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Protesters Occupying Hamilton Hall Will Be Immediately Expelled from Columbia
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Citizen Frank

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Student protesters occupying Hamilton Hall will face expulsion, University spokesperson Ben Chang wrote in a Tuesday press release.

“Protesters have chosen to escalate to an untenable situation – vandalizing property, breaking doors and windows, and blockading entrances – and we are following through with the consequences we outlined yesterday,” Chang wrote.

Dozens of protesters have occupied Hamilton Hall—which they renamed “Hind’s Hall,” in honor of Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian child killed by the Israeli military—since 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Upon entry, protesters sealed the building within five minutes, barricading entrances with wooden tables, chairs, and zip ties.

“We regret that protesters have chosen to escalate the situation through their actions,” Chang wrote. “Our top priority is restoring safety and order on our campus.”

Chang also stated that students who remain in the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” will face interim suspensions. Columbia began suspending students involved in the encampment on Monday, according to a University spokesperson.

Suspended students do not have access to any University properties, including academic buildings and residence halls, and may not complete the semester nor graduate.

“As we said yesterday, disruptions on campus have created a threatening environment for many of our Jewish students and faculty and a noisy distraction that interferes with teaching, learning, and preparing for final exams, and contributes to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI,” Chang wrote.

The disciplinary action comes against the backdrop of the University’s ongoing Commencement preparations, as staff continues to set up bleachers on Low Plaza and tents on the lawns across south campus.

Columbia University Apartheid Divest identified the protesters occupying Hamilton Hall as an “autonomous group” in a Tuesday 2:07 a.m. press release posted on X.

In a Monday substack post, CUAD reaffirmed their demands for Columbia: divestment from companies with ties to Israel, financial transparency on direct and indirect holdings, and amnesty for all disciplined pro-Palestinian students.

“Admitted students day is over—commencement is on its way,” CUAD wrote in the post. “Let’s see how much of this campus we can reclaim by then!”

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  • Avatar Paul49 says:

    Don’t threaten this, DO IT!

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    State Dept Issues Global Terrorism Alert to Americans

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    Americans traveling abroad are being urged to exercise caution worldwide, the State Department said Friday.

    The agency issued a security alert because of the “potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.”

    “The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” the alert states.

    U.S. citizens abroad are urged to stay in areas frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ people.

    Travelers can receive information and alerts from the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

    The State Department often issues alerts and travel advisories for Americans overseas.

    The travel advisories range from “exercise normal precaution” to “Do Not Travel,” which is reserved for parts of the world where there is ongoing conflict, ethnic or religious discrimination or where U.S. citizens are generally not welcome. Other reasons for alerts include crime rates, health concerns and piracy in some parts of the world.

    Nations Americans have recently been warned to avoid include Russia, Syria and Ukraine, all of which are involved in deadly conflicts, and others like Iran, Somalia and Sudan.

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    US and Iran Held Indirect Talks This Week

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    Two top Biden administration officials held indirect talks with Iranian officials in Oman this week on how to avoid escalating regional attacks, Axios reported.

    The talks — involving President Biden’s top Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, and Abram Paley the acting U.S. envoy for Iran — were the first round of discussions between the U.S. and Iran since January, when similar negotiations were held in Oman.

    The talks occurred just over a month after Iran’s unprecedented missile assault on Israel on April 13.

    The attack put the Middle East on the cusp of a regional war.

    Iran fired 350 ballistic missiles and drones toward Israel in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a top Iranian Quds Force general in charge of that nation’s military operations in Lebanon and Syria.

    It was the first-ever direct attack on Israel that had been launched from Iranian soil.

    Zahedi had been killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a building near the Iranian Embassy in Damascus.

    Iran’s attack was defeated in an unprecedented joint air and missile defense effort by Israel, the U.S., the U.K., France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

    Several days after the attack, Israel responded with a targeted strike on an S-300 air defense system at Iranian air force base.

    One of the Biden administration’s main goals since Oct. 7 has been to prevent the Gaza conflict from leading to a regional war.

    The U.S. thinks Iran has a lot of influence over its proxies in the region.

    Those include Hezbollah in Lebanon, the pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq that conducted attacks against U.S. forces, and the Houthis in Yemen who still attack ships in the Red Sea.

    McGurk and Paley arrived in Oman on Tuesday and met with Omani mediators, the sources said.

    It’s unclear who represented Iran at the talks.

    The sources said the talks focused on clarifying the consequences of actions by Iran and its proxies in the region and to discuss U.S. concerns regarding the status of Iran’s nuclear program.

    Several Iranian officials hinted in recent weeks about the possibility of Iran moving toward production of nuclear weapons.

    Vedant Patel, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, said Monday the Biden administration has ways to communicate with Iran when necessary.

    “The Biden administration continues to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device,” he said.

    Patel added that the U.S. doesn’t believe Iran’s supreme leader has made a decision “to resume the weaponization program that we judge Iran suspended or stopped at the end of 2003.”

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    WATCH: Diddy Seen Physically Assaulting Cassie Ventura in 2016 Surveillance Video

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    A 2016 surveillance video obtained exclusively by CNN shows Sean “Diddy” Combs grab, shove, drag and kick his then-girlfriend Cassie Ventura during an altercation that matches allegations in a now-settled federal lawsuit filed by Ventura in November.

    The footage, compiled from multiple camera angles dated March 5, 2016, appears to show the rapper, producer and business mogul during an incident that, according to Ventura’s complaint, occurred at the now-closed InterContinental Hotel in Century City, Los Angeles. CNN verified the location based on publicly available photos of the former hotel’s interior.

    In the video, Ventura exits a hotel room and walks to a bank of elevators. Combs, holding a towel around his waist, runs down a hall after Ventura. He grabs her by the back of the neck and throws her to the floor. Still holding his towel closed with one hand, he then turns to kick her, the video shows.

    As Ventura is on the ground, Combs retrieves a purse and suitcase from the floor near the elevators. He turns around and kicks Ventura again as she lies motionless on the floor. About four seconds transpire between the two kicks, according to the video. He then briefly drags Ventura by her sweatshirt toward a room before walking away.

    Ventura is then seen slowly standing up. She gathers items from the floor and moves to pick up a phone on the hallway wall near the elevators. Combs, still in a towel and socks, returns. A mirror directly across from the security camera shows Combs appearing to shove Ventura.

    Seconds later, he sits down on a chair, grabs an object off a table and forcefully throws it toward Ventura. Combs is seen walking away, then turns toward Ventura once again when an elevator door opens and someone appears to exit.

    Ventura, who reached an undisclosed settlement with Combs, declined to comment on the video obtained by CNN.

    Ventura’s attorney, Douglas H. Wigdor, said: “The gut-wrenching video has only further confirmed the disturbing and predatory behavior of Mr. Combs. Words cannot express the courage and fortitude that Ms. Ventura has shown in coming forward to bring this to light.”

    CNN has reached out to representatives for Combs for comment. Combs has previously denied Ventura’s allegations.

    When contacted by CNN, a representative for InterContinental Hotels said on Friday, “This hotel is no longer under IHG management, and we do not have any access to prior incident records or footage.”

    Ventura’s lawsuit

    Combs and Ventura, a model and singer known for songs like “Me & U,” were in an off-and-on relationship from 2007 – 2018. The two were photographed together at the Los Angeles premiere of the film “A Perfect Match” on March 7, 2016.

    According to Ventura’s complaint, which cited the altercation as occurring “around March 2016,” Combs became “extremely intoxicated and punched Ms. Ventura in the face, giving her a black eye.”

    After Combs fell asleep, Ventura attempted to leave the hotel room, but he woke up and “followed her into the hallway of the hotel while yelling at her,” the complaint said.

    “He grabbed at her, and then took glass vases in the hallway and threw them at her, causing glass to crash around them as she ran to the elevator to escape,” the complaint alleged.

    After Ventura got in the elevator, her complaint states that she took a cab to her apartment.

    “Upon realizing that her running away would cause Mr. Combs to be even angrier with her, and completely stuck in his vicious cycle of abuse, Ms. Ventura returned to the hotel with the intention of apologizing for running away from her abuser,” the complaint claims. “When she returned, hotel security staff urged her to get back into a cab and go to her apartment, suggesting that they had seen the security footage showing Mr. Combs beating Ms. Ventura and throwing glass at her in the hotel hallway.”

    The complaint alleges Combs paid the InterContinental Century City $50,000 for the hallway security footage of the incident. The incident was part of a number of allegations made in the November lawsuit in which Ventura claimed she was raped in 2018 and subjected to years of repeated physical and other abuses by Combs.

    Ventura, who was formally signed to Combs’ label, claimed in her suit that he “exerted his power and influence” over her throughout the course of their professional and romantic relationship. According to the complaint, she was 19 when they met and Combs was 37, and their business relationship lasted until 2019. It detailed claims that Combs was physically violent toward Ventura and forced her to engage in various sex acts with other men during that time.

    Ben Brafman, an attorney for Combs, said in a statement to CNN on the day it was filed, “Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations.”

    The suit was resolved the following day.

    “A decision to settle a lawsuit, especially in 2023, is in no way an admission of wrongdoing,” Brafman told CNN in a statement at the time. “Mr. Combs‘ decision to settle the lawsuit does not in any way undermine his flat-out denial of the claims. He is happy they got to a mutual settlement and wishes Ms. Ventura the best.”

    Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

    Ongoing legal issues

    Since November, Combs has faced five other civil lawsuits accusing him of a range of sexual misconduct and other illegal activity. He has denied the allegations, and the cases remain active.

    Authorities searched Combs’ homes in California and Florida in March as part of a federal investigation carried out by a Department of Homeland Security team that handles human trafficking crimes, according to a senior federal law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The investigation stems from many of the same sexual assault allegations put forth in the civil lawsuits, according to a second law enforcement source familiar with the searches.

    Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Combs, issued a statement at the time, calling the searches a “gross overuse of military-level force.”

    “This unprecedented ambush – paired with an advanced, coordinated media presence – leads to a premature rush to judgment of Mr. Combs and is nothing more than a witch hunt based on meritless accusations made in civil lawsuits,” he said. “There has been no finding of criminal or civil liability with any of these allegations. Mr. Combs is innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name.”

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    Justice Alito Under Attack by the Left Over Upside Down American Flag

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    Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday spoke to Fox News about the upside-down American flag seen flying outside his home in the days following the Jan. 6 Capitol protests, saying his wife displayed it in response to insults directed at her from a neighbor.

    Alito weighed in after The New York Times first reported on the story Thursday, in which it said the upside-down flag — a sign of dire distress and versatile symbol of protest — appeared outside Alito’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, on Jan. 17, 2021.

    Alito said the saga in his neighborhood began in the days around Jan. 6, 2021, when a neighbor living down the street put up a sign that read “F— Trump” about 50 feet away from a children’s bus stop.

    He said his wife, Martha-Ann, then spoke with those neighbors about the sign and the conversation was not well received.

    Alito told Fox News those neighbors then put up a sign directly attacking his wife and personally blaming her for the events that transpired on Jan. 6 at the nation’s capital.

    He said that during a walk in the neighborhood with his wife, one person who lived at the property with the signage then got into an argument with her — at one point calling her derogatory language “including the C-word.”

    Following that incident, Alito said Martha-Ann was distraught and decided to make some sort of statement by hanging the American flag upside down outside their home.

    Alito told Fox News he had no role in the flag decision, and it was flying outside their property only “for a short time.”

    He added that he felt he had no right or ability to control or order around his wife and that some neighbors on his street have been “very political.”

    The story surrounding the flag outside Alito’s home comes as the Supreme Court is deciding on former President Trump’s immunity case.

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    Yellowstone Star Dabney Coleman Dead at 92

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    Dabney Coleman has passed away at age 92, it has been confirmed.

    The acting legend who most recently starred in Yellowstone as the father of Kevin Costner’s character John Dutton, was best known for his roles in classic movies 9 to 5, Tootsie and On Golden Pond.

    Other notable roles include The Towering Inferno, WarGames and the series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as Merle Jeeter and The Slap Maxwell Story, as well as starring as Commodore Louis Kaestner on Boardwalk Empire.

    No cause of death has been released.

    His daughter Quincy Coleman confirmed his passing to TMZ on Friday: ‘My father, Dabney Wharton Coleman, took his last earthly breath peacefully and exquisitely in his home on Thursday May 16th 2024 at 1:50 pm.’

    ‘My father crafted his time here on Earth with a curious mind, a generous heart and a soul on fire with passion, desire and humor that tickled the funny bone of humanity. As he lived, he moved through this final act of life with elegance, excellence and mastery,’ Quincy, a singer, told The Hollywood Reporter.

    ‘A teacher, a hero and a king, Dabney Coleman is a gift and blessing in life and in death as his spirit will shine through his work, his loved ones and his legacy… eternally.’

    TMZ noted that Dabney canceled an April appearance at Chiller Theatre in New Jersey due to his health.

    The Emmy winner was married to Ann Courtney Harrell in 1957 until 1959, and actress Jean Hale from 1961 until 1984.

    Dabney and Jean had three children together: Kelly, Randy and Quincy.

    Jean died on August 3, 2021 at age 82.

    He also has a daughter named Meghan, but it is unclear with whom, with conflicting reports saying with ex wife Ann.

    In 2012, it was revealed that Dabney had been diagnosed with throat cancer, in an interview with AVClub.com.

    His role as the Commodore in Boardwalk Empire was changed due to Dabney’s real-life illness.

    The star said in the 2012 interview the cancer had affected his ability to speak and also said he did not have cancer anymore.

    Dabney won a Golden Globe in 1988 for his role in The Slap Maxwell Story, two Screen Actors Guild Award in 2011 and 2012 for Boardwalk Empire and a Primetime Emmy Award in 1987 for Sworn to Silence.

    Dabney was born on January 3, 1932 in Austin, Texas to parents Melvin Randolph Coleman and Mary Wharton.

    The actor attended Virginia Military Institute for two years, and then served for two more years in the US Army’s Special Services Division.

    After, he studied law in Austin at the University of Texas.

    According to THR, his friend, actor Zachary Scott, who was also a family friend of Dabney’s first wife Ann, convinced him to pursue an acting career.

    He left college a semester before graduation at age 26 and trained at Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City with Sanford Meisner, from 1958 until 1960.

    His first role came in 1961, in a play called A Call on Kuprin – also marking his Broadway debut.

    The Texas native made his TV debut in 1961, in the show Naked City, playing a resident in one episode, which he made $90 for, per THR.

    His next role was in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – in an episode in 1963 and another in 1963.

    The star followed it up with a role in The Outer Limits in 1964 in three episodes, and four episodes in The Fugitive from 1964 until 1966.

    Dabney also had roles in a 1965 episode of I Dream of Jeannie, and The Donna Reed Show in the same year.

    His film debut was also in 1965 in a movie called The Slender Thread, where he played Charlie.

    He followed it up with small roles in This Property is Condemned in 1966 alongside Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, The Scalphunters in 1968 The Trouble with Girls and Downhill Racer in 1969, I Love My Wife in 1970, Cinderella Liberty in 1973 and The Dove in 1974.

    He decided to grow a mustache around this time, which he revealed in a previous interview with Vulture.

    ‘Without the mustache, I looked too much like Richard Nixon, There’s no question that when I grew that, all of a sudden, everything changed,’ he said.

    Dabney starred in The Towering Inferno, a 1974 about new skyscraper in San Francisco that goes up in flames, with the San Francisco Fire Department called to extinguish and save the civilians.

    He played SFFD Deputy Chief 1, alongside Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway and Fred Astaire.

    He played Merle Jeeter for 148 episodes of the series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman – from 1976 until 1977.

    He told Variety in 2014 that his role as Merle ‘was only supposed to last six shoes, but it kind of caught on.’

    ‘The part was very well written and it was just catchy, it was just a great arc. [Merle] was a comedian, a con man, so he deliberately changed his personality from time to time. And I ended up doing it for two years, and it did make my career. From that part spawned everything,’ he said.

    In 1980, Dabney starred in the hit movie 9 to 5, about three women – Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda – who live out their fantasy of getting their boss – played by Dabney – overthrown.

    Dabney called Jane, Dolly and Lily ‘fantastic,’ in his interview in 2014 with Variety, and even reunited with them in 2008.

    He played Dr. Bill Ray in the 1981 film On Golden Pond, Ron Carlisle in 1982’s Tootsie, and Dr. John McKittrick in 1983’s War Games.

    Other notable films he starred in include The Beverly Hillbillies in 1993, You’ve Got Mail in 1998, Taken in 1999 and Domino in 2005.

    He starred in 26 episodes of Buffalo Bill in 1983 until 1984, and 22 episodes of The Slap Maxwell Story in 1987 until 1988.

    Dabney played Burton Fallin in The Guardian in 67 episodes, from 2001 until 2004.

    He starred as Commordore Louis Kaestner in Boardwalk Empire for 24 episodes, from 2010 until 2011.

    TV wise, he had recently starred in Ray Donovan in 2016, NCIS in 2019, For the People in 2019 and as John Dutton Dr in a 2019 episode of Yellowstone in his final role.

    He appeared in the season two finale of Yellowstone as John Dutton Sr., in an episode titled Sins of the Father.

    He portrayed the father of Kevin Costner’s character – John Dutton – in the final moments of his life.

    The pair go on one last horseback ride together and take in the sights before the older Dutton dies.

    That year Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan said of the casting in to Deadline: ‘I’d written [the Yellowstone episode] but I believe I was prepping a movie in New Mexico and I think [Dabney Coleman] reached out and said he would be really interested in doing something.

    ‘I had worked with Dabney many, many years ago, almost 20 years ago, as one of the young pups. He’s a Texas guy and was such a gifted, giving actor and I was really struck by how good he was, and how kind he was, to this kid who was guest starring on his deal.

    Dabney received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2014.

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    News

    Paul Pelosi Attacker Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

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    The man convicted of attempting to kidnap then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and attacking her husband with a hammer was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday morning.

    David DePape, 44, was given the 30-year sentence by Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in a federal courtroom in San Francisco. Prosecutors had asked for a 40-year prison term. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, DePape stood silently as the sentence was handed down.

    DePape was tried late last year for attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official. Jurors convicted him on both counts on Nov. 16, 2023.

    DePape’s defense argued for a shorter sentence of 14 years, noting that their client did not have a prior criminal history and the remorse he expressed. The judge countered that DePape remained dangerous given his statements that he would attack his other targets, despite apologizing to his victims.

    Scott Corley also said DePape’s actions created an unprecedented threat forcing all public officials to weigh the risk their job might place on family members.

    “We will never know everything we have lost because of this crime,” she said.

    DePape was given credit for time served for the 18 months he has been in custody. The judge imposed the maximum for each count he faced — 30 years for the assault charge, 20 years for the attempted kidnapping charge — that will run concurrently.

    “This sentence is a warning: violence against those who serve the public and their families will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement released by the Department of Justice. “The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who target public servants and their families with violence. In a democracy, people vote, argue, and debate to achieve the policy outcome they desire. But the promise of democracy is that people will not employ violence to affect that outcome.”

    DePape’s early morning break-in at the Pelosi home in October 2022 resulted in federal as well as state charges. A second trial in state court will start in the coming weeks.

    In a letter to the court, Nancy Pelosi asked the judge for a “very long” sentence for DePape, saying the attack “[f]illed me with great fear and deep pain.” Meanwhile, Paul Pelosi’s victim statement to the judge noted that he is still suffering dizziness, headaches, balance problems, nerve pain and walking challenges from the health impacts of the vicious attack.

    Christine Pelosi read the victim impact statements on behalf of her parents. Her tone was authoritative and intentional.

    During tearful testimony in his federal trial, DePape admitted that he broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home Oct. 28, 2022, intending to hold the speaker hostage and “break her kneecaps” if she lied to him. He also acknowledged bludgeoning Paul Pelosi with a hammer after police showed up, saying his plan to end what he viewed as government corruption was unraveling.

    The attack on Paul Pelosi, who was 82 at the time, was captured on police body camera video just days before the midterm elections and sent shockwaves through the political world.

    Defense attorneys argued DePape was motivated by his political beliefs, not because he wanted to interfere with the speaker’s official duties as a member of Congress, making the charges against him invalid.

    One of his attorneys, Angela Chuang, said during closing arguments that DePape was caught up in conspiracy theories.

    During the trial DePape, a Canadian who moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, testified he believed news outlets repeatedly lied about former President Donald Trump. In rants posted on a blog and online forum that were taken down after his arrest, DePape described a far-fetched plan to single-handedly “take down” a series of high-profile figures. The plan echoed the baseless, conspiracy theory QAnon, which claims that a cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles runs the U.S. government.

    DePape also told jurors he had planned to wear an inflatable unicorn costume and record his interrogation of the Democratic speaker, who was not at the home at the time of the attack, to upload it online.

    Prosecutors said he had rope and zip ties with him, and detectives found body cameras, a computer and a tablet.

    Paul Pelosi also testified at the trial, recalling how he was awakened by a large man bursting into the bedroom and asking, “Where’s Nancy?” He said when he responded that his wife was in Washington, DePape said he would tie him up while they waited for her.

    “It was a tremendous sense of shock to recognize that somebody had broken into the house, and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognized that I was in serious danger, so I tried to stay as calm as possible,” Pelosi told jurors.

    Pelosi suffered two head wounds in the attack, including a skull fracture that was mended with plates and screws he will have for the rest of his life. His right arm and hand also were injured.

    DePape is also charged in state court with assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary and other felonies. Jury selection in that trial is expected to start May 22.

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    Massive Ukraine Drone Strike Hits Energy Infrastructure in Russia and Crimea

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    A massive wave of Ukrainian drones and missiles struck oil refineries, ports, and electricity stations in southwestern Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea early Friday.

    The strike, which Russian authorities said involved more than 100 Ukrainian drones, is Ukraine’s biggest attack in months, as Kyiv aims to destroy military infrastructure and cripple Russia’s oil sector.

    Residents in the port of Novorossiysk lost power Thursday night after drones hit at least two fuel depots and two oil terminals, the Russian outlet Astra reported, and the Crimean city of Sevastopol experienced rolling blackouts after Russian authorities said an electricity substation was hit.

    It was the third attack in two days against Sevastopol, where schools were closed on Friday.

    Ukrainian strikes have made Russian border towns unlivable

    Russia’s war has transformed its once-thriving city of Belgorod, located 25 miles from the Ukrainian border, into a “ghost town,” CNN reported, as Kyiv has sought to bring the war to Russian soil.

    The city is a key military hub for Russian forces and has faced daily rocket and drone attacks. An exodus of people from Belgorod has led to a drastic economic downturn, the Russian investigative outlet Verstka reported. Closer to the Ukrainian border, looting has broken out in areas that have been almost completely abandoned, according to Russian authorities. A local newspaper reported that 178 people have died in Ukrainian strikes on the region, and thousands of buildings have been damaged by shelling.

    Home-grown drones key to Ukraine’s campaign against Russia

    Ukraine has fostered a homegrown drone sector after its Western partners’ unwillingness to supply weapons to strike Russia. Kyiv has ramped up production of its Lyutyy drone, given the success of the large kamikaze drone that is now used in 80% of strikes on Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

    A former US Department of Defense analyst commended Ukraine’s decision to streamline its production, saying, “18 different drone types is good for innovating, but a campaign like this requires scale to maintain a good tempo of attacks.” At sea, Ukrainian-designed naval drones have helped compensate for Kyiv’s lack of a traditional navy, the Kyiv Independent reported.

    Experts divided on the impact of Ukrainian attacks

    “Russia is feeling the pinch” of Ukraine’s targeted campaign against its oil and gas sites, three experts wrote in Foreign Affairs, arguing that Kyiv’s regular attacks are eating into Russian revenues. But Sergey Vakulenko, an expert on the Russian oil sector, has questioned the extent of the strike’s impact.

    While he said the strikes help buoy Ukrainian morale and force Russian oil companies to pay for repairs, the drones do not have payloads big enough to destroy infrastructure. So far, he said, the damage has not had a significant impact on the sector at large, nor has it made a serious dent in Russia’s economy.

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    ‘Queer Planet’: NBCUniversal Launching Series About Gay and Trans Animals

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    NBCUniversal’s Peacock is proudly releasing a series to push the LGBTQIA2S+ agenda, featuring what they describe as gay and transgender animals, as the preview for the series concludes that “the idea of just having to fix sexes is clearly out of style.”

    The trailer for the series features a narrator proclaiming that the planet is home to roughly 11 million species, as a chyron on the screen asserts that the “animal kingdom isn’t as simple as black and white,” flashing to a still photo of what appears to be a male lion humping another male lion.

    “Everything you were taught as a kid was wrong,” one individual says in the trailer,” as the narrator previews “gay penguins, bisexual lions, [and] sex-changing clownfish.”

    “This is a queer planet,” an individual in the trailer says as another asserts that “queerness as always existed.”

    “It’s only in humans that we have such a stigma about it,” a woman states.

    “The idea of having two fixed sexes is clearly out of style,” the voiceover says as a woman says, “Mother Nature is pretty open minded.”

    Those in featured in the trailer conclude the “sex is not just for reproduction” and that “nature is full of queer surprises.”

    The series is narrated by Andrew Rannells, who said in a statement, “We’ve all heard of gay penguins, but this film really opened my eyes to the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ behaviors across the natural world.”

    “And what could be more natural than being who you are? I’m excited to be part of ‘Queer Planet,’ especially during Pride Month, and on Peacock, surely the most colorful and glamorous of all the streaming services,” he added.

    Watch:

    Commenter across social media platforms made it clear that they are sick of the overt pushing of the LGBTQIA2S+ agenda.

    “It never fucking ends!!!!” Donald Trump Jr. remarked:

    “Next will be normalizing people and animals,” another Twitter user said.

    “Won’t end until all brains have been washed…” another commented.

    Comments on the YouTube link for the trailer were equally as brutal, as many made it clear they were canceling their Peacock subscriptions.

    “This is actual insanity.”

    “This gabage [sic] need to stop.”

    “I just want to remind you that some animal species eat their family members just for fun.”

    “And just like that, millions of peacock accounts were cancled [sic].”

    “What a load of garbage I thought this was from The Onion.”

    “When you try to find fringe examples to justify your horrible narrative.”

    “Deleting my peacock account right now.”

    “Annnnnddd, deleting my peacock account.”

    “Cancelling peacock right now.”

    “Bye.. deleted all peacock subs.”

    “Just deleted my peacock account.”

    “Deleting Peacock account immediately.”

    “When does this come out. Sooo excited to cancel my subscription!!!”

    The announcement of the series comes two weeks away from the far-left’s “Pride Month” in June, which they have used to heavily push their agenda in recent years. Not surprisingly, the series will begin to stream on June 6.

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    Israel Recovers 3 Dead Hostages in Gaza — Including Shani Louk

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    The Israel Defense Forces has recovered the bodies of three Israeli hostages in Gaza, including that of Shani Louk, who became an international symbol of Hamas’ savagery after images showed her being paraded around half-naked in the back of a pickup truck during the Oct. 7 attacks.

    Spokesman Daniel Hagari announced Friday that the IDF recovered Louk, 22, and two additional victims of the music festival massacre, Amit Buskila, 28, and Itzik Gelernter, 58, during the Rafah operation.

    “Shani Louk, Amit Buskila and Yitzhak Gelernter were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7 from the Nova Music Festival,” the IDF said in a statement.

    “Overnight, our troops recovered their bodies and brought them back home to Israel. We will continue operating to bring all of our hostages.”

    More than 360 Israeli revelers were murdered by militants at the Nova festival, which became a key target in the terror group’s unprovoked surprise attack on the Jewish state.

    Louk was one of around 40 Israeli hostages seized during the bloody assault on the music festival.

    Her family announced in late October that she had died at the hands of Hamas, with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog later revealing to a German newspaper that she had been beheaded.

    “My heart goes out in sympathy to the grieving and tormented families of the hostages Itzhak Gelerenter, Amit Buskila and Shani Louk, whose bodies were rescued from Gaza and will be brought for eternal rest in Israel,” Herzog wrote in an X post shortly after IDF announced the news.

    At a pro-Israel event in Times Square on Tuesday, Shani’s father, Nissim Louk, told The Post that the contrasting images of his daughter circulating in media reports have showed the world the “darkness” Israel is up against in its war with the terror group.

    “This picture is very important because this picture shows from one side, Shani — beautiful, amazing, bright light to the world, and from the other side you see these militants in the pickup with machine guns that bring trouble and pain to the world and nobody can mix these two pictures,” the heartbroken father said in an exclusive interview.

    “And whenever you don’t know who you are, you don’t know: ‘Am I the bad guy? Am I the good guy?’ You don’t know. Look at these pictures — and it immediately straightens everything out.”

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    Trump Attends Son Barron’s Graduation

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    Donald Trump set his legal woes aside for the morning as he jetted into Florida Friday to see youngest son Barron graduate high school.

    The former President was joined by wife Melania to watch their 18-year-old son and his Class of 2024 pals enjoy their big day at exclusive Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach.

    Families took their seats in the bleachers under the watchful eye of two police snipers perched above the announcers’ box. US Marshalls and deputies from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office patrolled the highway and taped off the sidewalk as they prepared for Trump’s arrival.

    The unprecedented scenes for a high school graduation did not prevent the smartly-dressed attendees from enjoying themselves as they chatted and smiled with the school band playing Verdi in the background.

    The President and his ten-vehicle Secret Service motorcade pulled into the school with just minutes to spare, entering a heavily guarded exit straight behind the football field.

    There was a brief glimpse of Trump, in a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie, eliciting a round of applause from the crowd.

    He took his seat at the very front of the bleachers next to Melania, wearing a navy blazer and a straw hat, and her father Viktor Knavs.

    Barron’s years at the elite private school in West Palm Beach have been shrouded in secrecy with the former First Lady determined to keep her 6 ft, 7 in. son out of the limelight.

    The ceremony began with the school choir performing America The Beautiful. The master of ceremonies kicked things off by welcoming parents and graduates.

    ‘I want to give a special welcome to the President and Mrs. Trump,’ he added, drawing applause.

    The schools founder, William Koch, couldn’t make it but sent his best his wishes, he added. ‘You have excelled in sports and academics and made friends that will last a lifetime,’ the MC went on, addressing the graduating students, who wore traditional navy blue caps and gowns and hats despite the 85f heat. ‘We are all so very proud of you.’

    Cars routinely beeped their horns as they drove past the school.

    Students were announced in alphabetical order, the master of ceremonies eventually arriving at ‘Barron William Trump’ to a ripple of applause.

    Barron, in his dark blue cap and gown and red sash, stepped up to the stage, turned to briefly acknowledge the crowd then shook hands and accepted his diploma.

    A visibly-proud Trump seemed to revel in his son’s right of passage, chatting animatedly with a smiling Melania, clapping and waving to the graduates – and giving them a trademark thumbs up as the ceremony wrapped.

    As they prepared to leave former First Couple took time to wave at the crowds while Trump pumped his right fist in the air in celebration, the onlookers responding with waves and warm applause.

    With that they headed back to their motorcade and drove away from the school.

    Oxbridge, a college prep school for grades six through 12, was founded in 2011 by billionaire William Koch, the brother of GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

    Classes at the 54-acre site were cancelled for the day so staff could ‘focus solely’ on the ceremony, with media barred from attending and admission strictly limited to ‘invitation only’.

    The families of the 116 graduates were asked to arrive several hours early to undergo a Secret Service security screening before taking their seats on the football field.

    With Friday’s graduation wrapped up, attention will now turn to Barron’s next steps.

    It was reported earlier this month that Barron would be a Florida delegate at this July’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee until Melania, 54, announced her son was ‘honored’ by the selection but focused on ‘prior commitments’.

    Trump told Megyn Kelly last year that Barron was ‘thinking about’ attending his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, where his older kids Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany also studied.

    Barron was also rumored to be considering NYU in a move that could see Melania move back to New York with him – but nothing has been confirmed.

    More recently, Trump hinted during a May 9 event at his Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach residence that the recent unrest on liberal college campuses could play a role in his son’s decision-making.

    ‘Right now, he’s doing a great job. He has great marks. He’s going to be going to college soon. And we’re looking at some colleges that are different [than] they were two months ago,’ he said in a clip posted to X.

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    WATCH: Chaos Erupts in Hearing as Greene, Ocasio-Cortez Clash Over ‘Fake Eyelashes’ Jibe at Crockett

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    A House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing devolved into chaos Thursday night as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) clashed after the firebrand Republican accused Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) of wearing “fake eyelashes.”

    The comment — which was made during a markup to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress — prompted nearly an hour of disorder in the committee, with lawmakers screaming over one another and hurling insults left and right, leaving Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) struggling to maintain order.

    The madness culminated Thursday night with a vote on whether or not to allow Greene to continue speaking during the hearing, which the panel ultimately granted in a 22-20 vote. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) — who has butted heads with Greene in the past — crossed party lines to vote against allowing the Georgia lawmaker to proceed during the hearing. Boebert was sitting two seats away from Greene during the vote.

    “I hope you brought your popcorn,” Greene exclaimed at one point during the hearing.

    Republicans moved to hold Garland in contempt after the attorney general refused to hand over the audio recording of President Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, despite already having the transcript of the conversation. Biden claimed executive privilege over the audio recordings.

    The vote passed 24-20 along party lines just after 11 p.m. EDT Thursday night, hours after the House Judiciary Committee did the same. The full House will now vote on holding the attorney general in contempt.

    Mayhem broke out during Thursday night’s Oversight hearing when Greene asked if any Democrats on the panel were employing the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing former President Trump’s hush money trial in Manhattan. Trump and Republicans have targeted the judge’s daughter over her employment at a progressive digital agency. The Oversight Committee delayed Thursday’s contempt markup from an 11 a.m. start time to 8 p.m. so a number of Republicans who sit on the panel were able to attend Trump’s trial in Manhattan.

    “Please tell me what that has to do with Merrick Garland,” Crockett, a first-term lawmaker, asked, later adding, “do you know what we’re here for?”

    “I don’t think you know what you’re here for,” Greene responded. “I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading.”

    The comment prompted outrage from Democrats, with Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the top Democrat on the committee, saying “that’s beneath even you, Ms. Greene,” and Ocasio-Cortez yelling “that’s disgusting.”

    Ocasio-Cortez moved to take down Greene’s words, calling them “absolutely unacceptable.”

    “How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person,” she added.

    “Are your feelings hurt?” Greene responded.

    “Oh girl, oh baby girl, don’t even play,” Ocasio-Cortez shot back, leading Greene to say “oh really, baby girl?”

    The back-and-forth prompted a short pause in the proceedings as Comer determined how to proceed. When they resumed, Greene said she would agree to strike her words, but Ocasio-Cortez demanded that she apologize to Crockett, an exchange that led to Greene lobbing an insult at the New York Democrat.

    “I believe she needs to apologize,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    “I’m not apologizing,” Greene responded, to which Ocasio-Cortez replied “well then you’re not striking your words.”

    “Why don’t you debate me?” Greene asked.

    “I think it’s pretty self-evident,” Ocasio-Cortez shot back.

    “Yeah, you don’t have enough intelligence,” Greene responded, prompting uproar among Democrats.

    Ocasio-Cortez quickly moved to strike Greene’s “intelligence” comment, which the Georgia Republican agreed to. But she again said she would not apologize, sparking more chaos.

    “You will never get an apology out of me,” Greene reiterated shortly after. “I don’t owe you one.”

    More disorder ensued minutes later when Crockett asked if a hypothetical comment — which appeared to be a veiled jab at Greene — would break Congressional protocol.

    “I’m just curious, just to better understand your ruling,” Crockett said, referring to a ruling Comer had made about Greene’s comments. “If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody’s bleach blond bad built butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?”

    At that point, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) jumped into the chaos, asking to strike Crockett’s words.

    “I’m trying to get clarification,” Crockett said, prompting Luna to repeatedly yell “calm down.”

    “Don’t tell me to calm down,” Crockett responded.

    “Calm down,” Luna shot back. “You’re out of control.”

    “If I come and talk shit about her ya’ll gonna have a problem,” Crockett said.

    “I don’t know what you’re acting like that. It’s not cute,” Luna responded.

    Raskin, at one point, made a crack about Democrats reviving their motion to adjourn the proceedings, saying, “I think these 17 hour days might not work for us.”

    “Something about working, huh,” Luna responded.

    Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), at that point, joined the conversation.

    “Yeah, maybe showing up for a vote,” he responded, an apparent reference to Luna missing votes in the Capitol Thursday afternoon after she appeared alongside Trump at his hush money trial in Manhattan.

    Luna shot back, calling Goldman a “trust fund kid.”

    The raucous stretch of the hearing, which began roughly 30 minutes into the proceedings, finally came to an end after the panel voted to allow Greene to continue speaking.

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    World’s Top Golfer Scottie Scheffler Arrested for Assaulting Officer at PGA Championship Event

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    Scottie Scheffler, the top golfer in the world, was taken into custody Friday and charged with felony assault on a police officer and reckless driving outside of a PGA championship event in Kentucky.

    Scheffler, 27, was arrested after he was seen driving on a median toward the entrance to Valhalla Golf Club, the site of the event, and initially failing to heed an officer’s order for him to stop, according to an ESPN reporter who witnessed the incident.

    The Louisville Metropolitan Department of Corrections website showed that Scheffler was booked at 7:28 a.m. ET. But the charges against him appeared to have been disposed, as of 8:50 a.m. ET, according to the DOC site.

    The status of Scheffler’s arrest and the charges against him were not immediately clear. A spokesperson for the PGA did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

    Scheffler is set to tee off at 10:08 a.m. ET from the 10th hole for the second day of the championship, according to the PGA’s website for the event.

    The ESPN reporter, Jeff Darlington, said Friday morning that he saw Scheffler “detained by police officers, placed in the back of a police vehicle in handcuffs after he tried to pull around what he believed to security.”

    “When he didn’t stop the police officer attached himself to the vehicle, Scheffler then traveled another 10 yards before stopping the car,” Darlington said on ESPN’s “Sports Center.”

    “The police officer then grabbed at his arm attempting to pull him out of the car before Scheffler eventually opened the door at which point the police officer pulled Scheffler out of the car pushed him up against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs,” Darlington said.

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    Storms Leave Trail of Damage in Houston — 800,000 Out of Power, Flights Grounded

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    A severe storm with damaging winds, prompting tornado alerts, passed through Houston and surrounding areas late Thursday, leaving behind a trail of damage.

    In west Harris County, ABC13’s cameras captured a couple of downed transmission lines at West and Fry Road.

    “These are the strongest ones, the ones that carry the highest current, and it takes a lot of wind to topple something like this because they’re built to withstand high winds,” Chief Forecaster David Tillman said during Thursday’s coverage update on the downed lines.

    Also in Katy, along Fry Road and FM-529, eyewitness photos showed damage to a home’s backyard and a tree that snapped, with part of it on top of a vehicle.

    In that same area, more images showed damage to the Starbucks location across the street from Cy-Springs High School. Down the road from that area, in the Cypress Springs retail plaza, the plaza’s sign took on heavy damage, with some parts nearly ripped off.

    In the northeast part of the city, a viewer sent images of the damage at the Krab Junkie on Kelly Road. Images showed downed branches and what appears to be a trampoline and a fan on a post and fence.

    Images from another one of ABC13’s cameras show massive damage to the Conejo Malo club at Travis Street near Commerce. Footage shows an entire brick wall of the building ripped off, with more than dozens of bricks covering the parking lot. It’s unclear if anyone was inside the building during that time.

    In the northwest area, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez shared on social media an image of an uprooted tree that had fallen at the intersection of Pinemont Drive and TC Jester.

    “Please avoid the roadways if possible,” Gonzalez urged.

    Also in downtown, a guest at the Hyatt Regency shared a video of water pouring inside after winds apparently blew out the windows.

    UPDATE:

    The worst windstorm in Houston in 40 years killed at least four people, left more than 800,000 customers without power and grounded hundreds of flights across Texas.

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    DeSantis Deletes Mentions of ‘Climate Change’ from Florida’s Laws and Bans Offshore Windmills

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    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed Wednesday that he was saving his state from ‘radical green zealots’ by removing references of ‘climate change’ from the state’s energy policy and banning offshore windmills.

    DeSantis signed into law a bill that additionally gives preferential treatment to natural gas companies and scraps a requirement that state-purchased vehicles are fuel efficient.

    ‘The legislation I signed today… will keep windmills off our beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state,’ DeSantis wrote on X. ‘We’re restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.’

    The White House and other Democrats pounced at DeSantis’ action.

    ‘That’s pretty shameful,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Thursday’s press briefing.

    ‘And the president, as you know, has been the most progressive, has done more on climate change than any other president. And so we are committed, committed to dealing with this crisis and meeting our goals,’ Jean-Pierre continued.

    She added that it was ‘unfortunate that there are climate deniers still out there.’

    Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell – who’s running for U.S. Senate in Florida – posted to X: ‘We’re on the FRONT LINES of climate change.’

    ‘It drives the destruction of our coastal communities and economy, and fuels the insurance crisis,’ she said. ‘DeSantis is finishing what [Sen. Rick] Scott started when he was governor, and making sure our state doesn’t stand a chance.’

    Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, who represents part of Miami, said ‘climate change is an indisputable fact, not a topic open for debate.’

    ‘The dire consequences of the climate crisis are evident every day in Florida, and attempts to undermine efforts to combat this existential threat are utterly reckless and irresponsible.’

    Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, posted to X about how costly climate change has already been to the Sunshine State.

    ‘Since 1980, there have been 87 weather/climate disaster events in Florida with losses exceeding $1 billion each,’ Reich said. ‘Tapping into the culture wars isn’t going to protect Floridians from the harsh realities of climage change.’

    DeSantis and other Republicans have been antagonistic to President Joe Biden’s green agenda, with former President Donald Trump promising to roll back some of the Democrat’s climate provisions should he be elected to a second term in the fall.

    The Florida governor dropped his own presidential bid in late January, after coming in a far-off second place after Trump in the Iowa caucuses.

    DeSantis endorsed Trump on his way out the door and has said recently he’ll start to raise money for the presumptive Republican nominee.

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    French Police Kill Armed Algerian After Trying to Burn Down Synagogue

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    French police shot and killed a man armed with a knife and a metal bar who is suspected of having started a fire that charred and blackened the insides of a synagogue in the Normandy city of Rouen early Friday, an attack the interior minister said was “clearly” antisemitic and which infuriated Jewish leaders facing a surge in hate crimes since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

    The suspected arsonist was an Algerian national who wasn’t flagged as a suspected extremist, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said after inspecting the fire-damaged synagogue. He said the man had sought permission to stay in France for medical treatment and, after it was refused, had been placed on a police wanted list for possible return back to his country.

    Darmanin praised the 25-year-old police officer for using his service weapon against the “particularly dangerous, particularly violent” assailant who rushed at him with a knife, declaring: “He was right to do so.”

    The minister said the officer would be decorated for his “extremely courageous, extremely professional” behavior.

    “This antisemitic act in Rouen affects all of us, deeply,” he said. France is “extremely determined to continue protecting all the Jews of France, wherever they are, who must practice their religion without fear.”

    Antisemitic acts have surged in France in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. France has the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Western Europe.

    The main French Jewish umbrella group described the synagogue blaze as “a scandalous message” and “a way of saying that Jews don’t belong in French society.” This week, a Paris memorial honoring people who distinguished themselves by helping to rescue Jews in France during the country’s Nazi occupation in World War II was also attacked, defaced with painted blood-red hands.

    “It’s unbearable. It’s more and more serious every day. After the antisemitic graffiti we saw in the past few days, antisemitic slogans, antisemitic insults, we now have attempts at setting synagogues on fire,” said Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France.

    “Everyone is wondering whether they can live a peaceful life in France as a Jew,” he added, speaking in an Associated Press interview. “There’s a climate of fear because it feels like, anywhere in our country and at any time, an antisemitic attack can take place. It aims at intimidating French Jews and we won’t accept this intimidation. We refuse it, and we will continue to fight against this unbridled antisemitism.”

    Firefighters were alerted early Friday morning to the blaze at the synagogue. Police officers discovered the man on the roof of the building, clutching the metal bar in one hand and the kitchen knife in the other, and smoke rising from the synagogue’s windows, Rouen prosecutor Frédéric Teillet said.

    He said the man hurled abuse and threw the metal bar at the police before jumping off the roof and then running at one of the officers with his knife raised.

    The officer fired five shots, hitting the man four times, fatally wounding him, the prosecutor said.

    Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol said that the man is thought to have climbed onto a trash container and thrown “a sort of Molotov cocktail” inside the synagogue, starting the fire and causing “significant damage.”

    “When the Jewish community is attacked, it’s an attack on the national community, an attack on France, an attack on all French citizens,” he said. “It’s a fright for the whole nation.”

    Photos taken inside the synagogue and seen by the AP showed that walls and the ceiling were charred and blackened.

    “It’s a catastrophe,” said Natacha Ben Haim, head of Rouen’s Jewish community. “The assailant threw an incendiary object inside through a small dormer that he most certainly broke into. The fire started then, very quickly apparently, and the damage is considerable. We managed to save the Sefer Torah, but parts of the wall fell, from the ceiling, too.”

    French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said this month that the sharp spike in antisemitic acts in France that followed the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel has continued into this year.

    Authorities registered 366 antisemitic acts in the first three months of 2024, a 300% increase over the same period last year, Attal said. More than 1,200 antisemitic acts were reported in the last three months of 2023 — which was three times more than in the whole of 2022, he said.

    “We are witnessing an explosion of hatred,” he said.

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    Putin Meets Xi in China

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    China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Thursday pledged a “new era” of partnership between the two most powerful rivals of the United States, which they cast as an aggressive Cold War hegemon sowing chaos across the world.

    Xi greeted Putin on a red carpet outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where they were hailed by marching People’s Liberation Army soldiers, a 21-gun salute on Tiananmen Square and children waving the flags of China and Russia.

    China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two.

    Xi, 70, and Putin, 71, signed a joint statement on Thursday about the “new era” that proclaimed opposition to the U.S. on a host of security issues and a shared view on everything from Taiwan and Ukraine to North Korea and cooperation on new peaceful nuclear technologies and finance.

    “The China-Russia relationship today is hard-earned, and the two sides need to cherish and nurture it,” Xi told Putin.

    “China is willing to … jointly achieve the development and rejuvenation of our respective countries, and work together to uphold fairness and justice in the world.”

    Russia, waging war against NATO-supplied Ukrainian forces, and China, under pressure from a concerted U.S. effort to counter its growing military and economic strength, increasingly have found common geopolitical cause.

    Xi has told Putin the two have the chance to drive changes the world has not seen in a century, which many analysts see as an attempt to challenge a U.S.-led global order.

    Their governments, pushing back against perceived humiliations of the 1991 Soviet collapse and centuries of European colonial dominance of China, have sought to portray the West as decadent and in decline, with China challenging U.S. supremacy in everything from quantum computing and synthetic biology to espionage and hard military power.

    But China and Russia face their own challenges, including a slowing Chinese economy and an emboldened and expanding NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Washington casts China as its biggest competitor and Russia as its biggest nation-state threat.

    The U.S. views both as authoritarian rulers who have quashed free speech and exerted tight control at home over the media and the courts. Biden has referred to Xi as a “dictator” and has said Putin is a “killer” and even a “crazy SOB”. Beijing and Moscow have scolded Biden for the comments.

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    Two Migrants in ICE Custody After Attempting to Breach Virginia Marine Base — One Was on Terror Watchlist

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    The Marine Corps prevented two people from breaking onto a Marine installation in Virginia on May 3 and turned them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    The two people drove up to the Fuller Road Gate of Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, in a box truck and were stopped by military sentries, Capt. Michael Curtis, a spokesman for the base, said in a statement to Marine Corps Times on Tuesday.

    “When asked, the operator of the truck informed the military police officers they worked for a company subcontracted by Amazon and were making a delivery to the U.S. Post Office located in the Town of Quantico,” Curtis said in the statement.

    Because the two had no affiliation with the Marine base and no credentials to enter it, military police officers directed them to go to a holding area to undergo standard vetting procedures, according to Curtis. But the driver blew past the holding area and attempted to drive onto the base.

    Officers put up the vehicle denial barriers, blocking the truck from getting any farther onto the base, and detained the pair.

    No one was injured, according to Curtis.

    The Marine Corps later turned the pair over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That agency did not respond by time of publication to a Marine Corps Times request for more information about the two people who were detained.

    “When any vehicle and its occupants fail to comply with the clear direction of the on-duty Police Officers, specific steps are taken by those officers to restrict any further access,” Curtis said in the statement. “Those actions by our on-duty Police officers helped maintain the safety and security of all who live and work on Marine Corps Base Quantico.”

    Potomac Local News, which first reported the attempted breach, reported hearing from multiple unnamed sources that one of the truck’s occupants was a Jordanian national who had recently crossed the southern border into the United States and that one occupant was on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list.

    Located in northern Virginia, Marine Corps Base Quantico is less than an hour’s drive from Washington. To enter the town of Quantico, Virginia, where the pair claimed to be heading, vehicles have to drive through the Marine installation.

    The installation is home to the Corps’ Combat Development Command, which is dedicated to modernizing the force, plus a smattering of Marine schools and other elements. It also hosts some activities of the FBI, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and other federal agencies.

    In January 2023, a car caught fire after coming into contact with vehicle denial barriers when its driver tried to gain unauthorized access to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

    Military police in September 2023 shot at and ultimately detained a driver who had gained unauthorized access to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. In March, military law enforcement at the same base nabbed a Chinese national who had tried to get onto the same base.

    Chinese nationals have accessed military installations and other sensitive facilities in the United States around 100 times in recent years, sometimes by posing as tourists, The Wall Street Journal reported in September 2023.

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    Biden Asserts Executive Privilege to Block Release of Audio Interview with Special Counsel

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    President Joe Biden has asserted executive privilege to block House committees from obtaining audio recordings of his own interviews with special counsel Robert Hur about Biden’s handling of classified documents.

    The White House counsel’s office notified House GOP investigators of the move hours before Republicans were expected to recommend holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over the audio. Rather than changing the GOP’s plan, the privilege assertion sparked a wave of outrage from Republicans, who are moving forward with their planned contempt vote.

    Hur’s description of his interviews with Biden — laid out in a 345-page report released in February — fueled a firestorm over the president’s memory and mental fitness. In that report, Hur said Biden could potentially defend himself in court, if charges were recommended, by appealing to jurors as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” Biden pushed back with a fiery news conference defending his acuity.

    While the transcripts of the interviews have already been released, Biden’s effort to block the recordings puts him in a politically awkward position: He has insisted that Hur has mischaracterized the interviews but is nonetheless trying to maintain secrecy over the raw audio.

    “The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal — to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes,” White House Counsel Ed Siskel wrote in the letter to Republican House leaders Thursday morning revealing Biden’s decision. “Demanding such sensitive and constitutionally-protected law enforcement materials from the Executive Branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate.”

    Garland asked Biden to block release of the audio recordings, citing concerns that making them public could prompt high-ranking White House officials to be less cooperative in future investigations.

    “The Committees’ needs are plainly insufficient to outweigh the deleterious effects that productions of the recordings would have on the integrity and effectiveness of similar law enforcement investigations in the future,” Garland wrote in a letter to Biden dated Wednesday.

    During a brief exchange with reporters at the Justice Department Thursday morning, Garland defended the privilege claim as a principled one and suggested the House was demanding the audio as part of a broader campaign to delegitimize the department and federal law enforcement more generally.

    “We have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the committees get responses to their legitimate requests, but this is not one,” the attorney general said. “To the contrary, this is one that would harm our ability in the future to successfully pursue sensitive investigations.”

    White House Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed scrutiny of the decision, telling reporters on Thursday that “for one, the transcript, as you all know, is already out there.” “The attorney general made it clear that law enforcement files like these need to be protected, and so the president made his determination at the request of the attorney general,” she said.

    Jean-Pierre declined to address questions about the White House’s concern that Republicans would use the audio for political purposes, saying she didn’t “want to dive into the specific point” and referring further inquires to the White House counsel’s office.

    Republicans are reviewing Hur’s investigation and Biden’s handling of classified documents as part of a sweeping impeachment inquiry into the president. Though the broad impeachment effort has largely stalled thanks to skepticism from a broad swath of Republican lawmakers, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) are still quietly investigating.

    And the arguments from DOJ and the White House did little to tamp down Republican angst, from Donald Trump’s campaign to House Republican leadership. The Judiciary Committee is meeting on Thursday morning to vote on its contempt recommendation for Garland; the Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday evening to recommend the same.

    However, Biden’s action on Thursday effectively precludes any criminal prosecution of Garland for failing to comply with the Hill subpoenas.

    Republicans lobbed criticism largely from two angles: That Biden was afraid of the audio recordings’ release because they believe it would add fodder to Hur’s description of his memory, and that the privilege assertion is designed to squash congressional oversight.

    “President Biden is apparently afraid for the citizens of this country and everyone to hear those tapes. They obviously confirm what special counsel is about and would likely cause, I suppose, in his estimation such alarm with the American people that the President is using all of his power to suppress their release,” Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters on Thursday.

    Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesperson, accused Biden of having “irretrievably politicized the key constitutional tenet of executive privilege” and trying to use it to “run political cover for Crooked Joe.”

    Jordan argued that transcripts, which the DOJ has already handed over, “are not sufficient evidence of the state of the president’s memory.” The White House and Biden’s counsel have both contested Hur’s descriptions of Biden and asked him to correct the report.

    “This last-minute invocation does not change the fact that the attorney general has not complied with our subpoena,” Jordan said.

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    House Judiciary Committee Votes to Hold AG Garland in Contempt

    Citizen Frank

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    The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced a measure to hold in contempt Attorney General Merrick Garland in an 18-15 party-line vote, a step Republicans on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are also expected to take later this evening.

    A last-minute move from President Biden to claim executive privilege over audio recordings from his interview with special counsel Robert Hur did not dissuade the GOP from proceeding, even as Garland said those asserting the privilege “cannot be prosecuted for criminal contempt of Congress.”

    Republicans already have the transcript of Hur’s conversation with Biden, but they argue the audio recordings will be more revealing, suggesting pauses could speak to Hur’s commentary about the president’s cognitive functions or show a hesitancy to ask questions.

    To Democrats, the only rationale for seeking the tapes is so the GOP can use them in campaign commercials, arguing they are misusing power purely for political gain.

    “Transcripts do not capture demeanor evidence,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said at the top of the hearing.

    “Transcripts are often imperfect, especially to convey the timing of question and answer and disfluencies of a witness, or hesitations, among other things. All of that is demeanor evidence.”

    The vote took place while many Republicans were in New York to show support for former President Trump during his hush money trial.

    That pushed the Oversight panel to delay their consideration of the matter until 8 p.m. EDT Thursday vote, shuffling a mark-up meant to take place at roughly the same time as Judiciary’s proceedings.

    The passage of the contempt resolution leaves it heading to the full House floor for consideration.

    However, the move is largely symbolic, as it acts as a referral to the Justice Department, which must weigh whether charges are fitting.

    That looked unlikely well before Biden asserted executive privilege over the audio files, as DOJ had already declined to share them, arguing the panels have no need for law enforcement files that are unrelated to their investigation.

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) nodded to those Republicans at the New York trial in commenting on the decision to hold Garland in contempt.

    “Republicans on this committee have moved from being the criminal defense firm for the president to being essentially an adjunct of the president’s media advertising firm,” he said.

    “We’re holding the Attorney General of the United States in contempt. And for what? Because he won’t give video material for a campaign commercial to this committee on behalf of a president who is a criminal defendant in a hush money payment to a porn star case in New York, the first of many criminal trials that he will face.”

    In the background of the effort to gain access to the tapes was Republicans’ assertion that they could be useful for their impeachment investigation and back up their allegations of influence peddling. They’ve argued in prior letters that Biden may have taken classified documents to aid in the writing of his memoir while suggesting the audio files could include evidence that he took actions to benefit his family.

    Hur noted classified information was not referenced in Biden’s book and that personal entries from Biden’s diaries, which also referenced classified information and events, formed the basis for the memoir.

    It’s also clear from the transcripts the discussion did not include items of relevance to the impeachment probe.

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    Texas Gov Abbott Pardons Army Sergeant Who Killed Armed BLM Protester

    Citizen Frank

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    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued a full pardon for a former U.S. Army sergeant convicted of murder in the shooting death of an armed protester during a 2020 Black Lives Matter march.

    The move by Abbott came minutes after a unanimous recommendation by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles that Daniel Perry be pardoned and have his firearms rights restored.

    Under Texas law, the governor cannot issue a pardon without a recommendation from the board, which the governor appoints.

    “The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles conducted an exhaustive review of U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry’s personal history and the facts surrounding the July 2020 incident and recommended a Full Pardon and Restoration of Full Civil Rights of Citizenship,” Abbott said in a statement.

    “Among the voluminous files reviewed by the Board, they considered information provided by the Travis County District Attorney, the full investigative report on Daniel Perry, plus a review of all the testimony provided at trial,” Abbott said. “Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney. I thank the Board for its thorough investigation, and I approve their pardon recommendation.”

    Perry was convicted of murder last month in the 2020 shooting death of 28-year-old Garrett Foster, who was legally carrying an AK-47 rifle through downtown Austin during a summer of nationwide riots.

    Perry was sentenced to 25 years in prison for Foster’s murder.

    Perry’s attorney, Douglas K. O’Connell, said his client is “thrilled and elated to be free” and “optimistic for his future.”

    “He wishes that this tragic event never happened and wishes he never had to defend himself against Mr. Foster’s unlawful actions,” O’Connell said. “At the same time, Daniel recognizes that the Foster family is grieving. We are anxious to see Daniel reunited with his family and loved ones.”

    Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza blasted the pardon as a “mockery of our legal system.”

    “The board and the governor have put their politics over justice,” Garza said. “They should be ashamed of themselves. Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not. They have sent a message to Garrett Foster’s family, to his partner, and to our community that his life does not matter. ”

    Prosecutors argued Perry could have driven away without opening fire and witnesses testified that they never saw Foster raise his gun. The sergeant’s defense attorneys argued Foster, who is White, did raise the rifle and that Perry had no choice but to shoot. Perry, who is also White, did not take the witness stand and jurors deliberated for two days before finding him guilty.

    Perry served in the Army for more than a decade. At trial, a forensic psychologist testified that he believed Perry has post-traumatic stress disorder from his deployment to Afghanistan and from being bullied as a child.

    At the time of the shooting, Perry was stationed at Fort Cavazos, then Fort Hood, about 70 miles north of Austin.

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