AP News Summary at 7:08 a.m. EDT | National

Israel and Gaza militants exchange fire after deadly strikes

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli jets pounded militant targets in Gaza as rockets rained on southern Israel, hours after a wave of Israeli airstrikes on the coastal enclave killed at least 11 people, including a senior militant and a 5-year-old girl. The fighting began with Israel’s dramatic targeted killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad continued into the morning Saturday, drawing the sides closer to an all-out war. But the territory’s Hamas rulers appeared to stay on the sidelines of the conflict, keeping its intensity somewhat contained, for now. Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years.

EXPLAINER: What is driving the current Israel-Gaza violence

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip are exchanging fire in the worst bout of cross-border violence since an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas last year. Israeli airstrikes killed 11 people, including a senior commander from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed militant group, in a targeted strike. That came following the arrest this week of another senior Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank in what’s been a monthslong Israeli operation to round up Palestinians suspected of attacks. Militants have fired dozens of rockets at Israeli cities and towns.

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Ukraine grain shipments offer hope, not fix to food crisis

BEIRUT (AP) — A ship bringing corn to Lebanon is offering hope after becoming the first to depart a Ukrainian Black Sea port since Russia invaded. The war has threatened food supplies in countries like Lebanon, which has the world’s highest rate of food inflation and depends on the Black Sea region for nearly all of its wheat. The shipment is a key first step to get food trapped in Ukraine to Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia where people are going hungry. But the small scale means the initial shipments won’t draw down food prices or ease a global food crisis soon. Experts also say most of the trapped grain is for animal feed, not for people to eat.

EXPLAINER: On China, US and climate, action, not talk is key

China has cut off climate talks with the U.S. — imperiling future global climate negotiations, but not necessarily blunting the impacts of significant climate actions at home in both countries. The move from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs came Friday in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, along with cancellations in strategic and military talks. The move came less than three months before the next key international climate summit in November. Meanwhile, the U.S. is poised to pass its most ambitious ever clean-energy legislation later this year. Experts say that could influence China’s future climate actions more than any negotiations.

Progressive and centrist Dems battle for Vermont House seat

STOWE, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint are the leading candidates in a Democratic U.S. House primary that could make either of them the first female member of the state’s congressional delegation. Gray has the backing of the centrist lane of the party, with endorsements from two former governors and a campaign donation from retiring U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. Balint has been endorsed by an all-star list of progressive leaders, including the state’s other U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, and the founders of Vermont’s famously progressive ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s. The winner of Tuesday’s primary is expected to cruise to victory in November in deep-blue Vermont.

Indiana becomes 1st state to approve abortion ban post Roe

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana has become the first state in the nation to pass new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade. Indiana lawmakers on Friday approved the near-total abortion ban with some exceptions, including in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb immediately signed the bill. Indiana was among the first Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling that removed constitutional protections for the procedure.

Ukrainian unit digs in for Russian assault on eastern city

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian military personnel are fortifying their positions around the eastern city of Sloviansk in expectation of a fresh Russian attempt to seize the strategic point in the fiercely fought-over Donetsk region. As heavy ground fighting continues on the front line only miles to the east, southeast and north of Sloviansk, members of the Dnipro-1 Regiment are digging in after a week of relative calm. The last Russian strike on the city occurred on July 30. While the lull provided Sloviansk’s remaining residents a reprieve after regular shellings between April and July, some unit members say it could be a prelude to renewed attacks.

Blinken: China should not hold global concerns ‘hostage’

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says China should not hold talks on important global matters such as the climate crisis “hostage,” after Beijing cut off contacts with Washington in retaliation for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week. Blinken also said in a news conference Saturday in Manila that the U.S. aims to deescalate tensions, which have flared after China launched war drills just off Taiwan and took other retaliatory steps. Pelosi’s trip to the self-governed island outraged China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary. Blinken says China’s shutting down cooperation on climate change “doesn’t punish the United States — it punishes the world.”

Alex Jones ordered to pay $45.2M more over Sandy Hook lies

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas jury has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, adding to the $4.1 million he has to pay for the suffering he put them through by claiming for years that the nation’s deadliest school shooting was a hoax. The parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis say they were tormented by the Infowars host’s false claims that the worst classroom shooting in U.S. history was orchestrated by the government to tighten gun laws. The total of nearly $50 million marks the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

Taiwan says China military drills appear to simulate attack

BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan says China’s military drills appear to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island after Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said Saturday that its armed forces issued an alert, dispatched air and naval patrols around the island and activated land-based missile systems in response to the situation. Taiwan’s army also detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the vicinity of the offshore county of Kinmen close to mainland China and responded with warning flares. Pelosi’s trip to Taipei infuriated Beijing, which cut defense and climate talks with the U.S. Taiwan also reported massive cyberattacks on its official websites.

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