If Israel and Hamas can agree on one point, it seems, it's that things have to change.
That's why cease-fire efforts carried out by Egypt and backed by the West have until now failed, and it's why Israel has been compelled to roll the dice and launch a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip with a huge potential to turn ugly.
Now comes a pivotal question: With Hamas weakened by a regional realignment, will Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu up the ante by attempting to oust the Islamic militant group from power in the Palestinian territory? The risks would match the temptation — but if it can be done with minimal loss of life, Israelis, much of the region and most of the world would probably be with him.
Judging by Netanyahu's words Friday, escalation is on the table, but for now the goal remains the more modest yet frustratingly elusive one of ending the attacks from Gaza.
That's what Israelis want: after over a decade of intermittent rockets, their range increasing by the year and now covering much of their country, they're fed up. The Iron Dome air defense system is able to intercept most missiles, but the disruption and humiliation of the threat is simply too much.
For their part, many Gazans support what could be seen as a suicidal policy by Hamas because they are equally as fed up with the 7-year-old land, sea and air blockade of their territory, which began when Hamas seized power from the Palestinian Authority of West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas. Provoking Israel has brought ruin, to be sure, but perhaps it will also in the end bring change.
Where things go depends on Israel's success in destroying Hamas' offensive capabilities during the current and seemingly limited ground incursion.
As events unfold, here are some factors at play:
IT'S NOT JUST ROCKETS ANYMORE
Until recent days what agitated the Israelis was the rocket fire. But in justifying Thursday night's invasion officials focused on the tunnels Hamas has burrowed under Gaza's blockaded border with Israel. According to the military, dozens of highly developed, interconnected tunnels snake through Gaza, linking rocket launching sites to command and control positions and stretching deep into Israel. Earlier Thursday, Israel said it thwarted an attack by 13 militants who sneaked in through such a tunnel. The issue harkens back to a 2006 kidnapping of an Israeli soldier via a tunnel; Gilad Schalit was held captive for five years before Israel coughed up over 1,000 prisoners in a swap, an experience Israel would prefer to avoid. Destroying the tunnels could take weeks, but Israel seems determined. "There is a misunderstanding over how severe is the threat of the tunnels," said retired Gen. Gadi Shamni.
HAMAS WANTS A SEAT AT THE TABLE
Gaza has its own unique predicament: it is a distinct territory, a country in a sense, whose government is considered a terrorist group by much of the world. Violent and unbending even before, Hamas has acquired a martyr complex fueled by rejection and isolation. This was compounded when Israel furiously rejected last month's establishment, on paper at least, of a Palestinian "unity government" backed by both Hamas and Abbas' moderate Fatah party. Netanyahu cut Abbas off, even though the Palestinian leader insisted the new government was committed to peace, which could have easily been spun by all sides as a useful moderating of Hamas. Then came the Egyptian cease-fire plan, which felt like an imperious diktat. Hamas wants the respect that only a seat at the table can bestow, and a more genuine negotiation that opens up the vital Rafah border crossing with Egypt could do the trick. And down the pike lies a potentially elegant twist: If Israel accepts the unity government as part of a cease-fire deal, that could enable everyone to save face and for Abbas, now in charge of the border, to quietly reassert himself in the strip.
WILL EGYPT END THE BLOCKADE?
It's not exactly a "cycle of violence": Whereas Israel agreed to a straight-forward cease-fire Hamas has not. Why is the side getting pummeled also the one presenting conditions? Because ever since Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, others have been controlling what and who gets in and out. The blockade has caused much misery, given rise to massive smuggling scams, and lent the whole place the otherworldly aura of a giant prison. Against this Hamas knows it can stand firm, despite the ruination it brings on. But contrary to perception, Israel is not the main player in a realistic scenario to ease the problem. Israel controls the sea access west of the rectangular strip as well as the airspace, fearing the import of weapons that would be turned against it. Israel also blocks its own borders with Gaza on the strip's north and east, never forgetting the suicide bombers of years past. All this will stay as long as Hamas, dedicated openly to Israel's destruction, is in charge. That leaves the southern land border with Egypt and its crossing point at Rafah, which, if opened by Egypt, would effectively end the chokehold of the strip. But Egypt under new President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is no friend of Hamas, so efforts appear to be underway to put that border under the control of the Palestinian Authority. That would appeal to many by diluting Hamas' control of Gaza. The European Union may also play a role at the crossing, as it did before the Hamas takeover. Egyptian officials suggest they may be willing to go along.
BAD FENCES MAKE BAD MEDIATORS
Will such a deal be worked out? It doesn't help that the region is so badly divided. The failure of Egypt-led mediation efforts this week touches on a broader schism in the region, over the future of political Islam. El-Sissi's Egypt has led the charge against the Muslim Brotherhood group that decades ago spawned Hamas as its Palestinian offshoot: authorities are prosecuting the Brotherhood's leaders including deposed president Mohammed Morsi and have declared the whole organization a terrorist group, to the applause of Saudi Arabia and much of the Gulf as well as others. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri accused Hamas' regional allies, Turkey and Qatar, of sabotaging its mediation. Turkey has been critical of the mediation so far, saying any cease-fire deal must have guarantees of an end to the closure. Interesting, therefore, that Abbas has just visited Egypt and is headed to Turkey and Qatar next.
THE REGIME CHANGE TEMPTATION
Almost no one in Israel believes Hamas can change its spots, and few expect the group to be toppled from within or to run away from airstrikes. Yet the group does now seem weaker, key players like Egypt clearly wish it ill, and the world at large seems sympathetic to Israel's dilemma and appreciative of its acceptance of the Egyptian proposal. So already there are calls to exploit the aligning of the stars, enlarge the mission, push into Gaza City and uproot the militants for good. There are some problems with this scenario. Israel does not want to incur the likely military casualties that would accompany such a project. Israel also doesn't want the responsibility of occupying almost 2 million more Palestinians. Abbas would appear like a quisling if he had Israel capture the strip and hand it to him. And the civilian Palestinian casualty count, now above 270, could go through the roof, swiftly ending the world's uncomfortable, tentative acquiescence.
Associated Press writer Yousur Alhlou contributed to this story from Jerusalem.
Dan Perry has covered the Middle East since the 1990s and currently leads Associated Press' text coverage in the region. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/perry_dan.News Topics: General news, Territorial disputes, Militant groups, War and unrest, Blockades, Cease fires, Highway, bridge and tunnel operation, Government and politics, Transportation infrastructure, Transportation and shipping, Industrial products and services, Industries, Business
People, Places and Companies: Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, Gilad Shalit, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Mohamed Morsi, Palestinian territories, Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Gaza Strip, Turkey, Qatar, North Africa, Africa, Western Europe, Europe
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
NEW YORK (AP) — Nicolas Almagro has withdrawn from the U.S. Open.
The 27th-ranked Spaniard hasn't played since retiring from his first-round match at the French Open in May because of a left foot injury. Friday's announcement means he'll miss two straight major tournaments after pulling out of Wimbledon.
The 28-year-old Almagro's best finish at Flushing Meadows was reaching the round of 16 in 2012. He has made four Grand Slam quarterfinals in his career.News Topics: Sports, Men's tennis, Tennis, U.S. Open Tennis Championships, Men's sports, Events
People, Places and Companies: Nicolas Almagro
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Vietnam's U.N. ambassador says that three unidentified victims on the downed Malaysian airlines were Vietnamese.
Ambassador Le Hoai Trung told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the shooting down of the jet on Friday that he just learned the three victims were from his country.
Minutes earlier, Malaysia's U.N. Ambassador Hussein Haniff told the council that 298 people perished and gave the following breakdown of their nationalities: Netherlands (189), Malaysia (44), Australia (27), Indonesia (12), United Kingdom (9), Germany (4), Belgium (4), Philippines (3), Canada (1), New Zealand (1) and 4 passengers whose nationalities had not been verified.
President Barack Obama said Friday one American was on board.
Ambassadors from all countries with victims addressed the council, demanding an independent investigation.News Topics: General news, International relations, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Vietnam, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Ukraine, Asia, Eastern Europe, Europe
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising a full investigation into the death of a man who appeared to have been put in a choke hold when police officers tried to arrest him.
Part of Eric Garner's encounter with police was captured on amateur video. Police say the 43-year-old father of six went into cardiac arrest while he was being arrested in Staten Island on Thursday on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Video obtained by the New York Daily News shows an officer placing what appears to be a choke hold on the 6-foot-3, 350-pound (1.9-meter, 159-kilogram) Garner and several other officers pinning him against the sidewalk and struggling to put him in handcuffs.
Garner can be heard saying that he can't breathe before he apparently loses consciousness.News Topics: General news, Arrests, Law and order, Crime
People, Places and Companies: Bill de Blasio, New York City, New York, United States, North America
George Coetzee tapped in a putt on the 15th green for a third straight birdie at the British Open and glanced up at the leaderboard.
His name was right at the top.
Not a bad way to celebrate his 28th birthday.
"It was quite a good feeling to look at my name and be at the top of the leaderboard," said Coetzee, who was playing in front of his girlfriend and mother at what has always been his favorite major.
But taking a share of the second-round lead — at that stage, he was at 6 under with Rory McIlroy — proved to be his undoing on Friday.
The nerves kicked in, the drives went awry, the putts stopped dropping and Coetzee promptly bogeyed the next two holes. A birdie from 4 feet at the par-5 No. 18 still gave him a 3-under 69 and the clubhouse lead after the morning starters on 5 under overall.
"It's always going to be my birthday week (at the British Open)," the South African said. "It's nice to play well, obviously, in a very prestigious event. And to have my birthday coincide with it is also nice."
Like so many rising South African golfers, Coetzee cites compatriot Ernie Els as his idol.
But while two-time champion Els has struggled at Royal Liverpool and will miss the cut at 8 over, Coetzee has played through the toughest conditions on the first two days — the wind has been up on Thursday afternoon and on Friday morning — and come out smiling.
He also coped well in the wind on his British Open debut in 2011 at Royal St. George's, starting out with two 69s and ending with a 15th-place finish.
It's somewhat surprising for a guy who grew up playing on parkland courses.
"As a junior, I wasn't very good at the coast," Coetzee said. "Up until the age of 16, I never broke 80 at the coast. Never mind playing in links, I couldn't understand why the ball was going so short.
"But as the years went on, I tried to kind of teach myself how to play at the coast."
At No. 72, Coetzee is fifth-highest South African in the rankings. He claimed his first career win on the European Tour at the Joburg Open but missed the cut at three of his last four tournaments coming into the Open.
Coetzee will be in one of the later pairings for the third round on Saturday but his Friday night birthday celebrations were going to be low-key with his visiting family members.
"A couple of Cokes," he said.News Topics: Sports, British Open Golf, Men's golf, Golf, Events, Men's sports
People, Places and Companies: George Coetzee, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els
NEW YORK (AP) — The estate of Roy Lichtenstein has donated 21 of the pop artist's sketchbooks and two of his early drawings to the Morgan Library & Museum.
The New York City museum said Friday the works were a gift from Lichtenstein's wife, Dorothy.
Lichtenstein died in 1997.
The museum says the sketchbooks provide valuable insight into Lichtenstein's method and subjects.
It also is receiving 11 of the artist's remaining sketchbooks from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation on long-term loan.
Dorothy Lichtenstein also donated several original drawings by other artists from Lichtenstein's personal collection. They include works by Andy Warhol, Brice Marden and Robert Rauschenberg.
The drawings and some of the sketchbooks will be included in an exhibition at the Morgan in February.
The museum presented an exhibition of Lichtenstein's drawings in 2010.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Drawing, Museums, Visual arts, Philanthropy, Recreation and leisure, Lifestyle, Leisure travel, Travel, Social affairs
People, Places and Companies: Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, New York City, New York, United States, North America
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Almost four years after Venezuela enacted a law to bar the U.S. from funding groups frequently critical of the socialist government, millions of the American dollars the administration tried to ban still flow to these organizations, an analysis by The Associated Press shows. Much more U.S. support is under consideration.
The State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, a government-funded nonprofit organization, together budgeted about $7.6 million to support Venezuelan groups last year alone, according to public documents reviewed by AP.
That was 15 percent more than they collectively authorized in 2009, the year before then-President Hugo Chavez pushed Venezuela's Congress to ban such funding in the name of protecting the country's sovereignty from groups it views as the opposition.
In Washington, the Senate is considering a bill to boost State Department aid to pro-democracy groups in Venezuela from about $5 million to $15 million amid calls for a tougher line against Venezuela after current President Nicolas Maduro cracked down on anti-government protests. A similar version cleared by the House would maintain current funding levels.
It's unclear whether the government has been unable to enforce the law against such funding, or is simply uninterested. The sweeping 2010 ban on foreign donations subjects violators to fines of as much as twice all foreign money received, and bars them from running for public office. Foreigners in Venezuela who provide such aid can be deported.
Marino Alvarado, director of the centrist Venezuelan human rights group Provea, says the ban was passed to send an anti-imperialist message, but is politically impossible to enforce. Venezuela, which itself provides aid around the region, even in the U.S., would open itself to charges of hypocrisy if it took the extreme step of shutting down local organizations for taking foreign assistance, he said.
For eight years, the Chavez administration provided families in 25 U.S. states with heating oil during the cold winter months, according to Citgo Corp., an American subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Caracas provides Havana with an estimated $3.2 billion annually in cut-rate Venezuelan oil that is a lifeline for Cuba's ailing economy, and gives oil and natural gas on preferential terms to other countries including Nicaragua, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.
"The administration is stuck," Alvarado said.
Many groups continue to accept U.S. funds despite the law, but the ban has increased their sense of vulnerability, according to Luisa Torrealba, coordinator at Venezuela's Institute for Press and Society, which monitors government interference with journalists, and accepts U.S. funding.
"The situation makes us all fearful, and I sometimes think about other paths I could have taken," Torrealba said. "But the work is tremendously important. It's vital that we document what's happening so that the world knows."
The U.S. long has used international aid to promote its values, such as free speech and open markets, by strengthening civil society and institutions. It's unclear how the U.S. is deploying its millions in Venezuela. The National Endowment for Democracy, known as NED, now omits Venezuelan recipients' names from its annual reports, and the State Department since 2010 has not publicly named the Venezuelan partners which receive its pro-democracy funds.
NED spokeswoman Jane Riley Jacobsen said the agency withholds recipient names because of an "atmosphere of severe intimidation, including threats of physical violence, hate campaigns on state-controlled media, and legal reprisals."
Venezuela's National Assembly approved the ban on foreign assistance after revelations that NED had funded an election-monitoring group, Sumate, which in 2004 organized an unsuccessful recall drive against Chavez.
Sumate was co-founded by Maria Corina Machado, an opposition leader who was stripped of her position as congresswoman and now leads anti-government protests. The administration has accused her of plotting to assassinate Maduro, a claim she denies.
In Venezuela, there are signs the administration may act to stop the flow of U.S. dollars. Maduro mentioned Sumate at a news conference earlier this year and said he would "reactivate the strict laws we have against foreign funding." Writing in The New York Times this spring, he raised concerns about the millions the U.S. allocates for the opposition.
As U.S. funding has continued, Washington's relationship with Venezuela has deteriorated with Maduro frequently drawing connections between American aid and the violent anti-government protests that claimed at least 43 lives earlier this year. The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, when Chavez rejected the U.S. nominee for the post.
Despite the condemnations and the threat of punishment, many organizations still take U.S. money.
Carlos Correa, whose group Public Space tracks police brutality at protests and encourages freedom of expression, acknowledged receiving U.S. funding, but declined to specify whether it's from the government or independent groups. When the ban was under debate in 2010, state-run TV ran political cartoons depicting him with a suitcase stuffed with U.S. government dollars.
A free-market think tank, CEDICE Libertad, receives NED funding that is channeled through an associated group, the Washington-based Center for International Private Enterprise.
Other political organizations have decided it's too risky to take U.S aid. The Caracas-based Leadership and Vision, which aims to create a new generation of democracy-minded leaders, accepted its last NED grant in 2010, spokeswoman Naibet Soto said.
Several other leftist Latin American countries also oppose U.S. financial assistance to civil society groups.
Bolivia last year expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), accusing the agency of trying to undermine its government. More recently, Ecuador prohibited USAID from funding new projects there. And this spring, revelations that Washington engineered a "Cuban Twitter" social media platform to undermine support for Havana increased regional suspicions about U.S. financial assistance.
The mounting tensions mean anxious times for U.S.-funded activists. Torrealba sees few other options for grants. Local donors consider organizations like hers too political, she said, and there are few institutional alternatives.
"There are no Rockefellers in Venezuela," she said.
Follow Hannah Dreier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hannahdreierNews Topics: General news, Protests and demonstrations, Foreign aid, Government and politics, Legislature, Regional cooperation, Freedom of speech, Political organizations, Political and civil unrest, International relations, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Social affairs
People, Places and Companies: Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, Maria Corina Machado, Venezuela, Cuba, United States, Caracas, South America, Latin America and Caribbean, Caribbean, North America
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Ukraine's ambassador to the U.N. says the downing of the Malaysian airliner would not have happened if Russia did not provide sophisticated anti-aircraft systems to separatist rebels.
Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that communications and intercepts, photos and videos indicate that the rebels have at least two SA-11 missile systems.
He added that detained rebels have told Ukraine that they also have a Buk missile system from Russia.
Sergeyev said that immediately after the crash, a rebel military leader had boasted in social media of shooting down what he thought was a Ukrainian jet.
He also said that in previous days, rebels had shot down two Ukrainian jets, and claimed responsibility in intercepted telephone conversations with a Russian military intelligence colonel.News Topics: General news, Plane crashes, International relations, Diplomacy, Aviation accidents and incidents, Transportation accidents, Accidents, Accidents and disasters, Transportation, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Ukraine, Russia, Eastern Europe, Europe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama: Ukrainian separatists are heavily armed and trained because of Russian support.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Ukraine, Russia, Eastern Europe, Europe
ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) — A legislator who publicly criticized an electoral official in the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica has been arrested and charged with inciting the murder of a public official.
The charge against opposition senator Daniel Lugay stems from a campaign speech he gave earlier this month in which he spoke about attorney Alick Lawrence and allegedly said he would "take out" some people who deserved to die. Lawrence is a member of Dominica's electoral commission, and Lugay had accused him of obstructing electoral reform.
There have been no attacks made against Lawrence, and Lugay has since apologized for the statement.
Lugay is campaigning to represent the Roseau North constituency as a United Workers Party candidate. He was released from custody Thursday after posting bond.News Topics: General news, Homicide, Violent crime, Crime, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Dominica, Roseau, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is encouraging Israel to try to minimize civilian deaths in its ground push into Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Obama says he talked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday about the Gaza operation and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself. He told reporters at the White House that no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders.
Israel's movement follows a 10-day campaign of more than 2,000 airstrikes that had failed to halt relentless Hamas rocket fire on Israeli cities.
Israel stepped up its campaign after the Islamic militant group refused to accept an Egyptian truce offer.News Topics: General news, Territorial disputes, War and unrest
People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, Palestinian territories, United States, Gaza Strip, Middle East, North America
WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama says he hopes Israel's military response in Gaza minimizes civilian casualties.News Topics: General news, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Israel, Gaza Strip, Middle East, Palestinian territories
LONDON (AP) — A British coroner has cleared a travel company of blame in the fatal mauling of a teen by a polar bear during an Arctic expedition.
Ian Singleton said Friday the British Schools Exploring Society had not been neglectful in the August 2011 incident on Norway's Svalbard archipelago.
Horatio Chapple was sleeping in his tent when the bear attacked and killed him. Four others were injured before the bear was shot dead. The 17-year-old died of injuries to his head and upper body.
The coroner did find that not all of the safety systems were working properly at the time.
The expedition leader earlier told the inquest he had tried to gouge out the polar bear's eyes to halt the attack.News Topics: General news, Bears, Animal attacks, Mammals, Animals, Accidents, Accidents and disasters
People, Places and Companies: United Kingdom, Western Europe, Europe
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican prosecutors say their investigation into the shooting deaths of 22 suspected criminals at a warehouse last month has found that none of the people were shot at close range.
Questions arose about the June 30 shootout with military forces in which all of the suspects were killed, but no soldiers died.
The prosecutors' office of Mexico State said in a statement sent to The Associated Press late Thursday that it has "no evidence at all of possible executions." The office said it found ballistic evidence of crossfire and chemical tests showed the suspects had fired weapons.
But the prosecutors did not release any of the autopsy or ballistics reports.
Reporters who visited the warehouse did not see signs of an extended gun battle.News Topics: General news, Shootings, Violent crime, Crime, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Mexico, North America, Central America, Latin America and Caribbean
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are moving higher after Google, Honeywell and other big companies report their quarterly results.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 96 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,072 as of midday Friday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,972. The Nasdaq composite rose 49 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,412.
Markets were recovering a day after being rattled by the downing of a passenger jet over eastern Ukraine and Israel's launch of a ground offensive into Gaza.
Honeywell International rose 1 percent after reporting that its income rose sharply in the latest quarter and beat investors' forecasts. Google also rose after reporting its results.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.48 percent.News Topics: Business, General news, Stock prices, Earnings reports, Stock indices and averages, Leading economic indicators, Economy, Earnings, Financial performance, Corporate news, Stock markets, Financial markets
People, Places and Companies: Honeywell International Inc
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia's ambassador to the U.N. has questioned why Ukrainian aviation authorities allowed a passenger flight through an area of armed clashes where anti-aircraft systems were working.
Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was speaking at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday on the downing of a Malaysian airlines jet, killing 298 people on board.
He said there should be an impartial and open investigation into what happened, and the outcome should not be prejudged.
Churkin said ensuring the security of civilian aviation in a state's airspace is the responsibility of that state.
Earlier, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the U.S. believes the plane was likely downed by an SA-11 missile fired from an area in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.News Topics: General news, Plane crashes, Diplomacy, International relations, Aviation accidents and incidents, Transportation accidents, Accidents, Accidents and disasters, Transportation, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Russia, Ukraine, United States, Eastern Europe, Europe, North America
ZURICH (AP) — FIFA has lifted Nigeria's suspension from international competition after the country's football leaders were reinstated.
After Nigeria's second-round elimination at the World Cup, the country's government issued a legal order for the sports ministry to appoint new federation leaders. FIFA rules protect its 209 member federations from influence by third parties, including politicians.
But FIFA said on Friday that court proceedings and an order preventing the Nigeria Football Federation from operating had been withdrawn.
FIFA said in a statement that as the "legitimate bodies (have been) reinstalled, FIFA has decided to lift the suspension."News Topics: Sports, Men's soccer, Professional soccer, International soccer, Sports governance, Soccer, Men's sports
People, Places and Companies: Nigeria, West Africa, Africa
July 5 — First Stage: Leeds to Harrogate, England, flat (190.5km-118 miles) (Stage: Marcel Kittel, Germany; Yellow Jersey: Kittel)
July 6 — Second Stage: York to Sheffield, England, hilly (201-125) (Vincenzo Nibali, Italy; Nibali)
July 7 — Third Stage: Cambridge to London, flat (155-96) (Kittel; Nibali)
July 8 — Fourth Stage: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille Metropole, flat (163.5-101.5) (Kittel; Nibali)
July 9 — Fifth Stage: Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, flat/cobbled roads (152.5-95) (Lars Boom, Netherlands; Nibali)
July 10 — Sixth Stage: Arras to Reims, flat (194-120.5) (Andre Greipel, Germany; Nibali)
July 11 — Seventh Stage: Epernay to Nancy, flat (234.5-146) (Matteo Trentin, Italy; Nibali)
July 12 — Eighth Stage: Tomblaine to Gerardmer La Mauselaine, medium mountain (161-100) (Blel Kadri, France; Nibali)
July 13 — Ninth Stage: Gerardmer to Mulhouse, medium mountain (170-106) (Tony Martin, Germany; Tony Gallopin, France)
July 14 — 10th Stage: Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, high mountain (161.5-100) (Nibali; Nibali)
July 15 — Rest Day, Besancon
July 16 — 11th Stage: Besancon to Oyonnax, medium mountain (187.5-116) (Gallopin; Nibali)
July 17 — 12th Stage: Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne, medium mountain (185.5-115) (Alexander Kristoff, Norway; Nibali)
July 18 — 13th Stage: Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse, high mountain (197.5-123) (Nibali; Nibali)
July 19 — 14th Stage: Grenoble to Risoul, high mountain (177-110)
July 20 — 15th Stage: Tallard to Nimes, flat (222-138)
July 21 — Rest Day, Carcassonne
July 22 — 16th Stage: Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, high mountain (237.5-147.5)
July 23 — 17th Stage: Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet, high mountain (124.5-77)
July 24 — 18th Stage: Pau to Hautacam, high mountain (145.5-90)
July 25 — 19th Stage: Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac, flat (208.5-129.5)
July 26 — 20th Stage: Bergerac to Perigueux, individual time trial (54-33.5)
July 27 — 21st Stage: Evry to Paris Champs-Elysees, flat (137.5-85)
Total — 3,660.5km-2,273 milesNews Topics: Tour de France, Men's cycling, Men's road cycling, Cycling, Road cycling, Mountains, Sports, Events, Men's sports, Environment and nature
People, Places and Companies: Marcel Kittel, Vincenzo Nibali, Lars Boom, Andre Greipel, Blel Kadri, Tony Martin, Tony Gallopin, France, Germany, Paris, Leeds, Western Europe, Europe, England, United Kingdom
DALLAS (AP) — More than 60 creations that span designer Oscar de la Renta's 50-year career are going on display in Dallas.
"Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style" opens Saturday at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and runs through Oct. 5.
The exhibit includes gowns worn by actresses on red carpets and those worn by former first ladies including Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nancy Reagan.
Laura Bush says the exhibit was de la Renta's idea. She said the designer asked if he could do a show at the library, and she was thrilled because she'd always envisioned "a show of clothes" there.
Her daughter Jenna Bush Hager's wedding dress is among the garments on display, along with the former first lady's turquoise mother-of-the bride dress.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Lifestyle, Fashion, Beauty and fashion, Libraries, Education, Social affairs
People, Places and Companies: Oscar de la Renta, George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Jenna Hager, Dallas, Texas, United States, North America
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The title for Lady Antebellum's forthcoming new album, "747," refers to a hook in the title song about how a commercial jetliner can't go fast enough for a man trying to reclaim his love. It's also a fitting analogy for the country trio's own super-sonic momentum over the last year.
Their last album was released just 14 months ago, a couple months before singer Hillary Scott gave birth to her daughter, Eisele. A deluxe version of the album came out November, and then they started writing new music while out on tour. Now, it just gets more complex as "747" is due out Sept. 30 — about the same time singer-guitarist Dave Haywood is expecting his first child.
"We are just so excited for the opportunity to just continue to build our career," Scott said as she was heading into the studio to put the finishing touches on the record with Haywood and singer Charles Kelley. "And then also in our personal lives... our families are growing. That's the energy level we are in, in both personal and career."
For a fresh take and new ears, they turned to Taylor Swift producer Nathan Chapman. Scott said the band got famous for their softer, romantic songs like the crossover Grammy Award-winning ballad "Need You Now" and the multiplatinum "Just A Kiss." But seeing the fans' reactions to their last two up-tempo singles, "Compass" and "Bartender," both produced by Chapman, convinced them of the direction they needed to go.
"I know that once we released 'Compass' as a single, the energy that song brought to our career, to our live show, it was really evident that was something we needed more of," Scott said.
The band co-wrote about half of the 11-song album by taking songwriters out on the road with them, no easy feat for Scott, who also took her baby girl out on tour. And with another band baby on the way, Lady Antebellum just keeps picking up speed along the way.
"When people put their ear buds in to listen, we want it to come at you," Scott said. "We want you to feel that energy."
Lady Antebellum: http://ladyantebellum.com
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