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Border Battle: Trump, Biden in Texas Visit Standoff
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Texas played host to a presidential showdown on Feb. 29 as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump squared off at the southern border.

It was the most direct showdown of this election season so far between the leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. And as each addressed the worsening situation at the U.S.–Mexico border, their messages couldn’t have been more different.

“This is a Joe Biden invasion,” President Trump said after receiving a briefing from state officials in Eagle Pass.

His choice of location was significant. The small border town along the Rio Grande has become a symbol of rebellion for Republicans since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott seized operational control of the riverfront in January in a defiant stand against the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

Flanked by the governor, local law enforcement, and members of the Texas National Guard, President Trump said his successor was the “worst president our country has ever had.”

“He’s allowing thousands and thousands of people to come in from China, Iran, Yemen, the Congo, Syria, and a lot of other nations—many nations are not very friendly to us,” he said. “He’s transported the entire columns of fighting-aged men and … they look like warriors to me. Something’s going on. It’s bad.”

Biden Urges Passage of Senate Border Bill

As President Trump delivered his remarks, officials roughly 300 miles away in the Democrat stronghold of Brownsville briefed President Biden on the situation there.

The visit was just the second of his presidency, during which there have been historic levels of illegal immigration into the United States.

Once a hot spot for illegal immigration, the Rio Grande Valley has seen a sharp drop-off in border crossings in recent years as traffic has shifted to other areas, such as Eagle Pass in the Del Rio sector and more recently the California border.

While there, the president urged Congress to pass the Senate’s controversial border deal tying $20 billion in funds for U.S. immigration enforcement to $60.1 billion in aid for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel, and $10 billion for humanitarian relief efforts. The measure passed the Senate, but House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) declared it “dead on arrival” in the House. Republicans and President Trump decried the border measures as not tough enough to cut the flow of illegal immigration.

“I understand my predecessor is in Eagle Pass today,” President Biden said in remarks not long after President Trump’s speech. “Here’s what I would say to Mr. Trump: Instead of playing politics with this issue, instead of telling members of Congress to block this legislation, join me or I’ll join you in telling the Congress to pass this bipartisan border security bill.”

“You know and I know it’s the toughest, most efficient, most effective border security bill this country has ever seen,” he said. “So instead of playing politics with the issue, why don’t we just get together and get it done? Unless you remember who the heck we work for, we work for the American people, not the Democratic party, the Republican Party, we work for the American people.”

The Biden administration has long held that the United States’ immigration system is “broken” and can be fixed only by new legislation from Congress.

Republicans, including Texas’s governor, have said that the president has the power to fix the problem himself—he just doesn’t want to.

“There are three laws that Congress has already passed that are on the books right now that Biden could and should enforce,“ Mr. Abbott said. ”One is a law that requires the Biden administration to deny illegal entry into the United States, like what Texas is doing right here and like what President Trump did.”

The second law, he said, requires the administration to detain anyone who enters the country illegally. “Biden is not detaining them,“ he said. ”He’s releasing them across the entire country.”

And the third law “requires the Biden administration to build border barriers, like what Texas has built, like what President Trump has built,” and what President Biden has halted, he said.

“Not a week goes by without an American either losing their life, being raped or assaulted by somebody that Biden has allowed in our country illegally,“ Mr. Abbott said. ”The fact of the matter is, because of Joe Biden’s policies, and the more than 8 million people who have crossed the border, the United States of America is being invaded.”

The Senate’s border bill has been heavily criticized by Republicans for prioritizing the security of another country—Ukraine—over that of the United States. Others say that the border security provisions of the bill would do little to address the current chaos.

“The border security [in the bill] was always fake,” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said on Feb. 23 at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
“I’ve heard from Democratic colleagues, I’ve heard from Democratic staffers who have said the Republican leadership in the Senate never pushed that hard for border security,” Mr. Vance said. “There was always this kind of wink-wink, ‘Well, we’ve got to go through the motions here. We’ve got to convince the conservative knuckle-draggers, like J.D. Vance, that we can care about border security, but we don’t really care about it that much.’ So, the American people got screwed in that deal.”

Political Implications

The two presidential visits came at a politically significant time, as early voting is underway in Texas for the state’s presidential primary election on March 5, also known as Super Tuesday.

Aside from the Trump supporters who lined the streets in both Brownsville and Eagle Pass, one group that was notably displeased with President Biden’s presence was the Border Patrol Union.

In a post on social media platform X, the group wrote, “Attention President Biden: Keep our name out of your mouth today.”

In case that message wasn’t clear enough, Border Patrol Union President Brandon Judd joined President Trump in Eagle Pass to show his support for the presidential candidate.

“Border Patrol agents are upset that we cannot get the proper policy that is necessary to protect human life, to protect American citizens, to protect the people that are crossing the border illegally. We want to protect them as well, and we can’t do that because President Biden’s policies continue to invite people across here,” Mr. Judd said.

“Thank goodness we have a governor like Governor Abbott. Thank goodness we have somebody that’s willing to run for president of the United States, forgo everything else that he’s been doing, to serve the American people.”

Border security has been a key fixture of President Trump’s platform since he first announced his candidacy for president in 2015. At the time, the issue was primarily cited by Republicans as one of their top concerns. Recent polling shows they’re no longer alone.

A considerable majority (78 percent) of Americans now characterize the situation at the southern border as either a “crisis” (45 percent) or a “major problem” (32 percent), according to a mid-January survey conducted by Pew Research Center.
Among Democrats and those who lean Democratic, 22 percent said the matter is a crisis, 44 percent said it’s a major problem, 26 percent said it’s a minor problem, and just 7 percent said it’s not a problem at all.

Meanwhile, a whopping 80 percent of respondents said the government was doing a bad job handling the influx of illegal immigrants at the border—including 73 percent of Democrats.

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Read 33 Comments
  • Dawn Remington says:

    Biden is the worse, despicable, lawless, soulless, brain dead shell who only answers to Soros & his Deep State buddies & their cover up media. He has no idea what he is doing. He has managed to destroy our Constitutional Republic in just 3 years after 200 years + of stability & the bone head refuses to step down.

  • Truthbeknown says:

    Biden talking about border security when he is the one who caused all of this? What an absolute idiot. People are dead because of his decision to stop the border wall. Blood all over his hands and on the hands of Democrat Congress. They cause the problem and then say they need money to fix what they f’ed up. Meanwhile homeless veterans spend another cold night on the streets while the illegals Biden let in, are all nice and cozy in hotel rooms.

  • Glenn says:

    Did everyone notice Governor Abbott was with President Trump at a location where illegal alien invaders have been mostly stopped, thanks to Governor Abbott’s policies. Biden was at Brownsville where illegal alien invaders still walk across the border plain as day and nothing happens. Our governor (I live in Texas) wants nothing to do with Sleepy Joe because he believes (I think) like most U. S. citizens believe, Biden doesn’t give a damn about the citizens of this country so long as he keeps getting kickbacks from various countries for allowing their criminals into our country. Joe Biden and this entire administration are traitors to this country.

  • Lynda says:

    The border patrol that walk with Biden are traitors to our country!

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    “Yeah welcome to the party I felt that way when racist thuggish Trump and his domestic & foreign enablers won the electoral college in 2016 – and that way during glorification of our deeply racist nation at Charlottesville the next year. Yesterday was not a surprise. Pathetic, yes” she wrote on January 7, 2021, the day after the January 6 Capitol riot.

    After contributing to the Post report, VanLandingham painted Sheehy as a “deeply flawed hero whose fitness for office is highly questionable,” in an April 6 post on X. The attorney has been a vocal supporter of Biden, calling his decision to select Vice President Kamala Harris as his running mate an “excellent” decision.

    Vanlandingham shared a USA Today op-ed in 2021 from David Rothkopf, a vocal Biden supporter who has called Trump a “greater” threat to the United States than al-Qaeda. The op-ed was titled, “Trump and his supporters are dangerous enemies of American democracy.”

    The Post also spoke with the director of the Military, Veterans & Society program at the Center for New American Security, Katherine Kuzminski, who said she “believed it was highly unlikely that a civilian hospital would report a years-old bullet wound to the Navy or that anyone would fear such a report would result in an investigation,” according to the report.

    Kuzminski, who got a picture with Biden and the first lady in 2023 and has made multiple visits to the Biden White House, wrote in a 2016 post on X that Trump “is no Republican.”

    She also said it was “unfair” for Republicans to criticize the military’s focus on diversity, telling the Hill in May 2023 that “if what we’re afraid of is Vladimir Putin thinking poorly of our military readiness because we enable pronouns, all we have to do is look at the outcomes on the battlefield that the Russian army is facing right now.”

    Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., blasted the article as a “politically motivated smear.”

    “A ridiculous, politically motivated smear,” Cotton wrote in a post on X. “Sheehy has a decorated record of service and he’ll fight Biden’s disastrous policies. That’s why the Washington Post is attacking him—they know he can win.”

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    Teens Assault, Attempt to Rob Uber Driver at Gunpoint While Filming NYC Attack

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    A group of teens attacked an Uber driving while filming him, breaking his nose and gashing his head.

    The brazen kids — who appear to be between 11 and 17 years old — recorded the Brooklyn beatdown with a cell phone, said the driver, who asked not to be identified because he fears retribution.

    “One was punching me and the other one had a gun,” the victim said. “He said. . .‘Give me everything – give me all the money.’”

    The driver had arrived on Alabama Avenue in East Flatbush to pick up a female fare named Precious around 7 p.m. Sunday and noticed a group of teens across the street, he said. He asked if they knew his fare and they said no, he recalled.

    When he turned his head to look for his client — he was suddenly punched in the face through his open window.

    “I didn’t see them — a surprise punch,” he said.

    He got out of his car “to fight back” and “noticed that one of them was filming,” said the victim.

    At that point, a brawl broke out and he ended up on the ground, where one of the punks hit him in the head with the scooter, he said.

    The attackers scattered after a neighbor came outside and called 911. The neighbor also found the phone the kids used and saw a video of the victim on the device.

    As he waited for an ambulance, two of the kids returned, “looking for the phone,” the driver said.

    “The party’s over, the police are coming,” the driver yelled, sending them scurrying. “I don’t know if they intended to rob me or if it was just to make a TikTok video.”

    The NYPD released photos of the pint-sized suspects.

    The fare, Precious, said she was shocked by what happened and shot video of the kids as they returned to the scene.

    “I’m so heartbroken that these kids are doing that,” the 28-year-old from Nigeria said.

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    Iran Prepares to Strike Israel with 100+ Cruise Missiles and Drones

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    Iran has reportedly readied more than 100 cruise missiles as part of an ‘imminent’ strike on Israel after the US moved more forces into the Middle East over fears an attack could spark a full-scale war.

    Military officials briefed on the matter told both ABC News and CNN that the US has observed Iran readying at least 100 cruise missiles, indicating they could be ready to attack.

    ABC also reported that a large number of drones that could be used in an attack on Israel have also been readied by the nation.

    Pentagon officials said the US would beef up its presence in the region and the USS Dwight Eisenhower would be sent into the Red Sea in a warning to Tehran.

    Iran has publicly threatened to hit back at Israel over an attack in Syria last week, which Tehran say was an Israeli airstrike on a Iranian diplomatic building in Damascus.

    Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei vowed retribution in the wake of the Damascus attack, for which Tel-Aviv has yet to take responsibility.

    US Defense officials on Friday said they are moving ‘additional assets to the area’, hours after the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem locked down it’s staff.

    The USS Dwight Eisenhower would be able to intercept missiles and drones fired by Iran.

    President Biden said on Friday that he expected Iran to attack Israel ‘sooner than later’ and that his message to Tehran was ‘don’t’.

    ‘We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel and help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,’ Biden said.

    Asked how imminent an attack on Israel may be, Biden said he didn’t want to get into classified information but ‘my expectation is sooner than later.’

    Former President Trump called Biden ‘pretty pathetic’ and claimed that had he been in office Iran wouldn’t be attacking Israel.

    Trump said: ‘For the president of our country to actually put out a warning that he thinks that we’re going to be attacked or they’re going to be attacked. That’s pretty pathetic.’

    ‘They wouldn’t be attacking Israel if I were president, that I can tell you,’ he continued. ‘And they never did.’

    Israel was widely blamed for an April 1 attack that destroyed Iran’s consulate building in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards, including the two generals.

    The strike levelled a five-storey building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

    General Mohammad Reza Zahedi was one of those who died in the attack, having held a succession of commands in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign operations arm, the Quds Force.

    Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Wednesday that Israel ‘must be punished and will be punished’, days after one of his advisers said Israeli embassies are ‘no longer safe’.

    Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz swiftly replied on social media site X that ‘if Iran attacks from its territory, Israel will respond and attack Iran’.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to respond with force to any assault by Iran, leaving tensions in the Middle East on a knife-edge.

    Defense officials on Friday said they are moving ‘additional assets to the area’, hours after the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem locked down it’s staff.

    The USS Dwight Eisenhower would be able to intercept missiles and drones fired by Iran.

    The White House on Friday wouldn’t go as far as to say that an attack was ‘imminent,’ instead calling the threat ‘viable.’

    ‘We still deem the potential threat by Iran here to be real, to be viable, certainly credible and we’re watching it as closely as we can,’ White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday.

    Kirby added that the U.S. was in ‘constant communication with our Israeli counterparts about making sure that they can defend themselves against those kind of attacks.’

    He added that ‘force posture changes’ had been made to ensure the US is ‘properly prepared’ for any Iranian assault, but declined to go into detail.

    The NSC spokesperson gave no details on the potential timing of such an attack, amid warnings it could happen within the next 48 hours.

    ‘I really don’t want to get into armchair quarterbacking this thing in a public way in terms of the conversations we’re having or what we’re seeing in the intelligence picture,’ Kirby said.

    On Thursday, the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem did not explicitly mention Iran but issued a warning to government workers.

    ‘Out of an abundance of caution, U.S. government employees and their family members are restricted from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv, … Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva areas until further notice,’ the security alert read.

    Iran enjoys a heavy advantage in terms of sheer manpower, boasting a collective active and reserve military of roughly 1.2 million troops as well as thousands upon thousands of artillery systems.

    Israel meanwhile has around 750,000 active and military personnel at its disposal – but hundreds of thousands of these are already engaged in operations in and around Gaza, while others maintain a presence in the north to ward off border attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    Though Israel is outnumbered, it is by no means outgunned – the IDF boasts more than 3,000 tanks in its ranks, roughly double the number thought to be in service in Iran.

    The Washington Post reported Thursday that senior Pentagon officials were frustrated that the U.S. did not get a heads up from Israel before conducting an airstrike on the Iranian site.

    Three unnamed U.S. officials told the paper said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior defense officials believed Israel should have informed the Pentagon ahead of the attack because of the strike’s implications for U.S. servicemembers in the region.

    Had the U.S. gotten a heads up, the Pentagon would have been able to heighten defense capabilities in order to withstand Iranian retaliation, the sources said.

    If Israel and Iran to engage in an all-out war, the consequences could be devastating.

    Professor Gerald Steinberg, an expert in conflict management and founder of Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, said a potential war between Iran and Israel would be both futile and devastating.

    ‘They are on the verge of a confrontation similar to the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis between Washington and Moscow. Both countries can do massive damage to the other, but neither can “win”,’ he said.

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    Judge Rejects Trump Bid, Rules Hush Money Trial Will Begin on Monday

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    A New York judge on Friday tossed one of former President Trump’s final remaining pathways to avoid his imminent hush money trial, rejecting his bid to delay the proceedings over “prejudicial” pretrial media coverage.

    Judge Juan Merchan ruled that Trump’s trial will go forward Monday with jury selection, rejecting defense arguments that the barrage of media coverage around the trial has prejudiced potential jurors.

    “Defendant appears to take the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pre-trial publicity will never subside. However, this view does not align with reality,” Merchan wrote in the four-page ruling.

    The ruling marks the fourth time this week that a judge has rejected a Trump attempt for a last-minute delay of jury selection, which would mark the former president’s first criminal trial.

    Trump’s lawyers insisted the former president could not receive a fair trial in Manhattan this year, re-upping their demand to delay the proceedings until after this year’s election. Trump has looked to delay all four of his criminal cases so Trump can first try to retake the White House, which would halt the indictments.

    In a motion last month, Trump’s lawyers argued that extensive reporting on his legal woes – only expected to increase as the trial date nears – prevented a fair trial. They cited a media study and polling conducted at the direction of Trump’s team suggesting most Manhattan residents already believe Trump is guilty.

    Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) office in opposing the delay request questioned the reliability of Trump’s data but also said it suggested the opposite conclusion — that a fair group can be selected through proper jury selection procedures.

    “Defendant simply cannot have it both ways: complaining about the prejudicial effect of pretrial publicity, while seeking to pollute the jury pool himself by making baseless and inflammatory accusations about this trial, specific witnesses, individual prosecutors, and the Court itself,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.

    Trump’s legal team also pointed to remarks made by two of the state’s expected star witnesses, ex-Trump fixer Michael Cohen and porn actress Stormy Daniels.

    And the lawyers claimed that the timing of the Wednesday perjury sentencing of Trump’s longtime financial gatekeeper, ex-Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, was “manufactured” to prejudice Trump in his own case. Weisselberg was sentenced to five months for lying to state lawyers in the business’s civil fraud trial.

    “[N]o fair and impartial jury can be selected in this County at any time in the near future, including in April of this year. Therefore, the Court should adjourn the trial date until the prejudicial media coverage subsides,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in court papers.

    Trump faces 34 charges of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment made by Cohen to Daniels to keep the porn actress quiet about an alleged affair with then-presidential candidate Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has denied the affair and pleaded not guilty.

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    Kari Lake Slammed for Flip-Flopping on Abortion Law

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    Republican Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake faces criticisms from both sides of the abortion debate after a visit to the University of Arizona on Thursday.

    Lake faced criticisms about her changing position on Arizona’s strict Civil War-era abortion law, as she navigates the political arena ahead of the 2024 elections.

    Hosted by the College Republicans, the event grew heated as attendees pressed Lake on her inconsistent stance, according to NBC News. Initially, Lake praised abortion law in 2022, calling it a “great law.” However, after the state Supreme Court upheld the ban, she reversed her stance and began advocating for its repeal.

    Lake was quickly challenged by a student on her significant shift in abortion rhetoric. Former President Donald Trump‘s recent description of abortion as a states’ rights issue failed to calm the controversy, leaving Lake, who calls herself “Trump in heels,” to confront criticism from both local and national sources, the outlet stated.

    In response, Lake defended her pro-life stance but emphasized the practical political implications of the law. “First of all, I am pro-life and I love — I want to save as many babies as possible. But you do realize that that law is not going to survive November?” Lake asked, NBC News stated.

    “There’s a ballot, on the November ballot, that is written by Planned Parenthood that will eventually lead to abortion up to nine months.”

    “I want to save every baby. I can’t imagine any circumstance that I would choose an abortion. But I’m not standing in the shoes of a woman who’s been beaten by … her pimp. I’m not standing in her shoes, and neither are you,” Lake continued. “If you read a story about what happened here tonight, just know how the media operates.”

    “We thought when you said you supported the 1864 ban, you meant it,” a man told Lake at the event, NBC News reported.

    “When the Supreme Court came out and delivered that miracle to this country and freed us from evil, you changed your mind. I want to know what you say to people who trusted you and believed in you and believe that you are as much in love with babies in this world as them, and that Arizona has undergone a miracle.”

    Adding to the pressure, Lake’s opponents are using her past statements to challenge her credibility. Democratic Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego posted her previous endorsements of the abortion ban on Twitter.

    “I’ll save you the listen. Here’s Kari Lake in her own words citing this abortion ban, calling it a ‘great law’ and encouraging other states to follow. Not amount of backpedaling will make us forget,” Gallego wrote on Twitter.

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    Iran Seizes Israeli-Linked Ship in Strait of Hormuz

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    Commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled down from a helicopter onto an Israeli-affiliated container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel Saturday, the latest in a series of attacks between the two countries.

    The Middle East had braced for potential Iranian retaliation over a suspected Israeli strike earlier this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria that killed 12 people, including a senior Guard general who once commanded its expeditionary Quds Force there.

    The Israeli war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip meanwhile is now 6 months old and is inflaming decades-old tensions across the whole region. With Iranian-backed forces like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Yemen’s Houthi rebels also involved in the fighting, any new attack in the Mideast threatens to escalate that conflict into a wider regional war.

    Iran’s state-run IRNA said a special forces unit of the Guard’s navy carried out the attack on the vessel, the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime.

    Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Zodiac declined to comment and referred questions to MSC. Geneva-based MSC later acknowledged the seizure and said 25 crew had been aboard the vessel. IRNA said the Guard would take the vessel into Iranian territorial waters.

    Earlier, a Middle East defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, shared a video of the attack with The Associated Press. In it, the Iranian commandos are seen rappelling down onto a stack of containers sitting on the deck of the vessel.

    A crew member on the ship can be heard saying: “Don’t come out.” He then tells his colleagues to go to the ship’s bridge as more commandos come down on the deck. One commando can be seen kneeling above the others to provide them potential cover fire.

    The video corresponded with known details of the MSC Aries. The helicopter used also appeared to be a Soviet-era Mil Mi-17 helicopter, which both the Guard and the Iranian-backed Houthis of Yemen have used in the past to conduct commando raids on ships.

    The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations described the vessel as being “seized by regional authorities” in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah, without elaborating.

    The MSC Aries had been last located off Dubai heading toward the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The ship had turned off its tracking data, which has been common for Israeli-affiliated ships moving through the region.

    Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on nations to list the Guard as a terrorist organization.

    Iran “is a criminal regime that supports Hamas’ crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law,” Katz said.

    Iran since 2019 has engaged in a series of ship seizures and attacks on vessels have been attributed to it amid ongoing tensions with the West over its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

    Since November, Iran had dialed back its ship attacks as the Houthis targeted ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Houthi attacks have slowed in recent weeks as the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan ended and the rebels have faced months of U.S.-led airstrikes targeting them.

    In previous seizures, Iran has offered initial explanations about their operations to make it seem like the attacks had nothing to do with the wider geopolitical tensions — though later acknowledging as much. In Saturday’s attack, however, Iran telling offered no explanation for the seizure other than to say the MSC Aries had links to Israel.

    For days, Iranian officials up to and including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have been threatening to “slap” Israel for the Syria strike. Western governments have issued warnings to their citizens in the region to be prepared for attacks.

    However, Iran in the past largely has avoided directly attacking Israel, despite it carrying out the targeted killing of nuclear scientists and multiple sabotage campaigns against Iran’s atomic sites. Iran has however targeted Israeli or Jewish-linked sites through proxy forces over the decades.

    Earlier this week, Guard Gen. Ali Reza Tangsiri, who oversees its naval forces, criticized the presence of Israelis in the region and in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE reached a diplomatic recognition deal with Israel in 2020, something that long has enraged Tehran.

    “We know that bringing Zionists in this point is not merely for economic work,” Tangsiri reportedly said. “Now, they are carrying out security and military jobs, indeed. This is a threat, and this should not happen.”

    The U.S., Israel’s main backer, has stood by the country despite growing concerns over Israel’s war on Gaza killing more than 33,600 Palestinians and wounding over 76,200 more. Israel’s war began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage.

    On Friday, President Joe Biden warned Iran not to attack Israel and said he felt an Iranian attack on Israel likely would happen “sooner than later.”

    “We will help defend Israel, and Iran will not succeed,” Biden added.

    The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all globally traded oil passes. Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

    Since 2019, the waters off Fujairah have seen a series of explosions and hijackings. The U.S. Navy blamed Iran for limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers. The UAE meanwhile has sought to mend ties with Iran and issued a statement condemning the suspected Israeli attack in Syria.

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    Pro-Palestine Activist Arrested for Threatening to “Murder” Bakersfield Council Members

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    On Wednesday, authorities arrested a pro-Palestine activist who threatened to kill Bakersfield city council members after demanding that they call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

    Riddhi S. Patel, 28, is being held in jail on a $1 million bail and has been booked on 16 felony charges that include eight counts of intent to terrorize and eight counts of threatening state officials, per CBS 6.

    Patel issued the threats during a city council meeting on Wednesday when the general public was allowed to comment.

    She began her speech by imploring city council members to pass a ceasefire resolution but expressed doubt that they would.

    “I don’t have faith that you’ll do this,” said Patel. “You guys are all horrible human beings, and Jesus probably would’ve killed you himself.”

    Patel added, “I understand that you are all horrible people…And while you guys parade Gandhi around, as a Hindu holiday called Chaitra Navratri starts off this week, I remind you that these holidays we practice, that other people in the Global South practice, believe in violent revolution against their oppressors.”

    “I hope one day somebody brings the guillotine and kills all you motherf*ckers,” she said.

    Patel walked back to her seat without incident and was not arrested at this time, despite the guillotine threat.

    However, Patel went back to the podium and threatened to murder city council members when commenting on the council’s recently passed resolution to establish security measures in public buildings, such as metal detectors.

    “Regardless of whether you elect people into office, they’ll backstab you,” said Patel. “They’ll let you die. And for that reason, you guys want to criminalize us with metal detectors, we’ll see you at your house. We’ll murder you.”

    Watch:

    Police officers arrested Patel and took her into custody shortly after she issued the threats.

    Riddhi Patel works as an economic development coordinator at the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment (CRPE). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University in 2017. In 2019, Patel volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign in Bakersfield, according to her work bio.

    Patel is set to appear in court on Friday.

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    Major UK Independent Study Blows Up Transgender Industrial Complex

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    A new report commissioned by the National Health Service England advocates for further research on gender-affirming care for transgender youth and young adults.

    Dr. Hillary Cass, a former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, was appointed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to chair the Independent Review of Gender Identity Services in 2020 amid a rise in referrals to NHS’ gender services. Upon review, she advises “extreme caution” for the use of hormone therapies.

    “It is absolutely right that children and young people, who may be dealing with a complex range of issues around their gender identity, get the best possible support and expertise throughout their care,” Cass states in the report.

    Around 2022, about 5,000 adolescents and children were referred to the NHS’ gender services. The report estimated that roughly 20% of children and young people seen by the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) enter a hormone pathway — roughly 1,000 people under 18 in England.

    Following four years of data analysis, Cass concluded that “while a considerable amount of research has been published in this field, systematic evidence reviews demonstrated the poor quality of the published studies, meaning there is not a reliable evidence base upon which to make clinical decisions, or for children and their families to make informed choices.”

    Cass continued: “The strengths and weaknesses of the evidence base on the care of children and young people are often misrepresented and overstated, both in scientific publications and social debate,” read the report.

    Among her recommendations, she urged the NHS to increase the available workforce in this field, to work on setting up more regional outlets for care, increase investment in research on this care, and improve the quality of care to meet international guidelines.

    Cass’ review comes as the NHS continues to expand its children and young people’s gender identity services across the country. The NHS has recently opened new children and young people’s gender services based in London and the Northwest.

    NHS England, the country’s universal healthcare system, said the report is expected to guide and shape its use of gender affirming care in children and potentially impact youth patients in England accessing gender-affirming care.

    Cass is calling for more thorough research that looks at the “characteristics, interventions and outcomes” of NHS gender service patients concerning puberty blockers and hormone therapy, particularly among children and adolescents.

    The report’s recommendations also urge caregivers to take an approach to care that considers young patients “holistically and not solely in terms of their gender-related distress.”

    The report notes that identity exploration is “a completely natural process during childhood and adolescence.”

    Cass recommends that pre-pubertal children and their families have early discussions about how parents can best support their child “in a balanced and non-judgemental way,” which may include “psychological and psychopharmacological treatments” to manage distress associated with gender incongruence and co-occurring conditions.

    In past interviews, U.S. physicians told ABC News, that patients, their physicians and their families often engage in a lengthy process of building a customized and individualized approach to care, meaning not every patient will receive any or every type of gender-affirming medical care option.

    Cass’ report states that evidence particularly for puberty blockers in children and adolescents is “weak” regarding the impact on “gender dysphoria, mental or psychosocial health. The effect on cognitive and psychosexual development remains unknown.”

    The NHS has said it will halt routine use of puberty blockers as it prepares for a study into the practice later this year.

    According to the Endocrine Society puberty blockers, as opposed to hormone therapy, temporarily pause puberty so patients have more time to explore their gender identity.

    The report also recommends “extreme caution” for transgender youth from age 16 who take more permanent hormone therapies.

    “There should be a clear clinical rationale for providing hormones at this stage rather than waiting until an individual reaches 18,” the report’s recommendations state.

    Hormone therapy, according to the Endocrine Society, triggers physical changes like hair growth, muscle development, body fat and more, that can help better align the body with a person’s gender identity. It’s not unusual for patients to stop hormone therapy and decide that they have transitioned as far as they wish, physicians have told ABC News.

    Cass’ report asserts that there are many unknowns about the use of both puberty blockers and hormones for minors, “despite their longstanding use in the adult transgender population.”

    “The lack of long-term follow-up data on those commencing treatment at an earlier age means we have inadequate information about the range of outcomes for this group,” the report states.

    Cass recommends that NHS England facilities have procedures in place to follow up with 17 to 25-year-old patients “to ensure continuity of care and support at a potentially vulnerable stage in their journey,” as well as allow for further data and research on transgender minors through the years.

    Several British medical organizations, including British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, commended the report’s recommendations to expand the workforce and invest in further research to allow young people to make better informed decisions.

    “Dr Cass and her team have produced a thought-provoking, detailed and wide-ranging list of recommendations, which will have implications for all professionals working with gender-questioning children and young people,” said Dr Roman Raczka, of the British Psychological Society. “It will take time to carefully review and respond to the whole report, but I am sure that psychology, as a profession, will reflect and learn lessons from the review, its findings and recommendations.”

    Some groups expressed fears that the report will be misused by anti-transgender groups.

    “All children have the right to access specialist effective care on time and must be afforded the privacy to make decisions that are appropriate for them in consultation with a specialist,” said human rights group Amnesty International. “This review is being weaponised by people who revel in spreading disinformation and myths about healthcare for trans young people.”

    Transgender care for people under 18 has been a source of contention in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Legislation is being pushed across the U.S. by many Republican legislators focused on banning all medical care options like puberty blockers and hormone therapies for minors. Some argue that gender-affirming care is unsafe for youth, or that they should wait until they’re older.

    Gender-affirming medical does come with risks, according to the Endocrine Society, including impacts to bone mineral density, cholesterol levels, and blood clot risks. However, physicians have told ABC News that all medications, surgeries or vaccines come with some kind of risk.

    Major national medical associations in the U.S., including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and more than 20 others have argued that gender-affirming care is safe, effective, beneficial, and medically necessary.

    The first-of-its-kind gender care clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland opened in the 1960s, using similar procedures still used today.

    Some studies have shown that some gender-affirming options can have positive impacts on the mental health of transgender patients, who may experience gender-related stress.

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    Denver to Cut Police, Fire Dept. Spending to Help Pay for Illegal Immigrant Crisis

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    The city of Denver announced budget cuts to some departments this week, including the police, sheriff, and fire departments, to allocate more funding for illegal immigrants who have overwhelmed Colorado’s capital.

    Democratic Denver Mayor Mike Johnston announced the cuts on Wednesday, celebrating the move as a way to avoid “the worst-case budget cut scenarios.” The “Newcomer Program Strategy” is a nearly $90 million budget plan that funds aid and sheltering for illegal immigrants through the rest of 2024, Fox 31 reported. To pay for the illegal immigrant plan, the Democrat-run city will cut police spending by $8.4 million and fire department spending by $2.5 million, while the Sheriff’s Department will be hit with a 2.2% reduction.

    “After more than a year of facing this crisis together, Denver finally has a sustainable plan for treating our newcomers with dignity while avoiding the worst cuts to city services,” Johnston said. “So many times we were told that we couldn’t be compassionate while still being fiscally responsible. Today is proof that our hardest challenges are still solvable, and that together we are the ones who will solve them.”

    Denver scrambled earlier this year to find a way to shelter an estimated 40,000 migrants who had arrived in the city over the course of a few months. The mayor took action to help mitigate the strain on migrant shelters by requiring that migrant families leave a shelter after staying for six weeks.

    Johnston’s office said in January that the migrant influx was “straining capacity” and that “over the past two months, Denver has seen a dramatic uptick in arrivals and is currently sheltering 4,000 people.” The mayor added that the city would need to come up with $100 million to pay for the crisis. Denver, which is a “sanctuary city,” followed up weeks later by booting around 800 migrant families from overcrowded shelters.

    The new city budget plan allocates $51.7 million for migrant shelter and housing, according to Fox 31. Another $9.7 million will go toward “supportive services,” including case management and workforce training, and $6 million will be allocated for migrant transportation.

    The mayor’s office took the biggest hit in budget cuts to help pay for the illegal immigration crisis with a 9.6% reduction in spending. Other city departments taking a budget hit include the City Attorney’s Office, Economic Development, Public Health and Environment, and the Public Library, among others.

    Denver’s “Newcomer Program Strategy,” comes as Colorado voters voice their frustration with the crisis at the U.S. southern border as residents listed immigration as the top issue for the 2024 election in a recent poll.

    “Immigration emerging as a top issue among voters in Colorado follows trends we are seeing in research nationally,” Republican pollster Lori Wiegel said.

    Colorado has become a Democratic stronghold in recent presidential elections. President Biden won the state over former President Donald Trump by nearly 14 points in 2020, a significant increase in Democrat support from 2016, when Hillary Clinton won the state by just five points.

    Denver isn’t the first blue city forced to make budget cuts to handle the illegal immigration crisis. Last year, New York City cut education and police spending, dropping the number of NYPD officers to below 30,000. The Big Apple has seen over 150,000 migrants flood its streets since 2022 as the border crisis continues under the Biden administration.

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    U.S. Moves Warships to Defend Israel in Case of Iranian Attack

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    The U.S. rushed warships into position to protect Israel and American forces in the region, hoping to head off a direct attack from Iran on Israel that could come as soon as Friday or Saturday, WSJ reported.

    The moves by the U.S. that are part of an effort to avoid a wider conflict in the Middle East came after a warning from a person familiar with the matter about the timing and location of the potential Iranian attack. A person briefed by the Iranian leadership, however, said that while plans to attack are being discussed, no final decision has been made.

    Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command, discussed a possible Iranian attack with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Israel on Friday. “We are prepared to defend ourselves on the ground and in the air, in close cooperation with our partners, and we will know how to respond,” Gallant said, according to Israel’s Defense Ministry.

    The U.S. moves included repositioning two destroyers, one of which was already in the region and another that was redirected there, U.S. officials said, adding that at least one of the vessels carried the Aegis missile-defense system.

    President Biden, asked Friday when an Iranian strike on Israel may occur, said, “My expectation is sooner than later.” Asked if he had a message for Iran, Biden said: “Don’t.”

    “We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel and help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” Biden said.

    U.S. officials fear that an Iranian strike against Israel could prompt an Israeli response inside Iran that could spark a regional conflict and draw in the U.S., whose forces and allies in the Middle East could be targeted by Tehran if its territory is hit.

    John Kirby, the White House’s national security spokesman, said Friday that Iran’s threats to strike Israel remain “real” and “viable.”

    Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, chief of Israel’s general staff, met with Kurilla about a possible Iranian attack after a separate meeting with commanders on the readiness of Israeli forces.

    Late Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had called Gallant to reassure him Washington would defend its closest ally in the region if Tehran struck on its soil. Austin told Gallant “Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, which Tehran has publicly threatened,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

    Iran has threatened to retaliate for an attack last week in Damascus, Syria, that Tehran said was an Israeli airstrike on a diplomatic building. The strike killed several top Iranian military officials, including a senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force.

    An Iranian strike on Israel could inflame the region as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is under growing international pressure to wrap up its military campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, which killed around 1,200 people, and Israel’s subsequent offensive in Gaza, which has claimed more than 33,000 lives, have ratcheted up tensions in the Middle East to a level not seen in decades.

    In their phone call on Thursday, Gallant told Austin that “a direct Iranian attack would require an appropriate Israeli response against Iran,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said.

    U.S. officials, frustrated by Israel’s decision to not inform them about the Damascus strike, have pushed their Israeli counterparts to share information about how Israel could respond to an Iranian strike, U.S. officials said, in part to protect forces in the region.

    Netanyahu met Friday with senior security officials, including Gallant, to discuss Israel’s readiness for an Iranian response, according to Israeli officials.

    Israel’s Home Front Command, which is tasked with preparing the public for disasters and conflict, hasn’t issued any changes to its emergency instructions to the public, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said Thursday night.

    Last week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly threatened retaliation for the Damascus strike and Israel disrupted local GPS networks that can be used to guide weapons. But the Israeli military sought to calm the public over a possible attack. “There is no need to buy generators, store food and withdraw money from” cash machines, Hagari said at the time.

    The U.S., which doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Tehran, has encouraged its European and Middle Eastern allies to pressure Iran not to attack Israel, American and British officials said on Friday.

    The foreign ministers of Germany and the U.K.—Annalena Baerbock and David Cameron—called their Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, on Thursday to ask Tehran not to attack Israel, according to British and Iranian officials.

    Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two U.S. allies in the Middle East, conveyed the same message to the Islamic Republic, the officials said.

    In separate talks with Oman last weekend, Amir-Abdollahian said privately Iran’s response would be calibrated to avoid any response that would lead to further escalation in the region, according to Omani and British officials and a Syrian government adviser.

    France on Friday pulled family members of its diplomatic staff from Tehran and advised its citizens to refrain from traveling to Iran, Lebanon, Israel or the Palestinian territories in the coming days. It also banned missions by French officials to those countries.

    The American Embassy in Israel said Thursday that U.S. government employees and family members would be restricted from any personal travel outside of central Israel, Jerusalem and Beersheba until further notice. German airline Lufthansa also extended the suspension of its flights to Tehran due to the situation in the Middle East until next Thursday.

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    1 Dead, 13 Injured After Wannabe Trucker Who Failed Test Plows 18-Wheeler Into TX Dept of Safety

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    One person has died and 13 more have been injured after a Texas driver intentionally plowed a stolen truck into a government building the day after having his driving license application denied.

    Clenard Parker, 42, used the 18-wheel vehicle to ram into the Texas Department of Safety building in the rural town of Brenham, 75 miles northwest of Houston on Friday morning, police have said.

    Texas DPS said Parker, of Chappell Hill, has been detained and there is ‘no further threat’ to the community, while police said the crash was deliberate.

    Three people were airlifted to hospital with critical injuries and three more were transported from the scene in a serious condition. One person has since died.

    The driver refused treatment at the scene but did not resist arrest, authorities have said.

    Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said the crash was intentional and that the suspect had been denied a commercial driving license the day before.

    ‘Pray for our Texas DPS as they’re experiencing a mass casualty incident in Brenham with a major vehicle accident at their office. No word on injuries at this time,’ he said on Facebook.

    ‘Update: I have been briefed and this incident was intentional and done by the suspect who was denied a CDL yesterday. He returned today with intent to harm.’

    Images of the collision showed the 18-wheeler’s front end was smashed in and covered with debris from the front doors of the office.

    The large red tractor-trailer can be seen in the parking lot beside debris scattered out front near a gaping hole at the entrance.

    Officials said there are reports of multiple serious injuries but did not specify how many people were affected or the extent of the injuries.

    They also requested people avoid the area to clear the way for responding medical personnel.

    Senator Lois Kolkhorst slammed the crash as a ‘deliberate, heinous act’ by the driver.

    ‘Today, a horrific tragedy occurred in my hometown of Brenham where an individual driving a stolen 18-wheeler crashed through the local Department of Public Safety (DPS) office,’ she wrote on X.

    ‘Three individuals were life-flighted with critical injuries. Three other patrons were transported to local hospitals in stable condition.

    ‘I have been in contact with local officials as well as the Director of DPS and the Lt. Governor’s office.

    ‘All resources are being deployed to assist our local first responders. DPS reports that no staff suffered serious injury; one staffer had been trapped for a period of time inside the office.

    ‘According to law enforcement, this appears to be an intentional, criminal act and the Texas Rangers will be leading the investigation.

    ‘This deliberate, heinous act is a reminder of the dangerous work done by our law enforcement and licensing agencies that work to provide public safety and services.

    ‘Please join me in praying for the innocent victims and their families at this time.’

    Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan said authorities were ‘monitoring a serious situation in Brenham involving a stolen commercial truck that intentionally caused injury to innocent Texans.’

    ‘Texas authorities are investigating and have advised people to avoid the area,’ he added.

    ‘Thank you to the brave law enforcement officers and first responders currently on the scene. Please keep those injured today in your prayers as they recover.’

    The Brenham DPS office is a facility where driver’s licenses are issued. The branch said the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident.

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    House Passes FISA: 86 Republicans Vote to Allow Warrantless Spying of Americans

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    Eighty-six House Republicans on Friday voted against an amendment to require a warrant for surveillance of Americans’ communications.

    Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act (RISAA), a bill that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Section 702 is a law that is meant to target foreign adversaries, but often surveils Americans’ private communications without a warrant.

    The amendment tied at 212-212 in the House; a tie in the House means that the measure fails. Although Biggs’s amendment did receive support from a majority of Republicans, 86 House Republicans failed to support the proposal.

    A warrant requirement is overwhelmingly backed by Americans. A YouGov poll commissioned by FreedomWorks and Demand Progress found that 76 percent of Americans support a warrant requirement, while only 12 percent oppose.

    Only one member of House Republican leadership voted with the majority of the House Republican Conference on warrants requirements: House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN). Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) voted against the warrant requirement.

    Johnson used to support closing the backdoor search loophole, or the ability to surveil Americans through Section 702, which is meant to target foreigners. However, he changed his mind after seeing a classified briefing after becoming Speaker.

    The 86 House Republicans that voted for warrantless surveillance of Americans are:

    Conservatives and progressives blamed congressional leadership for pushing against genuine privacy reform.

    Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) wrote, “This is how the Constitution dies. By a tie vote, the amendment to require a warrant to spy on Americans goes down in flames. This is a sad day for America. The Speaker doesn’t always vote in the House, but he was the tie breaker today. He voted against warrants.”

    Demand Progress Policy Director Sean Vitka said in a statement after the vote:

    House Leadership has pushed its thumb on the scale against privacy protections throughout this debate, as it has done for more than a decade. After wrongfully stopping the House Judiciary Committee’s legislation from reaching the floor, denying a vote on closing the data broker loophole, and rewarding the House Intelligence Committee for operating in staggeringly bad faith.

    We applaud the leaders of the House Judiciary, including Reps. Andy Biggs, Pramila Jayapal, Jim Jordan, Jerry Nadler, Warren Davidson, and Zoe Lofgren, for fighting tirelessly for over a year to advance the serious privacy protections that the public overwhelmingly supports and deserves. Their efforts were heroic and fundamentally changed this debate, which is all the more impressive considering the deceit and dirty tricks wielded against reform over the past year.

    Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) wrote, “Here they go again, expanding FISA. Bipartisan skulduggery. A sad day for America.”

    Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) wrote, “Today’s FISA warrant amendment vote was tied, which means every single vote was the deciding vote. Make your decisions about who represents you based on supporting your Constitutional rights.”

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    Trump Backs Johnson Amid Greene Ouster Threat: ‘He’s Doing a Very Good Job’

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    House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) received public words of support from former President Donald Trump as he faces the threat of losing his speakership.

    Johnson visited Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, on Friday, marking the first time the two men held a public event together since Johnson became speaker last year.

    Hovering over the meeting was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a fervent Trump ally, who filed a motion to vacate, a first step to removing Johnson as speaker, on March 22.

    The beleaguered speaker is governing with a slim majority, forcing him to depend on Democratic support to pass legislation. However, Trump gave Johnson public encouragement when asked about the brewing situation with Greene.

    “We’re getting along very well with the speaker, and I get along very well with Marjorie,” Trump said. “We have a speaker. He was voted in, and it was a complicated process, and I think … it’s not … an easy situation for any speaker. I think he’s doing a very good job.”

    “He’s doing about as good as you’re going to do. And I’m sure that Marjorie understands that. She’s a very good friend of mine. And I know she has a lot of respect for the speaker,” Trump added.

    In one notable example that led to Greene filing a motion to vacate, Johnson needed Democratic help in passing a $1.2 trillion appropriations bill that funds the government for the rest of the year.

    But unlike the previous successful attempt to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans remain wary of another display of chaos during an election year.

    “I said with the speaker, we’ve had a very good relationship,” Trump also said in a move that will likely simmer down open attempts to oust Johnson.

    The appearance with Trump will give Johnson credibility with hard-right members of his party, despite the former president’s attempts to undermine the House GOP from passing legislation to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    Trump had pressured Republicans to “kill” the measure. Yet, the bill passed in a 273-147 bipartisan vote on Friday afternoon, though not without drama.

    During the press conference reiterated he’s “not a fan” of FISA.

    Members of the House GOP tanked a procedural rule to move forward with reauthorizing the FISA legislation to the floor on Wednesday. An amendment that prohibits warrantless surveillance searches by the federal government failed after a 212-212 vote on Friday.

    Johnson and Trump also officially unveiled actions the House GOP will take to curb election fraud ahead of the 2024 election.

    “The House Republicans are introducing a bill that will require proof of citizenship to vote,” Johnson said. “It seems like common sense I’m sure all of us would agree, we only want U.S. citizens to vote in U.S. elections, but there are some Democrats who don’t want to do that.”

    “Our bill also will require states to remove noncitizens from their existing voter rolls. That’s a big problem too,” Johnson later said. “And it will provide access to databases from the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to help the states administer this.”

    The legislation faces no chance of being signed into law as Democrats control the Senate and White House. Federal law already bans foreign nationals from voting in federal elections.

    Trump also slammed the rising immigration crisis at the southern border during the press conference.

    “I would like to demand that our border be closed because we have millions of people coming into our country,” Trump said. “Millions and millions of people are pouring in, at levels that nobody’s reporting nobody’s going to talk about.”

    He also called on President Joe Biden to shut the border down. “Our country is like a dumping ground, and we’re going to have it stopped. And Biden should do it immediately,” he added. “He should close the border immediately. He needs no legislation.”

    The former president has long maintained that the 2020 election was “rigged” after losing the election to Biden, while Johnson has not gone as far as Trump in claiming widespread fraud following the election.

    Ahead of the Friday event, the Biden campaign released a statement from Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who served as the Jan. 6 committee chairman.

    “By virtually all measures, the 2020 election was among the most secure in our nation’s history. Donald Trump lost to President Biden by over 7 million votes — fair and square,” Thompson said. “But Donald Trump still can’t admit it. The sham event at Trump’s country club should remind the American people of a dangerous truth: Donald Trump is a threat to our democracy and a danger to our Constitution.”

    “Donald Trump and Mike Johnson don’t care about election integrity — they care only about helping Trump’s campaign of revenge and retribution to regain power at all costs,” he added.

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    Biden Cancels $7.4 Billion in Student Debt for 277,000 Borrowers

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    The Biden administration announced Friday that it will forgive $7.4 billion in student debt for 277,000 borrowers.

    The latest round of loan cancellations is a result of the U.S. Department of Education’s recent changes and improved oversight of income-driven repayment plans and the popular Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

    “As long as there are people with overwhelming student loan debt competing with basic needs such as food and healthcare, we will remain relentless in our pursuit to bring relief to millions across the country,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

    Here is who benefits from this round of forgiveness

    In this round of forgiveness, more than 206,000 borrowers will collectively get $3.6 billion in debt erased through the Biden administration’s new Saving on a Valuable Education, or SAVE, plan, due to the provision that allows for debt forgiveness after shorter periods than other income-driven repayment plans for those who originally took out small amounts for college.

    More than 65,000 borrowers will have their loans canceled through fixes to the Department of Education’s income-driven repayment plans, and 4,600 borrowers are benefiting from the improvements to the government’s loan forgiveness program for public servants. Aid for these groups in this round of forgiveness amounts to $3.5 billion and $300 million, respectively.

    Biden’s 2020 campaign promise to erase student debt was thwarted at the Supreme Court last June. The conservative justices ruled that Biden’s $400 billion loan cancellation plan was unconstitutional.

    After that, the president directed the Department of Education to examine its existing authority to reduce and eliminate students’ debts. Mainly by improving current loan relief programs, the department has cleared the federal education loans of 4.3 million people, totaling $153 billion in aid, while Biden has been in office.

    Relief is a result of fixes to federal student loan system

    Income-driven repayment plans, which cap a borrower’s monthly bill at a share of their discretionary earnings, are supposed to lead to debt cancellation after a certain period of time. However, loan servicers were not always keeping accurate track of borrowers’ payments, advocates say. As a result, few people received the promised relief in the past.

    The Biden administration has been reviewing borrowers’ payment timelines and allowing them to get credit for periods that historically did not qualify, such as during certain deferments and forbearances.

    It also rolled out a new income-driven repayment plan, the SAVE plan, in which borrowers with smaller loan balances can get debt forgiveness after as little as 10 years.

    The Department of Education has been going over the accounts of borrowers pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness, too, trying to deliver more people relief under the program.

    Previously, PSLF was famously complicated and excluded borrowers on technicalities, including their federal loan type, even if they were working a qualifying public service job. The Biden administration has loosened some of these rules.

    The president also rolled out his wide-scale student loan forgiveness do-over plan earlier this week.

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