Clooney and Roberts help Biden raise $30 million-plus at a star-studded Hollywood gala

Update Clooney and Roberts help Biden raise $30 million-plus at a star-studded Hollywood gala
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Updated 16 June 2024
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Clooney and Roberts help Biden raise $30 million-plus at a star-studded Hollywood gala

Clooney and Roberts help Biden raise $30 million-plus at a star-studded Hollywood gala
  • US President Joe Biden: ‘The Supreme Court has never been as out of kilter as it is today’
  • ‘The fact of the matter is that there has never been a court that is this far out of step’

LOS ANGELES: Some of Hollywood’s brightest stars headlined a fundraiser for President Joe Biden that took in a record $30 million-plus for a Democratic candidate, according to his campaign, in hopes of energizing would-be supporters for a White House contest they said may rank among the most consequential in US history.
George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Barbra Streisand were among those who took the stage at the 7,100-seat Peacock Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Biden and former President Barack Obama, who both stressed the need to defeat former President Donald Trump in a race that’s expected to be exceedingly close.
During more than half an hour of discussion, Kimmel asked if the country was suffering from amnesia about the presumptive Republican nominee, to which Biden responded, “all we gotta do is remember what it was like” when Trump was in the White House.
Luminaries from the entertainment world have increasingly lined up to help Biden’s campaign, and just how important the event was to his reelection bid could be seen in Biden’s decision to fly through the night across nine time zones, from the G7 summit in southern Italy to Southern California, to attend.
He also missed a summit in Switzerland about ways to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, instead dispatching Vice President Kamala Harris who made a whirlwind trip of her own to represent the United States there, a stark reminder of the delicate balance between geopolitics and Biden’s bid to win a second term.
Further laying bare the political implications were police in riot gear outside the theater. A group of protesters angry about the Biden’s administration’s handling of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza demonstrated nearby.
The fundraiser included singing by Jack Black and Sheryl Lee Ralph, and actors Kathryn Hahn and Jason Bateman introduced Kimmel, who himself introduced Biden and Obama. The comedian deadpanned, “I was told I was getting introduced by Batman, not Bateman.”
But he quickly pivoted to far more serious topics, saying that “so much is at stake in this election” and listing women’s rights, health care and noting that “even the ballot is on the ballot” in a reference to the Biden administration’s calls to expand voting rights.
Kimmel asked the president what he was most proud of accomplishing, and Biden said he thought the administration’s approach to the economy “is working.”
“We have the strongest economy in the world today,” Biden said, adding “we try to give ordinary people an even chance.”
Trump spent Saturday campaigning in Detroit and criticized Biden’s handling of the economy and inflation. The president was fundraising “with out-of-touch elitist Hollywood celebrities,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said.
But Biden told the crowd in California that “we passed every major piece of legislation we attempted to get done.” And Obama expressed admiration for sweeping legislation on health care, public works, the environment, technology manufacturing, gun safety and other major initiatives that the administration of his former vice president has overseen.
“What we’re seeing now is a byproduct of in 2016. There were a whole bunch of folks who, for whatever reason, sat out,” said Obama, who, like Biden wore a dark suit and a white shirt open at the collar.
Obama, speaking about the Supreme Court, added that “hopefully we have learned our lesson, because these elections matter in very concrete ways.”
Trump nominated three justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to an abortion. The audience expressed its displeasure at the mention of Roe, to which Obama responded, “don’t hiss, vote.” That was a play on his common refrain prioritizing voting over booing.
Biden said the person elected president in November could get the chance to nominate two new justices, though a second Biden term probably wouldn’t drastically overhaul a court given its current 6-3 conservative majority.
He also suggested if Trump wins back the White House, “one of the scariest parts” was the Supreme Court and how the high court has “never been this far out of step.”
Biden also referenced reports that an upside-down flag, a symbol associated with Trump’s false claims of election fraud, was flown outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in January 2021. He worried Saturday that, if Trump is reelected, “He’s going to appoint two more who fly their flags upside down.”
Kimmel offered his special brand of humor throughout the night. At one point he asked how can a president get back at a talk-show host who makes fun of him on TV every night.
“Ever hear of Delta Force?” Biden responded, referring to the Army special operations unit.
Earlier in the program, Kimmel noted Biden’s campaign promise to restore the soul of America and said “lately it seems we might need an exorcism.” Then he asked Biden, “Is that why you visited the pope?” Biden and Pope Francis met in Italy on Friday.
The amount raised outpaced the then-record $26 million from Biden’s fundraiser in March at Radio City Music Hall in New York that featured late-night host Stephen Colbert interviewing Biden, Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
Biden held an early lead in the campaign money race against Trump, but the former president has gained ground since he formally locked up the Republican nomination.
Trump outpaced Biden’s New York event by raking in $50.5 million at an April gathering of major donors at the Florida home of billionaire investor John Paulson. The former president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee announced they raised a whopping $141 million in May, padded by tens of millions of dollars in contributions that flowed in after Trump’s guilty verdict in his criminal hush money trial.
That post-conviction bump came after Trump and the Republican Party announced collecting $76 million in April, far exceeding Biden and the Democrats’ $51 million for the month.


Britain will resume funding to UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA

Updated 13 sec ago
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Britain will resume funding to UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA

Britain will resume funding to UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA
LONDON: Britain’s new Labour government said on Friday it would resume funding to the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.
Britain was one of several countries to halt their funding to UNRWA following accusations by Israel that some of the agency’s staff were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the Gaza war.
Britain’s foreign minister, David Lammy, told parliament he was reassured that the agency had taken steps to “ensure it meets the highest standards of neutrality.”
“I can confirm to the house that we are overturning the suspension of UNRWA funding, Britain will provide 21 million (pounds) in funds” to the agency, he said.

South Korea restarts blaring propaganda broadcasts after Pyongyang flies trash balloons anew

South Korea restarts blaring propaganda broadcasts after Pyongyang flies trash balloons anew
Updated 47 min 18 sec ago
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South Korea restarts blaring propaganda broadcasts after Pyongyang flies trash balloons anew

South Korea restarts blaring propaganda broadcasts after Pyongyang flies trash balloons anew
  • The South Korean broadcasts could trigger an angry response from North Korea

SEOUL: South Korea said Friday it has restarted blasting propaganda broadcasts into North Korea to retaliate against the North’s latest round of trash-carrying balloon launches, a resumption of Cold War-style tactics that are raising animosities between the rivals.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it used front-line loudspeakers to blare anti-Pyongyang broadcasts over the border between Thursday evening and Friday morning. It said the South Korean military turned on loudspeakers again later Friday as it found out the North was preparing to fly more balloons.
The broadcasts were the first of their kind in about 40 days. The contents of the broadcasts were not immediately known, but previous ones last month reportedly included K-pop songs, weather forecasts and news on Samsung, the biggest South Korean company, as well as outside criticism of the North’s missile program and its crackdown on foreign video.
The South Korean broadcasts could trigger an angry response from North Korea because it is extremely sensitive to any outside attempt to undermine its political system. In 2015, when South Korea restarted loudspeaker broadcasts for the first time in 11 years, North Korea fired artillery rounds across the border, prompting the South to return fire, according to South Korean officials. No casualties were reported.
South Korea’s military said North Korea must be blamed for heightened tensions because it ignored South Korea’s repeated warnings and continued its “despicable” balloon campaigns. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the South Korean military will conduct loudspeaker broadcasts in a fuller manner and other stronger steps if North Korea continues provocations like balloon launches.
South Korea’s military earlier said North Korea’s launch on Thursday afternoon was its eighth balloon campaign since late May. About 200 North Korean balloons were found on South Korean soil as of Friday morning, and they mostly carried waste papers, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Previous North Korean-flown balloons carried scraps of cloth, cigarette butts, waste batteries and even manure, though they caused no major damages in South Korea. North Korea said they were sent in response to South Korean activists sending political leaflets to the North via their own balloons.
South Korea responded by suspending a 2018 tension-reduction deal with North Korea, conducting propaganda broadcasts for two hours on June 9 and front-line live-fire military drills at border areas.
Earlier this week, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hinted at flying rubbish-carrying balloons again or launching new countermeasures, saying South Korean balloons have been found again at border and other areas in North Korea. In her statement Tuesday, Kim Yo Jong warned that South Korean “scum” must be ready to pay “a gruesome and dear price.” That raised concerns that North Korea could stage physical provocations, rather than balloon launches.
South Korea’s military said Wednesday it has boosted its readiness to brace for any provocation by North Korea. It said North Korea may fire at incoming South Korean balloons across the border or floating mines downriver.
It wasn’t immediately known whether groups in South Korea have recently scattered leaflets in North Korea. For years, activist groups led by North Korean defectors have used helium-filled balloons to drop anti-North Korean leaflets, USB sticks containing K-pop music and South Korean dramas and US dollar bills in the North.
North Korea views such activities as a serious security threat and challenge to its ban on foreign news for most of its 26 million people. In 2020, North Korea destroyed an unoccupied South Korean-built liaison office on its territory in a furious response to South Korean civilian leafleting campaigns. In 2014, North Korea fired at balloons flying toward its territory and South Korea returned fire, though there were no casualties.
Tensions between the Koreas have heightened in recent years because of North Korea’s missile tests and the expansion of U.S-South Korean military drills that North Korea calls invasion rehearsals. Experts say North Korea’s expanding ties with Russia could embolden Kim Jong Un to stage bigger provocations, particularly ahead of the US presidential election in November.
North Korea’s state media said Friday that Kim met a visiting Russian delegation led by Vice Defense Minister Aleksey Krivoruchko. During the meeting, Kim stressed the need for the two countries’ armies to unite more firmly to defend international peace and justice, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
In June, Kim met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang and signed a deal requiring each country to provide aid to the other if it is attacked and vowed to boost other cooperation. Analysts say the accord represents the strongest connection between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.


Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world

Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world
Updated 19 July 2024
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Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world

Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world
  • DownDectector, which tracks user-reported disruptions, recorded growing outages in Visa, ADT security and Amazon
  • News outlets in Australia, including the ABC and Sky News, were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels

WELLINGTON: A widespread Microsoft outage was disrupting flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday.
Escalating disruptions continued hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services.
The website DownDectector, which tracks user-reported internet outages, recorded growing outages in services at Visa, ADT security and Amazon, and airlines including American Airlines and Delta.
News outlets in Australia reported that airlines, telecommunications providers and banks, and media broadcasters were disrupted as they lost access to computer systems. Some New Zealand banks said they were also offline.
Microsoft 365 posted on X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact in a more expedient fashion” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”
The company did not respond to a request for comment. It did not explain the cause of the outage further.
Meanwhile, major disruptions reported by airlines and airports grew.
In the U.S., the FAA said the airlines United, American, Delta and Allegiant had all been grounded.
Airlines, railways and television stations in the United Kingdom were being disrupted by the computer issues. The budget airline Ryanair, train operators TransPennine Express and Govia Thameslink Railway, as well as broadcaster Sky News are among those affected.
“We’re currently experiencing disruption across the network due to a global third party IT outage which is out of our control,’’ Ryanair said. “We advise all passengers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their scheduled departure time.”
Widespread problems were reported at Australian airports, where lines grew and some passengers were stranded as online check-in services and self-service booths were disabled. Passengers in Melbourne queued for more than an hour to check in.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport said on its website that the outage was having a “major impact on flights” to and from the busy European hub. The outage came on one of the busiest days of the year for the airport, at the start of many people’s summer vacations.
In Germany, Berlin Airport said Friday morning that “due to a technical fault, there will be delays in check-in.” It said that flights were suspended until 10 a.m. (0800GMT), without giving details, German news agency dpa reported.
At Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, some US-bound flights had posted delays, while others were unaffected.
Australian outages reported on the site included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as internet and phone providers such as Telstra.
News outlets in Australia — including the ABC and Sky News — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels, and reported sudden shutdowns of Windows-based computers. Some news anchors broadcast live online from dark offices, in front of computers showing “blue screens of death.”
Shoppers were unable to pay at some supermarkets and stores due to payment system outages.
The New Zealand banks ASB and Kiwibank said their services were down.
An X user posted a screenshot of an alert from the company Crowdstrike that said the company was aware of “reports of crashes on Windows hosts” related to its Falcon Sensor platform. The alert was posted on a password-protected Crowdstrike site and could not be verified. Crowdstrike did not respond to a request for comment.


Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir

Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir
Updated 19 July 2024
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Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir

Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir
  • Kashmir has seen a string of battles between insurgents and Indian security forces in the past two months
  • Five Indian security personnel were killed on Monday during a firefight with gunmen in Doda forest

SRINAGAR, India: Two suspected militants were killed in a firefight with soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir, the defense ministry said Friday, following a spate of attacks in the disputed territory.
The two men were killed on Thursday while trying to cross the de facto frontier that divides the Himalayan region between Pakistan and India.
Troops saw the pair crossing over from the Pakistani side through thick foliage, a defense spokesman said in a statement.
“The infiltrating terrorists were challenged, following which they opened fire leading to an intense firefight,” he said.
Kashmir, particularly its southern Hindu-majority region Jammu, has seen a string of battles between insurgents and Indian security forces in the past two months.
Five Indian security personnel were killed on Monday during a firefight with gunmen in Doda forest.
Last month, nine Indian Hindu pilgrims were killed and dozens more wounded when a gunman opened fire on a bus carrying them from a shrine in Reasi district.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947, and each side claims it in full.
Rebel groups have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence or merger with Pakistan, in fighting that has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels.
New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of stoking militancy and espionage to undermine each other, and the nuclear-armed rivals have fought multiple conflicts for control of the region.


Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers

Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers
Updated 10 min 47 sec ago
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Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers

Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers
  • A faulty update or misconfiguration by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike had led to international tech outages
  • Cybersecurity agencies said there was no information to suggest the outage was a cyber attack

WASHINGTON: Air passengers around the world faced delays, cancellations and problems checking in as airports and airlines were caught up in a massive IT outage that also affected industries ranging from banks to media companies.

The travel industry was among the hardest hit with airports around the world, including Tokyo, Amsterdam, Berlin and several Spanish airports reporting problems with their systems and delays.
International airlines, including Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, warned of problems with their booking systems and other disruptions.

In  a statement, Crowdstrike holdings said it was actively working with customers impacted by a defect found in a single content update for windows hosts. “Issue has been identified, isolated and a fix has been deployed,” the statement said.

According to an alert sent by Crowdstrike to its clients and reviewed by Reuters, the company’s “Falcon Sensor” software was causing Microsoft Windows to crash and display a blue screen, known informally as the “Blue Screen of Death”.
The alert, which was sent at 0530 GMT on Friday, also shared a manual workaround to rectify the issue.

The Swiss Federal Office for Cyber ​​Security (BACS) confirmed that a faulty update or misconfiguration by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike had led to international tech outages. “The BACS is aware of the outages mentioned and has received corresponding reports from various companies and critical infrastructures,” the BACS said in a statement.
“A faulty update or misconfiguration by CrowdStrike is leading to these system outages. The BACS is in contact with the companies affected.”

However, cybersecurity agencies said there was no information to suggest the outage was a cyber security incident.

The office of Australia's National Cyber Security Coordinator Michelle McGuinness and France’s cybersecurity agency said there was no evidence that a global IT outage was caused by a cyberattack.

“The teams are fully mobilised to identify and support the affected entities in France and to understand... the origin of this outage,” the national cybersecurity agency (ANSSI) said, adding “There is no evidence to suggest that this outage is the result of a cyberattack.”
The outages rippled far and wide, wreaking havoc on global computer systems. Microsoft users worldwide, including banks and airlines, reported widespread outages, hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing the issue which affected access to Microsoft 365 apps and services.

The UAE foreign ministry said the global cyber outage had affected some of its electronic systems and it advised users to avoid any transactions till the issue has been resolved. It urged citizens abroad to contact their airlines before heading to the airports to avoid delays.

The UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority issued a statement, warning Crowdstrike users of a “technical issue” with the “software update.”

“We advise users of the program to hold off on any updates or downloads of CrowdStrike software until the issue is resolved.”

 

Major US air carriers including Delta, United and American Airlines grounded all flights early on Friday over a communication issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“All... flights regardless of destination” were grounded due to the “communication issues,” the FAA said in a notice to airlines.

Major disruptions

The UK’s largest rail franchise was facing “widespread IT issues” on its four train lines said, warning of possible cancellations.
“We are currently experiencing widespread IT issues across our entire network”, the four lines operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) posted on X.

Other transport systems across the UK and Ireland faced similar IT issues, with Ryanair experiencing disruption due to “a global third party IT outage”.

British airports including London Luton and Edinburgh warned of longer waiting times for passengers because of the glitch, while Sky News television was temporarily off air.

Passengers at Britain’s Edinburgh Airport were unable to use automated boarding pass scanners, and monitors at security displayed a message saying “server offline”, a Reuters witness reported.

Edinburgh Airport was checking boarding passes manually, the witness said.

A health booking system used by doctors in England was also offline, medical officials said on X on Friday.

The global outage was not being treated as a malicious act, a UK government security source said.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said security experts were not treating it as a cyber-related security issue.

Similarly, passengers at Dusseldorf airport are facing disruptions to Eurowings’ check-in and boarding processes due to the malfunction.

Hong Kong Airport Authority said airlines affected by a Microsoft outage had switched to manual check-in and flight operations have not been affected.

Three Indian airlines announced disruptions to their booking systems on Friday, matching widespread technical problems reported by flight operators around the world.

“Our systems are currently impacted by a Microsoft outage,” budget carrier IndiGo said in a post on social media platform X, with airlines Akasa Air and SpiceJet also reporting technical issues.

Air France says it also suffered IT disruption, but not at Paris airports.

Spanish airport operator Aena on Friday also reported a computer systems “incident” at all Spanish airports which may cause flight delays.

“We are working to solve it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, operations are continuing with manual systems,” the airport operator said in a post on X platform.

In Berlin, airport authorities have halted all flights until 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) due to a technical fault, a spokesperson said.

Earlier on Friday, airport operator BER said in a post on social media platform X that check-ins were delayed due to the error.

The spokesperson did not give details about the nature of the problem.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s busiest hubs, was also affected by the global cyber outage, a spokesperson said.

“The outage has an impact on flights flying from and to Schiphol,” he said, adding that it was not yet clear how many flights were affected.

The outage also wrought havoc on IT systems across Australia on Friday, with the country’s national broadcaster, its largest international airport, and a major telecommunications company reporting issues.

Australia’s National Cyber Security Coordinator said the “large-scale technical outage” was caused by an issue with a “third-party software platform.”

National broadcaster ABC said its systems had been crippled by a “major” glitch.

Photos posted online showed large queues forming at Sydney Airport, which said some airline operations and terminal services had been affected.

Some self-checkout terminals at one of the country’s largest supermarket chains displayed error messages.

Telecommunications firm Telstra also said some of its systems had been disrupted.

Major companies report outage

The website DownDectector, which tracks user-reported Internet outages, recorded growing outages in services at Visa, ADT security and Amazon, and airlines including American Airlines and Delta.

Microsoft 365 posted on X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact in a more expedient fashion” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”

Australian outages reported on the site included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as Internet and phone providers such as Telstra.

News outlets in Australia — including the ABC and Sky News — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels, and reported sudden shutdowns of Windows-based computers.

An X user posted a screenshot of an alert from the company Crowdstrike that said the company was aware of “reports of crashes on Windows hosts” related to its Falcon Sensor platform. The alert was posted on a password-protected Crowdstrike site and could not be verified. Crowdstrike did not respond to a request for comment.