PHILIPPINES-ABU SAYYAF ATTACK
MANILA, Philippines -- Abu Sayyaf gunmen kill at least 17 villagers, including women and children, in a road attack as the civilians traveled in two vans to visit relatives and celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in the southern Philippines. The brazen attack on the civilians, one of the bloodiest by the Abu Sayyaf in recent years, also wounded about a dozen other villagers. SENT: 350 words.
BEIJING -- China says it has set up alternative flight routes to minimize delays related to military exercises along its southeastern coast that start Tuesday. A Defense Ministry statement said the exercises were part of regularly scheduled drills aiming to improve the military's ability to operate under simulated war conditions. SENT: 130 words.
HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) -- A 12-year-old girl was killed and seven people, including two other girls, were wounded in a roadside bomb attack near an army base in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south. Suspected insurgents detonated an improvised radio-controlled bomb near an army base in Pattani province's Sai Buri district, as a group of soldiers were finishing their guard duty at a mosque and returning to the base on Sunday night, police say. SENT: 190 words.
BEIJING -- Hundreds of police use a crane to tear down the cross from atop a church in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou -- known as "China's Jerusalem" for its high number of churches -- amid a crackdown on church buildings in a coastal region where thousands of people are embracing Christianity. SENT: 330 words, will be updated. Story is included in longer piece below.
-- CHINA-TOPPLING CROSSES. WUXI VILLAGE, China -- The battle started when a government-hired crew tore down the metal cross atop the one-room church in this village surrounded by rice paddies last month. The next day, a church member used his own welding torch to put it back. He was promptly detained and questioned for 10 hours. A week later, the crew came back to remove the cross. Once again, church members put it back up. Across Zhejiang province authorities have toppled or threatened to topple crosses at more than 130 Protestant churches. In a few cases, the government has even razed sanctuaries. Authorities say the church violate building codes, but experts and local church leaders believe there is a campaign to repress Christianity, which is growing so rapidly as to alarm the atheist Communist government. By Didi Tang. SENT: 1,500 words, photos. Story incorporates above spot story material.
BEIJING -- Sohu.com Inc., operator of a popular Chinese Internet portal, says it lost $45 million in the latest quarter while revenue rose 18 percent to $400 million. The loss for the three months ended June 30 compared with a $69 million loss in the previous quarter and an operating profit of $64 million in the same period of 2013. SENT: 210 words.
JERUSALEM -- Israel and Hamas lower the pace of the fighting in the three-week-old Gaza war as international efforts intensify to end the conflict that has already killed 1,030 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers. The lull comes as the U.N. Security Council called for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire" in Gaza and President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to express concern over mounting Palestinian casualties. SENT: 130 words, will be updated.
MONROVIA, Liberia -- One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors dies of Ebola and an American physician is being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying to combat an outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa -- the largest ever recorded. A Ugandan doctor also has died. The American, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, who was in Liberia working for a North Carolina-based medical charity, was in stable condition, but "not out of the woods, a spokeswoman for the aid group says. By Jonathan Paye-Layleh. SENT: 544 words, photos. SENT: 750 words, photos.
DONETSK, Ukraine -- Ukrainian armed forces have mounted a major onslaught against pro-Russian separatist fighters in an attempt to gain control over the area where a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed earlier this month. Reports of the intensifying unrest have prompted a postponement of a trip to the site by a team of Dutch and Australian police officers that had planned to start searching for evidence and the remaining bodies. By Dmitry Lovetsky and Peter Leonard. SENT: 990 words, photos.
-- UNITED STATES-UKRAINE-EVIDENCE -- The United States releases satellite images that it says back up its claims that rockets have been fired from Russia into eastern Ukraine and heavy artillery for separatists has also crossed the border. SENT: 670 words, photos.
REINING IN RUSSIA
BRUSSELS -- Months after Russia annexed Crimea and stepped up support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe and the U.S. are still searching for an effective way to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course. Targeted economic sanctions and the threat of tougher ones have yet to alter what western officials say is Moscow's growing backing for the rebels. This includes the shelling of Ukrainian military targets in southeast Ukraine from inside Russian territory and alleged plans to boost weapons supplies. By Juergen Baetz and Matthew Lee. SENT: 900 words, photos.
-- RUSSIA-PUTIN'S LONG GAME-ANALYSIS -- AP Analysis: Putin likely to stay on offense in Ukraine in face of heavy pressure. SENT: 570 words, photos.
ATLANTA -- Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial Monday in south Georgia. By Kate Brumback. SENT: 700 words, photo.
SAN DIEGO -- Amid the costumes and fantasy of this weekend's Comic-Con convention, a group of young women drew widespread attention to a very real issue -- allegations of sexual harassment at the annual comic book convention. Yet what some regarded as blatant objectification continued at this year's Comic-Con. Scantily clad women were still used as decoration for some presentations, and costumed women were described as "vaguely slutty" by a panel moderator. By Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen. SENT: 650 words, photos.
TOUR DE FRANCE
PARIS -- Vincenzo Nibali wins the Tour de France, becoming the first Italian since Marco Pantani in 1998 to capture cycling's greatest race. In a sport with a long history of drug scandals, Nibali calls himself "a flag-bearer of anti-doping." He is only the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours -- France, Italy and Spain. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 960 words, photos.
HALL OF FAME
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, matching the largest class in the hall's 75 years. By John Kekis. UPCOMING: 800 words by 7:30 p.m., photos.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
-- LIBYA -- 38 killed as Libyan army forces loyal to renegade general battle Islamist militias in the east. SENT: 610 words, photos, video.
-- ALGERIA-PLANE -- Black boxes from the Air Algerie plane that crashed in northern Mali will be transferred to France for analysis as officials prepare for the process of identifying the remains of the dead. SENT: 400 words, photos.
-- ETHNIC COOKING-HEALTH -- Hundreds of blacks across the United States are participating in a program this summer to learn about cooking fresh foods and, hopefully, improve their health by returning to their ethnic roots with meals based on traditional African cuisine. SENT: 700 words, photos.
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