Created: Fri, 18 Jul 2014 01:16:04 EST
Updated: Fri, 18 Jul 2014 01:16:04 EST
Ukraine accuses pro-Russia rebels of downing Malaysian plane with 298 aboard
HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine is accusing pro-Russian separatists of shooting down a Malaysia Airlines jet Thursday. The rebels are denying it.
Ukraine's security services say two intercepted telephone conversations show the rebels were responsible, though neither recording could be independently verified. Ukraine's U.N. ambassador alleges that Russia has supplied the separatists with a sophisticated missile system that can hit planes.
But, Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility, saying: "this tragedy would not have happened if there were peace" in Ukraine and military actions had not been renewed.
Bodies and wreckage of the Boeing 777 were strewn over a field near a rebel-held village in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border. There was no sign of any survivors.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 took off from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people aboard, including three infants.
The White House is calling for a "full, credible and unimpeded international investigation." It's also urging Russia, the pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure "safe and unfettered access to the crash site."
AP source: Missile took down jet in Ukraine but unclear who launched strike
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile took down a passenger jet carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, but the Obama administration is still scrambling to confirm who launched the strike and whether there were American citizens killed in the crash.
Vice President Joe Biden says the incident was "not an accident," describing the Malaysia Airlines plane as having been "blown out of the sky."
Among the unanswered questions is whether the missile was launched from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border they share. The official says U.S. intelligence assessments suggest it is more likely that pro-Russian separatists or Russians shot down the plane than Ukrainian forces.
The U.S. has sophisticated technologies that can detect missile launches, including the identification of heat from a rocket engine.
AIDS conference attendees on downed Malaysian jet
SYDNEY (AP) — Several passengers on board a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine were heading to an international AIDS conference in Australia.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Friday that several people on board the Boeing 777 were en route to Melbourne to attend next week's conference.
The International AIDS Society issued a statement expressing "sincere sadness" that several of its colleagues and friends were on board the plane.
Bishop says at least 27 Australians were on board. The aircraft was scheduled to continue flying to the western Australian city of Perth after stopping in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The plane crashed Thursday with 298 people on board. American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile brought the aircraft down but it was not yet clear who fired the missile.
Israel invades Gaza Strip, escalating military operation against Hamas
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The heavy thud of tank shells is echoing across the Gaza Strip as Friday's dawn approaches.
Thousands of Israeli soldiers backed by tanks have rolled into the Palestinian territory in a ground invasion aimed at destroying Hamas' rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to infiltrate Israel.
With flares lighting the night sky, the wail of ambulance sirens mixed with the Muslim call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers before dawn.
Thick smoke is rising from sites where shells and missiles struck. An official in the Gaza security operations room says, "there is a tank shell every minute" and all of the seaside strip's border areas are being shelled. He says Hamas fighters have been exchanging fire with Israeli troops near a town in northern Gaza.
Gaza health officials say eight Palestinians have been killed in the early stages of the Israeli ground operation. Palestinian health officials say more than 240 Palestinians died in Israel's 10-day air campaign that preceded the invasion.
One Israeli has also been killed in the fighting.
UNITED NATIONS-ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS MEETING
Jordan calls for emergency UN Security Council meeting in wake of Gaza ground invasion
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Jordan has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council following Israel's ground invasion of Gaza.
Jordan's U.N. mission said Thursday night that no time has been set yet for the meeting. The Security Council is already scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Friday morning on the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine.
Jordan is the Arab representative on the Security Council.
Thousands of Israeli soldiers have launched a ground invasion on the tenth day campaign of heavy air bombardments to try to destroy Hamas' rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to infiltrate Israel.
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE-BODY FOUND
Body found in area of Northern California wildfire
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California fire officials say a body has been found in the area charred by a Northern California wildfire that has been burning since Friday.
The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Thursday that the body was found near a home north of Platina Road in Shasta County. That's near where officials say the 17-square-mile blaze was started by an alleged marijuana grower who drove his truck over dry grass.
Authorities say it looks like the victim was trying to flee the fire. No other details about the victim were immediately available.
The fire is 47 percent contained and has resulted in 13 minor injuries. A Sacramento man has been arrested and charged with suspicion of marijuana cultivation and recklessly causing the fire.
Evacuation orders for residents have been lifted.
NEW: Wildfire prompts evacuation order for Wash. Town
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say a north-central Washington sheriff has issued an urgent evacuation notice for the wildfire-threatened small town of Pateros and officials are also evacuating a hospital in a nearby town.
The Okanogan County dispatch center said Sheriff Frank Rogers issued the evacuation notice Thursday night for the town of Pateros and a hospital in Brewster. Pateros has a population of about 650 people.
The area is threatened by a fast-growing cluster of wildfires known as the Carlton Complex, which has burned across at least 28 square miles of the scenic Methow Valley. The fire has already burned homes.
NEW: Alert issued after police say baby abducted
CASHION, Okla. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a woman who police say abducted a 5-month-old baby in central Oklahoma and made comments about the child dying.
An Amber Alert issued by the state Department of Public Safety says the girl was abducted around 12:15 p.m. near Cashion in Kingfisher County.
The alert says the suspect is a 47-year-old white woman. It says she has a "mental condition" and made comments about having a vision of the child dying "in two days."
It says the infant, a white female, was wearing a long-sleeve pink floral shirt.
Police are looking for a brown or black Hyundai Santa Fe with a Texas license plate, number BYZ-3364, last seen in the Elmwood, Oklahoma, area. The alert says the suspect may be heading to Salt Lake City, Utah.
LONG ISLAND-BODY PARTS
Police: Human head found on Long Island
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — Police are investigating what appears to be a human head found in a Long Island town where two severed arms were discovered about a week ago.
Hempstead police say the head was found at about 5 p.m. Thursday on Boylston Street, close to where the two arms were found dumped on residential lawns.
Authorities are trying to determine if the body parts are linked to a partially dismembered body found July 8 in a municipal parking lot in Bay Shore, about 25 miles east of Hempstead.
Those remains were found by two people who were walking to the Fire Island ferry terminal about a half-mile away.
Homicide detectives in Nassau and Suffolk counties are investigating as they await DNA results on the other body parts.
NEW: Suspect package delays Obama return to White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is back at the White House after his return there was delayed by the discovery of a suspicious package.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama was held aboard Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base until the package at the White House was determined to be of no threat to the president.
Air Force One landed just after 10 p.m. EDT but Obama remained on board for more than a half-hour. Meanwhile, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who flew back from New York City with the president after they attended a political event, got off and departed the base.
Obama arrived back at the White House just after 11 p.m.
FedEx charged with assisting illicit pharmacies by shipping drugs without prescriptions
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal authorities have charged FedEx Corp. with assisting illegal pharmacies by knowingly delivering dangerous drugs to customers without prescriptions.
The Department of Justice announced the charges Thursday. The charges allege the Memphis, Tennessee, shipping company conspired with two related online pharmacies for 10 years ending in 2010.
FedEx is accused of shipping the powerful sleeping aid Ambien, anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and other drugs to customers with no legitimate medical need and lacking valid prescriptions.
FedEx insists it did nothing wrong. A company spokesman says it will plead not guilty and "defend against this attack" on its integrity.
FedEx first disclosed the federal investigation in a regulatory filing in November 2012. The company said at that time it had done nothing wrong and intended to fight any charges.