Israel widens attacks, Gaza death toll climbs

NAJIB JOBAIN ARON HELLER Associated Press Published:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Ignoring international appeals for a cease-fire, Israel on Saturday widened its range of Gaza bombing targets to civilian institutions with suspected Hamas ties and announced it would hit northern Gaza "with great force" to prevent rocket attacks from there on Israel. More than 150 Palestinians have been killed in five days of bombardment.

One of the Israeli strikes hit a center for the disabled where Palestinians said two patients were killed and four people seriously hurt. In a second attack, on Saturday evening, an Israeli warplane flattened the home of Gaza's police chief and damaged a nearby mosque as evening prayers ended, killing at least 18 people, officials said.

In New York, the UN Security Council called unanimously for a cease fire, while Britain's foreign minister said he will discuss cease-fire efforts with his American, French and German counterparts today.

So far, neither Israel nor Gaza's Hamas rulers have signaled willingness to stop. Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, said Saturday there would be more strikes, especially in northern Gaza near the Israeli border.

GOP backing off: While the Republican Party's religious conservatives continue to fight against same-sex marriage, its governors appear to be backing off their opposition, in their rhetoric, at least. For some, the shift may be more a matter of tone than substance as the GOP tries to attract new voters ahead of the midterm elections. "I don't think the Republican Party is fighting it," Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker said of gay marriage. He spoke with Associated Press during an interview this weekend at the National Governors Association in Nashville. "I'm not saying it's not important," continued Walker, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid should he survive his reelection test this fall.

Airplane hit by lightning: A Frontier Airlines official said one of its planes was diverted to Salt Lake City after it was hit by lightning. Spokesman Tyri Squyres said Friday night's lightning strike damaged the airplane's weather radar. None of the 168 passengers were injured. She told the Denver Post the plane was traveling to Seattle when lightning hit around 6:50 p.m. Because of bad weather, she said it was not safe to return to its Denver starting point without the radar system, so it landed in Salt Lake. The flight remained there for several hours for repairs. Officials with Frontier and the Salt Lake airport didn't immediately return calls from Associated Press.

Trio injured when bus flips: Three people injured when a tourist bus flipped on its side while traveling through Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming remained in the hospital Saturday. Two people were being treated at the Eastern Idaho Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where they were listed in fair condition Saturday, hospital spokesman Karen Connelly said.Another person remained at St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyo., in good condition, Connelly said. "Luckily, clinically they're all going to be OK," she said.The bus was carrying 26 tourists and a driver when the accident occurred about 4:10 p.m. Thursday. The bus was traveling on U.S. 89 to Yellowstone National Park.

UN urges Iraq: The UN urged Iraq's leaders Saturday to overcome their deep divisions and move quickly to form a new government that can unite the country and confront a surging militant threat. Iraq's new parliament is scheduled today to hold its second session amid hopes that lawmakers can quickly decide on a new prime minister, president and speaker of parliament, the first steps toward forming a new government. U.N special envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, called on lawmakers to attend the meeting and forge an agreement. He warned of dire consequences if the political deadlock drags on. "It will only serve the interests of those who seek to divide the people of Iraq and destroy their chances for peace and prosperity," he said in a statement.

Running of the bulls: Three Spanish men were injured Saturday as several thousand people tested their bravery by dashing alongside six fighting bulls through the slippery streets of Pamplona, Spain, in the sixth running of the bulls at Spain's San Fermin festival. Red Cross spokesman Jose Aldaba said no one was gored but one runner was taken to a hospital with a suspected bone fracture. Oscar Gorria, deputy director of surgical services for the region of Navarra, said one man sustained an arm injury while another had cuts and bruises to a leg. Municipal workers had applied an anti-slip coating on the cobblestones of the narrow streets in a bid to lessen injuries after rain had fallen overnight on the 930-yard course that runs from a holding pen to Pamplona's bull ring.

Native-only landscaping: The Seneca Indian Nation is using only indigenous plants and trees in its public landscaping. The western New York tribe located in Cattagaugus Reservation, N.Y., is believed to be the first to formalize a practice that tribes throughout the country are embracing as a way to preserve Native American culture and the environment. From now on, only native species will be planted outside tribal schools, office buildings and casinos on Seneca land. That means instead of Austrian pines and Norway maples, there will be more balsam firs and white ash trees. Wild bee balm, cinnamon fern and other medicinal plants will take the place of non-native flowers and shrubbery.

Biden offers condolences: Vice President Joe Biden in Washington has offered condolences to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over killings in eastern Ukraine. At last four people were killed by artillery fire in an overnight attack Saturday in Maryinka, a suburb of Donetsk where pro-Russia insurgents are holed up. The attack happened hours after Poroshenko vowed vengeance for the deaths of 19 troops in an insurgent rocket attack near the Russian border. The White House says Biden also expressed support for Poroshenko's efforts to convene a meeting with the separatists on a possible new cease-fire. Biden also briefed Poroshenko on efforts by the U.S. and its allies to punish Russia if it continues to provide the insurgents with heavy weapons and equipment.

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