Israel continued its intensified bombing and shelling of Gaza on Wednesday, killing an estimated 40 people overnight and pushing the Gaza death toll to 1,270. The humanitarian crisis deepened after Israel knocked out Gaza's only power plant, leaving the Palestinian enclave without power or sewer services. Israel says the campaign will continue until it stops rocket fire and destroys the tunnels Hamas militants are using to attack Israelis.
Humanitarian crisis worsens in Gaza
Obama unveils new sanctions in Russia over the Ukraine crisis
President Obama announced tough new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday over artillery strikes fired from Russia into Ukraine, and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 earlier this month in a part of Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists. The measures targeted banks, the energy sector, a large defense firm, and other key contributors to Russia's economy. The European Union imposed even tougher sanctions.
Yosemite fire threatens redwoods and limits park access
A wildfire in Yosemite National Park grew on Tuesday, expanding to 3,060 acres and temporarily cutting off access to some of the California park. The flames threatened a grove of giant redwoods and forced authorities to close three campgrounds at the height of the summer tourist season. The fire was the latest in a flare-up caused by extreme drought conditions affecting 80 percent of the state.
Knife-wielding mob kills dozens in China
A mob armed with knives attacked ethnic Han and Muslim Uighur civilians in the latest in a series of violent outbursts in China's tense Xinjiang region. Dozens of people were killed by the gang, according to local police interviewed by the official Xinhua News Agency. Dozens of the attackers also were killed, shot dead by authorities after targeting government offices and a police station.
European ransom payments now bankroll al Qaeda
European governments have quietly paid al Qaeda between $125 million and $165 million in ransoms for kidnapping victims since 2008, including at least $66 million in the past year alone, according to a New York Times investigation. The money, funneled through intermediaries, is sometimes disguised as development aid. Counterterrorism officials believe the payoffs now overshadow cash from big donors as al Qaeda's main funding source.
Colorado high court orders halt to Boulder same-sex marriage licenses
The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Boulder County Court Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples until the high court rules on the state's gay-marriage ban. Hall began issuing gay couples licenses in June after a federal appeals court in Denver overturned Utah's same-sex marriage ban. She said she would comply but expected the stay to be brief, "given the avalanche of recent cases determining that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional."
Massive water-line break floods part of UCLA's campus
The main water line broke at UCLA on Tuesday, sending water shooting 30 feet into the air. Eight million to 10 million gallons of water flooded parts of campus — including Pauly Pavilion, home of UCLA basketball and other sports teams. Water also covered a stretch of Sunset Boulevard before the ruptured line was shut off after four hours. The 90-year-old line was nearly three feet wide and carried 75,000 gallons a minute.
Court ruling keeps Mississippi's lone abortion clinic open
A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked a Mississippi law that threatened to close the state's lone abortion clinic, saying it would essentially end abortion in the state and place an undue burden on women. The court didn't overturn the law, which required clinic doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, but the decision could doom it. Clinic supporters said the law amounted to an unconstitutional state ban on abortion.
NCAA agrees to $70-million concussion lawsuit settlement
The NCAA has agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action lawsuit over head injuries in contact sports by creating a $70 million fund to monitor the health of athletes who suffer brain trauma. The governing body of college sports also said it would establish rules on how schools handle such injuries. Critics, including the plaintiffs, had said leaving the policies up to individual institutions put players' health at risk.
Ebola kills leading doctor fighting the virus in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone's leading doctor fighting West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak died Tuesday afternoon from the virus. The physician, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, had treated more than 100 patients and was hailed as a national hero by his government. More than 670 people, including three nurses who worked with Khan, have died in the outbreak, which is already the largest ever recorded.