AP and Reuters

AP Headline News – May 24 2023 20:00 (EDT)


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Winds intensify as Super Typhoon Mawar batters Guam


A Category 4 typhoon hit Guam on Wednesday, packing winds of up to 140 miles per hour (225 kmh) and torrential rain, as it inched across the Western Pacific Ocean, but there were no early reports of deaths or injuries.

The most powerful typhoon to hit Guam in years slowly passed over the Western Pacific island on Thursday after battering the U.S. territory with intensifying wind gusts of up to 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour) and torrential rain.

Early reports following daybreak on Thursday had yet to show any deaths or serious injury, but news was slow to come in after power was knocked out for all but 1,000 of the island’s 52,000 homes and businesses, according to the Guam Power Authority.

The eye of Super Typhoon Mawar tracked just north of Guam early Thursday, moving northwest at a sluggish 8 mph (13 kph), delivering rainfall of up to 2 inches (5 cm) per hour overnight, the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) said.

Images posted on social media showed ominous clouds drifting over beaches, rains lashing buildings and winds bending palm trees.

Wind speeds placed the storm in Category 4, the second-strongest designation on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale, and just short of Category 5.

Danger persisted even as the storm moved away from Guam, home to about 170,000 people including about 10,000 U.S. military personnel, the NWS said.

“We’re still a little bit concerned about some of these outer bands. As this thing is intensifying, the wind field is increasing faster than the motion away from the island,” said Landon Aydlett, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Guam.

But people in Guam take typhoons seriously and typically hunker down in reinforced concrete structures, Aydlett said.

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero promised in a social media post to provide an update as soon as officials were safely able to survey the damage.

“I ask you to please stay home until I declare Condition of Readiness 4,” she said in the video. The island remained at COR 1 at daybreak.

She has compared the storm to 1962’s Typhoon Karen, which flattened much of the island.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. Navy ships were headed to Guam to help with recovery efforts if needed.

President Joe Biden, who has approved an emergency declaration authorizing federal assistance for Guam, was briefed on the typhoon, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.

“The White House is in close contact with the government of Guam and has offered as much support as needed to this tragic, tragic major storm,” Jean-Pierre said.

Related Galleries:

Trees sway in strong winds from typhoon Mawar in Tamuning, Guam, May 24, 2023 in this still image obtained from social media video. Video taken through a window. Instagram @rachel.j_____/via REUTERS

Trees sway in strong winds and rain, amid typhoon Mawar, at the Guam Plaza Resort & Spa, in Tamuning, Guam, May 24, 2023 in this still image obtained from social media video. Jun Manalac/via REUTERS

A view of a fallen tree due to strong winds from typhoon Mawar, in Dededo, Guam May 24, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Anna Alexis/via REUTERS
AP and Reuters

What Ron DeSantis said as he launched his 2024 White House race


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stands in this screen grab from a social media video posted May 24, 2023 as he announces he is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Twitter @RonDeSantis/Handout via REUTERS

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday he would seek the 2024 Republican nomination for president, vowing to build a wall on the border with Mexico and not restrict usage of Bitcoin.

Here is a selection of his quotes:

“We will move on day one by declaring a national emergency. We will construct a border wall. We will make sure we have remain-in-Mexico… And we really need to hold the Mexican drug cartels accountable because they’re facilitating a lot of this migration.”

“I think this whole ESG movement is really trying to do through the financial sector what they could never achieve through the ballot box… We will not be a free society if major financial institutions can do through the economy what people could not achieve through the ballot box.”

“You have every right to do Bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is because they don’t control it. And they’re central planners, and they want to have control over society. And so Bitcoin represents a threat to them… I just do not have an itch to have to control everything that people may be doing in this space. And I think that the current regime clearly they have it out for Bitcoin and if it continues for another four years, you know, they’ll probably end up killing it.”

“They want to be treated differently than Universal and SeaWorld, and we don’t think that that’s appropriate. So, you know, I think that they should withdraw the lawsuit, but obviously, we’re going to defend our actions because we think we have the right to do what we did.”

“Buckle up when I get in there because the status quo is not acceptable, and we are going to make sure that we re-constitutionalize this government. And these agencies are totally out of control. There’s no accountability, and we are going to bring that in a very big way.”

AP and Reuters

A judge denied bond Wednesday for former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles, who is facing a capital murder charge related to a fatal shooting near campus.…

A judge denied bond Wednesday for former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles, who is facing a capital murder charge related to a fatal shooting near campus.…

AP and Reuters

Biden’s nominee for Kansas federal judge post asks to withdraw

Biden’s nominee for Kansas federal judge post asks to withdraw

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NYC college professor fired after confrontation with abortion opponents

AP correspondent Julie Walker reports on Professor Fired Confrontation
AP and Reuters

AP Headline News – May 24 2023 16:00 (EDT)


AP and Reuters

White House criticizes Republicans, says “preventing default“ is not a concession


Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

The White House on Wednesday criticized Republicans and said averting default is the responsibility of every single member of Congress and that preventing such a situation is not a concession.

House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, said on Tuesday the only concession he will make is raising the borrowing limit, which indicated at the time that Republicans are not willing to give any more than raising the debt ceiling in exchange for their demands.

“Don’t take our word for it. Just listen to members of The House Freedom Caucus… (they) are now openly referring to the full faith and credit of the United States as a hostage,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre said the result of default would be “millions of jobs lost, devastated retirement accounts, and a recession.”

Negotiators for President Joe Biden and McCarthy reconvened at the White House earlier to try to strike a deal to raise the United States’ $31.4 trillion debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic default.

Time is running short, as the Treasury Department has warned the federal government could be unable to pay all its bills by as soon as June 1 – just eight days away – and it will take several days to pass legislation through the narrowly divided Congress.

Jean-Pierre said the White House will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach a “reasonable bipartisan budget agreement” and it still believes there is an opportunity to get to such an agreement.

AP and Reuters

Factbox: FACTBOX Who is Ron DeSantis, 2024 presidential candidate?


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during the Florida Family Policy Council Annual Dinner Gala, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., May 20, 2023. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was due to announce on Wednesday he is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is likely to be former President Donald Trump’s top rival due to his budding national profile and fundraising acumen.

Here are some facts about DeSantis’ life and political career.

DeSantis, 44, has spent most of his career in public service and government.

While at Harvard Law School, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and upon graduation, joined the Judge Advocate General Corps as an attorney.

In that role, he was assigned to the military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he oversaw the treatment of detainees. Later, he was deployed to Iraq to advise a team of Navy SEALs.

DeSantis worked briefly as an assistant U.S. attorney in Florida before a successful bid for a U.S. congressional seat in 2012. He served in Congress until running for governor in 2018.

DeSantis was largely a political unknown statewide in Florida when he sought the governor’s office and was not favored to win the Republican nomination.

Then he got an endorsement from then-President Trump, whom he praised on the campaign trail and in TV ads. DeSantis ultimately won the election by a tight margin.

Trump has since taken credit for DeSantis’ victory and accused his fellow Republican of being disloyal for considering challenging him for the presidential nomination.

That narrow victory did not convince DeSantis that he should govern by consensus.

As he has detailed in recent speeches, he believed he had a mandate to take full advantage of the powers afforded the governor, saying he wanted to take “all the meat off the bone.”

DeSantis has wielded that power through influencing legislation, punishing his critics and packing the state’s courts, offices and boards with allies. Some political observers in the state capital say he is the most powerful and feared governor in the state’s history.

He won re-election by nearly 20 percentage points in 2022.

As a young man growing up in Florida, DeSantis’ life was consumed by baseball. His boyhood team in Dunedin, a suburb of Tampa, reached the Little League World Series in 1991. He pitched and played third base. In one game during the series, he hit a homer and struck out 11 batters.

DeSantis served as captain of the varsity baseball team as an undergraduate at Yale University. His Yale jersey hangs in his office in Florida’s Capitol.

DeSantis is married Casey Black, whom he met when she was a TV reporter. The couple has three children.

He made his name nationally by opposing many of the policies advocated by the U.S. government to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He resisted mask and vaccine mandates, and was determined to keep Florida businesses and tourism destinations open during the bulk of the pandemic.

He has since become a leading figure within the Republican Party in fighting back against what he argues are overly progressive polices favored by educators and corporations.

He has pushed the state legislature to pass prohibitions against the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” – which argues the nation is riven with systemic racism – and concepts of gender identity in public schools. Lawmakers also recently passed a ban on asset managers utilizing environmental, social and governance factors in making investments.

DeSantis is a persistent critic of federal immigration policies. In 2022, he was praised by conservatives and condemned by Democrats when he chartered two planes to fly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Massachusetts.

Civil rights groups have taken the extraordinary step of issuing warnings about traveling to Florida, saying the state has become hostile to people of color and LGBTQ individuals.

DeSantis has been embroiled in a public fight with Walt Disney Co, which was critical of his efforts to limit school instruction on gender identity.

DeSantis attempted to strip the Walt Disney World theme park of its self-governing powers, and the company responded with a lawsuit. The company’s CEO, Bob Iger, has called DeSantis “anti-business.”

Disney also scrapped plans to build a nearly $1 billion corporate campus in central Florida that would have housed 2,000 employees.

(This story has been corrected to say ‘due to announce,’ not ‘announced,’ in paragraph 1)

AP and Reuters

Exclusive: Canada and Saudi Arabia normalize diplomatic relations after 2018 split


Canada and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, both countries said on Wednesday, bringing to a close a 2018 dispute that damaged relations and trade.

The decision follows discussions held between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Bangkok in November last year, according to statements from Canada and Saudi Arabia.

The decision stems from “the desire for both sides to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and common interests,” the statements said.

The 2018 row pre-dated the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi later that year, which Canada and all Western countries condemned. It started when Canada’s embassy in Riyadh published a tweet in Arabic urging the immediate release of women’s rights activists held by Saudi Arabia.

That prompted Riyadh to recall its ambassador and bar the envoy from returning, and to institute a ban on new trade.

“Punitive trade measures will be lifted,” said a Canadian government source familiar with the agreement who was not authorized to speak on the record. It is unclear what effect the dispute had on trade.

Saudi Arabia was the biggest export market for Canada in the region in 2021, according to official data, when they totaled C$2.2 billion ($1.65 billion). Imports were $2.4 billion. Almost all Canada’s imports were oil and petrochemicals. More than 80% of exports to Saudi Arabia were transportation equipment.

“Empty chairs at the end of the day don’t push our interests forward, and they don’t push things like human rights forward,” the source added.

The normalization comes as the Saudi prince, known as MbS, seeks to reassert Saudi Arabia as a regional power by using his place atop an energy giant in an oil-dependent world consumed by the war in Ukraine.

“Saudi Arabia is pivotal within its region. It’s an important player,” said Roland Paris, Trudeau’s former foreign policy adviser and professor of international affairs at University of Ottawa. “It only makes sense to have ambassadors back in place in order to keep channels of communication open.”

Canada will appoint Jean-Philippe Linteau as its new ambassador in Riyadh.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has said “we need to have conversations with people we don’t always agree with on everything in order to find global solutions to global problems,” the source added.

($1 = 1.3372 Canadian dollars)

Related Galleries:

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Arab League summit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 19, 2023. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in response to the release of a special report on foreign interference, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 23, 2023. REUTERS/Blair Gable