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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Netanyahu says the Gaza war has entered a new stage and will be 'long and difficult' JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation Saturday night that the military has opened a “second stage” in the war against Hamas by s

Netanyahu says the Gaza war has entered a new stage and will be 'long and difficult'

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation Saturday night that the military has opened a “second stage” in the war against Hamas by sending ground forces into Gaza and expanding attacks from the ground, air and sea.

Casting the war as a fight for his country's very survival, he warned that the assault would intensify ahead of a broad ground invasion into the territory.

“There are moments in which a nation faces two possibilities: to do or die,” Netanyahu said. “We now face that test and I have no doubt how it will end: We will be the victors. We will do and we will be the victors.”

The bombardment, described by Gaza residents as the most intense of the war, knocked out most communications in the territory and largely cut off the besieged enclave's 2.3 million people from the world. The military released grainy images showing tank columns moving slowly in open areas of Gaza, many apparently near the border, and said warplanes bombed dozens of Hamas tunnels and underground bunkers. The underground sites are a key target in Israel’s campaign to crush the territory’s ruling group after its bloody incursion into Israel three weeks ago.

The escalation ratcheted up domestic pressure on Israel's government to secure the release of dozens of hostages seized in the Oct. 7 rampage by Hamas, when militants stormed from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns and gunned down civilians and soldiers. The unprecedented attack during a major Jewish holiday initiated a war between Israel and Hamas that could spread into a broader Mideast conflict.


Most Palestinians in Gaza are cut off from the world. Those who connect talk of horror, hopelessness

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — News from inside the besieged Gaza Strip trickles out in urgent tones from the few Palestinians still managing to connect with the outside world after intense Israeli bombardment plunged the crowded enclave into a communications blackout.

Cellular and internet service abruptly vanished for most of Gaza late Friday, as Israel expanded ground operations and launched intense airstrikes that illuminated the night sky with furious orange flashes. A rare few Palestinians with international SIM cards or satellite phones took it upon themselves to get the news out.

Exhausted and afraid her link to the world was so tenuous it could drop at any moment, 28-year-old Palestinian journalist Hind al-Khoudary said the massive airstrikes that shook the ground exceeded anything she had experienced over the past three weeks or any of the four previous Israel-Hamas wars.

“It was crazy," she said.

After weeks of a total Israeli siege, Palestinians in Gaza felt the vise tightening. Social media had been a lifeline for Palestinians desperate to get news and to share their terrifying plight with the world. Now even that was gone. Many were consumed with hopelessness and fear as the Israeli military announced a new stage in its war, launched in a response to a bloody cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, and troops crossed into Gaza.


Maine mass killing suspect had mental health issues, purchased guns legally, authorities say

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Police missed two clear opportunities to end a dragnet that locked down and terrified Maine’s second-largest city after a gunman killed 18 people at a bowling alley and a bar following a recent spiral into paranoia.

The body of Robert Card was found Friday in a trailer at a recycling center in Lisbon Falls that police had searched a day earlier. Card died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, but it was unclear when, authorities said.

The 40-year-old was suspected of also injuring 13 people during the shooting rampage on Wednesday night in Lewiston.

Lisbon Police Chief Ryan McGee said law enforcement scoured the Maine Recycling Corp. property, where Card once worked, and cleared it on Thursday, but did not check another part of the company’s land nearby. Officers came back early Friday morning and again found nothing.

Another team returned that evening and searched the other part of the property that had not been checked, and found Card’s body in the trailer along with two firearms, McGee said. A rifle had been found Wednesday night in Card's abandoned car nearby.


Matthew Perry, Emmy-nominated 'Friends' star, has died at 54, reports say

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matthew Perry, who starred as sarcastic-but-sweet Chandler Bing in the hit series “Friends,” has died. He was 54.

The Emmy-nominated actor was found dead of an apparent drowning at his Los Angeles home Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times and celebrity website TMZ, which was the first to report the news. Both outlets cited unnamed sources confirming Perry's death.

In a statement, Warner Bros. Television Group said it is “devastated” by Perry's passing.

“Matthew was an incredibly gifted actor and an indelible part of the Warner Bros. Television Group family,” it said. “The impact of his comedic genius was felt around the world, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of so many. This is a heartbreaking day, and we send our love to his family, his loved ones, and all of his devoted fans.”

Perry’s publicists and other representatives did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. Asked to confirm police response to what was listed as Perry’s home address, LAPD Officer Drake Madison told AP that officers had gone to that block “for a death investigation of a male in his 50s.”


UAW and Stellantis reach tentative contract deal as union adds strike at Tennessee GM factory

DETROIT (AP) — Jeep maker Stellantis reached a tentative contract agreement with the United Auto Workers union on Saturday as it escalated strikes against General Motors by adding a plant in Tennessee.

The Stellantis deal, which still must be ratified by members, leaves only GM without an agreement with the union. But the union walked out Saturday night at a GM factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee, in an effort to increase pressure on the company to reach a deal.

The Stellantis deal mirrors one reached earlier this week with Ford. The union says the contract also saves jobs at a factory in Belvidere, Illinois, that Stellantis had planned to close.

GM said it was disappointed with the additional strike at the Spring Hill assembly and propulsion systems plant “in light of the progress we have made.” The company said in a statement that is has bargained in good faith with the union and wants to reach a deal as soon as possible.

Spring Hill is GM’s largest manufacturing facility in North America with 11 million square feet of building space and almost 4,000 employees. It makes the electric Cadillac Lyriq as well as the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5 and XT6 crossover SUVs.


Pence ends White House campaign after struggling to gain traction. 'This is not my time,' he says

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday dropped his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, ending his campaign for the White House after struggling to raise money and gain traction in the polls.

“It’s become clear to me: This is not my time," Pence said at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering in Las Vegas. “So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.”

"We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets,” Pence went on to tell the friendly audience, which reacted with audible surprise to the announcement and gave him multiple standing ovations.

Pence is the first major candidate to leave a race that has been dominated by his former boss-turned-rival, Donald Trump, and his struggles underscore just how much Trump has transformed the party. A former vice president would typically be seen as a formidable challenger in any primary, but Pence has struggled to find a base of support.

He chose the Las Vegas event to announce his decision, in part, so he could continue to voice his support for Israel and to make his case one last time as a candidate that the isolationist and populist tides that have swept the Republican Party pose a danger to its future and embolden the nation’s enemies, according to two people close to Pence who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss his thinking.


New Speaker Mike Johnson holds favor with conservatives. Can he unite the GOP where others failed?

WASHINGTON (AP) — New House Speaker Mike Johnson inherits many of the same problems that bedeviled Republican leaders with far more experience. At least for now, however, he holds favor with the ultra-conservative wing of his party that toppled previous House speakers. But can he unite House Republicans where others failed?

The Louisiana Republican emerged last week from the lower ranks of the House GOP leadership to ascend to speaker after lawmakers, driven by a faction of hard-liners, ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the job and then rejected two more top-ranked Republicans in leadership as well as conservative favorite Rep. Jim Jordan.

To his supporters, Johnson represented a turn to “decentralizing the power” from the speaker’s office, with a goal of cutting government spending and engaging forcefully on socially conservative priorities.

“The greatest threat to our national security is our nation's debt,” Johnson said in a speech after taking the gavel.

While not a member of the hard-charging House Freedom Caucus, Johnson is seen by Republicans as a dyed-in-the-wool conservative unlike previous speakers such as McCarthy, R-Calif., or former Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.


Live updates | Israel pounds Gaza Strip, dismissing calls for cease-fire

Israel entered a new phase of its war on Hamas on Saturday, expanding its ground attacks after blacking out nearly all communication in the Gaza Strip with increased bombardment and artillery fire. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a war for Israel's existence, and said “'Never again' is now.”

Gaza residents described the massive bombardment from the land, air and sea as the most intense of the 3-week-old Israel-Hamas war. Other countries and aid agencies say 2.3 million lives are in peril with Gazans cut off from the outside world and international help blocked at the border.

The Palestinian death toll passed 7,700, most of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.

More than 1,400 people were slain in Israel during a surprise incursion by Hamas militants, including at least 310 soldiers, according to the Israeli government. At least 229 hostages were taken into Gaza, and four hostages have been released.



An Iranian teenager injured on Tehran Metro while not wearing a headscarf has died, state media say

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Iranian teenage girl injured weeks ago in a mysterious incident on Tehran's Metro while not wearing a headscarf has died, state media reported Saturday.

The death of Armita Geravand comes after her being in a coma for weeks in Tehran and after the one-year anniversary of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini which sparked nationwide protests at the time.

Geravand's Oct. 1 injury and now her death threaten to reignite that popular anger, particularly as women in Tehran and elsewhere still defy Iran's mandatory headscarf, or hijab, law as a sign of their discontent with Iran's theocracy.

“Armita’s voice has been forever silenced, preventing us from hearing her story,” wrote the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. “Yet we do know that in a climate where Iranian authorities severely penalize women and girls for not adhering to the state’s forced-hijab law, Armita courageously appeared in public without one.”

It added: “As long as the Iranian government enforces its draconian mandatory hijab law, the lives of girls and women in Iran will hang in the balance, vulnerable to severe rights violations, including violence and even death.”


Mexican security authorities raise Hurricane Otis death toll to 39

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Kristian Vera stood on an Acapulco beach Saturday looking out toward dozens of sunken boats, including three of her own, all marked by floating buoys or just poking out of the water.

Despite losing her livelihood in Hurricane Otis’ brutal pass through Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, the 44-year-old fisher felt fortunate. That morning, she had watched a body pulled from the water and had seen the families coming and going, looking for their loved ones.

Mexican authorities raised Otis’ official toll to 39 dead and 10 missing Saturday. But Vera and others suggested that number will likely grow, in part because of the number of people who rode out on boats during what had started as a tropical storm and ended as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane on Wednesday.

Vera took turns with four others swimming out with empty gas jugs for flotation to try to raise their sunken boats from the shallow harbor.

Leaning against a small wooden fishing boat like her own, tipped on its side on a beach strewn with trash and fallen trees, Vera explained that some of the people who died were either fishers caring for their boats or yacht captains who were told by their owners that they needed to make sure their boats were OK when Otis was still a tropical storm.

The Associated Press