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Wednesday, Jul 30th

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Fire teams battle two fast-moving California blazes

Fires in CaliforniaFire crews are battling two fast-moving wildfires in California that threatened many homes and forced hundreds of evacuations, officials said.

A fire in the Sacramento region had mushroomed to about 4,000 acres by late Saturday, while a blaze that began in the afternoon around Yosemite National Park threatened a small community.

The so-called Sand Fire began Friday in the Sierra Nevada foothills and has since raced through more than 6 square miles of drought-stricken grasslands east of Sacramento.

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U.S. releases images showing Russia firing into Ukraine

Photos: Russia fires into UkraineThe United States released a series of satellite images Sunday that appear to support its claims that Russian forces have fired across the border into Ukraine to support rebels there, suggesting a new level of direct Russian involvement in the conflict.

The images show artillery and rocket-blast signatures inside Russia and craters formed by the artillery strikes in Ukraine.

Washington has accused Russia of arming, training and financing separatists in Ukraine.

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Washington D.C. handgun ban ruled unconstitutional, again

DC hand gun lawWashington D.C. residents can now legally carry handguns in the streets of the District, according to a federal judge.

In his ruling, Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. wrote that the current D.C. ban on carrying handguns outside the home was "unconstitutional."

Second Amendment advocates now have another legal victory. And both Washington D.C. and Chicago have lost another round in their decades-old legal battles to ban guns from their cities.

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New York Times editor: Pot prohibition 'unacceptable'

andrew rosenthalNew York Times Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal on Sunday defended the paper's call for ending the federal prohibition on marijuana, saying the ban's cost to the country is "absolutely unacceptable."

“We’re not urging people to smoke pot anymore than we are for them to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes," he said during an interview on ABC's "This Week." "It’s just that making it illegal was creating a social cost for the country that was absolutely unacceptable.”

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Ebola now taking toll on doctors and other health care workers

Ebola kills doctorAn Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in Africa is now taking a toll on doctors and health care workers battling the deadly disease.

A government official in Liberia said Sunday that one of that country's highest-profile doctors has died in what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls the largest recorded outbreak of the disease.

An American doctor who has been working in Liberia since October 2013 for the North Carolina-based aid organization Samaritan's Purse is receiving intensive medical treatment after he was infected with Ebola, according to a spokeswoman for the organization.

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HIV/AIDS has migrated to Deep South, where stigma endures

HIV in AlabamaDr. Laurie Dill pointed to a large map in the hallway of Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama (MAO). It showed the number of people in each county living with HIV or AIDS in 2010. Where the counties pulsed red is the new, rural heart of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Dill pointed to a belt of deep red that cut across Alabama. “That's the Selma to Montgomery march,” she said. “Plus Tuskegee.”

Today the famous route where Martin Luther King Jr. led a civil rights pilgrimage in 1965 runs through a land in the midst of an HIV epidemic.

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Two U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Us soldiers killedTwo U.S. Army soldiers were killed Thursday in Afghanistan, and one died in San Antonio from an illness he contracted in Ghanzi province.

Staff Sgt. Benjamin G. Prange, 30, and Pfc. Keith M. Williams, 19, died Thursday from an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province, the U.S. Department of Defense said.

Prange was from Hickman, Neb., and Williams was from Visalia, Calif.

Both were of the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson in Colorado.

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Detroit not alone in shutting off water for unpaid bills

Cutting off waterDetroit has drawn fire from all over the world for shutting off water to customers delinquent on their bills, but the city isn't unique. Cities across the country do it also.

In Michigan, Hamtramck, Warren, Pontiac, Eastpointe, Romulus and other cities have shut off delinquent customers as a way to improve collections. Elsewhere, so have other big cities such as Baltimore and St. Louis.

"It's universal in the utility world that at some point, you have to shut off service as part of your larger commitment to the community," said Tom Curtis, deputy executive director of the American Water Works Association, a nonprofit group with more than 50,000 members who work in the industry.

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EPA fails to address methane leaks from gas pipelines -watchdog

methane leaking from pipelinesThe internal watchdog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday that the regulator does not adequately address methane leaks from natural gas pipelines, harming both the economy and environment.

The EPA Inspector General said the agency's current voluntary program to address methane leaks from pipelines has yielded only minimal reductions of the potent greenhouse gas.

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