- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Israeli soldier missing as Gaza fighting rages on and truce efforts continue

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli soldier is missing following a deadly battle in the Gaza Strip, a defense official said Tuesday as Israeli airstrikes pummeled a wide range of targets in the coastal strip and diplomatic efforts intensified to end more than two weeks of fighting that has killed at least 585 Palestinians and 29 Israelis.

The defense official told The Associated Press the soldier went missing after a deadly battle in Gaza over the weekend and it was not immediately clear if he was dead or alive. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident with media.

The development adds a further complication to international efforts to broker a truce. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Cairo late Monday to launch the highest-level push yet to end the deadly conflict. The U.N. has said that the majority of the Palestinians killed were civilians, among them dozens of children.

Israel has said its campaign, launched July 8, is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel - some 2,000 rockets have been launched over the past two weeks, the military says - and destroying tunnels the military says Hamas has constructed from Gaza into Israel for attacks against Israelis.Overnight, Israel bombed five mosques, a sports complex and the home of the late Hamas military chief, a Gaza police official said.

The airstrikes set off huge explosions that turned the night sky over Gaza City orange early Tuesday. The sound of the blasts mixed with the thud of shelling, often just seconds apart, and the pre-dawn call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers.

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American Jews, other foreigners feel calling to serve Israeli military despite the dangers

The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel.

Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the prime of their lives who have left their parents and often comfortable lives behind in places like Sydney, London, Los Angeles and elsewhere to join the Israel Defense Forces, marching in the desert and taking up arms to defend the Jewish state.

There are about 2,000 lone soldiers currently serving in the military, said Marina Rozhansky, spokeswoman at the Israel Consul General in Los Angeles. Groups for families of lone soldiers have recently started in Los Angeles and other cities, providing a support network as the fighting intensifies.

For Jews who left Israel before the age of 15 or who never lived there, their service is voluntary. For many, it is a calling, a way to get back to their roots and unite the world’s Jewish population. Some have dual citizenship. Others speak little to no Hebrew and have only recently been to Israel.

Max Steinberg, 24, who grew up in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, joined six months after he visited Israel for the first time on a Birthright Israel trip with his younger brother and sister in June 2012, said Jake Steinberg, who spoke to The Associated Press hours after learning his brother, a sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade, was among 13 Israeli soldiers and scores of Palestinians over the weekend who died during the first major ground battle in two weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas. The Jewish Journal was first to report Steinberg’s death.

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Train bearing bodies from Malaysia Airlines crash arrives in Kharkiv

KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) - A train carrying the remains of people killed in the Malaysia Airlines crash arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday on their way to the Netherlands, a journey which has been agonizingly slow for relatives of the victims.

An AP reporter saw the train Tuesday as it pulled into a station in Kharkiv, a government-controlled city where Ukrainian authorities have set up their crash investigation center.

For many, it is the next stop on their journey home to the Netherlands. Of the 298 who died, 193 were Dutch citizens.

Oleksander Kharchenko, spokesman for the state committee on the crash, said “we will do our best” to send the bodies to the Netherlands on Tuesday. Ukraine has agreed to send remains of all the victims there for identification and forensic investigation.

The train stopped overnight in the contested city of Donetsk but left around 3 a.m., the Ukrainian emergency services ministry said.

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Victims’ bodies, plane debris could hold vital clues to who shot down airliner over Ukraine

LONDON (AP) - “What exactly are they trying to hide?” President Barack Obama asked Monday as he demanded that Ukrainian rebels give investigators access to the wreckage of the downed jetliner.

The answer is: potentially a lot.

Aviation and defense experts say the victims’ bodies could contain missile shrapnel. Chemical residue on the plane could confirm the type of weapon that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. And the location of the wreckage could yield information on how the attack unfolded.

The black boxes could offer vital clues as well. The cockpit voice recorder would record the bang of a missile. The data recorders, which register altitude and position, would be able to tie that information to the timing of a known missile launch in the area.

“You can effectively backtrack and give a relatively high degree of confidence in the location where that missile took off from,” said a Manchester, England-based aviation industry consultant, Chris Yates. “If that location happens to be in rebel-held territory, which we all suspect it is, that would be the first point where you could point the finger of blame.”

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Immigration debate centers on 2008 law passed to address very different circumstances

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls turning on her television and seeing a young Chinese girl crying before a judge, without even an interpreter to help her after surviving a harrowing journey to the U.S.

That was the genesis of a law six years ago that is now at the center of an immigration crisis at the nation’s Southern border. More than 57,000 youths, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the U.S. illegally since October. Fewer than 2,000 of them have been sent back.

Immigration advocates and many Democrats insist on preserving what they describe as important protections in the 2008 law for unaccompanied youths who flee their home countries or are smuggled to the U.S.

Most Republicans and a few Democrats want to change the law to address circumstances far different from six years ago, when no more than 8,000 kids arrived at the border each year without their parents.

“The 2008 law creates a process that made sense when you’re talking about a limited number of children, the victims of sex trafficking. It doesn’t make sense when you talk about 50,000 unaccompanied minors,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “The 2008 law wasn’t designed to deal with this situation.”

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Detroit retirees endorse pension cuts in bankruptcy; city praises ‘positive decision’

DETROIT (AP) - A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest public filing in U.S. history.

Pension cuts were approved in a landslide, according to results filed shortly before midnight Monday. The tally from 60 days of voting gives the city a boost as Judge Steven Rhodes determines whether Detroit’s overall strategy to eliminate or reduce $18 billion in long-term debt is fair and feasible to all creditors.

Trial starts Aug. 14.

“I want to thank city retirees and active employees who voted for casting aside the rhetoric and making an informed, positive decision about their future and the future of the city,” said Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager who has been handling Detroit’s finances since March 2013.

General retirees would get a 4.5 percent pension cut and lose annual inflation adjustments. They accepted the changes with 73 percent of ballots in favor. Retired police officers and firefighters would lose only a portion of their annual cost-of-living raise. Eighty-two percent in that class voted “yes.”

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Fathers says boys accused in fatal beatings of homeless men were also once homeless

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A man who says he is the father of two of three teens charged with fatally beating two homeless men says that they too were once homeless, and he has no idea what prompted the brutal Friday night attack that police say left the victims unrecognizable.

After their arrest, the 15-year-old told police that the trio had been targeting homeless people for the past year, according to a criminal complaint. He said they had attacked about 50 people over the last few months, but had never gone that far, according to the criminal complaint.

“It’s so hard that he could do that to someone where … I mean, like I said, we came from there,” said Victor Prieto, who identified himself to KOB-TV as the father of the 15- and 16-year-olds accused. “You know what I mean? We’re not there now, but that’s where we … We got out of there.”

His sons and 18-year-old Alex Rios were charged on Monday with murder and ordered held on $5 million bonds. The Associated Press is not identifying the minors because of their age. The teens and Prieto all have different last names.

A man at the house where police found the trio Saturday declined to comment on Monday as he watched a steady stream of reporters and photographers visit a corner lot where neighbors said the homeless regularly camped without bothering anyone.

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Scientists find ‘genetic revelation’ to the mystery of schizophrenia, seeing hints for therapy

WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick.

Such work could eventually point to new treatments, although they are many years away. Already, the new results provide the first hard genetic evidence to bolster a theory connecting the immune system to the disease.

More than 100 researchers from around the world collaborated in the biggest-ever genomic mapping of schizophrenia, for which scientists had previously uncovered only about a couple of dozen risk-related genes.

The study included the genetic codes of more than 150,000 people - nearly 37,000 of them diagnosed with the disease. Researchers found 108 genetic markers for risk of getting the disease, 83 of them not previously reported. And scientists say there are still likely more to be found.

“It’s a genetic revelation; schizophrenia has been a mystery,” said study co-author Steve McCarroll, director of genetics for the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “Results like this give you things to work on. It takes it out of the zone of guesses about which genes are relevant.”

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11 parents of Nigeria’s kidnapped girls die from attacks and stress; hometown is besieged

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - About a dozen parents of the more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls will never see their daughters again.

Since the mass abduction of the schoolgirls by Islamic extremists three months ago, at least 11 of their parents have died and their hometown, Chibok, is under siege from the militants, residents report.

Seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies brought to Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, said a health worker who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals by the extremists.

At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago, said community leader Pogu Bitrus, who provided their names.

“One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him,” said Bitrus.

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George turns 1: Big milestone for Britain’s little prince

LONDON (AP) - The palace is releasing special pictures, the Royal Mint is striking a commemorative coin and newspapers are publishing glowing tributes.

What’s all the fuss about? A little boy who will be king.

Prince George turns 1 on Tuesday. While he may be too young to appreciate it, the milestone is causing a nationwide frenzy.

Editorial writers call him a symbol of hope, newspaper headlines hail him as “Gorgeous George” and one published a 24-page glossy magazine chronicling his first 12 months. Prince William and his wife Kate, who plan a small party at Kensington Palace, have said little in public about the ups and downs of parenting, but here are some things we know about the lad:

GEORGE HAS AN IMPORTANT NEW SKILL - WALKING

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