Justice Jackson working on a memoir, titled 'Lovely One'

NEW YORK (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is working on a memoir. Jackson, the first Black woman appointed to the court, is calling the book “Lovely One.”

“Mine has been an unlikely journey,” Jackson said in a statement released Thursday by Random House.

“But the path was paved by courageous women and men in whose footsteps I placed my own, road warriors like my own parents, and also luminaries in the law, whose brilliance and fortitude lit my way. This memoir marries the public record of my life with what is less known. It will be a transparent accounting of what it takes to rise through the ranks of the legal profession, especially as a woman of color with an unusual name and as a mother and a wife striving to reconcile the demands of a high-profile career with the private needs of my loved ones.”

No release date has been set for “Lovely One.” Jackson, 52, was born Ketanji Onyika Brown. The book’s title comes from the English translation of Ketanji Onyika, the name suggested by an aunt who at the time was a Peace Corps worker in West Africa.

Jackson joined the court last year after President Joe Biden named her to succeed the retiring Stephen Breyer. She had previously been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“My hope is that the fullness of my journey as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, litigator, and friend will stand as a testament for young women, people of color, and dreamers everywhere,” Jackson added, “especially those who nourish outsized ambitions and believe in the possibility of achieving them.”

“Lovely One” is Jackson’s first book, but not the first by a current member of the Supreme Court. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor are among those who have released books in recent years. Justice Amy Coney Barrett has a deal with the Penguin Random House imprint Sentinel.

Financial terms for “Lovely One” were not disclosed, although interest in her makes it likely her advance is at least comparable to the 7-figure deals negotiated in the past for memoirs by Sotomayor and Justice Clarence Thomas.

In announcing Jackson’s book, Random House called it a story she tells with “refreshing honesty, lively wit, and warmth.”

“Justice Jackson invites readers into her life and world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her,” the announcement reads in part, “from growing up in Miami with educator parents who broke barriers during the 1960s to honing her voice as an oratory champion to performing improv and participating in pivotal student movements at Harvard to balancing the joys and demands of marriage and motherhood while advancing in Big Law — and, finally, to making history upon joining the nation’s highest court.”


Damar Hamlin asked who won Bills-Bengals when he woke up

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has begun to communicate in writing with his family and others who have been at his bedside since he went into cardiac arrest three days ago — and his first question was, “Did we win?” his doctors said Thursday.

“The answer is yes, Damar, you won. You’ve won the game of life.” Dr. Timothy Pritts told reporters in a conference call from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Hamlin was rushed after collapsing and being resuscitated on the field during the Bills’ game against the Bengals on Monday night.

Hamlin remains critically ill and in the hospital’s intensive care unit, but he began to wake up Wednesday night, and it appears his neurological function is intact, meaning he can follow commands and move, Pritts said.

“He still has significant progress he needs to make, but this marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care,” the doctor said.

“His first question that he wrote when he started to awaken was, ’Did we win?′” Pritts said. “So we know that it’s not only that the lights are on. We know that he’s home. And it appears that all the cylinders are firing within his brain, which is greatly gratifying for all of us.”

Dr. William Knight IV said doctors had not yet determined the cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest and that testing is ongoing.

It’s also too early to say whether Hamlin could return to football after undergoing rehabilitation, Knight said.

The developments came as the Bills returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since Hamlin collapsed when his heart stopped after making a tackle during the game’s first quarter.

The game was suspended and will not be resumed, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league is still figuring out how to determine playoff seedings and scheduling. The NFL Players Association must approve changes.

Hamlin, a second-year player from the Pittsburgh area, spent the past two days sedated and listed in critical condition.

Pritts said during the conference call that neurological signs of improvement began Wednesday night as Hamlin gradually woke up, with the rest of his body healing. Hamlin still cannot speak because of a breathing tube in his throat.

Knight credited the quick medical response with saving Hamlin’s life.

He said a physician was by Hamlin’s side within a minute of him collapsing and recognized that the defensive back did not have a pulse. Knight said Hamlin required CPR and resuscitation on the field.

“It’s been a long and difficult road for the last three days … he has made a pretty remarkable improvement,” Knight said.

“Great news,” President Joe Biden said in a tweet. “Damar, like I told your mom and dad yesterday, Jill and I – along with all of America – are praying for you and your family.”

Along with being able to write, his doctors said Hamlin was able to hold the hands of family and members of the Bills’ administrative and medical teams at his bedside.

Although Hamlin is following commands, doctors have not yet fully assessed his speech and other functions, in part because he is under sedation to accommodate the breathing tube.

“When we talk about neurologically intact, it’s a very gross term of big motor movements and following commands. When we talk about the finer things that make us human — cognition, emotion, speech, language, etc., we’re looking forward to learning more about that,” Knight said.

Over the past few days, players across the league — both former teammates and those who didn’t know Hamlin until Monday — have rallied in support.

Colts safety Rodney Thomas made the two-hour drive from Indianapolis to Cincinnati on Tuesday just to be by the side of his former high school teammate.

“He’s a fighter. I know he’s a fighter and there’s no other thought in my mind other than him walking out under his own power,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who spent the previous four seasons playing for Buffalo, had dinner delivered to the hospital for Hamlin’s family and medical staff.

Fans, team owners and players — including Tom Brady and Russell Wilson — have made donations to Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation, which had raised more than $7.5 million by Thursday evening.


AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville contributed to this report. Thompson reported from Buffalo.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


FTC proposes rule that would ban employee noncompete clauses

The Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule Thursday that would ban U.S. employers from imposing noncompete clauses on workers, a sweeping measure that could make it easier for people to switch jobs and deepen competition for labor across a wide range of industries.

The proposed rule would prevent employers from imposing contract clauses that prohibit their employees from joining a competitor, typically for a period of time, after they leave the company.

Advocates of the new rule argue that noncompete agreements contribute to wage stagnation because one of the most effective ways to secure higher pay is switching companies. They argue that the clauses have become so commonplace that they have swept up even low-wage workers.

Opponents argue that by facilitating retention, noncompete clauses have encouraged companies to promote workers and invest in training, especially in a tight labor market. The public has 60 days to submit commentary on the rule before it takes effect.

During a Cabinet meeting, President Joe Biden called the FTC action “a huge step forward in banning non-compete agreements that are designed simply to lower people’s wages.”

“These agreements block millions of retail workers, construction workers and other working folks from taking better jobs and getting better pay and benefits in the same field,” Biden said.

The FTC has moved aggressively to curb the power of major corporations under Chair Lina Khan, a legal scholar and Washington outsider whose appointment by Biden signaled a tough antitrust stance.

The agency estimates that the new rule could boost wages by nearly $300 billion a year and expand career opportunities for about 30 million Americans.

“Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand,” Khan said in a prepared statement.

The FTC’s proposal comes amid an already competitive job market, particularly in industries that suffered mass layoffs during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and have since struggled to recall their workers. Many workers remain on the sidelines, holding out for better pay, coping with lingering childcare or health issues, or opting for early retirement.

“There is a potential that it will contribute to the ‘great resignation’ that everyone is talking about to some degree, but employers are simply losing one of the tools in their toolbox and there are other ways to retain top talent,” said Vanessa Matsis-McCready, associate general counsel and director of human resources for Engage PEO, which provides HR services for small- and medium-sized companies. “You will see a lot of business trying to retain top talent via raises or other fringe benefits.”

Employers nationwide are still hiring and layoffs are historically low, despite high-profile job cut announcements from companies such as software provider Salesforce, Facebook’s parent company Meta, and Amazon. The government is expected to announce Friday that employers added a solid 200,000 jobs last month, and that unemployment remained 3.7%, near a half-century low.

A 2019 analysis by the liberal Economic Policy Institute estimated that 36 million to 60 million workers could be subject to noncompete agreements, which the group said companies have increasingly adopted in recent years.

While such agreements are most common among higher-paid workers, the study found that a significant number of low-wage workers were subjected to them. The study found that more than a quarter of responding establishments where the average wage is less than $13 an hour use noncompetes for all their workers.

On Wednesday, for example, the FTC took action against three companies for unlawfully imposing noncompete clauses against workers, including low-wage security guards who were threatened with a $100,000 fine if they violated the agreement.

The EPI study found that many companies still impose noncompete clauses in several states that already ban or restrict them, including in California, where the practice has been prohibited for a century.

The proposed FTC rule would require companies to scrap existing noncompete causes and actively inform workers that they are no longer in effect, as well as prohibiting the imposition of new ones.

The proposal is based on a preliminary finding that noncompete clauses quash competition in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. It would not generally apply to other types of employment restrictions, like non-disclosure agreements.

But Emily Dickens, chief of staff and head of public affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management, said the proposed FTC rule is overly broad and could potentially harm businesses that depend on them to thrive. She cited very small, emerging industries where crucial know-how cannot be safeguarded through non-disclosure agreements alone.

Dickens said SHRM, a group of more than 300,000 human resources professionals and executives around the world, will encourage its members to present specific situations that could justify noncompete clauses during the FTC’s commentary period.

Although “there are jobs where it makes no sense to have noncompete,” Dickens said, “this kind of blanket ban is going to stifle innovation.”

While defenders of non-compete clauses argue they help start-ups and small business retain talent, opponents say they hinder recruitment at those same entities.

The Economic Innovation Group, a Washington-based public policy research group, applauded the rule and called on Congress to pass proposed legislation that would impose a similar ban with more permanency.

“Restricting the use of non-compete agreements is fundamentally good policy that will boost wages, improve workforce mobility, and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the economy,” said John Lettieri, EIG’s president and CEO.


Associated Press writers Chris Rugaber and Nancy Benac in Washington contributed to this report.


This story was first published on January 5, 2023. It was updated on January 6, 2023 to correct a quote from Vanessa Matsis-McCready of Engage PEO.


This story was first published on January 5, 2023. It was updated on January 6, 2023 to correct the name of the Society for Human Resource Management. It also clarifies that the study by the Economic Policy Institute was based on a survey of responding companies.


NFL: Bills-Bengals won't resume; playoff scenarios revealed

The NFL said Thursday it will not resume the Bills-Bengals game that was suspended Monday night after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field.

The league said some of the factors in coming to its decision included that “not playing the Buffalo-Cincinnati game to its conclusion will have no effect on which clubs qualify for the postseason. No club would qualify for the postseason and no club will be eliminated based on the outcome of this game.”

Also, the NFL said playing the game between the Bills and Bengals would have required postponing the start of the playoffs by a week, and affecting all 14 teams that qualified for the postseason.

The NFL said its decision creates “potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios.” The league said clubs on Friday, in a special league meeting, would consider a resolution recommended by the commissioner and approved today by the competition committee.

Hamlin has shown what physicians treating him are calling “remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours,” the team announced Thursday, three days after the 24-year-old player had to be resuscitated on the field.

The Bills-Bengals game had major playoff implications for the AFC. Buffalo (12-3) entered Monday night needing a win to maintain the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) now hold that spot. The Bengals (11-4) had a chance to earn that top seed with two more wins and a loss by the Chiefs.

The scenarios approved by the competition committee include a potential neutral site for the AFC championship game. The league is considering several sites, including indoor and outdoor stadiums.

The resolution being presented to clubs for a vote on Friday follows:

The AFC Championship Game will be played at a neutral site if the participating teams played an unequal number of games and both could have been the No. 1 seed and hosted the game had all AFC clubs played a full 17-game regular season.

Those circumstances involve Buffalo or Cincinnati qualifying for the game as a road team. If Buffalo and Kansas City both win or tie this weekend, a Bills-Chiefs AFC title game would be at a neutral site.

If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties, a Bills-Chiefs AFC title game would be at a neutral site.

If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins, Bills or Bengals against Kansas City in the AFC title game would be at a neutral site.

Also, if Baltimore defeats Cincinnati in Week 18, the Ravens would have two wins over the Bengals, a divisional opponent, but will not be able to host a playoff game because Cincinnati will have a higher winning percentage for a 16-game schedule than Baltimore will for a 17-game schedule.

Therefore, if Baltimore defeats Cincinnati and if those two clubs are schedule to play a wild-card game against each another, the site for that game would be determined by a coin toss.

However, if the Bengals win this weekend or if Baltimore and Cincinnati are not scheduled to play each other in the wild-card round, the game sites would be determined by the regular scheduling procedures.

“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “I recognize that there is no perfect solution. The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision not to play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”


AP Sports Writer John Wawrow contributed to this report.


Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


Police: Idaho slaying suspect's DNA found at crime scene

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Idaho police pieced together DNA evidence, cellphone data and surveillance video to charge a criminology graduate student with the November slaying of four University of Idaho undergraduates, according to an affidavit unsealed Thursday.

The affidavit says DNA matching that of 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger was found on a knife sheath recovered at the crime scene, just a short drive across the state border where he is a criminal justice doctoral student at Washington State University.

The affidavit also says that a cellphone belonging to Kohberger was near the victims’ home on a dozen occasions prior to the killings, and that while it was apparently turned off around the time of the early-morning attack, cell tower data place his phone in that region of Idaho shortly afterward.

Kohberger made his first appearance Thursday in an Idaho court, where he faces four charges of first-degree murder. He did not enter a plea, and was ordered held without bail.

The affidavit details a chilling encounter between one of the victims’ surviving roommates and a masked intruder the night of the stabbings in Moscow, Idaho. But many questions remain unanswered, including whether Kohberger and any of the victims knew each other, and why police weren’t alerted until nearly eight hours after the killings likely occurred.

Traces of DNA from a lone male later determined to be Kohberger were found on the button of a leather knife sheath found in the rental home where the victims were killed, according to the affidavit written by Brett Payne, a police corporal in Moscow. Investigators later closely matched the DNA on the sheath to DNA found in trash taken from Kohberger’s parents’ home in Pennsylvania, where he was arrested last week.

The sheath had a U.S. Marine Corps insignia on it, though there’s no record of Kohberger having served in the military.

The attack that occurred in the early morning hours of an off-campus home had spread fear throughout the university and surrounding area for weeks, as authorities seemed stumped by the brutal stabbings. Investigators made a breakthrough, however, after searching for a white sedan that was seen near the crime scene around the time of the killings.

Surveillance footage captured near the off-campus house showed that a white sedan — later identified as a Hyundai Elantra — drove by the home three times in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, returning a fourth time at about 4:04 a.m.

The car was next spotted on surveillance cameras leaving the victims home 16 minutes later “at a high rate of speed,” according to the affidavit. The same car was later spotted on a different camera headed toward Pullman, Washington, the town where Washington State University and Kohberger’s apartment are located.

The affidavit connects some of the dots between the surveillance footage and cellphone data. Kohberger’s phone pinged communications towers in the region at the same time and in the same areas that the white Elantra was seen driving in the hours after the killings, the affidavit says.

The cellphone data included another chilling detail, the affidavit said: It pinged a cell tower near the victims’ neighborhood hours after the attack, around 9 a.m.

Latah County prosecutors have said they believe Kohberger broke into the home with the intention of killing the victims: Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. But investigators have made no public statements about a possible motive, or whether any weapons have been found.

Two other housemates were at home during the Nov. 13 killings, but were not physically harmed.

One of the uninjured housemates told investigators that she was awoken by noises at about 4 a.m., and thought she heard another housemate say something like, “there’s someone here.” She looked outside her bedroom and didn’t see anything. Later she thought she heard crying coming from Kernodle’s room and looked outside again. That’s when she said she heard a male voice say something to the effect of, “it’s OK, I’m going to help you,” according to the affidavit.

She later opened her door a third time and saw a masked man in black clothing whom she did not recognize walking toward her and stood in “frozen shock” as he walked past her toward a sliding glass door, the affidavit said. She went back in her room and locked the door.

Investigators believe the suspect then left the home. The document does not say what happened next at the home, or why police were not alerted for several more hours.

Mental health experts say common physiological responses to frightening or traumatic experiences include an urge to fight, an urge to flee, or an urge to freeze.

Location data from Kohberger’s cellphone showed he had traveled to the area of the victims’ residence at least a dozen times between late June and the night of the killings, authorities said.

Those apparent visits to the victims’ neighborhood all occurred late in the evening or in the early morning, the affidavit said. Investigators also obtained location data from the night of the killings, showing that Kohberger’s phone was near his home in Pullman until about 2:42 a.m.

Five minutes later, the phone started using cellular resources located southeast of the home — consistent with Kohberger traveling south, the affidavit said. There was no other location data available from the phone until 4:48 a.m. — from a cellphone tower south of Moscow — suggesting Kohberger may have turned his phone off during the attack, the affidavit said.

At that point, the phone began taking a roundabout route back to Pullman, traveling south to Genesee, Idaho, then west to Uniontown, Washington, and north to Pullman just before 5:30 a.m. — around the same time the white sedan showed up on surveillance cameras in town.

An FBI expert identified the vehicle as a 2011-2016 Hyundai Elantra; Kohberger was driving a 2015 white Elantra during traffic stops in August and in October, the affidavit said.

At the time, Kohberger’s vehicle had a Pennsylvania license plate and was registered in that state. That registration was set to expire on Nov. 30, however. On Nov. 18 — five days after the killings — Kohberger registered the car in the state of Washington, getting a new license plate.

Kohberger had applied to become an intern with the Pullman Police Department sometime in the fall of 2022, writing in his application essay that he wanted to help rural law enforcement agencies collect and analyze technical data in public safety operations, according to the affidavit. The document does not say if Kohberger was granted the internship.

The Pullman Police Department did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press asking if Kohberger ever became an intern with the department.

During Thursday’s court hearing, Kohberger appeared with his attorney in an orange jumpsuit and remained silent while the magistrate ordered him not to have contact with the victims’ families. His next hearing was set for Jan. 12.

Some of Goncalves’ family members attended the hearing.

“It’s obviously an emotional time for the family, seeing the defendant for the first time,” the Goncalves’ family attorney, Shanon Gray, said outside the courthouse. “This is the beginning of the criminal justice system and the family will be here for the long haul.”

Kohberger’s defense attorney, Anne Taylor, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. A magistrate judge has placed the attorneys and others involved in the case under a sweeping gag order barring them from talking publicly about the case.


This story was corrected to delete a reference to a knife being found at the crime scene and to clarify that the U.S. Marine Corps emblem was on the sheath that was found.


Boone reported from Boise, Idaho, and Johnson from Seattle. Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this story.


Violence hits Mexico cartel stronghold as 'Chapo' son nabbed

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The operation to detain Ovidio Guzman, the son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, unleashed firefights that turned the northern city of Culiacan into a war zone, authorities said Friday.

In a blow-by-blow description of the battles that killed 10 military personnel and 19 suspected members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said cartel gunmen opened fire on troops with .50-caliber machine guns.

The army responded by calling in Blackhawk helicopter gunships to attack a convoy of 25 cartel vehicles, including truck-mounted cartel gun platforms, on Thursday.

The cartel then opened fire on the military aircraft, forcing two of them down with “a significant number of impacts” in each of the two aircraft, Sandoval said. The gang then sent hordes of gunmen to attack fixed-wing aircraft, both military and civilian, at the city’s international airport.

One civilian airliner was hit. The gunmen also shot up airport buildings in a bid to prevent authorities from flying the captured cartel boss out of the city. But, Sandoval said, authorities anticipating the resistance had loaded Ovidio Guzman onto a military helicopter to fly him back to Mexico City.

The Mexican administration bagged the high-profile cartel figure just days before hosting U.S. President Joe Biden.

Samuel González, who founded Mexico’s special prosecutor’s office for organized crime in the 1990s, said Guzmán’s capture was a “gift” ahead of Biden’s visit. The Mexican government “is working to have a calm visit,” he said.

Juan Carlos Ayala, a Culiacan resident and Sinaloa University professor who studies the sociology of drug trafficking, said Ovidio Guzmán was an obvious target at least since 2019.

“Ovidio’s fate had been decided. Moreover, he was identified as the biggest trafficker of fentanyl and the most visible Chapos leader.”

The running shootouts killed one Culiacan policeman, and wounded 17 police officers and 35 military personnel.

Ayala said the atmosphere was calmer Friday, “but there are still a lot of burned-out vehicles blocking the streets.”

The scope of Thursday’s violence was such that Sinaloa Gov. Ruben Rocha said cartel gunmen showed up at local hospitals, trying to abduct doctors and take them away to treat wounded fighters. Rocha said that gunmen would be treated if they showed up at hospitals, but that gunmen shouldn’t try to abduct medical personnel.

“It got to the point that at one moment the doctors were saying ‘we’re getting out of here’,” recalled Rocha, saying police had reinforced security and convinced the doctors to stay.

Culiacan residents posted video on social media showing convoys of gunmen in pickup trucks and SUVs rolling down boulevards in the city on Thursday. At least one convoy included a flatbed truck with a mounted gun in the back.

Despite the violence, Ayala said, many Culiacan residents may still support the cartel.

That may be because of the money the gang brings to the region, but also because locals know that even after federal troops withdraw, the cartel will still be there. As bad as it is, the cartel has ensured relative stability, if not peace.

Guzmán was indicted by the United States on drug trafficking charges in 2018. According to both governments, he had assumed a growing role among his brothers in carrying on their father’s business, along with long- time cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that the government had received a request in 2019 from the United States for Guzmán’s arrest for purposes of extradition. He said that request would have to be updated and processed, but he added that first an open case in Mexico awaits Guzmán.

Ismael Bojorquez, director of the local news outlet Riodoce, which specializes in coverage of the area’s drug trafficking, said the violent reaction had to do with the president’s less aggressive stance toward organized crime.

“They (cartels) have taken advantage of these four years to organize themselves, arm themselves, strengthen their structures, their finances,” he said. “I believe there are more weapons than three years ago. All of organized crime’s armies have strengthened, not just the Chapitos, and this is the price that society is paying for this strategy of the federal government.”

At Culiacan’s airport, one commercial flight waited for its chance to take off as two large military planes landed with troops as did three or four military helicopters, and marines and soldiers began deploying along the perimeter of the runway.

When the airline flight was finally preparing to accelerate, passengers heard gunshots in the distance. Within 15 seconds the sound was suddenly more intense and much closer, and passengers threw themselves to the floor, some said.

They said they did not know the plane had been hit by gunfire until a flight attendant told them. No one was injured, but the plane hastily retreated to the terminal.


Associated Press writers Fabiola Sánchez and Christopher Sherman contributed to this report.


As young Gazans die at sea, anger rises over leaders' travel

JERUSALEM (AP) — Khaled Shurrab had been waiting more than half his life to get out of Gaza.

The 27-year-old had never left the coastal enclave, which has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt since 2007. He couldn’t find a job — the territory’s youth unemployment rate is over 60%. Like a growing number of Gazans, he packed his life into a suitcase and eventually made it to Turkey, where he set out on a treacherous sea voyage to Greece last October. When his rickety boat went down, his body disappeared into the sea.

A rising number of Gazans, seeking better lives abroad, are drowning at sea. The devastating procession has prompted a rare outpouring of anger against the territory’s militant Hamas rulers, a number of whom are making their own — very different — exodus.

In recent months, high-profile Hamas officials have quietly decamped to upscale hotels in Beirut, Doha and Istanbul, stirring resentment among residents who see them as leading luxurious lives abroad while the economy collapses at home and 2.3 million Gazans remain effectively trapped in the tiny, conflict-scarred territory. Four wars against Israel and dozens of smaller skirmishes over the years have taken their toll in casualties, damage and isolation.

Israel and Egypt say the tight movement restrictions are needed to keep Hamas from stockpiling more weapons. Critics say the blockade amounts to collective punishment, as residents grapple with daily blackouts and routine shortages of basic goods.

“I blame the rulers here, the government of Gaza,” said Shurrab’s mother, Um Mohammed, from her home in the southern town of Khan Younis. Her son’s body was never recovered from the Aegean Sea. “They live in luxury while our children eat dirt, migrate and die abroad.”

Hamas says the leaders who have left plan on returning. Yet the string of exits keeps growing.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh relocated to Qatar, an energy-rich Gulf state, with his wife and several children in 2019. Political leader Fathi Hamad moved to Istanbul a year ago and frequently flies to Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, where media reports have shown him in meetings at a five-star hotel.

Deputy leader Khalil al-Hayya also relocated to Turkey last year, according to news reports, including Hamas outlets that highlighted some of his travels. Since then, he has paid only two short visits to Gaza.

Former government spokesman Taher Nounou and leader Ibrahim Salah moved to Doha, the Qatari capital. Senior member Salah al-Bardawil, spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri and dozens of aides also have resettled in Doha, Istanbul, or Beirut, according to Hamas media reports and official statements.

Turkey in particular has long been a favorite destination for Hamas leaders and supporters because of the country’s lenient visa policies toward members of what the United States and Europe consider a terrorist organization.

Several children of Hamas leaders are running lucrative real estate businesses for their parents in Istanbul, according to a Palestinian businessman familiar with their enterprises. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Azmi Keshawi, Gaza analyst at the International Crisis Group, said that the movement of officials abroad has in some cases helped the group coordinate its operations with key patrons outside the territory. But he said Hamas nonetheless has a growing image problem at home.

“Ordinary Palestinians see that Hamas has gone from this humble Palestinian leadership who lived and struggled among the people to living in these comfortable zones where they are no longer suffering and seem far from the Palestinian cause and issues,” he said. “Definitely people talk about this and draw comparisons in anger.”

Wary of public backlash, Hamas does not comment on reports about its leaders leaving Gaza. As social media fills with revelations, it casts leaders’ stays abroad as temporary foreign tours aimed at drumming up support. Some of these tours last for years.

Public outrage erupted last month at a mass funeral for young Gazans who drowned en route to Europe. Distraught families blamed Hamas for contributing to the collapse and chaos of Gazan life and accused the Islamic militant group of nepotism and corruption.

Mourners shouted the names of leaders including Haniyeh and Yehiyeh Sinwar, Hamas’ current leader in Gaza, and chanted, “People are the victims!”

Such defiance is rare as Hamas moves to quash nearly all hints of dissent — though it remains the most popular group in its Gaza stronghold.

A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 43% of residents of Gaza would support the group if parliamentary elections were held, compared to 30% for the rival Fatah movement. The figures were nearly identical to support levels three months earlier.

The poll, conducted in December, questioned a total of 1,200 people in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank on a range of issues, and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Still, more Gazans appear to be risking everything to get out.

A report issued in November by the Council on International Relations-Palestine, a Hamas-affiliated think tank, said 60,000 young people have left Gaza in recent years.

It blamed Israel, saying “the policies of occupation and siege” have “turned the life of Gazans into unbearable hell.” The report was the first semi-official data on emigration. It did not say how the data was compiled.

Some who leave seek job opportunities in wealthy Gulf Arab states. Many, like Shurrab, fly to Turkey and attempt the perilous sea voyage to Europe in hopes of getting asylum.

Two shipwrecks in October alone made 2022 the deadliest at sea for Gazan migrants in eight years, according to rights groups. Shurrab is among 360 Gazans who have drowned or disappeared at sea since 2014, according to the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

Despite the risks, Khaled Moharreb is still contemplating the dangerous sea route. After earning a nursing diploma two years ago, the 22-year-old said he has been unable to find a job.

“I want to travel and build my life,” he said. “Anything outside is better than this place where you can not do anything and where the government is indifferent.”

Without directly mentioning Hamas, he said he blames “those who control and run the country” for the lack of job opportunities.

Hamas has offered no apologies. Atef Adwan, a Hamas lawmaker, recently denounced those who attempt to flee to Europe as making a perverse pilgrimage to a land of “deterioration and regression.”

Migration has long carried stigma among Palestinians, who have fought for decades to stay on their land. Haniyeh’s roots in a crowded Gaza City refugee camp are a core part of his political identity.

Amid growing scrutiny, Hamas issued an unusual statement last year announcing the return of three top officials — al-Hayyah, al-Zahar and Salah — to Gaza, reassuring the public that they “did not flee.”

Yet just two months later, news trickled out in Hamas media that al-Hayyah and Salah were on new “foreign tours” in Qatar and Iran.


Akram reported from Hamilton, Ontario.


Mexico nabs son of drug lord 'El Chapo' before Biden visit

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican security forces captured Ovidio Guzmán, an alleged drug trafficker wanted by the United States and one of the sons of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in a pre-dawn operation Thursday that set off gunfights and roadblocks across the western state’s capital.

Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said Army and National Guard personnel had captured a son of “El Chapo.” Sandoval identified him only as Ovidio, in keeping with government policy.

Ovidio Guzmán, nicknamed “the Mouse,” had not been one of El Chapo’s better-known sons until an aborted operation to capture him three years ago. That attempt similarly set off violence in Culiacan that ultimately led President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to order the military to let him go.

Thursday’s high-profile capture comes just days before López Obrador will host U.S. President Joe Biden for bilateral talks followed by their North American Leaders’ Summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Drug trafficking, along with immigration, is expected to be a top talking point.

“This is a significant blow to the Sinaloa cartel and major victory for the rule of law. It will not, however, impede the flow of drugs into the U.S. Hopefully, Mexico will extradite him to the U.S.,” Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former Chief of International Operations, said Thursday.

Vigil said that Ovidio Guzmán was involved in all of the cartel’s activities, especially the production of fentanyl. A 2018 federal indictment in Washington, D.C., accused the younger Guzmán of conspiring to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in the United States.

The CDC said last July that more than 107,000 Americans had died from a drug overdose during the year ending January 2022, most of them involving opioids including illegally made fentanyl.

López Obrador’s security approach reversed years of what came to be known as the kingpin strategy of taking down cartel leaders, which led to the fragmentation of large cartels and bloody battles for dominance. López Obrador put all his faith in the military, disbanding the corrupt Federal Police and creating the National Guard under military command.

The capture was the result of six months of reconnaissance and surveillance in the cartel’s territory, and then quick action on Thursday, Sandoval said. National Guard troops spotted SUVs, some with homemade armor, and immediately coordinated with the army as they established a perimeter around the suspicious vehicles and forced the occupants out to be searched.

The security forces then came under fire, but were able to gain control of the situation and identify Guzmán among those present and in possession of firearms, Sandoval said.

Cartel members set up 19 roadblocks including at Culiacan’s airport and outside the local army base, as well as all points of access to the city of Culiacan, Sandoval said, but the Air Force was able to fly Guzmán to Mexico City despite their efforts, and he was taken to offices of the Attorney General’s organized crime special prosecutor.

Sandoval said Guzmán was a leader of a Sinaloa faction he called “los menores” or “the juniors,” who are also known as “los Chapitos,” for the sons of El Chapo.

Other “little Chapos” include two of his brothers — Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán — who are believed to have been running cartel operations together with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

The Chapitos have been taking greater control in the cartel because Zambada was in poor health and isolated in the mountains, Vigil said. “The Chapitos know that if el Mayo dies, (the cartel) is going to break apart if they don’t have control.”

“It’s going to be very important that the U.S. requests Ovidio’s extradition quickly and that Mexico does it,” Vigil said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that Mexico received a request in 2019 from the United States for Guzmán’s arrest for purposes of extradition. He said that request would have to be updated and processed, but he added that Guzmán must first face an open case in Mexico.

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations had posted a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Guzmán early last year.

Alleged cartel members responded to Thursday’s operation by carjacking Culiacan residents and setting vehicles ablaze in the cartel stronghold. Local and state authorities warned everyone to stay inside.

Intermittent gunfire continued into the afternoon Thursday in Culiacan as Mexican security forces continued to clash with cartel gunmen and few people ventured out.

Airline Aeromexico said in a statement that one of its jets was struck by a bullet Thursday morning as it prepared for takeoff. Passenger video posted online showed people cowering on the floor of the plane. The company said passengers and crew were safe.

Later, Mexico’s Civil Aviation Agency said in a statement that an air force plane in Culiacan had also been hit with gunfire. In addition to the Culiacan airport, the agency said airports in Los Mochis and Mazatlan were also ordered closed and all flights cancelled for security reasons.

David Téllez was aboard that flight with his wife and children, preparing to return to Mexico City after visiting his in-laws.

Their plane had been waiting for its chance to take off as two large military planes carrying personnel landed as well as three or four military helicopters. Marines and soldiers deployed along the perimeter of the runway.

When the commercial flight was finally preparing to accelerate, Téllez heard gunshots in the distance. Within 15 seconds the sounds were suddenly more intense. “We heard gunshots and threw ourselves to the floor,” he said.

He did not know the plane had been hit until a flight attendant told them. The plane quickly returned to the terminal and they were hustled into a room. Late Thursday afternoon they were still in the airport, unsure of when they would be able to return to Mexico City.

Elsewhere in Culiacan, local reporter Marcos Vizcarra had sought shelter in a hotel after gunmen stole his car.

Then he explained via Twitter that armed men had entered the hotel where he had sought shelter “and are threatening guests to give them their car keys.”

Later, Vizcarra reported that they had taken his phone, but he had made it home safely.

Such attempts to create chaos often come in response to arrests of important cartel figures in Mexico. One of the most notorious came when federal security forces cornered Ovidio Guzmán in October 2019, only to let him escape after gunmen shot up the city with high-powered weapons.

López Obrador said at the time he had made the decision to avoid the loss of life.

López Obrador entered office highly critical of the toll of his predecessors’ drug war. He embraced the phrase “hugs, not bullets” to describe his approach to Mexico’s chronic violence, which would focus on social programs aimed at weakening the draw of organized crime.

But four years into his six-year term, the death toll remains high.

In July, Mexico captured Rafael Caro Quintero, once one of the godfathers of drug trafficking and the man allegedly responsible for the murder of a DEA agent more than three decades ago, just days after López Obrador met with Biden at the White House.

At the time, the capture was seen as a signal that Mexico could be willing to go after high-profile cartel bosses again, something López Obrador had been loathe to do.


Associated Press writer Fabiola Sánchez contributed to this report.


Biden agenda, lithium mine, tribes, greens collide in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Opponents of the largest lithium mine planned in the U.S. urged a federal judge in Nevada on Thursday to vacate the U.S. government’s approval of the project until it completes additional environmental reviews and complies with all state and federal laws.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said after a three-hour hearing in Reno that she hoped to make a decision “in the next couple months” on how to proceed in the nearly two-year-old legal battle over the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the mine Lithium Nevada Corp. plans near the Nevada-Oregon line.

Lawyers for the company and the Bureau of Land Management insisted the project complies with U.S. laws and regulations. But they said that if Du determines it does not, she should stop short of vacating the agency’s approval and allow initial work at the site to begin as further reviews are initiated.

Lawyers for a Nevada rancher, conservation groups and Native American tribes suing to block the mine said that should not occur because any environmental damage would be irreversible.

Dozens of tribe members and other protesters rallied outside the downtown courthouse during the hearing, beating drums and waving signs at passing motorists.

Du has refused twice over the past year to grant temporary injunctions sought by tribal leaders who say the mine site is on sacred land where their ancestors were massacred by the U.S. Cavalry in 1865.

Lithium Nevada and the Bureau of Land Management say the project atop an ancient volcano is critical to meeting the growing demand for lithium to make electric vehicle batteries — a key part of President Joe Biden’s push to expedite a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is the largest known lithium deposit of its kind,” Laura Granier, a lawyer representing the company, told Du Thursday. “Our nation and the world will suffer if this project is delayed further.”

Opponents say it will destroy dwindling habitat for sage grouse, Lahontan cutthroat trout, pronghorn antelope and golden eagles, pollute the air and create a plume of toxic water beneath the open-pit mine deeper than the length of a football field.

“We need a smart energy future that transitions our economy from fossil fuels to renewables without sacrificing rare species in the process,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of the Western Watersheds Project, which also petitioned in September for protection of a tiny nearby snail under the Endangered Species Act.

The Bureau of Land Management fast-tracked the project’s approval during the final days of the Trump administration. The Biden administration continues to embrace it as part of the president’s clean energy agenda.

Demand for lithium is expected to triple by 2030 from 2020. Lithium Nevada says its project is the only one on the drawing board that can help meet the demand.

Will Falk, a lawyer for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, said that “in this rush for lithium in Nevada, the BLM went way too fast in permitting this mine.”

Roger Flynn, a lawyer for the Western Mining Action Project representing several environmental groups, said the agency wants the project to move forward even though it botched the environmental reviews it was determined to complete before ex-President Donald Trump left office.

“Meanwhile, there will be this immediate, permanent massive environmental damage,” Flynn said.

Thursday’s hearing marked the first on the actual merits of the lawsuit filed in February 2021. It will set the legal landscape going forward after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling in Arizona that voided federal approval of a copper mine.

That potentially precedent-setting decision raises questions about the reach of the Mining Law of 1872 and could have a bearing on disposal of waste rock at the lithium mine in the high desert about 200 miles (321 kilometers) northeast of Reno.

In addition to the cultural and environmental concerns about the potential effects, the new 9th Circuit ruling halting the Arizona mine in July was a focus of Thursday’s hearing. Du told lawyers on both sides she was interested in “the extent to which (that case) controls the outcome of this case.”

The San Francisco-based appellate court upheld the Arizona ruling that the Forest Service lacked authority to approve Rosemont Copper’s plans to dispose of waste rock on land adjacent to the mine it wanted to dig on a national forest southeast of Tucson.

The service and the Bureau of Land Management long have interpreted the Mining Law of 1872 to convey the same mineral rights to such lands.

The 9th Circuit agreed with U.S. Judge James Soto, who determined the Forest Service approved Rosemont’s plans in 2019 without considering whether the company had any mining rights on the neighboring lands. He concluded the agency assumed under mining law that Rosemont had “valid mining claims on the 2,447 acres it proposed to occupy with its waste rock.”

Leilani Doktor, a Justice Department lawyer for the Bureau of Land Management, said the Forest Service and the BLM are under “different regulatory schemes.”

“Each step of the way, BLM followed its own regulations,” she said.


Between battles, Ukraine's soldiers have a place to recover

KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Sitting on comfy armchairs in a low-lit room smelling of lavender and pine trees, the men take deep breaths as they close their eyes and listen to meditation music.

But this is not a spa. Uniformed Ukrainian soldiers are taking a break at this rehabilitation center in the Kharkiv region to restore their bodies and minds before going back to the front line.

The relentless 10-month war has prompted a local commander to transform a Soviet-era sanatorium into a recovery center for servicemen to treat both mental and physical ailments.

“This rehabilitation is helping soldiers, at least for a week, to put themselves together,” said Oleksander Vasylkovskyi, a lieutenant colonel in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Vasylkovskyi remembers how soldiers suffered silently after returning home from fighting Russia in Ukraine’s Donbas in 2014. Suicide rates among veterans increased in the following years, with many untreated cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. He hopes a center like this can raise awareness of the need for mental health care and prevent suicides in the future.

Here, soldiers are offered a variety of treatments: aquatic therapy in a hot pool to heal muscle aches; red light therapy to improve heart and blood circulation, a salt room for better breathing; and for those having nightmares, electrosleep therapy — a Soviet-era low-frequency electrotherapy that is said to relax the nervous system and induce sleep.

Psychologists are also available, not just for the soldiers but also for their families dealing with the traumas of war.

The servicemen also undergo medical checks, explained Vasylkovskyi. “It’s the most important thing because a person develops several illnesses from the stress of fighting.”

In addition to the psychological scars of war, soldiers also come here to treat meningitis, contusions, amputations, lung and nerve inflammations, sleeping disorders, skin diseases, and cardiovascular illnesses, among others.

“If someone has trauma and cannot walk, my department will put them back on their feet,” said Artem a physical therapist working at the center who cannot reveal his last name for security reasons.

More than 2,000 soldiers have been treated here since the center opened in June. It receives support from international partners in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, the U.S. and Spain. The cost of one day of rehabilitation for one soldier is around 20 euros, according to Vasylkovskyi. But more funding is still needed, he said, “because (the war) is not over.”

Viktor, whose last name cannot be published for security reasons, worked as a miner before joining the army. He took part in the military operation that pushed Russian occupying forces out of the Kharkiv region.

For months, he slept in muddy, cold trenches. “We worked in conditions that were bad for our health. It’s bad, it’s damp, it’s wet,” Viktor explained as he sat in a room where the walls and floors are covered in thick salt to clear his damaged lungs. “We have back pain, leg pain, we carry heavy equipment,” he added.

Four days into the rehabilitation center he was feeling reenergized. ”I’m already determined to go further, continue my work, destroy the enemy, and bring us each day closer to victory,” Viktor said.

But perhaps the most appealing aspect of this rehabilitation center isn’t the therapy but the ability to bring one’s family along for a couple of days.

Maksym, who, like Viktor, cannot reveal his last name for security reasons, hadn’t seen his wife and son in five months. One of the hardest parts of this war, he said, is when “you can’t connect and speak to your loved ones.” He was relieved they could join him for a few days at the rehabilitation center and relax together. Without official vacations, this is the only way that many soldiers can get proper rest.

“I can see that men are returning to the unit after a week, rested and gaining more strength. And the thoughts that they had before go away,” Maksym said. Some of those haunting thoughts are the memories of friends who died on the battlefield.

Asked how many comrades he had lost, Maksym lowered his eyes and answered bluntly: “Too many.”


Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine