AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on August 5, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 5 at 6:01 AM

Israeli-Hamas cease-fire takes effect to end Gaza war, setting stage for talks in Cairo

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An Israel-Hamas cease-fire, meant to last three days, went into effect on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip, setting the stage for talks in Cairo aimed at reaching a broader deal on a sustainable truce and the rebuilding of the battered coastal territory.

The temporary truce, agreed to by both sides, started at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and halted almost a month of fighting.

Israeli ground troops withdrew from the strip's border areas, the shelling stopped and in Gaza City, where streets had been deserted during the war, traffic picked up and shops started opening doors.

If the calm holds, Egypt plans to start shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian delegations in Cairo to work out new arrangements for Gaza. The territory has been virtually cut off from the world since a violent Hamas takeover in 2007 prompted a closure of the territory's borders by Egypt and Israel.

But wide gaps remain and previous international attempts to broker a temporary halt in the fighting have failed.

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In Gaza, violent death becomes part of daily life, with hurried burials, suppressed grief

JEBALIYA CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) — The airstrike that crushed the Najam family home in this refugee camp set in motion a grim but increasingly familiar process as the Gaza war claims victim after victim. A search through the rubble for bodies and body parts. Relatives claiming the dead from the morgue. Then a swift burial in a hastily dug grave with a cardboard name tag instead of a tombstone.

With such tragedies becoming routine, most Palestinians are responding with a measure of sobriety to the violent deaths that are now part of daily life in Gaza. Some suppress their grief behind a faith that the dead are martyrs in the fight against Israel and destined to go to heaven. Others are just too preoccupied with their own survival to mourn.

"What happened to them could happen to us," Youssef al-Doqs, a 22-year-old neighbor of the Najams, said Monday as he watched six stone-faced men silently searching through a mound of debris that was their two-story home in the Jebaliya refugee camp. "As for me, Youssef, I am not afraid of death," he said, sucking on a cigarette.

Late Monday morning in Shati, a different refugee camp in Gaza City, an Israeli warplane struck a house that stood on a narrow lane. Children, some as young as 8 or 9, helped rescue workers searching the rubble for bodies and survivors by forming a human chain between the targeted house and a main street. They passed to one another bits of debris, which the last member of the chain on the street end dropped onto a growing heap.

Nearly 1,900 Palestinians have died since Israel launched a campaign of airstrikes against Hamas-ruled Gaza on July 8 in response to weeks of rocket attacks into Israel by Hamas and other Gaza militants. More than 60 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have been killed in the war.

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Ukrainian troops edge closer to city held by pro-Russian separatist rebels

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian troops have taken control of a key checkpoint on the western edge of Donetsk, the biggest city in the rebellious east, and are making gradual advances to quash pro-Russian separatist forces.

An Associated Press reporter saw a tank carrying the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag Tuesday morning in the suburb of Marinka, which lies on a key road into Donetsk. Rebel combatants could still be seen in sniper positions in a nearby area closer to the city center.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said further fighting was expected to ensure full control over Marinka.

Donetsk, a city of 1 million people, has largely been spared of fighting earlier during the rebellion that erupted in April but come under shelling in recent weeks.

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10 Things to Know for Today

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

1. CEASE-FIRE TAKES EFFECT TO END GAZA WAR

The truce between Israel and Hamas is meant to last at least three days and comes ahead of talks in Cairo aimed at preventing future cross-border violence by addressing the blockade of the coastal strip and rocket fire.

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US government had role in experimental Ebola treatment given to 2 American aid workers

Two American aid workers infected with Ebola are getting an experimental drug so novel it has never been tested for safety in humans and was only identified as a potential treatment earlier this year, thanks to a longstanding research program by the U.S. government and the military.

The workers, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, are improving, although it's impossible to know whether the treatment is the reason or they are recovering on their own, as others who have survived Ebola have done. Brantly is being treated at a special isolation unit at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, and Writebol was expected to be flown there Tuesday in the same specially equipped plane that brought Brantly.

They were infected while working in Liberia, one of four West African nations dealing with the world's largest Ebola outbreak. On Monday, the World Health Organization said the death toll had increased from 729 to 887 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, and that more than 1,600 people have been infected.

In a worrisome development, the Nigerian Health Minister said a doctor who had helped treat Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American man who died July 25 days after arriving in Nigeria, has been confirmed to have the deadly disease. Tests are pending for three other people who also treated Sawyer and are showing symptoms.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola, but several are under development.

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Poll: Americans want good highways, bridges but don't agree on how to pay for them

WASHINGTON (AP) — Small wonder Congress has kept federal highway and transit programs teetering on the edge of insolvency for years, unable to find a politically acceptable long-term source of funds. The public can't make up its mind on how to pay for them either.

Six in 10 Americans think the economic benefits of good highways, railroads and airports outweigh the cost to taxpayers. Yet there is scant support for some of the most frequently discussed options for paying for construction of new roads or the upkeep of existing ones, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Among those who drive places multiple times per week, 62 percent say the benefits outweigh the costs. Among those who drive less than once a week or not at all, 55 percent say the costs of road improvement are worthwhile.

Yet a majority of all Americans — 58 percent — oppose raising federal gasoline taxes to fund transportation projects such as the repair, replacement or expansion of roads and bridges. Only 14 percent support an increase. And by a better than 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose having private companies pay for construction of new roads and bridges in exchange for the right to charge tolls. Moving to a usage tax based on how many miles a vehicle drives also draws more opposition than support — 40 percent oppose it, while 20 percent support it.

Support for shifting more responsibility for paying for such projects to state and local government is a tepid 30 percent.

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Rating agency S&P finds wealth gap is contributing to a slower US recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists have long argued that a rising wealth gap has complicated the U.S. rebound from the Great Recession.

Now, an analysis by the rating agency Standard & Poor's lends its weight to the argument: The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has made the economy more prone to boom-bust cycles and slowed the 5-year-old recovery from the recession.

Economic disparities appear to be reaching extremes that "need to be watched because they're damaging to growth," said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P.

The rising concentration of income among the top 1 percent of earners has contributed to S&P's cutting its growth estimates for the economy. In part because of the disparity, it estimates that the economy will grow at a 2.5 percent annual pace in the next decade, down from a forecast five years ago of a 2.8 percent rate.

The S&P report advises against using the tax code to try to narrow the gap. Instead, it suggests that greater access to education would help ease wealth disparities.

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30-year-old Nixon videos released on 40th anniversary of his resignation over Watergate

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) — Almost a decade after Richard Nixon resigned, the disgraced former president sat down with his one-time aide and told the tale of his fall from grace in his own words.

For three decades, that version of one of the nation's largest and most-dissected political scandals largely gathered dust — until this week.

Starting Tuesday, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation, portions of the tapes will be published each day by the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum and the private Richard Nixon Foundation. The postings begin with Nixon recalling the day he decided to resign and end Saturday — his last day in office — with the 37th president discussing his final day at the White House, when he signed the resignation agreement, gave a short speech and boarded a helicopter for San Clemente, California.

The segments were culled from more than 30 hours of interviews that Nixon did with former aide Frank Gannon in 1983. The sections on Watergate aired publicly once, on CBS News, before gathering dust at the University of Georgia for more than 30 years.

"This is as close to what anybody is going to experience sitting down and having a beer with Nixon, sitting down with him in his living room," said Gannon, now a writer and historian in Washington, D.C.

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Death toll from Ebola outbreak in West Africa hits 887; new case reported in Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — The doctor who treated a man who flew to Nigeria and died of Ebola now has contracted the disease, authorities said Monday, presenting a dire challenge to Africa's most populous nation as the regional toll for the outbreak grew to 887 dead.

As Nigerian health authorities rushed to quarantine others who had been exposed, a special plane left Liberia to evacuate the second American missionary who fell ill with Ebola. Nancy Writebol, 59, is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday, where she will be treated at a special isolation ward.

The second confirmed case in Nigeria is a doctor who treated Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American man who died July 25 days after arriving in Nigeria from Liberia, said Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu.

Three others who also treated Sawyer now show symptoms of Ebola and their test results are pending, he said. Authorities are trying to trace and quarantine others in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa's largest city of 21 million people.

"This cluster of cases in Lagos, Nigeria is very concerning," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, which is dispatching 50 experienced disease control specialists to West Africa.

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'Gluten-free' labeling standards kick in; goal is to reduce shopper confusion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Starting this week, "gluten-free" labels on packaged foods have real meaning. Until now, the term "gluten-free" had not been regulated, and manufacturers made their own decisions about what it means.

This new requirement is especially important for people who suffer from celiac disease and don't absorb nutrients well. They can get sick from the gluten found in wheat and other cereal grains.

Under a rule announced a year ago, food manufacturers had until Tuesday to ensure that anything labeled gluten-free contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten — ensuring that those products are technically free of wheat, rye and barley. That amount is generally recognized by the medical community to be low enough so that most people who have celiac disease won't get sick if they eat it.

Currently, wheat must be labeled on food packages but barley and rye are often hidden ingredients.

Celiac disease causes abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea, and people who have it can suffer weight loss, fatigue, rashes and other long-term medical problems. Celiac is a diagnosed illness that is more severe than gluten sensitivity, which some people self-diagnose.

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