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

WikiLeaks’ Assange pleads guilty in deal with US that secures his freedom, ends legal fight

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pleaded guilty to obtaining and publishing U.S. military secrets in a deal with Justice Department prosecutors that secures his liberty and concludes a drawn-out legal saga that raised divisive questions about press freedom and national security.

The criminal case of international intrigue, which had played out for years in major world stages of Washington and London, came to a surprise end in a most unusual setting with Assange, 52, entering his plea Wednesday morning in federal court in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands. The American commonwealth in the Pacific is relatively close to Assange's native Australia and accommodated his desire to avoid entering the continental United States.

The deal required the iconoclastic internet publisher to admit guilt to a single felony count but also permitted him to return to Australia without any time in an American prison. The judge sentenced him to the five years he'd already spent behind bars in the United Kingdom, fighting extradition to the United States on an Espionage Act indictment that could have carried a lengthy prison sentence in the event of a conviction. He was holed up for seven years before that in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

He smiled slightly as U.S. District Judge Ramona Manglona imposed the sentence, pronouncing him a “free man."

The conclusion enables both sides to claim a degree of satisfaction. The Justice Department, facing a defendant who had already served substantial jail time, was able to resolve — without trial — a case that raised thorny legal issues and that might never have reached a jury at all given the plodding pace of the extradition process. Assange, for his part, signaled a begrudging contentment with the resolution, saying in court that though he believed the Espionage Act contradicted the First Amendment, he accepted the consequences of soliciting classified information from sources for publication.


Who is Julian Assange, the polarizing founder of the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks?

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — He emerged on the information security scene in the 1990s as a “famous teenage hacker" following what he called an “ itinerant minstrel childhood” beginning in Townsville, Australia. But the story of Julian Assange, eccentric founder of secret-spilling website WikiLeaks, never became less strange — or less polarizing — after he jolted the United States and its allies by revealing secrets of how America conducted its wars.

Since Assange drew global attention in 2010 for his work with prominent news outlets to publish war logs and diplomatic cables that detailed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other matters, he has provoked fervor among his admirers and loathing from his detractors with little in-between — seen either as a persecuted hero for open and transparent government, or a villain who put American lives at risk by aiding its enemies, and prompting fraught debates about state secrecy and freedom of the press.

Assange, 52, grew up attending “37 schools” before he was 14 years old, he wrote on his now-deleted blog. The details in it are not independently verifiable and some of Assange’s biographical details differ between accounts and interviews. A memoir published against his will in 2011, after he fell out with his ghostwriter, described him as the son of roving puppeteers, and he told The New Yorker in 2010 that his mother’s itinerant lifestyle barred him from a consistent or complete education. But by the age of 16, in 1987, he had his first modem, he told the magazine. Assange would burst forth as an accomplished hacker who with his friends broke into networks in North America and Europe.

In 1991, at age 20, Assange hacked a Melbourne terminal for a Canadian telecommunications company, leading to his arrest by the Australian Federal Police and 31 criminal charges. After pleading guilty to some counts, he avoided jail time after the presiding judge attributed his crimes to merely “intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to — what’s the expression? — surf through these various computers.”

He later studied mathematics and physics at university, but did not complete a degree. By 2006, when he founded WikiLeaks, Assange’s delight at being able to traverse locked computer systems seemingly for fun developed into a belief that, as he wrote on his blog, “only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.”


Rep. Lauren Boebert wins GOP primary after switching Colorado districts; Hurd, Crank also notch wins

DENVER (AP) — U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won Tuesday's Republican primary in a U.S. House race that she jumped into last year, surviving a scandal over a video of her at a Denver theater and accusations of carpetbagging after fleeing what could have been a tough reelection bid in her current district.

In two other closely watched Republican contests, Attorney Jeff Hurd won the primary for the 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by Boebert, and political consultant and talk radio host Jeff Crank defeated Colorado GOP Chairman Dave Williams in the 5th District.

Boebert built national hard-line conservative stardom through a take-no-prisoners political style in the House. That clout likely made it easier for her to weather the scandals of the last year, which included the video of her vaping and causing a disturbance at a musical production of “Beetlejuice.”

Taking the stage at her election night victory party, she wore a pair of reflective gold sneakers sold by Former President Donald Trump and a white “Make America Great Again” hat with his signature across the bill.

“America will rise again, and I am so excited that you all are here to be a part of it with me,” Boebert said to applause.


George Latimer, a pro-Israel centrist, defeats Rep. Jamaal Bowman in New York Democratic primary

George Latimer, a pro-Israel centrist, defeated U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman on Tuesday in a Democratic primary in suburban New York that highlighted the party’s deep divisions over the war in Gaza.

With the victory, Latimer has ousted one of the most liberal voices in Congress and one of its most outspoken critics of Israel. Bowman has accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, where thousands of Palestinians have died in military strikes.

Latimer, who got into the race at the urging of Jewish leaders and had heavy financial backing from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is a former state legislator who has served as Westchester County executive since 2018.

In a victory speech, Latimer called for more civility following the contentious election.

“We have to fight to make sure we don’t vilify each other and we remember that we’re all Americans, and our common future is bound together," he told supporters at an event in White Plains.


Israelis' lawsuit says UN agency helps Hamas by paying Gaza staff in dollars

NEW YORK (AP) — Israelis who were taken hostage or lost loved ones during Hamas' Oct. 7 attack are suing the United Nations agency that aids Palestinians, claiming it has helped finance the militants by paying agency staffers in U.S. dollars and thereby funneling them to money-changers in Gaza who allegedly give a cut to Hamas.

But the agency, known as UNWRA, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the staffers were paid in dollars by their own choice. Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank don’t have their own national currency, and primarily use Israeli shekels.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in a U.S. federal court in New York, marks the latest challenge to the beleaguered U.N. agency, which has been the main supplier of food, water and shelter to civilians during the Israel-Hamas war. The Israeli government has long assailed the over 70-year-old agency, and scrutiny has intensified during the eight-month-long war, prompting UNRWA to defend itself while grappling with a spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“UNRWA’s staff, facilities and ability to truck cash U.S. dollars into Gaza formed a potent pillar of Hamas’ plan to undertake the Oct. 7 attack,” the lawsuit says, asserting that the U.N. agency “systematically and deliberately aided and abetted Hamas and its goals.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said Tuesday that he learned of the case only through the media.


Israel's military must enlist the ultra-Orthodox. What will that mean for Netanyahu and the war?

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's Supreme Court unanimously ordered the government to begin drafting ultra-Orthodox Jewish men into the army — a landmark ruling seeking to end a system that has allowed them to avoid enlistment into compulsory military service.

Roughly 1.3 million ultra-Orthodox Jews make up about 13% of Israel's population and oppose enlistment because they believe studying full time in religious seminaries is their most important duty.

An enlistment exemption for the ultra-Orthodox goes back to the founding of Israel in 1948, when small numbers of gifted scholars were exempt from the draft. But with a push from politically powerful religious parties, those numbers have swelled over the decades. The court said the exemptions were illegal in 2017, but repeated extensions and government delay tactics have prevented a replacement law from being passed.

Two parties belonging to the Haredim, or “god-fearing” in Hebrew, are essential parts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fragile coalition, but the broad exemptions from mandatory military service have reopened a deep divide in the country and infuriated much of the general public during the war in Gaza. Over 600 soldiers have been killed since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. Many reserve soldiers are starting their second tour of duty.

Netanyahu’s coalition holds a slim majority of 64 seats in the 120-member parliament, often requiring him to capitulate to the demands of smaller parties like the ultra-Orthodox.


Iowa floodwaters breach levees as even more rain dumps onto parts of the Midwest

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Tornado warnings, flash flooding and large hail added insult to injury for people in the Midwest already contending with heat, humidity and intense flooding after days of rain.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday afternoon and evening issued multiple tornado warnings in parts of Iowa and Nebraska as local TV news meteorologists showed photos of large hail and spoke of very heavy rain.

Earlier on Tuesday, floodwaters breached levees in Iowa, creating dangerous conditions that prompted evacuations.

A vast swath of lands from eastern Nebraska and South Dakota to Iowa and Minnesota has been under siege from flooding from torrential rains since last week, while also being hit with a scorching heat wave. Up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) of rain have fallen in some areas, and some rivers rose to record levels. Hundreds of people were rescued, homes were damaged and at least two people died after driving in flooded areas.

The sheriff's office in Monona County, near the Nebraska border, said the Little Sioux River breached levees in several areas. In neighboring Woodbury County, the sheriff’s office posted drone video on Facebook showing the river overflowing the levee and flooding land in rural Smithland. No injuries were immediately reported.


Judge alters Trump’s gag order, letting him talk about witnesses, jury after hush money conviction

NEW YORK (AP) — A Manhattan judge on Tuesday modified Donald Trump's gag order, freeing the former president to comment publicly about witnesses and jurors in the hush money criminal trial that led to his felony conviction, but keeping others connected to the case off limits until he is sentenced July 11.

Judge Juan M. Merchan’s decision — just days before Trump’s debate Thursday with President Joe Biden — clears the presumptive Republican nominee to again go on the attack against his lawyer-turned-foe lawyer Michael Cohen, porn actor Stormy Daniels and other trial witnesses. Trump was convicted in New York on May 30 of falsifying records to cover up a potential sex scandal, making him the first ex-president convicted of a crime.

In a five-page ruling, Merchan wrote that the gag order was meant to “protect the integrity of the judicial proceedings" and that protections for witnesses and jurors no longer applied now that the trial has ended and the jury has been discharged.

Merchan said it had been his “strong preference” to continue barring Trump from commenting about jurors, whose names have not been made public, but that he couldn't justify doing so. The judge did leave in place a separate order prohibiting Trump and his lawyers from disclosing the identities of individual jurors or their addresses. Trump lawyer Todd Blanche said after the verdict the defense team has destroyed that information.

“There is ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors,” Merchan wrote.


FDA warns maker of Sara Lee and Entenmann's not to claim foods contain allergens when they don't

Federal food safety regulators said Tuesday that they have warned a top U.S. bakery to stop using labels that say its products contain potentially dangerous allergens when they don't.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors found that Bimbo Bakeries USA — which includes brands such as Sara Lee, Oroweat, Thomas', Entenmann's and Ball Park buns and rolls — listed ingredients such as sesame or tree nuts on labels even when they weren't in the foods.

Under FDA regulations, such products are “misbranded," FDA officials said in a warning letter sent to officials at the company’s Horsham, Pennsylvania, headquarters earlier this month.

“Food labels must be truthful and not misleading,” officials said. The warning followed inspections late last year at Bimbo plants in Phoenix, Arizona, and Topeka, Kansas, that make Sara Lee and Brownberry breads.

In addition, FDA officials indicated that allergen labeling is a “not a substitute” for preventing cross-contamination in factories.


Suspect is dead after shootings near Las Vegas leave 5 people dead, teen injured, police say

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man who fatally shot five people and critically injured a 13-year-old girl at apartments near Las Vegas has killed himself, authorities said Tuesday.

The North Las Vegas Police Department said the suspected shooter, 47-year-old Eric Adams, killed himself Tuesday morning as he was confronted by officers in a neighborhood. Authorities had been searching for him since Monday night's shootings in separate apartment units.

Efforts to locate relatives of Adams for comment weren't immediately successful.

Police said initially they found two women dead while investigating reports of a shooting late Monday at an apartment in North Las Vegas. One of them was in her early 40s and the other in her late 50s, according to the department.

While officers were investigating, the department said, they learned a teen girl had been taken to a hospital with critical gunshot wounds and that there could be more victims in a nearby apartment.

The Associated Press