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

Hamas frees two Israeli women as US advises delaying ground war to allow talks on captives RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Monday released two elderly Israeli women held hostage in Gaza as the United States expressed increasing concern that the esc

Hamas frees two Israeli women as US advises delaying ground war to allow talks on captives

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Monday released two elderly Israeli women held hostage in Gaza as the United States expressed increasing concern that the escalating Israel-Hamas war will spark a wider conflict in the region, including attacks on American troops.

The death toll in Gaza rose rapidly as Israel ramped up airstrikes that flattened buildings in what it said was preparation for an eventual ground assault. The United States advised Israel to delay the expected invasion to allow time to negotiate the release of more hostages taken by Hamas during its brutal incursion two weeks ago.

A third small aid convoy from Egypt entered Gaza, where the population of 2.3 million has been running out of food, water and medicine under Israel’s sealed border. With Israel still barring entry of fuel, the U.N. said its distribution of aid would grind to a halt within days when it can no longer fuel its trucks. Gaza hospitals flooded by a constant stream of wounded are struggling to keep generators running to power lifesaving medical equipment and incubators for premature babies.

The two freed hostages, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz and 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, were taken out of Gaza at the Rafah crossing into Egypt, where they were put into ambulances, according to footage shown on Egyptian TV. The two women, along with their husbands, were snatched from their homes in the kibbutz of Nir Oz near the Gaza border during Hamas’ Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israeli communities. Their husbands, ages 83 and 84, were not released.

“While I cannot put into words the relief that she is now safe, I will remain focused on securing the release of my father and all those — some 200 innocent people — who remain hostages in Gaza," Lifshitz' daughter, Sharone Lifschitz, said in a statement.


Pentagon rushes defenses and advisers to Middle East as Israel's ground assault in Gaza looms

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has sent military advisers, including a Marine Corps general versed in urban warfare, to Israel to aid in its war planning and is speeding multiple sophisticated air defense systems to the Middle East days ahead of an anticipated ground assault into Gaza.

One of the officers leading the assistance is Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Glynn, who previously helped lead special operations forces against the Islamic State and served in Fallujah, Iraq, during some of the most heated urban combat there, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss Glynn’s role and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Glynn will also be advising on how to mitigate civilian casualties in urban warfare, the official said.

Israel is preparing a large-scale ground operation in an environment in which Hamas militants have had years to prepare tunnel networks and set traps throughout northern Gaza's dense urban blocks. Glynn and the other military officers who are advising Israel “have experience that is appropriate to the sorts of operations that Israel is conducting,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday. The advisers will not be engaged in the fighting, the unidentified U.S. official said.

The military team is one of many fast-moving pieces the Pentagon is getting in place to try and prevent the already intense conflict between Israel and Hamas from becoming a wider war. It also is trying to protect U.S. personnel, who in the last few days have come under repeated attacks that the Pentagon has said were likely endorsed by Iran.


Two weeks ago she was thriving. Now, a middle-class mom in Gaza struggles to survive

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Yousra Abu Sharekh’s days begin in the southern Gaza Strip often after sleepless nights amid blaring ambulance sirens and the clamor of neighbors in the brief pause between relentless Israeli airstrikes.

By daybreak, the 33-year-old mother is on the hunt for bread, lining up for hours at bakeries to buy one bag to feed her two children. Without electricity, disconnected from her relatives and terrified by the sounds of warplanes overhead, she rushes in the afternoon to see her sick mother at a crowded U.N. shelter 20 minutes away.

There, she finally can charge her phone and check on her 66-year-old father who stubbornly stayed behind in their northern Gaza City home, refusing to heed Israeli evacuation orders.

Only two weeks ago, Abu Sharekh had a thriving life, working enthusiastically at a coveted new job and caring for her family.

“I feel either we were dreaming then or we are in a nightmare now,” she said. “Everyone was making plans, enjoying their lives the best they could. Suddenly we are wandering the streets without fuel to drive our cars, electricity, water or food. Homes are lost, people are being killed.”


It's Day 20 with no House speaker, and lower-level names seek Trump's support and race for the gavel

WASHINGTON (AP) — On Day 20 without a House speaker, Republicans found themselves starting over Monday — bumbling ahead with few ideas about who will lead, what they are fighting over and when they will get Congress working again.

Republicans gathered late in the evening to hear quick speeches from the congressmen seeking the job, though none has a clear shot at the gavel. Eight candidates are in the running for one speaker after one dropped out. Behind closed doors, they made their elevator pitches to colleagues ahead of internal party voting.

Senior-most among the hopefuls is Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, but neither he or the other lower-level Republican lawmakers are expected to quickly secure a majority. Instead he and others are reaching out to Donald Trump for backing ahead of elections to choose a nominee. One, Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, dropped out.

“They all called asking for support,” said Trump, the Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential race, who was in New Hampshire registering for the state’s primary ballot.

Of Emmer, Trump said, “I think he’s my biggest fan now because he called me yesterday and told me I’m your biggest fan.”


'Superfog' in Louisiana blamed for highway crashes that killed at least 7 people, officials say

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — At least seven people were killed Monday morning after a “superfog” of smoke from south Louisiana marsh fires and dense fog caused multiple massive car crashes involving 158 vehicles, authorities said.

Twenty-five people were injured and the number of fatalities may increase as first responders work into the night clearing the scenes and searching for victims, Louisiana State Police said in a statement Monday evening.

Videos of apocalyptic type scenes from the aftermath of the wrecks showed a long stretch of mangled and scorched cars on Interstate 55 near New Orleans. Vehicles were crushed, rammed under one another and some engulfed by flames. Many people initially stood on the side of the road or on the roof of their vehicle looking in disbelief at the disaster, while others cried out for help.

Piles of disformed cars, heaped on top of one another as firefighters trudged through the debris, remained on the interstate as the sun set. Hours after the crashes, the smell of burnt wreckage still wafted in the area.

Christopher Coll, 41, was among the drivers in one of the pileups.


An off-duty pilot is accused of trying to shut down the engines of a Horizon Air jet in midflight

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An off-duty pilot riding in the extra seat in the cockpit of a Horizon Air passenger jet tried to shut down the engines in midflight and had to be subdued by the crew, a pilot flying the plane told air traffic controllers.

Authorities in Oregon identified the man as Joseph David Emerson, 44. He was being held Monday on 83 counts each of attempted murder and reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

The San Francisco-bound flight on Sunday diverted to Portland, Oregon, where Emerson was taken into custody by officers from the Port of Portland. He is to be arraigned Tuesday.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, which owns Horizon, a regional carrier, did not name Emerson, but said Monday that the threat was posed by one of its pilots who was off duty but authorized to occupy the cockpit jump seat.

The airline said in a statement that the captain and co-pilot "quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.” Alaska said no weapons were involved.


Trump compares himself to Mandela and rails against Biden after filing for New Hampshire primary

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump compared himself to anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela on Monday as he cast himself as the victim of federal and state prosecutors he alleges are targeting him and his businesses for political reasons.

Returning to New Hampshire to register for its presidential primary, Trump held a rally where he railed against President Joe Biden’s response to the Hamas attack on Israel and vowed to build an Iron Dome-style missile defense shield over the U.S.

But he focused much of his dark and at times profane speech on the criminal and civil cases against him, at one point suggesting he would go to prison like the former South African president who spent 27 years in prison for opposing South Africa’s apartheid system and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

“I don't mind being Nelson Mandela because I'm doing it for a reason,” Trump told am amped-up crowd of supporters at a sports complex in Derry, New Hampshire. ”We've got to save our country from these fascists, these lunatics that we're dealing with. They're horrible people and they're destroying our country."

Trump is facing four criminal indictments as well as civil trials that span allegations that he inflated his worth, misclassified hush money payments to women during his 2016 campaign, illegally tried to overturn his 2020 election loss and hoarded classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club.


UAW's confrontational leader makes gains in strike talks, but some wonder: Has he reached too far?

WAYNE, Mich. (AP) — Throughout its 5-week-old strikes against Detroit’s automakers, the United Auto Workers union has cast an emphatically combative stance, reflecting the style of its pugnacious leader, Shawn Fain.

Armed with a list of what even Fain has called “audacious” demands for better pay and benefits, the UAW leader has embodied the exasperation of workers who say they've struggled for years while the automakers have enjoyed billions in profits. Yet as the strikes have dragged on, analysts and even some striking workers have begun to raise a pivotal question: Does Fain have an endgame to bring the strikes to a close?

People with personal ties to Fain say his approach, on the picket lines and at the bargaining table, reflects the bluntly straightforward manner he developed as he rose through the union's ranks. He is, they say, the right man for the moment.

Others, though, say they worry that Fain set such high expectations for the pay and benefits he can extract from the companies that he risks incurring a personal setback if an eventual deal disappoints union members. A weak settlement could also make it difficult for Fain to expand UAW membership to non-union rivals such as Tesla and Toyota USA — an issue the union has been pushing.

“He’s gotten far more from the companies than anyone, in particular the companies, may have expected,” said Harley Shaiken, a professor emeritus specializing in labor at the University of California Berkeley. “But now is the critical point where you pull the package together. If it isn’t now, when will it be? That is what he’s got to be giving some thought to.”


After presidential race surprise, Argentine economy minister and right-wing populist look to runoff

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina's economy minister and the anti-establishment upstart he faces in a presidential runoff next month began competing Monday to shore up the moderate voters they need.

Economy Minister Sergio Massa earned almost seven points more than chainsaw-wielding economist and freshman lawmaker Javier Milei in Sunday's vote. Most polls had shown Massa slightly trailing, as voters had been expected to punish him for triple-digit inflation that has eaten away at purchasing power and boosted poverty.

On Nov. 19 voters will either choose Massa, despite the economic deterioration that took place on his watch, or place their hopes in a self-described anarcho-capitalist who promises a drastic shake-up of South America’s second-largest economy.

Milei's fiery rhetoric and radical proposals — like slashing subsidies that benefit a large swath of the population and replacing the local currency with the dollar — galvanized die-hard supporters, but cost him support among more moderate voters.

Massa focused his messaging in the latter part of the campaign on how Milei’s budget-slashing chainsaw would negatively affect citizens already struggling to make ends meet, with a particular focus on how much public transportation prices in Buenos Aires would increase without subsidies, said Mariel Fornoni of the political consulting firm Management & Fit.


Pham, Gurriel homer, Diamondbacks power past Phillies 5-1 to force NLCS Game 7

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Merrill Kelly retired Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper in order in the fifth inning, striking out Schwarber and Harper — October's biggest home run threats.

When the pitcher reached the dugout, manager Torey Lovullo offered a handshake to signal the start was over after 90 pitches. Kelly appeared agitated and gestured with his glove as if to point out he struck out Schwarber and Harper and had much more in the tank.

“It kind of just, I think, took me by shock more than anything,” Kelly said.

Here might be the real shock — especially in Philly. After losing the first two games of the NL Championship Series, the Arizona Diamondbacks are one win from their first World Series since 2001.

Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit back-to-back homers and Kelly struck out eight before his early hook to help Arizona force Game 7 with a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.

The Associated Press