- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

US tries to make case that Ukraine separatists downed passenger plane, with Russian complicity

WASHINGTON (AP) - Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.

“A buildup of extraordinary circumstantial evidence … it’s powerful here,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, a former prosecutor, and it holds Russian-supported rebels in eastern Ukraine responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, with the Kremlin complicit in the deaths of nearly 300 passengers and crew members.

“This is the moment of truth for Russia,” said Kerry, leveling some of Washington’s harshest criticism of Moscow since the crisis in Ukraine began.

“Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists, and Russia has not yet done the things necessary in order to try to bring them under control,” he said.

In a round of television interviews, Kerry cited a mix of U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence and social media reports that he said “obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists” for firing the missile that brought the plane down, killing nearly 300 passengers and crew.

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Bodies from downed jetliner piled in boxcars in Ukraine; West condemns crash site tampering

TOREZ, Ukraine (AP) - Pro-Moscow rebels piled nearly 200 bodies from the downed Malaysian jetliner into four refrigerated boxcars Sunday in eastern Ukraine, and cranes at the crash scene moved big chunks of the Boeing 777, drawing condemnation from Western leaders that the rebels were tampering with the site.

The United States, meanwhile, presented what it called “powerful” evidence that the rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile and training. Although other governments have stopped short of accusing Russia of actually causing the crash, the U.S. was ahead of most in pointing blame on Moscow for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that killed all 298 people aboard.

“Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Australia spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone late Sunday, urging him to use his influence on the separatists to ensure the victims could be repatriated and international investigators could have full access to collect evidence. They said European foreign ministers will be meeting in Brussels Tuesday to consider further sanctions on Russia.

More than three days after the jetliner crashed, international investigators still had only limited access to the sprawling fields where the plane fell.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

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

1. WHERE US SAYS EVIDENCE LEADS IN MISSILE HIT ON AIRLINER

Secretary of State John Kerry points to what he calls ‘extraordinary circumstantial evidence’- including video of a rocket launcher with one missile gone - which he says implicates Russia-supported rebels in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

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Scores killed in first major ground battle in 2 weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price Sunday: It killed 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forced thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their neighborhood, reportedly used to launch rockets at Israel and now devastated by the fighting.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the offensive would continue “as long as necessary” to end attacks from Gaza on Israeli civilians.

But Hamas seems defiant, international cease-fire efforts are stalled, and international criticism is becoming more vocal as the death toll among Palestinian civilians rises.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called Israel’s latest incursion “atrocious,” and said it must do far more to protect civilians. The U.N. Security Council was holding an emergency session Sunday night at the request of council member Jordan on the situation in Gaza.

In Israel, public opinion will struggle to tolerate rising military losses in an open-ended campaign. Already, Sunday’s deaths marked the highest number of soldiers killed on a single day since Israel’s war in Lebanon in 2006.

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An upended immigration debate: How the overhaul drive got overtaken by an influx of kids

WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation’s yearlong deliberation over immigration has taken a head-snapping detour.

What was once a debate over how to fix a broken system and provide a path to citizenship for millions has become a race to decide how to increase border patrols and send people back quickly to their country of origin.

The sudden rise in the number of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America crossing the border has refocused attention on immigration, but hardly under the terms that President Barack Obama and immigrant advocates once envisioned.

Obama had demanded action on a broad change in the law that would have given millions of immigrants illegally in the United States a way to citizenship while spending more on border security. When Republicans balked, he threatened to act on his own. But now the White House says it’s focused on addressing the influx of border-crossers and returning as many as quickly as the government can.

Republican lawmakers had decided to scuttle any votes on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws this year. Now, they are urging prompt legislative action to stem the flow of Central Americans into the United States. Some Republicans even want Obama to take decisive action himself, a shift from their usual criticism that he has abused his executive powers.

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HEALTHBEAT: Poll shows few Americans check doctors’ vitals before letting them check theirs

WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans consider insurance and a good bedside manner in choosing a doctor, but will that doctor provide high-quality care? A new poll shows that people don’t know how to determine that.

Being licensed and likable doesn’t necessarily mean a doctor is up to date on best practices. But consumers aren’t sure how to uncover much more. Just 22 percent of those questioned are confident they can find information to compare the quality of local doctors, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Today, 6 in 10 people say they trust doctor recommendations from friends or family, and nearly half value referrals from their regular physician. The poll found far fewer trust quality information from online patient reviews, health insurers, ratings web sites, the media, even the government.

“I usually go on references from somebody else, because it’s hard to track them any other way,” said Kenneth Murks, 58, of Lexington, Alabama. His mother suggested a bone and joint specialist after a car accident.

“I guess you can do some Internet searches now,” he added, but questions the accuracy of online reviews.

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Film legend James Garner, reluctant hero in TV’s ‘Maverick,’ ‘Rockford Files,’ dead at age 86

NEW YORK (AP) - Few actors could register disbelief, exasperation or annoyance with more comic subtlety.

James Garner had a way of widening his eyes while the corner of his mouth sagged ever so slightly. Maybe he would swallow once to further make his point.

This portrait of fleeting disquiet could be understood, and identified with, by every member of the audience. Never mind Garner was tall, brawny and, well, movie-star handsome. The persona he perfected was never less than manly, good with his dukes and charming to the ladies, but his heroics were kept human-scale thanks to his gift for the comic turn. He remained one of the people.

He burst on the scene with this disarming style in the 1950s TV Western “Maverick,” which led to a stellar career in TV and films such as “The Rockford Files” and his Oscar-nominated “Murphy’s Romance.”

The 86-year-old Garner, who was found dead of natural causes at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, was adept at drama and action. But he was best known for his low-key, wisecracking style, especially on his hit TV series, “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files.”

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Kerry heads to Mideast in bid for cease-fire as US sharpens criticism of Hamas

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the Middle East as the Obama administration attempts to bolster regional efforts to reach a ceasefire and sharpens its criticism of Hamas in its conflict with Israel.

The State Department said Kerry would leave early Monday for Egypt where he will join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that had been agreed to in November 2012. In a statement Sunday evening, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the U.S. and international partners “deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.”

The Obama administration has toned down its earlier rebuke of Israel for attacks on the Gaza Strip that have killed civilians, including children, although both President Barack Obama and Kerry expressed concern about the rising death toll.

The U.S. will urge the militant Palestinian group to accept a cease-fire agreement that would halt nearly two weeks of fighting with Israel. More than 430 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed in that time.

Cairo has offered a cease-fire plan that is backed by the U.S. and Israel. But Hamas has rejected the Egyptian plan and is relying on governments in Qatar and Turkey for an alternative proposal. Qatar and Turkey have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also linked to Hamas but banned in Egypt.

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By mobile phone light and ingenuity, frenetic Gaza hospital carries on amid Israeli offensive

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - In the heart of Gaza City, as its citizens again find themselves under fire from Israeli airstrikes and artillery, the wounded and their wailing families stream into Shifa Hospital without end.

Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, only has an 11-bed emergency room and six operating theaters. Yet amid power cuts and among the screams of the bereaved, doctors at the 600-bed facility have become masters of improvisation, forced by the seemingly unending conflict engulfing the coastal strip to care for the wounded.

“If we are in the middle of an operation (and) lights go out, what do the Palestinians do?” said Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who has volunteered at Shifa on and off for 17 years. “They pick up their phones, and they use the light from the screen to illuminate the operation field.”

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The wounded from Israeli strikes usually arrive in waves. More than 3,000 Palestinians already have been wounded in the past two weeks of fighting, health officials say. Many, including the most serious cases, end up at Shifa.

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With no equal and no drama, McIlroy wins British Open wire to wire for 3rd leg of Grand Slam

HOYLAKE, England (AP) - Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf’s oldest trophy.

On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

In the record book, he is listed behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the youngest to get three legs of the career Grand Slam.

And over four days at Royal Liverpool, he had no equal.

“I’m immensely proud of myself,” McIlroy said after his two-shot victory Sunday that was never really in doubt. “To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam … yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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