AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

 Israel rescues 4 hostages taken in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, and 210 Palestinians are reported killed DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel on Saturday carried out its largest hostage rescue operation since the latest war with Hamas began, taking four to safety out of central Gaza in a heavy air and ground assault. At [[{“value”:”

Israel rescues 4 hostages taken in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, and 210 Palestinians are reported killed

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel on Saturday carried out its largest hostage rescue operation since the latest war with Hamas began, taking four to safety out of central Gaza in a heavy air and ground assault. At least 210 Palestinians, including children, were killed, a Gaza health official said.

Israelis were jubilant as the army said it freed Noa Argamani, 26; Almog Meir Jan, 22; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv, 41, in a daytime operation in the heart of Nuseirat, raiding two locations at once while under fire. All were well, the military said. They were taken by helicopter for medical checks and tearful reunions with loved ones after 246 days held.

Argamani had been one of the most widely recognized hostages after being taken, like the three others, from a music festival. The video of her abduction showed her seated between two men on a motorcycle as she screamed, “Don’t kill me!”

Her mother, Liora, has brain cancer and had released a video pleading to see her daughter. Israel’s Channel 13 said Argamani was moved to the hospital where her mother is treated. In a message released by the government, Argamani told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu she was “very excited,” saying she hadn’t heard Hebrew in so long.

Netanyahu in a statement vowed to continue the fighting until all hostages are freed. The operation was “daring in nature, planned brilliantly, and executed in an extraordinary fashion,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.


Biden calls France ‘our first friend’ as host Macron says, ‘Allied we are and allied we will stay’

PARIS (AP) — President Joe Biden said France was America’s “first friend” at its founding and is one of its closest allies more than two centuries later as he was honored with a state visit Saturday by French President Emmanuel Macron aimed at showing off their partnership on global security issues and easing past trade tensions.

“United we stand, divided we fall,” Macron said in toasting Biden at a state dinner. “Allied we are and allied we will stay.”

Biden and Macron attended ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday and met separately the following day with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Paris. The leaders both used those engagements used to underscore the urgent need to support Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

But Macron and Biden have often chafed at the pace of support for Ukraine, especially as the United States, by far the largest contributor to Kyiv’s defense, was forced to pause aid shipments for months while congressional Republicans held up an assistance package.

The state visit began Saturday with a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, including a wreath-laying at France’s tomb of the unknown soldier, and a military parade along the Champs-Élysées leading to the Élysée Palace, where the two held official meetings and delivered public statements. Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, hosted state dinner at the palace for Biden and his wife, Jill.


Takeaways from Hunter Biden’s gun trial: His family turns out as his own words are used against him

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Pictures of President Joe Biden’s son with drug paraphernalia and bare-chested in a bubble bath. Text messages between Hunter Biden and drug dealers. Testimony from Hunter’s exes about relationships destroyed by his drug use.

Hunter Biden’s trial on gun charges brought by his father’s Justice Department has put on full display tawdry and embarrassing details about the president’s son, all while first lady Jill Biden watches from the courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware.

Prosecutors on Friday rested their case accusing Hunter Biden of lying when he swore that he was not a drug user on a federal form to buy a gun in October 2018. The defense could call at least one more witness when the trial resumes on Monday before lawyers make their closing arguments.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty and has accused the Justice Department of bending to political pressure from former President Donald Trump and other Republicans to bring the case and separate tax charges after a deal with prosecutors fell apart last year. Hunter Biden has said he has been sober since 2019.

Here are some key takeaways from the first week of the trial:


Your time is up, Italy’s hard-right leader tells EU center parties as she votes in European election

ROME (AP) — Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni joined voters in Italy and a half dozen European Union nations in casting a ballot during the penultimate day of European Union parliamentary elections on Saturday. The bloc’s premier hard-right politician threw down the gauntlet to the traditional center parties, telling them their time to run the EU as they liked was up.

Populist and far-right parties were looking to make gains across the 27-member bloc in the wake of the strong showing by Geert Wilders in the Netherlands on Thursday.

And Meloni, the leading hard-right politician governing a key founding nation of the bloc, left no doubt about what was at stake when she went to vote in her suburban neighborhood in Rome on Saturday afternoon.

“This vote will decide our next five years,” she said, echoing her campaign theme that time had come to pull back powers to national capitals and curtail the reach of the EU institutions that have been dominated by Christian Democrat, Socialist and pro-business Liberal politicians.

As the third most populous nation in the bloc, Italy wields considerable influence. It will send 76 legislators to the 720-seat parliament, which has extended its powers in recent years. Only Germany and France, which vote on Sunday, have more seats.


How this Maryland pastor ended up leading one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation

CALVERTON, Md. (AP) — The Rev. Matthew L. Watley says it’s not happenstance his suburban Maryland congregation, part of the historically Black African Methodist Episcopal denomination, landed at the top of a list of the fastest-growing churches in America.

From hearing his call to ministry while dancing with his Step Afrika troupe in South Africa to giving up his law school aspirations and enrolling at Howard School of Divinity, all paths led to the pulpit — and eventually Kingdom Fellowship AME Church — for this son and grandson of AME ministers.

“There’s a phrase that says, ‘In America we believe in God, but in Africa, they depend on God,’” said Watley, who also met his wife, a lawyer and federal lobbyist, at Howard. “I had never seen faith like that before.”

In 2019, the year Kingdom Fellowship AME was founded, the church had about 3,000 members and an average weekly attendance of about 1,800 people, according to the church’s figures. Today, membership has swelled to nearly 8,000, and its weekly services draw about 2,500 attendees altogether.

On a recent Sunday morning, Watley, 50, preached to a packed sanctuary from the Gospel of Luke about Zacchaeus’ transformative meeting with Jesus. The short and corrupt tax collector changed his ways after climbing a tree to see Jesus over the crowd.


Weeklong heat wave loosens grip slightly on US Southwest but forecasters still urge caution

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The weeklong heat wave that baked most of the U.S. Southwest in temperatures well into triple digits is on its last legs, but forecasters are still urging people to be cautious as there will be little relief from the warm weather until monsoon thunderstorms begin to kick in, likely in July.

A slight easing of temperatures is expected through the weekend, with Phoenix and Las Vegas falling short of besting any new records. Still, an excessive heat warning continues through Saturday in Las Vegas, where it’s never been hotter this time of year. It was a record-high 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Las Vegas on Friday, 113 F (45 C) in Phoenix and 100 F (37.8 C) in Albuquerque.

Even in Florida, forecasters with the National Weather Service on Saturday warned that heat indices would be well into the triple digits for Miami and other areas. That measurement reflects what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.

Record high temperatures also were expected through the weekend for central Florida, where many communities just wrapped up their warmest May on record as temperatures for the month were between 3 and 4 degrees above normal.

Forecasters also issued heat advisories in far West Texas and along the U.S.-Mexico border, but they noted that the highs would be a bit cooler than the past couple days.


Credit card delinquencies are rising. Here’s what to do if you’re at risk

NEW YORK (AP) — Seriously overdue credit card debt is at the highest level in more than a decade, and people 35 and under are struggling more than other age groups to pay their bills.

The share of credit card debt that’s severely delinquent, defined as being more than 90 days overdue, rose to 10.7% during the first quarter of 2024, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A year ago, just 8.2% of credit card debt was severely delinquent.

If you’re experiencing delinquency, or at risk of it, experts advise speaking with a nonprofit credit counselor and negotiating with your creditors directly. Here’s what you should know:

Bruce McClary, ​​​​​​​senior vice president at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, says that anyone at risk of delinquency should reach out as soon as possible for help from a nonprofit credit counselor, some of whom can be found through his organization. The consultation is free, and a non-judgmental counselor can give guidance towards a long-term solution.

Nonprofits can also help create debt management plans that have lower interest rates, no late fees, and a single payment each month, McClary said. These plans may come with maintenance fees, which vary, but the fees are offset by the overall savings on the debt. McClary urged borrowers to be careful of scammers and for-profit debt consolidation companies, which often charge much higher fees than nonprofit organizations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a helpful breakdown comparing the two.


A World War II veteran just married his bride near Normandy’s D-Day beaches. He’s 100, she’s 96

CARENTAN-LES-MARAIS, France (AP) — Together, the collective age of the bride and groom was nearly 200. But World War II veteran Harold Terens and his sweetheart Jeanne Swerlin proved that love is eternal as they tied the knot Saturday inland of the D-Day beaches in Normandy, France.

Their respective ages — he’s 100, she’s a youngster of just 96 — made their nuptials an almost double-century celebration.

Terens called it ″the best day of my life.″

On her way into the nuptials, the bubbly bride-to-be said: “It’s not just for young people, love, you know? We get butterflies. And we get a little action, also.″

The location was the elegant stone-worked town hall of Carentan, a key initial D-Day objective that saw ferocious fighting after the June 6, 1944, Allied landings that helped rid Europe of Adolf Hitler’s tyranny.


Netflix’s recipe for success includes ‘secret sauce’ spiced with Silicon Valley savvy

LOS GATOS, Calif. (AP) — Although its video streaming service sparkles with a Hollywood sheen, Netflix still taps its roots in Silicon Valley to stay a step ahead of traditional TV and movie studios.

The Los Gatos, California, company, based more than 300 miles away from Hollywood, frequently reaches into its technological toolbox without viewers even realizing it. It often just uses few subtle twists on the knobs of viewer recommendations to help keep its 270 million worldwide subscribers satisfied at a time when most of its streaming rivals are seeing waves of cancellations from inflation-weary subscribers.

Even when hit TV series like “The Crown” or “Bridgerton” have wide appeal, Netflix still tries to cater to the divergent tastes of its vast audience. One part of that recipe includes tailoring summaries and trailers about its smorgasbord of shows to fit the personal interests of each viewer.

So someone who likes romance might see a plot summary or video trailer for “The Crown” highlighting the relationship between Princess Diana and Charles, while another viewer more into political intrigue may be shown a clip of Queen Elizabeth in a meeting with Margaret Thatcher.

For an Oscar-nominated film like “Nyad,” a lover of action might see a trailer of the title character immersed in water during one of her epic swims, while a comedy fan might see a lighthearted scene featuring some amusing banter between the two stars, Annette Bening and Jodie Foster.


Iga Swiatek wins a third consecutive French Open women’s title by overwhelming Jasmine Paolini

PARIS (AP) — For a few minutes, anyway, it seemed as if Iga Swiatek was a bit off in the French Open final against Jasmine Paolini. Swiatek kept making mistakes early Saturday, got broken in the third game and trailed at Court Philippe Chatrier.

Might a true surprise be in the offing? Could Paolini not only make a match of this, but actually win it? Um, no. Not even close. Not with the way Swiatek can dominate opponents, especially on red clay.

The top-seeded Swiatek quickly recalibrated her wayward strokes and simply overwhelmed Paolini, grabbing 10 games in a row en route to a 6-2, 6-1 victory that gave her a third consecutive championship at Roland Garros and fourth in five years.

The 23-year-old from Poland had to save a match point in a second-round victory against Naomi Osaka last week, but in the five matches after that three-set escape, Swiatek dropped a total of only 17 games.

“This tournament has been pretty surreal with its beginning and with second round, and then I was able to get my game better and better every match. I’m really proud of myself, because the expectations obviously have been pretty high from the outside. Pressure, as well,” said Swiatek, who is 35-2 overall at the French Open, including a current streak of 21 straight victories. “I’m happy that I just went for it and I was ready to deal with all of this — and I could win.”

The Associated Press


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