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Diane A. Wade

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Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

Top Democratic fundraiser George Clooney has issued a damning call for Joe Biden to quit the presidential race, hours after senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi swerved questions about whether he should continue.

George Clooney said that the president had won many battles in his career, “but the one battle he cannot win is the fight against time”.

His comments came after Nancy Pelosi, the former House Speaker, joined growing disquiet in the party, saying that time was “running short” for Joe Biden to decide whether to stay in the race against Donald Trump after his disastrous debate.

President Biden has stated, repeatedly, that he is determined to remain as the Democratic party’s candidate and beat Donald Trump in November.

George Clooney wrote in The New York Times that it was “devastating to say it” but the Mr Biden he met at a fundraising event three weeks ago was not the “‘Joe ‘big ****ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020.”

“He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate,” the actor said.

Image source: Wikimedia

Biden-Trump 1st Debate Wraps Ahead of Donald Trump Immunity Ruling

The fundraising event, held in Los Angeles, brought in a single-night record of roughly $30 million for the Biden campaign.

“Our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw.”

“This is about age. Nothing more,” he continued. “We are not going to win in November with this president.”

George Clooney added that his concerns matched those of “every” member of Congress he had spoken to.

Asked to respond, Joe Biden’s campaign referred to a letter the president sent Democrats in Congress that said he was “firmly committed” to his candidacy and beating Donald Trump.

Yet public dissent continues to grow within Joe Biden’s party as he faces scrutiny while hosting the NATO summit in Washington.

Nancy Pelosi, still one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill, on July 10 appeared to disregard Joe Biden’s insistence that he was determined to continue.

When asked if he should stay in the election race, she told MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “I want him to do whatever he decides to do.”

“It’s up to the president to decide if he’s going to run. We are all encouraging him to make that decision, because time is running short.”

A Biden campaign spokesperson referred to Nancy Pelosi’s comments on July 9, in which she said that she had “always been committed” to the president.

Around a dozen elected Democrats have suggested he abandon his campaign since his June 27 debate with Donald Trump.

On July 9, Michael Bennet of Colorado became the first Democratic senator to publicly dissent.

Although he did not call for Joe Biden to quit outright, he said Donald Trump would win the election, possibly by a “landslide”.

Pat Ryan, a congressman from New York, later wrote on X: “For the good of our country, for my two young kids, I’m asking Joe Biden to step aside.”

Overall support from elected Democrats remains robust, however.

Gavin Newsom, the California governor who was named by George Clooney as a potential replacement, said he was still “all in” with Joe Biden.

The Congressional Black Caucus, a group of roughly 60 politicians, and newer House members like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, have publicly backed him.

President Joe Biden has assured Democrat donors that he can still win November’s presidential election against Donald Trump, after a poor debate performance fuelled concern about his candidacy.

Joe Biden, 81, attended a series of fundraising events in New York and New Jersey on June 29, and defended his performance in CNN’s Presidential Debate.

Speaking at one event, President Biden admitted: “I didn’t have a great night, but neither did Trump.”

“I promise you we’re going to win this election,” he said.

Joe Biden’s debate performance was marked by hard-to-follow and shaky answers – raising fresh fears among some Democrats over whether he is the right candidate to contest this high-stakes election.

The Biden campaign accepted that the debate had not gone as they had hoped, but said he would not step aside for another nominee.

Photo AP

Campaign chairwoman Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said on June 29 that internal post-debate polling showed “voters’ opinions were not changed”.

Former President Barack Obama, a close friend of Joe Biden, said on social media that “bad debate nights happen”.

“This election is still a choice between someone who fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself,” Barack Obama wrote.

Hours after the debate, Donald Trump told his supporters that he considered the debate a “big victory” for his campaign.

“Joe Biden’s problem is not his age,” the 78-year-old Trump said.

“It’s his competence. He’s grossly incompetent.”

A post-debate poll by liberal pollster Data for Progress found that 62% of likely voters who watched or read about the debate found Donald Trump won. Only 30% of those polled said Joe Biden won the debate.

Until further polling is conducted, fundraising could be another indication of continued enthusiasm for Joe Biden’s candidacy.

In a memo, chairwoman Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said the campaign had raised more than $27 million from June 27 to June 28.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5CVZHAjrW8

President Joe Biden gave a stumbling performance in a 90-minute showdown with Donald Trump – the first televised debate of the 2024 presidential election campaign.

Democrats expressed concern at the president’s performance – with party insiders saying his early answers triggered panic.

While Republican candidate Donald Trump faces criticism for the number of falsehoods he uttered, much of the attention has been focused on President Joe Biden’s poor performance.

Joe Biden appeared to struggle in several of his answers. As a result, concerns about his age and mental fitness have only risen further. Some Democrats have even asked after the debate whether the president could be replaced as the party’s presidential candidate.

Speaking to the New York Times, an unnamed veteran Democrat says the president will face a “crescendo” of calls to step down. “Joe had a deep well of affection among Democrats. It has run dry.”

Many of the president’s surrogates have come to his defence, though. Vice-President Kamala Harris told CNN “there was a slow start but there was a strong finish” by her running mate.

Donald Trump’s supporters, meanwhile, declared victory. House Speaker Mike Johnson called it “the biggest mismatch” in debate history.

He repeatedly attacked President Biden on the economy and his foreign policy record,  Joe Biden took aim at his rival’s criminal conviction and alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Donald Trump also repeated falsehoods – from abortion, to taxes and the deficit – and at first avoided answering if he would accept the 2024 election result.

Joe Biden called Donald Trump a “sucker”, a “loser,” and said he had the “morals of an alley cat”.

Donald Trump hit back, and said at one point: “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence, and I don’t think he did either.”

Image source: Getty Images

On Russian state TV, political talk show “60 Minutes” mocked the debate, referring to it as “a reality show about the lives of pensioners”. The anchor concluded that it had been “disastrous for Joe”.

Meanwhile in China, the state-owned Global Times also described the debate as “like, external a reality show, external”. Chinese audiences did, however, enjoy the pair going “off topic to discuss their golf skills, external”.

In Ukraine, news websites such as Ukrayinska Pravda, external and NV, external, as well as the national United News TV service, gave prominence to Donald Trump’s remark that Vladimir Putin’s conditions for ending the war were “not acceptable”.

Ukranian media generally agreed that Joe Biden “lacked energy”. He failed to show voters that he can be the US president for another four years, the LB.ua website said, external.

The Hindustan Times in India said Joe Biden’s performance was “shaky” and he appeared to be “struggling and even froze several times”. Donald Trump showed “more aggression” and “capitalised on Biden’s missteps”.

Finally in Turkey, the Hurriyet newspaper said: , external“Biden had difficulty understanding the questions and hesitated when answering.”

Academic Hilmi Bolatoglu said in a post on X, external that Joe Biden’s performance suggested a “new Trump era is approaching”.

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Amanda Knox has been reconvicted for slander by a court in Florence, years after she was acquitted of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007.

The 36-year-old will not go to prison as she has already served four years for the murder, for which she was originally convicted.

At the time she was also convicted of slander for blaming the murder on local bar owner Patrick Lumumba during police interrogation, but that conviction was quashed last year and a retrial ordered.

Amanda Knox’s lawyers have said they expect to appeal against the latest verdict.

They added that Amanda Knox was disappointed as she was hoping to finally clear her name after years of legal battles.

She told the court on June 5 that police had coerced her into implicating Patrick Lumumba.

Patrick Lumumba was arrested in connection with the 2007 murder and spent two weeks behind bars, but was released without charge after a customer gave him an alibi.

Despite this, his lawyers said the case has affected his reputation, and that he “became known everywhere as the monster of Perugia”.

His lawyer told reporters outside the courthouse before the hearing: “He lost his job, had his bar seized for months, and had to return to Poland, because his wife was Polish.”

Patrick Lumumba was not in court.

The hearing was held behind closed doors, and audio and video recording was prohibited.

Amanda Knox was famously tried, convicted and later acquitted for the murder of 21-year-old student Meredith Kercher, originally from south London.

Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher were both language exchange students sharing a house in the university town of Perugia in 2007.

Meredith Kercher, 21, was found dead in their house. Her throat had been cut and she had been assaulted.

Amanda Knox, her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and a third person called Rudy Guede were convicted of murder and sexual violence in December 2009 and jailed. Amanda Knox was convicted of slandering Patrick Lumumba in 2011.

But the same year, a jury freed Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito on appeal after doubts emerged over forensic evidence used against them, and Knox returned to the US after spending four years in prison.

The duo’s guilty verdicts were reinstated in 2014 then ultimately overturned in 2015.

Amanda Knox is now married with two young children, and is a campaigner for criminal justice reform. She returned to Italy five years ago to address a conference on wrongful conviction, where she spoke of the pain of being tried by the media.

Former president Donald Trump has hit out after being convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in his historic criminal trial in New York.

He’s called the verdict a “disgrace” and attacked the judge, and has found the support of fellow Republicans.

It is the first time a former or serving US president has been convicted of a crime.

He was accused of falsifying business records linked to a hush-money payment made Stormy Daniels, whose alleged affair with Donald Trump was at the center of this case.

Image source: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

The Biden campaign said the verdict showed that “no-one is above the law”, and has urged Americans to make sure Donald Trump doesn’t return to the White House.

Donald Trump can still run for president despite the convictions. He faces prison when he’s sentenced on  11 – but legal experts say a fine is more likely.

Donald Trump is due to deliver a press conference from Trump Tower at 11:00 EDT on May 31st.

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Jurors in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial have begun deliberations – the 12 New Yorkers must reach a unanimous verdict.

A verdict could come at any time and the former president could be convicted, acquitted or there could be a mistrial.

The court has heard from 22 witnesses over six weeks, including Stormy Daniels, whose alleged affair with Donald Trump is at the centre of this case.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump is accused of concealing a payment made to buy the former adult-film star’s silence shortly before the 2016 election.

He has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, and denies any sexual encounter with her.

Prosecutors accuse Donald Trump of an “elaborate scheme”, while the defence called the other side’s star witness Michael Cohen the “MVP of liars”.

It is the first time in history that a US president – former or current – has faced a criminal trial.

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Huge storms killed at least 22 people and left a path of destruction across central US.

Tornadoes and devastating thunderstorms left nearly 600,000 residents in 13 states without power, obliterated homes and injured hundreds.

Forecasters said the greatest weather risk will now shift east, covering a broad sweep of the country, from Alabama to New York.

More thunderstorms, damaging wind gusts, hail and flash flooding are expected.

Heavy rain is expected to batter parts of the east coast, with more thunderstorms emerging in the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Washington, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania are at all risk of tornadoes.

Searing heat will also continued in parts of the US south.

May 26 was the busiest severe weather day in the US so far this year, with more than 600 reports of storm damage across 20 states. Twisters and heavy winds reduced buildings to piles of rubble, flipped cars and brought down power lines.

Image source: PickPik

Lightning, thunder and heavy rain meanwhile forced the evacuation of around 125,000 spectators as Indianapolis 500 race was delayed by four hours on May 26.

Weather deaths were reported in several states, including eight in Arkansas, seven in Texas, two in Oklahoma and four in Kentucky. In Alabama, a 79-year-old woman was killed after a tree fell into her home, local media said.

President Joe Biden spoke with the governors of each state affected by the storms, and offered federal assistance.

On May 27, Kentucky Governor Andy Bashear declared a state of emergency after storms pummelled much of the state.

“Last night many families and communities were not safe,” he said.

“We had devastating storms that hit almost the entire state.”

Confirming four people had died, Governor Bashear said a fifth was “fighting for their life”.

In Colorado, a farmer and 34 of his cows were killed in a lightning strike.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said more than a third of counties were subject to a disaster declaration after extreme weather ploughed through the state.

All of the state’s seven deaths were reported in Valley View in Cooke County, Texas near the Oklahoma border after a tornado hit a rural area near a mobile home park.

Two children, aged two and five, and three members of the same family were among those found dead.

Footage from the area showed a filling station and rest stop almost completely destroyed, with twisted metal littered over damaged vehicles.

The latest twisters follow another powerful tornado which tore through a rural Iowa town and killed four people earlier in May.

Government forecasters have also described this summer as a possibly “extraordinary” 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, beginning next month.

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Donald Trump’s lawyer hit back against prosecutors, accusing their star witness – Michael Cohen – repeatedly of lying.

On the most tense day yet of cross-examination, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer, described talking to the former president directly about a hush-money payment to an adult-film star.

But attorney Todd Blanche all but shouted Michael Cohen’s testimony was “a lie.”

Records, he said, show Michael Cohen called Donald Trump’s bodyguard about a prank caller.

Todd Blanche’s alternate theory of the phone call was designed to sow doubt on Michael Cohen’s third day on the stand, as the jury watched the furious exchange with intense focus.

Following the heated moment, Todd Blanche stormed back to the defense table and sat down next to his client. When the judge announced an afternoon recess, there was a collective exhale in the room.

Donald Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, for allegedly disguising payments to Michael Cohen as legal expenses when they were in fact reimbursements for paying off film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with him.

Image source: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

Prosecutors allege Donald Trump sought to keep damaging information from the public to protect his 2016 presidential campaign. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all counts and denied having an affair with Stormy Daniels.

On May 16, Michael Cohen maintained that his previous testimony was true, and that he spoke to Donald Trump about the payout to Stormy Daniels on a call on October 24, 2016.

Earlier this week, prosecutors asked Michael Cohen about the call to help establish Donald Trump’s alleged direct knowledge of the payoff scheme. Michael Cohen testified that he kept his boss aware during every step of the process of paying Stormy Daniels.

As the man at the centre of the payout, Michael Cohen’s testimony is crucial for prosecutors to prove whether or not Donald Trump had knowledge of the allegedly fraudulent reimbursement plan.

However, Michael Cohen’s criminal record, history of lying to Congress, and profane public criticism of Donald Trump makes him a flawed witness. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance crimes over the hush-money payment, but maintains that he sent the money at Donald Trump’s direction.

The defense seized on Michael Cohen’s credibility issues for nearly two days and sought to paint him as a liar with a vendetta against Donald Trump.

On May 16, Todd Blanche played recordings from Michael Cohen’s podcast, Mea Culpa, where the witness expressed a desire to see the former president go through the booking process and said of Donald Trump: “I want this man to go down.”

Todd Blanche also confronted Michael Cohen with an X post where he called the former president “Dumbass Donald.”

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A 71-year-old man has been charged with the attempted murder of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico after the politician was seriously hurt in a shooting attack.

The alleged assailant has not been formally named, but Slovak reports have widely identified him as a man from the town of Levice.

Reports say he could face up to life in prison.

Robert Fico, 59, is in a serious but stable condition after being shot several times in what colleagues described as a politically motivated attack.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok told a news conference on May 16 that the suspect had acted alone and that he had previously taken part in anti-government protests.

Peter Pellegrini, a populist and ally of Robert Fico, won April’s vote.

It was in broad daylight on May 15 that PM Fico, surrounded by a crowd of supporters, was shot at close range.

A gunman fired five times, hitting the prime minister in the stomach and arm.

The attack took Robert Fico’s security detail completely by surprise. Footage showed several officers bundling the wounded PM into a car, before driving away at high speed, while the others detained the suspect.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

PM Fico was rushed to a nearby hospital in an air ambulance, with injuries described as life-threatening.

He was then transferred to another facility in Banska Bystrica, east of Handlova, where surgeons and trauma teams worked through the night to stabilise him.

On May 16, the hospital director told a news conference that PM Fico’s condition was stable, but “truly very serious”, and he had been moved to an intensive care unit.

Local media reports describe the suspect as a writer and political activist.

A video being widely circulated on Slovak media purports to feature him.

In the footage, the man says he disagrees with government policy and its stance towards state media.

Several Slovak politicians called the shooting an “attack on democracy”.

On May 16, Slovakia’s outgoing President Zuzana Caputova appealed for calm and invited all party leaders to a meeting to discuss political tension.

Meanwhile, Slovak President-elect Peter Pellegrini called on all parties to suspend campaigning before European parliament elections scheduled for early June.

Robert Fico is a divisive figure at home for his calls to end military aid to Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.

The shooting came on the day parliament began discussing the government’s proposal to abolish Slovakia’s public broadcaster RTVS.

Thousands of Slovaks have protested against the proposed reform of the public broadcaster in recent weeks. However, a planned opposition-led demonstration was called off on May 15 as news of the shooting emerged.

Slovak PM Robert Fico is fighting for his life in hospital after being shot in a small town north-east of Bratislava.

According to Defense Minister Robert Kalinak, PM Fico had been in surgery for over three hours and that the situation was “bad”.

Slovak politicians including the president have called the shooting an “attack on democracy”.

The alleged assailant was detained at the scene but has not yet been formally identified by the authorities.

The attack happened at about 14:30 local time in Handlova, about 110 miles from the capital Bratislava, as Robert Fico greeted people in front of a cultural community centre where a government meeting had been held.

Footage showed a man raising a gun and firing five times at the prime minister before being subdued by bodyguards while other members of Robert Fico’s security detail took the prime minister into his car.

He was airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital before being flown to another hospital in Banska Bystrica, east of Handlova.

At a press conference on May 15, Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said PM Fico had been shot in the stomach.

“Initial information clearly points to political motivation,” he added.

Unconfirmed local media reports said the suspect was a 71-year-old writer and political activist.

A video being widely circulated on Slovak media purports to feature the suspect.

In the footage, the man says he disagrees with government policy and its stance towards state media.

Slovakia’s outgoing president Zuzana Caputova said something “so serious had happened that we can’t even realise it yet”.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Fico, 59, returned to power in Slovakia after elections last September, at the head of a populist-nationalist coalition.

His first few months as prime minister have proved highly contentious politically. In January he halted military aid to Ukraine and last month pushed through plans to abolish public broadcaster RTVS.

Thousands of Slovaks have protested against the proposed reform of the public broadcaster in recent weeks. However, a planned opposition-led demonstration was called off on May 15 as news of the shooting emerged.

Parliament was sitting at the time of the attack and Slovak media reported that a party colleague of Robert Fico’s shouted at opposition MPs, accusing them of stoking the attack.

President-elect Peter Pellegrini, who is a political ally of Robert Fico’s, said he was horrified to hear of the attack and also blamed the shooting on recent political divisions.

Describing the attack as an “unprecedented threat to Slovak democracy” he said people did not have to agree on everything, but there were ways to express disagreement democratically and legally.

World leaders have also condemned the attack on Robert Fico. President Joe Biden condemned the “horrific act of violence” and said the US embassy was in “close touch” with the Slovakian government and was “ready to assist”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said there could “be no justification for this monstrous crime”.

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Three Indian nationals have been arrested and charged over the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, which sparked a major diplomatic row between the two countries.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was shot dead last June by masked gunmen in a busy car park in a Vancouver suburb.

The diplomatic row escalated after PM Justin Trudeau alleged India’s government may have been involved.

Delhi strongly denied the allegation.

In announcing the arrests on May 3, Superintendent Mandeep Mooker said the three suspects were Karan Brar, 22, Kamal Preet Singh, 22, and 28-year-old Karan Preet Singh.

He said all three had been living in Edmonton, Alberta where they were arrested. They have been charged with first-degree murder, court records show, as well as conspiracy to commit murder.

All had been in Canada for three to five years, police said.

Police added that investigations were continuing, including into “connections to the government of India”.

“There are separate and distinct investigations ongoing into these matters. Certainly not limited to the involvement of the people arrested today,” Assistant Commissioner David Teboul said.

Investigators have been working with counterparts in India but the collaboration has been “rather difficult and rather challenging” for several years, they said.

Police said there may be others involved in the killing, and there may be further arrests or charges.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the country would wait for Canadian police to share information on those arrested, adding the suspects “apparently are Indians of some kind of gang background”.

Image source: Wikipedia

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a Sikh separatist leader who publicly campaigned for Khalistan – the creation of an independent Sikh homeland in the Punjab region of India.

In the 1970s, Sikhs launched a separatist insurgency in India which saw thousands killed before it was quelled the following decade. Since then, the movement has been mostly limited to countries with large Sikh populations.

India has in the past described Hardeep Singh Nijjar as a terrorist who led a militant separatist group – accusations his supporters say are unfounded. They say he had received threats in the past because of his activism.

He was shot dead at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, a city about 18 miles east of Vancouver on June 18 last year.

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President Joe Biden has urged pro-Palestinian protesters on university campuses to uphold the rule of law.

“We are a civil society, and order must prevail,” President Biden said from the White House, in his first direct remarks about a wave of student unrest.

Police have detained more than 2,000 people nationwide in the past fortnight at college rallies and protest camps.

That includes 209 arrests in the past day at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Hundreds of officers in riot gear moved on to UCLA’s main campus before dawn on May 2 and cleared its pro-Palestinian encampment.

They set off flash bangs and flares, loaded demonstrators on to police buses, and tore down the makeshift barriers and tents that had been erected on campus a week ago.

In a statement, UCLA called the encampment “both unlawful and a breach of policy. It led to unsafe conditions on our campus and it damaged our ability to carry out our mission.”

“Demonstrators directly interfered with instruction by blocking students’ pathways to classrooms,” it added, while their clashes with pro-Israeli counter-demonstrators “put too many [students] in harm’s way”.

Image source: UCLA

Addressing the nationwide protests hours later, President Biden said: “We are not an authoritarian nation where we silence people or squash dissent… But neither are we a lawless country.”

“There’s the right to protest but not the right to cause chaos. People have the right to get an education, the right to get a degree, the right to walk across the campus safely without fear of being attacked.”

The Uncommitted National Movement, a group of Arab-American voters opposed to President Biden’s re-election campaign this year, accused him of “smearing” anti-war protesters.

“It’s clear Biden isn’t listening to young people nationwide, or to the over half a million uncommitted voters asking him to change course. We hope he hears us before it’s too late,” leader Abbas Alawieh said.

The campus protests in support of Gaza have now spread to nearly 140 colleges in at least 45 states, and at least six other countries.

Demonstrators, who have long pushed for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war, are demanding academic institutions financially divest from Israel and companies who stand to make money from the conflict.

But many colleges have called in the police, with violence erupting on some campuses, as well as rising reports of antisemitic harassment against Jewish students.

The tensions at UCLA’s main Westwood campus erupted on April 30 when a masked pro-Israeli group breached the tent camp on Dickson Plaza and attacked campers with bats, tear gas and other items.

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At least five people, including a four-month-old baby, have been killed after dozens of tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, Iowa, Texas and Missouri causing serious damage.

Tens of thousands of residents were left without power following separate storms that began on April 26.

Four of the deaths happened in Oklahoma, where a state of emergency has been declared in a dozen counties.

A fifth person died from their injuries in Iowa after a separate storm system hit the Midwest, local media reported.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a preliminary investigation had confirmed some of April 27 tornadoes had gusts of above 136 miles an hour.

The storms – which swept from Texas to Missouri – also saw up to seven inches of rain fall in some places within hours, the AFP news agency reported.

The town of Sulphur, in eastern Oklahoma, was hit particularly hard. Video of the aftermath showed flattened homes and overturned vehicles.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, around 100 injuries were reported.

The towns of Holdenville and Marietta were also badly damaged.

tornado
Photo Getty Images

The speaker of the Oklahoma state House of Representatives, Charles McCall, insisted that the affected areas would recover.

“We will rise, we’ll clean up, we’ll rebuild and we’ll move forward,” he told a news conference in Sulphur on April 28.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt also visited the town and said the damage there was the worst he had seen in his six years in office.

“You just can’t believe the destruction,” he said.

“It seems like every business downtown has been destroyed.”

The White House said President Joe Biden had spoken with Governor Stitt and offered the federal government’s full support.

It comes after a separate weather system brought more than 70 tornadoes to the Midwestern states of Nebraska and Iowa on April 26.

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Prosecutors and Donald Trump’s attorneys delivered opening statements and the first witness was called on April 22 in the historic and unprecedented criminal trial of a former president.

“It was election fraud, pure and simple,” a lawyer told the jury during opening statements at the historic trial in New York.

Setting out the case for the defense, Donald Trump’s lawyer said his client had committed no crimes and that it was not illegal to try to influence an election.

“He is cloaked in innocence,” he added.

Donald Trump is accused of trying to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult movie star Stormy Daniels before he won the race for the White House back in 2016.

He has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records and also denies having an alleged affair with Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

At the start of the second week of the criminal trial in Manhattan – the first ever of a former US president – each side set out the case they will present to the jury. The first witness, tabloid publisher David Pecker, also took the stand briefly and will continue his testimony on April 23.

Trump Trial: 63 Potential Jurors Say They Can’t Be Impartial

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo told the court that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and confidant, worked with the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, to “cook the books” at Trump’s direction.

Prosecutors alleged that the scheme to disguise how Michael Cohen was reimbursed for the payment to Stormy Daniels involved falsifying three forms of records – invoices, ledger entries and cheques.

Donald Trump said in his business records that those payments were “for legal services pursuant to a retainer agreement” with Michael Cohen, Matthew Colangelo told the jury.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Critically for this case, he said that Donald Trump was motivated to provide the payoff so voters did not learn of the alleged encounter with Stormy Daniels.

Prosecutors said that this cover-up should be considered election interference, which constituted a second crime. That elevated the charge of falsifying business records from a lower-level misdemeanour into a more serious felony.

They claimed the infamous Access Hollywood tape, which surfaced weeks before the 2016 election and showed Donald Trump bragging about being able to have sex with anyone because he is famous, had panicked his campaign.

“The defendant and his campaign staff were deeply concerned that it would irreparably damage his standing with female voters in particular,” Matthew Colangelo told the court.

But when Stormy Daniels came forward a day later alleging an affair with Donald Trump, it compounded the problem created by the tape, Matthew Colangelo alleged.

The trial is expected to last about another six weeks, but legal experts say opening statements are particularly important as an opportunity to shape jurors’ views on the case.

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Court has wrapped up for the first day of Donald Trump’s long-awaited hush-money trial in New York.

It marks the first time that a US president – former or current – has faced a criminal trial.

Dozens of potential jurors have been excused after saying they cannot be impartial.

Jury selection is expected to continue for at least the rest of the week.

Donald Trump is accused of trying to cover up a $130,000 hush-money payment to adult movie star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election – which he won.

Stormy Daniels claims she and Donald Trump had an affair in 2006, and she was then paid by Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen to stay quiet about it.

Donald Trump is accused of falsifying his business records by saying the reimbursement money he gave Michael Cohen was for legal fees.

He faces 34 counts of fraud, but denies any legal wrongdoing – and also denies having an affair with Daniels.

Image source Wikipedia

The maximum penalty if Donald Trump is found guilty is four years behind bars, but experts say a much less severe penalty would be more likely.

Speaking outside court, Donald Trump said he was upset about possibly missing son’s graduation.

He said some “amazing things happened today”.

The former president then brings up how the judge may not let him go to his son’s high school graduation.

The judge told Trump they would make a call on that closer to the date.

He criticises the judge, and the case. And once again makes the unsubstantiated claim that it is “election interference”.

Donald Trump has repeatedly made these types of allegations regarding his legal troubles.

And with that, he walks away and takes no questions.

There were 96 people in the first panel of prospective jurors brought into the courtroom today.

In a matter of minutes, 63 were dismissed because they said they could not be impartial in Trump’s hush-money case.

Now that court has resumed, those 33 remaining people will be asked more questions and we will likely see more excused before the day is out. Then there are hundreds more still waiting to be called to the court room.

Finding an impartial jury in New York is going to take some time, probably more than a week.

It’s a blue state, meaning voters are largely Democrats.

Donald Trump’s relationship with the city, where he made a name for himself as a real estate tycoon.

The US has warned Israel that it will not participate in any retaliatory strikes on Iran, senior White House officials have said.

Over 300 drones and missiles were fired at Israel overnight, which Iran said was in response to an April 1 strike on its consulate in Syria.

Almost all weapons were shot down by Israeli, US and allied forces before they reached their targets.

White House officials said President Joe Biden urged Israel to consider its response “carefully”.

Speaking to reporters on April 14, a senior administration official said that President Biden told Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to “think very carefully and strategically” about how his forces replied to the unprecedented action, the first direct attack by Iran on the country.

The official added that the Biden administration believes Israel “got the best of it” in the exchange, which began when senior Iranian military commanders were killed at an Iranian consular building in Syria.

Image source: President Biden/X

About 99% of the missiles, drones and cruise missiles launched during Iran’s retaliatory operation were shot down or intercepted – which US officials point to as a sign of Israeli military superiority over Iran.

US aircraft and naval vessels shot down dozens of Iranian projectiles as the attack took place. Some 70 drones and several ballistic missiles were downed by US aircraft and vessels or by air defence forces over Iraq.

A conversation took place between President Biden and PM Netanyahu at a time “of heightened emotion” just after the attack, which included about 100 ballistic missiles simultaneously flying towards Israel.

During the call, the two leaders had a discussion “about how to slow things down and think through things”, with President Biden emphasizing that Israel has “gotten the best of it”.

The official declined to say, however, whether the White House warned against a significant response, saying only that “it is a calculation the Israelis have to make”.

In a string of television appearances on US networks earlier in the day, national security spokesman John Kirby repeatedly said that the US had made it clear to Israel that it seeks to avoid a wider conflict.

The senior administration said that the same message has been sent to Iran through diplomatic channels.

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Truong My Lan, a 67-year-old Vietnamese property developer, was sentenced to death on April 11 for looting one of the country’s largest banks over a period of 11 years.

It was the most spectacular trial ever held in Vietnam, befitting one of the greatest bank frauds the world has ever seen.

It’s a rare verdict – Truong My Lan is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime.

Image source: AP

The decision is a reflection of the dizzying scale of the fraud. Truong My Lan was convicted of taking out $44 billion in loans from the Saigon Commercial Bank. The verdict requires her to return $27 billion, a sum prosecutors said may never be recovered. Some believe the death penalty is the court’s way of trying to encourage her to return some of the missing billions.

The habitually secretive communist authorities were uncharacteristically forthright about this case, going into minute detail for the media. They said 2,700 people were summoned to testify, while 10 state prosecutors and around 200 lawyers were involved.

The evidence was in 104 boxes weighing a total of six tonnes. Eighty-five others were tried with Truong My Lan, who denied the charges and can appeal.

All of the defendants were found guilty. Four received life in jail. The rest were given prison terms ranging from 20 years to three years suspended. Truong Truong My Lan’s husband and niece received jail terms of nine and 17 years respectively.

The trial was the most dramatic chapter so far in the “Blazing Furnaces” anti-corruption campaign led by the Communist Party Secretary-General, Nguyen Phu Trong.

A conservative ideologue steeped in Marxist theory, Nguyen Phu Trong believes that popular anger over untamed corruption poses an existential threat to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. He began the campaign in earnest in 2016 after out-manoeuvring the then pro-business prime minister to retain the top job in the party.

Donald Trump has been criticized by Joe Biden’s campaign team for sharing a video on social media featuring a truck bearing the image of the president with his hands and feet tied together.

The Biden campaign team accused the former president of “regularly inciting political violence” ahead of November’s election.

A spokesman for the Trump campaign said Democrats have been calling for “despicable violence” against Donald Trump.

Donald Trump posted the video on his social media site Truth Social on March 29.

According to the caption, it was filmed in Long Island, New York, on March 28 when the former president attended the wake of a New York City police officer who was killed during a traffic stop.

The video shows two passing trucks on the road, both covered in US flags and flags claiming support for the police.

The second truck was emblazoned with the words “Trump 2024”, and the rear of the vehicle features an image of Joe Biden with his hands and feet tied.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump’s promotion of the video drew criticism from Joe Biden campaign’s team.

“Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it’s time people take him seriously – just ask the Capitol police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6,” spokesman Michael Tyler said, referring to the storming of Congress by the former president’s supporters after he falsely claimed the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

But Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, responded: “That picture was on the back of a pickup truck that was travelling down the highway. Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him.”

The Republican presidential nominee faces four criminal cases, with an election subversion case and New York hush money case the most likely to be heard in court before the election on 5 November.

Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, and claimed he is being politically persecuted.

The row over the tailgate image is the latest in a series of heated exchanges between the two presidential candidates in the run-up to the polls.

In his bid to return to the White House, Donald Trump has ramped up his rhetoric, frequently referring to those convicted for their part in the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 as “hostages”.

He also came under criticism for comments in Ohio earlier this month in which he warned of a “bloodbath” if he wasn’t elected. He made the reference after talking about foreign car imports and their economic impact.

The Biden campaign seized on the comments but Donald Trump accused them and the media of taking him out of context.

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Ceremonies have been taking place across the world to mark the most important festival in the Christian calendar – Easter.

Jesus was resurrected on Easter Sunday, the Bible says, days after dying on the cross on Good Friday. It is traditional for many to attend services on Saturday evening.

A day after pulling out of a ceremony at short notice, Pope Francis took part in a two-hour vigil at the Vatican on Saturday.

There had been renewed concern about his health when he did not participate in a Good Friday procession.

The Pope read a lengthy homily and carried out a number of baptisms ahead of his Easter message on Sunday morning.

At least 133 people were killed and more than 140 injured when gunmen attacked a packed concert venue on the outskirts of Moscow on March 22, Russia says.

A large fire engulfed the roof of Moscow’s Crocus City Hall and dramatic video shows panicked concertgoers taking cover as shots and explosions ring out.

President Vladimir Putin says all four gunmen have been arrested, and that the suspects were trying to flee to Ukraine – Kyiv says allegations of Ukrainian involvement are “absurd”.

Vladimir Putin calls the attack a “barbaric terrorist act” and announces a day of national mourning for March 24.

Image source: Reuters

Muscovites are queuing to give blood for those injured and flower tributes have been placed at the scene of the attack.

The US says it’s credible that the Islamic State group (ISIS) could be behind the attack, after the group said it did it. Russia has not commented.

The Islamic State group has issued a follow-up statement offering more details about last night’s attack on a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow, which the group earlier said it was behind.

The new details – published via IS group accounts on messaging app Telegram – say four attackers were involved in the deadly assault, and includes a picture claiming to show the four assailants, all masked. The update comes from the group’s news outlet Amaq, which was also the source of the initial claim.

Neither of the two IS Amaq statements indicated which of IS’s regional branches was responsible for the attack.

In terms of motive, Amaq says “the attack comes in the context of normal ongoing war between the Islamic State and [anti-Islam] countries”.

The IS mouthpiece says the attack was carried out by “fighters” who it says were armed with “machine guns, a gun, knives and incendiary bombs”, and that the attack was preceded by a “concerted” reconnaissance mission.

Russia has not yet commented on the claims but the US has said it’s credible that the Islamic State group could be behind the attack.

Vladimir Putin wins a fifth term as Russian president by a landslide of 87%, according to Russian exit polls.

Putin faced no credible opposition candidate as the Kremlin tightly controls Russia’s political system, media and elections.

Germany called it a “pseudo-election”, while the US said the vote was “obviously not free nor fair”.

Image source Wikimedia

Ukraine’s President Zelensky said Putin was “drunk with power and is doing everything to rule forever”.

In a post-election news conference, Valdimir Putin vowed to press on with the invasion of Ukraine.

He also said Russian democracy was more legitimate than in the US, where “with mail-in voting… you can buy a vote for $10”.

Voting took place in the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine: Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. Overall, turnout was 77%.

The House of Representatives has passed a landmark bill that could see TikTok banned in America.

The bill would give the social media giant’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, six months to sell its controlling stake or the app will be blocked in the US.

While the bill passed overwhelmingly in a bipartisan vote, it still needs to clear the Senate and be signed by the president to become law.

Lawmakers have long held concerns about China’s influence over TikTok.

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which is subject to a national security law requiring it to share data with Chinese officials.

Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican who co-authored the bill, said the US could not “take the risk of having a dominant news platform in America controlled or owned by a company that is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party”.

TikTok has tried to reassure regulators that it has taken steps to ensure the data of its 150 million users in the US has been walled off from ByteDance employees in China.

However, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal in January found the system was still “porous”, with data being unofficially shared between TikTok in the US and ByteDance in China. High-profile cases, including one incident where ByteDance employees in China accessed a journalist’s data to track down their sources, have stoked concerns.

After the vote on March 13, a spokesperson for the company accused lawmakers of jamming through a “ban” following what they called a “secret” process.

Image by krittiyanee thumjaikul from Pixabay

Speaking ahead of the vote, Hakeem Jeffries – the top Democrat in the House – welcomed the bill, saying it would decrease “the likelihood that TikTok user data is exploited and privacy undermined by a hostile foreign adversary”.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber would now review the legislation.

Its prospects in the upper chamber of Congress are unclear in the wake of Republican White House candidate Donald Trump speaking out against the bill.

Donald Trump, who tried to ban the app during his term in office, changed his position after a recent meeting with Republican donor Jeff Yass, who reportedly owns a minor stake in ByteDance.

Trump’s opposition was echoed by some House members on March 13. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, wrote on social media that the bill could allow Congress to force the sale of other corporations by claiming to be protecting US data from foreign adversaries.

Some Democrats are also opposed to a ban, fearing it could alienate the app’s youthful userbase as the party struggles to retain its hold over younger voters.

Judge Scott McAfee, who oversaw an election interference case against Donald Trump in Georgia, has thrown out some criminal charges, but left most in place.

The judge found six counts in the 41-count indictment against Donald Trump and some of his co-defendants, including Rudy Giuliani, lacked detail.

But he said the charges can be refiled at a later date.

Donald Trump was among 19 people charged with a conspiracy to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.

“The lack of detail concerning an essential legal element is, in the undersigned’s opinion, fatal,” Judge McAfee wrote in his order on March 13.

He said the charges do not provide the accused with enough information to prepare their legal defences “intelligently”, adding that “this does not mean the entire indictment is dismissed”.

Judge McAfee was randomly assigned the Trump case in 2023, just six months after being appointed as a judge by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican.

He previously worked as a prosecutor, including for the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat who led the investigation into the former president.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Judge McAfee’s ruling affects three of the 13 charges against Donald Trump.

They relate to a call Donald Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he told him: “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”

One of the charges accused the former president of soliciting public officials to break the law by violating their oath of office.

However, Judge McAfee said the indictment was not specific enough about exactly what Donald Trump wanted the officials to do.

The other dismissed charges apply to some of his most prominent co-defendants: Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Mark Meadows.

In his order, Judge McAfee said the charges “contain all the essential elements of the crimes but fail to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of their commission, i.e., the underlying felony solicited”.

It comes as a win for Donald Trump and his co-defendants, who had filed to dismiss the charge. Prosecutors could now choose to refile the charges with more information in their allegation, or let the ruling stand and focus on the other charges.

The group had initially faced 41 total charges. Donald Trump is facing up to 20 years in prison in Georgia if convicted of the most severe charge of racketeering.

In a statement, Donald Trump’s lawyer in the Georgia case, Steve Sadow, called the ruling “a correct application of the law, as the prosecution failed to make specific allegations of any alleged wrongdoing on those counts”.

Donald Trump, who is running for president against Joe Biden in November, has slammed the case as politically motivated.

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Thousands of Russians have defied fear to turn out to bid farewell to Alexei Navalny.

Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic, died in jail on February 16.

Authorities had warned any protest would be illegal. But police – deployed in numbers – stood by as the crowd chanted Navalny’s name, or their opposition to the Russian president.

Supporters and relatives, as well as many foreign leaders, have blamed Vladimir Putin for his death.

Alexei Navalny
Image source Wikimedia

Russian authorities deny any such accusation, saying Alexei Navalny died of natural causes. He had been serving a long sentence on trumped-up charges in a penal colony in the Arctic.

It was feared that the authorities would crack down on March 1 funeral proceedings.

A heavy police presence was visible in Maryino, the area of Moscow where the funeral was held – and where Navalny lived with his family for many years.

At one point, Navalny’s team estimated that the line of people stretched well over 0.6 miles, despite the grey winter’s day in which temperatures hovered at just above freezing.

Yet none of the policemen – many of whom were in full riot gear – intervened when expressions of support for Navalny became overtly political.

Thousands chanted out “no to war”, “Russia without Putin” and “Russia will be free” – slogans that have previously landed many Russians in jail.

The memorial service began just after 14:00 Moscow time at the Church of the Icon of Our Lady Quench My Sorrows.

It followed much uncertainty and complaints by Navalny’s team that the authorities had been making the arrangements difficult – even finding a hearse was an issue.

However, hundreds started to arrive hours before proceedings were meant to begin. They were later joined by foreign dignitaries, including the US, German and French ambassadors.

The ceremony inside the church was brief – an image on social media showed the open coffin that is commonplace in Russia, with mourners paying respects. Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila, and his father, Anatoly, were seen sitting alongside.

As the church bell tolled and Navalny’s coffin was brought outside, people tossed roses and carnations onto the hearse and cried: “We won’t forget you!”

Alexei Navalny’s widow Yulia, his children Daria, 23, and Zakhar, 15, and his brother Oleg – are all thought to be living abroad and were not present.

Yulia has recently declared she is going to continue his political work – meaning it is possibly unsafe for her to return to Russia, where Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has been declared an extremist organisation.

She shared a poignant tribute on social media while the funeral was under way, thanking Navalny for “26 years of absolute happiness”.

“I don’t know how to live without you, but I will try to do it so you – up there – can be happy and proud of me,” she said.

Their daughter Darya also posted a message online, describing Navalny as her “hero”.

“You have always been and forever will be my example,” she wrote.

In the absence of an independent Russian media, Navalny’s team at the Anti-Corruption Foundation took it upon themselves to provide a live stream of the funeral ceremonies.

The YouTube channel from which Navalny regularly addressed his supporters broadcast scenes from his funeral. More than a quarter of a million people tuned in throughout the day.

The burial finally took place at Borisovskoye cemetery around 16:00.

Alexei Navalny’s coffin was lowered into the ground to the sound of Frank Sinatra’s My Way and to an orchestral rendition of the Terminator 2 theme song.

“Navalny thought The Terminator 2 was the best film in the whole world,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on social media.

Alexei Navalny’s team has confirmed the death of the Russian political activist and called for his body to be “immediately” returned to his family

Alexei Navalny, 47, who was serving a lengthy sentence inside a Siberian prison, died at 14:17 local time on February 16, according to a document given to his mother, Lyudmila.

His team has said his body is not in the morgue where officials said he was.

Kira Yarmysh, a spokesperson for the Russian activist, said Alexei Navalny’s mother and lawyer had arrived at the morgue, in Salekhard, a town near the prison he had been serving in, but it was closed.

In an update on X, formerly Twitter, Yarmysh said both of them had been “assured” his body was there by the penal colony.

But Yarmysh goes on to say: “The lawyer called the phone number which was on the door. He was told he was the seventh caller today. Alexei’s body is not in the morgue.”

Alexei Navalny
Image source Wikimedia

Protests and vigils have been held near Russian embassies in many countries following the death of the outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

More than 100 street protesters were detained in Russian cities, reports say, as people were warned not to rally.

Police have been detaining people across Russia as they tried to lay flowers in memory of Alexei Navalny at monuments to Stalinist political repression.

The numbers are small so far, but likely to grow.

In Novosibisrk, in Siberia, the authorities cordoned off the monument where people were heading to pay their respects. They claimed there were bomb threats. Mourners stuck their flowers into snowdrifts instead, nearby.

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the right to public protest has been gradually, but firmly, squeezed – until it’s almost non-existent. It is illegal even to stand with a protest sign in the street without permission. The punishment is a fine or a short spell in police custody.

But if that sign expresses support for Alexei Navalny, there’s a real risk of criminal charges – for extremism.

Alexei Navalny’s entire political organisation – including all its offices across Russia – has been declared “extremist” on a par with terrorist groups like Isis or Al-Qaeda. It means anyone with any links to Navalny – or showing support for him and his team – is taking a major risk.

Alexei Navalny had been in a Russian jail since 2021 on politically-motivated charges.

President Joe Biden has said Vladimir Putin is “responsible” for Navalny’s death.

Tributes have been pouring in from global figures, with former US President Barack Obama describing Navalny as a “fearless advocate for his beliefs” who “inspired millions”.

The G7 held a minute’s silence to pay their respects to Navalny at the Munich Security Conference today.