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Biden Calls Bans on Trans Surgeries for Kids ‘Close to Sinful’ -- DeSantis Responds with Ad
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Citizen Frank

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President Joe Biden claimed it was “close to sinful” for states to block minors’ access to “gender-affirming care,” effectively standing between children and trans-activist medical professionals.

Biden sat down with guest host Kal Penn to record an interview for Monday’s episode of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, and the conversation turned to trans-identifying kids and the efforts being made — primarily by Republicans in states like Florida — to prevent children from making irreversible decisions about their bodies when they’re still too young to vote.

Biden conceded that the issue of “gender-affirming care” was more complicated — “harder” — when there were children involved, but insisted that legislation should prevent states from interfering.

“Transgender kids is really a harder thing,” he told Penn in a clip leaked ahead of the Monday broadcast. “What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful.”

“It’s terrible what they’re doing. It’s not like a kid wakes up one morning and says, ‘You know, I decided I want to become a man’ or ‘I want to become a woman’ or ‘I want to change,’” Biden continued. “What are they thinking about here? They are human beings. They love. They have feelings. They have inclinations that are. … It just, to me, is, I don’t know is, it’s cruel.”

The president went on to suggest legislation as a means to stop states from acting on the issue, arguing that the federal government should “make sure we pass legislation like we passed with same-sex marriage. You mess with that, you’re breaking the law and you’re going to be held accountable.”

As for “what’s going on in Florida” — the efforts Biden was objecting to — state medical boards voted last November to ban transgender surgeries, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones for minors. In addition, the Florida Senate filed a bill in February that would hold businesses responsible for the costs associated with detransitioning — if they had initially covered the medical costs related to the transition.

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DeSantis Responds

‘It is not “sinful” to prohibit the mutilation of minors. It is not acceptable for the federal government to mandate that procedures like sex change operations be allowed for kids.’ DeSantis tweeted.

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  • Avatar Annabel says:

    BTW: The black caps over Biden’s bright blue eyes which no-one else seems to notice or comment upon, are how Obama controls Biden. This is Obama’s third term. During the initial debates with Trump Biden had the black caps over his eyes which is probably how he was fed the answers.

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    RESULTS: Primary Election Night

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    Voters in Kentucky, Georgia, Idaho, Oregon, and California cast ballots in a handful of elections on Tuesday ranging from the top of the ticket to special congressional run-offs to complete the terms of incumbents who resigned.

    In addition to the presidential primaries in which President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have already clinched presumptive nominee status, voters cast ballots in districts where incumbents face challenges from within their own party, wide-open seats, and the chance to serve out the remainder of the former House Speaker’s term.

    KENTUCKY – Polls Close at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. ET

    Voters in the Bluegrass State will allocate 53 delegates in the Democrats’ presidential primary and 46 delegates in the Republican presidential contest.

    In addition to the presidential primaries, there is a primary in Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District where incumbent Republican Rep. Hal Rogers faces a challenge from three members of his own party, including Dana Edwards.

    GEORGIA – Polls Close at 7:00 p.m. ET

    The Peach State’s Third Congressional District GOP primary is wide open with incumbent Rep. Drew Ferguson deciding not to seek another term. Trump-endorsed candidate Brian Jack will face off against four other candidates including Mike Dugan and Mike Crain. It’s likely that a crowded field will hold candidates below the 50 percent-plus-one threshold to avoid a runoff.

    IDAHO – Polls Close at 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. ET

    The Republican primary in Idaho’s Second Congressional District pitted incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson against multiple challengers, including Scott Cleveland. With a strong fundraising advantage, Simpson — one of a few Republicans to vote in favor of setting up a January 6 committee in the House — hopes to secure renomination.

    OREGON – Polls Close at 11:00 p.m. ET

    Unlike other states voting on Tuesday, the Beaver State’s primaries are conducted by mail — meaning it’s unlikely there will be any race calls on Election Day while officials count the mail-in ballots.

    The presidential primaries will see 66 delegates allocated from Democrat votes and 31 delegates distributed by Republican voters.

    In the Third Congressional District’s Democrat primary, retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s seat is being pursued by two leading candidates: State Rep. Maxine Dexter and Susheela Jayapal, a former county commissioner endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the cousin of Rep. Pramila Jayalpal (D-WA).

    The Democrat primary for the Fifth Congressional District has 2022 nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner facing off against state Rep. Janelle Bynum. McLeod-Skinner narrowly lost the general election to GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer by just two points, but Bynum has a slight fundraising advantage against last cycle’s Democrat nominee this time around.

    CALIFORNIA – Polls Close at 11:00 p.m. ET

    A special general runoff election was held on Tuesday to fill the 20th Congressional District seat left vacant by the resignation of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a contest between Republicans Vince Fong and Mike Boudreaux. The former, a state assemblyman and McCarthy’s former district director, has endorsements from his former boss and former President Donald Trump. Tuesday’s election will determine who serves out the remainder of the current term but both Fong and Boudreaux will face each other again in November’s regular general election to serve a full term beginning in January 2025.

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    DOJ Authorized ‘Deadly Use of Force’ in Mar-a-Lago Raid, Agents Told to Wear ‘Unmarked’ Clothes

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    The Biden administration authorized the use of deadly force during the FBI’s raid on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in August 2022 as part of its investigation into classified records, court documents revealed.

    An “Operations Order” produced in discovery as part of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s alleged improper retention of classified records revealed that the “FBI believed its objective for the Mar-a-Lago raid was to seize ‘classified information, NDI, and US Government records,’” as described in the search warrant.

    The order, according to a court filing, contained a “Policy Statement” regarding “Use of Deadly Force,” which stated, for example, “Law Enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force when necessary.”

    The FBI told Fox News in a statement, “The FBI followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force. No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter.”

    According to the filing, the DOJ and FBI agents “planned to bring ‘Standard Issue Weapons,’ ‘Ammo,’ ‘Handcuffs,’ and ‘medium and large sized bolt cutters,’ but they were instructed to wear ‘unmarked polo or collared shirts’ and to keep ‘law enforcement equipment concealed.”

    Trump, who spent another day in a New York City courtroom for his unprecedented criminal trial stemming from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into Trump allegedly falsifying business records, reacted to the revelations Tuesday afternoon.

    “WOW! I just came out of the Biden Witch Hunt Trial in Manhattan, the ‘Icebox,’ and was shown Reports that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE,” Trump posted on his Truth Social. “NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY.”

    Trump added, “HE IS MENTALLY UNFIT TO HOLD OFFICE — 25TH AMENDMENT!”

    Trump was charged out of Smith’s investigation into his retention of classified materials. Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 felony charges from Smith’s probe, including willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and false statements.

    Trump was also charged with an additional three counts as part of a superseding indictment out of the investigation: a count of willful retention of national defense information and two obstruction counts.

    Trump pleaded not guilty.

    The federal judge presiding over the case, Judge Aileen Cannon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, postponed the trial stemming from Smith’s case indefinitely. The trial was set to begin May 20.

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    Egypt Changed Terms of Gaza Ceasefire Deal Presented to Hamas: Report

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    Egyptian intelligence quietly changed the terms of a ceasefire proposal that Israel had already signed off on earlier this month, ultimately scuttling a deal that could have released Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and set a pathway to temporarily end the fighting in Gaza, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

    The ceasefire agreement that Hamas ended up announcing on May 6 was not what the Qataris or the Americans believed had been submitted to Hamas for a potential final review, the sources said.

    The changes made by Egyptian intelligence, the details of which have not been previously reported, led to a wave of anger and recrimination among officials from the US, Qatar and Israel, and left ceasefire talks at an impasse.

    “We were all duped,” one of those sources told CNN.

    CIA Director Bill Burns, who has spearheaded the American efforts to broker a ceasefire agreement, was in the region when word reached him that the Egyptians had changed the terms of the deal. Burns was angry and embarrassed, the same person said, believing it made him look like he wasn’t in the loop or hadn’t informed the Israelis of the changes.

    The soft-spoken and mild-mannered Burns “almost blew a gasket,” said the source.

    The three sources familiar with the matter told CNN that a senior Egyptian intelligence official named Ahmed Abdel Khalek was responsible for making the changes. Abdel Khalek is a senior deputy to the Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, who has been Burns’ counterpart in leading Egypt’s mediation in the ceasefire talks.

    One source familiar with the negotiations said Abdel Khalek told the Israelis one thing and Hamas another. More of Hamas’ demands were inserted into the original framework that Israel had tacitly agreed to in order to secure Hamas’ approval, the source said. But the other mediators were not informed; nor, critically, were the Israelis.

    “Hamas was telling their people, ‘We will have a deal in place tomorrow,’” the first source said.

    “All sides were under the assumption the Egyptians provided the same document” that Israel had signed off on and the other mediators, the US and Qatar, were aware of, the person said.

    Instead, the second source said, the Egyptians sought to blur the lines between the original framework and Hamas’s response.

    A deal was close at hand

    A Hamas document obtained by CNN outlining the version of the framework they agreed to included achieving a permanent ceasefire and a “sustainable calm” to be reached in the second phase of the three-stage deal. Israel has been averse to agreeing to discuss an end to the war before Hamas has been defeated and the remaining hostages are released from captivity.

    Now, three weeks later, with ceasefire talks stalled, those involved are raising questions about the motives of Egypt, which for years has served as a key intermediary between Israel and Hamas, particularly Hamas members inside Gaza.

    Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday if he was concerned about Egypt being involved with future ceasefire talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was not prepared to agree to terms that would allow Hamas to attack Israel again. “I hope Egypt understands that we can’t agree to something like that.”

    The changes came more than a week after a team of Egyptian negotiators flew to Israel in late April to hammer out some of the final details of a framework to provide for the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting and the return of Palestinian prisoners.

    Talks had been ongoing for months by then, since the last pause in the fighting fell apart in early December. With Israel agreeing for the most part to go farther than they previously had, there was a creeping sense of optimism taking hold that a deal was close at hand. Israel appeared willing to accept fewer hostages, release more Palestinian prisoners and allow Gazans in the southern part of the enclave to return home to the north unrestricted.

    US officials emphasized how “extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel” the framework was, in the words of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

    After discovering the Egyptian freelancing, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani informed Israel’s intelligence service Mossad that Egypt had acted alone, two of the sources told CNN.

    Al Thani and CIA Director Burns got to work trying to salvage the proposal and re-balance it with elements they knew Israel would require.

    “It doesn’t make sense,” a senior Biden administration official said of why Egyptian intelligence would try to push something through without the essential input from the others.

    Changes made to appeal to Hamas

    After the Egyptians came back from Israel and conferred with Hamas, it became clear the group wouldn’t go along with what Israel was agreeing to, one of the sources said. So the Egyptian official made significant changes to get Hamas to agree.

    The day before Hamas made their May 6 public announcement agreeing to the proposal, an Egyptian source told CNN that Egypt had received Hamas’ response and relayed it to the Israeli side.

    “Several alternatives and scenarios were proposed to overcome the main point of contention related to ending the war,” said the source.

    The agreement’s language about ending the war has been perhaps the thorniest issue throughout the negotiations. But what Hamas sent back, Netanyahu said, “was very far from Israel’s core demands.”

    It wasn’t long before the discussions stalled.

    Negotiators, including Burns, returned to Cairo for one more round of indirect talks with Hamas. Israel agreed to send a team, as did Qatar, but neither sent senior officials, an indication that despite earlier optimism a deal would not be as imminent as hoped.

    Two days after Hamas’ response on May 6, Burns returned to Washington and sources told CNN the talks were “paused.”

    Mediators had hoped that a pause in the fighting would delay or even prevent a serious incursion into Rafah by Israel. Military operations by Israel in Rafah are now expanding despite protest by the Biden administration that they will threaten the hundreds of thousands of civilians who had fled there for safety.

    If talks resume, it’s expected that the Qataris would play a bigger role in the next round, the second source familiar with the negotiations said. A re-launch of the negotiations does not appear imminent but if it were to happen Egypt would still be expected to be central given their essential proximity to Hamas, as well as Israel’s preference of Egypt to Qatar.

    The discussions would still be expected to center on a broad framework that would include an initial stage in which up to 33 Israeli hostages would be released over at least 6 weeks. Hamas has been pushing to include the bodies of dead hostages in the initial release and also have the first phase flow into a second with no break. Both are positions Israel has resisted.

    US officials have argued that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar doesn’t actually want a deal since he may think he’s winning and the greater the Palestinian suffering the more the world turns on Israel. Critics of Netanyahu, including families of Israeli hostages, have accused him of being more concerned with removing Hamas from Gaza than getting his citizens home.

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    Stefanik Files Ethics Complaint Against Judge Merchan

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    Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) filed an ethics complaint Tuesday accusing the judge presiding over former President Trump’s New York hush money trial of a conflict of interest, Axios has learned.

    The letter is unlikely to have an immediate effect on the trial, but it’s the latest chapter in Trump allies attempting to defend the former president by lodging complaints against the judge and prosecutors involved in the case.

    “Acting Judge [Juan] Merchan is in clear violation of section 100.3(E)(1)(d)(iii) of the Rules of Judicial Conduct for the New York State Unified Court System as his family has enriched itself through anti-Trump fundraising mentioning this case directly,” Stefanik told Axios in a statement.

    A Trump acquittal would be “detrimental to Democrats, including clients of Judge Merchan’s daughter,” Stefanik said in a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct requesting an investigation.

    “If, on the other hand, [Trump] is convicted, such a verdict would provide a fundraising windfall for Democrat clients of Judge Merchan’s daughter.”

    Stefanik’s argument is akin to that of the Trump campaign and other right-wing Trump allies, who have seized upon Merchan’s daughter, Loren, and her Democratic consulting work to call for Merchan’s recusal.

    Merchan last August rejected Trump’s demand that he step aside from the criminal hush money case, citing guidance from the New York court system’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics about his daughter’s employment.

    Stefanik, a close Trump ally and one of his most vocal defenders in Congress, has filed five formal complaints against judges and prosecutors involved in cases against Trump.

    Those include complaints to the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the New York Bar Association and DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

    In November of last year, Stefanik previously filed an ethics complaint against Judge Arthur Engoron, the judge presiding over Trump’s civil fraud trial, accusing Engoron of “weaponized lawfare” against Trump.

    That complaint was dismissed.

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    Newsweek Pushes Fake News Story About Tucker Carlson and Russia

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    Conservative pundit Tucker Carlson’s media company says a Russian state television agency that is airing portions of his show is doing so without legal permission.

    Newsweek initially reported on Tuesday that Carlson was launching his show on Russian state TV.

    It later updated its story to reflect pushback from Carlson’s team, which denied any involvement in the program, in which segments of his show are dubbed into Russian.

    Russian state newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta initially reported on Russia 24, a state-run media organization, broadcasting Carlson’s program.

    “Any use of our content by that channel is without legal permission,” a representative for Carlson told The Hill Tuesday evening.

    Carlson, in a separate text message to Mediate, blasted the initial Newsweek report, writing “this is completely absurd.

    Reporters are so dishonest and stupid. I’ve never even heard of this channel.”

    Carlson was fired by Fox News last year and has since launched a new media company and interview show on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

    The former cable news pundit has sparked backlash in recent months from politicians and media watchdogs over his often flattering rhetoric on Russia.

    Carlson recently published an extensive interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and offered his audience a tour of Russian grocery stores during which he praised the country’s economy and infrastructure.

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    Giuliani, Others Plead Not Guilty to Felony Arizona Charges

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    Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nine charges he is facing in Arizona in relation to a case focused on efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in that state.

    Giuliani entered his not guilty plea remotely at an arraignment held in a courtroom in Phoenix. Numerous other individuals charged in the case, including former Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, also entered not guilty pleas at their arraignments Tuesday.

    Giuliani’s trial is set to begin in October. It’s the second criminal indictment he is facing after being charged in the fall in Georgia in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in that state.

    He has pleaded not guilty to all those charges as well.

    In Arizona, Giuliani was charged along with other close Trump allies last month with nine felony charges, including counts of conspiracy, fraud and forgery.

    All 18 defendants in the case are accused of promoting false claims of voter fraud to try to convince state officials to reject President Biden’s victory in Arizona.

    The other defendants in the case include the 11 individuals who signed documents asserting that they were the legitimate electors in the state and that Trump had won, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn and attorneys Jenna Ellis, John Eastman and Christina Bobb.

    Mike Roman, the director of Election Day operations for Trump’s 2020 campaign, was also charged.

    Arizona officials had struggled to track down Giuliani for weeks after the charges were filed to serve him the summons to appear, but he was eventually served Friday following his 80th birthday celebration.

    The judge at the hearing Tuesday required Giuliani to post a bond of $10,000 and appear in Arizona for booking procedures within the next 30 days.

    Giuliani spokesperson Ted Goodman said in a statement that Giuliani looks forward to “full vindication” and baselessly accused Biden and his allies of weaponizing the justice system to prosecute Trump.

    “These charges are essentially a cut and paste version of what they’re attempting to use to interfere with the 2024 Election and to take down President Trump and anyone willing to take on the permanent Washington political class,” Goodman said.

    Prosecutors allege that Ward, who chaired the state party from 2019 to 2023, brought the fake electors together and pressured then-Vice President Pence to declare them the legitimate electors.

    Ward also pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

    Eastman was the first defendant to be arraigned in the case last week, also pleading not guilty.

    Most of the defendants were being arraigned on Tuesday, but Meadows, Epshteyn and two fake electors are scheduled to be arraigned in June.

    Arizona is the fourth state where charges have been brought in relation to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

    Trump has not been charged in Arizona but was referenced as an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment.

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    WATCH: Biden Made 9 Gaffes in Single Speech — White House Had to Correct

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    The White House is on cleanup duty after President Joe Biden delivered a gaffes-laden speech riddled with eye-popping doozies including calling insurrectionists ‘irrectionists.’

    White House staff made nine corrections to the speech that Biden, 81, gave before the Detroit branch of the NAACP on Sunday while receiving a lifetime achievement award.

    In the official transcript of the speech, his team crossed out nine words where Biden made either factual and pronunciation errors and inserted what the president was actually supposed to say.

    In one cringe-worthy moment right at the beginning of the speech, Biden told a story of when former President Barack Obama sent him to Detroit when he was serving as vice president. But Biden got the timeline wrong by about a decade declaring he was sent there during the ‘pandemic.’

    In reality, Biden was dispatched to Detroit to meet with members of the auto industry during the great recession.

    In the transcript of his remarks, the White House crossed out pandemic and wrote in ‘recession.’

    Later in the speech, Biden went after his political opponent Donald Trump slamming the ex-president for the attack on the Capitol on January 6 and calling Trump unhinged.

    ‘He calls the irrectionists who stormed Capitol Hill ‘patriots,” Biden declared. ‘He says if elected, he wants, quote, ‘every’ one of them pardoned.’

    In the transcript, the White House crossed out ‘irrectionists’ and inserted ‘insurrectionists.’

    Soon after that moment, Biden accused Trump of saying if he loses again in November there would be ‘bloodshed’ which was also crossed out and corrected to ‘bloodbath.’

    Other smaller errors the White House fixed included when Biden said he was ‘humbled to receive this organization.’

    The correct word added in was ‘award.’

    They also crossed out ‘inspiresing’ and added ‘inspiring,’ changed $8,000 to $800, ‘who’ to ‘to’ and corrected Biden calling the NAACP the ‘NAAC.’

    Biden has long been criticized as a gaffe-prone president.

    Just Monday, Biden was forced to correct himself after saying a US citizen still being held by Hamas is ‘here with us today’ at a White House event.

    Last week, Biden called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un the president of South Korea at a fundraiser in California while attempting to make another dig at Trump.

    The president spoke of Trump’s pride from ‘love letters from South Korean president Kim Jong Un.’

    As Biden makes a series of gaffes while he runs for re-election, Trump has made a habit of mocking Biden for his trouble reading a teleprompter and other missteps on the campaign trail.

    But Trump, 77, is not immune from making his own embarrassing gaffes while mounting his bid to return to the White House.

    Trump has confused Biden with former President Obama on numerous occasions during speeches and made other verbal slip ups at his rancorous rallies.

    Both campaigns and their supporters have made it a point to go after the gaffes of the opposing party’s presumptive presidential nominee in a gaffe battle that is likely to continue well into November and Election Day.

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    Diddy Sued by Model Who Claims She Was Drugged, Sexually Assaulted by Mogul in 2003

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    Sean “Diddy” Combs has been hit by another damning lawsuit, this time from a model who claimed he drugged her and then forced her to perform oral sex on him during a visit to his NYC studio two decades ago when she was 22.

    Crystal McKinney claims the rapper plied her with alcohol and possibly laced marijuana during the 2003 encounter, then brought her to a bathroom and forced her to her knees, demanding she “Suck it,” according to the suit obtained by TMZ.

    McKinney alleged that when she refused to comply, Combs grabbed her head and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

    She then lost consciousness and woke in a taxi to realize she’d been assaulted, the suit read, although it remains unclear whether she meant there was an additional assault beyond the oral encounter.

    The suit is just the latest damning allegation to be made against the hip-hop mogul in recent months.

    Since his ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura accused Combs of rape and abuse back in November, he’s been hit by six lawsuits alleging abuse, including the latest from McKinney.

    The pair allegedly met during a Men’s Fashion Week event at Cipriani, where he invited her to join him at his studio afterward.

    There, McKinney alleged she and Combs drank some expensive booze with friends, and then began passing joints around the group, TMZ reported.

    The weed was “very powerful,” so much so that she began to feel like she was floating and feared it had been laced with another drug.

    Combs then made her go to the bathroom, where he forced himself on her, McKinney alleged in the suit.

    After the incident, McKinney claimed she was blackballed from modeling and became so depressed she tried to kill herself in 2004.

    Following the deluge of allegations against Combs, McKinney said she decided to come forward because she “knew she had a moral obligation to speak up,” according to TMZ.

    Combs’ mansions in Florida and California were raided in April by a Department of Homeland Security team dealing in human trafficking after allegations emerged against him.

    Despite initially denying all allegations against him, Combs on Sunday apologized after footage emerged of him viciously beating Ventura in a hotel hallway in 2016.

    In that clip, Ventura was seen trying to get into an elevator before Combs emerged around a corner clad only in a towel, grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground.

    He then kicked her several times, before pulling her from the ground and throwing her back around the corner.

    Later he was seen hurling objects at Ventura as he aggressively yelled at her.

    The footage lined up with a vivid description of the assault she detailed in her November filing against Combs — which was settled out of court with the rapper maintaining his innocence.

    In the filing, Ventura said she was wearing a hooded sweatshirt as she tried to escape to conceal a black eye Combs had given her.

    On Sunday, Combs issued an apology video, claiming he had hit “rock bottom” in the footage and that he’d spent the years since seeking therapy to be a better person.

    Ventura’s lawyers dismissed the apology, saying Combs did nothing but talk about himself in it.

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    World Economic Forum Founder Klaus Schwab Steps Back from Executive Post

    Citizen Frank

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    ‘You’ll own nothing in retirement and be happy’…

    World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab will be stepping back from his role running the global gathering since he founded it in 1971, Semafor reported.

    Schwab announced his intentions in an email to staff on Tuesday that was shared with Semafor by a person connected to the organization.

    He will be stepping down as executive chairman and transitioning to a role as non-executive chairman, he said, adding the change in his role is pending approval by the Swiss government but should be finalized ahead of the WEF’s annual meeting in 2025.

    Schwab has not named his successor, but said that over the last year, the group’s executive board, “under the leadership of President Børge Brende, has taken full executive responsibility.”

    Brende is a former Norwegian conservative leader.

    The Forum operates much like a family business, with Schwab’s children appointed to high-ranking positions and his wife Hilde heading the organization’s foundation and awards ceremonies in Davos.

    Over the years, its annual Davos gathering has become a must-attend event for the global elite.

    Succession at the WEF has been the subject of fevered speculation, and a Politico article floating possible names roiled the gathering in 2023.

    The WEF nonprofit organization brought in nearly $500 million in revenue in the year ending March 2023, and had a neat 200 million Swiss francs sitting in cash.

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    Takeaways from Dramatic Day in Trump Trial as Prosecution Rests Case

    Citizen Frank

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    It was a tumultuous day in court for Donald Trump‘s hush money trial, in which a judge briefly cleared the courtroom after a heated exchange with a witness who had been called to help the former president’s case.

    When Trump exited the courtroom on Monday, he praised the witness, Robert Costello, a former adviser to his ex-attorney and fixer Michael Cohen. Costello’s words were integral to the defense’s efforts to undercut Cohen’s claims about Trump’s alleged involvement in a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, for which Trump is now facing charges.

    “You saw what happened to a highly respected lawyer today, Bob Costello. Wow. I’ve never seen anything like that,” Trump said. The former president also said presiding Judge Juan Merchan has a chance to gain back “respect” if he agrees to dismiss the charges before the jury deliberates on whether to convict or acquit Trump of the 34-count indictment.

    “This case should be dropped by the judge,” Trump said, adding if the judge did that, Merchan could “gain the respect back.”

    Trump, who is under a gag order that prevents him from commenting on witnesses, has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in the case.

    Here are five key takeaways from the dramatic proceedings on Monday.

    Prosecution rests its case against former president

    After calling more than 20 witnesses and showing jurors more than 200 pieces of evidence, prosecutors with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office finished presenting their side of the case against Trump late Monday afternoon.

    Their final and most crucial witness was Cohen. After watching defense attorneys hammer Cohen about his credibility and key parts of his story for three days during cross-examination, prosecutors’ last move was to elicit testimony from Cohen during a redirect questioning about calls he made to Trump, during which Cohen claims he spoke to Trump about Daniels.

    One such call, which Cohen made to Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller on the night of Oct. 24, 2016, has been a point of contention throughout the trial.

    Defense attorneys highlighted how the call was a mere 90 seconds long and had been preceded by calls and texts between Cohen and Schiller about how Cohen needed to speak with the bodyguard about being harassed by a 14-year-old. They argued Cohen would not have had enough time, in under two minutes, to have a full conversation with Schiller about the harassment and then have a separate conversation with Trump in which the hush money scheme was hatched.

    Prosecutors on Monday countered that by admitting into evidence a still shot of a video of Trump physically near Schiller around the exact same time the call was placed in an attempt to show Cohen could have spoken to Trump about Daniels on the call.

    Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen how many times he believed he conversed with Trump about Daniels in October 2016.

    “More than 20,” Cohen replied.

    The prosecution was largely expected to rest their case this week. But the decision to do so Monday was still enormous for the trial because it meant Bragg’s office believes it has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump falsified business records with the intent to commit another crime. The other crime, however, remains unspecified.

    Cohen admits to stealing from Trump Organization

    Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche grilled Cohen on how he lied about a reimbursement request in 2017 so that the Trump Organization would overpay him by tens of thousands of dollars.

    Cohen testified he was reimbursed $50,000 for payments to Red Finch for technology services but that he only paid Red Finch $20,000, resulting in him effectively stealing money from the Trump Organization.

    Blanche’s questions intensified and his voice became high-pitched as he drilled down on the admission.

    “Did you ever have to plead guilty to larceny?” Blanche asked.

    “No, sir,” Cohen said.

    The reimbursement was included in the broader $420,000 payment plan that is at the heart of the case against Trump. The plan, which evidence shows was crafted by the Trump Organization’s ex-Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, included paying Cohen for the payment he made to Daniels, the Red Finch payment, an annual bonus, and taxes.

    Cohen admitted to stealing the Red Finch money and also admitted that because the reimbursement was part of the broader payment plan, the tax aspect of the plan caused the Red Finch payment to Cohen to double. In other words, Cohen admitted to stealing $60,000 rather than $30,000.

    When asked by the prosecution about this on redirect, Cohen said he did so because he was angry about getting a lower annual bonus.

    “I was angry because of the reduction in bonus, and so I just felt like it was almost like self-help,” Cohen said.

    Key points from Robert Costello’s testimony

    Robert Costello, who gave Cohen legal advice when Trump’s ex-fixer was the target of a federal prosecution in April 2018, was asked Monday by defense attorneys about a pivotal meeting Cohen and Costello had at the Regency Hotel that month.

    While Costello was severely limited by the judge in what he could say, he emphasized that Cohen appeared to be in a crisis during the meeting and yet had no damning evidence against Trump that could have helped Cohen avoid prosecution.

    Costello, a former prosecutor fresh off his revealing testimony to Congress last week, indicated Monday that his client said “numerous times” that Trump knew nothing about the hush money payments to Daniels.

    “Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own,” Costello said. “And he repeated that numerous times.”

    Judge reprimands Costello and tells reporters to leave courtroom

    When he was seated at the witness stand, Costello audibly reacted in a negative way as Merchan sustained several objections from the prosecution. He audibly said, “Geez,” after one was sustained. Appearing exasperated, Costello also said he would strike one of his own responses from the record after Merchan repeatedly shut down his answers.

    Merchan responded to the behavior by asking the jury to leave the courtroom briefly Monday afternoon so he could address Costello’s decorum.

    After the judge’s stern warning, Costello gave him a long glare, and Merchan responded by asking, “Are you staring me down?” Then, in a stunning turn, the judge yelled, “Clear the courtroom!” The order prompted alarm from the press, and after several minutes, everyone was allowed back into the room.

    According to a transcript from Monday’s proceedings, Merchan threatened Costello with contempt while the press was not in the courtroom.

    “Your conduct is contemptuous right now. I’m putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous. If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand,” Merchan said.

    Trump attorney calls for judge to dismiss the charges

    Later in the afternoon, Blanche asked Merchan to dismiss all the charges in the case.

    “So you’re asking me to find Mr. Cohen not credible as a matter of law?” Merchan asked the lawyer. “You want me to take it out of the jury’s hands and decide before it even gets to the jury?”

    “Yes,” Blanche replied. The defense lawyer argued they didn’t just catch Cohen in one lie but rather “he came in here with a history of lying.”

    The move, known as seeking a “directed verdict,” is not an uncommon ask from a defense attorney.

    Merchan said at the end of the day that he would reserve his decision on the defense’s call to dismiss the charges.

    The defense attorneys said they planned to finish questioning Costello on Tuesday and likely had no further witnesses after him. They indicated they could rest their case by Tuesday morning, meaning there is a low chance Trump himself will take the stand.

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    1 Dead, 71 Injured After Singapore Airlines Boeing Flight Hits Severe Turbulence

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    One person has died and at least 71 others were injured on board a Singapore Airlines plane that encountered severe turbulence on a flight from London to Singapore.

    The Boeing 777-300ER plane diverted to Bangkok, according to a post on the Singapore Airlines Facebook page. It said 211 passengers and 18 crew were on board.

    The company said initially in a post that 30 passengers had been hurt in the mid-air disruption and were being treated in hospitals, while other travelers were receiving outpatient care at the airport.

    The one person who died was a 73-year-old British man, General Manager of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport Kittipong Kittikachorn said on Tuesday.

    The flight landed in the Thai capital at 3:45 p.m. local time (4:45 a.m. ET) Tuesday.

    Kittikachorn, who inspected the aircraft, told CNN he was informed of the emergency landing 10 minutes before it touched down. He also said that several passengers had sustained broken arms but that the majority of injuries were cuts and bruises.

    Some injured passengers were sent to the nearby Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, Kittikachorn said, adding that almost 200 travelers were waiting to take onwards flight to their destinations.

    The hospital said in an update that at least 71 people had been injured, including citizens from Malaysia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain, the United States and Ireland. It also said six people are severely injured. Earlier, Kittikachorn had said seven people were critically injured.

    The aviation tracking site FlightRadar24 says, based on its data, that the turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 occurred over Myanmar at approximately 7:49 a.m. UTC (3:49 a.m. ET).

    This lines up with a statement from the airline stating that the plane, “encountered sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin [a river in Myanmar] at 37,000 feet, about 10 hours after departure.”

    FlightRadar24 said in a blog post that, according to its data, at that time, ”the flight encountered a rapid change in vertical rate, consistent with a sudden turbulence event.”

    The data show the flight changing course about 14 minutes later. The airline says, “The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the aircraft to Bangkok.”

    The FlightRadar24 data show the flight, which was cruising at 37,000 feet, suddenly dipping then rapidly climbing a few hundred feet before dipping and climbing again and then finally settling back at its cruising altitude. The entire disruption took about 90 seconds, according to the data, but resulted in dozens of injuries, including a fatality.

    Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam issued a statement on his social media accounts, expressing “condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.”

    “We do not have the details of those affected, but know that the government ministries and agencies, as well as SIA, are doing their utmost to support all those affected and working with the authorities in Bangkok, where the plane had been diverted to,” Shanmugaratnam said.

    Singapore’s Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat said he was “deeply saddened to learn about the incident,” in a statement posted to his social media.

    “Ministry of Transport, Singapore, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport officials as well as SIA [Singapore Airlines] staff are providing support to the affected passengers and their families,” he said.

    Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement that it was investigating the situation involving SQ321 and its Transport Safety Investigation Bureau was in touch with their Thai counterparts.

    Turbulence occurs when a plane flies through clashing bodies of air moving at widely different speeds.

    With light and moderate turbulence passengers might feel a strain against their seatbelt, and unsecured items could move around the cabin.

    But in severe cases turbulence can throw passengers around the cabin, causing severe injuries and occasionally death.

    In March 2023, violent movements on a private jet resulted in the death of a former White House official, though an investigation later found that weather was not involved in that incident. That incident came just days after seven people were transported to hospitals after a separate commercial flight hit significant turbulence.

    In July 2023, seven people were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Sydney, Australia, when the plane was buffeted by severe turbulence, and 36 people were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Arizona to Honolulu in December 2022, with 20 people taken to emergency rooms.

    A September 2022 study predicts that clear-air turbulence will increase significantly around the globe by the period 2050-2080, in particular along the busiest flight routes, and the strongest type of turbulence will increase the most.

    Singapore Airlines is often considered one of the world’s safest carriers.

    Its only previous fatal accident was in October 2000 when flight SQ006 crashed when the Boeing 747-400 took off from a closed runway in Taiwan amid heavy rain, killing 83 on board.

    Boeing has said it is in touch with the Singaporean carrier and is “ready to support them.” The manufacturer is deferring further questions to the airline and local authorities.

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    Trump Campaign Threatens Lawsuit Against Biopic ‘The Apprentice’

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    The Trump campaign said it will sue the “pretend filmmakers” behind “The Apprentice,” which premiered on Monday at the Cannes Film Festival.

    The campaign took issue with many aspects of the film, namely a rape scene involving Trump and his first wife, Ivana, that was described as “violent” and “uncomfortable.”

    The Daily Mail describes the scene: “at one point it depicts Trump raping his wife and asking: ‘Did I find your g spot?'”

    “We will be filing a lawsuit to address the blatantly false assertions from these pretend filmmakers,” Trump campaign communications director Steven Cheung said, per the Daily Mail. “This garbage is pure fiction which sensationalizes lies that have been long debunked.”

    He went on to suggest that “this is election interference by Hollywood elites, who know that President Trump will retake the White House and beat their candidate of choice because nothing they have done has worked.”

    “This ‘film’ is pure malicious defamation, should not see the light of day, and doesn’t even deserve a place in the straight-to-DVD section of a bargain bin at a soon-to-be-closed discount movie store,” Cheung added. “It belongs in a dumpster fire.”

    Also among those who were unhappy with the film was Dan Snyder, a billionaire who is friends with Trump and until recently owned the Washington Commanders. He had put money into the project believing that it would paint the Donald in a positive light, however he realized that was not the case after viewing a cut of the film earlier this year.

    According to Variety, Snyder helped fund the film via Kinematics, a finance and production company. After seeing the direction director Ali Abbasi and his team chose to take, Kinematics’ lawyers began sending cease and desist letters demanding that the film be canned.

    Those familiar with the matter told the outlet that Snyder advised myriad changes, but was particularly incensed by the fact that the film included the aforementioned rape scene.

    The former Mrs. Trump had accused him of abuse during divorce procedings in the 1990s, but later recanted, saying “I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

    While it is unclear exactly how far Snyder went in demading changes, Kinematics’ president Emanuel Nuñez has maintained that, “all creative and business decisions involving ‘The Apprentice’ have always been made by Kinematics,” noting that, “Mark [Rapaport] and I run our company without the involvement of any other third parties.”

    The film, which stars Sebastian Stan, focuses on the time in Trump’s life where he was under the wing of infamous attorney Roy Cohn, attracted a number of big investors. The Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as the Danish and Irish governments, all put money into the project, which was filmed in part in Toronto.

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    Peter Navarro Speaks from Prison

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    Jailed former White House economic adviser Peter Navarro predicted Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell would get the boot in a second Trump administration.

    The Semafor interview was conducted from a federal prison where Navarro is serving a four-month sentence for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena issued by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

    Read the full interview below:

    Gina Chon: What are Trump’s economic priorities if he wins?

    Peter Navarro: The New MAGA Deal documents 100 actions in 100 days. At the top of the trade list is Trump’s Reciprocal Trade Act, originally introduced by Congressman Sean Duffy in 2019. If countries refuse to lower their tariffs to our levels, the president would have the authority to raise our tariffs to theirs. It is the most common sense route to balancing our trade deficit and thereby stimulating economic growth, and strengthening the US dollar. It should appeal to protectionists and free traders alike.

    Chon: What didn’t get done in the last term that would be back on the table?

    Navarro: One of the biggest pieces of unfinished Trump business is to solidify Buy American, Hire American government procurement, and reshore our private sector supply chains and manufacturing back to US soil. We are dangerously vulnerable to foreign coercion in everything from defense applications and tech, to pharmaceuticals.

    Trump will also quickly seal the border and begin mass deportations. Biden has imported a wave of crime and terrorism along with an uneducated mass that drives down wages of Black, brown, and blue-collar Americans. Blacks and Hispanics, particularly males in the workforce, are flocking to Trump in droves.

    Chon: What are the plans for the Fed and current Chair Jay Powell?

    Navarro: Powell was Mnuchin’s folly — Powell raised rates too fast under Trump and choked off growth. To keep his job, Powell then raised rates too slowly to contain inflation under Biden. My guess is that this punctilious non-economist will be gone in a hundred days one way or the other. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chair Kevin Hassett would be a logical replacement; former CEA Chair Tyler Goodspeed would be a bold choice.

    Chon: Is there a place for someone like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in a Trump administration?

    Navarro: I’m sure if Jamie raises $100 million for Trump 2024 and doesn’t hedge his Biden bet, there may be an ambassadorship somewhere in Asia where JPMorgan helped offshore millions of American jobs.

    Frankly, [Blackstone CEO] Steve Schwarzman’s unforgiveable alleged unregistered foreign lobbyist activities in weakening the China trade deal has made it difficult for those of us in Trump World to trust that Wall Street denizens like Dimon, [Citadel CEO] Ken Griffin, and Schwarzman will ever represent Main Street.

    Chon: What about people like Gary Cohn or Steven Mnuchin, whom you labeled as “globalists,” returning in a second Trump term?

    Navarro: Gary Cohn did everything he could to block Trump’s trade agenda, particularly steel and aluminum tariffs. When [former Commerce Secretary] Wilbur Ross and I finally outmaneuvered him, he quit in a huff — good riddance.

    Mnuchin did everything he could as well to stop or soften Trump’s trade agenda and regularly clashed with Ross, Lighthizer, and myself. Together, Cohn and Mnuchin prove, as I wrote in my Taking Back Trump’s America book, that Bad Personnel is both Bad Policy and Bad Politics.

    Chon: Trump wants to ratchet up tariffs on Chinese products, which he started when he was president. Given the challenges the Fed is facing in tamping down inflation, won’t tariffs make the problem worse?

    Navarro: The imposition of tariffs on Communist China had ZERO impact on inflation. In a general equilibrium economic world, tariffs over time boost growth and real wages; they are not inflationary.

    Chon: Nippon Steel’s effort to buy US Steel is facing challenges in Washington. Should that deal go through?

    Navarro: If Trump had been president, Cleveland Cliffs would have consummated its merger with US Steel and created a real American national champion in the world market. The Nippon deal is bad for America.

    Chon: Are there US companies or industries that you think are un-American or acting against American interests?

    Navarro: American multinational corporations naturally want to offshore American jobs in their search for cheap, sweatshop labor and pollution havens. That’s why God created tariffs.

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    Scarlett Johansson Says OpenAI Stole Her Voice — Lawyers Up

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    OpenAI has decided to remove one of the voices previously used by ChatGPT, according to Tech Crunch. Some users discovered that one of the five voices used sounded suspiciously similar to actor Scarlett Johansson’s voice.

    A video made its way around social media last week, with users finding one of the voices to be similar to Johansson’s actual voice. Some even ridiculed the voice for being too flirtatious, and others compared it with a voice that might manifest in a male fantasy.

    The report noted that Johansson had hired a legal team to investigate the origins of OpenAI’s “Sky” voice and how it was developed.

    In a statement on Monday, Johansson said she was approached by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in September about voicing an audio feature for ChatGPT.

    However, she said she decided not to participate in Altman’s project “after much consideration and for personal reasons.”

    “He told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI,” Johansson said.

    The company released a statement on Sunday, writing:

    Voice Mode is one of the most beloved features in ChatGPT. Each of the five distinct voices you hear has been carefully selected through an extensive process spanning five months involving professional voice actors, talent agencies, casting directors, and industry advisors. We’re sharing more on how the voices were chosen.

    In September of 2023, we introduced voice capabilities to give users another way to interact with ChatGPT. Since then, we are encouraged by the way users have responded to the feature and the individual voices. Each of the voices—Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper and Sky—are sampled from voice actors we partnered with to create them.

    The voice under scrutiny is the “Sky” voice. In the statement, OpenAI appeared to insist that “AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice—Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.”

    However, the company said they could not release the name of the actress they used for privacy reasons.

    Some people compared the “Sky” voice to the AI voice featured in the 2013 film “Her,” which was performed by Johansson. And while the company has not said the “Sky” voice belongs to Johansson, Altman posted to X last week with a simple word: “her.”

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    Amber Rose Endorses Trump for President

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    Amber Rose has revealed she is endorsing Donald Trump for President of the United States in 2024.

    The 40-year-old model posted a photo of her posing with Trump, 77, and his wife Melania, 54, at a black-tie event on Monday.

    The former president is the presumed Republican front-runner in the 2024 race.

    Rose stated in the caption, ‘Trump 2024 ususus,’ which lead to a slew of backlash from fans in the comments.

    Rose has long been an advocate for women’s rights – creating Slutwalk in 2015 in an effort to end rape culture and victim blaming.

    Rose’s endorsement comes nearly two months after she revealed on Just B With Bethenny Frankel that she’s always been ‘conservative.’

    ‘I am conservative actually.’

    ‘I have always been conservative since I was young,’ adding when she started dating Kanye West in 2008 she became, ‘this sexpot type of girl.’

    ‘That was my first relationship with a celebrity ever but also in the public eye. And he knows a lot about fashion and he always wanted me to dress very sexy,’ she said.

    ‘And I’m like, “Ugh, I’m so not her.” Like, I’m so not her and I get what I come off as but I am so not her,’ Rose insisted.

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    Truth Social Posts Q1 Revenue of $770,500 and Net Loss of $327.6 Million

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    Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social, on Monday disclosed that it lost $327.6 million on just $770,500 in revenue during the first quarter of 2024.

    TMTG brought in less money between January and March of this year than in the same period for 2023 (which already wasn’t anything to write home about).

    For context, Twitter regularly topped $1 billion in quarterly revenue before its sale to Elon Musk.

    The giant loss is largely driven by one-time expenses related to TMTG’s merger in March with a blank-check company, which is how it went public.

    That said, TMTG is nowhere close to profitable.

    TMTG surprised many by releasing these numbers, given that its auditor recently agreed to stop auditing public companies after being accused of “massive fraud” by federal securities regulators.

    It does not yet appear to have hired a replacement, noting that all of the quarterly and annual financials are unaudited.

    TMTG doesn’t disclose user numbers, unlike other publicly traded social media companies.

    TMTG continues to command a market value north of $6 billion, which is the sort of price multiple that most other meme stocks can only dream of achieving.

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    Michael Cohen Admits He Stole from Trump Organization

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    Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney, admitted while on the stand Monday that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from the Trump Organization, according to live reporting from the courthouse.

    During his third day of testimony, Cohen acknowledged that he pocketed money from the Trump Organization that was supposed to go to RedFinch, a technology company.

    Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, confronted Cohen about his claim that he was shorted $100,000 on his yearly bonus from the Trump Organization in 2017.

    “That’s correct,” Cohen stated, noting that he usually received a $150,000 annual bonus.

    “So, the $50,000 that you got back from RedFinch … you only paid the RedFinch owner $20,000, right?” Blanche asked Cohen.

    “Yes, sir,” Cohen responded.

    Cohen acknowledged that he withdrew the cash over a couple of days because he “didn’t want to take out $20,000.”

    “I don’t recall if it was exactly $20,000,” Cohen added.

    “So, you stole from the Trump Organization,” Blanche said.

    “Yes, sir,” Cohen replied.

    “You didn’t just steal the $30,000, because it was grossed up; it was $60,000,” Blanche continued.

    Cohen again responded, “Yes, sir.”

    When asked whether he ever had to plead guilty to larceny, Cohen stated that he had not.

    Cohen received a total of $420,000 from Trump in 2017. According to Cohen, he was paid $130,000 for the settlement payment he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, $50,000 for technology services to RedFinch, $180,000 for estimated taxes, and a $60,000 bonus. However, Cohen admitted that he only paid RedFinch $20,000 and pocketed the rest. Despite allegedly admitting to the theft to the district attorney’s office, he did not face any charges.

    “I was angered because of the reduction in the bonus, and so I just felt it was almost like self-help,” Cohen testified. “And again $130,000 to have my bonus cut by two-thirds was very upsetting to say the least.”

    Cohen maintained that the $420,000 he received from Trump had nothing to do with legal services.

    CNN legal analyst Elie Honig called Cohen’s admission a “bomb dropped right in the middle of the prosecution’s case.”

    Laura Coates with CNN stated that the defense “can establish Michael Cohen as somebody who is not to be trusted about the amount of money as well, then they might be able to establish that Donald Trump had no idea about what he was truly paying.”

    Blanche also presented to the jury an email from Allen Weisselberg, Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, to Cohen, discussing a potential retainer agreement. Cohen has claimed that he never had an agreement to provide legal services to the Trump Organization after he was made Trump’s personal attorney.

    “Thank you. You never stopped on for a bro hug. Anyway please prepare the agreement we discussed so we can pay you monthly,” Weisselberg’s email to Cohen read.

    Additionally, Blanche confirmed with Cohen that he changed his email signature to display his role as attorney to the former president.

    “It always said personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump,” Blanche explained. “His job changed — meaning President Trump’s job changed — your job didn’t.”

    Cohen agreed with Blanche.

    “You told everybody that was happening, correct?” Blanche asked.

    “Not everybody, but I was certainly proud of the role and I announced it,” Cohen responded. He acknowledged that he told TMZ, the New York Times, and appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to discuss his role.

    Blanche also questioned Cohen about meeting attorney Robert Costello.

    Costello claimed he worked as Cohen’s lawyer from April 2018 to July 2018. Cohen has denied ever having an agreement with Costello.

    Last week, Costello told lawmakers during a hearing on the Weaponization of the Federal Government that Cohen had lied on the stand in the New York criminal case against Trump. Costello smeared Cohen’s reputation, calling him an “inveterate liar.”

    Costello stated that Cohen repeatedly told him that he made the $130,000 payment to Daniels on his own.

    “He wanted to do something to put himself back into the inner circle of Donald Trump. That’s why he took care of this on his own. There had to be a motivation. Michael Cohen is always working for things that benefit himself,” Costello stated.

    During Monday’s trial, Blanche showed the jury several emails between Costello and Cohen that suggested Costello was acting as Cohen’s attorney, with or without a retainer agreement.

    “Would it surprise you to learn that you actually communicated on the phone either you calling Mr. Costello or Mr. Costello calling you 75 times?” Blanche asked Cohen.

    “Seems excessive but,” Cohen paused for a while. “Possible.”

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    Arrest Warrants Sought for Netanyahu, Hamas Leader for War Crimes

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    The International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the October 7 attacks on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza, the court’s prosecutor Karim Khan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Monday.

    Khan said the ICC’s prosecution team is also seeking warrants for Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as two other top Hamas leaders — Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, the leader of the Al Qassem Brigades who is better known as Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political leader.

    The warrants against the Israeli politicians mark the first time the ICC has targeted the top leader of a close ally of the United States. The decision puts Netanyahu in the company of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, for whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant over Moscow’s war on Ukraine, and the Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who was facing an arrest warrant from the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity at the time of his capture and killing in October 2011.

    By applying for the arrest warrants against Israeli and Hamas leaders in the same action, Khan’s office risks attracting criticism that it places a terror organization and an elected government on an equivalent footing.

    A panel of ICC judges will now consider Khan’s application for the arrest warrants.

    Khan said the charges against Sinwar, Haniyeh and al-Masri include “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape and sexual assault in detention.”

    “The world was shocked on the 7th of October when people were ripped from their bedrooms, from their homes, from the different kibbutzim in Israel,” Khan told Amanpour, adding that “people have suffered enormously.”

    Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people across several locations in southern Israel on October 7 and took some 250 hostages into Gaza. Many of the hostages are still being held in Gaza – Khan told Amanpour this meant crimes continued to be committed against “so many innocent Israelis … that are held hostage by Hamas and families that are waiting for their return.”

    Khan told Amanpour his team has a “variety of evidence” to support the application for arrest warrants against Sinwar, Haniyeh and al-Masri, including authenticated video footage and photographs from the attacks as well as evidence from eyewitnesses and survivors.

    Khan said Israel had “every right and indeed an obligation to get hostages back, but you must do so by complying with the law.”

    Responding to the announcement by Khan, Hamas said in a statement that it “strongly condemns the attempts of the ICC Prosecutor to equate victims with aggressors by issuing arrest warrants against a number of Palestinian resistance leaders without legal basis.”

    “Hamas calls on the ICC Prosecutor to issue arrest warrants against all war criminals among the occupation leaders, officers, and soldiers who participated in crimes against the Palestinian people, and demands the cancellation of all arrest warrants issued against Palestinian resistance leaders,” the group added.

    ‘Nobody is above the law’

    The charges against Netanyahu and Gallant include “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict,” Khan told Amanpour.

    “The fact that Hamas fighters need water doesn’t justify denying water from all the civilian population of Gaza,” he added.

    More than 35,500 Palestinians have been killed and more than 79,000 wounded in Gaza since October 7, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said on Monday. CNN cannot independently verify the figures.

    Netanyahu called the decision “a political outrage.”

    “They will not deter us and we will continue in the war until the hostages are released and Hamas is destroyed,” he said at a meeting of the parliamentary group of his Likud party.

    Other Israeli officials echoed his sentiments. Benny Gantz, a member Israel’s war cabinet, criticized Khan’s decision immediately after it was announced, saying that Israel was fighting “with one of the strictest moral codes in history, while complying with international law and boasting a robust independent judiciary.”

    “Drawing parallels between the leaders of a democratic country determined to defend itself from despicable terror to leaders of a blood-thirsty terror organisation is a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy,” he said, adding that the decision by the prosecutors “is in itself a crime of historic proportion to be remembered for generation.”

    The leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, said the application for the arrest warrents was “a complete moral failure.”

    “We cannot accept the outrageous comparison between Netanyahu and Sinwar … We will not remain silent,” he said.

    Israel’s President Isaac Herzog called it “beyond outrageous.”

    When reports surfaced last month that the ICC chief prosecutor was considering this course of action, Netanyahu said that any ICC arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials “would be an outrage of historic proportions,” and that Israel “has an independent legal system that rigorously investigates all violations of the law.”

    Asked by Amanpour about the comments made by Netanyahu, Khan said: “Nobody is above the law.”

    He said that if Israel disagrees with the ICC, “they are free, notwithstanding their objections to jurisdiction, to raise a challenge before the judges of the court and that’s what I advise them to do.”

    Israel and the United States are not members of the ICC. However, the ICC claims to have jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank after Palestinian leaders formally agreed to be bound by the court’s founding principles in 2015.

    The ICC announcement on Monday is separate from the case that is currently being heard by the the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over an accusation from South Africa that Israel was committing genocide in its war against Hamas following the October 7 attacks.

    While the ICJ considers cases that involve countries and nations, and the ICC is a criminal court, which brings cases against individuals for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

    Monday’s announcement is not the first time that the ICC acted in relation to Israel. In March 2021, Khan’s office launched an investigation into possible crimes committed in the Palestinian territories since June 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank.

    Located in The Hague, Netherlands, and created by a treaty called the Rome Statute first brought before the United Nations, the ICC operates independently. Most countries – 124 of them – are parties to the treaty, but there are notable exceptions, including Israel, the US and Russia.

    That means that if the court grants Khan’s application and issues arrest warrants for the five men, any country that is a member would have to arrest them and extradite them to The Hague.

    Under the rules of the court, all signatories of the Rome Statute have the obligation to cooperate fully with its decisions. This would make it extremely difficult for Netanyahu and Gallant to travel internationally, including to many countries that are among Israel’s closest allies – including Germany and the United Kingdom.

    Sinwar, Haniyeh and al-Masri have been officially designated as global terrorists by the US, meaning they are under travel bans, asset freezes and sanctions. The US, the UK, Japan, Canada as well as the European Union and others have designated Hamas as a terror group and imposed sanctions on its leaders.

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    Who Is Mohammad Mokhber? Tehran Taps Acting Leader

    Citizen Frank

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    Here are some key facts about Mohammad Mokhber, 68, Iran’s first vice president who became interim president following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.

    As interim president, Mokhber is part of a three-person council, along with the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary, that will organise a new presidential election within 50 days of the president’s death.

    Born on Sept. 1, 1955, Mokhber, like Raisi, is seen as close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has the last say in all matters of state. Mokhber became first vice president in 2021 when Raisi was elected president.

    Mokhber was part of a team of Iranian officials who visited Moscow in October and agreed to supply surface-to-surface missiles and more drones to Russia’s military, sources told Reuters at the time.

    The team also included two senior officials from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and an official from the Supreme National Security Council.

    Mokhber had previously been head of Setad, an investment fund linked to the supreme leader.

    In 2010, the European Union included Mokhber on a list of individuals and entities it was sanctioning for alleged involvement in “nuclear or ballistic missile activities”. Two years later, it removed him from the list.

    In 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department added Setad and 37 companies it oversaw to a list of sanctioned entities.

    Setad, whose full name is Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam, or the Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam, was set up under an order issued by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Khamenei’s predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

    It ordered aides to sell and manage properties supposedly abandoned in the chaotic years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and channel the bulk of the proceeds to charity.

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    Target Starts Price War with Walmart by Slashing Cost of 5,000 Popular Items

    Citizen Frank

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    Target plans to cut prices on thousands of consumer basics this summer, from diapers to milk, as inflation cuts into household budgets and more Americans pay closer attention to their spending.

    The price cuts, already applied to 1,500 items, will eventually include 5,000 food, drink and essential household goods.

    Target and other retailers are increasingly catering to customers who are struggling with higher prices for groceries, though inflation has begun to cool.

    Many of them have switched to private label brands sold by Target and others big retailers, which are typically less expensive than well-known brands.

    Target launched one such collection in January called Dealworthy which includes nearly 400 basic items, ranging from clothing to electronics, that can cost less than $1, with most items under $10.

    Last week, McDonald’s said that it was planning to introduce a $5 meal deal in the U.S. next month to counter slowing sales and customer frustration with higher prices. Walmart posted strong quarterly sales last week driven by a influx of customers, including households with incomes of more than $100,000, looking for bargains.

    Target is very cognizant of the spending pullback by shoppers and in March reported its first annual decline in sales in seven years.

    Inflation has been unexpectedly high in the first three months of this year after having steadily dropped in the second half of 2023. The elevated readings in early 2024 had dimmed hopes that the worst bout of inflation in four decades was being tamed and raised concerns that prices could spike again.

    The latest inflation reading released last week showed that those prices, at least last month, had begun to retreat again.

    Target Corp. said Monday that the lower prices will roll out over the summer on national brands and its own house brands.

    “These reductions are in addition to our everyday low prices, which we routinely adjust to be competitive in the market and make sure you enjoy great value every day,” the company said in a prepared statement.

    Target is likely to offer more insight into what it thinks about customer behavior and how it’s addressing any changes when it releases its quarterly financial report Wednesday.

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