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World briefly for July 19
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BEIRUT (AP) — Anti-regime activists say government forces are shelling a number of neighborhoods in and around the capital Damascus a day after a bomb killed three members of President Bashar Assad's inner circle.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported shelling in number of areas Thursday. It says residents are fleeing parts of the Mezzeh neighborhood after troops surrounded it and clashed with local rebels.

The group says rebels damaged one helicopter and disabled three military vehicles.

Wednesday's bombing targeted a high-level crisis meeting, killing the defense minister, his deputy, who is Assad's brother-in-law, and a former defense minister. Other officials were wounded.

The whereabouts of Assad, his wife and his three young children remain unknown.


UN to vote Thursday on new Syria resolution but Russia and West remain at odds

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council scheduled a vote Thursday on a new Syria resolution after a last-minute delay failed to get key Western nations and Russia to agree on measures to end the dramatically escalating violence — but both sides remained deeply divided.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said his country's Western-backed text would be put to a vote at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) on Thursday. It threatens non-military sanctions against President Bashar Assad's government if he doesn't withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days and is tied to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict.

Russia, which is a close Syrian ally, has said it will veto any Chapter 7 resolution.

In Moscow on Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed to Wednesday's deadly bombing in the heart of Damascus that killed the defense minister and his deputy, Assad's powerful brother-in-law, and accused the West of inciting the Syrian opposition.

Russia is vehemently opposed to sanctions and any mention of Chapter 7 and Lavrov argued that the British text amounted to support for the rebels and would lead to more bloodshed.


Bulgaria: Israeli tourist bus bombing most likely a suicide attack; Israel vows to hit back

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A brazen daytime bombing that killed seven people and injured dozens on a bus full of Israeli tourists was most likely a suicide attack, Bulgarian officials said Thursday. Israel stood by its claim that Iranian-backed Hezbollah was responsible and vowed to hit back.

The identity of the suspected bomber was still unknown but a Michigan driving license that he carried was a fake, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said.

"We worked on this with colleagues from the FBI and the CIA," Borisov said. "They said that there is no such person in their database."

The suspected bomber appeared on security camera tape for nearly an hour before the Wednesday attack, which gutted the bus at the airport in the quiet Black Sea resort of Burgas, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of the capital, Sofia.

Borisov said he wants a photo of the suspect taken from the tape released and that a DNA expert is checking the suspect's fingerprints.


Teens who lost loved ones to terrorism around the world come together at Mass. summer camp

NEWBURY, Mass. (AP) — On a windowsill at a Massachusetts boarding school, a white candle burned in memory of a man who died half a world away in Argentina.

The man's daughter, Astrid Malamud, was a toddler when it happened.

On Wednesday, 18 years later, Malamud, who barely remembers her father's face, was far from home as she marked the anniversary of his death in their homeland's bloodiest-ever terrorist attack. But the 20-year-old Argentine university student was still close to people who understood her loss.

Beside Malamud's candle, a second wick burned to commemorate another of the 85 victims of the July 18, 1994, bombing at the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires. That man's daughter also was nearby, as were more than 70 other teenagers and young adults who lost family members to terrorism.

They came from the United States and 15 other countries, gathering at Governor's Academy, about 30 miles north of Boston, for a summer camp known as Project Common Bond. The program, now in its fifth year, is part of the New York-based nonprofit Tuesday's Children, which helps families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


Judge to decide whether Latinos are racially profiled in Ariz. sheriff's immigration patrols

PHOENIX (AP) — For six years, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America has vehemently denied allegations that his deputies racially profile Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols.

Joe Arpaio would dismiss his critics in his signature brash style at countless news conferences and in numerous appearances on television.

Now, the sheriff in Arizona's most populous county will have to convince a federal judge who is presiding over a lawsuit that heads to trial on Thursday and is expected to last until early August.

The plaintiffs say Arpaio's officers based some traffic stops on the race of Hispanics who were in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.

"He is not free to say whatever he wants," said Dan Pochoda, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, one of the groups that has pushed the lawsuit against Arpaio.


More than 3 million older Americans risk losing homes, minorities hit hardest

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 1.5 million older Americans already have lost their homes, with millions more at risk as the national housing crisis takes its toll on those who are among the worst positioned to weather the storm, a new AARP report says.

Older African Americans and Hispanics are the hardest hit.

"The Great Recession has been brutal for many older Americans," said Debra Whitman, AARP's policy chief. "This shows that home ownership doesn't guarantee financial security later in life."

Even working two jobs hasn't been enough to allow Jewel Lewis-Hall, 57, to make her monthly mortgage payments on time. Her husband has made little money since being laid off from his job at a farmer's market, and Lewis-Hall said her salary as a school cook falls short of what she needs to make the payments on her home in Washington.

Lewis-Hall and her husband have been making their payments late for about a year, but panic didn't set in until recently, when the word "foreclosure" showed up in a letter from the bank.


With quixotic bills, Congress can't resist allure of the presidential race

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is spending this week debating, and summarily rejecting, Democratic-written bills to disclose the names of people who give more than $10,000 to help elect people such as, say, Mitt Romney, and to take away tax breaks from companies taken over by people such as, say, Mitt Romney, who move operations overseas.

Their latest effort, unveiled Wednesday, would make candidates for federal office, like, say, Mitt Romney, disclose any of their financial holdings in offshore tax havens, such as Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.

Senate Democrats certainly aren't alone in devoting congressional workdays to bills attacking the other party's presidential candidate.

House Republicans last week voted to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Next week, they plan to vote on freezing all of former President George W. Bush's tax cuts for another year, including those on the top 2 percent, whom Obama says should pay more. On Wednesday, the House passed a GOP bill ordering Obama to specify how many thousands of defense workers will lose their jobs if the deficit-cutting deal he and Republicans negotiated a year ago stands.

Congress is just two weeks away from a five-week August recess, with plenty of critical issues hanging over the Capitol. But neither party seems able to resist the allure of presidential politics. As tourists crowd the galleries to escape a record heat wave, lawmakers in both parties bash their opponents and push quixotic bills even as they complain about key work not being done.


Hezbollah squeezed by Syria uprising, Sunni ascendency across region

SIDON, Lebanon (AP) — On a main road connecting the Lebanese capital with the south, Sheik Ahmad Assir kneels under a blazing sun to pray and then sits down with supporters at his anti-Hezbollah protest camp and launches into a new tirade against Lebanon's most powerful and well-armed force.

"By God, Nasrallah, I will not let you sleep at night," he vows in a fiery speech, addressing Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

Few in Lebanon have dared take on the Shiite militant group in such a public way, but Assir, a hardline Sunni cleric, senses weakness. He sees a chance to push back against Hezbollah's domination of the country's politics.

The growing popularity among some Sunnis of the previously little known local cleric is a sign of how vulnerable Hezbollah has become as it faces the possibility of the downfall of its crucial ally, President Bashar Assad in Syria. Its reputation as a popular resistance movement has already taken a severe beating for siding with Syria against the anti-Assad uprising even after it supported Arab revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Bahrain.

"This is the start of what will become Lebanon's Tahrir Square," Assir, wearing a long robe and white skullcap, told The Associated Press at his protest site, where some 150 Sunni conservative supporters have been camped out for some three weeks. "They have humiliated us for long enough. It's about our dignity now. I can't live like this, it's enough."


Rockets win in grab for Lin; now Houston braces for Linsanity

HOUSTON (AP) — Jeremy Lin is starting over in Houston. He will have to explain why he said he would have rather stayed in New York.

The 23-year-old undrafted point guard out of Harvard is scheduled to meet the Houston media on Thursday, two days after the Knicks opted not to match the Rockets' bold three-year, $25 million offer sheet.

Shortly after the deal became official on Tuesday night, reported that Lin had acknowledged in an interview, "Honestly, I preferred New York. But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me."

The Rockets certainly did.

"They made a very compelling pitch in terms of what I could bring to the team and for the city," Lin said in a statement released through the team on Wednesday. "I am also impressed with (Houston owner Leslie) Alexander and the management's commitment to improving the team."


'Mad Men' seeks Emmy bid that could lead to a record; will 'New Girl,' 'Girls,' hit big?

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Mad Men" is making a bid for Emmy history, while a couple of fresh-faced girls are flirting with possible first-time nods at the 64th annual Primetime Emmy nominations.

"Mad Men," AMC's saga of ad exec Don Draper and 1960s America, has won four best drama series trophies to tie with "Hill Street Blues," ''L.A. Law" and "The West Wing." A fifth nomination at Thursday morning's announcement ceremony would give it a shot at the record.

Newcomers "Girls" and "New Girl" are vying for honors in the comedy series categories.

The nominations by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences were to be announced by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and Kerry Washington of "Scandal."

Kimmel, who will host the Sept. 23 Emmy ceremony on ABC, is stepping in for Nick Offerman of "Parks and Recreation," who was delayed on the East Coast by weather problems.

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