WASHINGTON (AP) — After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded.

U.S. military commanders on the ground aren’t disputing the assessment, but they point to an upcoming effort to clear the important Sunni city of Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, as a crucial milestone.

The battle for Ramadi, expected over the next few months, “promises to test the mettle” of Iraq’s security forces, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Killea, who is helping run the U.S.-led coalition effort in Iraq, told reporters at the Pentagon in a video briefing from the region.

The U.S.-led military campaign has put the Islamic State group on defense, Killea said, adding, “There is progress.” Witnesses on the ground say the airstrikes and Kurdish ground actions are squeezing the militants in northern Syria, particularly in their self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa.

But U.S. intelligence agencies see the overall situation as a strategic stalemate: The Islamic State remains a well-funded extremist army able to replenish its ranks with foreign jihadis as quickly as the U.S. can eliminate them. Meanwhile, the group has expanded to other countries, including Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.

The assessments by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others appear to contradict the optimistic line taken by the Obama administration’s special envoy, retired Gen. John Allen, who told a forum in Aspen, Colorado, last week that “ISIS is losing” in Iraq and Syria. The intelligence was described by officials who would not be named because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

“We’ve seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers,” a defense official said, citing intelligence estimates that put the group’s total strength at between 20,000 and 30,000, the same estimate as last August, when the airstrikes began.

The Islamic State’s staying power raises questions about the administration’s approach to the threat that the group poses to the U.S. and its allies. Although officials do not believe it is planning complex attacks on the West from its territory, the group’s call to Western Muslims to kill at home has become a serious problem, FBI Director James Comey and other officials say.

Yet under the Obama administration’s campaign of bombing and training, which prohibits American troops from accompanying fighters into combat or directing airstrikes from the ground, it could take a decade or more to drive the Islamic State from its safe havens, analysts say. The administration is adamant that it will commit no U.S. ground troops to the fight despite calls from some in Congress to do so.

The U.S.-led coalition and its Syrian and Kurdish allies have made some inroads. The Islamic State has lost 9.4 percent of its territory in the first six months of 2015, according to an analysis by the conflict monitoring group IHS.

A Delta Force raid in Syria that killed Islamic State financier Abu Sayyaf in May also has resulted in a well of intelligence about the group’s structure and finances, U.S. officials say. His wife, held in Iraq, has been cooperating with interrogators.

Syrian Kurdish fighters and their allies have wrested most of the northern Syria border from the Islamic State group, and the plan announced this week for a U.S.-Turkish “safe zone” is expected to cement those gains.

In Raqqa, U.S. coalition bombs pound the group’s positions and target its leaders with increasing regularity. The militants’ movements have been hampered by strikes against bridges, and some fighters are sending their families away to safer ground.

But American intelligence officials and other experts say the Islamic State is in no danger of being defeated any time soon.

“The pressure on Raqqa is significant … but looking at the overall picture, ISIS is mostly in the same place,” said Harleen Gambhir, a counterterrorism analyst at Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank.

Although U.S. officials have said it is crucial that the government in Baghdad win back disaffected Sunnis, there is little sign of that happening. American-led efforts to train Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State have produced a grand total of 60 vetted fighters.

The militants have adjusted their tactics to thwart a U.S. bombing campaign that tries assiduously to avoid civilian casualties, officials say. Fighters no longer move around in easily targeted armored columns; they embed themselves among women and children, and they communicate through couriers to thwart eavesdropping and geolocation, the defense official said.

Oil continues to be a major revenue source. By one estimate, the Islamic State is clearing $500 million per year from oil sales, said Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the Treasury Department. That’s on top of as much as $1 billion in cash the group seized from banks in its territory.

Although the U.S. has been bombing oil infrastructure, the militants have been adept at rebuilding oil refining, drilling and trading capacity, the defense official said.

The stalemate makes the battle for Ramadi all the more important.

Iraqi security forces, including 500 Sunni fighters, have begun preparing to retake the Sunni city, Killea said, and there have been 100 coalition airstrikes designed to support the effort. But he cautioned it will take time.

“Momentum,” he said, “is a better indicator of success than speed.”

———

Karam and Mroue reported from Beirut.

———

Follow Ken Dilanian on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kendilanianap . Follow Zeina Karam at https://twitter.com/zkaram?lang=en. Follow Bassem Mroue at https://twitter.com/bmroue

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (AP) — At age 95, Lucille Horn often reflects on her long, full life, with a husband and five children, and how it might not have happened if not for the renegade doctor who put her in a Coney Island sideshow when she was just days old.

Horn is among thousands of former premature babies whose lives were saved in the early 20th century by Dr. Martin Couney, a pioneer in the use of incubators who sought acceptance for the technology by showing it off on carnival midways alongside freak shows and fan dancers.

“Life Begins at the Baby Incubator,” read one of the signs at his displays — essentially a ward with babies in the glass cribs — that drew huge crowds at world’s fairs, on the Atlantic City boardwalk and Coney Island’s Luna Park. Couney invited desperate parents to bring him their preemies, and he paid for their care with the 25 cents he charged for admission.

Couney died in 1950, shortly after incubators finally came into wider use. Horn and others who owe their lives to him want their stories told so the doctor’s curious tale — one that would cause outrage by today’s standards — doesn’t die with them.

Horn was a twin born prematurely in 1920 in Brooklyn. Her sister had died, and doctors told her father to hold off on a funeral because Lucille would not survive the day.

“He said: ‘Well that’s impossible; she’s alive now. We have to do something for her,'” Horn said. “My father wrapped me in a towel and took me in a cab to the incubator; I went to Dr. Couney. I stayed with him quite a few days. Almost five months.”

Couney was well known in the early 1900s for his work in keeping premature babies alive. The German-trained doctor studied in Paris with Dr. Pierre Budin, who had pioneered the theory of enclosed incubators, designed to keep babies warm and protect them from germs.

The incubator was first seen in 1896 at the Berlin Exposition, and for the first time in the U.S. at expositions in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1898, and Buffalo, New York, in 1901.

U.S. hospitals were slow to adopt incubators for a variety of reasons. A 2000 article on the subject in the Journal of Perinatology cited, among other factors, the belief among early 1900s infant care experts that premature babies were weaklings who, if they survived, were likely to pass on that trait to their own children.

Couney opened his first exhibit with “live babies” at Coney Island’s Luna Park in 1903. By the 1920s, the incubators were kept in a Hansel-and-Gretel-like cottage decorated with the image of a stork overlooking a nest of cherubs. And in the 1930s, he took his incubator babies to the world’s fairs in New York and Chicago, where the display was on the midway next to the show of burlesque fan dancer Sally Rand. Couney ended the sideshows in 1943.

“We think this is a spectacle. We could never do this today,” said Dr. Richard Schanler, director of neonatal services at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. “But at the time, he was a leader. And I think we owe a lot of the very basic principles of neonatology to this gentleman.”

In the early 1900s, when most births occurred at home, doctors weren’t always in the picture, and premature babies were often written off. While exact numbers are difficult to determine, medical historians say Couney estimated he saved 7,500 of the 8,500 children that passed through his incubators.

Writer A.J. Liebling noted in a 1939 New Yorker magazine piece that Couney became irate at the suggestion he was merely a showman.

“All my life I have been making propaganda for the proper care of preemies, who in other times were allowed to die,” he quoted the doctor as saying. “Everything I do is strict ethical.”

Beth Allen was born in 1941, and like Mrs. Horn, her twin sister was too small to survive. Her mother, she said, initially rejected putting her child in one of Couney’s incubators, but her father persuaded Couney to talk to his wife, who acquiesced.

“The whole thing is just amazing to me,” Allen, who now lives in Hackensack, New Jersey, told The Associated Press in an interview. “And the older I get, the more appreciative I am of the opportunity that I was given to be here to talk to you, and to live a wonderful life that I had.”

Carol Boyce Heinisch was an incubator baby at Couney’s exhibition in Atlantic City in 1942. Today, the 73-year-old Absecon, New Jersey, woman is a secretary in a law firm. She has a family photograph of Couney’s daughter, Hildegarde, who worked as his nurse in Atlantic City and held Carol days after she was born.

“If it wasn’t for him, maybe I wouldn’t have survived,” Heinisch said. “I’m just very grateful for what he did.”

Barbara Horn recently had her mother record an oral history of her memories, including meeting Couney as a teenager, when she thanked him.

“It’s a story mom has told many times,” the younger Horn said. “Hearing her tell it now, it’s given me a new sense of appreciation for actually how precarious things were for her in the beginning and actually how gutsy Dr. Couney was.”

———

Associated Press video journalist Joseph Frederick and AP researcher Barbara Sambriski contributed to this report.

NEW YORK (AP) — The myriad of festivals seems to have gotten more dizzying over the last decade: Whether it’s a weekend of music performances, a foodie meet-up or a health-and-wellness gathering, there seems to be a “fest” happening somewhere around the globe at any moment.

It’s almost enough to cause festival overload. But Fest300 — a site officially launched this year after an earlier soft launch by entrepreneur Chip Conley — is seeking to not only enhance, but also curate the festival experience by sifting through them all and pointing out the best from the rest. He likens it to the festival version of the website Trip Advisor, where travelers go when they want to plan the best trip.

“We’re trying to outline what we think are the best festivals because people have more choice, and the more choice you have, the more you want someone to curate your choices for you,” Conley, an executive at AirBnB, said in a recent interview.

The site’s ultimate list of the top 300 festivals in the world contains the familiar — including Coachella, Lollapalooza (which kicks off Friday) and the Cannes Film Festival — and also those that may not be as well known, like the National Cowboy Poetry Festival in Texas (mark your calendars for January) or the Rainforest Music Festival coming up in August in Malaysia.

There’s also a steady stream of articles. A recent check of the site had one that included which festivals had the most germ-ridden wristbands, and another on going to festivals from a woman’s vantage point.

Conley says the site’s advantage, and its biggest challenge, is the broad swath it aims to appeal to.

“Usually when you create something new you actually go after a certain niche of people and you just serve that niche really well and grow from there,” he said. “What we’ve decided to do is the opposite. We said, let’s actually create the most comprehensive festival website ever created and focus on just the cream of the crop across all types of locations and festivals.”

Fest300 enlists festival-goers for their input to give ratings of their experiences, but is also working with festivals like Bonnaroo for behind-the-scenes videos and other exclusive content. The site’s business model includes sponsored content and advertising from tourism bureaus.

Taylor hopes to grow the site to more than 500,000 unique views per month, and given the popularity of festivals, believes it’s an achievable goal.

“Part of the reason why I think festivals have grown so much — they’re just popping up all over — is because people want that in real life experience,” he said. “We spend so much of our time connecting with each other through iPhones and Facebook, but doing it in person makes a big difference. I do think the reason why Fest300 the site is necessary is because there are so many new choices.”

———

Online:

http://www.fest300.com

NEW YORK (AP) — The myriad of festivals seems to have gotten more dizzying over the last decade: Whether it’s a weekend of music performances, a foodie meet-up or a health-and-wellness gathering, there seems to be a “fest” happening somewhere around the globe at any moment.

It’s almost enough to cause festival overload. But Fest300 — a site launched this year by entrepreneur Chip Conley — is seeking to not only enhance, but also curate the festival experience by sifting through them all and pointing out the best from the rest. He likens it to the festival version of the website Trip Advisor, where travelers go when they want to plan the best trip.

“We’re trying to outline what we think are the best festivals because people have more choice, and the more choice you have, the more you want someone to curate your choices for you,” Conley, an executive at AirBnB, said in a recent interview.

The site’s ultimate list of the top 300 festivals in the world contains the familiar — including Coachella, Lollapalooza (which kicks off Friday) and the Cannes Film Festival — and also those that may not be as well known, like the National Cowboy Poetry Festival in Texas (mark your calendars for January) or the Rainforest Music Festival coming up in August in Malaysia.

There’s also a steady stream of articles. A recent check of the site had one that included which festivals had the most germ-ridden wristbands, and another on going to festivals from a woman’s vantage point.

Conley says the site’s advantage, and its biggest challenge, is the broad swath it aims to appeal to.

“Usually when you create something new you actually go after a certain niche of people and you just serve that niche really well and grow from there,” he said. “What we’ve decided to do is the opposite. We said, let’s actually create the most comprehensive festival website ever created and focus on just the cream of the crop across all types of locations and festivals.”

Fest300 enlists festival-goers for their input to give ratings of their experiences, but is also working with festivals like Bonnaroo for behind-the-scenes videos and other exclusive content. The site’s business model includes sponsored content and advertising from tourism bureaus.

Taylor hopes to grow the site to more than 500,000 unique views per month, and given the popularity of festivals, believes it’s an achievable goal.

“Part of the reason why I think festivals have grown so much — they’re just popping up all over — is because people want that in real life experience,” he said. “We spend so much of our time connecting with each other through iPhones and Facebook, but doing it in person makes a big difference. I do think the reason why Fest300 the site is necessary is because there are so many new choices.”

———

Online:

http://www.fest300.com

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Katy Perry’s dream of owning a hilltop convent near Hollywood is going to have to wait a while longer.

The convent, which Perry has wanted to buy to be her personal residence for several years, is in the middle of a legal fight between a group of elderly nuns and the archbishop of Los Angeles over who has control of the sale and its proceeds.

At least two of the nuns don’t want Perry to buy their former home and in June hastily sold the convent to a businesswoman with ambitions of turning it into a boutique hotel.

Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant said Thursday that he believes the sale to entrepreneur Dana Hollister is invalid. Still, he blocked Perry and representatives of the archdiocese from visiting the convent until after the court case is resolved. That could take months, if not years, the judge said.

“You’re not selling to Katy Perry anytime soon,” the judge told lawyers for the archbishop.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez wants to sell the convent to Perry, but the sale cannot go forward because Hollister has already registered a deed for the property.

The Roman villa-style convent sits on 8 acres in the Los Feliz neighborhood.

Perry’s involvement as well as infighting between the nuns and archbishop packed the courtroom Thursday with journalists, concerned residents, Hollister and two of the nuns.

Chalfant’s mixed ruling requires Hollister to pay $25,000 a month to the nuns until a September hearing, when he will determine who should pay rent on the property while the court battle is waged.

An attorney for Perry, who performed her hit “Roar” at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, said the singer would pay rent on the property.

With a pair of nuns watching in the audience, Chalfant said it appeared they had acted improperly when they sold the convent to Hollister in June.

“There is no doubt in my mind sale to defendant Hollister was improper and invalid,” the judge said.

The Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary have owned the property for more than 40 years, but they haven’t lived in the convent for several years. Only five sisters, ranging from 77 to 88, remain, and their order has bickered with the archbishop for years on various issues.

Chalfant said the case boiled down to control and ruled that the dispute should be governed by church, not civil laws. But at one point he chided the archbishop’s lawyers over the church’s treatment of the sisters.

“They don’t need your help, so long as you let them have their own money,” Chalfant said, drawing cheers from the audience.

Bernard Resser, an attorney for the sisters, said after the hearing that the judge seemed to recognize the nuns’ concerns about their welfare.

“The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have shown great courage in maintaining their independence and have demonstrated they are self-sufficient and capable of conducting their own affairs,” Resser wrote in a statement.

The archdiocese wrote in a statement that the wellbeing of the sisters is its primary concern, and it sued Hollister over the sued to protect their interests as well as the property.

The property was bestowed to them by a devout Catholic who wanted the nuns to keep him in their prayers.

Before it was a convent, the property was a private residence, rarely photographed, and few people have ever seen it up close.

“It’s really a beautiful, old Hollywood estate,” said Adrian Glick Kudler, senior editor of the real estate blog Curbed LA.

Perry, whose parents are protestant ministers, has agreed to pay $14.5 million for the convent and to relocate an adjoining house of prayer used by priests. Hollister has agreed to pay $10 million for the property and set aside $5.5 million to relocate the prayer house.

In May, at the archbishop’s request, the nuns met with Perry to see if a compromise could be worked out. At least two of the five surviving nuns — who had already searched for Perry’s music videos and weren’t pleased with what they saw — weren’t swayed by the meeting.

Perry’s bid to purchase the convent still requires the Vatican’s approval.

———

Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — If it’s confirmed that a wing fragment found on a remote island in the Indian Ocean is from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, lost more than 500 days ago, could scientists use their knowledge of ocean currents to trace back its path and pinpoint the bulk of the wreck?

Australian oceanographer David Griffin says that would be akin to using modeling of big-city crowd flows to try to predict the travels of a random person encountered on the street. In short, next to impossible.

While Griffin and other oceanographers say the discovery on the island of Reunion fits in with their large-scale modeling of how debris drifts across the Indian Ocean, there remain a mind-boggling number of variables in the journey of any single piece of flotsam.

For instance, although Reunion is 4,200 kilometers (2,600 miles) from the current search site off the Australian coast, the wing fragment is likely to have zigzagged significantly farther than that.

Oceanographers say currents in the Indian Ocean generally flow counterclockwise, meaning that if the plane crashed near where authorities suspect, the fragment may first have drifted north toward the Indonesian island of Sumatra before turning west, traveling past India and finally heading south toward Reunion.

Even within that journey, there is likely to have been plenty of meandering. That’s because of the numerous squalls and storms in the Indian Ocean, many of which aren’t well recorded, not to mention tidal changes and the seemingly random channels of water that move counter to the general flow.

Griffin says even variables like how much the debris protrudes above the water will affect how much wind it catches, and its shape will influence how well it surfs down wave faces.

“The job we are trying to do now is to reverse the modeling and backtrack it,” said Griffin, who works for Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. “But really, the source could be anywhere in the east Indian Ocean.”

Griffin was among the scientists tasked in the weeks after Flight 370 disappeared with trying to predict where any debris might be floating. But extensive aerial searches at the time failed to locate even a single piece. Since then, he said, any small errors or biases in their modeling would have compounded over time, even before other variables are taken into account.

Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, also used computer modeling last year, managing to predict that any debris might end up somewhere near Madagascar or Reunion about now. He is also trying to reverse his modeling, but says it may end up being little more than an academic exercise.

“In terms of the search for the final resting place, this doesn’t make much of a difference,” he said. “It does help debunk the conspiracy theories, and give us confidence we are looking in the right place.”

Searchers have been using sonar and video to comb an expanse of remote ocean floor off Australia after an international team of investigators who analyzed transmissions between the airliner and a satellite calculated that Flight 370 most likely crashed there. But after months of searching, they have found no sign of the plane.

Pattiaratchi said if searchers on the other side of the Indian Ocean find more debris, it could help triangulate a pattern of drift. A French law enforcement helicopter has been scouring the waters around the island in hopes of spotting more debris. Pattiaratchi said he hopes authorities expand the search into a broader area, including looking along the eastern coast of Madagascar.

There could also be other aspects of the wing fragment that yield clues, said Robin Beaman, a marine geologist at Australia’s James Cook University.

He said it would be worth studying the barnacles attached to the fragment to gauge their age, which might indicate how long the fragment had been adrift, and whether the barnacles are unique to a certain part of the ocean.

He said he suspects, however, the barnacles are likely to be of the “cosmopolitan” variety, found across many regions of the ocean.

Oceanographer Arnold Gordon, of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the amount of barnacles on the part are consistent with other debris he’s seen which has been in the ocean for more than a year.

“It’s been 16 months from the crash and everything fits together,” he said. “So I think the probability that it’s from 370 is pretty high.”

Gordon said the discovery will give confidence to the ocean floor searchers that they are looking in the right area. He said it’s possible, but unlikely, that more debris will wash ashore on Reunion. He also hopes that searchers will look at other nearby islands for debris.

In fact, the search for Flight 370 may be literally turning full circle.

Because of the ocean’s counterclockwise currents, Gordon said, any remaining debris may have already moved around the clock and be heading east.

That would take it back toward Australia and to where the search first began.

———

Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein in Washington D.C. contributed to this report.