10 things you need to know today: December 4, 2023

 USS Carney.
USS Carney.
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1. US ship downs drones near Yemen

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Sunday claimed responsibility for drone and missile attacks targeting commercial vessels and a U.S. warship in the Red Sea. The USS Carney, a guided-missile destroyer, shot down several drones and was not damaged, the Pentagon said. The Carney has also shot down missiles aimed at Israel since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in Gaza, but Sunday's attacks marked an escalation of spillover violence in the Red Sea. The commercial ships had "no connection to the state of Israel," an Israeli military spokesperson said, adding that one targeted ship was "significantly damaged" and "in danger of sinking." The Associated Press, The Guardian

2. Israel expands Gaza ground invasion

Israel's ground forces expanded their offensive into southern Gaza on Sunday and issued new evacuation orders for Palestinians in the area, two days after a week-long cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended. Families in the southern city of Khan Younis left their homes carrying mattresses and other personal items, seeking materials and safe space to build shelters, a Norwegian Refugee Council advocacy officer said. The situation in the city is "beyond catastrophic," a British-Palestinian man told the BBC. Israel's military said its troops were "conducting face-to-face battles with terrorists" while making "maximum effort" to avoid killing civilians. A UNICEF representative said patients at Nasser Medical Hospital are asking him, "Where is safe?" The New York Times, BBC News

3. 'Terrorist' fatally stabs German tourist near Eiffel Tower

A man fatally stabbed a German tourist and wounded two other people, including a British man, with a knife and a hammer near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron called it "a terrorist attack." The suspect, a 26-year-old French national, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a video recorded before Saturday's attack, French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said Sunday. The suspect told police he acted out of anger over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and the fact that "so many Muslims are dying in Afghanistan and in Palestine," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. Reuters

4. Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' concert film debuts at No. 1

Beyoncé's "Renaissance" movie led the domestic weekend box office, grossing $22 million in its debut. The film knocked "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" to No. 2, with $14.5 million in ticket sales in its third week. Industry analysts said the "Renaissance" opening met expectations and marked a strong performance for the normally slow post-Thanksgiving weekend. "Renaissance" was the second recent concert movie to debut at No. 1, after "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour," which opened to $92.8 million in the biggest debut ever for a concert movie. "Renaissance" posted the fifth-best domestic debut weekend ever for a concert movie. Deadline

5. Swing-state Muslim leaders oppose Biden over handling of Gaza conflict

Muslim leaders from several swing states gathered in Dearborn, Michigan, over the weekend to launch a national push against re-electing President Joe Biden, citing his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Muslim leaders in the United States have been pressuring Biden to call for a cease-fire in the conflict. Palestinian health officials in Hamas-run Gaza say Israeli strikes have killed 15,000 people since Hamas militants killed more than 1,000 Israelis in an Oct. 7 surprise attack. The organizers of the U.S. campaign came from Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Biden narrowly beat Republican Donald Trump, his likely opponent again in 2024, in most of those states. Politico

6. Nicaragua cracks down on Miss Universe

Nicaraguan police have accused the family that runs the country's Miss Universe franchise of "conspiring against the nation." President Daniel Ortega's government initially praised 23-year-old Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios for winning the Miss Universe pageant on Nov. 18, becoming Central America's first contestant to take the crown. But then photos emerged showing Palacios participating in anti-government protests in 2018, which were eventually crushed by security forces. Nicaraguan police claimed in a statement issued Friday that the local organizer, Karen Celebertti, a past beauty queen who now owns a modeling agency, and her family rigged contests so anti-government contestants would win, turning "innocent beauty pageants into political traps and ambushes financed by foreign agents." The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal

7. Former US ambassador accused of working for Cuba

Federal authorities have arrested former American diplomat Manuel Rocha on charges that he secretly served as an agent of Cuba's government, The Associated Press reported Sunday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted Rocha, 73, in a long-running counterintelligence operation, AP reports, and one source said the Justice Department accuses him of promoting Cuba's interests. The Colombian-born Rocha served as ambassador to Bolivia 20 years ago. He was a career U.S. foreign service officer, and started a second career in business after retiring. The State Department declined to comment. His wife hung up when called by the AP. The Associated Press, ABC News

8. Alaska Air to buy Hawaiian Airlines

Alaska Airlines announced Sunday that it has reached a $1 billion deal to buy Hawaiian Airlines. The deal would combine two longtime rivals and cement Alaska Air's position as the nation's fifth-largest carrier, but it will have to win approval from antitrust authorities first. Regulators have challenged other airline mergers in recent years, although this deal involves two airlines that are too small to threaten the four biggest domestic carriers, which handle 80% of the domestic market, The Wall Street Journal reported. If the acquisition goes through, the brands will remain separate but with expanded reach, connecting Hawaii with three times as many continental U.S. destinations. The Wall Street Journal

9. 11 hikers killed in Indonesia volcanic eruption

Search and rescue crews found the bodies of 11 hikers killed when Indonesia's Mount Marapi volcano erupted Sunday, blasting ash nearly 10,000 feet high. Another 12 hikers were missing, local authorities said. Seventy-five people were on the slopes of the volcano in West Sumatra province or nearby when it erupted, and all but 26 were evacuated, according to Al-Jazeera. Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation, sits on the Pacific's so-called Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates meet, causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There are 127 active volcanoes in the region. Al-Jazeera, The New York Times

10. Michigan, Washington, Texas, Alabama make College Football Playoff

No. 1 Michigan (13-0), No. 2 Washington (13-0), No. 3 Texas (12-1) and No. 4 Alabama (12-1) took the four College Football Playoff spots on Sunday. Florida State (13-0), ranked No. 5, became the first undefeated Power Five conference champion to be excluded from the playoffs in the current bowl system's 10-season history. Michigan will play Alabama in the Rose Bowl national semifinal on Jan. 1. Washington will face Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Florida State's prospects dimmed with starting quarterback Jordan Travis' gruesome Nov. 18 leg injury, followed by second-string quarterback Tate Rodemaker's injury on Saturday. Third-stringer Brock Glenn led the team to a 16-6 win over No. 14 Louisville in the ACC championship game. The Washington Post