Swim Champ Riley Gaines Makes Shocking Claims About Lia Thomas On ‘Crain & Co’
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Former college swimming star Riley Gaines made some explosive allegations about the private proclivities of her transgender pool nemesis Lia Thomas in a Wednesday interview with Crain & Co.

Gaines, the former University of Kentucky All-American who tied Thomas for fifth place in last year’s NCAA 200-meter championship, has been outspoken on her opposition to biological women being forced to compete against and share locker rooms with Thomas. But in her interview with The Daily Wire’s sports podcast, Gaines said she has since become even more creeped out by her experience with Thomas, who switched from University of Pennsylvania’s men’s team to the women’s squad in 2021 after identifying as a female.

“I actually had someone send me [Thomas’] girlfriend’s Instagram page, too, which I obviously looked at,” Gaines said. “It is, in fact, a male who has transitioned, so the same type of transgender person as Lia.”

“What they engage in, the different things — I mean, it’s probably too explicit to even [discuss] but it’s mind-blowing now, sitting back looking at this in front of my eyes and knowing we had to share a locker with this person,” she said.

Gaines said Thomas’ disturbing lifestyle is common knowledge among social media-savvy swimmers. Host Jake Crain followed up the interview with a deep dive into postings by Thomas and what appears to be the swimmer’s circle of friends and produced a graphic and disturbing tweet thread on what he discovered. It included allusions to strange sexual fetishes and graphic references to transgender surgeries.

Still, for Gaines, the issue has always been protecting female athletes, both from unfair competition and from feeling violated in the locker room.

“When you see a male with male parts watching you undress, it was like I thought I was missing something,” she said. “I thought, am I, like not grasping something? Why is no one talking about this? Why is the coach not sticking up for us? We did not give our consent for this.”

The NCAA worked so hard to promote Thomas that after the two tied last year, she said officials gave the only fifth-place trophy to Thomas, promising to send one in the mail to Gaines.

“It was at this moment that I realized not only were we being forced to compete against a man, we were being forced to change in a locker room with a man,” Gaines said. “We were being sidelined to validate the feelings and the identity of a man.”

“And it just felt like we were reduced to like a photo op,” she continued. “That’s kind of when I took it upon myself to really become public with my stance.” Gaines said she hears regularly from young female athletes and their parents who are turning their backs on girls’ sports out of fear they will be put in the same position Gaines was.

“They don’t want their kid competing [against boys] in sports like volleyball or softball or different contact-type stuff,” said Gaines. “It’s dangerous. And they’re worried about their kids’ safety.”

A representative for Thomas did not return an emailed request for comment.

Read 17 Comments
  • Gary Lingle says:

    Just because creepy doctors cut off a man’s dick doesn’t make him a girl, it just means he is a guy without a dick!

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    Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial Courthouse



    A Florida man set himself on fire outside Manhattan Criminal Court Friday — as former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial was underway, police said.

    Max Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Florida, shuffled into the public park across the street from the 100 Centre Street courthouse just after 1:30 p.m. — just as the jury was finalized in the historic case, according to cops.

    Once inside the park, which was surrounded by barricades for Trump’s trial, Azzarello took off his jacket, dumped what cops believe was an alcohol-based cleaning accelerant over himself — and then lit himself up.

    “He’s on fire and the area in the park where some of the accelerant spilled is also on fire,” NYPD Chief of Department, Jeffrey Maddrey, said as he described the horror.

    “Civilians, court officers, members of the police department, they run into the park, they make efforts to put him out. They use their coats, they use fire extinguishers.”

    Disturbing footage from the scene showed Azzarello completely engulfed in flames for several minutes as his blackened body twitched on the ground while horrified witnesses screamed in the background.

    Just seconds before lighting himself up, Azzarello had reached into a book bag and retrieved a stack of colorful pamphlets that he tossed into the air — including some that linked to a Substack page with the heading, “I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial.”

    In a rambling, incoherent 2,648-word manifesto posted online prior to the ordeal, Azzarello — who identified himself as an investigative researcher — said he had self-immolated as an “extreme act of protest” over a “totalitarian con” and impending “apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

    “The pamphlets appear to be propaganda-based, almost a conspiracy theory type of pamphlet,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said.

    “Some information in regards to Ponzi scheme and the fact that some of our local educational institutes are fronts for the mob. So, a little bit of a conspiracy theory going on here.”

    First responders loaded a severely burned Azzarello into an ambulance and rushed him to Cornell University Hospital’s burns unit where he remained in a critical condition as of Friday afternoon, police said.

    Those who jumped in to help douse the flames — including three NYPD officers and one court officer — suffered minor injuries from their exposure to the fire, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said.

    “It happened fast. He was up in flames and seemed determined,” a witness, only identified as Dave, told The Post.

    “I heard this clattering and it was these papers that he had flung up and they clattered to the ground,” he continued. “Then he pulled out a can and he poured it over himself. At that point, I thought ‘oh this could be awful’.”

    “And after pouring himself with obviously something flammable he took out, I think, a lighter then he lit himself on fire,” he added.

    Disturbing video posted on Instagram showed officers scrambling to put out the flames on metal barriers in the park and the ash-covered man twitching on the ground.

    In the aftermath, cops could be seen scurrying around collecting the discarded flyers.

    Azzarello, who hails from Florida, had arrived in the Big Apple at some point after last Saturday, police said.

    His family weren’t even aware he’d left the Sunshine State, according to cops.

    He was pictured outside the courthouse just on Thursday, holding up a sign that said “Trump is with Biden and they’re about to fascist coup us” and wearing red and black gloves and a backpack.

    Court records show Azzarello had filed a conspiracy-laced lawsuit in Manhattan federal court in April 2023 against over 100 defendants — including the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, the country of Saudi Arabia, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, and Ross Perot.

    The meandering case — filed by Azzarello, without a lawyer — alleged “an elaborate network of Ponzi schemes” dating back to the 1990s and continuing through 2023.

    The lawsuit was tossed, though, last October when Azzarello failed to follow up with required court filings.


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    House Advances Ukraine, Israel Aid as Dems Help Speaker Johnson, GOP



    The House advanced legislation Friday to send aid to Ukraine and other embattled U.S. allies overseas, clearing a key procedural hurdle after Democrats stepped in to back the measure — a rare move by the minority party, but one that was crucial to nudge the package forward in the face of fierce conservative opposition.

    The chamber approved the foreign aid rule in a 316-94 vote, opening up debate on a quartet of bills combining military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with humanitarian assistance to Gaza and other global war zones. The successful rule tees up final passage of all four measures, which are scheduled to hit the floor in separate votes Saturday afternoon.

    The advancement brings Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) one step closer to passing an explosive foreign aid package that has been the subject of intense debate within the Capitol — and his conference — for months amid dire warnings from lawmakers, U.S. officials and foreign figures that Kyiv’s beleaguered forces need more U.S. assistance.

    But the bipartisan vote is sure to land Johnson in more hot water with his right flank, which has sharply criticized the package — both for the billions of dollars in Ukraine aid and the exclusion of border security — and have long denounced the Speaker’s tendency to work with Democrats to advance key priorities including, now, foreign assistance.

    Highlighting those internal tensions, three Republicans on the House Rules Committee had voted against the rule on the panel late Thursday night, and 55 conservatives voted against it again when it hit the House floor Friday morning. The House Freedom Caucus released an official position Thursday urging all Republicans to oppose the rule.

    The internal opposition to what has historically been a standard procedural matter has become its own routine this Congress, as conservatives have sought to press GOP leaders to fight harder for Republican priorities — the dynamic that led to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last October.

    But despite the drama, Johnson’s job appears safe — for now.

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has filed a resolution to oust the Speaker, but she has not said when she plans to trigger a vote on it. And Thursday, even as she railed against Johnson’s handling of the Ukraine debate, she said she’s not ready to force her vacate resolution to the floor.

    “I’m not acting out of emotions or rash feelings or anger,” Greene said. “I’m doing this the right way, and I’m allowing my conference to see exactly what I saw months ago.”

    Lending Johnson a huge boost — and perhaps a job-security lifeline — former President Trump threw his support behind the Speaker during a joint appearance at Mar-a-Lago last week, a vote of confidence that has muddied Greene’s path forward in her ouster effort.

    Even if she does force a vote to remove Johnson, Democrats are likely to step in and save him. A number of Democrats in recent months have said that if the Speaker moves aid for Ukraine, they will protect him from a conservative coup. Some have predicted there are dozens of Democrats in that camp.

    On Friday’s rule vote, the eleventh-hour help from Democrats did not come as a surprise: President Biden endorsed the foreign aid package earlier this week, and the four Democrats on the Rules Committee voted late Thursday night to advance the package through the panel over the opposition of three committee conservatives.

    Nonetheless, the Democratic support was extraordinary: Members of the minority party rarely help majority leaders pass procedural rules. The only other instance of Democrats helping Republicans advance legislation on a procedural vote this Congress was in May, when Democrats crossed the aisle to support a rule to begin debate on the debt limit bill crafted by Biden and McCarthy.

    Friday’s bipartisan vote to advance the foreign aid package — as well as Johnson’s decision to risk his gavel to bring it to the floor — reflect the urgency felt by leaders in both parties as Ukraine is running low on weapons supplies and Israel is under fire from Iran.

    Full list of vote results here.

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    Republican Introduces Legislation to Defund NPR



    Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks introduced legislation Friday to defund National Public Radio (NPR).

    The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the legislation, which is titled the Defund NPR Act. The bill would cut off any federal funds to NPR.

    An NPR editor, Uri Berliner, published a piece alleging the outlet has deep political bias and that the Washington D.C. bureau employs 87 registered Democrats and zero registered Republicans.

    Berliner resigned after NPR suspended him for publishing the piece.

    NPR’s new CEO, Katherine Maher, has also made headlines as old tweets and clips of her show political bias. Maher, who was hired in March, previously expressed support for President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020 and called former President Donald Trump a “racist” in 2018.

    She has also described the First Amendment as “the number one challenge” to combatting “misinformation.”

    “NPR’s new CEO is a radical, left-wing activist who doesn’t believe in free speech or objective journalism. Hoosiers shouldn’t be writing her paychecks. Katherine Maher isn’t qualified to teach an introductory journalism class, much less capable of responsibly spending millions of American tax dollars,” Banks told the Caller before introducing the bill.



    “NPR was a liberal looney bin under the last CEO John Lansing, and it’s about to get even nuttier. It’s time to pull the plug on this national embarrassment. Congress must stop spending other people’s hard-earned money on low grade propaganda,” he added.

    The legislation has appeared to pick up the support of businessman Elon Musk, who said it was “great” Banks is introducing the bill.

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    Witness Claims Matt Gaetz Attended Drug-Fueled Party with Underage Girl in Statement to Lawmakers



    The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether or not Rep. Matt Gaetz used illicit drugs as a member of Congress, multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work told ABC News.

    Committee investigators have inquired about whether Gaetz was under the influence of drugs at parties in Florida after becoming a member of Congress in 2017, according to the sources.

    According to a sworn written statement that has been obtained by the Ethics committee, a woman says that in summer of 2017, when she was 20 years old, she attended a party in Florida that Gaetz also attended, which featured alcohol and drugs including cocaine and MDMA, sources familiar with the committee’s work told ABC News.

    In the sworn statement, which has not been previously reported, the woman said that in addition to Gaetz, the party was attended by the then-minor who was at the center of a yearslong Justice Department investigation into accusations that the Florida Congressman had sex with her when she was 17, according to sources.

    According to the statement provided to the committee, sources said the woman who made the statement — who ABC News is not identifying — said she saw the then-minor naked at the party, which was also attended by adult men other than Gaetz, and that at the party there allegedly were bedrooms that were made available for sexual activities.

    Gaetz has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing, including the allegations that he had sex with a minor. The Justice Department informed Gaetz in 2023 that it was declining to bring charges against him.

    Though the statement obtained by Congress references Gaetz, it was not written specifically to the Ethics Committee and is not primarily about the congressman, and the woman does not discuss whether or not she had knowledge of Gaetz’s alleged sexual relations with the then-minor, sources said.

    When asked if Rep. Gaetz recalled attending the 2017 party, a spokesperson for the Florida Congressman told ABC News, “No.” The spokesperson also said “no” when asked if Gaetz has used illicit drugs since becoming a member of Congress.

    The sworn statement places Gaetz at a party with the then-minor, who Gaetz has denied ever having a relationship with and previously claimed “doesn’t exist” when asked about the allegations on Fox News in March 2021.

    “The person doesn’t exist,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson. “I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old, that is totally false.”

    In March, Gaetz was subpoenaed as a witness by attorneys representing the former minor in a civil lawsuit brought by Gaetz’s longtime friend, Chris Dorworth, who alleges he was defamed by her and others during the Justice Department’s probe into the matter. Gaetz is not a party to the lawsuit. Gaetz’s deposition is slated for June and could see the congressman asked under oath about allegations that he engaged in sexual activity with the woman when she was a minor.

    Last week, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made headlines when he claimed he was ousted because he would not stop the ongoing House Ethics probe into Gaetz.

    “I’ll give you the truth why I’m not speaker,” McCarthy said at an event at Georgetown University. “It’s because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old.”

    Gaetz appeared to respond on X, formally known as Twitter, writing, “Kevin McCarthy is a liar. That’s why he is no longer speaker.”

    The House Ethics probe into Gaetz has continued to move forward in recent weeks, with investigators reaching out to more individuals, including young women who were allegedly paid by Gaetz’s one-time close friend Joel Greenberg to attend sex parties, sources said.

    Committee investigators have asked witnesses whether they had seen or had knowledge of Gaetz using and or purchasing drugs himself, sources said.

    ABC News previously reported that the House Ethics Committee had subpoenaed Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend for testimony, which she sat for in late February.

    ABC News also reported that the committee had obtained texts allegedly showing Gaetz setting up a trip to the Florida Keys trip with a separate woman that Greenberg had paid for sex.

    A spokesperson for Gaetz told ABC News at the time, “Rep. Gaetz has no knowledge of these activities by Mr. Greenberg and was not involved in them. Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex. Rep. Gaetz does not know anything about the woman you’re referencing, though he takes thousands of selfies each year.”

    Gaetz has criticized the Ethics Committee for “trying to weaponize their process.”

    “The Ethics Committee is engaging in payback against me for ousting the person who singularly appointed every Republican — Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz previously said in a statement to ABC News.

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    Pentagon Speeding Up Work on First New Nuclear Warhead in 40 Years



    The United States is building the first new nuclear warhead in 40 years but will do so without nuclear testing, Energy Department officials told Congress Wednesday.

    The W93 warhead will be used on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and is being built with $19.8 billion requested by the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) for weapons in fiscal 2025, according to Senate testimony by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby.

    The W93 has been in an early phase of feasibility and design at Los Alamos National Laboratory since May 2022 and is “on track” for production beginning in the mid-2030s, the two officials said in prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Nuclear forces modernization is the Pentagon’s top priority and the Navy’s nuclear-missile submarines are considered the linchpin of U.S. strategic nuclear forces, which also include ICBMs and bombers.

    NNSA stated on its website that the W93 “will allow the U.S. to keep pace with future adversary threats.”

    All nuclear components will be based on currently deployed and previously tested nuclear designs.

    The W93 will include modern technologies, such as insensitive high explosives used for triggering. Other new features will include improved safety, security and flexibility “to address future threats,” the NNSA said.

    The warhead is said to be lighter than the current W76 and W88 warheads, allowing for greater missile ranges.

    The nuclear missile submarine forces will be scaled down from 14 Ohio-class submarines to 12 Columbia-class missile boats.

    The department also is modernizing five existing warhead types — the B61-12 life extension program, the B61-13, the W88, W87, and W80 warheads under a funding request of $2.84 billion, the two officials’ testimony states.

    The B61 is a nuclear gravity bomb dropped by aircraft and the newer variant will be built by 2025.

    The Biden administration, however, failed to request funds for the new submarine-launched cruise missile-nuclear, known as SLCM-N in the current budget, the two officials stated, blaming the timing of last year’s defense authorization enactment.

    The SLCM-N likely will be armed with the W80 warhead, Ms. Hruby said during a committee hearing.

    The W80 also will be used on the Air Force’s new air-launched, long-range missile.

    Congress demanded the nuclear cruise missile in legislation after its development was opposed by the administration.

    NNSA will continue to work with the Pentagon and Congress to comply with the law, the officials stated.

    The Pentagon-Energy Nuclear Weapons Council ordered development of the new warhead to be sped up and the funds requested for it will seek to achieve that, Ms. Granholm and Ms. Hruby‘s testimony states.

    “The W93 is a new warhead program based on existing designs that will not require new underground nuclear explosive testing,” the two women stated.

    The number used for the warhead – W93 – is the latest effort at a new warhead. The W89 and W92 were canceled after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    The United States is adhering to a nuclear testing moratorium despite the Senate having rejected the proposed Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999.

    “The W93 will meet DoD requirements to enhance operational effectiveness of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine force,” Ms. Granholm and Ms. Hruby said.

    Plutonium pits for the warhead will be produced at the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina.

    The warhead, which was requested by Adm. Charles Richard in late 2020 when he was commander of the Omaha-based Strategic Command, will being built with assistance from the British government, which also will be deploying the weapon.

    Adm. Richard, who retired in January 2023, was the first nuclear forces commander to sound the alarm on what he termed China’s nuclear “breakout.”

    China has doubled its nuclear warhead stockpile and has begun deploying multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles at three large missile fields in western China.

    These fields could include up to 360 missiles, military officials have said.

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    Doctor Faces Judge in One of the Largest Sexual Assault Cases in Army History



    A high-ranking military doctor has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of male soldiers who he treated at a Washington state US army base.

    Major Michael Stockin, a pain doctor, is facing 47 sexual assault charges in a case that would be one of the biggest of its kind in the US Army’s history, as reported by Fox13.

    Dozens of male soldiers who were treated by Stockin at the Joint Base Lewis McChord’s (JBLM) Madigan Army Medical Center say he groped them under the guise of a sensory exam.

    Ryan Guilds, a lawyer for several victims, told the local outlet that his clients sometimes have bad days ‘because of what happened to them’ or as they ‘come to grips with what happened to them.’

    It’s likely the trial will be pushed until next year, with Guilds saying the delay makes the situation even harder for his clients.

    ‘They’re soldiers, so I think they’ll muck it up and do their best,’ the lawyer said. ‘Ultimately, they’re trying to move forward and what is obviously a lengthy process, and now after today, it’s longer.’

    Authorities say they could be more victims and have asked anyone with information to come forward.

    Charging documents say Stockin tried covering up the sexual abuse by saying it had a ‘medical purpose,’ as reported by CBS News.

    Back in February two of Stockin’s alleged victims spoke anonymously to CBS, saying the doctor betrayed their trust.

    One of the soldiers, who went to see the doctor for shoulder pain, said: ‘Myself and Dr. Stockin were left alone in the room. He first checked my shoulders and then he asked me to stand up and to pull down my pants and lift up my gown.

    ‘Dr. Stockin, he was face level with my groin, and he started touching my genitals.’

    The soldier, a retired command sergeant major, said he was sexually abused by Stockin three times.

    Another soldier, a Command Sergeant Major allegedly abused by the doctor, said the experience has left emotional trauma.

    He said: ‘Even with my wife I couldn’t bring myself to talk through what happened… It just felt very uncomfortable.’

    Stockin previously worked at other army facilities in DC, and Hawaii, but all the victims were treated at the Army hospital located at JBLM.

    He did not enter a plea during a court appearance in February but can still enter one at a later date.

    His lawyer Robert Capovilla has said: ‘We understand, without exception, that in today’s political culture, the media will continue to condemn Major Stockin and render judgment before a jury or judge even hears evidence.’

    Capovilla added he intends to fight every single allegation against his client.

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    Maryland Trans Teen Arrested for Planning School Shooting — Cops Find 130-Page Manifesto



    A transgender 18-year-old planned a school shooting because she ‘wanted to be famous’, according to cops who arrested her after finding his 129-page ‘manifesto’.

    Andrea Ye, whose preferred name is Alex, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with making threats of mass violence after allegedly planning to shoot up Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland.

    Police swooped on Ye after finding a ‘manifesto’ written by the teen which they said ‘writes about committing a school shooting, and strategizes how to carry out the act’.

    In the pages, Ye allegedly wrote that she ‘wants to be famous’ and contemplated targeting an elementary school as ‘little kids make easier targets’.

    According to court documents seen by ABC, Ye first described the manifesto as ‘fiction’ but then later described it as ‘his memoir’.

    Montgomery County Public Schools told Fox that Ye is an active student at Wootton High School in Rockville but has been attending through a virtual program and hadn’t been on campus physically since 2022.

    Police reportedly said in court records that Ye’s sex is female but she uses male pronouns.

    After the FBI alerted Montgomery County Police to the manifesto, they obtained a search warrant and found internet searches, drawings and documents related to threats of mass violence.

    Ye reportedly put a disclaimer in the book saying it doesn’t ‘represent the author’s beliefs’ but a witness – who first contacted authorities in early March – raised concerns that the manifesto bore ‘striking similarities’ to Ye.

    The witness believed the writings indicated Ye was prepared to carry out a mass shooting imminently, according to court documents seen by ABC.

    Authorities said they had determined that the manifesto appears to have ‘portions of fictional and non-fictional qualities’.

    Court documents state that the witness told police that Ye’s ‘memoir’ was about ‘a transgender main character’ named ‘James Wang’.

    They said that ‘Wang’ was ‘being bullied in school and other issues that [the witness] believed were directly from Ye’s life and not indicative of fiction.’

    According to ABC, the manifesto described how the character would ‘cherry pick the classrooms that are the easiest targets’ and said: ‘I have also considered shooting up my former elementary school because little kids make easier targets.’

    Authorities said they found social media posts and searches by Ye allegedly looking up ‘gun range near me,’ and the phrase ‘But, I do recognize that my plan is fully unethical. It’s selfish and evil’, according to court documents seen by ABC.

    The documents reportedly show Ye telling an online user: ‘My homicidal ideation has been getting worse lately to the point I might act on it eventually,’ and then later adding: ‘I’d want to kill a lot of people or it wouldn’t be worth it.’

    Ye was taken into custody on Wednesday and is being held in the Montgomery County Jail while he awaits a bond hearing – he has not yet entered a plea.

    Ye has a long history of inpatient care for mental health issues, according to the court documents seen by ABC, and had openly expressed thoughts of homicidal and suicidal ideation.

    According to the court documents, Ye was previously hospitalized ‘for threatening to ‘shoot up a school’.

    Se was evaluated at his home and then hospitalized again in March, the hospital then raised an alarm with school and law enforcement officials because of ‘the threat posed by Ye.’

    A counselor who had worked with Ye told authorities that she ‘would express violent thoughts such as shooting up the school’ and ‘would smile while saying it,’ according to the documents seen by ABC.

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    WATCH: Utah Students Walk Out, Say Classmates Dressed as Furries Are Biting Them



    A group of children and adults staged an hours-long walkout at a Utah middle school on Wednesday over an unusual issue — “furries.”

    The protesters walked out of Mt. Nebo Middle School, which is about an hour south of Salt Lake City, claiming that students who dress as “furries” were being disruptive.

    Furries are people who have an interest in animals with human qualities, according to WebMD.

    In video of the protests shared to social media, students accuse the alleged “furries” at Mt. Nebo of biting, scratching, barking at, spraying air freshener on, and pouncing on other students.

    Some students who walked out complained that the furries wore masks every day, according to a video of the protest shared to social media.

    “They think they’re so cool,” one girl said.

    “We can’t talk or say anything to the furries or even look at them, but they can come look at us and say stuff to us and touch us,” said another girl.

    However, the school district’s public information officer, Seth Sorensen, pushed back on claims about students dressing up as animals. Students may wear headbands with ears, but they do not dress up in full-body animal costumes, he said.

    “Today, we had some students and parents choose to exercise their right to assemble, and do a little protest for what they perceived was something that was happening in the school,” Sorensen told ABC4. “It actually is not something that’s been occurring.”

    “Interestingly enough, they really didn’t address us with anything they wanted changed,” he said. “We want every student to feel safe when they come to school, and we want students to get along. In fact, we want adults to get along.”

    He added that the protest may have been the result of a miscommunication via an email from the school about an altercation between two groups of students.

    The school also said it has worked with some students whose dress and appearance might be disruptive to the school environment.

    At Wednesday’s protest, children held signs reading “Compelled speech is not free speech,” as well as “I will not comply,” and “We just wanted to learn.”

    A petition dubbed “Students for Humans at School, not animals aka furries” has garnered nearly 1,700 signatures so far. The petition asks the school to enforce a dress code, which the petitioners say prohibits students from presenting themselves in a way that disrupts the learning atmosphere or creates a welfare issue.

    The online “furry” fandom often has sexual overtones, although some self-identified “furries” insist sex has nothing to do with their interest in the fandom.

    A 2011 survey of “furries” found that about a quarter of “furries” said they felt less than 100% human.

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    Israel Strikes Back at Iran



    Israel has conducted strikes on a target in Iran, defying President Joe Biden’s warnings over plunging the Middle East further into conflict.

    An official told ABC News that strikes hit a site in Iran, however it is unclear what exact target was hit or the extent of the damage.

    Officials say the city of Isfahan in central Iran was struck at 5am local time. The city hosts one of Iran’s nuclear facilities, although US military sources reportedly said the target was not believed to be nuclear.

    Iranian news outlet FARS reported that the strikes were located ‘near Isfahan Airport and the eighth hunting base of the Army Air Force.’

    Iranian state news reported the nation’s air defense systems have been activated, and were firing at an unknown object in Tabriz, around 500 miles north of Isfahan.

    It comes in response to Iran launching a barrage of hundreds of drones and rockets at Israel on Saturday, which was largely thwarted by Israel and its international allies. Isfahan was one of several launch sites used in the attack.

    Biden had warned Israel not to retaliate to Saturday’s strikes and urged them to ‘take the win’ of the foiled Iranian attack.

    Israeli officials warned the Biden administration of its intent to strike before launching, but an official told CNN that the US did not ‘green light’ any Israeli response.

    Several hours after reports of the Israeli strikes emerged, sirens reportedly sounded in northern Israel.

    Flights have been diverted and multiple airports in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz have been closed following the Israeli attack, and further unconfirmed explosions have reportedly hit Iraq and Syria.

    Although the US military played a central role in halting Iran’s strikes on Saturday, President Biden said he made it ‘very clear’ to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he had to act ‘carefully and strategically.’

    Biden urged Netanyahu to ‘take the win’ of the derailed attack, and cautioned that the US would not participate in any Israeli counter-offensive.

    The Israeli leader brushed off Biden’s warnings, insisting Israel would ‘make its own decisions’ in how to react to Iran’s attack.

    US officials said there was an expectation that if Israel defied warnings, they would not target nuclear or civilian sites.

    The Iranian attack came in retaliation to a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Syria on April 1, which killed 13 people including two generals in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

    As Israel maintained its plans to retaliate on Iran, a senior Iranian official warned that the nation would respond by starting production of nuclear weapons if Israel attacked its nuclear facilities.

    Iran threatened to use ‘weapons it has never used’ if Israel struck, and indicated that it did not wish to continue escalating the conflict unless Israel fired back.

    As the West urged for calmer heads to prevail in the Jewish state, Iranian Parliament’s National Security Committee Abolfazl Amoue stated that Iran is prepared for a ‘painful response’ to the ‘slightest action.’

    On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also cautioned that Iran would strike back at the ‘maximum level’ if Israel fired.

    ‘In case the Israeli regime embarks on adventurism again and takes action against the interests of Iran, the next response from us will be immediate and at a maximum level,’ Amir-Abdollahian told CNN.

    The instability in the region has immediately impacted global oil markets, with brent crude prices increasing above $90 a barrel as news of the Israeli strikes emerged.

    The Islamic republic, which has always insisted its nuclear program is peaceful and denies seeking an atomic bomb, has accused arch foe Israel of sabotage attacks on its facilities and assassinations of nuclear scientists in recent years.

    According to Ahmad Haghtalab, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ head of nuclear protection and security, Iran has ‘identified’ Israeli nuclear centres and holds ‘necessary information of all targets’.

    Israel is widely known to have nuclear weapons but has never admitted so.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Meet the 12 Jurors Who Will Decide Trump’s Fate



    Twelve jurors have been selected and sworn in to serve on the jury for former President Donald Trump’s historic and unprecedented first criminal trial.

    Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The charges are related to alleged hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

    Trump has pleaded not guilty to all counts. He has blasted the trial as pure politics, a “political persecution” and maintains his innocence. The former president is expected to testify during his trial.

    By the end of jury selection on Thursday, the third day of jury selection, 12 jurors had been selected and sworn in. The jury pool so far includes four men and three women, all living in New York City. Their professions included work in law, finance, technology and more.

    “We have our jury,” Judge Juan Merchan said when the 12th juror was picked Thursday afternoon. “Let’s pick our alternates.”

    Merchan dismissed the remaining prospective jurors and asked that they return to court Friday so that alternate jurors could be selected.

    Here is a look at each of the jurors so far.

    Juror #1 and the foreperson

    Juror #1 lives in New York City. He has no children and enjoys doing anything outdoorsy. He gets his news from The New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and MSNBC.

    When asked by Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche if he was aware Trump is charged in other cases and jurisdictions, and how that affects him, the man said, “I don’t have an opinion.”

    Juror #2

    Juror #2 is a man who said he follows Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on “X,” formerly known as Twitter, as well as other “right wing” accounts, including former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

    The reason, he said, he follows those figures was so he could be plugged in to “anything that might move the markets I might need to know about.”

    When asked if he would unfollow Cohen, as he may be a witness in the trial, the man said: “Absolutely.”

    The man also said he has “not seen any evidence” relating to the case.

    “I will try to keep an open mind,” he said.

    Responding to questions from Trump lawyer Susan Necheles about his feelings about the former president, the man said that Trump has done some good for the country.

    “It’s ambivalent,” he said. “It goes both ways.”

    The first person who was labeled juror #2 was excused Thursday morning after saying she could not be a fair juror.

    Juror #3

    Juror #3 is a young to middle-aged man who lives in Manhattan. The man said he grew up in Oregon and has been an attorney for five years practicing corporate law. The man said he enjoys hiking and running, and gets his news from The New York Times and Google.

    Juror #4

    Juror #4 is originally from California, but has lived in New York City for 15 years. The man said he has been a security engineer for 25 years and holds a high school diploma, with some college education.

    The man is married with three children. His wife is a teacher.

    During his spare time, he enjoys being with his children, woodworking and metal working.

    The man said he has served on a jury before — on both a grand jury and a jury in a criminal trial.

    The man said he gets his news from “a smattering” of news sources. As for social media, he said he doesn’t use it.

    The man said he has a relative who works in finance and brothers-in-law that work as lawyers.

    The man said he has no feelings about how Trump is being treated in this case.

    The person who was first labeled as Juror #4 was excused Thursday morning after it was revealed that he had been previously arrested in Westchester, New York, for tearing down right-wing political advertisements.

    Juror #5

    Juror #5 is a young and a New York native who has been a teacher of English Language Arts for eight years.

    The woman was previously a caseworker at a juvenile detention center. She said she has a masters’ degree in education.

    “I’m creative at heart,” she said, adding that she enjoys photography.

    The woman said that she is not married and does not have children. Her mother was an administrative aide for a police department, and her godfather was a homicide detective.

    The woman said she gets her news from Google and TikTok.

    She was asked if Trump chose not to testify, whether she would hold that against him.

    “I won’t hold that against him,” she said.

    She explained that she has friends who have strong opinions on the former president but said she is not a political person and tries to avoid political conversations.

    She did say, however, that she appreciates Trump’s candor.

    “President Trump speaks his mind, and I’d rather that than someone who’s in office who you don’t know what they’re thinking,” she said.

    When jurors were asked if they were aware Trump was charged in other cases than Bragg’s, most jurors were. However, juror #5 raised her hand to indicate that she was learning of additional charges for the first time.

    Juror #6

    Juror #6 is a young woman who lives in Manhattan. She described herself as a New Yorker.

    The woman is a software engineer and said she likes to dance.

    Juror #7

    Juror #7 is originally from North Carolina and works as an attorney and civil litigator.

    The man said he is married with two children, and his wife works in risk management for a bank. He said he enjoys spending time outdoors and with his family.

    The man said he gets his news from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and The Washington Post.

    When asked if his career as a lawyer would impact his ability to serve fair and impartially, or whether his opinions would get in his way, the man said that he does have “political views as to the Trump presidency” and said there were likely Trump administration policies he disagreed with.

    “I don’t know the man and I don’t have any opinions about him personally,” he said.

    As for his career as a lawyer, he said he does not have any opinions about Trump’s character.

    “I certainly follow the news,” he said. “I’m aware there are other lawsuits out there. But I’m not sure that I know anyone’s character.”

    Juror #8

    Juror #8 has been selected. Information on this juror is not yet available.

    Juror #9

    Juror #9 is a woman who lives in Manhattan. She is originally from New Jersey and works as a speech therapist.

    The woman is not married and does not have children. She said she likes to spend time with friends, go to restaurants and go on walks.

    The woman said she has never served on a jury before, and does not watch the news or follow current events too closely. The woman said she did, though, have email subscriptions to CNN and The New York Times. She said she follows social media accounts, listens to podcasts and enjoys reality television.

    The woman said she does not listen to talk radio.

    The woman said she can be fair and impartial. She said she does have opinions about Trump, but said she believes she can put them aside and be fair and impartial.

    Juror #10

    Juror #10 is a man who lives in Manhattan. He was born and raised in Ohio and works in commerce for a large company. The man has a college degree.

    The man said he is not married and has no children, but lives with another adult who works in accounting.

    The man said he enjoys being outdoors and loves animals.

    The man said he does not really follow the news, but listens to podcasts on behavioral psychology.

    The man said he has no strong opinions on how Trump is being treated in this case.

    Juror #11

    Juror #11 has been selected. Information on this juror was not immediately available.

    Juror #12

    Juror #12 has been selected. Information on this juror was not immediately available.

    Go deeper ( 5 min. read ) ➝


    US Vetoes Palestine’s Request for Full UN Membership



    The U.S. vetoed a Palestinian bid to be recognized as a member state of the United Nations during a Security Council vote Thursday evening.

    The final vote on Monday had 12 members of the Security Council vote in favor of the resolution, two abstentions — the U.K. and Switzerland — and the U.S. with the lone veto, effectively killing the measure.

    Before the vote, Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the State Department, described as premature an effort by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to gain member status at the U.N.

    He said there was not unanimity among the Security Council’s 15 members that the Palestinian Authority had met the criteria for membership, with unresolved questions over the governance of the Gaza Strip, where Israel is in a war to defeat and eliminate the controlling power, Hamas.

    “And for that reason, the United States is voting no on this proposed Security Council resolution,” Patel said.

    For the Palestinian bid to be successful it would have had to secure nine votes among the Security Council’s 15-member body, and not have any of the five permanent members exercise their veto.

    But the vote tally signaled that the majority of members were putting their support behind the Palestinian measure, despite the U.S. push to promote negotiations as the only pathway for recognition of a Palestinian state.

    If the U.S. had not exercised its veto, a second vote would be taken by the General Assembly to admit the Palestinian Authority as a voting-member under the title of “State of Palestine.”

    The PA launched a bid for statehood recognition at the U.N. earlier this month as part of efforts to legitimize its leadership amid Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and escalating unrest in the West Bank, with surging violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

    The U.S. is working on a plan to “revitalize” and “reform” the Palestinian Authority and prepare it for governance of the Gaza Strip. It is part of a larger plan to have Gulf and Arab partners participate in stabilizing Gaza in the aftermath of Israel’s war and establish open ties with Israel.

    “We do not think that actions in New York, even if they are the most well-intentioned, are the best appropriate path,” Patel said.

    “It remains our view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners who share this goal.”

    “It remains our view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners who share this goal.”

    In 2012, the Palestinian Authority secured the status of “non-member observer state” at the U.N., in the face of U.S., Israeli and other countries objecting, arguing that the establishment of a Palestinian state could only occur between direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Ziad Abu Amr, special representative of the Palestinian president, said in remarks that recognizing the State of Palestine would not be a substitute “for serious negotiations that are time-bound to implement the two-state solution,” the Associated Press reported.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Kennedy Family Endorses Biden



    Members of the Kennedy family appeared en masse and in force to endorse President Biden at a campaign event in Philadelphia on Thursday.

    It’s a public display of support that reveals a weakness Democrats privately acknowledge: Biden is likely more at risk from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s third-party challenge than former President Trump is.

    With a substantial number of voters telling pollsters they are dissatisfied with both Biden and Trump, Democrats are increasingly petrified that a Kennedy name on the ballot will throw the election to Trump.

    A similar fear pervaded over the potential No Labels unity ticket. But with those plans scuttled, Biden is turning his focus on the scion of the storied Kennedy family.

    RFK Jr.’s sister, Kerry Kennedy, invoked the legacy of her slain father, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, as well as that of her uncles: former President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

    “I can only imagine how Donald Trump’s outrageous lies and behavior would have horrified my father,” she said.

    “President Biden has been a champion for all the rights and freedoms that my father and uncles stood for,” she added.

    Kerry Kennedy lauded Biden’s track record fighting for “working people,” his support for unions, and his efforts to relieve “the debt incurred by middle-and-working class kids trying to get ahead by getting an education.”

    By contrast, if Trump wins he will “incite more chaos, division, and political violence with his extreme agenda,” she said.

    In a veiled dig at her brother’s campaign, Kennedy added that “in 2024 there are only two candidates with any chance of winning the presidency.”

    “What an incredible honor, to have the support of the Kennedy family,” Biden said when he took the stage.

    After Biden’s remarks, Kennedy family members plan to knock on doors and make calls on behalf of the Biden campaign.

    From inflation to abortion, the Biden campaign is seizing every opportunity to make 2024 a choice between two candidates — and two competing visions for America.

    Kennedy’s independent bid threatens that strategy.

    Democrats view anything that turns the election into a referendum on Biden — and gives voters a chance to register their discontent with the status quo — as a grave threat to Biden’s candidacy.

    The event on Thursday is part of an increasingly aggressive effort to take on Kennedy, with most polls showing Trump’s advantage grows with the ex-Democrat’s famous last name on the ballot.

    The Democratic Party is also preparing to fight Kennedy’s attempts to get on the ballot in key swing states, and has hired communications professionals at the DNC with the explicit aim of combatting Kennedy.

    Biden advisers aren’t concerned about Kennedy making deep inroads with Democrats and independents. They’re worried about his effect on the margins in a few key swing states.

    Two of the last three GOP presidential victories — President Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016 — can partly be explained by the appeal of third-party candidates to disaffected voters.

    The electoral math bolsters those fears.

    Trump’s 2016 margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was smaller than the total number of votes won by Green Party candidate Jill Stein in those states.

    Kennedy is actually sounding a lot more like Trump — with pledges to “seal the border” and appoint a special counsel to review Jan. 6 prosecutions — than a traditional Democrat from a storied family.

    But Republicans are also concerned about Kennedy’s potential crossover appeal, with pro-Trump media abruptly shifting its tone on his candidacy.

    Many Kennedy family members have been critical of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s candidacy.

    Biden posed with dozens of them, including Kerry Kennedy, at a St. Patrick’s Day party at the White House last month.

    Thursday’s event will consolidate that criticism and try to turn it into positive momentum for Biden.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Ilhan Omar’s Daughter Arrested, Suspended from College Over Pro-Palestinian Protests



    The daughter of Minnesota Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar was arrested Thursday while participating in pro-Palestinian protests in New York, and said she was suspended from her private liberal arts college in the city over her participation.

    At a news conference, New York City police confirmed that Isra Hirsi was among the 108 protesters arrested for alleged trespassing.

    The confirmation of Hirsi’s arrest came after comments from Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Edward Caban, who said Columbia University requested police to respond to the protests, and to “intervene if necessary.”

    Hirsi said she was among a few Barnard College students who were suspended for participating in a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University.

    Barnard and Columbia are partner schools across the street from each other.

    “i’m an organizer with CU Apartheid Divest @ColumbiaSJP, in my 3 years at @BarnardCollege i have never been reprimanded or received any disciplinary warnings. i just received notice that i am 1 of 3 students suspended for standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocide,” Hirsi posted on X.

    “those of us in Gaza Solidarity Encampment will not be intimidated. we will stand resolute until our demands are met. our demands include divestment from companies complicit in genocide, transparency of @Columbia’s investments and FULL amnesty for all students facing repression,” Hirsi wrote.

    Omar has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s government and an advocate for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. Omar declined to comment through her spokeswoman.

    Barnard College issued a statement Thursday saying the students had set up an unauthorized encampment on Columbia’s south lawn early Wednesday morning and had been asked to leave multiple times. College staff told the students they would be sanctioned if they didn’t leave, the statement said.

    “This morning, April 18, we started to place identified Barnard students remaining in the encampment on interim suspension, and we will continue to do so,” the college’s statement said.

    Hirsi’s announcement that she was suspended came a day after Columbia University President Nemat Shafik testified before Congress about antisemitism on campus. During that hearing, Omar questioned Shafik about how the college treats protesters. She did not mention her daughter’s role in campus protests.

    “There has been a recent attack on the democratic rights of students across the country. I was appalled to learn that in April, Columbia suspended and evicted six students for their involvement in the pro-Palestinian panel event on campus,” Omar said to Shafik. “It happened that all six students were arbitrarily targeted after the university brought in a team of private and former police investigators. These investigators harassed, intimidated Palestinian students at their homes, demanding to see students’ private text messages.”

    Shafik responded: “This was a very serious case. We had students who on an online call … invited people who were inciting violence, and that is unacceptable. We needed to get to the bottom of it, and so that’s why we brought private investigators, along with notifying the FBI.”

    The panel event that Omar questioned Shafik about appears to have been highly controversial. In a statement in early April, Shafik called the event an “abhorrent breach of our values” and said “it featured speakers who are known to support terrorism and promote violence.”

    “That I would ever have to declare the following is in itself surprising, but I want to make clear that it is absolutely unacceptable for any member of this community to promote the use of terror or violence,” Shafik said in her statement.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    FBI on Alert for Threats to Jews Ahead of Passover



    Federal law enforcement is on alert for any potential threats to the US Jewish community ahead of the start of the Passover holiday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a group of nationwide security officials Wednesday.

    “We at the bureau remain particularly concerned that lone actors could target large gatherings, high profile events, or symbolic or religious locations for violence – particularly a concern, of course, as we look to the start of Passover on Monday evening,” Wray said.

    Speaking at an event hosted by the Secure Community Network, a Jewish community nonprofit safety and training organization, Wray said threats to the US Jewish community had already been elevated before Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack on Israel, but the number of FBI hate crime cases tripled in the wake of the incident.

    “Between October 7 and January 30 of this year, we opened over three times more anti-Jewish hate crime investigations than in the four months before October 7,” said Wray, who noted raw statistics about investigations represent “very real threats to your institutions, to your houses of worship, to your schools and university organizations, and to the individuals in your communities simply for being who you are.”

    An Anti-Defamation League audit released Tuesday showed there was a dramatic upward trend of incidents after the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Between October 7 and December 31, there were 5,204 incidents, CNN reported earlier this week.

    The Jewish civil rights advocacy group tracked 8,873 antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2023 – the highest number of incidents reported since the organization began tracking data in 1979.

    Wray said his remarks were not intended to stir alarm, but he noted “it is a time for continued vigilance” – comments echoed by other security professionals.

    “Unprecedented threats do not need to equate to unnecessary fear or panic,” said SCN national director and CEO Michael Masters, who added that the public can “rest assured that those focused on the safety and security of the community are maintaining a laser-like focus on this so Jewish life can exist and thrive.”

    In addition to homegrown violence and a surge in hoax threats against Jewish facilities, Wray warned that the FBI was also observing a range of threats from abroad.

    “We’ve seen – since October 7 – a rogues’ gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against the United States and our allies,” said Wray, including calls by global terrorist groups “to target Jewish communities both in the United States and Europe.”

    In addressing Jewish community security officials, Wray also called out state-sponsored threats.

    “After the last few days, in particular, the threat posed by Iran itself is very real,” he said.

    Wray added that after Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel last week in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic complex in Syria, “we are urging all of our partners here and around the world to stay vigilant” against any “potential threats that may emerge from Iran or its proxies both overseas and even here in the homeland.”

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Argentina’s Milei Submits Request to Join NATO



    Argentina has submitted a request for the country to become a “global partner” of NATO.

    The country’s president Javier Milei has repeatedly said he wants to protect his country’s sovereignty claim on the Falkland Islands – while also trying to tie closer links with the West. Indeed, since his election win, Argentina has become much closer to the United States and other western powers.

    However, in January, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron met with the Argentine President and the future of the islands was discussed. According to the Foreign Office: “On the Falkland Islands, the Foreign Secretary and President Milei said they would agree to disagree, and do so politely. The UK position and ongoing support for the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination remains unchanged.”

    Today, Defense Minister Luis Alfonso Petri submitted the formal request. He said on X: “I met with Deputy Secretary General of NATO Geoana. I transmitted a letter of intent to him, which contains a request from Argentina to become a global partner of this organisation.”

    Romanian Mircea Geoană met with 47-year-old Mr Petri in Brussels, saying: “It is a great pleasure to welcome Defence Minister Petri to NATO Headquarters.

    “Argentina plays an important role in Latin America, and I welcome today’s request to explore becoming a NATO partner. NATO works with a range of countries around the world to promote peace and stability. Closer political and practical cooperation could benefit us both.”

    The request from enigmatic Mr Milei’s government won’t be rubber-stamped unless all 32 members support it. At present, the only South American partner the defensive military alliance has is Colombia.

    Despite the long-haired president’s overtures towards the West, he has not backed off over the Falklands, as the sovereignty of the islands remains politically exercising in Argentina.

    Earlier this week, Ian Shields OBE, a retired RAF officer who spent four months on the Falklands, told that it is hard to reconcile Mr Milei’s drift towards the West with his stance on the islands: “My take is that he is playing two different games.”

    However, the military man turned Cambridge academic noted that Mr Milei’s rhetoric over what he would call Las Malvinas is aimed at a domestic audience.

    He said that amping up emotions over the Falklands “plays well with a nationalist, right-wing agenda, and also distracts the people from domestic economic issues”.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    WARNING: The Real-Time Deepfake Romance Scams Have Arrived



    Romance scams are getting a whole lot more convincing with the latest tactic: using two phones, one running a face-swap app, to conduct live video calls with victims …

    Romance scams

    Romance scams are where a fraudster creates fake dating profiles, establishes communication with a victim, and wins their trust over time before creating a fake emergency for which they say they need a short-term loan.

    A typical example will see the scammer claim they have been robbed while abroad, and need cash sent to enable them to settle a hotel bill so they can fly home. They will claim the money will be repaid as soon as they land back in the US, a day or so later.

    In most cases, the best a scammer can do to draw victims in is using a mix of text and voice chat, but a new tactic is seeing them now conduct live video calls to make their fake identity seem even more convincing.

    Uses two phones with a face-swap app

    A paywalled Wired report says the scammers are known as Yahoo Boys. The site got access to videos of the scammers at work which show two different methods. The first involves using two phones.

    The scammers use a setup of two phones and a face-swapping app. The scammer holds the phone they are calling their victim with—they’re mostly seen using Zoom, Maimon says, but it can work on any platform—and uses its rear camera to record the screen of a second phone. This second phone has its camera pointing at the scammer’s face and is running a face-swapping app. They often place the two phones on stands to ensure they don’t move and use ring lights to improve conditions for a real-time face-swap, the videos show.

    The second runs on a laptop.

    Here, the scammer uses a webcam to capture their face and software running on the laptop changes their appearance. Videos of the setup show scammers are able to see their own face alongside the altered deepfake, with just the manipulated image being displayed over the live video call.

    If you’re wondering what subterfuge Wired had to employ to obtain video footage of the scams in operation, the astonishing answer is: none at all. The scammers are so brazen they are happy to boast about their cons in Telegram group chats, complete with video footage. In some cases, this is to sell the setups to other scammers.

    Rachel Tobac, cofounder of SocialProof security, says the apps have improved dramatically in the past year.

    Especially the ones where they’re able to change the pitch of their voice and the look of their face—sometimes changing skin tone, hair, eye color, everything’s matched. It’s pretty wild.

    Protecting yourself from romance scams

    As always, the advice when using dating apps is to be cautious until you’ve met someone, and anyone asking for money is an immediate giveaway that you’re talking to a scammer – no matter how convincing they may seem.

    Additionally, beware social media apps that ask you to upload a face photo to be transformed into something like an older or younger version of you, a Samurai warrior or whatever. These apps are designed to collect data used to train things like face-swap apps.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Two Jurors Dismissed in Trump’s Hush Money Trial



    The judge in former President Trump’s New York criminal trial excused two jurors on Thursday after one questioned her ability to be impartial in a high profile case and a second may not have answered a jury questionnaire honestly.

    Seven jurors had been selected at the start of proceedings Thursday morning, but now the panel has been winnowed to five.

    Juror number four, dismissed Thursday afternoon, was excused after prosecutors said they found a news article showing that someone with the same name as his juror had previously “been arrested in Westchester for tearing down political advertisements.”

    While it’s unclear it at this point whether it was the same person, Merchan said told the juror he “should not come back” Monday morning, per a pool report.

    They also found that the juror’s wife “was previously accused of or involved in a corruption inquiry,” per the pool report.

    The prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, said the information suggested that the juror’s answer to a question about previous arrests “was not accurate.”

    Both the defense and prosecution agreed to wait for the juror to arrive in court to confirm whether he is the same person from the news story.

    The first juror dismissed Thursday morning told the judge she “definitely has concerns now” about what has been publicly reported about her, noting that some of her friends, colleagues and family indicated that she had been identified as a possible juror.

    “I don’t believe, at this point, that I can be fair and unbiased and let the outside influences not affect my thinking in the courtroom,” the juror also said, per Politico.

    “We just lost what probably would have been a very good juror,” Judge Juan Merchan said afterward, according to Reuters.

    Merchan, who is overseeing the New York criminal trial, said he was directing reporters to avoid publishing physical descriptions of jurors moving forward.

    Merchan also said that he is going to redact from the court records prospective jurors’ answers to questions about their current and former employers.

    He also directed the media to not report on answers to those questions, per a press pool report.

    When jury selection resumed, more than 5o potential jurors were excused, the vast majority saying they could not be impartial in the case.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    REPORT: Russia Spy Arrested for Plotting Assassination of Zelensky



    A Polish national has been arrested on suspicion of handing sensitive information to Russia in order to facilitate a possible assassination plot against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    Suspect Paweł K faces up to eight years in prison after he was detained in Poland and charged with ‘reporting his readiness to act for foreign intelligence’.

    The man was tasked with ‘collecting… military intelligence… with information on the security of the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport’ in order to ‘help Russian special services plan a possible attack’ on the Ukrainian leader, Polish prosecutors believe.

    Polish authorities worked with their counterparts in Ukraine during the investigation, leading to Paweł K’s detention on Wednesday. The investigation is still ongoing.

    A number of attempts on the life of President Zelensky have been reported since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

    According to the Prosecutor’s Office, an investigation revealed how Paweł K had ‘declared his readiness to act for the military intelligence’ of Russia and made contacts with citizens ‘directly involved in the war in Ukraine’.

    They claimed he became involved in gathering and relaying military intelligence back to Russia, including information on the security of the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in southeastern Poland.

    This was ‘among other things’ intended to help special services plan an attack on Zelensky, the prosecutors allege.

    The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine raised suspicions about Paweł K with the Polish Prosecutor’s Office, who conducted an investigation into the suspect.

    The ‘Polish side’ emphasised the strong collaboration with Ukraine to foil the alleged plot, sharing information and collating evidence from within and outside of Poland.

    The investigation continues to be conducted by the Internal Security Agency under the supervision of the National Prosecutor’s Office.

    Earlier today, two men described as German-Russian national were also detained in Germany, suspected of planning to sabotage German military aid for Ukraine.

    Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said authorities had also prevented ‘possible explosive attacks’.

    The men were accused of scouting US military facilities and other sites. One was remanded in pre-trial detention, accused of offences including plotting an explosion and maintaining contact with Russian intelligence.

    The other was accused of helping him identify potential targets.

    As early as March 2022, Pravda reported that the Ukrainian military had ‘destroyed’ a Chechen outfit tasked with ‘eliminating’ Zelensky.

    Chechnya is a republic within Russia.

    ‘Putin assigned the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov to do the dirtiest work and personally instructed him during a meeting on February 3, 2022,’ the outlet reported, dated more than two weeks before the invasion.

    The Chechen group were tasked with taking out Ukrainian leaders before they were repelled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Pravda claimed.

    Mikhail Podolyak, presidential adviser to Zelensky, claimed previously that the Ukrainian leader had survived more than a dozen attempts in the first two weeks of the war alone.

    ‘Our foreign partners are talking about two or three attempts. I believe that there were more than a dozen such attempts,’ he told Ukrainian Pravda in March 2022.

    ‘We have a very powerful intelligence and counterintelligence network – they monitor it all and all these DRGs [Russian reconnaissance groups] are being eliminated on the way.

    ‘That is, we understand all the plans and our counterintelligence is working on them.’

    In March 2023, a group of foreign citizens were arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia, Polish government officials told the BBC.

    Polish security services reportedly broke up the spy network accused of installing secret cameras at the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport in order to film transport infrastructure used to deliver aid to Ukraine.

    The group allegedly installed dozens of cameras near railway junctions and key transport routes in areas border Ukraine, local radio station RMF FM reported.

    Military and cargo aircraft from the US and Europe regularly use the airport in Poland to deliver supplies headed for Ukraine.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Prosecutors Accuse Trump of Breaching Gag Order 7 More Times



    Prosecutors accused former President Trump on Thursday of repeatedly violating the gag order the judge placed on him in his New York hush money case.

    Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the case, had previously scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday over prosecutors’ request to hold Trump in contempt for alleged gag order violations.

    Prosecutors on Thursday alleged that Trump has violated the gag order seven more times since Monday, according to court pool reports.

    Prosecutors pointed to Trump’s social media posts linking to articles calling Cohen a “serial perjurer” and alleging that “undercover liberal activists” are lying to the judge to get on the jury, per a pool report.

    The prosecution filed a new motion requesting the posts be included in next week’s hearing, per NBC News.

    It’s ridiculous and it has to stop,” prosecutor Chris Conroy said, CNN reported.

    Emil Bove, one of Trump’s lawyers, argued the social media posts didn’t “establish any willful violations” of the gag order and that reposting other people’s public comments shouldn’t constitute a violation, per a pool report.

    Instead, Bove argued, Trump’s posts highlighted some of the order’s “ambiguities.”

    Bove said that Cohen has been attacking Trump in “connection to the campaign,” and therefore Trump’s comments were related to the campaign.

    Merchan did not rule Thursday regarding the possible violations, saying he will wait for next week’s hearing, the New York Times reported.

    Merchan issued a gag order against Trump last month, prohibiting him from commenting on witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors in the case, with the exception of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg who is an elected official.

    The judge expanded the order earlier this month, barring Trump from attacking family members of those involved in the case.

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    911 Emergency Lines Go Down Across Multiple States



    Police forces across several states, from Nebraska to Nevada, reported their 911 phone lines are down – causing chaos for those needing emergency assistance.

    Cities as big as Las Vegas, as well as the entire state of South Dakota and locales in Texas and Nebraska announced the outages on Wednesday night.

    Officials in South Dakota, Nevada and Las Vegas said 911 services had been restored, but without identifying the cause of the failure.

    The Department of Homeland Security has warned, of increased risks of cyber attacks on 911 services as they have migrated to digital systems based on Internet Protocol standards.

    Several cyberattacks targeting 911 systems have taken down the services in recent years, one of which, in 2017, paralyzed 911 centers in more than a dozen states.

    In Las Vegas specifically, no estimate was initially given after an outage wiped out landline and mobile phones connectivity to the crucial 911 number.

    Authorities asked for callers not to test out the phone line while they try and get service back up, amid fears that unreported crimes may be taking place.

    Nearby Henderson, Nevada was also facing a down 911 – but various other emergency services were still running.

    The entire state of South Dakota, Dundy County, Kearney County, Howard County and Fremont, Nebraska, as well as Del Rio, Texas were also affected.

    The emergency mobile number to get a hold of police, ambulance, and fire services was not connecting to call centers for many hours throughout the night.

    Police urged the public to call alternative numbers if they needed help.

    In South Dakota, one county did say that text messages to 911 did appear still be going through.

    Others suggested that members of the public needing help ought to call 911 on a mobile device, and wait for the service to call you back.

    In Vegas and South Dakota, police announced just after 10pm local time that service was restored following a three hour outage.

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