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

Norway, Ireland and Spain say they will recognize a Palestinian state, deepening Israel's isolation

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Norway, Ireland and Spain said Wednesday they would recognize a Palestinian state, a historic but largely symbolic move that further deepens Israel’s isolation more than seven months into its grinding war against Hamas in Gaza. Israel denounced the decisions and recalled its ambassadors to the three countries.

Palestinian officials welcomed the announcements as an affirmation of their decades-long quest for statehood in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — territories Israel seized in the 1967 Mideast war and still controls.

While some 140 countries — more than two-thirds of the United Nations — recognize a Palestinian state, Wednesday’s cascade of announcements could build momentum at a time when even close allies of Israel have piled on criticism for its conduct in Gaza.

The timing of the move was a surprise, but discussions have been underway for weeks in some European Union countries about possibly recognizing a Palestinian state. Proponents have argued that the war has shown the need for a new push toward a two-state solution, 15 years after negotiations collapsed between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government opposes Palestinian statehood.

It was the second blow to Israel’s international reputation this week after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defense minister. The International Court of Justice is also considering allegations of genocide that Israel has strenuously denied.


How 2 debunked accounts of sexual violence on Oct. 7 fueled a global dispute over Israel-Hamas war

JERUSALEM (AP) — Chaim Otmazgin had tended to dozens of shot, burned or mutilated bodies before he reached the home that would put him at the center of a global clash.

Working in a kibbutz that was ravaged by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Otmazgin — a volunteer commander with ZAKA, an Israeli search and rescue organization — saw the body of a teenager, shot dead and separated from her family in a different room. Her pants had been pulled down below her waist. He thought that was evidence of sexual violence.

He alerted journalists to what he’d seen. He tearfully recounted the details in a nationally televised appearance in the Israeli Parliament. In the frantic hours, days and weeks that followed the Hamas attack, his testimony ricocheted across the world.

But it turns out that what Otmazgin thought had occurred in the home at the kibbutz hadn’t happened.



Nikki Haley says she will vote for Donald Trump following their disputes during Republican primary

Nikki Haley said Wednesday that she will be voting for Donald Trump in the general election, a notable show of support given their intense and often personal rivalry during the Republican primary calendar.

But Haley also made it clear that she feels Trump has work to do to win over voters who supported her during the course of the primary campaign and continue to cast votes for her in ongoing primary contests.

“I will be voting for Trump,” Haley, Trump’s former U.N. ambassador, said during an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

“Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech,” Haley added. "Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me and not assume that they’re just going to be with him. And I genuinely hope he does that.”

The comments in her first public speech since leaving the race are another signal of the GOP’s virtually complete consolidation of support behind Trump, even from those who have labeled him a threat in the past.


Heated hearing in classified documents case as lawyer for Trump co-defendant challenges prosecutors

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — A lawyer for Donald Trump's personal valet took aim at the conduct of prosecutors in the classified documents case in a heated hearing Wednesday, the first since a judge indefinitely postponed the trial.

Stanley Woodward, a lawyer for Walt Nauta, said prosecutors had targeted his client for prosecution after he refused to cooperate against Trump in the investigation. Nauta was charged alongside Trump last year in a federal case accusing them of conspiring to conceal boxes of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

The defense lawyer also said a prosecutor in the case had warned him earlier in the investigation that he needed to be careful or he would “mess up” his bid for a Washington, D.C., judgeship, a comment Woodward interpreted as designed to get him to pressure Nauta to assist the inquiry.

But David Harbach, a prosecutor with Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith's team, which brought the case, called Woodward's allegations “garbage" and “fantasy.” He said the statements attributed to his colleague, Jay Bratt, had been taken out of context. Woodward said he would be willing to testify under oath about the exchange.

The encounter laid bare the simmering tensions between the two sides in a case that has been mired in delays and slowed by legal disputes that the Trump-appointed judge, Aileen Cannon, has yet to resolve. The case, among four criminal prosecutions against Trump, had been set for trial on May 20 but Cannon canceled the trial date earlier this month.


5 dead and at least 35 hurt as tornadoes ripped through Iowa, officials say

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — Five people died and at least 35 were hurt as powerful tornadoes ripped through Iowa, with one carving a path of destruction through the small city of Greenfield, officials said Wednesday.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Tuesday's tornadoes killed four people in the Greenfield area, and the Adams County Sheriff's Office said a fifth person — a woman whose car was blown off the road — was killed by a twister about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away. Monica Zamarron, 46, died in the crash Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

Officials did not release the names of the Greenfield area victims because they were still notifying relatives.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Wednesday it’s believed that the number of people injured is likely higher.

The Greenfield tornado left a wide swath of obliterated homes, splintered trees and crumpled cars in the town of 2,000 about 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) southwest of Des Moines. The twister also ripped apart and crumpled massive power-producing wind turbines several miles outside the city.


Trump allies face skepticism as they try appealing to disaffected Arab Americans in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Facing a room of Arab American activists from across the country angry at President Joe Biden's response to the Israel-Hamas war, a well-known adviser to Donald Trump was asked this week what the former president would have done differently had he been in office.

Richard Grenell, Trump's former ambassador to Germany, repeatedly pointed to Trump's governing record and said that other countries' fear of him decreased global conflict. But two people in the room said Grenell didn’t provide the specific policy changes they were hoping to hear, which left at least one leader dissatisfied and unswayed.

The nearly two-hour meeting marked the beginning of increased outreach by Trump allies in swing state Michigan, where key parts of Biden's coalition are angry with him over Israel's offensive following Hamas' Oct. 7 attack. But any apparent political opportunity for Trump may be limited by criticism from many Arab Americans about the former president's ban on immigration from several majority Muslim countries and remarks they felt were insulting.

“We appreciate the outreach," said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist who was in attendance Tuesday night. "But it won’t be easy to convince the community to switch from Biden to Trump, because even though we are angry with Biden, many still have a bad taste in their mouth from the four years of Trump."

Grenell was joined in the meeting by Michael Boulos, the husband of Trump's daughter Tiffany, and his father, Massad Boulos, a wealthy Lebanese businessman. Palestinian American UFC fighter Belal Muhammad also took part in the meeting, which wasn't an official campaign event.


In riot-hit New Caledonia, French President Macron says priority is return to calm amid unrest

President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday met with local officials in riot-hit New Caledonia, having crossed the globe by plane in a high-profile show of support for the French Pacific archipelago gripped by deadly unrest and where Indigenous people have long sought independence from France.

Macron, who briefly spoke to reporters after his arrival at La Tontouta International Airport, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the New Caledonian capital of Noumea, said he viewed a return to calm as the top priority.

He said his wish, along with that of his ministers and government, was "to be alongside the people and see a return to peace, calm and security as soon as possible.”

Macron added that he would discuss the resources needed to repair the damage wrought by days of shootings, arson and other violence that has left at least six dead and destruction estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of euros (dollars).

“We will discuss questions of economic reconstruction, support and rapid response, and the most delicate political questions, as we talk about the future of New Caledonia," he said. “By the end of the day, decisions will be taken and announcements will be made.”


Use of Wegovy and other weight-loss drugs soars among kids and young adults

At 17, Israel McKenzie was so burdened by obesity that he stopped going to high school in person and was embarrassed to speak to people at his restaurant job.

“I was in a really dark place,” says McKenzie, whose weight had climbed to 335 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, despite repeated efforts to diet and exercise. “I had given up hope.”

But last year, the weight-loss drug Wegovy helped him shed 110 pounds in nine months, making the rural Tennessee teen part of a surge of adolescents and young adults using diabetes and obesity medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists, new research shows.

Even as millions of older adults clamor for drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy, monthly use of the medications soared in people aged 12 to 25. That’s according to the new analysis of dispensing records from nearly 94% of U.S. retail pharmacies from 2020 to 2023.

The report, published in the journal JAMA on Wednesday, used the IQVIA prescription database to compile the first look at the national uptake of GLP-1 drugs among that age group. Nearly 31,000 children aged 12 to 17 and more than 162,000 people aged 18 to 25 used the medications in 2023 alone, said Dr. Joyce Lee, a University of Michigan pediatrician and diabetes expert who led the research.


GOP candidate for NC governor blasts public spending as his family nonprofit rakes in taxpayer funds

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his bid to become North Carolina’s first Black governor, Republican Mark Robinson assails government safety net spending as a “plantation of welfare and victimhood" that has mired generations of Black people in “dependency” and poverty.

But the lieutenant governor's political rise wouldn't have been possible without it.

Over the past decade, Robinson's household has relied on income from Balanced Nutrition Inc., a nonprofit founded by his wife, Yolanda Hill, that administered a free lunch program for North Carolina children. The organization, funded entirely by taxpayers, has collected roughly $7 million in government funding since 2017, while paying out at least $830,000 in salaries to Hill, Robinson and other members of their family, tax filings and state documents show.

The income offered the Robinsons a degree of stability after decades of struggle that included multiple bankruptcies, home foreclosure and misdemeanor charges — later dropped — for writing bad checks. In Robinson's telling, the financial turnaround provided by the organization also allowed for his ascent into the North Carolina government.

“Yolanda’s nonprofit was providing a salary for her that was enough to support us,” Robinson wrote in his 2022 memoir, noting its growth gave him the freedom to quit his furniture manufacturing job in 2018 and begin a career in populist conservative politics.


Daily marijuana use outpaces daily drinking in the US, a new study says

For the first time, the number of Americans who use marijuana just about every day has surpassed the number who drink that often, a shift some 40 years in the making as recreational pot use became more mainstream and legal in nearly half of U.S. states.

In 2022, an estimated 17.7 million people reported using marijuana daily or near-daily compared to 14.7 million daily or near-daily drinkers, according an analysis of national survey data. In 1992, when daily pot use hit a low point, less than 1 million people said they used marijuana nearly every day.

Alcohol is still more widely used, but 2022 was the first time this intensive level of marijuana use overtook daily and near-daily drinking, said the study’s author, Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

“A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use,” Caulkins said.

The research, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, was published Wednesday in the journal Addiction. The survey is a highly regarded source of self-reported estimates of tobacco, alcohol and drug use in the United States.

The Associated Press