.

The 60-year-old Robert Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and activist who lives in New York. He is son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. It is his third marriage.

The 48-year-old Hines has been nominated twice for Emmys for her role playing Larry David’s wife on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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