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July 30, 2014

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AP Top News at 6:25 p.m. EDT

Updated Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | 3:25 p.m.

US, Europe escalate economic sanctions on Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Struggling to defuse the persistent crisis in Ukraine, both the U.S. and European Union imposed new economic sanctions on Russia Wednesday, President Barack Obama declaring that Russian leaders must see that their actions supporting Ukrainian rebels "have consequences." Though the American and European sanctions were coordinated, they nonetheless exposed fissures in what the West has tried to project as a united front in its months-long effort to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nowhere to go for Gaza civilians urged to evacuate

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The text message was as urgent as it was unwelcome: The Israeli army advised Mouin Ghaffir to leave his home quickly or risk being killed in airstrikes against Hamas rocket squads. He swiftly sent his wife and 11 children to a dirty U.N. emergency shelter, with more than 40 people crammed in each classroom, but had to endure a night under bombardment at home after failing to find a safe place for his ailing 75-year-old mother.

Dems seek gains with women in birth control loss

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats suffered what looked like a difficult setback on birth control Wednesday, but they hope it pays big political dividends in November. Republicans blocked a bill that was designed to override a Supreme Court ruling and ensure access to contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies with religious objections. The vote was 56-43 to move ahead on the legislation — dubbed the "Not My Boss' Business Act" by proponents — four short of the 60 necessary to proceed.

Studies see new risks for cholesterol drug niacin

New details from two studies reveal more side effects from niacin, a drug that hundreds of thousands of Americans take for cholesterol problems and general heart health. Some prominent doctors say the drug now seems too risky for routine use. Niacin is a type of B vitamin long sold over the counter and in higher prescription doses. Some people take it alone or with statin medicines such as Lipitor for cholesterol problems.

Fox bid for Time Warner sparks content merger race

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even though Rupert Murdoch's $76 billion bid for rival media giant Time Warner Inc. has been rejected, that doesn't mean how you watch TV shows and movies will stop changing any time soon. The cash-and-stock bid by Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. was partly meant to counter consolidation among TV distributors like Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV.

What happens to your online accounts when you die?

WASHINGTON (AP) — You've probably decided who gets the house or that family heirloom up in the attic when you die. But what about your email account and all those photos stored online? Grieving relatives might want access for sentimental reasons, or to settle financial issues. But do you want your mom reading your exchanges on an online dating profile or a spouse going through every email?

Urban warfare feared in Ukraine fighting

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Insurgents bade tearful farewells Wednesday as they loaded their families onto Russia-bound buses and began hunkering down for what could be the next phase in Ukraine's conflict: bloody urban warfare. While the pro-Russian rebels in the east have lost much ground in recent weeks and were driven from their stronghold of Slovyansk, many have regrouped in Donetsk, an industrial city that had a population of 1 million before tens of thousands of civilians started fleeing for fear of a government siege.

Texas woman who sent ricin gets 18 years in prison

TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) — A Texas actress who tried to blame her husband after sending ricin-laced letters to officials including President Barack Obama was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in prison. A federal judge gave Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, the maximum sentence under her plea deal on a federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin. Richardson was also ordered to pay restitution of about $367,000. She had pleaded guilty to the charge in December.

Buzz Aldrin: Where were you when I walked on moon?

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — On July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin was "out of town" when the world united and rejoiced in a way never seen before or since. He and Neil Armstrong were on the moon.

NYC mayor's plan for rail strike? He's outta here

NEW YORK (AP) — A screaming headline that reads "Good luck on that, I'm off to Italy." A composite photo depicting his family in a gondola in Venice. Withering criticism from a former mayor. Despite the increasingly bad political optics, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio remains set to depart Friday for a lengthy Italian vacation in the face of a potential strike at the nation's largest commuter railroad.