- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Israel resumes Gaza bombings, says Hamas to pay high price after militants reject truce

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israel resumed its heavy bombardment of Gaza on Tuesday and warned that Hamas “would pay the price” after the Islamic militant group rejected an Egyptian truce plan and instead unleashed more rocket barrages at the Jewish state.

Late Tuesday, the military urged tens of thousands of residents of northern and eastern Gaza to leave their homes by Wednesday morning, presumable a prelude to air strikes there.

Rocket fire killed an Israeli man Tuesday, the first Israeli fatality in eight days of fighting. In Gaza, 197 people were killed and close to 1,500 wounded so far, Palestinian officials said, making it the deadliest Israel-Hamas confrontation in just over five years.

The Egyptian proposal, initially accepted by Israel, had been the first attempt to end the fighting.

It unraveled in less than a day, a sign that it will be harder than before to reach a truce. Hamas does not consider Egypt’s current rulers - who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo a year ago - to be fair brokers.


Federal employment unit issues first new guidelines to protect pregnant workers in 30 years

WASHINGTON (AP) - Pregnant women have new protections against on-the-job discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has updated 30-year-old guidelines to make clear that any form of workplace discrimination or harassment against pregnant workers by employers is a form of sex discrimination and illegal.

“Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices,” EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline A. Berrien said in a statement.

The guidelines prohibit employers from forcing pregnant workers to take leave and acknowledge that “employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers.” After childbirth, lactation is now covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition.

It’s not just women who will benefit.


89 killed in suicide blast in Afghanistan, deadliest attack on civilians since 2001

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The blast destroyed numerous mud-brick shops, flipped cars over and stripped trees of their branches, brutally underscoring the country’s instability as U.S. troops prepare to leave by the end of the year and politicians in Kabul struggle for power after a disputed presidential runoff.

Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman, said the bomber detonated his explosives as he drove by the crowded market in a remote town in Urgun district, in the Paktika province bordering Pakistan. Azimi gave the death toll and said more than 40 other people were wounded.

Nearby hospitals were overwhelmed, and dozens of victims were transported over dangerous roads to the capital, Kabul.

Ahmad Shah, a gas station employee who rushed to the site to help, said he loaded dozens of people who were injured or killed into vehicles.


House GOP to recommend National Guard, speedier returns in response to border crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans announced Tuesday they will recommend dispatching the National Guard to South Texas and speeding Central American youths back home as their response to the immigration crisis that’s engulfing the border and testing Washington’s ability to respond.

The recommendations, to come from a working group established by House Speaker John Boehner, will set up a clash with leading Democrats who oppose changing U.S. law to eliminate automatic immigration hearings for Central American kids and return them more quickly to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where some areas are overrun by brutal gangs.

With Democrats and the White House under growing pressure from immigration advocates to hold firm against the GOP approach, a solution for the growing crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border is looking increasingly elusive with three weeks left before Congress leaves Washington for an annual August recess.

“It’s a critical situation and if we don’t deal with it urgently but well, done right, we’re facing a crisis of just huge proportions,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who traveled to Honduras and Guatemala over the weekend with members of the House GOP working group including its leader, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas. “Time is of the essence.”

Granger, Diaz-Balart and others said their proposals would include sending the National Guard to help overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, increasing immigration judges, adding assistance to Central American nations and changing a 2008 trafficking victims law that guarantees hearings for Central American youths. The law has the practical result of letting the young people stay in the country for years as their cases move through the badly backlogged immigration courts.


California water use rises despite governor’s pleas to conserve during state’s severe drought

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Californians increased water consumption this year during the state’s severe drought, despite pleas from the governor to conserve, fallowed farm fields and reservoirs that are quickly draining, according to a report released Tuesday.

The new figures surfaced as state water regulators prepared to vote later in the day on fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

The numbers underscore the need for action, State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said.

“Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is … and how bad it could be,” she said. “There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state.”

The report says overall consumption jumped 1 percent, even as Gov. Jerry Brown has called for a 20 percent cutback. It corrected survey results released just a month ago that said use statewide had declined by 5 percent.


Canon lawyer outlines her cover-up claims of clergy sex abuse by Minneapolis Catholic leaders

A canon lawyer alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has made her most detailed claims yet, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the U.S. bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse.

Jennifer Haselberger, who spent five years as Archbishop John Nienstedt’s archivist and top adviser on Roman Catholic church law, also charged that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment.

Haselberger said that when she started examining records in 2008 of clergy under restrictions over sex misconduct with adults and children she found “nearly 20” of the 48 men still in ministry. She said she repeatedly warned Nienstedt and his aides about the risk of these placements, but they took action only in one case. As a result of raising alarms, she said she was eventually shut out of meetings about priest misconduct. She resigned last year.

“Had there been any serious desire to implement change, it could have been done quickly and easily with the stroke of a single pen,” Haselberger wrote in the affidavit, released Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by attorney Jeff Anderson. “The archbishop’s administrative authority in his diocese is basically unlimited.”

The archdiocese has for years pledged it was following the national bishops’ policy, known as the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which lays out a series of requirements - from conducting background checks to alerting parishioners about offender priests and barring guilty clergy from parish assignments. Archbishop Harry Flynn, who led the Minneapolis archdiocese until retiring in 2008, was an architect of the 12-year-old plan.


Commuter anxiety grows as does likelihood of strike at nation’s largest commuter railroad

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - Anxiety grew among the nearly 300,000 daily riders caught in the middle of a labor dispute as a weekend strike at the nation’s largest commuter railroad grew closer.

The eight unions representing Long Island Rail Road’s 5,400 workers and Metropolitan Transportation Authority managers didn’t negotiate on Tuesday, a day after both sides said talks aimed at averting a 12:01 a.m. Sunday strike had collapsed.

Meanwhile, the head of a commuters’ group complained that riders are being forgotten by both sides amid the feud over pay and contributions to pension and health care plans. Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council Chairman Mark Epstein also said contingency plans for a walkout were providing little comfort.

The MTA last week revealed plans for school buses to take commuters from some Long Island stations to subway stops in New York City, the opening of large park-and-ride lots at Citi Field and Aqueduct racetrack, and a public relations effort aimed at encouraging people to work from home.

“They may be providing us with school buses, but we’re not children,” Epstein said. “Our concern is they stay at the table. No progress can be made when they’re not talking. Our message is return to the table. If the difference is a gap or a gulf, it will not be getting any smaller if they do not talk to each other.”


The Silicon Plains? Drone makers show off innovation at air show

LONDON (AP) - The next big thing in aviation may be really small.

With some no bigger than a hummingbird, the hottest things at this week’s Farnborough International Airshow are tiny compared with the titans of the sky, such as the Airbus 380 or the Boeing Dreamliner.

What’s got aviation geeks salivating at Farnborough, this year’s biggest aviation jamboree that features participants from 40 countries, are the commercial possibilities of unmanned aerial vehicles - drones to most of us.

Drones are more commonly known for their use in conflict areas. This week Hamas launched for the first time an unmanned drone into Israeli airspace that was shot down.

But drones, which can weigh less than an ounce, have potential commercial applications that are vast. The industry, military and non-military, is growing and could according to some see investments of nearly $90 billion over the next ten years.


Wade re-signs with Heat; person familiar with situation says contract for 2 years

Dwyane Wade is staying with the Miami Heat, and his latest deal is designed to give both the player and the only franchise he’s ever known some flexibility in the coming years.

Wade signed a new contract with the Heat on Tuesday. It’s a two-year deal, the second of those seasons a player option, said a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side announced terms.

“I am proud to have spent every single day of my career as a member of the Miami Heat and to have brought three championship titles to this great city,” Wade said in a statement. “I’ve been here through the good times and the hard times. I have confidence in the Miami Heat organization and the team they are building.”

Earlier Tuesday, Wade tweeted “Home Is Where The Heart Is… My Home,My City,My House” and attached a photo of himself standing below the three NBA championship banners that hang at Miami’s home arena.

Financial terms were not announced, though it’s expected Wade’s salary for next season will not reach the $20.2 million he would have made under his previous contract.


US preparing unilateral sanctions on Russia if Europe resists tougher actions

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States is considering imposing unilateral sanctions on Russia over its threatening moves in Ukraine, a shift in strategy that reflects the Obama administration’s frustration with Europe’s reluctance to take tougher action against Moscow, according to U.S. and European officials.

Until now, the U.S. has insisted on hitting Russia with penalties in concert with Europe in order to maximize the impact and present a united Western front. The European Union has a far stronger economic relationship with Russia, making the 28-nation bloc’s participation key to ensuring sanctions packages have enough teeth to deter Russia.

But those same economic ties have made Europe fearful that tougher penalties against Russia could boomerang and hurt their own economies. After weeks of inaction, the officials say the U.S. is now prepared to move forward alone if EU officials fail to enact strong sanctions during a meeting Wednesday in Brussels.

The U.S. official cautioned that no final decisions would be made until after the European meeting and said the administration’s preference was still to coordinate punishments with Russia. The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly by name.

The White House’s willingness to punish Russia without European backing comes as the Obama administration faces criticism that its repeated warnings about tougher sanctions are little more than empty threats.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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