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Some people see a jigsaw puzzle, toads or engravings in the bark of this sycamore, the famous Buttonball Tree on Route 47 in Sunderland.

Earth Matters: The puzzle tree: Independence Day musings on sycamores

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I’ll be thinking about the eastern sycamore tree this Independence Day, an American tree on our national holiday. Although all trees might be said to be “created equal” from a moral perspective, each tree species has its own value to those who use trees. I eat apples; squirrels eat acorns; crossbills eat conifer seeds; many insects are specialized to feed …

Episcopalians vote to allow gay marriage in churches

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY — Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, solidifying the church’s embrace of gay rights that began more than a decade ago with the pioneering election of the first openly gay bishop. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days …

Scores killed in attack on troops in Sinai

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Islamic State-linked militants struck Egyptian army outposts in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday in a coordinated wave of suicide bombings and battles that underlined the government’s failure to stem an insurgency despite a two-year crackdown. Security officials said dozens of troops were killed, along with nearly 100 attackers. The restive …

In first step, US, Cuba to reopen embassies

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WASHINGTON — After more than a half-century of hostility, the United States and Cuba declared Wednesday they will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals this month, marking a historic full restoration of diplomatic relations between the Cold War …

Greece heads for vote as EU rebuffs overture

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

ATHENS, Greece — The Greek government vowed Wednesday to go ahead with plans to have the people decide whether they want more austerity measures in exchange for a rescue deal. Greece offered more concessions to its creditors, but …

W. Europe swelters in heat wave

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

PARIS — Joggers wheezed, electric wires warped, and Britain sweated through its hottest July day on record as a wide swath of Western Europe sweltered in a heat wave. Authorities in France and elsewhere, mindful that thousands died …

British savior of Jewish children dies at 106

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LONDON — He was just a 29-year-old clerk at the London Stock Exchange when he faced the challenge of his lifetime. Traveling with a friend to Czechoslovakia in 1938, as the drums of impending war echoed around Europe, …

Auschwitz defendant won’t ask survivors’ forgiveness

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LUENEBURG, Germany — A 94-year-old man charged as an accessory in the murders of about 300,000 people at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau told a court Wednesday that he consciously had not asked Holocaust survivors for their forgiveness because, given the dimensions of their suffering, he is not …

SC church fire likely not arson

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

GREELEYVILLE, S.C. — The Rev. John Taylor feared the worst when he learned his church was on fire, only days after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston prompted Southern leaders to call for removing Confederate …

Ore. eases into legal weed

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon began easing into an era of legal marijuana Wednesday after an early morning pot celebration at the center of Portland. A few thousand people jammed a sidewalk and bike lane on the Burnside …

NY prison gets new warden, fresh security

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A range of new security measures is being put in place at a maximum-security prison to close gaps exploited by two inmates who escaped last month. The state correction department said Wednesday that includes …

Indonesia plane crash kills 141

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MEDAN, Indonesia — Indonesia’s air force promised Wednesday to investigate whether the aging transport plane that crashed into a city neighborhood, killing 141 people, was violating rules by carrying non-military passengers who paid for their flights. A local …

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s tax returns show income of nearly $28 million since leaving office as Florida governor

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has earned nearly $28 million since leaving the Florida governor’s mansion and paid an effective federal income tax rate of roughly 36 percent in the past three decades, according to tax …