TIME

FAA Continues Ban on U.S. Flights to Tel Aviv

Israeli rescue and military personnel at the wreckage of a home in the town of Yehud, outside Tel Aviv, and near the Ben Gurion Airport, that was hit by a missile fired by Palestinian militants from inside the Gaza Strip, July 22, 2014.
Israeli rescue and military personnel at the wreckage of a home in the town of Yehud, outside Tel Aviv, and near the Ben Gurion Airport, that was hit by a missile fired by Palestinian militants from inside the Gaza Strip, July 22, 2014. Gideon Markowicz—EPA

(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Aviation Administration says it will continue its ban on U.S. airline flights to Tel Aviv while assessing the danger of rocket attacks.

The agency said Wednesday it is working closely with the Israeli government to review new information they have provided and to determine whether safety concerns have been resolved.

FAA instituted the flight prohibition on Tuesday in response to a rocket strike that landed about a mile from the airport.

The directive applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.

TIME

Plane crashes in Taiwan, 47 Trapped, Feared Dead

Rescue workers survey the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 which crashed while attempting to land in stormy weather on the Taiwanese island of Penghu, late Wednesday, July 23, 2014.
Rescue workers survey the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 which crashed while attempting to land in stormy weather on the Taiwanese island of Penghu, late Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Wong Yao-wen—AP

(TAIPEI, Taiwan) — A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and the transport minister said 47 people were trapped and feared dead.

Another 11 people were injured when the ATR-72 operated by Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways crashed on Penghu, an island in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih was quoted as saying by the government’s Central News Agency. The plane was arriving from Kaohsiung, a city in southern Taiwan.

The twin-engine turboprop plane crashed while making a second landing attempt with a total of 58 passengers and crew members aboard, according to Yeh.

President Ma Ying-jeou called it “a very sad day in the history of Taiwanese aviation” and ordered authorities to quickly clarify the details, said a spokesman for his office, Ma Wei-kuo, the news agency reported.

The plane crashed in the village of Xixi outside the airport. Photos in local media showed firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness, and buildings and cars damaged by debris.

About 200 military personnel were sent to help recover the people who were on the plane, Taiwanese Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said, according to the Central News Agency.

The ministry said military vehicles and ambulances were rushing people to hospitals and an air force rescue team was on standby to transfer survivors to Taiwan’s main island if needed for treatment, the agency reported.

The flight left Kaohsiung at 4:53 p.m. for Magong on Penghu, according to the head of Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration, Jean Shen. The plane lost contact with the tower at 7:06 p.m. after saying it would make a second landing attempt.

Visibility as the plane approached was 1,600 meters (one mile), which met standards for landing, and two flights had landed before GE222, one at 5:34 p.m. and the other at 6:57 p.m., the aviation agency reported. Shen said the plane was 14 years old.

But the Central News Agency, citing the county fire department, said it appeared heavy rain reduced visibility and the pilot was forced to pull up and make the second landing attempt. The news agency had earlier quoted a local fire chief as saying 51 people had been killed.

Taiwan was battered by Typhoon Matmo overnight Tuesday, and the Central Weather Bureau warned of heavy rain Wednesday evening, even after the center of the storm had moved west to mainland China.

TransAsia Airways’ general manager, Hsu Yi-Tsung, bowed deeply before reporters and tearfully apologized for the accident, the Central News Agency said.

Hsu said the carrier was arranging to take the relatives of passengers on the flight to Magong on Thursday morning and that it would spare no effort in the rescue and in handling the aftermath, the report said.

Taiwan’s last major aviation disaster also was near Penghu. A China Airlines Boeing 747 broke apart in midair in 2002 and crashed into the Taiwan Strait, killing all 225 people aboard.

In October 2013, a Lao Airlines ATR-72 crashed during a heavy storm as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos, killing all 49 people on board.

TIME

U.N. Rights Chief: Strong Possibility of Gaza Crimes

(GENEVA) — The U.N.’s top human rights official warned all sides in the two-week war in the Gaza Strip to not indiscriminately attack civilians, and that violations may amount to war crimes.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Wednesday that around three-quarters of the 650 Palestinians and around 30 Israelis killed in the conflict were civilians, and thousands more have been injured. The toll, she said, includes 147 children killed in Gaza over the past 16 days.

Pillay noted an Israeli drone missile strike in Gaza City that killed three children and wounded two others while they were playing on the roof of their home. She also referenced an Israeli strike and naval shelling that struck seven children playing on Gaza beach, killing four from the same family.

“These are just a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” Pillay told the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council, which was convened by China and Russia, among others. “Every one of these incidents must be properly and independently investigated.”

Israel launched its operation in Gaza on July 8 in response to heavy rocket fire out of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The fighting escalated last week with an Israeli ground offensive.

Pillay also warned that Hamas and others were violating international law.

“Israeli children, and their parents and other civilians, also have a right to live without the constant fear that a rocket fired from Gaza may land on their houses or their schools, killing or injuring them,” Pillay said.

“Once again, the principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed during such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups,” she added.

Pillay said not abiding by those principles could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

TIME Ukraine

2 Ukrainian Military Fighter Jets Shot Down

(KIEV, Ukraine) — Two Ukrainian military fighter jets have been shot down in the east, according to the country’s Defense Ministry.

The Sukhoi-25 fighters were shot down 1:30 p.m. local time Wednesday over an area called Savur Mogila.

Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky says the planes may have been carrying up to two crew members each.

TIME Ukraine

Bodies of Malaysia Jet Victims Leave Ukraine

A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Brendan Hoffman—Getty Images

(KHARKIV, Ukraine) — Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, while British investigators began work on a pair of “black boxes” to retrieve data on the flight’s last minutes.

Pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets, Kiev’s defense ministry said, as fighting flared again in the east.

The Dutch government declared a day of national mourning as the country prepared for the arrival of the first bodies in the afternoon. The crash on Thursday killed all 298 people — most of them Dutch citizens — aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Ukraine and western nations are pressing the pro-Russian rebels who control the crash site to allow an unfettered an investigation, something Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would use his influence to achieve. Though confident that a missile brought down the aircraft, U.S. officials say Russia’s role remains unclear.

Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch said Wednesday that Dutch authorities had delivered the plane’s voice and data recorders to the agency’s base at Farnborough, southern England, where information will be downloaded. Experts will also check for signs of tampering.

Two military transport planes, one Dutch and one Australian, departed Ukraine at midday, heading for Eindhoven air base where the flights will be met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and hundreds of relatives.

For one grieving mother, the arrival of the bodies marked a new stage of mourning and brought to an end the pain of seeing television images of victims lying in the undulating fields or in body bags being loaded into a train.

“If I have to wait five months for identification, I can do it,” Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son, Bryce, and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died in the crash, said before setting off for Eindhoven. “Waiting while the bodies were in the field and in the train was a nightmare.”

Dutch government spokesman Lodewijk Hekking said about 60 coffins were expected, but the number wasn’t immediately confirmed.

There was confusion as well about how many of the 282 corpses which the rebels said they have found were on the train which arrived in Kharkiv, a government-controlled city, on Tuesday.

Jan Tuinder, the Dutch official in charge of the international team dealing with the dead, said that at least 200 bodies were aboard the train and that more remains could be found once the body bags are examined fully.

The Dutch Safety Board announced that it will lead an international team of 24 investigators, and said unhindered access to the crash site — controlled by pro-Russian separatists — is critical.

“At the moment, there are no guarantees for the investigators’ safety” at the scene, the board said, adding that it “and other parties” are working to get access to the site and to secure it.

Rebel leader Pavel Gubarev wrote on his Facebook page that his men had retreated Wednesday from the villages of Chervona Zorya and Kozhevnya, which are on the Russian border about 45 kilometers (30 miles) from the scene of the crash. Gubarev said 30 rebels had been injured.

Wreckage of the Boeing 777 fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been battling the Kiev government since April. U.S. officials say the plane was probably shot down by a missile, most likely by accident.

The European Union on Tuesday imposed sanctions against more Russian individuals but refrained from targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy while waiting for clearer evidence of Moscow’s role in the disaster.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led crash, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.

The officials, who briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used, said the plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The officials cited intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

TIME Israel

Kerry Cites Progress in Gaza Cease-Fire Talks

Israeli soldiers stand near their tank while smoke due to airstrikes and shelling rises from Gaza on July 22, 2014 near Sderot, Israel.
Israeli soldiers stand near their tank while smoke due to airstrikes and shelling rises from Gaza on July 22, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

(JERUSALEM) — Offering the first glimmer of hope for a Gaza cease-fire, the United States on Wednesday said negotiations to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas militants are making some progress even if an end to more than two weeks of bloodshed is nowhere near.

“We certainly have made steps forward,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Jerusalem, where he was meeting for the second time this week with United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. “There’s still work to be done.”

He did not offer any specifics about the progress he cited in his third day of talks with Mideast leaders. He was in Jerusalem shortly after landing in Tel Aviv on an Air Force jet — one day after the FAA banned commercial flights into Ben-Gurion Airport because of a Hamas rocket attack nearby.

The U.S., Israel and the European Union all consider Hamas a terrorist organization. But the U.N. does not, and Ban said he and Kerry were jointly lobbying officials in the region to push Hamas and Israel to a cease-fire as soon as possible.

“We don’t have much time to wait and lose,” Ban told reporters before the meeting with Kerry. Neither Ban nor Kerry answered media questions during their brief remarks.

Kerry also offered “profound gratitude” to what he described as 30,000 Israelis who spontaneously lined Jerusalem streets on Wednesday for the funeral procession of Israeli soldier Max Steinberg, a 24-year-old American citizen who grew up in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley and was killed in the fighting. “That’s a remarkable statement — we’re very grateful,” Kerry said.

Kerry also planned to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during what appeared to be a crucial day in the talks. U.S. officials have downplayed expectations for an immediate, lasting truce between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza.

At the least, Kerry’s mission Wednesday sought to define the limits of what each side would accept in a potential cease-fire.

The FAA was going to reassess its ban on Ben-Gurion — which the State Department said does not apply to military aircraft — by midday Wednesday in Washington. The European Aviation Safety Agency also issued an advisory saying it “strongly recommends” airlines avoid the airport. Israeli officials said the precautionary U.S. step was unnecessary and “gave terror a prize” by reacting to Hamas’ threats. It also prompted a complaint to Kerry by Netanyahu.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “The FAA is in close touch with Israel (and) continues to monitor and evaluate the situation.”

More than 630 Palestinians and about 30 Israelis have been killed in the violence. Israel says its troops have killed hundreds of Hamas gunmen, while Gaza officials say the vast majority have been civilians, many of them children.

Israel and the U.S. back an unconditional cease-fire proposal that has been offered by Egypt, which would be followed by talks on a possible new border arrangement for Gaza. Israel and Egypt have severely restricted movement in and out of Gaza since Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

But Hamas has rejected repeated Egyptian truce proposals. The militant group, with backing from its allies Qatar and Turkey, says it wants guarantees on lifting the blockade before halting its fire. In addition to discussions with Egypt officials, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Kerry spoke several times Tuesday from Cairo with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiya.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu said the international community must hold Hamas accountable for the latest round of violence, saying its refusal to agree to a cease-fire had prevented an earlier end to the fighting. He has long accused Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, of not wanting a two-state solution.

Egypt has also been negotiating with some Hamas officials, but relations between the two sides have been strained since Egypt outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, which has ties to Hamas, after last year’s overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi.

At least some diplomats also see cease-fire negotiations as an opportunity to revitalize stalled peace talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities that were personally shepherded by Kerry but broke off last April following nearly nine months of frustrated attempts. Both Ban and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri have pushed for broader talks than the cease-fire negotiations, and Shukri on Tuesday specifically called for action “to set in motion once again the peace process that Secretary Kerry has been so actively involved in so as to end this ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

It’s unlikely that Washington is ready to wade back into the morass of peace negotiations that broke off last April after nearly nine months of shuttle diplomacy by Kerry. But the new round of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants who control Gaza has reached the level of violence that U.S. officials warned last spring would happen without an enduring truce.

Kerry has stopped short of advocating a new round of peace talks. Still, he has left the door open for broad negotiations between Israel and Palestinian officials once a cease-fire is in place.

Israel launched a massive air campaign on July 8 to stop relentless Hamas rocket fire into Israel, and expanded it last week to a ground war aimed at destroying tunnels the military says Hamas has constructed from Gaza into Israel for attacks against Israelis. Israel has struck almost 3,000 sites in Gaza, killed more than 180 armed Palestinians and uncovered 66 access shafts of 23 tunnels, its military said.

TIME Crime

Man Charged in Oklahoma With Child Abuse in Kenya

The accused's attorney said on Tuesday the affidavit is riddled with inaccuracies and that his client is innocent

(OKLAHOMA CITY) — An Oklahoma man has been charged with sexually abusing boys and girls while volunteering at an organization in Kenya that assists neglected children.

Matthew Lane Durham, of Edmond, is accused of engaging in sex acts with as many as ten children aged from 4 to 10 years while volunteering at Upendo Children’s Home in Nairobi from April to June 2014.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Oklahoma last week says the 19-year-old Durham has volunteered with Upendo since June 2012.

Durham wrote and signed a confession that an Upendo official provided to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, according to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Scott Lobb.

In it, he admitted to sexually abusing boys and girls in a bathroom at the children’s home. At least one of the victims is HIV positive, according to the affidavit.

During previous visits, Durham lived with sponsor families in Nairobi, but for his most recent trip he requested to stay at the children’s home in an “overflow bunk,” Lobb wrote.

A live-in caretaker at the children’s home became suspicious of Durham’s behavior and inquired with the children, who told her about the abuse, the affidavit states. The caretaker then reported the allegations to Upendo officials, who obtained a confession from Durham, confiscated his passport and notified local police, Lobb wrote.

Durham’s attorney Stephen Jones said Tuesday the affidavit is riddled with inaccuracies and that his client is innocent.

“The FBI affidavit is based upon second-hand, or in some cases third-hand, hearsay,” Jones said.

Jones said Durham’s “alleged confession” was elicited by Upendo employees through “a bizarre combination of Kenyan tribal actions, pseudo-psychology, law enforcement techniques and religious zealotry.”

Durham returned to the U.S. last month. He was arrested Thursday in Edmond and is currently being held at the Logan County jail, according to the U.S. Marshal’s Office. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 1.

A statement from Upendo Kids International Director Eunice Menja said the Edmond-based company is cooperating with authorities, but declined further comment.

Durham faces four counts: traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct; engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places; attempt and conspiracy; and aggravated sexual abuse with children. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

TIME U.K.

Racehorse Owned by Britain’s Queen Fails Dope Test

Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne
Queen Elizabeth II, with Princess Anne, greet her horse Estimate on June 20, 2013 Alastair Grant—AP

Buckingham Palace said early indications suggest that Estimate consumed morphine as a result of contaminated feed

(LONDON) — A racehorse owned by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II that won the prestigious Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last year has tested positive for the banned painkiller, morphine.

The British Horseracing Authority announced last week that tests on five horses under the care of various trainers showed the presence of morphine in their ‘A’ samples.

On Tuesday, the queen’s bloodstock and racing adviser, John Warren, said that the monarch’s five-year-old filly Estimate was one of the five.

Buckingham Palace said that early indications suggest that Estimate consumed the substance as a result of contaminated feed.

Warren said in a statement that Estimate’s trainer Michael Stoute “is working closely with the feed company involved to discover how the product may have become contaminated prior to delivery to his stables.”

Estimate finished second in this year’s Gold Cup behind Leading Light.

Warren added: “Her Majesty has been informed of the situation.”

Previously, Britain’s most publicized case of a horse testing positive for morphine was Be My Royal after he had won the 2002 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. The horse was subsequently disqualified.

TIME georgia

Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Faking Allergy Tests

(ATLANTA) — The owner of an allergy-testing laboratory near Atlanta has pleaded guilty to faking the results of blood tests for food and environmental allergies.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release Tuesday that 39-year-old Rashaan Jackson Garth pleaded guilty to health-care fraud charges.

Prosecutors say Garth told a technician to not test blood samples that doctors sent to the Polaris Allergy Labs between September 2012 and February 2014. The lab is located in East Point, a city just south of Atlanta.

Prosecutors say Garth was trying to save money by faking the results that were sent back to patients’ doctors. They say Garth billed the patients’ health-care benefit programs despite failing to perform services he charged for.

The news release said no date has been set for Garth’s sentencing.

TIME Washington

Last Body Found in Washington Mudslide

(EVERETT, Wash.) — Search and rescue personnel believe they have found the last body from the March 22 mudslide that killed 43 people in Oso, Washington.

Although the search for victims ended in April, workers have been screening debris and watching for the body of 44-year-old Molly Kristine “Kris” Regelbrugge (reg-el-BREW’-gee).

Her husband, Navy Cmdr. John Regelbrugge III, also was killed in the slide that hit their home. His body was one of the 42 recovered earlier.

The Snohomish County sheriff’s office was expected to release details at a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Everett.

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