10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2023

 Gazans walk by ruins of buildings from Israeli airstrikes.
Gazans walk by ruins of buildings from Israeli airstrikes.

1. Israel escalates strikes against Hamas

Israel said Tuesday it had intensified its bombing against Hamas in Gaza, hitting more than 400 targets in 24 hours. Israeli forces also responded to fire by Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. Israel said it was "well prepared" for an anticipated ground assault in Gaza to crush Hamas for its Oct. 7 terrorist attack that killed 1,400 people in southern Israel. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said more than 5,000 people have died in the Palestinian territory since the conflict began. U.S. forces, meanwhile, blocked two one-way attack drones that targeted their base at al Tanf in Syria. Washington, scrambling to prevent a broader war, said it would hold Iran responsible for attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East. The New York Times, Bloomberg

2. Republican speaker candidates make their pitches

Eight Republicans vying to become House speaker made pitches to their colleagues in a closed-door meeting Monday as lawmakers prepare to try again to elect a replacement for ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The House has been unable to conduct normal business since a small group of far-right Republicans launched a successful effort to remove McCarthy three weeks ago. House Republicans nominated Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for the job, but both failed to rally enough support. Donald Trump had backed Jordan, but the former president, who is busy with legal troubles and his 2024 presidential campaign, said Monday he was trying "to stay out of it" now. The Washington Post

3. Hamas releases 2 more hostages

Hamas on Monday released two more civilian hostages — both elderly Israeli women whose husbands remained captive — but talks on freeing 50 more people stalled as the Palestinian militant group called for Israel to permit deliveries of fuel into Gaza, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing officials with knowledge of the negotiations. An American mother and daughter were freed Friday. Egypt confirmed that the latest handover had taken place at the Rafah border crossing. Talks have focused on freeing the larger group in exchange for more humanitarian aid. Israel said there are still 222 hostages in Gaza who were abducted during Hamas' bloody Oct. 7 attack on civilians and Israeli soldiers in southern Israel. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg

4. UAW expands strike to Stellantis Ram truck plant

The United Auto Workers union on Monday expanded its strike against Stellantis, telling 6,800 workers at the automaker's "largest plant and biggest moneymaker" to join the picket line. Stellantis makes the Ram 1500 pickup truck at the targeted Michigan plant. The UAW said Stellantis, which makes Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles, had "the worst proposal on the table" in the union's first-ever simultaneous strike affecting all three of the big Detroit automakers — Stellantis, Ford and General Motors. Stellantis said it thought it was making progress in negotiations with the UAW, and was "outraged" over the union's surprise decision to expand its targeted strike. CNN, Detroit Free Press

5. Menendez pleads not guilty to foreign agent charge

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Monday pleaded not guilty to acting illegally as a foreign agent. Menendez entered his plea in federal court in lower Manhattan. His four co-defendants — including his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez — entered similar pleas last week. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a superseding indictment earlier this month accusing Menendez and his wife, who already faced bribery charges, of conspiring with one of the two other co-defendants, Wael Hana, to have Menendez act as an agent for Egypt from January 2018 through June 2022. Menendez was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time. USA Today

6. Iceland leader joins protest of gender pay gap

Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is joining tens of thousands of Icelandic women in refusing to work Tuesday to protest the gender pay gap and gender-based violence. "I will not work this day, as I expect all the women [in the Cabinet] will do as well," Jakobsdóttir told the mbl.is website. The "kvennafri," or women's day off, is expected to have the greatest impact in health care, education and other sectors where women make up the majority of the workforce. The Icelandic Teachers' Union says the majority of teachers, including 94% of kindergarten teachers, are women. About 80% of workers at the country's biggest medical center, the National University Hospital of Iceland, are women. BBC News

7. Off-duty pilot charged with trying to cut engines on passenger flight

An off-duty pilot who allegedly tried to disrupt an Alaska Airlines jet's engines during a Sunday flight has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, authorities said Monday. Alaska Airlines said the crew on Flight 2059, which was headed for San Francisco from Everett, Washington, "reported a credible security threat" to air traffic controllers after the off-duty pilot, identified as Joseph Emerson, allegedly tried to tamper with the controls. A pilot said in a recording posted on LiveATC.net that the crew had "the guy that tried to shut the engines down" removed from the cockpit and "subdued" as the jetliner diverted to Portland, Oregon. The FBI said the plane landed safely and there was "no continuing threat." The Washington Post

8. Turkey's Erdogan sends lawmakers bill approving Sweden's NATO membership

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office said Monday he had submitted a bill approving Sweden's NATO membership to lawmakers for ratification. Sweden welcomed the move, which clears the path for it to join the Western defense alliance. Erdogan once objected to adding Sweden to NATO, complaining it protected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. But he said at a July summit that he would send the proposal to parliament when it reconvened in October. Sweden and Finland asked to join NATO last year after Russia invaded Ukraine. Finland's bid was approved in April. Reuters

9. Passenger, freight trains collide in Bangladesh

A passenger train collided with a freight train outside Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, on Monday, killing at least 17 people. More than 100 others were injured. The passenger train, crowded with travelers during the busy Durga Puja holiday season, tried to switch tracks on the way to Dhaka, and the freight train, which was headed in the opposite direction, slammed into its last two coaches. There were 300 people packed into the cars. "The death toll may rise further," said Sadiqur Rahman Sabuj, the chief administrative officer in the area where the crash occurred. Witnesses said blood and body parts were scattered across the tracks. The New York Times

10. World's oldest dog dies at 31

A 31-year-old guard dog named Bobi died in Portugal, his owner said Monday. Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, a Portuguese breed with a typical life expectancy of 10 to 14 years, ranked as the oldest dog ever, according to Guinness World Records. Bobi claimed the record two years ago when he outlived Bluey, an Australian cattle dog that died in 1939 at age 29. Bobi's owner, Leonel Costa, told The Associated Press that his dog died over the weekend at a veterinary hospital. Bobi was born on May 11, 1992, and lived on a farm with Costa and four cats. Costa said Bobi had never been put on a leash and "eats what we eat." The Associated Press