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

Israeli airstrikes crush apartments in Gaza refugee camp, as ground troops battle Hamas militants

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — A barrage of Israeli airstrikes leveled apartment buildings in a refugee camp near Gaza City on Tuesday, with rescuers clawing through the destruction to pull men, women and children from the rubble. Israel said the strike, which targeted a senior Hamas military leader, destroyed a militant command center and an underground tunnel network.

The toll from the attack in the Jabaliya camp was not immediately known. The director of the nearby hospital where casualties were taken, Dr. Atef Al-Kahlot, said hundreds of people were wounded or killed, but he did not provide exact figures.

The Israeli military said dozens of militants were killed, including a key Hamas commander for northern Gaza.

Israel aggressively defended the attack, with military spokesman Jonathan Conricus saying the targeted commander had also been a key planner of the bloody Oct. 7 rampage that started the war, and that the apartment buildings collapsed only because the vast underground Hamas complex had been destroyed.

Neither side’s account could be independently confirmed.


Has Israel invaded Gaza? The military has been vague, even if its objectives are clear

Over the past five days, Israeli ground troops have pushed deeper and deeper into Gaza in their war against Hamas, launched in response to a bloody Oct. 7 cross-border raid by the Islamic militant group.

A growing array of units, including naval, air and ground forces, have joined the effort. The army says it has killed scores of militants and damaged Hamas’ strategic tunnel network. Soldiers have taken over abandoned Palestinian homes to stake out positions.

Yet even as the operation expands each day, the army refuses to call it an invasion.

Its vague choice of words is more than an issue of semantics. It appears to be a deliberate strategy aimed at keeping its enemy off balance and preserving its options as a lengthy war unfolds.

Here is a closer look at what Israel is doing inside Gaza.


House Speaker Mike Johnson was once the dean of a Christian law school. It never opened its doors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Before House Speaker Mike Johnson was elected to public office, he was the dean of a small Baptist law school that didn't exist.

The establishment of the Judge Paul Pressler School of Law was supposed to be a capstone achievement for Louisiana College, which administrators boasted would “unashamedly embrace” a “biblical worldview.” Instead, it collapsed roughly a decade ago without enrolling students or opening its doors amid infighting by officials, accusations of financial impropriety and difficulty obtaining accreditation, which frightened away would-be donors.

There is no indication that Johnson engaged in wrongdoing while employed by the private college, now known as Louisiana Christian University. But as a virtually unknown player in Washington, the episode offers insight into how Johnson navigated leadership challenges that echo the chaos, feuding and hard-right politics that have come to define the Republican House majority he now leads.

The chapter is just the latest to surface since the four-term congressman's improbable election as speaker last week following the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a reminder of his longstanding ties to the Christian right, which is now a dominant force in GOP politics.

It's also a milestone that he does not typically mention when discussing a pre-Congress resume that includes work as litigator for conservative Christian groups that fiercely opposed gay rights and abortion, as well as his brief tenure as a Louisiana lawmaker who pushed legislation that sanctioned discrimination for religious reasons.


Two pastors worry for their congregants’ safety. Are more guns the answer or the problem?

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — Inside the columned church on the corner, the rich tones of the organ have wrapped congregants in their embrace. The time has come for the Rev. Jimmie Hardaway Jr. to preach the lessons embodied by the Prince of Peace.

If only the world outside Trinity Baptist’s stained-glass windows were a more peaceful one. Alas, it is not.

So when Hardaway rises to the pulpit this Sunday morning – weeks after a 24-year-old man was shot to death in the street two blocks from the chapel, and days after a mass shooting claimed six lives at a church-run school in Tennessee – he carries a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol concealed in the pinstriped folds of his suit.

“I’m really not free if I have to sit here and worry about threats to a congregation,” says Hardaway, one of several religious leaders who sued New York officials last fall after lawmakers restricted guns in houses of worship. He notes the similarities between Trinity’s worshippers and those at a historic Black church in Charleston S.C., where a mass shooter killed nine people in 2015.

“I’m really not free if I know that there’s someone who can do harm and I can’t do anything to protect them,” says Hardaway, whose city struggles with one of the state’s highest rates of violent crime.


Maine mass shooter's troubling behavior raised concerns for months, documents show

Authorities publicly identified Robert Card as a person of interest about four hours after he shot and killed 18 people and wounded 13 others during attacks last week at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston, Maine. But Card, who was found dead two days after his rampage, had been well known to law enforcement for months. Here's a look at some of the interactions he had with sheriff's deputies, his family and members of his Army Reserve unit, as gleaned from statements made by authorities and documents they released:


On May 3, Card’s 18-year-old son and ex-wife told a school resource officer in Topsham, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) southeast of Lewiston, that they were growing concerned about his deteriorating mental health.

A Sagadahoc County sheriff's deputy met with the son and ex-wife that day and the son said that around last January, his father started claiming that people around him were saying derogatory things about him. He said his father had become angry and paranoid, and described an incident several weeks earlier in which he accused the son of saying things about him behind his back.

Card's ex-wife told the deputy that Card had recently picked up 10-15 guns from his brother's home, and she was worried about their son spending time with him.


Expert says Trump could have defended Capitol on Jan. 6 as disqualification case enters new phase

DENVER (AP) — Then-President Donald Trump could have mobilized the National Guard and other federal agencies to protect the U.S. Capitol once violence broke out on Jan. 6, 2021, a law professor testified Tuesday as a case to bar the former president from the 2024 ballot moved into a new phase.

William Banks, a Syracuse University law professor and expert in national security law, said that once the attack on the Capitol began, Trump had options he did not use.

“He should respond to his constitutional responsibilities to protect the security of the United States when there’s an assault on our democratic process,” Banks said of Trump.

Banks was testifying as a witness for a group of Colorado voters who want to bar Trump from the ballot for allegedly violating his oath to uphold the Constitution in his attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss. They cite a rarely used clause in the 14th Amendment, adopted just after the Civil War, that prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” against the Constitution from holding higher office.

The Colorado case and another before the Minnesota Supreme Court on Thursday are the two most advanced of dozens of challenges to Trump around the country. On Tuesday, his campaign filed a lawsuit in Michigan to stop a related case there. One of the cases is likely to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the insurrection clause.


Bodycam video shows police saving residents from Maui wildfire, keeping people out of burn zone

HONOLULU (AP) — An officer sprinted from house to house in the historic town of Lahaina, Hawaii, alerting people to the approaching inferno. Another coughed and swore as he drove through thick smoke past burning buildings with people he rescued crammed in the back seat. With no ambulance available, one officer offered to bring a severely burned man to a hospital.

While police frantically tried to save people from what would be the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century, they also faced another challenge: keeping people from heading back toward the flames, newly released video from body cameras shows.

“No more waiting! Too much people have died already!” one frustrated officer shouted at a line of stopped cars. “Turn around and get out of Lahaina! Stop being stubborn and get out of Lahaina now!”

The roughly 20 hours of video depict the actions of Maui police officers on Aug. 8, when strong winds from a hurricane passing far to the south drove flames that quickly leveled Lahaina and killed at least 99 people. Authorities initially released 16 minutes of clips during a news conference Monday, before providing the rest to The Associated Press in response to a public records request.

The video helps provide a fuller picture of how the disaster unfolded and officers’ efforts to react. Earlier this month Maui County provided AP with 911 call recordings in response to an open records request.


Largest Christian university in US faces record fine after federal probe into alleged deception

WASHINGTON (AP) — The country’s largest Christian university is being fined $37.7 million by the federal government amid accusations that it misled students about the cost of its graduate programs.

Grand Canyon University, which has more than 100,000 students, mostly in online programs, faces the largest fine of its kind ever issued by the U.S. Education Department. The university dismissed the allegations as “lies and deceptive statements.”

“Grand Canyon University categorically denies every accusation in the Department of Education’s statement and will take all measures necessary to defend itself from these false accusations,” the school said in a five-page statement.

An Education Department investigation found that Grand Canyon lied to more than 7,500 current and former students about the cost of its doctoral programs.

As far back as 2017, the university told students its doctoral programs would cost between $40,000 and $49,000. The department found that less than 2% of graduates completed programs within the range, with 78% paying an additional $10,000 to $12,000.


Natalee Holloway’s confessed killer returns to Peru to serve out sentence in another murder

LIMA, Peru (AP) — A Dutchman who recently confessed to killing American high school student Natalee Holloway in 2005 in Aruba was returned to Peru on Tuesday to serve the remainder of his prison sentence for murdering a Peruvian woman.

Joran van der Sloot arrived in Lima in the custody of law enforcement. The South American country’s government agreed in June to temporarily extradite him to the U.S. to face trial on extortion and wire fraud charges.

Van der Sloot was long the chief suspect in Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba, though authorities in the Dutch Caribbean island never prosecuted him. Then in an interview with his attorney conducted in the U.S. after his extradition, he admitted to beating the young woman to death on a beach after she refused his advances. He said he dumped her body into the sea.

Van der Sloot, 36, was charged in the U.S. for seeking a quarter of a million dollars to tell Holloway’s family the location of her remains. A plea deal in exchange for a 20-year sentence required him to provide all the information he knew about Holloway’s disappearance, allow her parents to hear in real time his discussion with law enforcement and take a polygraph test.

Video shared on social media by Peru’s National Police shows van der Sloot, hands and feet shackled, walking on the tarmac flanked by two Interpol agents, each grabbing one of his arms. He wore a pink short-sleeved shirt, jeans, tennis shoes and a bulletproof vest that identified him as an Interpol detainee.


Missouri appeals court rules against ballot summary language that described 'dangerous' abortions

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri appeals court ruled Tuesday against Republican-written summaries of abortion-rights ballot measures that described several proposed amendments as allowing “dangerous and unregulated abortions until live birth.”

A three-judge panel of the Western District Court of Appeals found the summaries written by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who is running for governor in 2024, are politically partisan.

Ballot summaries are used on Missouri ballots to help voters understand sometimes lengthy and complex constitutional amendments and policy changes.

Ashcroft’s original description of the amendments, which could go on the ballot in 2024 if supporters gather enough voter signatures, would have asked voters whether they want to “allow for dangerous, unregulated, and unrestricted abortions, from conception to live birth, without requiring a medical license or potentially being subject to medical malpractice.”

But the appeals-court panel wrote that allowing unrestricted abortion "during all nine months of pregnancy is not a probable effect of initiatives.”

The Associated Press