Kerry tries to persuade Turkey
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry struggled Sunday to convince Turkey’s leaders they should promptly restore full diplomatic ties with Israel, two American allies counted on by President Barack Obama to help calm the turbulent Middle East.
But Turkey demanded that Israel first end all commercial restrictions against the Palestinians before the once-close partners could end their estrangement, which stems from an Israeli raid in 2010 on a flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American died.
Obama revived the rapprochement during a visit to Israel last month, and Kerry aimed to firm that up in Istanbul, the first stop in a 10-day trip.
Senators work on gun checks
Senate aides say a Democratic and a Republican senator are working on a compromise expanding required federal background checks to gun shows and to online firearms sales.
If an agreement could be completed, it could represent a significant breakthrough in the effort by President Barack Obama and his allies to restrict guns in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 first-graders and staff last December.
The aides said the potential deal is being worked on by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Manchin is a moderate with an A rating from the National Rifle Association, while Toomey has solid conservative credentials.
Syria regime goes on attack
After weeks of rebel gains in the south, the Syrian regime launched a counteroffensive on Sunday with widespread airstrikes and an operation that reclaimed a northern village on a strategically important route.
At least 20 people were killed in heavy airstrikes that targeted rebels trying to topple the regime in at least seven cities and regions. To underline their resolve, the government called on opposition fighters to surrender their arms and warned in cellphone text messages that the army is “coming to get you.”
State television said the aim of the counteroffensive was to send a message to the opposition and its Western backers that President Bashar Assad’s troops are capable and willing to battle increasingly better armed rebels on multiple fronts.
Slain sheriff is honored
Slain southern West Virginia Sheriff Eugene Crum will be honored during a funeral service on Sunday.
The 59-year-old Mingo County sheriff was shot to death on Wednesday in a parking lot in downtown Williamson while eating lunch at his regular spot.
Chafin Funeral Home says the service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mingo Central High School.
Crum had been in office just three months before he was killed. He made good on campaign pledge to help rid the southern coalfields of the illegal prescription drug trade.
Police charged 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard with murder in Crum’s death. The motive for his death is still unclear.
Maynard also is charged with attempted murder. He’s accused of pointing a gun at a deputy following a chase.