US paused bomb shipment to Israel to signal concerns over Rafah invasion, official says

Israeli soldiers stand next to military vehicles, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza Border, in southern Israel, May 7, 2024. (REUTERS)
Israeli soldiers stand next to military vehicles, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza Border, in southern Israel, May 7, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 08 May 2024
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US paused bomb shipment to Israel to signal concerns over Rafah invasion, official says

US paused bomb shipment to Israel to signal concerns over Rafah invasion, official says
  • Israel has killed more than 34,700 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory
  • The State Department is separately considering whether to approve the continued transfer of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which place precision guidance systems onto bombs, to Israel, but the review didn’t pertain to imminent shipments

WASHINGTON: The US paused a shipment of bombs to Israel last week over concerns that Israel was approaching a decision on launching a full-scale assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah against the wishes of the US, a senior administration official said Tuesday.
The shipment was supposed to consist of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, with the focus of US concern being the larger explosives and how they could be used in a dense urban setting. More than 1 million civilians are sheltering in Rafah after evacuating other parts of Gaza amid Israel’s war on Hamas, which came after the militant group’s deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
President Joe Biden’s administration in April began reviewing future transfers of military assistance to Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government appeared to move closer toward an invasion of Rafah, despite months of opposition from the White House. The official said the decision to pause the shipment was made last week and no final decision had been made yet on whether to proceed with the shipment at a later date.
The State Department is separately considering whether to approve the continued transfer of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which place precision guidance systems onto bombs, to Israel, but the review didn’t pertain to imminent shipments.

 

 


Three hikers die in Utah parks as temperature hit triple-digits

Three hikers die in Utah parks as temperature hit triple-digits
Updated 7 sec ago
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Three hikers die in Utah parks as temperature hit triple-digits

Three hikers die in Utah parks as temperature hit triple-digits
  • Father and daughter who got lost on a strenuous hike in Canyonlands National Park found dead
  • Tourists continue to flock to parks in Utah and other southwestern states during the hottest months of the year
SALT LAKE CITY: Three hikers died over the weekend in suspected heat-related cases at state and national parks in Utah, including a father and daughter who got lost on a strenuous hike in Canyonlands National Park in triple-digit temperatures.
The daughter, 23, and her father, 52, sent a 911 text alerting dispatchers that they were lost and had run out of water while hiking the 13 kilometers Syncline Loop, described by the National Park Service as the most challenging trail in the Island in the Sky district of the southeast Utah park. The pair set out Friday to navigate steep switchbacks and scramble through boulder fields with limited trail markers as the air temperature surpassed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
Park rangers and a helicopter crew with the Bureau of Land Management began their search for the lost hikers in the early evening Friday, but found them already dead. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office identified them on Monday as Albino Herrera Espinoza and his daughter, Beatriz Herrera, of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Due to the jagged terrain, safety officials used a helicopter to airlift the bodies out of the park and to the state medical examiner on Saturday morning, according to the sheriff’s office. Their deaths are being investigated as heat-related by the local sheriff and the National Park Service.
Later Saturday, first responders in southwest Utah responded to a call about two hikers “suffering from a heat related incident” at Snow Canyon State Park, which is known for its lava tubes, sand dunes and a canyon carved from red and white Navajo Sandstone.
A multi-agency search team found and treated two hikers who were suffering from heat exhaustion. While they were treating those individuals, a passing hiker informed them of an unconscious person nearby. First responders found the 30-year-old woman dead, public safety officials said.
Her death is being investigated by the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department. She has not been identified publicly.
Tourists continue to flock to parks in Utah and other southwestern states during the hottest months of the year, even as officials caution that hiking in extreme heat poses serious health risks.
Three hikers have died in the past month at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, where summer temperatures on exposed parts of the trails can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). A 50-year-old man from Texas died on July 7 while trying to reach the South Rim. Weeks earlier, a 69-year-old man collapsed and died while hiking in the sweltering heat, and a 41-year-old who had spent the night at the bottom of the canyon was found dead not far from his campsite. Temperatures deep within the Grand Canyon can rise into the triple digits during the summer.
A motorcyclist died earlier this month in Death Valley National Park in eastern California, and another motorcyclist was taken to a hospital for severe heat illness. Both were part of a group that rode through the Badwater Basin area amid scorching weather.
The air temperature in Death Valley reached at least 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius) for nine consecutive days July 4-12 — the park’s longest streak at or above that temperature since the early 1900s, the National Park Service announced Monday. Now, parts of the park are experiencing a multiday power outage triggered by a thunderstorm as temperatures continue to linger just above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Elsewhere on Monday, authorities said a 61-year-old man was found dead inside his motor home in eastern Washington state. The man likely died Wednesday when the temperature in the area reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius), Franklin County Coroner Curtis McGary said.
Authorities also suspected heat in the death of an 81-year-old man Saturday in Oregon but have released no further details. His death brings the state’s tally of suspected heat-related deaths to 17 since the July 4 weekend, The Oregonian/Oregonlive.com reported.

Elon Musk pledges $45 million a month to fund Donald Trump election

Elon Musk pledges $45 million a month to fund Donald Trump election
Updated 36 min 44 sec ago
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Elon Musk pledges $45 million a month to fund Donald Trump election

Elon Musk pledges $45 million a month to fund Donald Trump election
  • Tech billionaire’s donations will go to a political group dubbed America PAC
  • Tesla founder formally endorsed Trump’s candidacy for US president on Saturday

WASHINGTON: Tech billionaire Elon Musk said he plans to commit roughly $45 million each month to a new fund backing Donald Trump for US president, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Musk’s donations will go to a political group dubbed America PAC, which will focus on promoting voter registration, early voting and mail-in ballots among residents in swing states ahead of the November general election, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Musk is one of several major backers of the new fund, with others reportedly including Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, former US ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft and cryptocurrency investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.
The Tesla founder formally endorsed Trump’s candidacy for US president on Saturday after the former president survived a shooting at a political rally in Butler, Pennsylvania.
“I fully endorse President Trump and hope for his rapid recovery,” Musk wrote on the social media platform X, which he acquired in 2022.
Musk, the wealthiest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $250 billion, has grown increasingly friendly with Trump over the course of the 2024 US election.
In March, the two met in person during a donor breakfast hosted at the Florida residence of billionaire Nelson Peltz.
Though individual campaign donations in the United States are capped at $3,300 per person, loopholes in the campaign finance system allow political mega donors to contribute to funds known as political action committees or “PACs,” which support candidates.
Trump previously decried mail and absentee voting, but has backtracked on his criticisms after it became clear Democrats had an edge among mail voters.


Trump, ear bandaged, appears at Republican National Convention

Trump, ear bandaged, appears at Republican National Convention
Updated 31 min 35 sec ago
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Trump, ear bandaged, appears at Republican National Convention

Trump, ear bandaged, appears at Republican National Convention

MILWAUKEE: Two days after surviving an attempted assassination, former President Donald Trump appeared triumphantly at the Republican National Convention’s opening night with a bandage over his right ear, the latest compelling scene in a presidential campaign already defined by dramatic turns.
GOP delegates cheered wildly when Trump appeared onscreen backstage and then emerged in the arena, visibly emotional, as musician Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the USA.” That was hours after the convention had formally nominated the former president to head the Republican ticket in November against President Joe Biden.
Trump did not address the hall — with his acceptance speech scheduled for Thursday — but smiled silently and occasionally waved as Greenwood sang. He eventually joined his newly announced running mate, Ohio Sen. JD Vance, to listen to the night’s remaining speeches, often with a subdued expression and muted reactions uncharacteristic for the unabashed showman
The raucous welcome underscored the depth of the crowd’s affection for the man who won the 2016 nomination as an outsider, at odds with the party establishment, but now has vanquished all Republican rivals, silenced most GOP critics and commands loyalty up and down the party ranks.
“We must unite as a party, and we must unite as a nation,” said Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley, Trump’s handpicked party leader, as he opened Monday’s primetime national convention session. “We must show the same strength and resilience as President Trump and lead this nation to a greater future.”
But Whatley and other Republican leaders made clear that their calls for harmony did not extend to Biden and Democrats, who find themselves still riven by worries that the 81-year-old question is not up to the job of defeating Trump.
“Their policies are a clear and present danger to America, to our institutions, our values and our people,” said Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, welcoming the party to his battleground state, which Trump won in 2016 but lost to Biden four years ago.
Saturday’s shooting at a Pennsylvania rally, where Trump was injured and one man died, were clearly in mind, but the proceedings were celebratory — a stark contrast to the anger and anxiety that had marked the previous few days. Some delegates chanted “fight, fight, fight” — the same words that Trump was seen shouting to the crowd as the Secret Service ushered him off the stage, his fist raised and face bloodied.
“We should all be thankful right now that we are able to cast our votes for President Donald J. Trump after what took place on Saturday,” said New Jersey state Sen. Michael Testa as he announced all of his state’s 12 delegates for Trump.
When Trump cleared the necessary number of delegates, video screens in the arena read “OVER THE TOP” while the song “Celebration” played and delegates danced and waved Trump signs. Throughout the voting, delegates flanked by “Make America Great Again” signs applauded as state after state voted their support for a second Trump term.
Multiple speakers invoked religious imagery to discuss Trump and the assassination attempt.
“The devil came to Pennsylvania holding a rifle,” said Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. “But an American lion got back up on his feet!”
Wyoming delegate Sheryl Foland was among those who adopted the “fight” chant after seeing Trump survive Saturday in what she called “monumental photos and video.”
“We knew then we were going to adopt that as our chant,” added Foland, a child trauma mental health counselor. “Not just because we wanted him to fight, and that God was fighting for him. We thought, isn’t it our job to accept that challenge and fight for our country?”
“It’s bigger than Trump,” Foland said. “It’s a mantra for our country.”
Another well-timed development boosted the mood on the convention floor Monday: The federal judge presiding over Trump’s classified documents case dismissed the prosecution because of concerns over the appointment of the prosecutor who brought the case, handing the former president a major court victory.
The convention is designed to reach people outside the GOP base
Trump’s campaign chiefs designed the convention to feature a softer and more optimistic message, focusing on themes that would help a divisive leader expand his appeal among moderate voters and people of color.
On a night devoted to the economy, delegates and a national TV audience heard from speakers the Trump campaign pitched as “everyday Americans” — a single mother talking about inflation, a union member who identified himself as a lifelong Democrat now backing Trump, a small business owner, among others.
Featured speakers also included Black Republicans who have been at the forefront of the Trump campaign’s effort to win more votes from a core Democratic constituency.
US Rep. Wesley Hunt of Texas said rising grocery and energy prices were hurting Americans’ wallets and quoted Ronald Reagan in calling inflation “the cruelest tax on the poor.” Hunt argued Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris didn’t seem to understand the problem.
“We can fix this disaster,” Hunt said, by electing Trump and sending “him right back to where he belongs, the White House.”
Scott, perhaps the party’s most well-known Black lawmaker, declared: “America is not a racist country.”
Republicans hailed Vance’s selection as a key step toward a winning coalition in November.
Trump announced his choice of his running mate as delegates were voting on the former president’s nomination Monday. The young Ohio senator first rose to national attention with his best-selling memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” which told of his Appalachian upbringing and was hailed as a window into the parts of working-class America that helped propel Trump.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who had been considered a potential vice presidential pick, said in a post on X that Vance’s “small town roots and service to country make him a powerful voice for the America First Agenda.”
Yet despite calls for harmony, two of the opening speakers at Monday’s evening session — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and North Carolina gubernatorial nominee Mark Robinson — are known as some of the party’s most incendiary figures.
Robinson, speaking recently during a church service in North Carolina, discussed “evil” people who he said threatened American Christianity. “Some folks need killing,” he said then, though he steered clear of such rhetoric at the convention stage.
The campaign continues
Trump’s nomination came on the same day that Biden sat for another national TV interview the president sought to demonstrate his capacity to serve another four years despite continued worries within his own party.
Biden told ABC News that he made a mistake recently when he told Democratic donors the party must stop questioning his fitness for office and instead put Trump in a “bullseye.” Republicans have circulated the comment aggressively since Saturday’s assassination attempt, with some openly blaming Biden for inciting the attack on Trump’s life.
The president’s admission was in line with his call Sunday from the Oval Office for all Americans to ratchet down political rhetoric. But Biden maintained Monday that drawing contrasts with Trump, who employs harsh and accusatory language, is a legitimate part of a presidential contest.
Inside the arena in Milwaukee, Republicans did not dial back their attacks on Biden, at one point playing a video that mocked the president’s physical stamina and mental acuity.
They alluded often to the “Biden-Harris administration” and took regular digs at Vice President Kamala Harris — a not-so-subtle allusion to the notion that Biden could step aside in favor of his second-in-command.


Secret Service agrees to independent probe over Trump shooting

Secret Service agrees to independent probe over Trump shooting
Updated 16 July 2024
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Secret Service agrees to independent probe over Trump shooting

Secret Service agrees to independent probe over Trump shooting
  • The Secret Service faces intense scrutiny over how a gunman aiming an assault rifle was able to take position on a roof some 500 feet (150 meters) from one of the most protected political figures on the planet

WASHINGTON: Facing growing criticism over a massive security failure, the US Secret Service on Monday vowed to cooperate with an independent review after a shooter was allowed to open fire on Donald Trump.
The 78-year-old former president was injured but survived an assassination attempt at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, a brazen attack that shocked a nation already deeply polarized ahead of the November election.
“The Secret Service is working with all involved federal, state and local agencies to understand what happened, how it happened, and how we can prevent an incident like this from ever taking place again,” the agency’s director Kimberly Cheatle said in a statement.
“We understand the importance of the independent review announced by President (Joe) Biden yesterday and will participate fully,” Cheatle added.
Trump was speaking at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, when multiple bangs rang out.
He clutched his ear, with blood visible on his ear and cheek, then ducked to the floor as Secret Service agents swarmed onto the podium, surrounding him and rushing him to a nearby vehicle.
The shooter and a bystander were killed, and two spectators injured.
Newly surfaced video backs up reports from witnesses that they had called out to police and physically pointed at the shooter as he lay on the roof preparing to open fire, the Washington Post reported Monday.
The shots targeting Trump rang out 86 seconds after the first audible attempts to warn the police, the Post said, citing an analysis it did of video clips from the scene of the attack.
Biden ordered a full review of the security at the rally, as well as at this week’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Trump will be crowned the party’s presidential nominee.
He also ordered Secret Service protection for independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and long-time vaccine skeptic who has no chance of winning in November, but whose candidacy could potentially sway close contests in key swing states.
The Secret Service faces intense scrutiny over how a gunman aiming an assault rifle was able to take position on a roof some 500 feet (150 meters) from one of the most protected political figures on the planet.
With Trump set to star at the convention, Cheatle said the agency was working to toughen security.
The Secret Service designs plans for major events “to respond to a kinetic security environment and the most up-to-date intelligence,” her statement said.
Earlier in the day, Trump had called for Secret Service protection for Kennedy “in light of what is going on in the world today.”
“Given the history of the Kennedy Family, this is the obvious right thing to do!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social web site.
Kenedy’s uncle, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963. Five years later, the candidate’s father, Robert, was shot to death in Los Angeles while on the campaign trail.
The US Secret Service is responsible for the safety of the president, vice president and former presidents, and their families, as well as major election candidates and visiting foreign heads of state.


Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump’s pick for vice president

Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump’s pick for vice president
Updated 8 min 38 sec ago
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Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump’s pick for vice president

Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump’s pick for vice president
  • He called Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” for office. Vance, whose wife, lawyer Usha Chilukuri Vance, is Indian American and the mother of their three children, also criticized Trump’s racist rhetoric, saying he could be “America’s Hitler”

COLUMBUS, Ohio: Former President Donald Trump on Monday chose US Sen. JD Vance of Ohio to be his running mate as he looks to return to the White House.
Here are some things to know about Vance, a 39-year-old Republican now in his first term in the Senate:
Vance rose to prominence with the memoir ‘Hillbilly Elegy’
Vance was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio. He joined the Marines and served in Iraq, and later earned degrees from Ohio State University and Yale Law School. He also worked as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.
Vance made a name for himself with his memoir, the 2016 bestseller “Hillbilly Elegy,” which was published as Trump was first running for president. The book earned Vance a reputation as someone who could help explain the maverick New York businessman’s appeal in middle America, especially among the working class, rural white voters who helped Trump win the presidency.
“Hillbilly Elegy” also introduced Vance to the Trump family. Donald Trump Jr. loved the book and knew of Vance when he went to launch his political career. The two hit it off and have remained friends.
He was first elected to public office in 2022
After Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Vance returned to his native Ohio and set up an anti-opioid charity. He also took to the lecture circuit and was a favored guest at Republican Lincoln Day dinners where his personal story — including the hardship Vance endured because of his mother’s drug addiction — resonated.
Vance’s appearances were opportunities to sell his ideas for fixing the country and helped lay the groundwork for entering politics in 2021, when he sought the Senate seat vacated by Republican Rob Portman, who retired.
Trump endorsed Vance. Vance went on to win a crowded Republican primary and the general election.
He and Trump have personal chemistry
Personal relationships are extremely important to the former president and he and Vance have developed a strong rapport over years, speaking on the phone regularly.
Trump has also complimented Vance’s beard, saying he “looks like a young Abraham Lincoln.”
Vance went from never-Trumper to fierce ally
Vance was a “never Trump” Republican in 2016. He called Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” for office. Vance, whose wife, lawyer Usha Chilukuri Vance, is Indian American and the mother of their three children, also criticized Trump’s racist rhetoric, saying he could be “America’s Hitler.”
But by the time Vance met Trump in 2021, he had reversed his opinion, citing Trump’s accomplishments as president. Both men downplayed Vance’s past scathing criticism.
Once elected, Vance became a fierce Trump ally on Capitol Hill, unceasingly defending Trump’s policies and behavior.
He is a leading conservative voice
Kevin Roberts, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, called Vance a leading voice for the conservative movement, on key issues including a shift away from interventionist foreign policy, free market economics and “American culture writ large.”
Democrats call him an extremist, citing provocative positions Vance has taken but sometimes later amended. Vance signaled support for a national 15-week abortion ban during his Senate run, for instance, then softened that stance once Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed a 2023 abortion rights amendment.
Vance has adopted Trump’s rhetoric about Jan. 6
On the 2020 election, he said he wouldn’t have certified the results immediately if he had been vice president and said Trump had “a very legitimate grievance.” He has put conditions on honoring the results of the 2024 election that echo Trump’s. A litany of government and outside investigations have not found any election fraud that could have swung the outcome of Trump’s 2020 loss to Democratic President Joe Biden.
In the Senate, Vance sometimes embraces bipartisanship. He and Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown co-sponsored a railway safety bill following a fiery train derailment in the Ohio village of East Palestine. He’s sponsored legislation extending and increasing funding for Great Lakes restoration, and supported bipartisan legislation boosting workers and families.
Vance can articulate Trump’s vision
People familiar with the vice presidential vetting process said Vance would bring to the GOP ticket debating skills and the ability to articulate Trump’s vision.
Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative activist group Turning Point USA, said Vance compellingly articulates the America First world view and could help Trump in states he closely lost in 2020, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, that share Ohio’s values, demographics and economy.