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

 The US is making its biggest push yet to get Israel and Hamas to halt fighting. Is it succeeding? WASHINGTON (AP) — In Middle East capitals, at the United Nations, from the White House and beyond, the Biden administration is making its most concentrated diplomatic push of the eight-month-old war in Gaza to persuade Israeli [[{“value”:”

The US is making its biggest push yet to get Israel and Hamas to halt fighting. Is it succeeding?

WASHINGTON (AP) — In Middle East capitals, at the United Nations, from the White House and beyond, the Biden administration is making its most concentrated diplomatic push of the eight-month-old war in Gaza to persuade Israeli and Hamas leaders to take a proposed deal that would bring a cease-fire and release of more hostages.

But one week into the U.S. pressure campaign, the world still is waiting for signs that the cease-fire appeal begun May 31 by President Joe Biden was working, by moving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leaders toward a negotiating breakthrough.

For Israel and Hamas, the U.S. diplomatic press has become a public test of whether either side is ready to stop fighting — at least on any terms that fall short of their professed goals, whether it’s the complete crushing of the militant group or the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

For Biden, who describes the proposal as Israeli, it’s the latest high-profile test of U.S. leadership in trying to convince ally Israel as well as the militant group to relent in a conflict that is killing tens of thousands of people, inflaming regional tensions and absorbing much of the administration’s focus.

Here’s a look at the U.S.-led push for a Gaza cease-fire and where it stands:

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Biden apologizes to Zelenskyy for monthslong congressional holdup to weapons that let Russia advance

PARIS (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday for the first time publicly apologized to Ukraine for a monthslong congressional holdup in American military assistance that let Russia make gains on the battlefield.

Biden met in Paris with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who appealed for bipartisan U.S. support going forward “like it was during World War II.”

A day earlier, the two had attended ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, where Biden had drawn common cause between the allied forces that helped free Europe from Nazi Germany and today’s effort to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and Zelenskyy had been greeted with a rapt ovation.

“I apologize for those weeks of not knowing what’s going to happen in terms of funding,” Biden said, referring to the six-month holdup by conservative Republicans in Congress to a $61 billion military aid package for Ukraine. Still, the Democratic president insisted the American people were standing by Ukraine for the long haul. “We’re still in. Completely. Thoroughly,” he said.

The apology — and Zelenskyy’s plea for rock-solid support akin to the allied coalition in WWII — served as a reminder that for all of Biden’s talk of an unflagging U.S commitment to Ukraine, recalcitrance among congressional Republicans and an isolationist strain in American politics have exposed its fragility. And, although unremarked upon, the specter of Donald Trump’s candidacy loomed over the discussion, as the Republican former president and the presumptive nominee has spoken positively of Russian President Vladimir Putin and sparked Ukrainian concerns that he would call for it to cede territory to end the conflict.

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Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi testifies about her father in his federal gun trial, ending 1st week

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi testified Friday in his federal gun trial about visiting her father while he was at a California rehab center, telling jurors that he seemed to be improving in the weeks before he bought the revolver in 2018.

“I hadn’t seen my dad in a long time, and I knew he was in a rehab facility there. He reached out,” she told jurors softly, explaining that they met at a coffee shop, along with his “sober coach.” As she was dismissed from the stand, she paused to hug her dad before leaving the courtroom.

The defense began calling witnesses shortly after federal prosecutors wrapped up their case. Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell started by calling another gun store clerk who was there when the gun was purchased, raising questions about what he saw as inconsistencies on the form.

He also questioned the owner of the shop who allowed the sale to go through using Hunter’s passport, though it did not include an address as required.

Then he called Hunter’s daughter. In October 2018, the month Hunter Biden bought the gun, Naomi traveled from Washington to New York in her father’s truck to move her boyfriend’s belongings. Hunter drove Joe Biden’s Cadillac to New York later that month to retrieve his truck, leaving the Cadillac with Naomi. She told jurors she didn’t see any drug paraphernalia or evidence of drug use.

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US-built pier in Gaza is reconnected after repairs, and aid will flow soon, US Central Command says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military-built pier designed to carry badly needed aid into Gaza by boat has been reconnected to the beach in the besieged territory after a section broke apart in storms and rough seas, and food and other supplies will begin to flow soon, U.S. Central Command announced Friday.

The section that connects to the beach in Gaza, the causeway, was rebuilt nearly two weeks after heavy storms damaged it and abruptly halted what had already been a troubled delivery route.

“Earlier this morning in Gaza, U.S. forces successfully attached the temporary pier to the Gaza beach,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters by phone Friday. “We expect to resume delivery of humanitarian assistance from the sea in the coming days.”

Cooper said operations at the reconnected pier will be ramped up soon with a goal to get 1 million pounds (500 tons or 450 metric tons) of food and other supplies moving through the pier into Gaza every two days.

The pier was only operational for a week before a storm broke it apart, and had initially struggled to reach delivery goals. Weather was a factor, and early efforts to get aid from the pier into Gaza were disrupted as civilians desperate for food stormed the trucks that aid agencies were using to transport the food to the warehouses for distribution.

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Former astronaut William Anders, who took iconic Earthrise photo, killed in Washington plane crash

SEATTLE (AP) — William Anders, the former Apollo 8 astronaut who took the iconic “Earthrise” photo showing the planet as a shadowed blue marble from space in 1968, was killed Friday when the plane he was piloting alone plummeted into the waters off the San Juan Islands in Washington state. He was 90.

His son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed the death to The Associated Press.

“The family is devastated,” he said. “He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly.”

William Anders, a retired major general, has said the photo was his most significant contribution to the space program along with making sure the Apollo 8 command module and service module worked.

The photograph, the first color image of Earth from space, is one of the most important photos in modern history for the way it changed how humans viewed the planet. The photo is credited with sparking the global environmental movement for showing how delicate and isolated Earth appeared from space.

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Biden looks to Pointe du Hoc to inspire the push for democracy abroad and at home

POINTE DU HOC, France (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday summoned Americans to defend democracy from threats at home and abroad — and cast an implicit contrast with Donald Trump — as he drew on the heroism of Army Rangers who scaled the seaside cliffs of Pointe du Hoc in the D-Day invasion 80 years ago.

The same spot was etched in the nation’s political memory in 1984, when President Ronald Reagan honored the “boys of Pointe du Hoc” and drew common cause between their almost unthinkable feat in the face of Nazi Germany’s tyranny and the Reagan-era Cold War struggle against the Soviet Union.

Now, Biden sought to channel both historic moments to advance his own vision for the country’s global role in the face of two grueling wars and in an election year when former President Trump has continued to lie about his 2020 election loss and has threatened to dismantle U.S. commitments overseas if he regains the White House.

“As we gather here today, it’s not just to honor those who showed such remarkable bravery that day June 6, 1944,” Biden said. “It’s to listen to the echo of their voices. To hear them. Because they are summoning us. They’re asking us what will we do. They’re not asking us to scale these cliffs. They’re asking us to stay true to what America stands for.”

It was ostensibly an official speech, and Biden, a Democrat, never referenced the Republican former president’s name. But his remarks were steeped in political overtones as his campaign tries to attract national security-minded Republican voters who lionized Reagan and have never warmed to Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.

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Thomas acknowledges more travel paid for by Harlan Crow. Colleagues report six-figure book payments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday belatedly acknowledged more travel paid by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, while several colleagues reported six-figure payments as part of book deals.

Thomas, who has faced criticism for failing to report luxury trips paid for by Crow and others over many years, said in his annual financial disclosure that, in 2019, Crow paid for a hotel room in Bali, Indonesia, for a single night, and food and lodging at a private club in Sonoma County, California. He did not report any travel paid by others last year.

The disclosure on Indonesia is curious for what it omits: the rest of the trip. ProPublica reported last year that Thomas flew to Indonesia on Crow’s private jet and then boarded his superyacht for an islands tour, one of many trips Crow has given to Thomas and his wife, Ginni, over the years.

Another justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, reported eye-popping numbers, a nearly $900,000 advance for her upcoming memoir, and attention-grabbing gifts, four tickets to a Beyoncé concert valued at $3,700 from the singer herself.

Jackson was one of four Supreme Court justices who reported sizable income from book deals. Justice Brett Kavanaugh reported being paid $340,000 by the conservative Regnery Publishing company. The company was sold and the book is to be published by an imprint at Hachette Book Group, according to Axios, which also reported this week that Kavanaugh’s book will deal with his contentious confirmation hearing that included allegations of sexual misconduct, which he has denied. The court confirmed Friday that the justice is writing a legal memoir.

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Kids are upstaging their political parents — by acting like kids

WASHINGTON (AP) — For one shining moment this week, the country’s ongoing political crises were swept away by the comedic power of one cherubic and wildly exuberant 6-year-old.

Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., was giving an impassioned defense of former President Donald Trump when his young son Guy went into action. As C-Span recorded the moment, Guy mugged for the camera, stuck his tongue out, rolled his eyes and generally seemed to be having a blast. The nation reacted with a burst of pure bipartisan giddiness. Even Sen. Mitch McConnell’s press secretary joined in the fun.

Guy’s moment in the spotlight is the latest example of political kids upstaging their parents and bringing a moment of levity to the official workings of government. It’s also a solid case study on the sheer unifying power of humor.

“It reminds us that we’re all humans, we all have children. And maybe these things we’re fighting about aren’t all that important,” said Caleb Warren, co-director of the University of Colorado’s Humor Research Lab and a marketing professor at the University of Arizona. “And for him to be doing that during one of these hyperpolitical speeches, that’s what makes it special … If he was just making those faces in the classroom, it wouldn’t have been the same.”

That incongruity between behavior and environment is key, according to Tamara Sharifov, a licensed clinical social worker based in San Diego who uses humor in therapy sessions, mediation and conflict resolution. Sharifov recently spoke on a panel in Washington about the healing power of humor.

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The Danish prime minister is assaulted by a man on a Copenhagen square, reports say

BERLIN (AP) — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was assaulted by a man on a square in the capital of Copenhagen, the state news agency Ritzau reported Friday.

Copenhagen police confirmed on the X platform that one person was arrested and an investigation was underway.

There was no immediate word on how the assault happened or if Frederiksen was hurt in any way. The prime minister’s office told the Danish state broadcaster DR that she was “shocked” by the incident.

The reports gave no further details and it was unclear in what context the assault happened, but it came during European Union parliamentary elections, which conclude across the EU on Sunday. Frederiksen has been campaigning with the Social Democrats’ EU lead candidate, Christel Schaldemose. Media reports said the attack was not linked to a campaign event.

News of the assault was received with shock and condemnation by politicians across the political spectrum inside the Scandinavian country and abroad.

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New charges for alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer cast scrutiny on another man’s murder conviction

NEW YORK (AP) — For years prosecutors saw a connection in the killings of three young women who disappeared in the winter of 1993 and 1994, their nude bodies found strangled, beaten and left in similar poses in the Long Island brush.

In new charges unveiled Thursday, prosecutors said Rex Heuermann — the man already accused in a string of deaths known as the Gilgo Beach serial killings — was responsible for the death of one of the women, Sanda Costilla. The findings, authorities said, indicate that Heuermann began hunting victims more than a decade earlier than previously thought.

That in turn has raised questions about the conviction of another man, John Bittrolff, who is incarcerated for the murder of the other two women — Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee — and who prosecutors once considered a suspect in Costilla’s death.

Bittrolff’s lawyers have long accused prosecutors of relying on dubious forensics to convict him. They say the new charges against Heuermann cast further doubt on the case against their client, who has maintained his innocence since being sentenced to 50 years to life in 2017.

“You have three women killed in the same time frame and displayed in the same way, and now one is alleged to have been killed by Rex Heuermann,” said attorney Lisa Marcoccia of the Legal Aid Society, which is handling the appeal. “The evidence points to one killer, and the new indictment supports John Bittrolff’s claim of innocence.”

The Associated Press

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