- Associated Press - Thursday, July 10, 2014

Israeli military presses offensive in Gaza, more than 85 Palestinians killed

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) - The Al Haj family never heard it coming: An Israeli missile smashed into their home in the middle of the night, destroying the structure and killing eight relatives in a matter of seconds. A survivor said all the dead were civilians.

As Israel intensified its bombardment Thursday of the Gaza Strip in an offensive against the Hamas militant group, with more than 900 targets attacked so far, it said it was doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties in the crowded urban landscape. The risk of more civilian deaths will remain high, especially if Israel moves in with ground forces.

More than 85 people have been killed, including dozens of civilians, and over 300 wounded since the offensive began Tuesday, Palestinian medical officials said.

Undeterred, Hamas militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, including salvos Thursday at the country’s two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, that were intercepted by the rocket-defense system known as the Iron Dome.

President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lent his support to Israel’s efforts to defend itself from the rocket fire, but he also urged both Israel and the Palestinians to protect civilians and restore calm. The White House said the U.S. was willing to “facilitate a cessation of hostilities,” potentially along the lines of a 2012 cease-fire that Egypt and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker.

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10 Things to Know for Friday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:

1. POSSIBLE IMMIGRATION COMPROMISE EMERGES

A provision to deport minors from Central America more speedily might be included in Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency request.

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APNewsBreak: Military officers’ testimony undermines Benghazi ‘stand down’ theory

WASHINGTON (AP) - The testimony of nine military officers undermines contentions by Republican lawmakers that a “stand-down order” held back military assets that could have saved the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.

The “stand-down” theory centers on a Special Operations team of four - a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast - who were stopped from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, had ended. Instead, they were instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

The senior military officer who issued the instruction to “remain in place” and the detachment leader who received it said it was the right decision and has been widely mischaracterized. The order was to remain in Tripoli and protect some three dozen embassy personnel rather than fly to Benghazi some 600 miles away after all Americans there would have been evacuated. And the medic is credited with saving the life of an evacuee from the attacks.

Transcripts of hours of closed-door interviews with the military leaders by the House Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform committees were made public for the first time on Wednesday. The Associated Press had reviewed the material ahead of its release.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight panel, has suggested Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the order, though as secretary of state at the time, she was not in the military chain of command.

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Possible compromise emerges on border crisis as GOP pushes for deporting kids faster

WASHINGTON (AP) - Outlines of a possible compromise that would more quickly deport minors arriving from Central America emerged Thursday as part of President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency request to address the immigration crisis on the nation’s southern border.

Republicans demanded speedier deportations, which the White House initially had supported but left out of its proposal after complaints from immigrant advocates and some Democrats. On Thursday, the top House and Senate Democrats pointedly left the door open to them.

“It’s not a deal-breaker,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “Let them have their face-saver. But let us have the resources to do what we have to do.” Her spokesman Drew Hammill later clarified that any changes “must ensure due process for these children.”

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: “I’m not going to block anything. Let’s see what comes to the floor.”

But opposition arose late in the day from key Democratic senators, suggesting battles ahead before any deal could be struck.

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Gunman accused of killing suburban Houston family demanded to know whereabouts of ex-wife

SPRING, Texas (AP) - A man charged with killing four children and their parents forced his way into the family’s suburban Houston home, tied them up and shot them in the back of the head when they refused to tell him where his ex-wife was, authorities said Thursday.

The lone survivor of the attack, the slain couple’s 15-year-old daughter, suffered a fractured skull when a bullet grazed her head. She played dead and called 911 after Ronald Lee Haskell left the house, prosecutors said at a court hearing.

A day after the slayings, investigators slowly built a picture of Haskell, who was the couple’s estranged brother-in-law.

The 33-year-old man is accused of killing his ex-wife’s sister, Katie Stay, and her husband and the children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, after binding them and putting the family face-down on the floor of their home.

Haskell had a handful of previous run-ins with law enforcement in Utah, where he had lived with his wife. Neighbors said Haskell’s marriage was so rocky that Stay went to Utah last fall to help her sister escape the relationship and start a new life in Texas.

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Germany kicks out top US spy in anger over espionage allegations

BERLIN (AP) - Germany on Thursday demanded Washington’s top spy in Berlin leave the country as a new round of allegations of U.S. espionage worsened the friction between the two allies.

The immediate trigger was the emergence of two new cases of alleged American spying. They inflamed a furor that erupted last year when it was learned that the U.S. was intercepting Internet traffic in Germany and eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone calls.

More broadly, the move to kick out the CIA station chief appears to reflect a Germany out of patience with what it sees as a pattern of American disrespect and interference.

“The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the United States Embassy has been asked to leave Germany,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“The request occurred against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors as well as the questions that were posed months ago about the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany,” he added. “The government takes the matter very seriously.”

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Police in Georgia looking at heroin death of boyfriend of woman charged in Google exec’s death

MILTON, Ga. (AP) - Two months before police say a high-priced prostitute calmly left a Google executive dying from a heroin overdose on his yacht, the woman panicked on the phone with a 911 dispatcher as her boyfriend lay on the floor of their home in the throes of a fatal overdose.

Police said Thursday they are re-examining the death of Dean Riopelle, 53, the owner of a popular Atlanta music venue. Riopelle had been dating Alix Tichelman, 26, who is now charged with manslaughter in the November death of Google executive Forrest Hayes. She was never charged in Riopelle’s death.

“Both subjects in these cases died of heroin overdoses so there’s just several factors we want to look at to make sure that we didn’t miss anything,” Milton police Capt. Shawn McCarty said.

It is not clear how long Tichelman may have been involved in prostitution, though police in California say she had many clients in the wealthy Silicon Valley. Police there also said that, after Hayes’ death, she had done online searches for how to defend herself legally after administering a lethal dose of heroin.

Numerous social media postings, photos and other articles online suggest she was pursuing a career as a fetish model and a life with Riopelle - one photo posted on her Facebook page shows her displaying a diamond “promise ring” given to her by Riopelle.

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Mississippi girl born with HIV and hoped to have been cured now shows signs of infection

A Mississippi girl born with the AIDS virus and in remission for more than two years despite stopping treatment now shows signs that she still harbors HIV - and therefore is not cured. The news is a setback to hopes that very early treatment with powerful HIV drugs might reverse an infection that has seemed permanent once it takes hold.

The girl is now nearly 4. As recently as March, doctors had said that she seemed free of HIV though she was not being treated with AIDS drugs. That was a medical first.

But on Thursday, doctors said they were surprised last week to find the virus in her blood, and there were signs that it was harming her immune system. She is now back on treatment and is responding well, they said.

The news is “obviously disappointing” and will affect a federal study that had been about to start testing early, aggressive treatment in such cases, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Doctors had been considering stopping treatment if no signs of infection could be detected after two years.

“We’re going to take a good hard look at the study and see if it needs any modifications,” either in terms of length of treatment or because of ethical concerns over raising false hopes about an approach that now has suffered a setback, Fauci said. At a minimum, consent forms to join the study must be revised, he said.

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From breaking records to barriers, a look at this year’s Emmys nominations facts and figures

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A glimpse at fun facts about Thursday’s Emmy nominations:

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PROUD TO BE NOMINATED: “Orange Is the New Black” co-star Laverne Cox is breaking down another barrier: She’s the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy. Other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Emmy contenders this year include Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Kate McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Nathan Lane.

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PROUD TO BE NOMINATED AND A NEW PAPA: Congratulations are pouring in for Jimmy Kimmel, and not just because “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” earned another Emmy nomination. The talk-show host announced on Twitter that he welcomed a daughter Thursday morning with wife Molly McNearny. A spokesman for Kimmel confirmed that Jane Kimmel was born Thursday in Los Angeles. The 46-year-old comedian also saw his late-night show earn three Emmy nominations Thursday morning, including a nod for outstanding variety series. McNearny is a head writer on the show.

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White Elephants: 4 World Cup stadiums look for fans, games, events to pay $1.6 billion bill

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Once the World Cup and its traveling circus leaves town, four gleaming stadiums that cost $1.6 billion and hosted massive crowds will echo noisily as their owners struggle to find a use for them or even partially fill them.

In the western Brazilian city of Cuiaba, Chilean and Colombian fans produced sellouts at the Arena Pantanal of 40,000 at the World Cup. The next big game at the $260 million stadium is July 20 - Paysandu vs. Cuiaba for the championship of Brazil’s Serie C, or the third division. Officials are hoping for 4,000 fans.

Similar letdowns await at least three other new stadiums built for the World Cup: in the capital Brasilia, the Amazon jungle city of Manaus, and in Natal on the northeastern coast.

None of them has a big-time team, which means no permanent tenants to fill the stands, pay the bills or service the debt. Those venues cost about $1.6 billion, lavish spending that could have been aimed at rundown schools, shabby hospitals and poor public transportation, instead going to white-elephant football stadiums.

Government auditors say the bill for the Brasilia stadium will reach $900 million, the most expensive football venue ever built after Wembley Stadium in London.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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