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

Battles rage across Gaza as Israel indicates it's willing to fight for months or more to beat Hamas

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Battles raged across Gaza on Sunday as Israel indicated it was prepared to fight for months or longer to defeat the territory's Hamas rulers, and a key mediator said willingness to discuss a cease-fire was fading.

Israel faces international outrage after its military offensive, with diplomatic support and arms from close ally the United States, has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians. About 90% of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been displaced within the besieged territory, where U.N. agencies say there is no safe place to flee.

The United States has lent vital support in recent days by vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution to end the fighting and pushing through an emergency sale of over $100 million worth of tank ammunition to Israel.

Russia backed the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and expressed dissatisfaction with “anti-Israel positions” taken by Moscow’s envoys at the U.N. and elsewhere, an Israeli statement said.

Netanyahu told Putin that any country assaulted the way Israel was "would have reacted with no less force than Israel is using,” the statement added.


Tennessee residents clean up after severe weekend storms killed 6 people and damaged neighborhoods

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Residents of central Tennessee communities slammed by deadly tornadoes this weekend described tragic and terrifying scenes in which one mobile home landed on top of another, roofs were ripped from houses and an entire church collapsed during a string of powerful storms that killed six people.

Emergency workers and community members cleaned up Sunday from the severe weekend storms and tornadoes that also sent dozens more to the hospital while damaging buildings, turning over vehicles and knocking out power to tens of thousands.

Marco Tulio Gabriel Pérez came to Nashville from Atlanta after hearing that his sister and 2-year-old nephew were killed in the tornado. He said two other children in the family survived with minor injuries.

Family members were crying as they looked through the rubble of the trailers on Sunday morning.

“Regrettably, a tragedy happened here. Since it’s a tornado, it came through like you can see here. She lived in this trailer. The other trailer overturned on top of my deceased sister. She remained underneath, the other trailer went on top,” Pérez told The Associated Press in Spanish.


Trump says he won't testify again at his New York fraud trial. He says he has nothing more to say

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump said Sunday he has decided against testifying for a second time at his New York civil fraud trial, posting on social media a day before his scheduled appearance that he “very successfully & conclusively” testified last month and saw no need to do so again.

The former president, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, had been expected to return to the witness stand Monday as a coda to his defense against New York Attorney General Letitia James ' lawsuit.

James, a Democrat, alleges Trump inflated his wealth on financial statements used in securing loans and making deals. The case threatens Trump’s real estate empire and cuts to the heart of his image as a successful businessman.

“I will not be testifying on Monday," Trump wrote in an all-capital-letters, multipart statement on his Truth Social platform less than 20 hours before he was to take the witness stand.

“I have already testified to everything & have nothing more to say," Trump added, leaving the final word among defense witnesses to an accounting expert hired by his legal team who testified last week that he found “no evidence, whatsoever, for any accounting fraud” in Trump’s financial statements.


Zelenskyy will meet Biden at the White House amid a stepped-up push for Congress to approve more aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Ukraine's leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, will meet at the White House on Tuesday as the U.S. administration steps up the pressure on Congress to provide billions more in aid to Kyiv in its war with Russia.

The visit is intended “to underscore the United States’ unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s brutal invasion,” the White House said in a statement Sunday. “As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine’s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment.”

Zelenskyy's office confirmed that he had accepted Biden's invitation. He also has been asked to speak to a meeting of all senators.

Biden has asked Congress for a $110 billion package of wartime funding for Ukraine ($61.4 billion) and Israel, along with other national security priorities. But the request is caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security.

Zelenskyy traveled to Buenos Aires to witness the swearing-in on Sunday of Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei. The Ukrainian leader had been scheduled to address U.S. senators by video last week, but had to cancel the appearance, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.


In inaugural speech, Argentina's Javier Milei prepares nation for painful shock adjustment

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — It wasn't the most uplifting of inaugural addresses. Rather, Argentina's newly empowered President Javier Milei presented figures to lay bare the scope of the nation's economic “emergency,” and sought to prepare the public for a shock adjustment with drastic public spending cuts.

Milei said in his address to thousands of supporters in the capital, Buenos Aires, that the country doesn't have time to consider other alternatives.

“We don’t have margin for sterile discussions. Our country demands action, and immediate action," he said. "The political class left the country at the brink of its biggest crisis in history. We don’t desire the hard decisions that will need to be made in coming weeks, but lamentably they didn't leave us any option.”

South America's second largest economy is suffering 143% annual inflation, the currency has plunged and four in 10 Argentines are impoverished. The nation has a yawning fiscal deficit, a trade deficit of $43 billion, plus a daunting $45 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund, with $10.6 billion due to the multilateral and private creditors by April.

“There’s no money,” is Milei’s common refrain. He repeated it Sunday to explain why a gradualist approach to the situation, which would require financing, was not an option.


Divers recover the seventh of 8 crew members killed in crash of a US military Osprey off Japan

TOKYO (AP) — Divers on Sunday recovered the remains of the seventh of the eight crew members from a U.S. military Osprey aircraft that crashed off southern Japan during a training mission.

The Air Force CV-22 Osprey went down Nov. 29 just off Yakushima Island in southwestern Japan while on its way to Okinawa. The bodies of six of the crew had since been recovered, including five from the sunken wreckage of the aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command said in a statement that the body found by Air Force divers was one of the two crew members still missing. The identity of the airman had been determined but the information was being withheld until next of kin could be notified, the command said.

“Currently there is a combined effort in locating and recovering the remains of our eighth airman,” it said.

A week after the crash and repeated reminders from the Japanese government about safety concerns, the U.S. military grounded all its Osprey V-22 aircraft after a preliminary investigation indicated something went wrong with the craft that was not a human error.


Over 300 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar arrive in Indonesia's Aceh region after weeks at sea

ACEH BESAR, Indonesia (AP) — Two boats carrying more than 300 Rohingya Muslims, including emaciated women and children, arrived at Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh on Sunday morning after being adrift for weeks.

One boat, which had been at sea for about one and a half months and carrying 135 people, arrived at a beach in Lamreh village in Aceh Besar Regency. The boat held 65 women, 35 men, 20 girls and 15 boys.

“The boat was sinking. We had no food or water left,” said Shahidul Islam, 34. He said they had left their refugee camp in Bangladesh.

But residents around the beach in Lamreh village hesitated to have the refugees near their homes. The residents took the 135 refugees in four trucks to the Aceh governor's office in the city of Banda Aceh Sunday night.

The other boat carrying 180 people — 74 women, 53 men, 27 girls and 26 boys — arrived at a beach in Blang Raya village in Pidie Regency. It had been adrift in the Andaman Sea without adequate supplies for about 27 days.


Smugglers are bringing migrants to a remote Arizona border crossing, overwhelming US agents

LUKEVILLE, Ariz. (AP) — Gerston Miranda and his wife were among thousands of migrants recently arriving at this remote area on Arizona's southern border with Mexico, squeezing into the United States through a gap in the wall and walking overnight about 14 miles (23 kilometers) with two school-aged daughters to surrender to Border Patrol agents.

“There is no security in my country," said the 28-year-old from Ecuador, who lost work when his employer closed due to extortion by criminals. "Without security you cannot work. You cannot live.”

A shift in smuggling routes has brought an influx of migrants here from countries as diverse as Senegal, Bangladesh and China, prompting the Border Patrol to seek help from other federal agencies and drawing scrutiny to an issue critical in next year’s presidential elections.

With hundreds of migrants crossing daily in the area, the U.S. government on Monday indefinitely shut down the nearby international crossing between Lukeville, Arizona, and Sonoyta, Mexico, to free Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the port of entry to help with transportation and other support. The agency also has partially closed a few other border ports of entry in recent months, including a pedestrian crossing in San Diego and a bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Customs and Border Protection “continues to surge personnel and resources to the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector to expeditiously take migrants into custody,” the agency said Sunday. “The fact is we are enforcing the law, and there are consequences for those who fail to use lawful pathways."


Students and lawmakers gather at Philadelphia temple to denounce antisemitism

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Students, lawmakers and religious leaders joined forces Sunday at a temple in Philadelphia to strongly denounce antisemitism on college campuses and in their communities.

The gathering at Congregation Rodeph Shalom came one day after University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned amid criticism over her testimony at a congressional hearing. Magill was unable to say under repeated questioning that calls on campus for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s conduct policy.

“I have seen Pennsylvanians take actions big and small, and both matter, to combat antisemitism,” Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said at the event. “I’ve seen it here in Philadelphia where students raised their voices, where students made sure they were heard in the halls of power at their university, and leadership was held accountable.”

Similar sentiments were voiced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a fellow Democrat, and student speakers from Harvard and Penn. Harvard President Claudine Gay also took part in the congressional hearing along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth. They also drew criticism for their lawyerly answers.

Eitan Linhart, a sophomore at Penn, discussed his experience with what he called the rise in antisemitism on the school's campus. He cited a Jewish fraternity being defaced with graffiti that read “The Jews are Nazis” and spoke of friends who no longer wear yarmulkes on campus out of fear.


The Dodgers gave Shohei Ohtani $700 million to hit and pitch — but also because he can sell

PHOENIX (AP) — Shohei Ohtani's jaw-dropping $700 million, 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers has some similarities to other contracts for the world's biggest sports stars, including soccer icons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, along with NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

In terms of his marketability, experts point to another name.

The real comparison? Try Taylor Swift.

The global music sensation's broad appeal — one that bridges the gap between generations and expands to other countries — is an extremely rare phenomenon that Ohtani shares. There's no doubt the Dodgers hope they can leverage the Japanese star' s arrival into even more money for a franchise that is already one of the most popular in Major League Baseball.

“He's rocketed into a stratosphere all his own,” sports agent Leigh Steinberg said.

The Associated Press