Clicky

Speaker Johnson Moves on Foreign Aid. Possibly Triggering Vote to Oust Him.
Connect with us
Citizen Frank

Published

on

House Speaker Mike Johnson is moving ahead on a foreign aid plan that has roiled his conference and prompted two Republicans to push an effort to oust him from the chamber’s top job.

But instead of the complex four-part plan he floated this week, Johnson now intends to try to pass five bills — one each for aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific allies — as well as a GOP wish list of foreign policy priorities and a fifth stand-alone bill to address widespread Republican demands to strengthen the southern U.S. border.

The new approach is risky and could blow up on the speaker, whose six-month-old hold on the gavel is being threatened by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (Ga.) promise to move a motion to topple Johnson (R-La.) if he puts Ukraine aid on the floor, something many Republicans object to.

Johnson told Republicans in a text to colleagues Wednesday morning: “After significant Member feedback and discussion” this week, the House will move ahead with his plan, with some significant changes. He intends to release bill text on Ukraine, Israel and for Indo-Pacific allies earlier Wednesday, and language for the GOP wish list and border later Wednesday.

The three separate bills that fund military aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan largely mirror the $95 billion Senate-passed supplemental. It turns a portion of the aid, the money sent directly to Ukraine, into a loan, which attempts to satisfy Republicans. It also includes just over $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine and other places in need, which was a demand of Democrats.

Success is anything but guaranteed for Johnson, both on the foreign aid package and keeping his job. Timing on the votes, also, is up in the air — even as members were slated to head home for a one-week recess Thursday.

“The congressman has the flexibility to stay and support the aid package on Saturday,” his office said Wednesday.

The House Freedom Caucus has already panned the proposal. Johnson is “surrendering” on the border, the group tweeted in response to Johnson’s plan. “This flies in the face of every promise Republicans have told you” and they care more about “funding Ukraine than they do securing our own borders.”

Yet Johnson is moving the separate border package in an attempt to appease his unruly conference, many of whom have demanded that the border be secure before funding is sent to Ukraine and other allies.

Keeping border security separate from the foreign aid package is an attempt by Johnson to give both pieces of legislation a greater chance of passing. The national security bill will likely need Democratic support because of the large number of Republicans who don’t want to fund Ukraine — while Johnson aims to pass the border security bill with just Republican support, hoping to satisfy demands from all corners of his conference and send all bills to the Senate.

But in an almost four-hour meeting between Johnson and his allies Tuesday night — before this latest plan was released — Republicans left demoralized after failing to concoct a plan that would ensure enough of them support sending the package to the floor without having to rely on Democrats. Multiple people familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal dynamics, said the meeting enlightened them and Johnson about what moving on his plan would mean for his future: It could al lead to his ouster.

“The battle lines were very clear at the end,” one Republican said. “It was very clear [the motion to vacate] will be brought if the speaker’s plan proceeds.”

Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) are supporting the motion to remove Johnson from the speakership after he relied on Democrats to pass several bills that failed to unite Republicans. If the motion were to be considered under special rules, the House would have 48 hours to vote on the question to oust the speaker.

Advertisement
Read 49 Comments
  • Avatar Bubba says:

    How about humanitarian aid for Gaza and the West Bank when Hamas surrenders and releases all hostages along with solid peace negotiations. We helped Germany and Japan after WWII but not when the conflict was still going on. The people elected Hamas and are just as responsible for their actions.

  • Avatar D L B says:

    We need a strong man in the position that Johnson holds. It seems he is a sellout!!!

  • Avatar PJ says:

    Another weak leader put in as speaker and caves to libs. Who was surprised

  • Avatar J says:

    Why doesn’t the republican party just surrender! Fools at best!

    Apparently there is no one in the house or senate who can think past their pay check! That I trust will be gone soon.

    Losers all!

  • ⬇️ Top Picks for You ⬇️

    News

    Everything You Need to Know as Trump Trial Heads to Verdict

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial is nearing an end, with closing arguments beginning on May 28. Here’s what you need to know to catch up with the case.

    What Are the Charges?

    Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, a Class E felony.

    The former president was charged under the statute New York Business Law 175.10, which states, “A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree, and when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.”

    The second crime in this case was the alleged violation of New York Election Law 17-152: “Conspiracy to promote or prevent election. Any two or more persons who conspire to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means and which conspiracy is acted upon by one or more of the parties thereto, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

    The 34 records in this case consist of 11 checks cut to Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney to President Trump, and the corresponding vouchers and invoices. Prosecutors allege that these payments, categorized as legal expenses, were reimbursement for money Mr. Cohen paid to Stephanie Clifford, better known as adult actress Stormy Daniels, as part of a scheme to influence the 2016 elections.

    In order to prove their case, prosecutors need to show that President Trump had the intent to defraud—more specifically, the intent to conceal the alleged conspiracy—when causing the creation of the business records.

    Who Testified?

    David Pecker, former head of American Media Inc. (AMI) and publisher of the National Enquirer, was the first to take the witness stand.

    Over several days, he outlined an agreement with Mr. Trump and collaboration with Mr. Cohen as AMI purchased two stories that Mr. Pecker believed would harm the 2016 Trump campaign. Neither of the two deals Mr. Pecker was involved in are related to the current charges, but prosecutors argued that they provide important context and evidence of a conspiracy.

    Next, longtime Trump assistant Rhona Graff testified, affirming that she had entered contact information for key people in the case into her contact management system, offering evidence that Mr. Trump was in touch with alleged co-conspirators.

    Then, Gary Farro, a banker formerly with First Republic Bank, took the witness stand to confirm the creation of accounts for Mr. Cohen’s LLCs and a $131,000 wire transfer.

    Robert Browning, executive director of the C-SPAN Archives, took the witness stand to allow into evidence several video clips of President Trump’s campaigning. Philip Thompson, a regional director at Esquire Deposition Solutions, testified to the authenticity of a deposition transcript from another Trump case.

    Lawyer Keith Davidson testified next, detailing his representation of Karen McDougal and later Ms. Clifford and his dealings with Mr. Cohen to complete a settlement contract for Ms. Clifford. Several revealing texts were entered into evidence throughout his testimony, showing exchanges between Mr. Davidson and others.

    Then, two members of the district attorney’s office were called to the witness stand. Forensic analyst Doug Daus had reviewed Mr. Cohen’s cell phones, and through his testimony, phone records were admitted into evidence. Paralegal Georgia Longstreet had reviewed President Trump’s social media posts, and several were entered into the record, including ones depicting a change in attitude toward Mr. Cohen.

    Next, Hope Hicks, former Trump campaign communications director, testified and affirmed then-candidate Trump’s schedule on key dates, allowing into evidence emails exchanged within the Trump campaign.

    Jeffrey McConney, former Trump Organization comptroller, testified about his oversight of the process of accepting and processing Mr. Cohen’s invoices, which Mr. McConney categorized as legal expenses, allowing into evidence email exchanges about the payments. Deb Tarasoff, a bookkeeper for The Trump Organization who worked under Mr. McConney, testified that she processed these invoices, cutting the checks that Mr. Trump ultimately signed.

    Sally Franklin with Random House was then called to the witness stand to read into the record several excerpts from Trump books on life and business advice. Later during the trial, Tracey Menzies with Harper Collins read into the records excerpts from other Trump books.

    When Ms. Clifford took the witness stand, it was in a crowded courthouse. Ms. Clifford, whom the judge described as a “difficult to control” witness, gave salacious details in her testimony that led to the defense calling for a mistrial, which the judge denied on the basis that the issues could be resolved during cross-examination.

    Next, Trump Organization employee Rebecca Manochio testified that she shipped checks from Trump Tower to Washington for President Trump to sign in 2017. Former Oval Office Director of Operations Madeleine Westerhout testified that she saw President Trump signing checks, which had been sent through FedEx to bodyguard Keith Schiller and later herself.

    Daniel Dixon with AT&T and Jennie Tomalin with Verizon testified to the authenticity of phone records that were then entered into evidence. Paralegal Jaden Jarmell-Schneider, with the district attorney’s office, created summary charts of records from Mr. Cohen’s phone that the prosecutors believed relevant to the case.

    Finally, Mr. Cohen testified as the final witness for the prosecutors, with testimony lasting a week.

    The defense called few witnesses. Paralegal Danny Sitko, with defense attorney Todd Blanche’s office, had created summary charts of phone records between Mr. Cohen and attorney Robert Costello. Mr. Costello’s testimony refuted claims that Mr. Cohen made that Mr. Costello was meant to keep tabs on him for Rudy Giuliani, who later became an attorney to President Trump.

    Who Didn’t Testify?

    Two people frequently mentioned in testimony were unavailable to the court. The first, Dylan Howard, chief content officer for AMI, initially brought the Clifford deal to the attention of Mr. Pecker and Mr. Cohen. Mr. Howard facilitated the purchase of the three stories mentioned at trial and received and sent many texts shown in court exchanged between him and Mr. Davidson and Mr. Cohen. Mr. Howard now lives in Australia and is unable to travel because of a serious health condition.

    Also unavailable was Allen Weisselberg, who is currently serving a five-month prison sentence for committing perjury in a separate civil fraud case that went to trial last fall. Mr. Weisselberg, former chief financial officer of The Trump Organization, came up with the idea to pay Mr. Cohen $420,000. Mr. Cohen could not testify as to why his reimbursement request for $130,000 was grossed up to $420,000, saying that he “just wanted to get my money back.”

    Mr. Cohen also testified that Mr. Weisselberg requested that he call the payments legal expenses, when Mr. Cohen believed that they were not. Mr. Cohen testified that then-candidate Trump was fully briefed on these issues. President Trump didn’t take the witness stand.

    Why Didn’t Trump Testify?

    In a WABC Radio interview on May 22, President Trump said Justice Juan Merchan had “made rulings that [make] it very difficult to testify.”

    Before the trial, President Trump had made multiple public statements that he was willing to testify in all of his criminal cases. However, Justice Merchan issued a number of rulings leading up to the trial that were intended to prevent President Trump from repeating on the record the messages he often shared just outside the courtroom.

    The defense is barred from making arguments that the case was timed for election interference or that other agencies didn’t want the case but the district attorney picked it up because of political pressure, relying on a tell-all book from a prosecutor who claimed that he left the district attorney’s office in protest when they didn’t indict President Trump. The former president is also prohibited from arguing that he relied on the advice of his then-attorney Mr. Cohen, as the defense opted not to use an advice-of-counsel defense.

    “The other reason is because they have no case,” President Trump said during the WABC interview. “In other words, why testify when they have no case. … There’s no crime.”

    Will the Case Reach the Jury?

    Defense attorneys made two requests for the judge to make a significant decision before turning things over to the jury: to dismiss the case or to find Mr. Cohen’s testimony not credible.

    Justice Merchan is likely to issue a quick ruling on the motion, as he already instructed jurors to be present for closing arguments after the long weekend.

    What Happens Next?

    Justice Merchan asked jurors to prepare for a long day on May 28 following Memorial Day.

    Summations from both sides are expected to last the whole day, and the judge said his instructions to the jury would take an hour.

    Prosecutors will sum up their case by reminding jurors of what they believe is the most compelling evidence. But for the defense, especially having called only two witnesses, this will be a key moment to present their own narrative.

    Defense attorneys are expected to argue that nothing criminal occurred, as the nondisclosure agreements are legal, as is the payment of an attorney for legal services, and that the promotion of a person in an election through lawful means is not a crime.

    On May 21, the judge held a charge conference with attorneys, who debated over what language would be used to instruct jurors on the applicable laws and their interpretation.

    In some cases in which Justice Merchan rejected the attorneys’ proposed language, he said they could argue those points at summations on May 28.

    The charge conference allowed both parties to present to the judge arguments about why certain language would prejudice their side, allowing the judge to put together an instruction script that avoids such prejudice. How the judge delivers this interpretation of the law will inevitably influence the jury’s decision.

    Should jurors be instructed that President Trump needed to have “willfully” concealed intent to defraud? Should the instructions include an example explaining that a legal expense might not classify as a campaign expenditure? Should jurors be told up front all the things prosecutors are not required to show?

    Should jurors be given an example of what it means “to cause a false entry to be made”?

    The jurors will work on May 29, when previously they have taken Wednesdays off, to begin deliberations while closing arguments are still fresh in their minds.

    The jury’s job is to determine the facts of this case and decide whether those actions violated the law.

    If the 12 jurors don’t come to a unanimous decision, the case will end in a mistrial.

    There is no set time in which the jurors are required to return their verdict; a decision could be returned the same day or even take weeks.

    Go deeper ( 6 min. read ) ➝

    News

    NBA Legend Bill Walton Dies at 71

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Bill Walton, a college basketball icon, former NBA MVP and Hall of Famer who then became a legendary broadcaster, died from cancer Monday surrounded by family, the league announced.

    He was 71 years old.

    “Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

    Walton starred at UCLA under John Wooden before being selected No. 1 overall in the 1974 NBA Draft, where he embarked on a career with the Trail Blazers, Clippers and Celtics across 10 seasons — with five seasons entirely lost to foot injuries mixed in.

    He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

    Walton also had a long career as a broadcaster for CBS, NBC and ESPN.

    He initially joined ESPN in 2002 after 12 years at NBC to serve as their lead NBA analyst, and in 2012, he began calling games again with the network — this time as a college basketball analyst for Pac-12 broadcasts, where he became a figure symbolic of and connected with a league that held its final basketball games this year and final conference tournament this week with baseball.

    Walton, who won one NBA title with Portland and another with Boston, became known for his unique style of broadcasting, with bizarre and hilarious moments scattered throughout the games that often had little to do with the action on the court.

    There was the cupcake getting shoved into his mouth with a candle still burning.

    The collection of vibrant shirts.

    The camera with peanut butter that he licked.

    The easy-going nature — and so many other iconic moments while wearing a headset — that helped him mesh with a variety of play-by-play broadcasters.

    It all shaped the latest chapter in his legacy that didn’t even begin until after he retired from the NBA.

    “It’s very hard to put into words what he has meant to UCLA’s program, as well as his tremendous impact on college basketball,” UCLA head coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. Beyond his remarkable accomplishments as a player, it’s his relentless energy, enthusiasm for the game and unwavering candor that have been the hallmarks of his larger than life personality.”

    After Walton’s death was announced, memories, messages and iconic clips from Walton’s broadcasts were posted on X — with former players such as Julius Erving and former broadcasters such as Jason Benetti sharing tributes.

    Jay Bilas, a former Duke star who now serves as an ESPN college basketball analyst, said during a segment with the network that Walton might’ve been one of the greatest players to ever compete in college basketball.

    Walton had four sons — Nate, Adam, Chris and Luke, who has embarked on a coaching career and served as the head coach for the Lakers and Kings — and was also survived by his wife, Lori.

    “As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position,” Silver continued in his statement. “His unique all-around skills made him a dominant force at UCLA and led to an NBA regular-season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships and a spot on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams. Bill then translated his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, where he delivered insightful and colorful commentary which entertained generations of basketball fans.

    “But what I will remember most about him was his zest for life. He was a regular presence at league events — always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. I treasured our close friendship, envied his boundless energy and admired the time he took with every person he encountered.”

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Joe Biden Makes Surprise Nighttime Visit to Hunter’s Ex Days Before She Testifies in First Son’s Gun Trial

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    President Biden made a surprise nighttime visit to the Delaware home of Hallie Biden on Sunday — just before she’s due to serve as one of the most important witnesses at first son Hunter Biden’s federal trial for alleged gun crimes.

    Biden stopped by Hallie’s home around 8 p.m. for a brief private talk eight days before the 54-year-old first son’s trial is scheduled to stand trial beginning June 3.

    Hallie dated Hunter at the time of his alleged gun crimes and is one of a dozen expected witnesses.

    She was married to the president’s son Beau Biden, who died in 2015 of brain cancer, before her relationship with his troubled younger brother.

    Prosecutors allege Hunter lied about his drug use on gun purchase forms and then briefly illegally possessed at least one weapon — which Hallie disposed of in a public dumpster in 2018.

    Although many commentators noted the awkward optics due to the looming trial, the visit came four days before the anniversary of Beau’s death.

    White House spokesman Andrew Bates told The Post that the president didn’t discuss the trial with Hallie Biden during the visit.

    “No,” he replied. “He visited her because of the approaching 9th anniversary of Beau’s passing.”

    The first son faces the possibility of prison time in his first of two scheduled criminal trials.

    Hunter is also set to stand trial in Los Angeles in September for allegedly failing to pay more than $1.4 million in federal taxes from 2016-2019.

    The pair of criminal trials follow an alleged Justice Department coverup to shield the Biden family from liability for foreign business dealings in which Joe Biden played a recurring role.

    Hunter agreed to a probation-only plea deal to the gun and tax crimes last June, but walked away from the “sweetheart” bargain at a July court hearing at which his attorneys demanded broad immunity of past conduct, including violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which could implicate his father.

    The 81-year-old president, an attorney and former law school instructor, has boasted of his past legal exploits — with the serial embellisher telling Howard Stern last month that as a young lawyer he had worked on “a couple murder cases,” though none are publicly known.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Mike Tyson Suffers Medical Emergency on Plane to Los Angeles

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Boxing legend Mike Tyson had a medical scare, becoming nauseous and dizzy on a flight from Miami to Los Angeles on Sunday, his representatives told the New York Post.

    However, his team says the 57-year-old is “doing great” after the incident that occurred just before landing.

    “He became nauseous and dizzy due to an ulcer flare up 30 minutes before landing,” his representatives said in an email to The Post. “He is appreciative to the medical staff that were there to help him.”

    In Touch Weekly was first to report Tyson’s scare, which they categorized as a “medical emergency.”

    “Mike had some kind of medical emergency on the plane and paramedics boarded,” a source told In Touch Weekly. “Before the paramedics arrived, the flight issued an announcement asking for a doctor – the message even came on everyone’s screens.”

    That could certainly be a scary moment for all those involved who were unaware of what Tyson was going through. Luckily, it appears Tyson is doing much better.

    The medical scare reportedly delayed passengers from leaving the plane for 25 minutes.

    “He was in first class, but we were in an exit row and the stewardess was very chatty,” a source told In Touch Weekly. “They asked us to stay on the plane and landed, so paramedics could enter. She said something like, ‘He’s a really important passenger so we wanna make sure he’s OK.’ I knew it was him, but I just mouthed the words ‘Mike Tyson,’ and she nodded her head yes.”

    This scare for Tyson comes before his fight with Jake Paul, the YouTuber-turned-boxer, on July 20 at AT&T Stadium. The fight was sanctioned, meaning this will count toward both boxers’ professional records.

    There are some who have questioned whether Tyson can physically get back in the ring again. He will turn 58 years old next month (June 30), and he openly said his body feels like “s— right now” with soreness, during a press conference for the fight earlier this month.

    But, while he’s honest about how his body feels training for the fight, Tyson’s signature confidence has also been on display.

    “He’s going to knock me out? Anderson Silva. He couldn’t even knock out the little guys, how’s he going to knock me out?” Tyson said, while previously bringing up Paul’s fight with Nate Diaz as well

    “He never knocked out a real man, come on. He didn’t knock out Tommy Fury. I’m going to f— Jake up.”

    Meanwhile, Paul, 27, has oozed confidence throughout the press tour thus far.

    “I’m going to show the world that I can outbox Mike Tyson, prove everyone wrong, and show that I will be the one doing the killing,” Paul said in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.

    The last time Tyson was in a boxing ring for a fight was an exhibition against Roy Jones Jr. in November 2020, which resulted in a draw. Tyson last fought in a sanctioned fight in June 2005.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    RFK Jr. on Verge of Making Debates

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a shot to make the June presidential debate, but the clock is ticking on two challenging thresholds.

    He would be the first independent presidential candidate to make the debate stage in 32 years — and just the third in presidential debate history.

    Kennedy has the financial support, aggressive ballot access plan and strong polling to make his long-shot endeavor a fight.

    Kennedy has blasted Biden and Trump over the June debate, accusing them of “colluding” against his campaign to “avoid discussion of their eight years of mutual failure.”

    Instead of having until September to get on enough state ballots to qualify for a debate, Kennedy now has about a month.

    Former President Trump and President Biden agreed earlier this month to forgo the traditional fall debates held by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

    Ross Perot, the last independent presidential candidate to make the debate stage, didn’t qualify for the ballot in all 50 states until Sept. 18, 1992, per CNN. (He briefly suspended his campaign from July to September).

    To qualify, Kennedy has to hit at least 15% in four national polls that meet CNN’s standards and achieve ballot access in enough states to have a chance at winning 270 electoral votes.

    Kennedy, polling higher than any independent candidate since Perot, appears to have met the polling requirement in three polls.

    He received 16% among registered voters in two polls from last month that meet CNN’s requirement, CNN/SSRS and Quinnipiac University.

    Kennedy drew 17% in a Marquette Law School Poll of registered voters out this week, another CNN-approved poll.

    He has until June 20 to qualify in a fourth poll.

    Kennedy’s campaign has launched a robust ballot access plan to get him on ballots before the election, but not by June 27.

    Five states confirmed to ABC News that Kennedy had qualified for the ballot — Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Oklahoma and Utah, totaling 35 electoral votes.

    The Kennedy campaign says it has submitted signatures for ballot access in seven states, totaling 139 electoral votes. It has collected enough signatures for eight other states, the campaign said.

    The secretary of state offices still have to validate many of the signatures, a process that is out of Kennedy’s control.

    Signature collection isn’t due in many states until late summer, per Ballot Access News, so there’s no way to know how long verification could take.

    Kennedy campaign director Amaryllis Fox wrote on the social media platform X earlier this month that enforcing a 270 electoral college threshold before September is “nonsensical.”

    “Nonetheless, thanks to the exceptional dedication of our tens of thousands of volunteers across the country, we are in a position to meet their criteria. And we shall do so.”

    Kennedy’s ballot access mission has gotten a boost from the strong financial support of his running mate, Nicole Shanahan.

    Shanahan, a lawyer who is the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, has given $10 million to their campaign.

    That’s on top of the $4 million she gave to the super PAC supporting Kennedy’s campaign that ran an ad during the Super Bowl.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Bibi Apologized for Rafah Airstrike Killing 45-Plus, Many War Refuges in Tents

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday blamed a “tragic mistake” for displaced civilians getting killed in a tent city in Rafah, a strike that sparked widespread condemnation, even from key allies.

    The prime minister addressed his parliament Monday as Hamas-run health officials reported Sunday’s attack on Gaza killed 45 people, including women and children — and as an Egyptian soldier was killed in a separate gunfight in the border region, further stoking tensions.

    “Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night, there was a tragic mistake,” Netanyahu told the Knesset Monday of Sunday’s strikes sparking a giant blaze in the tent city.

    “We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion because this is our policy,” he added above shouted objections from opposition members.

    Israel had initially called it a counterattack “against legitimate targets” after Hamas for the first time in months fired a barrage of rockets Sunday.

    The strike eliminated Hamas’ chief of staff for the second and larger Palestinian territory, the West Bank, plus another official behind deadly attacks on Israelis, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said.

    However, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry claimed that more than half of the dead were women, children, and elderly people who’d fled to the area after being displaced by violence elsewhere. The death toll will likely rise with many left with severe burns, according to those officials.

    The Israeli military’s top legal official said authorities were examining the strikes and that the military regrets the loss of civilian life.

    Still, Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi warned that such tragedies are inevitable “in a war of such scope and intensity.”

    Rafah, which is on the border with Egypt, has been packed with over one million people who were displaced from other parts of Gaza earlier in the Israel-Hamas war.

    Survivors said families were preparing to sleep when the strike hit the Tel Al-Sultan neighbourhood where thousands were sheltering after Israeli forces began a ground offensive in the east of Rafah over two weeks ago.

    “We were getting our children’s beds ready to sleep. There was nothing unusual, then we heard a very loud noise, and fire erupted around us,” said Umm Mohamed Al-Attar, a Palestinian mother in a red headscarf.

    Suddenly, they heard a missile and “all the children started screaming,” the mom recalled. “The sound was terrifying.”

    The civilian deaths brought a new wave of condemnation, even from some of Israel’s close allies.

    “These operations must stop,” French President Emmanuel Macron posted on X. “I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.”

    Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said in a TV interview that such bombings are “spreading hatred, rooting hatred that will involve their children and grandchildren.”

    Qatar, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas in attempts to secure a cease-fire and the release of hostages held by Hamas, said the Rafah strike could “complicate” talks.

    The foreign ministry in Egypt — which separately announced the “martyrdom” of a soldier killed in gunfire in the region Monday — condemned the strike as a “new and blatant violation of the rules of humanitarian international law.”

    Jordan’s Foreign Ministry called it a “war crime.”

    The United Nation’s Middle East envoy, Tor Wennesland, said he was “deeply troubled” by the strikes and called upon Israel to “conduct a thorough and transparent investigation,” the Times of Israel reported.

    The UN’s top court last week demanded Israel immediately halt the Rafah assault.

    The US urged Israel to take more care to protect civilians, but stopped short of calling for a halt to the Rafah incursion.

    “Israel has a right to go after Hamas, and we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists who are responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians,” a National Security Council spokesperson said.

    “But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians.”

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

    News

    North Korean Rocket Carrying Its 2nd Spy Satellite Explodes in Mid-Air

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    A rocket launched by North Korea to deploy the country’s second spy satellite exploded shortly after liftoff Monday, state media reported, in a setback for leader Kim Jong Un’s hopes to field satellites to monitor the U.S. and South Korea.

    Monday’s failed launch came hours after leaders of South Korea, China and Japan met in Seoul in their first trilateral meeting in more than four years. It’s highly unusual for North Korea to take provocative action when China, its major ally and economic pipeline, is engaging in high-level diplomacy in the region.

    The launch drew rebukes from the North’s neighbors because the U.N. bans North Korea from conducting any such launches, viewing them as covers for testing long-range missile technology.

    The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said it launched a spy satellite aboard a new rocket at its main northwestern space center. But KCNA said the rocket blew up during a first-stage flight soon after liftoff due to a suspected engine problem.

    KCNA cited the unidentified vice director of the National Aerospace Technology Administration as saying that a preliminary examination showed that the explosion was related to the reliability of operation of the newly developed liquid oxygen-petroleum engine. He said other possible causes will be investigated, according to KCNA.

    Japan’s government briefly issued a missile warning for the southern prefecture of Okinawa, urging residents to take shelter inside buildings and other safer places. The warning was lifted later because the region was no longer in danger, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

    Earlier Monday, North Korea had notified Japan’s coast guard about its plans to launch “a satellite rocket,” with a warning to exercise caution in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and China and east of the main Philippine island of Luzon during a launch window from Monday through June 3.

    North Korea has steadfastly maintained it has the right to launch satellites and test missiles.

    Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara called the North’s launch “a serious challenge to the entire world.” South Korea’s Unification Ministry called a satellite launch by the North “a provocation that seriously threatens our and regional security.”

    During the trilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Qiang earlier Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called for stern international action if North Korea went ahead with its launch plan.

    Kishida, for his part, urged the North to withdraw its launch plan, but Li didn’t mention the launch plan as he offered general comments about promoting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula through a political resolution.

    Some observers say that North Korea’s satellite launch on the first day of its eight-day window might have been aimed at casting a chill over the Seoul-Beijing-Tokyo meeting and registering its displeasure with China. Kim Jong Un has been embracing the idea of a “new Cold War” and seeking to boost ties with Beijing and Moscow to forge a united front against Washington, so China’s diplomacy with Seoul and Tokyo might have been a disturbing development for Pyongyang.

    Kim’s primary focus in recent months has been on Russia, as Pyongyang and Moscow — both locked in confrontations with Washington — expand their military cooperation. China, which is much more sensitive about its international reputation, has joined Russia in blocking U.S.-led efforts at the U.N. Security Council to tighten sanctions on the North but has been less bold and open about supporting Kim’s “new Cold War” drive.

    North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Monday strongly criticized a joint statement issued by Li, Yoon and Kishida, calling them “wanton interference in its internal affairs.” The ministry took issue with parts of the joint statement that said the three leaders re-emphasized their existing positions on the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    While North Korea focused much of its criticism on South Korea for allegedly being chiefly responsible for the statement, it’s still extremely rare for North Korea to slam a statement signed by China.

    The failed satellite launch is a blow to Kim’s plan to launch three more military spy satellites in 2024 in addition to his country’s first military reconnaissance satellite that was placed in orbit last November.

    The November launch followed two failed liftoffs.

    In the first attempt, the North Korean rocket carrying the satellite crashed into the ocean soon after liftoff. After the second attempt, North Korea said there was an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight.

    South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday it detected a launch trajectory believed to be of a spy satellite fired from the North’s main space center at 10:44 p.m. on Monday. Four minutes later, many fragments were spotted in the waters, it said.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Senate Rankings: 10 Seats Most Likely to Flip

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Republicans are increasingly optimistic they can end their four-year stint in the Senate minority and topple the incumbents Democrats are relying on to carry the cycle with less than six months until Election Day.

    Here are 10 Senate seats that could change hands later this year.

    West Virginia

    To keep it short and sweet: Unless something drastic happens, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) will replace retiring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) next year. The only question is how big his victory will be.

    Montana

    The battle in Big Sky is one of the most important races on the map, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and businessman Tim Sheehy locked in a battle that could go down to the wire.

    Tester has attempted to burnish his border bona fides as the issue continues to be a top concern and potential headache in his quest to win over supporters of former President Trump, who carried the state by more than 16 points.

    Staring down GOP ads on the topic, the three-term senator in recent weeks has confronted Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin over the “unacceptable” situation at the border and became the first Democrat to sponsor the GOP-led Laken Riley Act (despite voting against it as an amendment). He also voted for the bipartisan border bill that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) brought to the floor.

    Whether that will be enough to overcome popular conceptions about Democrats and the border is an open question.

    “Few Democrats take border security as seriously as Jon Tester, but he and other battleground state Democrats are fighting an uphill political battle given the Democratic Party’s abysmal brand on this issue,” said John LaBombard, a Democratic strategist with Rokk Solutions who previously served as a top aide to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

    “Every opportunity to remind voters of his record, and that he is independent from the party base on this issue, will help on the margins,” LaBombard said. “And in this race, the margins will matter.”

    Ohio

    The other unquestioned top-tier race is in the Buckeye State, where Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is attempting a high-wire act in order to defeat Republican Bernie Moreno and secure a fourth term in office.

    Despite Ohio’s rightward turn during the Trump years, Brown remains the rare Democrat voters still view in high regard. A March poll showed that Brown holds a double-digit net-positive approval rating, giving him a leg up in what was once the most prominent battleground state in the country.

    But the national political environment is doing Brown no favors this year. Democratic operatives expect Biden to fall in the state by at least 8 percentage points, with that figure potentially hitting double digits. That would create a big mountain for Brown to climb, requiring hundreds of thousands of ticket splitters.

    For now, Brown’s game plan centers on using his big-money operation to bruise Moreno. One Democratic operative noted that outside of Trump’s endorsement of the GOP nominee, not much is known about the Republican nominee.

    Despite the state’s red hue becoming redder by the year, Republicans know they are in for a fight in November.

    “It’s a tough challenge. Sherrod’s a popular incumbent. People know who he is,” said Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio). “I think that Bernie’s going to win, but it’s not going to be an easy race.”

    Pennsylvania

    When McConnell was asked recently about the states the GOP has in its sights, he name-checked Pennsylvania, where Republicans are looking to David McCormick to topple Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.

    Republicans are largely united on two points: that McCormick is doing everything he possibly can to put himself in position for a November win, but that actually beating Casey, the scion of a formidable political family in the state, is one of the most difficult tasks at hand this cycle.

    “He’s doing everything right. He’s running the campaign he should have run the first time around against [Mehmet Oz],” one Pennsylvania GOP strategist said. “Smartly, he’s actually fundraising instead of self-funding, and, most importantly, he’s been super visible.”

    Republicans fear that all Casey needs to do to win is be mistake-free, with the GOP strategist in the state saying he is “Teflon” and “nothing sticks.” Republicans are increasingly of the belief that the most likely avenue for McCormick to get across the finish line is a bottoming out by Biden ahead of November.

    According to the Pennsylvania-based GOP operative, internal polling across the state is showing Democrats ahead of Republicans across down-ballot races, including at the local and congressional levels.

    “But the one constant is that Biden is underwater everywhere,” they added.

    Nevada

    Sen. Jacky Rosen’s (D-Nev.) bid for a second term is running into national turbulence.

    Rosen, a first-term senator, has long been considered a difficult opponent for Republicans. With little to effectively attack her on personally, the GOP has been forced to tie her to larger Democratic narratives and hope the political environment can carry the day — and they might just get that this cycle.

    “Southwestern states are feeling the brunt of the economic pain more than anywhere,” the Democratic operative said. “And it’s hard to see what the Biden campaign is doing to change the narrative.”

    Most surveys of the state show a tight race at the top of the ticket, with Trump either leading Biden narrowly or a deadlocked race. The question is whether the former president can help likely Republican Senate nominee Sam Brown rise in the Senate race.

    Brown, the prohibitive favorite for the state’s June GOP primary and the choice of national Republicans, was buoyed by a recent New York Times/Siena College poll that showed the race tied, though a second survey by Emerson College/The Hill shows Rosen holding an 8-point advantage.

    Arizona

    It’s been a rollicking couple of months in Arizona. Republican Kari Lake’s fortunes fell precipitously as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) gained an early advantage in the key battleground state.

    Lake, who lost the 2022 gubernatorial contest, has experienced a tumultuous stretch in recent months. On abortion, one of the hot-button issues of the 2024 cycle, Lake criticized state officials for not enforcing a Civil War-era abortion ban that the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated (it was later overturned by the state Legislature), despite having initially called for it to be repealed.

    She has also been on the back foot on the airwaves and has been unable to catch up to Gallego’s fundraising. Gallego raised $7.5 million in the first fundraising quarter compared to $3.6 million for Lake, who continues to struggle to pull moderate Republicans and independents into her fold.

    Multiple surveys show Gallego in the driver’s seat to replace Sinema, who decided against seeking a second term. Polls conducted by CBS News and Noble Predictive Insights show him with 13- and 10-point leads over Lake.

    Michigan

    Both parties are keeping a keen eye on the battle in Michigan as Republicans look to nab their first Senate win there in more than two decades.

    Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) is the slight favorite to replace Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), the No. 3 Senate Democrat who is retiring after four terms in office. But Republicans are putting their best foot forward after they successfully recruited former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), something party leaders have tried and failed to do since he left the House a decade ago.

    Rogers has widespread institutional support, including Trump’s endorsement and the backing of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But Michigan’s primary isn’t until August, leaving the door slightly ajar to a challenge from businessman Sandy Pensler, which has yet to materialize.

    According to an Emerson College/The Hill poll taken in the last month, Rogers holds a commanding lead over the primary field, which also includes former Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.).

    While the race remains an uphill climb for Republicans given the dynamics of the state, Democrats are watching how much national GOP groups spend on the race in the coming months in order to keep a lid on Slotkin’s favorables, and how money on each side of the aisle moves in and out of the state.

    “Where does the map shift late? Slotkin is the favorite, but in past cycles there are shifts late where states that are percolating around edges either fall off or come online,” the Democratic operative said. “If Ohio and Montana look out of reach for Dems, do Republicans get greedy and try to pick up a state like Michigan?”

    Wisconsin

    It hasn’t been the easiest couple of months for Eric Hovde.

    Hovde, the likely GOP nominee, is set to face off with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) in November, but has found himself behind the eight ball early on in multiple ways.

    The wealthy businessman found himself in hot water last month when he said that older voters living in nursing homes “have a five-, six-month life expectancy” and that “almost nobody in a nursing home is at a point to vote.” Democrats immediately seized on those comments, with Baldwin saying that Hovde “does not have a clue what he’s talking about.”

    Hovde also has found himself behind in early polls. Five surveys released since mid-April have shown Baldwin leading by between 3 and 13 percentage points.

    “He needs to win every month, and I don’t know that he’s won one yet,” one national GOP operative said.

    But Baldwin is not out of the woods by any means. She, like many others on this list, is contending with the Biden factor, but has thus far found herself running far ahead of him in what will be one of the hardest-fought battleground contests this year.

    Maryland

    Democrats are breathing easy after Prince George County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) defeated Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) in what ended up being one of the bloodiest primary fights on either side of the aisle.

    But the work on the left is far from over, as Alsobrooks will square off with former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in November.

    Democrats are squarely in the driver’s seat given the state’s dark-blue hue, with Biden carrying the state by 32 percentage points four years ago — the third-biggest win margin of any state he carried. But they are not underestimating the super-popular Hogan, who enjoyed sky-high approval ratings during his eight years in Annapolis that follow him today.

    Still, top Democrats remain confident.

    “She will beat him. She will absolutely win this election,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told The Hill. “But this is going to be a tough race, and she will take nothing for granted. None of us are taking anything for granted in this race.”

    Hogan has made waves in recent weeks by declaring himself pro-choice and saying that abortion rights should be codified, which Democrats say is a pure flip-flop.

    “Now people are asking: Which Larry Hogan am I talking to today?” Van Hollen said.

    Texas

    It’s become a familiar refrain: A much-derided Senate Republican runs for reelection in a red state, prompting Democrats and progressives to flood the state with money in a bid to take them down.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the subject of such a push six years ago, but survived a real challenge from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). Now, Democrats are trying again with Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas).

    Despite their high hopes, Cruz remains in pole position to win a third term, with his supporters seeing little in common between his 2018 challenger and the Democrat looking to unseat him this go-around.

    “Beto fancied himself the next JFK … He really played up that image,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “[O’Rourke] was just kind of like the next coolest thing, but I don’t think Allred’s got that going for him.”

    Go deeper ( 7 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Libertarians Pick Chase Oliver as Nominee for President

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Political activist Chase Oliver has been named the Libertarian Party’s 2024 presidential nominee.

    The final vote on Sunday night came down to Oliver or “none of the above” after author Michael Rectenwald was eliminated from contention. If Oliver were not chosen, the party would have had complications with their representation in November’s presidential election.

    Oliver won the final vote with 60% supporting him, per Washington Post reporter Meryl Kornfield.

    In his victory speech, he asked his fellow party members to help him “fight the war machine,” including the “genocide in Gaza.” He also demanded the Israeli hostages held by Hamas be released.

    Oliver chose economist Mike ter Maat as his running mate.

    Oliver, who has described himself as “armed and gay,” will be the party’s youngest-ever nominee at age 38. According to his website, here’s where he stands on the issues:

    Neither presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump nor independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made it through the Libertarian Party’s nomination process on Sunday.

    Trump did not qualify as he is not a member of the party, and RFK Jr. did not receive enough votes in the first round of voting to continue to the next round and was eliminated.

    First making his name by opposing the United States’s war in Iraq in 2003, Oliver was the Libertarian Party’s 2022 candidate for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat.

    He finished a distant third place to Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

    Oliver’s campaign website touts the fact that he “garnered national attention” from debating Warnock (with Walker opting not to attend) and forcing a runoff between the Democrat and Republican.

    He says that he “wants to bring a new vision to the broken two-party system as he runs for President of the United States.”

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    ‘General Hospital’ Actor Shot and Killed After Theft Gone Wrong in Downtown LA

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Johnny Wactor — an actor best known for appearing in nearly 200 episodes of “General Hospital” — has died, TMZ reported.

    Wactor was shot and killed in downtown Los Angeles early Saturday morning, his mother Scarlett tells TMZ. She says Johnny was with a coworker when they saw three men messing with Johnny’s car. While authorities haven’t release his name, this matches the description of an incident where three suspects allegedly tried to steal a catalytic converter.

    Scarlett says she was told Johnny didn’t try to fight or stop them … but, the men shot him anyway before taking off. According to police info, paramedics rushed to the scene just after 3 AM PT. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

    Police have not provided a description of the suspects … but, Johnny’s mother says she hopes they’ll be found quickly.

    Johnny got his start in acting back in 2007 on the hit Lifetime show “Army Wives,” playing a few different roles before working steadily over the next two decades.

    Some of his bigger credits include “Westworld,” “The OA,” “NCIS,” “Station 19,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Hollywood Girl.”

    Many of Johnny’s fans will remember him for his time on ‘GH’ where he played Brando Corbin — married to drug addict Sasha Corbin in the series.

    He played the role from 2020 until his character was written off the program in 2022.

    Wactor’s mother remembers him as a loving young man … adding his death leaves a huge hole in the family’s heart.

    He’s survived by his mother, and his younger brothers Lance and Grant. He was 37.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

    News

    WATCH: Trump Cheered at NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Former President Trump on Sunday flew over the Coca-Cola 600 in North Carolina in his private plane, dubbed “Trump Force One,” before attending the NASCAR race.

    Trump Force One flew over the Charlotte Motor Speedway around 4:30 p.m. Sunday and was met with scores of cheering from the audience.

    “Passing over the Charlotte Motor Speedway now – Very exciting! DJT,” the former president wrote on Truth Social Sunday.

    The Coca-Cola 600 is a NASCAR Cup Series race that is the longest and only one in the series that goes from day-to-night in Concord, North Carolina. The race was slated to kick off at 6:00 p.m. EST.

    Ahead of the Sunday night kickoff, Trump met with Gold Star families at the race and watched the C-17 flyover from the track, according to his deputy director of communications, Margo Martin.

    Videos posted by Martin showed attendees shouting “USA” and “You’re our man Trump” as the former president made his way to the “Pit Road” viewing box at the speedway.

    Watch:

    Trump’s visit marks the first time a sitting or former president has attended a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, per multiple media reports. In 2020, Trump attended the 62nd Daytona 500 and served as grand marshal for the race. He was the second president in history to hold the title after President George W. Bush in 2004.

    Democrats seized his visit as a chance to blast Trump and his policy positions.

    The Charlottee Observer in North Carolina reported last week two billboards were hung up in the city that read, “Beware: Trump’s Extreme MAGA,” and pledge not to allow the former president to “ban abortions nationwide, raise costs on working families or rip away our health care.”

    The billboards were reportedly paid for by the Democratic National Convention (DNC), per the Charlotte Observer.

    Trump, the GOP party’s presumptive presidential nominee, currently holds a razor-thin lead of 1 percent over President Biden, the Democratic presumptive presidential nominee.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    ‘The Apprentice’ Trump Biopic Shut Out at Cannes

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    “The Apprentice,” a new biopic about former President Trump’s rise in the real estate industry, did not clinch any awards at the Cannes Film Festival over the weekend.

    The biopic is directed by Iranian Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi and stars actor Sebastian Stan playing the then-New York real estate developer Trump and Jeremy Strong as Trump’s real-life former attorney and mentor Roy Cohn. The movie reportedly received an eight-minute standing ovation after it premiered at the festival.

    The film failed to take home any awards, with the top prize going to “Anora,” a romantic drama set in New York. Filmmaker Sean Baker became the first American to win the top award, the Palme d’Or, since 2011 with that film.

    Some reports about “The Apprentice” said it depicted Trump’s relationships with Cohn and his first wife, Ivana, in a negative light. An attorney for the former president sent a cease-and-desist letter to the filmmakers behind the movie on Friday, alleging that the film is “a concoction of lies that repeatedly defames” Trump.

    “If you do not immediately cease and desist all distribution and marketing of this libelous farce, we will be forced to pursue all appropriate legal remedies,” the letter stated.

    The move comes after Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung warned last week that the campaign would sue those behind “The Apprentice” film, alleging that it has “blatantly false assertions.”

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

    The film’s producers told Variety it was “a fair and balanced portrait of the former president.”

    “We want everyone to see it and then decide,” they said.

    Variety reported ahead of last week’s premiere that Dan Synder, an investor in the film through film company Kinematics and an ally of Trump, was not happy with the outcome of the movie, citing anonymous sources.

    He was reportedly furious and had Kinematics’s lawyers come in to attempt to stop the release of the movie, according to Variety.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    UK Conservatives Pitch Mandatory National Service at 18

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Britain’s Conservative Party will introduce mandatory national service for 18-year-olds if it wins the national election on July 4, comprising military or community participation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday.

    Young adults will be able to choose between spending one weekend a month volunteering over the course of a year, or take up one of 30,000 spaces to spend a year in the armed forces, Sunak said.

    The announcement followed Labour Party leader Keir Starmer’s comments on Saturday that he was in favour of allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote.

    Sunak’s Conservatives lag Labour by a wide margin in opinion polls, which have shown little change in fortunes for the prime minister since his surprise election call last Wednesday.

    “Britain today faces a future that is more dangerous and more divided. There’s no doubt that our democratic values are under threat. That is why we will introduce a bold new model of national service for 18-year-olds,” Sunak said in a statement.

    The Conservative Party said the proposal would be funded by cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion, and by diverting money from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which existed to reduce regional economic inequality.

    Labour politicians derided the announcement.

    “The national service we need from our young people is to vote for change on 4th July,” said Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester.

    Interior minister James Cleverly told broadcasters there would be no criminal sanctions for skipping mandatory service but that people will be compelled to do it, without providing further details.

    Asked by the BBC if forcing adults to volunteer was at odds with the Conservative Party’s liberal tradition, Cleverly said: “We force people to do things all the time.”

    He cited compulsory education or training for teenagers until the age of 18 as an example.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

    News

    WHO Global Pandemic Treaty Has Failed, Negotiations Break Down

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    A global treaty to fight pandemics like COVID is going to have to wait: After more than two years of negotiations, rich and poor countries have failed — for now — to come up with a plan for how the world might respond to the next pandemic.

    After COVID-19 triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies and killed millions, leaders at the World Health Organization and worldwide vowed to do better in the future. In 2021, member countries asked the U.N. health agency to oversee negotiations to figure out how the world might better share scarce resources and stop future viruses from spreading globally.

    On Friday, Roland Driece, co-chair of WHO’s negotiating board for the agreement, acknowledged that countries were unable to come up with a draft. WHO had hoped a final draft treaty could be agreed on at its yearly meeting of health ministers starting Monday in Geneva.

    “We are not where we hoped we would be when we started this process,” he said, adding that finalizing an international agreement on how to respond to a pandemic was critical “for the sake of humanity.”

    Driece said the World Health Assembly next week would take up lessons from its work and plot the way forward, urging participants to make “the right decisions to take this process forward” to one day reach a pandemic agreement “because we need it.”

    The draft treaty had attempted to address the gap that occurred between COVID-19 vaccines in rich and poorer countries, which WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said amounted to “a catastrophic moral failure.”

    Addressing a sullen final day of negotiations, the WHO chief insisted, “This is not a failure.”

    “We will try everything — believing that anything is possible — and make this happen because the world still needs a pandemic treaty,” he said. “Because many of the challenges that caused a serious impact during COVID-19 still exist.”

    The accord’s aim was to set guidelines for how the WHO’s 194 member countries might stop future pandemics and better share resources. But experts warned there were virtually no consequences for countries that don’t comply.

    The co-chairs of the treaty-drafting process didn’t specify what caused the logjam, but diplomats have said vast differences remained over sharing of information about pathogens that emerge and the sharing of technologies to fight them.

    The latest draft had proposed that WHO should get 20% of the production of pandemic-related products like tests, treatments and vaccines and urges countries to disclose their deals with private companies.

    Earlier this month, U.S. Republican senators wrote to the Biden administration, arguing that the draft treaty focused on issues like “shredding intellectual property rights” and “supercharging the WHO.” They urged Biden not to sign off.

    Britain’s department of health said it would only agree to an accord if it adhered to British national interest and sovereignty.

    Meanwhile, many developing countries said it’s unfair that they might be expected to provide virus samples to help develop vaccines and treatments, but then be unable to afford them.

    Precious Matsoso, the other co-chair of WHO’s negotiating board for the pandemic treaty, said there was still an opportunity to reach agreement and that efforts wouldn’t stop — despite the inability to reach a deal on Friday.

    “We will make sure that this happens, because when the next pandemic hits, it will not spare us,” she said.

    Tedros, the WHO chief, said there should be no regrets.

    “What matters now is when do we learn from this and how can we reset things, recalibrate things, identify the main challenges, and then move on,” he said.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Biden to Lift Ban on Sale of Weapons to Saudi Arabia

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    The United States is expected to lift a ban on the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, potentially in the coming weeks, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

    Washington has already signaled to Saudi Arabia that it was prepared to lift the ban, the newspaper reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

    Soon after taking office in 2021, Biden adopted a tougher stance over Saudi Arabia’s campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, which has inflicted heavy civilian casualties, and over Riyadh’s human rights record, in particular the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal Khashoggi.

    Saudi Arabia, the biggest U.S. arms customer, has chafed under those restrictions, which froze the kind of weapons sales that previous U.S. administrations had provided for decades.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were very close to concluding a set of agreements on nuclear energy, security and defense cooperation, the bilateral component of a wider normalisation deal with Riyadh and Israel.

    However, lifting the ban on offensive weapons sales were not directly linked to these talks, FT said.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Israel Kills 2 Hamas Top Commanders in Rafah

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    There’s word of a new airstrike on Rafah on Sunday, just hours after Hamas lobbed rockets from Gaza into Israel overnight, as we shared earlier.

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirms that it launched the strike against a Hamas compound, and took out two of the terror group’s top commanders, Fox News Digital reported:

    While the exact number of killed remains unclear at this time, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that it struck a Hamas compound in Rafah in which “significant Hamas terrorists were operating.”

    The IDF, citing intelligence that it said indicated Hamas’ use of the area, said it carried out the strike “against legitimate targets under international law.”

    Statements like that have become crucial for Israel, just days after the ICC, while accusing the Jewish state of war crimes, demanded that it end attacks in Rafah.

    The report continued with details on who the Hamas leaders were and their ties to previous terror attacks killing Israelis:

    IDF sources told Fox News Digital the strike eliminated Yassin Rabia, the commander of Hamas’ leadership in Judea and Samaria, as well as Khaled Nagar, a senior official in Hamas’ Judea and Samaria wing.

    The IDF said that both men had perpetrated numerous terrorist attacks in the early 2000s in which Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed.

    The IDF acknowledged reports that “several civilians in the area were harmed” from the airstrike and a subsequent fire. It said the incident is “under review.”

    Since Hamas is known to operate out of civilian areas, it’s no surprise that there are also reports of some civilians killed in the attack, though it is unknown how many total people were killed:

    The Red Crescent Society said Israel had designated the location a “humanitarian area.” The neighborhood is not included in areas that Israel’s military ordered evacuated this month.

    Of course, the Palestinian health officials who are an arm of Hamas claim more than “several” civilians were killed in the attack:

    Palestinian health and civil emergency service officials, meanwhile, say the airstrike killed at least 35 Palestinians and wounded dozens more.

    A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the death toll is likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continue in Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, more than a mile northwest of the city center.

    Luckily, there have been no reported injuries so far from Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel, which are thought to be the “first long-range attacks” since Jan:

    There were no immediate reports of casualties in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January. Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility. Israel’s military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from Rafah and “a number” were intercepted and the launcher was destroyed.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    4 Massachusetts Teen Girls Stabbed In Random Movie Theater Attack — Trans Suspect Arrested

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    A knife-wielding man went on a stabbing rampage in Massachusetts on Saturday evening. Police believe there were two separate stabbing attacks by the same suspect, including the assault of young girls at a movie theater. Law enforcement sources said the suspect is also connected to a murder investigation in Connecticut.

    Around 6 p.m. on Saturday, a man entered the AMC movie theater in Braintree, Massachusetts. He allegedly walked straight past the ticket booth and entered one of the theaters without paying.

    Without any warning, the suspect reportedly stabbed four young girls inside the AMC Braintree 10. The four girls stabbed in the unprovoked attack ranged in age from 9 to 17, according to a statement from the Braintree Police Department. The victims were rushed to Boston-area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

    An AMC employee who was working at the concession stand at the time of the stabbings described the man as wearing “an oversized trench coat, sunglasses, and a long blonde wig,” according to WBZ-TV.

    The suspect fled the crime scene in a black SUV, according to police.

    After fleeing from the movie theater, the suspect allegedly drove over 30 miles to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

    At approximately 7:04 p.m., police responded to 911 calls of two people being stabbed at the McDonalds in Plymouth. Inside the fast food restaurant was a 21-year-old female and a 29-year-old male with stab wounds, according to a press release from the Massachusetts State Police. The victims were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

    The Braintree Police Department said a “vehicle matching the description was reportedly involved in a similar assault in Plymouth.”

    Troopers attempted to pull over the suspect, but he refused to yield, and led the officers on a police chase.

    The suspect was pursued by Massachusetts State Police, he crashed his vehicle, and he was taken into custody.

    He was finally apprehended in Sandwich, Massachusetts – roughly 50 miles from the AMC theater.

    The suspect was taken to an area hospital for treatment of his injuries in the car crash.

    “Preliminary investigation suggests a likely connection to an earlier incident at a movie theatre in Braintree resulting in non-life threatening injuries to four juveniles,” the Massachusetts State Police said.

    Citing a law enforcement source, WFXT reported that the suspect is Jared Ravizza.

    website belonging to a Jared Ravizza, who resides part-time in Martha’s Vineyard, identifies the man as an artist and digital marketing entrepreneur. An Instagram account for the individual lists “she” as his personal pronoun.

    Sources informed WBZ-TV that Ravizza is also connected to a murder investigation in Deep River, Connecticut.

    Connecticut State Police said troopers responded to a “disturbance” on Saturday afternoon and discovered a “deceased individual.” Police did not reveal the identity of the individual.

    “A suspect in this investigation has been taken into custody in the State of Massachusetts and there is no active threat to the public,” Connecticut State Police stated in a news release.

    Deep River is approximately 120 miles from Braintree.

    Investigations are active and ongoing on all three incidents.

    CBS Boston offers a glimpse of Ravizza while being arrested.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    At least 14 dead, Dozens Injured, as Tornadoes Leave Destruction in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Powerful storms killed at least 11 people and left a wide trail of destruction Sunday across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas after obliterating homes and destroying a truck stop where drivers took shelter during the latest deadly weather to strike the central U.S.

    Seven deaths were reported in Cooke County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, where a tornado Saturday night plowed through a rural area near a mobile home park, officials said. Storms also caused damage in Oklahoma, where guests at an outdoor wedding were injured. Tens of thousands of residents were without power across the region.

    “It’s just a trail of debris left. The devastation is pretty severe,” Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington told The Associated Press.

    The dead included two children, ages 2 and 5, the sheriff said.

    Three family members in Texas were found dead in one home near the small community of Valley View, Sappington said.

    Hugo Parra, who lives in Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, said he rode out the storm with about 40 to 50 people in the bathroom of a gas station.

    “A firefighter came to check on us and he said, ‘You’re very lucky,’” Parra said. “The best way to describe this is the wind tried to rip us out of the bathrooms.”

    Multiple people were transported to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter in Denton County, Texas, also north of Dallas. But officials did not immediately know the full extent of the injuries.

    At least two people were reported killed in Arkansas, including a 26-year-old woman who was found dead outside a destroyed home in Olvey, a small community in Boone County, according to Daniel Bolen, with the county’s emergency management office.

    Another person died in Benton County, Arkansas. Melody Kwok, a county communications director, said multiple other people were injured and that emergency workers were still responding to calls.

    “We are still on search and rescue right now,” she said. “This is a very active situation.”

    Officials also confirmed two deaths in Mayes County, Oklahoma. Details about the dead were not immediately available, said Mike Dunham, the county’s deputy director of emergency management.

    The destruction continued a grim month of deadly severe weather in the nation’s midsection.

    Tornadoes in Iowa this week left at least five people dead and dozens injured. The deadly twisters have spawned during a historically bad season for tornadoes, at a time when climate change contributes to the severity of storms around the world. April had the second-highest number of tornadoes on record in the country.

    Elsewhere in Denton County, a tornado overturned tractor-trailers and halted traffic on Interstate 35, county spokesperson Dawn Cobb said. A shelter was opened in the rural town of Sanger.

    At least 60 to 80 people were inside a highway truck stop, some of them seeking shelter, when the storm barreled through, but there were no serious injuries, Sappington said.

    Daybreak began to reveal the full scope of the devastation. Aerial footage showed dozens of damaged homes, including many without roofs and others reduced to rubble.

    Residents woke up to overturned cars and collapsed garages. Some residents could be seen pacing around and sorting through scraps of wood, assessing the damage. Nearby, neighbors sat on the foundation of a wrecked home.

    At the height of the storms, more than 24,000 homes and businesses lost power in Oklahoma, according to the state Office of Emergency Management. The agency also reported extensive damage from baseball-sized hail and multiple injuries at an outdoor wedding that was being held in rural Woods County.

    Meteorologists and authorities issued urgent warnings to seek cover as the storms marched across the region overnight. “If you are in the path of this storm take cover now!” the National Weather Service office in Norman posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

    In Texas, the Denton Fire Department posted on social media that emergency crews near Dallas were responding to a marina “for multiple victims, some reported trapped.” Inaccessible roads and downed power lines in Oklahoma also led officials in the town of Claremore, near Tulsa, to announce on social media that the city was “shut down” due to the damage.

    April and May have been a busy month for tornadoes, especially in the Midwest. Iowa was hit hard last week, when a deadly twister devastated Greenfield. Other storms brought flooding and wind damage elsewhere in the state.

    The system causing the latest severe weather was expected to move east over the rest of the Memorial Day weekend.

    The start of the Indianapolis 500 was expected to be delayed as a strong storm pushed into the area, forcing Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials to evacuate about 125,000 race fans who had already.

    The video boards inside the speedway flashed that a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect as the band of rain, along with dangerous wind and lightning, approached from the west.

    More severe storms were predicted in Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky.

    The risk of severe weather moves into North Carolina and Virginia on Monday, forecasters said.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Hamas Launches Rocket Attack at Israel’s Tel Aviv

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Hamas terrorists launched a barrage of rockets into Israel on Sunday, with roughly a dozen of them being fired from the hotly contested city of Rafah.

    Israel’s Iron Dome successfully intercepted the majority of the rockets, with alarms sounding in Tel Aviv and other major cities.

    The strike comes as Israeli forces are increasing operations in and around Rafah, what Israel says is the final major stronghold for Hamas in Gaza.

    Hamas took responsibility for the barrage and argued it was retaliation for “Zionist massacres against civilians.”

    Israel has faced growing international pressure to cease its operations in Rafah, which plays host to roughly 1.5 million displaced Gazans. Israel encouraged civilians in the region to leave areas where they conducted military operations against Hamas in an effort to minimize civilian casualties.

    Rafah lies on the border with Egypt and had served as a major artery for humanitarian aid. Israel took control of the Gazan side of the border this week, however, and Egypt responded by refusing to allow further aid through.

    Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is handed back to Palestinians. It agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s main cargo terminal, after a call between President Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

    Hundreds of aid trucks traveled through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing this weekend, but United Nations workers say they have had difficulty accessing the aid due to heavy fighting nearby.

    The new aid agreement comes as a “floating pier” created on the Gaza coast by the U.S. suffered damage this weekend.

    The pier remains mostly operational, but four vessels that had served to stabilize the pier were detached due to rough weather.

    The U.S. spent roughly $320 million constructing the pier, which has been a conduit for aid from the U.S. and other countries. While the pier has been used to transfer roughly 569 metric tons of aid into Gaza, as of last week none of that aid had been delivered to Palestinians, the Pentagon confirmed.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Biden to Address Trump ‘Hush Money’ Trial Verdict from White House

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    President Joe Biden, who has stayed quiet on presumptive Republican Party nominee Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial, is planning on giving a public address after the jury reaches a verdict, POLITICO reported.

    The outlet cited “four people familiar with internal deliberations” in the Biden administration who said the president will likely address the hush-money verdict from the White House, not at a campaign event, to avoid the appearance of Biden making a political statement on the trial’s outcome. Trump’s hush-money trial is nearing its end after weeks of arguments and testimonies as closing arguments are slated for Tuesday.

    “This is an important moment and the president first and foremost needs to stress that the American system works, even and especially in an election year,” said one of the four people familiar with internal discussions who was granted anonymity.

    “And in a measured way, it becomes part of his argument against Trump too: Do Americans really want this?”

    The former president is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged hush-money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied the charges brought against him by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

    The leftist district attorney charged Trump years after federal prosecutors ended their investigation into Trump’s alleged hush-money payments without bringing any charges in 2019.

    POLITICO reported that if the jury finds Trump guilty, Biden’s team will argue that the former president is not suited to be elected to another term. Biden is still planning on addressing the verdict even if the jury acquits his political rival, according to the people familiar with the discussions, but they added that those plans could change.

    If Trump makes it past the Manhattan criminal trial without being convicted, Biden’s team is reportedly preparing for a barrage of outrage from Trump, his supporters, and other potential voters who have argued that the legal system is being used to target the presidential candidate to keep him off the campaign trail.

    Early on Saturday morning, Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social to blast Biden and Bragg, arguing that the Manhattan criminal trial is “election interference.”

    “The City of New York’s D.A., Alvin Bragg, is trying to prosecute a Federal case, which cannot be done, and where there is NO CRIME, that has been turned down by everyone, including the Federal Elections Commission, SDNY, the D.A.’s Office, and Bragg himself – Until I announced that I was running for President,” Trump wrote.

    “This case could have been brought 7 years ago, but wasn’t. It is another Crooked Joe Biden Election Interference Hoax!”

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝
    Advertisement
    Advertisement

    Trending Today

    >