NEW YORK

-With a deeper-than-ever split between Republicans and Democrats over abortion, activists on both sides of the debate foresee a 2016 presidential campaign in which the nominees tackle the volatile topic more aggressively than in past elections.

Friction over the issue also is likely to surface in key Senate races. And the opposing camps will be further energized by Republican-led congressional investigations of Planned Parenthood and by Supreme Court consideration of tough anti-abortion laws in Texas.

"It's an amazing convergence of events," said Charmaine Yoest, CEO of the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life. "We haven't seen a moment like this for 40 years."

In the presidential race, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is a longtime defender of abortion rights and has voiced strong support for Planned Parenthood - a major provider of abortions, health screenings and contraceptives - as it is assailed by anti-abortion activists and Republican officeholders.

In contrast, nearly all of the GOP candidates favor overturning the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Some of the top contenders-including Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio-disapprove of abortions even in cases of rape and incest.

ISIS putting up tough fight in Iraq

BAGHDAD

- Islamic State fighters are putting up a tough fight in the militant-held city of Ramadi, slowing down the advance of Iraqi forces, a senior Iraqi commander said yesterday.

Iraq launched the long-awaited operation to retake the Anbar provincial capital, which was captured by IS militants in May, but after an initial push across the Euphrates River, their progress stalled. Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi, head of the Anbar military operations, told the Associated Press that the advance was hampered by suicide bombers, snipers and booby traps.

Iraqi troops will "need days" to get to the city's central government complex, said al-Mahlawi, adding that the troops were about one kilometer (half mile) from the complex yesterday.

Al-Mahlawi said he could neither confirm nor deny media reports that IS fighters had pulled out of the government complex by nightfall yesterday. But he cited residents in the area as telling his troops that the IS militants had withdrawn from the neighborhood of Albu Alwan, adjacent to the complex.

Helicopter-bird strikes on the increase

WASHINGTON

- The crew of a Dallas police helicopter was searching for a capsized boat last March, when there was a loud explosion and wind rushed through a huge hole in the windshield.

The pilot, Sgt. Todd Limerick, put a hand over one eye, his face covered in blood and Plexiglass shards. He kept his other hand on the controls until the co-pilot, Cpl. Laurent Lespagnol, took over and landed the aircraft.

"My first thought was that we had been shot. My second was the engine blew up," Lespagnol said in an interview. It wasn't until they had landed that they found the cause wedged between the cockpit seats-a 3-pound American coot, a duck-like bird.

Reports of helicopter bird strikes are up dramatically in recent years, including incidents, like the one in Dallas, that damage the aircraft and create the potential for crashes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. In 2013, there were 204 reported helicopter bird strikes, a 68 percent increase from 2009 when there were 121 reports and an increase of over 700 percent since the early 2000s, said Gary Roach, an FAA helicopter safety engineer.

The increase is due partly to greater awareness among pilots about the importance of reporting bird strikes since the January 2009, when US Airways Flight 1549 was ditched in New York's Hudson River after the airliner's two engines sucked in geese.

Sinking land costing California billions

DOS PALOS, Calif.

- A canal that delivers vital water supplies from Northern California to Southern California is sinking in places. So are stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration. On farms, well casings pop up like mushrooms as the ground around them drops.

Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars.

This slow-motion land subsidence-more than one foot a year in some places-is not expected to stop anytime soon, experts say, nor will the expensive repairs.

"It's shocking how a huge area is affected, but how little you can tell with your eye," said James Borchers, a hydro-geologist, who studies subsidence and says careful monitoring is necessary to detect and address sinking before it can do major damage to costly infrastructure such as bridges and pipelines.

Land subsidence is largely the result of pumping water from the ground. As aquifers are depleted, the ground sags.

- Associated Press