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

Thousands who were sheltering at Gaza City’s hospitals flee as Israel-Hamas war closes in

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Thousands of Palestinians sheltering from the Israel-Hamas war at Gaza City’s main hospital fled south Friday after several reported strikes in and around the compound overnight. They joined a growing exodus of people escaping intense urban fighting in the north — including near other hospitals — as Gaza officials said the territory’s death toll surpassed 11,000.

The search for safety across the besieged Gaza Strip has grown desperate as Israel intensified its assault on the territory’s largest city.

The Israeli army says Hamas’ military infrastructure is based amid Gaza City’s hospitals and neighborhoods, and that it has set up its main command center in and under the largest hospital, Shifa — claims the militant group and Shifa staff deny.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas after its deadly Oct. 7 surprise incursion, which killed at least 1,200.

More than 100,000 Palestinians have fled south over the past two days, according to Israel, but they still face bombardment and dire conditions. Reported strikes on or near at least four hospitals in northern Gaza overnight underscored the danger for tens of thousands more who had crowded into the facilities, believing they would be safe.


'From the river to the sea': Why these 6 words spark fury and passion over the Israel-Hamas war

The Jordan River is a winding, 200-plus-mile run on the eastern flank of Israel and the occupied West Bank. The sea is the glittering Mediterranean to its west.

But a phrase about the space in between, “from the river to the sea,” has become a battle cry with new power to roil Jews and pro-Palestinian activists in the aftermath of Hamas' deadly rampage across southern Israel Oct. 7 and Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

"From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," pro-Palestinian activists from London to Rome and Washington chanted in the volatile aftermath of Israel's bloodiest day. Adopting or defending it can be costly for public figures, such as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who was censured by the House on Tuesday.

But like so much of the Mideast conflict, what the phrase means depends on who is telling the story — and which audience is hearing it.

Many Palestinian activists say it's a call for peace and equality after 75 years of Israeli statehood and decades-long, open-ended Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians. Jews hear a clear demand for Israel's destruction.


Hollywood actors union board approves strike-ending deal as leaders tout money gains and AI rights

Board members from Hollywood's actors union voted Friday to approve the deal with studios that ended their strike after nearly four months, with the union's leadership touting the gains made in weeks of methodical negotiations.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists' executive director and chief negotiator, announced at an afternoon news conference that the tentative agreement was approved with 86% of the vote.

The three-year contract agreement next goes to a vote from the union's members, who are now learning what they earned through spending the summer and early fall on picket lines instead of film and television sets. That vote begins Tuesday and continues into December.

Crabtree-Ireland said the deal “will keep the motion picture industry sustainable as a profession for working class performers.”

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said the studios believed they could outlast actors by waiting more than two months before initiating talks.


FBI seized phones, iPad from New York Mayor Eric Adams in escalation of fundraising investigation

NEW YORK (AP) — FBI agents quietly seized phones and an iPad from New York City Mayor Eric Adams early this week as part of an investigation into political fundraising during his 2021 campaign, his attorney disclosed Friday.

The seizures happened as Adams was leaving a public event in Manhattan, according to a statement from the mayor’s attorney, Boyd Johnson.

“On Monday night, the FBI approached the mayor after an event. The Mayor immediately complied with the FBI’s request and provided them with electronic devices,” Johnson said. “The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing and continues to cooperate with the investigation.”

The seizure of the devices, first reported by The New York Times, came four days after federal agents searched the Brooklyn home of Adams’ top campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs. That search prompted the mayor to cancel a planned trip to meet with White House officials in Washington and instead return to New York.

In a statement on Friday, Adams, a former police captain, said he had “nothing to hide.”


Coach Jim Harbaugh banned from 3 games over sign-stealing allegations. Michigan asks judge for stay

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — The Big Ten Conference banned Jim Harbaugh from coaching at Michigan's three remaining regular-season games on Friday, escalating an extraordinary confrontation with college football's winningest program over a sign-stealing scheme that has rocked the sport.

The school delivered on its promise to fight back in court a few hours later, asking a Michigan judge for a temporary restraining order that would allow Harbaugh to coach the Wolverines in their biggest game of the season so far.

The discipline was announced less than 24 hours before kickoff at No. 9 Penn State. The second-ranked Wolverines (9-0) have a shot to win a third straight Big Ten title and the school's first national championship since 1997.

Michigan's team plane landed in Pennsylvania shortly before the announcement. It issued a statement ridiculing the decision.

“Like all members of the Big Ten Conference, we are entitled to a fair, deliberate and thoughtful process to determine the full set of facts before a judgment is rendered," Michigan President Santa Ono said in a statement. "Today’s action by Commissioner Tony Petitti disregards the conference’s own handbook, violates basic tenets of due process, and sets an untenable precedent of assessing penalties before an investigation has been completed.”


Mitch McConnell, standing apart in a changing GOP, digs in on his decades-long push against Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mitch McConnell often tells the story of a letter that his father, a foot soldier in World War II, wrote to his mother while he was stationed in Eastern Europe in 1945, as the United States was liberating the region from Nazi rule.

“I think the Russians are going to be a big problem,” A.M. McConnell wrote, foreshadowing the communist takeover to come.

Almost 80 years later, his son is still warning of Russia. From his perch as the long-time Republican leader in the U.S. Senate, McConnell has emerged as perhaps the strongest advocate in Congress for sending billions of dollars in American assistance to Ukraine as the country fights Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion, aligning himself with President Joe Biden and majority Democrats in the process.

It's hardly a change in outlook for the Kentucky senator, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and was shaped by the era when President Ronald Reagan was fighting the Cold War and U.S. foreign policy was centered on the Soviet threat.

But while McConnell still thinks of himself as a Reagan Republican, many in his party no longer do.


Clashes over Israel-Hamas war shatter students' sense of safety on US college campuses

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As a Jewish student, Eden Roth always has felt safe and welcome at Tulane University, where more than 40% of the students are Jewish. That has been tested by the aftermath of last month's Hamas incursion into Israel.

Graffiti appeared on the New Orleans campus with the message “ from the river to the sea,” a rallying cry for pro-Palestinian activists. Then came a clash between dueling demonstrations, where a melee led to three arrests and left a Jewish student with a broken nose.

“I think that the shift of experience with Jews on campus was extremely shocking,” said Roth, who was in Israel last summer for a study-abroad program. “A lot of students come to Tulane because of the Jewish population — feeling like they’re supported, like a majority rather than a minority. And I think that’s definitely shifted.”

Tulane isn’t alone. On other campuses, long-simmering tensions are erupting in violence and shattering the sense of safety that makes colleges hubs of free discourse. Students on both sides are witnessing acts of hate, leaving many fearing for their safety even as they walk to classrooms.

Threats and clashes have sometimes come from within, including at Cornell, where a student is accused of posting online threats against Jewish students. A University of Massachusetts student was arrested after allegedly punching a Jewish student and spitting on an Israeli flag at a demonstration. At Stanford, an Arab Muslim student was hit by a car in a case being investigated as a hate crime.


Local election workers have been under siege since 2020. Now they face fentanyl-laced letters

ATLANTA (AP) — While workers were counting ballots for primary elections in August, the elections office in King County, Washington, received a suspicious envelope that turned out to contain trace amounts of fentanyl.

It happened again this week, and not just in Washington state, where the office was processing ballots from the general election and had to be evacuated. Election offices in at least five states were sent threatening mail, some containing the potentially deadly drug, authorities say.

Authorities were working to intercept any additional letters still in the mail system, including one bound for Atlanta’s Fulton County, the largest voting jurisdiction in one of the nation’s most important presidential swing states. Officials said Friday afternoon the letter sent to the Georgia office had been located.

The letters were just the latest worrisome disruption for election workers in Seattle and across the country who have been besieged by threats, harassment and intimidation since the 2020 presidential election.

“There’s certainly a toll that occurs emotionally and mentally with our elections administrators, and it’s devastating,” said Julie Wise, the King County elections director. “But we’re not going to be paused or impacted by these individuals who clearly want to break us.”


96-year-old Korean War veteran still attempting to get Purple Heart medal after 7 decades

ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) — Earl Meyer remembers in vivid detail when his platoon came under heavy fire during the Korean War -- he still has shrapnel embedded in his thigh.

But over 70 years later, the 96-year-old is still waiting for the U.S. Army to recognize his injury and to award him a Purple Heart medal, which honors service members wounded or killed in combat.

Meyer has provided the Army with documents to back up his assertion that he was wounded in combat in June 1951. Doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed that his account of the shrapnel coming from a mortar attack was probably true. But few men in his unit who would have witnessed the battle have survived, and he thinks the medic who treated him on the battlefield was killed before he could file the paperwork.

An Army review board in April issued what it called a final rejection of Meyer’s request for a Purple Heart, citing insufficient documentation. His case highlights how it can be a struggle for wounded veterans to get medals they’ve earned when the fog of war, the absence of records and the passage of time make it challenging to produce proof.

“At first I didn’t know that I had been wounded,” Meyer wrote in a sworn statement that was part of his rejected appeal. “But as my unit advanced from where the mortar rounds were hitting, I noticed that my pants were sticking to my leg. I reached down to correct this and discovered that my hand was covered in blood.”


Judge declines for now to push back Trump's classified documents trial but postpones other deadlines

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge in Florida on Friday declined to delay Donald Trump’s classified documents trial, calling a request by the former president's defense lawyers to postpone the date “premature.” But she pushed back other deadlines in the case and signaled that she would revisit the trial date later.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon means that the trial, for now at least, remains scheduled to begin on May 20, 2024 despite efforts by the Trump team to postpone it until after next November's presidential election.

Trump's lawyers had argued that they needed more time to review the large trove of evidence with which they'd been presented and also cited scheduling challenges resulting from the other legal cases against Trump, including three additional criminal prosecutions for which he is awaiting trial. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team had vigorously opposed that position in urging the judge to leave the trial date intact.

Cannon signaled during a hearing this month, and again in her written order on Friday, that she was sympathetic to the defense arguments. She noted the “unusually high volume of classified and unclassified evidence" involved in the case, as well as the fact that Trump is currently scheduled next March to face both a federal trial in Washington and a trial on state charges in New York.

“Although the Special Counsel is correct that the trajectory of these matters potentially remains in flux, the schedules as they currently stand overlap substantially with the deadlines in this case, presenting additional challenges to ensuring Defendant Trump has adequate time to prepare for trial and to assist in his defense,” Cannon wrote.

The Associated Press