By Maria Golovnina and Mirwais Harooni KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive to a skeptical audience in Afghanistan this week to try to resolve a deepening crisis over a disputed presidential election which has stirred ethnic tensions in the fragile country. Afghanistan has plunged into political chaos in recent months as a protracted election process to pick a successor to President Hamid Karzai has run into a deadlock between two leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Preliminary results from the June 14 second-round run-off put Ghani, a former World Bank official, in the lead with 56.4 percent of the vote, but Abdullah has rejected the count and his aides have threatened to set up an alternative administration. Kerry is expected to arrive in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday to try to mediate between the feuding camps, according to Abdullah, although U.S. officials have not confirmed the trip.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel dramatically escalated its aerial assault in Gaza Thursday hitting hundreds of Hamas targets, and the Palestinians said a family of eight was killed in a strike that destroyed their home. Israel's missile defense system once again intercepted rockets fired by militants at the country's heartland.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — He entered New Orleans City Hall as a cool and confidant self-styled reformer, won fame there as a passionate, if profane, critic of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and exited under suspicion.