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Palestinians rush to buy food and struggle under strikes as Israel readies possible ground operation JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians lined up outside bakeries and grocery stores in Gaza on Thursday after spending the night surrounded by the ruins of pu

Palestinians rush to buy food and struggle under strikes as Israel readies possible ground operation

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians lined up outside bakeries and grocery stores in Gaza on Thursday after spending the night surrounded by the ruins of pulverized neighborhoods darkened by a near-total power outage. Israel launched new airstrikes and said it was preparing for a possible ground invasion.

International aid groups warned that the death toll in Gaza could mount after Israel stopped all deliveries of food, water, fuel and electricity and the tiny enclave's crossing with Egypt closed. The war — which was ignited by a bloody and wide-ranging assault on Israel by Hamas militants — has already claimed at least 2,500 lives on both sides.

Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters Thursday that forces “are preparing for a ground maneuver if decided," but that political leaders have not yet ordered one. A ground offensive in Gaza, whose 2.3 million residents are densely packed into a sliver of land only 40 kilometers (25 miles) long, would likely bring even higher casualties on both sides in brutal house-to-house fighting.

As Israel pounds Gaza, Hamas fighters have fired thousands of rockets into Israel since their weekend assault. Militants in the territory are also holding an estimated 150 people taken hostage from Israel.

Already, Palestinians fleeing airstrikes could be seen running through the streets, carrying their belongings and looking for a safe place. Tens of thousands have crowded into U.N.-run schools while others are staying with relatives or even strangers who let them in.


Biden calls Hamas attacks the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust as US death toll ticks up

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the weekend attack by Hamas militants on Israel as the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust as the number of U.S. citizens killed in the fighting ticked up to at least 22.

“This attack was a campaign of pure cruelty — not just hate, but pure cruelty — against the Jewish people,” Biden told Jewish leaders gathered at the White House.

Beyond the 22 known to have been killed, the State Department said at least 17 more Americans remain unaccounted for in a war that has already claimed more than 2,200 lives on both sides. A “handful” of U.S. citizens are among the estimated 150 hostages captured by Hamas militants during their shocking weekend assault on Israel, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

Signs of U.S. support for Israel were seen across the administration, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveling there for meetings, Biden denouncing antisemitism in America and the U.S. military moving a second aircraft carrier toward the Mediterranean Sea as part of efforts to prevent the war from spilling over into a more dangerous regional conflict.

Kirby said the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its ships would be an “available asset” if necessary. The USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier, and its strike group have already arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean.


The US is moving quickly to boost Israel's military. A look at what assistance it's providing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Within hours of the horrific attack by Hamas, the U.S. began moving warships and aircraft to the region to be ready to provide Israel with whatever it needs to respond.

A second U.S. carrier strike group departs from Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday. Scores of aircraft are heading to U.S. military bases around the Middle East. And special operations forces are now assisting Israel's military in planning and intelligence.

The buildup reflects U.S. concern that the deadly fighting between Hamas and Israel could escalate into a more dangerous regional conflict. So the primary mission for those ships and warplanes for now is to establish a force presence that deters Hezbollah, Iran or others from taking advantage of the situation. But the forces the U.S. sent are capable of more than that.

The U.S. is also expediting the shipment of munitions and interceptors for Israel's fight against Hamas.

A look at what weapons and options the U.S. military could provide:


CIA publicly acknowledges 1953 coup it backed in Iran was undemocratic as it revisits 'Argo' rescue

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — While revealing new details about one of the most famed CIA operations of all times — the spiriting out of six American diplomats who escaped the 1979 U.S. Embassy seizure in Iran — the intelligence agency for the first time has acknowledged something else as well.

The CIA now officially describes the 1953 coup it backed in Iran that overthrew its prime minister and cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as undemocratic.

Other American officials have made similar remarks in the past, but the CIA's acknowledgment in a podcast about the agency's history comes as much of its official history of the coup remains classified 70 years after the putsch. That complicates the public's understanding of an event that still resonates, as tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington over the Islamic Republic's rapidly advancing nuclear program, its aiding of militia groups across the Mideast and as it cracks down on dissent.

The “CIA’s leadership is committed to being as open with the public as possible," the agency said in a statement responding to questions from The Associated Press. "The agency’s podcast is part of that effort — and we knew that if we wanted to tell this incredible story, it was important to be transparent about the historical context surrounding these events, and CIA’s role in it.”

In response to questions from the AP, Iran's mission to the United Nations described the 1953 coup as marking “the inception of relentless American meddling in Iran’s internal affairs” and dismissed the U.S. acknowledgments.


Republican Steve Scalise is seen as a fighter, but becoming House speaker might require a brawl

WASHINGTON (AP) — With his walker positioned on the mound, Rep. Steve Scalise threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Washington Nationals ballpark, a breathtaking comeback for the Republican congressman who just months earlier was fighting for his life after a gunman had opened fire on lawmakers at their own charity baseball game practice.

An “American hero,” is how Republican colleagues describe Scalise after the 2017 shooting and on Wednesday, a narrow majority of them nominated him as their next House speaker following the unprecedented ouster of the former speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Scalise, 58, and recently diagnosed with blood cancer, spent the rest of the day holed up in the stately Speaker's office at the Capitol, vigorously working to secure the support he will need from his detractors to lead the divided Republican majority ahead of a full House vote to take the gavel.

“As we’ve all witnessed, he is a fighter,” said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky. “He has proven against all odds he can get the job done and come back from adversity.”

An affable Louisianan, Scalise was first elected to Congress in 2008, after more than a decade in the state legislature, and swiftly rose through the ranks in Washington.


More Americans support striking auto workers than car companies, AP-NORC poll shows

A majority of Americans support higher pay for auto workers who are on strike against Detroit's big three carmakers, although approval of the workers' other demands is more mixed, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll found that 36% of Americans sympathize with the workers in their dispute with the automakers, 9% support the automakers, and the rest back both or neither.

Support for the autoworkers fell short of the 55% support for striking Hollywood writers and actors in an AP-NORC poll conducted last month.

Still, the new poll adds to evidence of U.S. support for labor unions during a year marked by strikes in Hollywood, a walkout that was narrowly averted by Teamsters at United Parcel Service, and now the picket lines outside auto plants.

In the new AP-NORC survey, 51% say labor unions help U.S. workers while only 15% say they hurt working people. About one-third say unions help the U.S. economy, while 22% say they damage the economy.


IMF and World Bank are urged to boost funding for African nations facing conflict and climate change

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Many poor countries in Africa face the harshest effects of climate change: severe droughts, vicious heat and dry land, but also unpredictable rain and devastating flooding. The shocks worsen conflict and upend livelihoods because many people are farmers — work that is increasingly vulnerable in a warming world.

Climate challenges are at the root of vulnerabilities faced by conflict-ridden countries in Africa's Sahel region, such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and northern Nigeria, experts say. Adapting to these challenges could cost up to $50 billion per year, according to the Global Commission on Adaptation, while the International Energy Agency estimates the clean energy transition could cost as much as $190 billion a year — overwhelming costs for Africa.

Countries have limited space in their budgets, and borrowing more to fund climate goals will worsen their considerable debt burdens, argue African leaders, who are seeking a rapid boost in financing.

Some leaders suggested that this week's meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Marrakech, Morocco, would be “a good place to start” a conversation about Africa’s financial challenges and its ability to handle climate shocks.

It comes amid criticism that the lending institutions are not taking climate change and the vulnerabilities of poor countries enough into account in their funding decisions.


Who witnessed Tupac Shakur's 1996 killing in Las Vegas? Here's what we know

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Duane “Keffe D” Davis is the last living suspect in one of hip-hop's most enduring mysteries — the 1996 killing of rap icon Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas.

Davis, 60, is accused of orchestrating the drive-by shooting near the Las Vegas Strip that also wounded rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight. Davis was arrested and indicted Sept. 29 — more than two months after police raided his home outside Las Vegas. He remains jailed on a murder charge and is due back in court Oct. 19.

On the night of Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur was in the passenger seat of a black BMW that Knight was driving when a white Cadillac pulled up on their right side and gunfire erupted. Knight was wounded but survived. Shakur died a week later at the age of 25.

Police and prosecutors say the shooting stemmed from a fierce competition for dominance in a musical genre that pitted East Coast members of a Bloods gang sect against West Coast members of a Crips sect that Davis has said he led in Compton, California.

That night, three others were with Davis in the Cadillac, but none of them faced charges in Shakur's killing before they died.


An Oklahoma man used pandemic relief funds to have his name cleared of murder

GREENWOOD, Ark. (AP) — Ricky Dority spends most of his days playing with his grandchildren, feeding chickens and working in the yard where he lives with his son's family.

It's a jarring change from where he was just several months ago, locked in a cell serving a life prison sentence at Oklahoma's Joseph Harp Correctional Center in a killing he said he didn't commit. After more than two decades behind bars, Dority had no chance at being released — until he used his pandemic relief funds to hire a dogged private investigator.

The investigator and students at the Oklahoma Innocence Project at Oklahoma City University, which is dedicated to exonerating wrongful convictions in the state, found inconsistencies in the state's account of a 1997 cold-case killing, and Dority's conviction was vacated in June by a Sequoyah County judge.

Now, the 65-year-old says he’s enjoying the 5-acre property in a quiet neighborhood of well-to-do homes in the rolling, forested hills of the Arkansas River Valley outside of Fort Smith. “If you’re gone for a lot of years, you don’t take it for granted anymore.”

Dority is one of nearly 3,400 people who have been exonerated across the country since 1989, mostly over murder convictions, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. In Oklahoma, there have been more than 43 exonerations in that time, not including three new exonerations this year.


$1.73 billion Powerball jackpot goes to lucky lottery player in California

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A player in California won a $1.73 billion Powerball jackpot Wednesday night, ending a long stretch without a winner of the top prize.

The winning numbers were: 22, 24, 40, 52, 64 and the Powerball 10. The winning ticket was sold at Midway Market & Liquor in Frazier Park, according to the California Lottery.

Phone calls Wednesday night to Midway Market & Liquor went unanswered.

“The phone’s been ringing off the hook, people saying congratulations. Pretty crazy,” the store’s night worker, identified only as Duke, told KCAL-TV.

“Somebody owes me a truck,” he said with a smile. “A lot of customers come in, you know they come in every day to get their tickets, religiously. And a lot of them ... said: ‘Oh, if I win I’m gonna get you a new truck.’ So where’s my truck? I’ll be waiting.”

The Associated Press