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No perjury charges for British soldiers accused of lying in Bloody Sunday probe

Fifteen British soldiers who allegedly lied to an inquiry into Bloody Sunday, one of the deadliest days of the decades-long Northern Ireland conflict , will not face perjury charges, prosecutors said Friday.There was insufficient evidence to convict the soldiers or a former alleged member of the Irish Republican Army about their testimony before an inquiry into the 1972 killings of 13 civilians by Britain's Parachute Regiment in Derry, also known as Londonderry, the Public Prosecution Service said.An initial investigation into the slayings on Jan. 30, 1972 concluded the soldiers were defending themselves from a mob of IRA bombers and gunmen . But a 12-year-long inquiry concluded in 2010 that soldiers unjustifiably opened fire on unarmed and fleeing civilians and then lied about it for decades. FORMER BRITISH SOLDIER TO STAND TRIAL FOR 1972 'BLOODY SUNDAY' KILLINGS IN NORTHERN IRELAND Families of the victims were outraged by the decision. John Kelly, whose brother Michael was killed by paratroopers, spoke for the group and called it an "affront to the rule of law.""Why is it that the people of Derry cannot forget the events of Bloody Sunday, yet the Parachute Regiment, who caused all of the deaths and injury on that day, apparently cannot recall it?" Kelly said. "The answer to this question is quite simple but painfully obvious: The British Army lied its way through the conflict in the north."Although a quarter century has passed since the Good Friday peace accord in 1998 largely put to rest three decades of violence involving Irish republican and British loyalist militants and U.K. soldiers, "the Troubles″ still reverberate. Some 3,600 people were killed - most in Northern Ireland, though the IRA also set off bombs in England.Only one ex-paratrooper from Bloody Sunday, known as Soldier F, faces prosecution for two murders and five attempted murders. He was among the 15 soldiers who could have faced a perjury charge.While victims continue to seek justice for past carnage, the possibility of a criminal prosecution could soon vanish.The British government passed a Legacy and Reconciliation Bill last year that would have given immunity from prosecution for most offenses by militant groups and British soldiers after May 1. But a Belfast judge ruled in February that the bill does not comply with human rights law. The government is appealing the ruling.Attorney Ciaran Shiels, who represents some of the Bloody Sunday families, said they would not rule out further legal action."It is of course regrettable that this decision has been communicated to us only today, some 14 years after the inquiry's unequivocal findings, but less than two weeks before the effective enactment date of the morally bankrupt legacy legislation designed specifically to allow British Army veterans to escape justice for its criminal actions in the north of Ireland," Shiels said.Senior Public Prosecutor John O'Neill said the decision not to bring criminal charges was based on three things: accounts given by soldiers in 1972 were not admissible; much of the evidence the inquiry relied on is not available today; and the inquiry's conclusion that testimony was false did not always meet the criminal standard of proof."I wish to make clear that these decisions not to prosecute in no way undermine the findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers," O'Neill said.

Japanese autoworkers narrowly escape suicide bomber in Pakistani port city

A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vest near a van carrying Japanese autoworkers in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Friday, police said. They narrowly escaped the attack but three bystanders were wounded.Separately, an Afghan Taliban religious scholar was killed in an attack in the southwest of Pakistan the previous day.The attack on the van happened when it was heading to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors, local police chief Arshad Awan said. He said police escorting the Japanese returned fire after coming under attack, killing an accomplice of the suicide bomber whose remains were found at the scene of the attack. 12 ARRESTED IN CONNECTION TO PAKISTAN SUICIDE BOMBING THAT KILLED 5 CHINESE NATIONALS "All the Japanese who were the target of the attack are safe," Awan said.Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif denounced the attack. In separate statements, they praised police for quickly responding and foiling the attack. They also vowed to eliminate terrorism and prayed for the speedy recovery of the wounded.Images on local news channels showed a damaged van as police officers arrived at the scene. Awan said the three passersby who were wounded in the attack were in stable condition at a hospital.Police were escorting the van after receiving reports about possible attacks on foreigners who are working in Pakistan on various Chinese-funded and other projects, said Tariq Mastoi, a senior police officer. He said a timely and quick response from the guards and police foiled the attack and both attackers were killed.No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on a small separatist group or the Pakistani Taliban who have stepped up attacks on security forces in recent years. Insurgents have also targeted Chinese who are working in Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes a multitude of megaprojects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.In March, five Chinese and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle when they were heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.However, Japanese working in Pakistan have not been the target of any such attacks.Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan and the capital of southern Sindh province.Separately, an Afghan Taliban religious scholar, Mohammad Omar Jan Akhundzada, was killed by gunmen inside a mosque in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, a local police officer Akram Ullah said Friday.No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened on Thursday.Chief Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid denounced the killing of Akhundzada on Friday, saying Akhundzada taught at a jihadi seminary in Afghanistan's Kandahar province and was a member of the Taliban oversight committee of Islamic scholars.Many Afghan leaders and scholars had lived in Quetta and elsewhere in Pakistan before the Afghan Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces withdrew. Most then went back and it was unclear why Akhundzada was still in Pakistan.

Olympic torch makes Acropolis overnight stop a week before handover to Paris organizers

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The flame that will burn at the Olympics is spending the night at the ancient Acropolis in Athens, a week before its handover to Paris 2024 organizers.During a lull in heavy rain late Friday, a torchbearer lit a cauldron in front of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple , on the citadel that dominates the Athens skyline and is Greece's top tourist draw. OLYMPIC STAR KATIE LEDECKY WELCOMES COMPETITIVE ACTION IN POOL AHEAD OF PARIS GAMES The flame will stay there until Saturday morning, when the champagne-colored torch travels to Delphi, an important ancient Greek religious center, before reaching the town of Volos in central Greece.Ceremoniously lit on Tuesday at the ruined birthplace of the ancient Games, Olympia in southern Greece, the flame is being carried around Greece by a string of torchbearers. Parts of the relay are being made by ferry or plane.The flame will be delivered to French officials next Friday at the renovated ancient marble stadium where the first modern games were held in 1896. At Athens' port of Piraeus it will board the Belem, a French three-masted sailing ship - built in 1896 - to be transported to France.The flame is due to reach the southern French port city of Marseille on May 8, and will travel through France in the buildup to the July 26 opening ceremony in Paris.

Dominican soldier arrested for raping 14-year-old Haitian girl during migrant sweep

Dominican authorities on Friday ordered the arrest of a ican soldier accused of raping a 14-year-old Haitian girl while searching for immigrants in the country illegally near the upscale resort town of Punta Cana.The soldier, identified as Paulino de la Cruz, is one of 15 members of the Dominican Air Force who accompanied immigration inspectors searching for immigrants in an area known as Verón, where migrants mostly from Haiti have settled. DOMINICAN AUTHORITIES LAUNCH PROBE AFTER AN IMMIGRATION OFFICER IS ACCUSED OF RAPING A 14-YEAR-OLD The incident took place while the minor's mother - who filed the complaint to the Prosecutor's Office for Victims of Gender, Domestic Violence and Sexual Crimes - was not at home.Authorities summoned the soldiers who participated in the immigration operation, so that the victim could identify the perpetrator. The victim identified the suspect "in a clear and precise manner," according to documents obtained by The Associated Press .If found guilty of rape, the soldier could be sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison.The AP is not naming the girl's mother in order to preserve her privacy.

Thai plastics firm will pay $20 million to settle with U.S. over Iran sanctions violations

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Bangkok-based plastics firm has agreed to pay $20 million to settle with the U.S. over 467 "egregious" violations of Iran sanctions, the U.S. Treasury announced on Friday.SCG Plastics Co. used U.S. banks to process $291 million in sales of Iranian high-density polyethylene resin from 2017 to 2018, according to the signed settlement agreement between the firm and Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. THAI WILDLIFE OFFICIALS TO REMOVE HUNDREDS OF MONKEYS FROM POPULAR TOURIST SPOT The resin, used for product bottles and industrial items, was manufactured by an Iranian joint venture owned in part, by SCG Plastics' parent company, SCG Chemicals and the National Petrochemical Company of Iran, which is a government entity.The settlement states that SCG Plastics used "shipping and documentation practices that obfuscated the product's Iranian origin and Iranian parties' involvement," which caused banks to unknowingly process transfers in violation of OFAC's sanctions on Iran."As a result of these transactions, significant economic benefits were conferred to Iran's petrochemical sector, a major source of revenue generation for the Iranian regime," Treasury says. OFAC determined that the 467 violations of Iran sanctions were "egregious" and fined the company $20 million, which is to be paid within 90 days.While SCG Plastics is no longer in operation, a signed agreement between OFAC and the firm releases SGC Plastics from any liability related to the sanctions violations.The fines come as U.S. administration officials have announced plans to impose more sanctions on Iran after Tehran launched an unprecedented attack on Israel that could fuel a wider war in the Middle East.On Thursday, the U.S. and U.K. imposed a new round of sanctions on Iranian people and firms associated with drone production."We will continue to deploy our sanctions authority to counter Iran with further actions in the days and weeks ahead," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said."We have also vigorously enforced our sanctions, including by levying historic fines and exposing sanctions evasion schemes and networks. Our actions make it harder and costlier at every turn for Iran to continue its destabilizing behavior."

Italian court drops charges against migrant rescue ship crews and ends long-running legal battle

ROME (AP) - An Italian court on Friday dismissed a long-running case against rescue ship crews of three humanitarian organizations, dropping charges accusing them of collaborating with smugglers as they helped rescue thousands of migrants at sea.The judges in the Sicilian city of Trapani decided not to proceed to trial against 10 crew members involved in the so-called Iuventa case, named after the rescue vessel operated by German nonprofit Jugend Rettet. TINY ITALIAN ISLAND OVERWHELMED WITH THOUSANDS OF MIGRANTS WHO ARRIVED WITHIN 24 HOURS Staff members from Jugend Rettet, Save The Children and Doctors Without Borders were fully acquitted of all charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration.Italian prosecutors started the case in 2017, accusing the crew members of serving as "taxis" for migrants, allegedly coordinating their search-and-rescue actions with human traffickers off the coast of Libya. They were also accused of returning dinghies and boats to smugglers to be reused, while rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea whose lives were not in real danger.Italy's Interior Ministry had joined the lawsuit as plaintiff.The court on Friday followed the surprise recommendation by prosecutors in February to dismiss all charges in the case, which the organizations had slammed for criminalizing their activity in the Mediterranean.More than 20 people had been involved in the inquiry over the years, including boat captains, heads of mission and legal representatives, facing charges carrying sentences of up to 20 years."The truth has been recognized," Save the Children said after the ruling.The Iuventa crew members said "the case marked the onset of a public smear campaign against civil sea rescue, aimed at legitimizing crackdowns on rescue efforts."Jugend Rettet said its rescue ship had aided over 14,000 people in distress from 2016 until its seizure in the summer of 2017, when the case started.Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, stressed in a statement it had faced "seven years of false accusations, defamatory statements, and a blatant criminalization campaign towards organizations performing search and rescue operations at sea."Italian authorities began to focus on the issue in 2016, as Rome's then center-left government was struggling to manage a double-digit increase in the number of migrants reaching the country's coasts in a desperate attempt to reach Europe.The current right-wing government led by Premier Giorgia Meloni has further stiffened Rome's tough stance against migrant rescues in the Mediterranean, limiting ships to one sea rescue at a time, and forcing them to dock at an assigned port - rules the charities say are severely hitting rescues.

UN refugee agency tells Cyprus to stick to the law in its efforts at sea to thwart refugee boats

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - The United Nations' refugee agency said Friday that Cypriot efforts at sea to stop numerous Syrian refugee-laden boats departing Lebanon from reaching the European Union-member island nation mustn't contravene international human rights laws or put passengers at risk.Cypriot authorities have reportedly dispatched police patrol vessels just outside Lebanese territorial waters to thwart boat loads of Syrian refugees from reaching the island about 110 miles (180 kilometers) away. UNITED NATIONS FORUM PUSHES FOR EXTRA FUNDING INTO REPARATIONS PROGRESS: 'BACK UP YOUR WORDS WITH ACTION' The Cypriot government says a crumbling Lebanese economy coupled with the uncertainty brought on by the Israeli-Hamas war and the recent tit-for-tat strikes between Israel and Lebanon has resulted in a huge number of rickety boats overloaded with migrants - almost all Syrians - reaching the island.Earlier this week, Cypriot patrol craft reportedly intercepted five boats carrying hundreds of Syrian refugees and migrants. The boats turned back and the passengers disembarked safely.UNCHR spokesperson in Cyprus Emilia Strovolidou told The Associated Press that according to testimonies of passengers' relatives, Cypriot authorities "forcibly pushed back" the boats using "violence" and "techniques to destabilize the boat."Strovolidou said the U.N. agency was "not in a position to confirm" those testimonies.A Cypriot senior official strenuously denied that any coercion was used in any way to get the boats to return to Lebanon, insisting that the Cypriot government doesn't engage in any pushbacks and acts "fully in accordance with international law."The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he cannot disclose details of ongoing operations, dismissed as "lies" allegations that Cypriot authorities resorted to using any type of force.Strovolidou said Cyprus is also bound by international law not to return individuals to any country which could in turn deport them to their homeland where they could be at risk of harm or persecution.The Lebanon office of UNHCR said in a statement that it was aware of more than 220 people who had disembarked from the returned boats in northern Lebanon on Wednesday. Of those, 110 were refugees registered with UNHCR and all of them were released, it said.Saadeddine Shatila, executive director of the Cedar Center for Legal Studies, a Lebanon-based human rights organization that tracks migration issues, said his group had information that the Lebanese army had detained and possibly deported Syrians from at least one of the returning boats who weren't registered with UNCHR.The Lebanese army has in the past occasionally deported all Syrians aboard seized migrant boats, including registered refugees, a practice that drew an outcry from human rights organizations.Lebanese political officials have been calling for years for the international community to either resettle the refugees in other countries or assist in returning them to Syria, and security forces have stepped up deportations of Syrians over the past year. Some of the deportees have reportedly faced detention and torture upon their return.The Cypriot official said the Cyprus government in coordination with the European Commission is preparing an additional financial support package for Lebanon to help the country stop migrant boat departures. He said that support is conditional on Lebanon's effectiveness in stopping migrant boat departures.Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides and European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen are due in Beirut May 2 to discuss the aid package.The official said people smugglers are exploiting people's fears over the ongoing conflicts in the region and are brazenly advertising in Lebanese coffee shops available seats on boats to Cyprus for $3,000 a head - a bargain compared to the $7,000 required for a trip to Italy.Cyprus will convene a meeting of other EU countries next month to elicit additional support for its initiative for the bloc to formally redesignate some areas of Syria as safe zones. The Czech Republic and Denmark are behind the idea.According to the Cypriot official, doing so wouldn't mean that Syrians hailing from those safe zones are deported back to their country, but they would lose any allowances, benefits and the right to work, creating a disincentive to others to come to Cyprus.He said Denmark is already implementing such a policy on its own and it's a measure that the Cypriot government could consider if arrivals continue to increase.

US renews effort to retain foothold in Niger as junta looks to push troops out

The United States is attempting to create a new military agreement with Niger that would allow it to remain in the country, weeks after the junta said its presence was no longer justified, two Western officials told The Associated Press Friday.The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, said Washington was actively working on options for a revised deal aimed at retaining its foothold in the West African nation.Niger plays a central role in the U.S. military's operations in Africa's Sahel region, Washington is concerned about the spread of jihadist violence where local groups have pledged allegiance to al-Qaida and the Islamic State groups. Niger is home to a major U.S. airbase, in the city of Agadez, some 550 miles from the capital Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The U.S. has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger's military since it began operations there in 2013. PENTAGON LOOKS TO KEEP TROOPS IN NIGER AS JUNTA ORDERS DEPARTURE But relations have frayed between Niger and Western countries since mutinous soldiers ousted the country's democratically elected president in July. Niger's junta has since told French forces to leave and turned instead to Russia for security. Earlier this month, Russian military trainers arrived to reinforce the country's air defenses and with Russian equipment to train Nigeriens to use.The decision to revise the agreement was seen by one of the officials in an internal cable for State Department officials. It didn't outline what the terms would be and it's still unclear if the junta will be receptive to them.In October, Washington officially designated the military takeover as a coup, which triggered U.S. laws restricting the military support and aid that it can provide to Niger. In March, a U.S. delegation traveled to Niger to hold discussions at senior levels to explore whether it was possible to achieve an agreement respecting the concerns of both sides, said a State Department official."We are in touch with the transition authorities and are discussing next steps. The (junta) has made it clear that they want a different model for what U.S. military cooperation with Niger looks like going forward. What that cooperation is, is still under discussion," said the official.The revised agreement would aim at finding a formula that addressed respective interests and concerns, as maintaining a U.S. presence in the country is essential to ensure the safety of the troops, said one of the officials. What's at stake is more than counterterrorism operations, said the official. Without a U.S. troop presence it will become harder to protect and evacuate military and diplomatic staff in the region if there were any type of escalation.The wisest policy is for the United States to disengage, but it's complicated because of the extensive military and intelligence infrastructure the U.S. has invested in the country, said Hannah Rae Armstrong, a senior consultant on Sahel peace and security."It puts the U.S. in a very bad position because it's hard to walk away from," she said. If the U.S. stays, it should find a new mode of engagement that departs from the failed counterterror cooperation model of the past decade, and continues to press other states in the Sahel region on accountability and human rights abuses, she said.Insa Garba Saidou, a local activist who assists Niger's military rulers with their communications, couldn't confirm that Niger was revising its military agreement but said there had been long discussions with the U.S. and that Niger was open to working with other countries."The people of Niger and their interests must be preserved and I think this is logical, he said. "The relations between the two states must be fair and the two countries must respect each other."

Hackers claim Belarus fertilizer plant infiltrated to demand political prisoner release

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) - A Belarusian hacker activist group claims to have infiltrated computers at the country's largest fertilizer plant to pressure the government to release political prisoners.The state-run Grodno Azot plant has made no comment on the claim by the Belarusian Cyber-Partisans group to have done damage including destroying backup systems and encrypted internal mail, document flow and hundreds of PCs. However, the company's website has been unavailable since Wednesday, the day the group claimed the attack. A POLITICAL PRISONER IN BELARUS SMUGGLES OUT ACCOUNT OF BEATINGS AFTER WRITING ON TOILET PAPER Group coordinator Yuliana Shametavets told The Associated Press from New York on Friday that because the plant works with dangerous substances including ammonia the attack was designed to affect only documentation.The group posted photos on social media that it it claimed showed screens of compromised plant computers.Grodno Azot, with about 7,500 employees, is a key producer in the country, whose economy relies heavily on chemical industries.A harsh crackdown on the opposition in Belarus began after protests swept the country in August 2020 in the wake of presidential elections whose disputed results gave authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office.Human rights activists say some 35,000 people were arrested in the course of the crackdown and that there are nearly 1,400 political prisoners behind bars today. They include many of the country's most prominent opposition figures and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, founder of the Viasna human rights group.The 2020 protests were the largest and most sustained show of dissent in Belarus since Lukashenko came to power in 1994. Workers struck in protest at several major plants, including Grodno Azot.Cyber-Partisans said its claimed hack was punishment for "bullying, pressuring & conducting political repression against the company's employees."

Ukraine claims it shot down a Russian strategic bomber as Moscow's missiles kill 8 Ukrainians

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's air force claimed Friday it shot down a Russian strategic bomber, but Moscow officials said the plane crashed in a sparsely populated area due to a malfunction after a combat mission.Neither claim could be independently verified. Previous Ukrainian claims of shooting down Russian warplanes during their more than two-year war have met with silence or denials from Moscow . AMERICA FIRST MEANS HELPING UKRAINE. IT NEVER MEANT AMERICA ALONE Meanwhile, Russian missiles struck cities in the central Dnipro region of Ukraine, killing eight people, including a 14-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, and injuring 28, local officials said. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeated Kyiv officials' almost daily appeals for more Western air defense systems, again drawing a parallel with how Israel blunted a recent Iranian attack.Missile and drone attacks can be thwarted, he wrote on social platform X: "This has been demonstrated in the skies over the Middle East, and it should also work in Europe."Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba added: "Children must not be killed in airstrikes in modern Europe."Russia's air force is vastly more powerful than Ukraine's, but sophisticated missile systems provided by Kyiv's Western partners are a major threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin's forces slowly push forward along the around 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line in what has become a grinding war of attrition. Ukrainian officials say they expect a major Russian offensive in the summer.Ukraine said the air force and military intelligence cooperated to bring down the Tu-22M3 bomber with anti-aircraft missiles. Russia commonly uses the bomber to fire Kh-22 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets from inside its own airspace. The plane can also carry nuclear warheads.The Russian defense ministry said the warplane crashed "in a deserted area" in the southern region of Stavropol, hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the Ukrainian border.Three crew members were rescued after ejecting from the aircraft, and the search for a fourth is taking place, according to the ministry. But Stavropol Gov. Vladimir Vladimirov said one of the rescued pilots died.On Christmas Eve, Ukraine claimed to have shot down two Russian fighter jets. In January, the Ukrainian air force said it shot down a Russian early warning and control plane and a key command center aircraft that relays information to troops on the ground, in what appeared to be a significant blow for the Kremlin's forces. The next month, Ukraine said it knocked out another early warning and control plane.Also in January, Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane that was carrying Ukrainian POWs who were headed for a prisoner swap.Russian forces overnight conducted a combined aerial attack with the use of 22 missiles of various types and 14 Shahed drones during the night, the Ukrainian air force said. All the drones and 15 of the missiles were intercepted, it said.The attack hit urban areas as well as train infrastructure in the Dnipro region, Ukraine's National Railway Operator said. Among those killed in the strikes was employee Oksana Storozhenko, the mother of two teenage sons, it said.

Iranian president makes no mention of Israeli strike despite threatening complete destruction

Iranian leadership is downplaying Israeli strikes against their country, despite previously vowing total war in the event of the "tiniest invasion."During a Friday speech, President Ebrahim Raisi did not mention the Israeli missile strike launched against the Isfahan region of Iran earlier the same day.Instead, Raisi focused on justifying Iran's own offensive attacks. ISRAEL HITS IRAN WITH 'LIMITED' STRIKES DESPITE WHITE HOUSE'S REPORTED OPPOSITION "Operation True Promise led to authority, unity and cohesion in the country," Raisi said in his speech, according to translations from Iran International English. "Today, all political groups and factions believe that this response was necessary and a big honor for the country."Operation True Promise is the code name for the Iranian drone missile and drone launch against Israel that took place last week. Iran launched hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel on Saturday in response to an apparent strike on Iran's embassy compound in Syria on April 1 that killed 12 people, including two Iranian generals. It was the first-ever direct Iranian military attack on Israel. WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES NEW SANCTIONS ON IRAN FOLLOWING ATTACK AGAINST ISRAEL: 'THE PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE' Israel, with help from the U.S., the U.K., neighboring Jordan and other nations, successfully intercepted nearly every missile and drone that Iran launched. Israel boasted of a 99% success rate, through the use of its Iron Dome and David's Sling systems.Following the Iranian launch, Raisi said the attack was a limited one - and that if Iran was provoked to carry out a bigger attack, "nothing would remain from the Zionist regime," the official IRNA news agency reported.The Iranian supreme leader's decision not to address Israel's retaliatory strike shows a drastic gap between this previous rhetoric and the country's disposition moving forward.Israel and Iran have waged a shadow war for decades, with the war coming to a head over the past few months as Iran has supported Hamas, which carried out the deadliest terror attack in Israel's history on Oct. 7.

Mexico's president is getting a little sloppy in the rush to finish projects before his term ends

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico's president is in a rush to finish the big legislative and building projects he promised before his term ends in September, and experts say officials are getting a bit sloppy amid all the haste.This week, legislators from the governing Morena party mistakenly submitted the wrong bill on pension reform for a vote in Congress, before sheepishly admitting the error and rescheduling the vote. They claimed Thursday that aides had mistaken one set of papers for another, but the bill almost got approved before the opposition noticed the error. AN PRESIDENT SAYS THE 'FLOW OF MIGRANTS WILL CONTINUE' UNLESS THE US MEETS HIS DEMANDS "In the legislative process, as in life and all activities, human mistakes are made that aren't premeditated, that aren't ill-intentioned," said Sen. Ignacio Mier, the point man for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's party in the Senate.The rushed atmosphere extends to infrastructure, with the president's beloved train projects suffering glaring construction errors in recent months. Cranes have crashed off bridges and pilings have been sunk into supposedly protected cave systems. With the June 2 presidential election approaching, the president wants to finish his administration's projects, fast."There is this rush, because López Obrador wants to put as much in place as possible to assure his own policies, so that ... whoever wins (the election), they won't be able to backtrack on it, at least not easily," political analyst José Antonio Crespo said.But the pension reform especially has become a lightning rod for criticism, because it would essentially seize unclaimed pension funds if a worker doesn't start drawing them by age 70.López Obrador says the seized funds - which he wants to put into a pot for employees whose pensions are too small - would always be available for return if a worker or his dependents show up later to claim them."Even if time has passed, they can file a request for the funds to be returned to them," López Obrador said Thursday.But the bill mistakenly submitted for a vote late Wednesday actually would have removed some of those protections. For example, employees who didn't draw their pensions by age 70 or 75 because they were still working could still have had their pensions seized.And because pension withdrawals are already so bureaucratic and restrictive - dependents in Mexico often have to go to court to access a deceased worker's pension fund - the idea that a simple request will get the money returned has been met with derision."We are against this, because they are going to loot everybody's account," said opposition Sen. Rubén Moreira, a member of the old ruling PRI party. "First, because the money in the individual accounts is the personal property of many people, and secondly, because this won't solve the pension problem."The tension involves López Obrador's disdain for private or individual benefit programs. The president frequently rails against "individualism" and "aspirationalism," a term in Spanish roughly equivalent to "getting ahead" or "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps." He prefers large, government-run programs.Mexico's woefully underfunded pension programs were converted in 1997 into individual accounts somewhat akin to the U.S. 401K program , in which a worker and his employer both contribute to a personal retirement investment account.López Obrador has long criticized that change, saying the government itself should guarantee everyone a pension equivalent to 100% of their last paycheck. Of course, the Mexican government doesn't have enough money to do that, hence the proposed raid on the "unclaimed" individual accounts."Taking these individual, unclaimed accounts ... could affect the rights or workers and their beneficiaries, if they don't move to make a claim," said Orlando Corona, the social security specialist for the Mexican Institute of Financial Executives.Corona said a big outreach and ad campaign would be needed to remind workers about the importance of claiming their money - something the president's plan doesn't contemplate.López Obrador has a history of rushing laws through congress without much time for legislators to actually read the bills, just as he has sought to ram through his infrastructure building projects by exempting them from normal permitting and environmental review processes.On Wednesday, his party pushed through the Senate a law that would prohibit judges from blocking government projects, even if citizens file appeals against them.Chief among the projects dear to Lopez Obrador's heart are railway lines. Mexico largely abandoned state-run passenger train service in the 1990s, and the president is building rail lines to bring that back. The problem is those projects are either environmentally questionable or too big to finish during his term.López Obrador has vowed to finish them before he leaves office Sept. 30, bragging they are being built in "record time." He spends most of his weekends flying around to different construction sites to personally oversee the work.But apparently it is hard to do careful work in a hurry, both in legislation and in construction. "It is not advisable, but that's the way they're doing it," said Crespo.On Tuesday, an 800-ton gantry crane - a huge piece of machinery used to position pre-fabricated concrete bridge spans - came crashing to the ground at an elevated commuter rail line meant to link Mexico City with neighboring Toluca. Nobody was injured, but the accident delayed construction and terrified neighbors.In January, another crane dropped a huge pre-fab concrete span onto the roadway below, narrowly missing two men who were repairing a truck.On March, a loose railway fitting caused a train car to derail on the president's pet project - a tourist rail route known as the Maya Train that is planned for carrying both visitors and local residents on a loop around the Yucatan peninsula .No one was hurt in the incident, but given that it's meant to eventually be a high-speed train, the oversight was worrisome.The rail switch involved in the accident is designed to be operated automatically. Though the automated system is not yet in place, the president wanted that part of the line up and running anyway.So the switch - which shunts train cars onto another track - has to be manually loosened, moved and returned to its original position by hand. Someone apparently didn't tighten the fitting down again.On the same project, the government has acknowledged that steel and cement pilings meant to support an elevated section of the tracks were driven directly through the roofs of sensitive limestone caves.The network of caves, sinkhole lakes and underground rivers along Mexico's Caribbean coast are both environmentally sensitive and have been found to hold some of the oldest human remains in North America.

Croatia's top court rules President Milanović cannot be prime minister because of campaign

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - Croatia's Constitutional Court on Friday banned President Zoran Milanović from becoming prime minister in case his center-left party manages to garner a majority after this week's highly contested parliamentary election.The ballot on Wednesday ended inconclusively. The governing center-right Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, won the most votes but not enough to rule alone. Although it finished second, Milanović's Social Democratic Party is also trying to muster a coalition in the 151-member parliament. CROATIA'S PRESIDENT BARRED FROM RUNNING IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION UNLESS HE RESIGNS, COURT RULES Milanović made a surprise announcement that he would run for prime minister just hours after calling the election for April 17. The Constitutional Court warned him last month that he had to resign first, a warning that he ignored."The Constitutional Court established that with his statements and behavior the president ... brought himself in the position that he can neither be the prime minister-designate of the future government nor the future prime minister," the ruling said.Milanovic and his SDP party said the Constitutional Court has no right to counter the will of the people. They claimed that the future parliament can choose whomever they want as the next prime minister."The elections are over and the people's will will determine, and not the judges," Milanovic said at a press conference.SDP President Pedja Grbin described the ruling as "shameful." He urged other opposition groups to help form a new government without HDZ.Milanović has insisted that he had not violated Croatia's top law by openly supporting the opposition during the campaign and saying he would become the new prime minister. He has accused the current Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of widespread corruption.The showdown between Croatia's two top politicians has dominated the vote, which is also seen as a test ahead of elections for the European parliament in June.Milanović is critical of EU policies over the war in Ukraine . If he were to form a government, that could potentially open space for stronger pro-Russia influence in the country, akin to Hungary and Slovakia.Officials results of Wednesday's vote has shown that Plenković's HDZ won 61 parliamentary seats while the SDP got 42. The far-right Homeland Movement has emerged as a potential kingmaker with 14 seats.The Constitutional Court said that Milanović could not now become prime minister even if he resigned as president to take up the new post. Some opposition politicians alleged the court is controlled by the ruling conservatives.Former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said the court's decisions and announcements ran against the constitution itself. Leftist politician Dalija Orešković described Croatia's top court as "one of a number of captured institutions."The HDZ has largely held office since Croatia gained independence. The Balkan nation became an EU member in 2013, and joined Europe's passport-free travel area and the eurozone last year.A presidential election is due to be held in Croatia by the end of the year.

French Olympic athletes to receive mental health protection in response to heightened cyberbullying

French athletes at the Paris Olympics will be offered better protection for their mental health, with priority given to curbing online harassment and cyberbullying.France's Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra and Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Marina Ferrari have been discussing ways to ensure mental health is looked after at the July 26-Aug. 11 Paris Games and Aug 28-Sept. 8 Paralympics.Oudéa-Castéra pointed out the continued threat of cyberbullying to mental health in society in general, a risk she says is magnified when high-profile athletes are continually in the spotlight. OLYMPIC ORGANIZERS ANNOUNCE PLANS TO USE AI IN SPORTS AHEAD OF PARIS GAMES "Athletes as well as many of our citizens are exposed to these risks," she said. "We are implementing the tools to help our athletes, but also our young and all French people."A study carried out by France's National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance (INSEP) showed that 15% of athletes have shown signs of high anxiety or depression, with the first signs of psychological difficulties beginning on average at the age of 17.The risk factors themselves are already well-known. They include being away from family for sustained periods of time, pressure from fans, expectations from sponsors, reactions from angry gamblers losing bets, fear of failure and constant pressure to get results. These factors are magnified by constant exposure on social networks.So plans are in place to better protect mental health going forward.Starting from June, the website dedicated to top-level athletes will have a "Santé Mentale" (Mental Health) section, which athletes can click onto. It features a guide with practical advice and a self-evaluation questionnaire. The athlete also has access to a psychologist recommended by INSEP. The same services will continue after the Games, and are also available for coaching staff.INSEP will also work with other French sports organizations on a presentation to raise awareness on risks linked to mental health among athletes.France's sports minister is working with other ministries on ways to develop and support the profession of Mental Coach - someone who works closely with athletes to help with their mental preparation in order to improve their performance.At the Olympic Village in the suburb of Saint-Denis, a safeguarding officer from the French Olympic and Paralympic delegation and three welfare officers (who are trained psychologists) will be onsite during the Games. They will offer assistance to athletes and staff members who are experiencing mental health difficulties and, if needed, they can be mobilized to support athletes who are staying outside of the main Village.The safeguarding officer on site is also dovetailing as a designated person of trust who alerts social network platforms in case of serious problems happening online.An online application called Bodyguard is already being used by the French Tennis Federation and the French soccer league to give athletes better online protection, including content arriving in their private messages if they so wish."The psychological stability of athletes deserves all of our attention. More than ever, they should feel safe and should be supported when they go through moments of difficulty or doubt or have a need to express themselves," Ferrari said. "The context of (athletes') lives exposes them to increased risks. They should be cared for with regards to these risks."Further discussions are scheduled to be held in the coming weeks with the main social network platforms.

EU commission president urges unity as Finland closes Russian borders over migration surge

The head of the European Union's executive branch said Friday that Finland's decision to close its border crossings with Russia over a surge in migrants is a security matter for the whole 27-member bloc to consider.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the remarks during a trip to the frontier, visiting a part of the border located in southeastern Finland."We all know how (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and his allies instrumentalize migrants to test our defenses and to try to destabilize us," von der Leyen told officials. "Now Putin is focusing on Finland, and this is no doubt in response to your firm support of Ukraine and your accession to NATO." URSULA VON DER LEYEN ANNOUNCES BID FOR SECOND TERM AS HEAD OF EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION On April 4, Finland decided to extend the closure of its border crossing points with Russia "until further notice" because of what the government says is a high risk of organized migration being orchestrated by Moscow. Finland's government has closed eight of its nine checkpoints with Russia. The only one that remains open is dedicated to rail travel only, and cargo trains mainly run through it.Finland shares an 832-mile land border with Russia , running mostly through thick forests in the south, and to the rugged landscape in the Arctic north."This is not just about the security of Finland, but it is about the security of the European Union. We are in this together," von der Leyen said after visiting the border in Lappeenranta with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo. "We should be more Finnish when it comes to security."Von der Leyen and Orpo flew in a Finnish helicopter over the landscape of forests and towns on the border.In a statement issued after the visit, Orpo said that "the spring's warmer weather increases the risk of Russia helping people illegally try to get to Finland via the land border ... outside the border crossing points."Von der Leyen is campaigning as a member of the conservative European People's Party bloc for a second term in office as head of the EU's powerful executive branch. Security is a top EPP theme ahead of the June 6-9 European Parliament elections.Most of the migrants hail from the Middle East and Africa. The vast majority of them have sought asylum in Finland, a member of the EU and NATO with a population of 5.6 million.Finland joined NATO in April 2023, ending decades of neutrality after the country's defeat by the Soviet Union in World War II. In March, Sweden also became a member of the trans-Atlantic alliance. The move dealt a major blow to Putin, with a historic realignment of Europe's post-Cold War security landscape triggered by Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Poland detains 2 suspects in attack on Alexei Navalny ally in Lithuania

Two men have been detained in Poland on suspicion that they attacked Russian activist Leonid Volkov - an ally of the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny - on the orders of foreign intelligence services, officials said Friday.Volkov was attacked on March 12 outside his home in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, where he lives in exile. The attacker smashed one of his car's windows, sprayed tear gas into his eyes and hit him with a hammer, police said at the time.Lithuanian President Gitanas Naus-da announced the arrests to reporters in Vilnius and thanked Poland for its work. ALEXEI NAVALNY'S DEATH REPRESENTS MAJOR BLOW TO POLITICAL DISSENT IN RUSSIA "Two people have been detained in Poland on suspicion of beating Russian opposition leader Leonid Volkov. I thank the Republic of Poland for the excellent work it has done. I have discussed this with the Polish president and thanked them for their excellent cooperation," Naus-da said.Both suspects are Polish citizens previously known to police in their homeland. They traveled to Vilnius before the attack on Volkov and returned to Warsaw afterward, according to Lithuania's deputy police chief, Saulius Briginas.He said they were detained on April 3 in an operation in which Lithuanian police participated.Lithuania expects them to be handed over in May, chief prosecutor Justas Laucius told reporters. If convicted on charges of causing bodily harm, they face up to three years in prison. ALEXEI NAVALNY FUNERAL: FAMILY OF PUTIN ARCH-NEMESIS GATHER TO SAY GOODBYE IN MOSCOW In Poland, Joanna Adamowicz, the spokesperson for a Warsaw court, said that the two men were put under arrest until May 13, on suspicion that "they had organized on the territory of the Lithuanian Republic an assault and caused damage to the health of Russian citizen L. W.," while "being active in an organized group and carrying out the orders of the special services of an alien country."Volkov's last name is spelled with a "w" in Polish.The court in Warsaw's Praga district has decided to hand them over to Lithuania for the purpose of a criminal investigation, on the condition that they would serve any potential punishment in Poland, Adamowicz said in an email to The Associated Press.Their lawyers have lodged complaints and the files have been sent to the Appeals Court in Warsaw, she said. It was not immediately clear how long the appeals could take.Poland's Central Investigation Bureau of Police confirmed that its officers worked with Lithuanian police to arrest two people suspected of an attack on a Russian opposition activist in Lithuania in March.The developments came a day after Poland announced the arrest of a Polish man suspected of being ready to spy on behalf of Russia's military intelligence in an alleged plot to assassinate Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.Volkov said on X, formerly Twitter, that he didn't know the details of the arrest, but "saw how energetically and persistently the Lithuanian police have worked over the past month on this case" and was "very glad that this work has paid off.""As for the details, we will find them out soon. Can't wait to find out!" Volkov wrote.Volkov suffered a broken arm in the brutal attack and was hospitalized. He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin's "henchmen" at the time of responsibility in the attack and vowed to keep up his opposition work.The attack took place nearly a month after Navalny's unexplained death in a remote Arctic penal colony. He was Russia's best-known opposition figure and Putin's fiercest critic. Navalny had been imprisoned since January 2021 and was serving a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism widely seen as politically motivated.Opposition figures and Western leaders laid the blame on the Kremlin for his death - something officials in Moscow vehemently rejected.Navalny's funeral in the Russian capital on March 1 drew thousands of supporters, a rare show of defiance in Putin's Russia amid an unabating and ruthless crackdown on dissent. Navalny's widow, Yulia, vowed to continue his work.Volkov used to be in charge of Navalny's regional offices and election campaigns. He ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013 and sought to challenge Putin in the 2018 presidential election. Volkov left Russia several years ago under pressure from the authorities.

Israel strikes back at Iran: Five key questions

Israel carried out limited strikes in Iran early Friday in retaliation for Tehran firing a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel last Saturday.Here are the key facts you need to know about the latest escalation of violence between the two countries.Fox News confirmed there have been explosions in Iran's Isfahan province, which is where Natanz, one of Iran's nuclear facilities, is located. A well-placed military source has told Fox News that the strike was "limited." IRAN'S 'NUCLEAR ENERGY MOUNTAIN' IS 'FULLY SAFE' AFTER ISRAELI STRIKE: STATE MEDIA Following the attack, Iranian state media stated that the nation's atomic sites were "fully safe" and had not been struck by the missiles.The International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations affiliate watchdog organization, later confirmed "there is no damage to Iran's nuclear sites."There have been no reports of large-scale damage or casualties.A senior Iranian official reportedly told Reuters on Friday that Tehran has no immediate plans to strike back.That official said "the foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed," and "the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack."  REPORTS OF ISRAEL'S RETALIATORY STRIKES AGAINST IRAN PROMPT REACTIONS FROM LAWMAKERS: 'RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF' Iranian state media reportedly has been downplaying Friday's strikes. A well-placed military source has told Fox News that the strikes were "limited." "The explosion this morning in the sky of Isfahan was related to the shooting of air defense systems at a suspicious object that did not cause any damage," Iranian army commander Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi was quoted by The Associated Press as saying. Israel and its government have been notably quiet leading up to and following the retaliatory strike on Iran. "Israel will do whatever it needs to defend itself," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement before the Israeli strike. "[Foreign leaders] have all sorts of suggestions and advice. I appreciate that. But I want to be clear: Our decisions we will make ourselves."Former Israel Defense Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus wrote on X following the strike that while Iran appears to downplay the strike, he "think[s] they've gotten the message."The United States has denied any involvement in the strike, having pleaded with Israel for days to respond with restraint against Iranian strikes. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when asked about Israel's strikes on Iran Friday, said, "I'm not going to speak to that except to say that the United States has not been involved in any offensive operations.""What we're focused on, what the G7 is focused on, and again, it's reflected in our statement and in our conversation, is our work to de-escalate tensions, to de-escalate from any potential conflict. You saw Israel on the receiving end of an unprecedented attack," he added. "But our focus has been on, of course, making sure that Israel can effectively defend itself, but also de-escalating tensions, avoiding conflict." Fox News Digital's Bradford Betz, Jennifer Griffin, Greg Norman and Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.

Israel strikes site in Iran in retaliation for weekend assault: source

Israel carried out limited strikes in Iran early Friday in retaliation for Tehran firing a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel last Saturday.A well-placed military source has told Fox News that the strike was "limited." Sources familiar said the U.S. was not involved and there was pre-notification to the U.S. from the Israelis.Fox News confirmed there have been explosions in Iran's Isfahan province, which is where Natanz, one of Iran's nuclear facilities, is located. Though it was initially unclear if the facility was hit, state television described all sites in the area as "fully safe" and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on X Friday morning that there is no damage.Details surrounding the intended target of the strike - if there was one - were not immediately available, but Fox News was able to confirm the target was "not nuclear or civilian." REPORTS OF ISRAEL'S RETALIATORY STRIKES AGAINST IRAN PROMPT REACTIONS FROM LAWMAKERS: 'RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF' The foreign ministers of the G7 released a joint statement Friday condemning Iran for attacking Israel last weekend and urged both sides to "prevent further escalation."The statement said the ministers "condemn in the strongest terms Iran's direct and unprecedented attack against Israel of April 13-14, which Israel defeated with the help of its partners. "This was a dangerous escalation, as Iran fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones," it added."Israel and its people have our full solidarity and support and we reaffirm our commitment towards Israel's security," the ministers also said. "Iran's actions mark an unacceptable step towards the destabilization of the region and a further escalation, which must be avoided. In light of reports of strikes on April 19th, we urge all parties to work to prevent further escalation. The G7 will continue to work to this end." Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when asked about Israel's strikes on Iran Friday, said "I'm not going to speak to that except to say that the United States has not been involved in any offensive operations.""What we're focused on, what the G7 is focused on, and again, it's reflected in our statement and in our conversation, is our work to de-escalate tensions, to de-escalate from any potential conflict. You saw Israel on the receiving end of an unprecedented attack," he added. "But our focus has been on, of course, making sure that Israel can effectively defend itself, but also de-escalating tensions, avoiding conflict." WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES NEW SANCTIONS ON IRAN FOLLOWING ATTACK AGAINST ISRAEL: 'THE PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE' The semiofficial Fars news agency in Iran reported on the sound of explosions over Isfahan near its international airport. It offered no explanation for the blast. However, Isfahan is home to a major airbase for the Iranian military, as well as sites associated with its nuclear program.A senior Iranian official allegedly told Reuters that Iran has no plans to immediately respond to the Israeli strike, which was described differently on Iranian state media. The explosions heard in Isfahan were allegedly a result of the country's air defense systems activating and not a missile attack, the official told Reuters.Former Israel Defense Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus wrote on X while Iran appears to downplay the strike, he "think[s] they've gotten the message."Iran temporarily grounded commercial flights in Tehran and across areas of its western and central regions in response to the attack. Restrictions have since been lifted on flights to and from Khomeini and Mehrabad international airports in Tehran, according to Iranian news agency Tasnim.Dubai-based carriers Emirates and FlyDubai began diverting around western Iran at 4:30 a.m. local time.In a statement to Fox News Digital, FlyDubai said flight FZ 1929 from Dubai to Tehran on Friday morning returned to Dubai because the Imam Khomeini International Airport was closed. The airline also said all of its flights to Iran on Friday have been canceled."The safety of our passengers and crew is our priority. We are monitoring the situation closely and will make changes to our flight paths in consultation with the relevant authorities," a FlyDubai spokesperson said. "We will share any further updates once more information becomes available." ISRAEL'S ADVANCED MILITARY TECHNOLOGY ON FULL DISPLAY DURING IRAN'S ATTACK In response to Israel's reported strike on Iran, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a security notice Friday morning "out of an abundance of caution" restricting U.S. government employees and their family members from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva areas until further notice.Iran attacked Israel over the weekend in retaliation for a deadly strike on Iran's consulate in Syria earlier this month that killed a dozen people, including a top general. Israel has not publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.The Biden administration is considering supplying more than $1 billion in new weaponry to Israel, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News. The request from Israel is recent and under initial review, and the deals have not been approved yet, the source said. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the deals , which include $700 million in 120 mm tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and under $100 million in 120 mm mortar rounds, according to the newspaper.They would need to be approved by congressional leaders and could take up to several years to be delivered, it added.The weekend attack by Iran marked a major escalation of violence. Despite decades of hostilities between the two nations, Iran has never directly attacked Israel, instead relying on proxy forces in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere.  This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Israel's amputee soccer team offers healing to soldiers who lost limbs in Gaza

When Ben Binyamin was left for dead, his right leg blown off during the Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival, the Israeli professional soccer player thought he would never again play the game he loved."When I woke up," the 29-year-old said, "I felt I was going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair."Then Binyamin learned about a chance to be "normal" again: Israel's national amputee soccer team. REPORTS OF ISRAEL'S RETALIATORY STRIKES AGAINST IRAN PROMPT REACTIONS FROM LAWMAKERS: 'RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF' The team, which includes two Israeli soldiers who lost limbs fighting in the war with Hamas, has offered all three a chance to heal from life-altering wounds suffered during the Oct. 7 attacks and Israel's ensuing war in Gaza. It heads to France in June for the European Amputee Football Championships. Some 16 teams, mostly from Europe, will compete."It's the best thing in my life," said 1st Sgt. Omer Glikstal of the team's twice-weekly practices at a stadium in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. The 20-year-old soldier from Haifa regularly played soccer until his life was turned upside-down when a rocket-propelled grenade shattered his left foot during a battle in Gaza in November."It's a very different game than I used to play, but in the end, it's the same," he said.Dozens of Israelis lost limbs during the Hamas attacks that killed some 1,200 people in southern Israel and the war that followed. Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, home to a major rehabilitation center, says it alone has treated about 60 amputees. ISRAEL STRIKES SITE IN IRAN IN RETALIATION FOR WEEKEND ASSAULT: SOURCE Israel's Defense Ministry says 1,573 soldiers have been wounded since Israel began its ground offensive in late October, in which troops have engaged in close combat with Hamas militants. The military did not have specific statistics on amputees but said some 320 soldiers were critically wounded.The Israeli athletes and others who lost limbs have benefited from a world-class medical system that has decades of experience treating young people injured in wars and conflict.In Gaza, unknown numbers of Palestinians have also lost limbs in a war that has claimed nearly 34,000 lives, according to Gaza health officials. Gaza's health system has been overwhelmed by the war, and doctors and patients say they often need to choose between amputation or death. Before the war, Gaza also had a fledgling team of amputee soccer players wounded in previous conflicts with Israel.Shaked Bitton, an Israeli army division commander, lost his right leg when he was shot by a Hamas sniper with a .50-caliber round - the type that can blast through concrete - near the Jabaliya refugee camp in late October. "I heard two shots. I fell down. I looked back," the 21-year-old soldier said, "and I saw my leg."Bitton thought his life was over - he had never even met an amputee before - until he was visited in the hospital by others who had lost limbs and successfully resumed their lives.Among them was Zach Shichrur, founder of Israel's national amputee soccer team. Severely injured when a bus ran over his foot at age 8, he knew what these men were going through, and he offered them hope."There is nothing greater than to go out and compete at the international level when you have the Israeli flag on your chest. Most of us, if not all, could not have even imagined something like this," said Shichrur, 36, an attorney and the team's captain.Since its founding five years ago, the Israeli team has met with growing success, placing third in the Nations League in Belgium in October. That qualified it to compete in the European championship in June.Amputee soccer teams have six fielder players who are missing lower limbs; they play on crutches and without prosthetics. Each team has a goalkeeper with a missing upper extremity. The pitch is smaller than standard.At team practices, the Israeli players are undeterred by the absence of an arm or a leg - whether from an accident, a war injury or a birth defect."We all have something in common. We've been through a lot of hard and difficult times. It unites us," said Aviran Ohana, a cybersecurity expert whose right leg is shorter than his left due to a birth defect, and who has played with the team for two years.On a recent April evening, the team started its warm-up with sprints around the pitch, the men speeding forward propelled by one leg, steadied by their crutches.A game against able-bodied teenagers followed. Binyamin, dripping with sweat, kicked the ball with his left leg as the coach shouted from the sidelines: "Forward! Forward!" Every goal was celebrated.Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish neurologist who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and settled in Britain, is credited with pioneering competitive sports as a form of rehabilitation. Guttmann, who organized the first competition for wheelchair athletes on the opening day of the 1948 London Olympic Games, is considered the father of the Paralympic Games, and his legacy has enhanced the lives of thousands of handicapped athletes. In Israel today, the amputee soccer team offers the players the excitement of competition - and the healing powers of sport, said Michal Nechama, the team's physical therapist."They need it for their soul," she said. "It gives them joy, pride. That extra thing that you can't give in a hospital."

US envoy pays tribute to victims during visit to Japan's Nagasaki A-bomb museum

The American envoy to the United Nations called Friday for countries armed with atomic weapons to pursue nuclear disarmament as she visited the atomic bomb museum in Nagasaki, Japan.Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who became the first U.S. cabinet member to visit Nagasaki, stressed the importance of dialogue and diplomacy amid a growing nuclear threat in the region."We must continue to work together to create an environment for nuclear disarmament. We must continue to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in every corner of the world," she said after a tour of the atomic bomb museum. GOP LAWMAKER DEMANDS ACTION FROM JAPAN PM ON KEY ISSUE IMPACTING HUNDREDS OF US CHILDREN ABROAD "For those of us who already have those weapons, we must pursue arms control. We can and must work to ensure that Nagasaki is the last place to ever experience the horror of nuclear weapons," she added, standing in front of colorful hanging origami cranes, a symbol of peace. The United States dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. A second attack three days later on Nagasaki killed 70,000 more people. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II and its nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.Nagasaki Gov. Kengo Oishi said in a statement that he believed Thomas-Greenfield's visit and her first-person experience at the museum "will be a strong message in promoting momentum of nuclear disarmament for the international society at a time the world faces a severe environment surrounding atomic weapons."Oishi said he conveyed to the ambassador the increasingly important role of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in emphasizing the need of nuclear disarmament.Thomas-Greenfield's visit to Japan comes on the heels of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's official visit to the United States last week and is aimed at deepening Washington's trilateral ties with Tokyo and Seoul. During her visit to South Korea earlier this week, she held talks with South Korean officials, met with defectors from North Korea and visited the demilitarized zone.The ambassador said the United States is looking into setting up a new mechanism for monitoring North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Russia and China have thwarted U.S.-led efforts to step up U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile testing since 2022, underscoring a deepening divide between permanent Security Council members over Russia's war on Ukraine.She said it would be "optimal" to launch the new system next month, though it is uncertain if that is possible.The U.N. Security Council established a committee to monitor sanctions, and the mandate for its panel of experts to investigate violations had been renewed for 14 years until last month, when Russia vetoed another renewal.In its most recent report, the panel of experts said it is investigating 58 suspected North Korean cyberattacks between 2017 and 2023 valued at approximately $3 billion, with the money reportedly being used to help fund its weapons development.The United States, Japan and South Korea have been deepening security ties amid growing tension in the region from North Korea and China.

Iranian 'nuclear energy mountain' is 'fully safe' after Israeli strike: state media

Iranian nuclear sites are "fully safe" and have not been impacted by Israeli strikes, the country's regime says.Israel carried out limited strikes on areas of Iran early Friday in retaliation for Tehran firing a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel last Saturday.The region surrounding the city of Isfahan - home to the country's "nuclear energy mountain" - was among the areas targeted in the strike. ISRAEL STRIKES SITE IN IRAN IN RETALIATION FOR WEEKEND ASSAULT: SOURCE Isfahan is home to Iran's Uranium Conversion Facility and three research reactors. The country's underground Natanz enrichment site is also in the region.Iranian state media stated following the attack that the nation's atomic sites were "fully safe" and not struck by the missiles."The explosion this morning in the sky of Isfahan was related to the shooting of air defense systems at a suspicious object that did not cause any damage,"  Iranian army commander Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi said. REPORTS OF ISRAEL'S RETALIATORY STRIKES AGAINST IRAN PROMPT REACTIONS FROM LAWMAKERS: 'RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF' The International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations affiliate watchdog organization, later confirmed "there is no damage to Iran's nuclear sites."The agency said it "continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts."Details surrounding the intended target of the strike - if there was one - were not immediately available, but Fox News was previously able to confirm the target was "not nuclear or civilian."A senior Iranian official allegedly told Reuters that Iran has no plans to immediately respond to the Israeli strike, which was described differently in Iranian state media. The explosions heard in Isfahan were allegedly a result of the country's air defense systems activating and not a missile attack, the official told Reuters.Former Israel Defense Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus wrote on X that while Iran appears to downplay the strike, he "think[s] they've gotten the message." Fox News Digital's Bradford Betz, Jennifer Griffin and Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.

South Korea delays plan to admit more medical school students as doctors' strike drags on

Desperate to end a weeks-long strike by thousands of doctors, South Korea's government said Friday it will slow down a plan to admit more students to the country's medical schools from next year.More than 90% of the country's 13,000 medical interns and residents have been on strike since late February, when the government announced a plan to recruit 2,000 more students next year. That would have increased the current cap of 3,058, which has been the same since 2006, by about two-thirds.The government adopted a compromise proposal put forward by the presidents of six state-run universities on Thursday, under which medical schools will increase admissions over several years. WHY SOUTH KOREA MIGHT SUSPEND STRIKING DOCTORS' LICENSES EN MASSE Doctors' groups have claimed that the universities would be unable to handle a steep increase in students and that it would undermine the quality of the country's medical services . Government officials say the country significantly needs more doctors to cope with the country's fast-aging population.Announcing the compromise proposal, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo cited concerns that the prolonged strike by junior doctors is increasing the strain on hospitals.Han said the country's 32 medical schools will be allowed to lower their quotas for new places by up to 50% of the target set by the government in 2025, meaning the number of new places could end up closer to 1,000 than 2,000.Officials stressed that the compromise is temporary and that the schools will be required to finalize plans by April to increase their admissions by the full 2,000 by 2026.Doctors' groups have called for the government to scrap the plan entirely."The government decided that the damage caused by the vacuums in healthcare services cannot be left unchecked and that bold decisions are needed, considering the demands by patients and broader public to solve the problem," Han said in a news conference, urging the striking doctors to return to work and negotiate with the government.

Remembering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 81 years later

On Sept. 1, 1939, Nazi Germany's attack on Poland triggered World War II, prompting France and the United Kingdom to honor their defensive pact with Poland and declare war on Germany in response.As Germany invaded from the west, the Soviet Union invaded from the east, culminating in the division and annexation of Poland under the German-Soviet Frontier Treaty.The Nazis subsequently unleashed brutality on Poland 's considerable Jewish population, herding them into urban ghettos to await transport to the Majdanek and Treblinka extermination camps. SURVIVOR OF THE WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING HONORED ON 80TH ANNIVERSARY During the Grossaktion Warsaw, in the summer of 1942, a quarter of a million Jews were transported from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka. In response, groups including the Jewish Combat Organization and the Jewish Military Union began to organize a resistance effort, leading to the largest military uprising by Jews during the war.As the Nazis' concentration camp deportation plan unfolded toward the end of 1942, the Jewish resistance initially decided to refrain from military action, under the belief that the Jewish population was being sent to labor camps. As word spread of the Nazi plan for Jewish extermination, fervor for armed resistance spread.The first limited armed conflict in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place on Jan. 18, 1943, as sparsely armed Jewish families took heavy losses, but inflicted dozens of casualties on Nazi soldiers. Then, on Passover eve, on April 19, German police and SS forces entered the Warsaw ghetto intent upon completing the deportation plan.Soon, they met with heavy resistance from Molotov cocktails and grenades. Knowing the Nazi response would be fierce and total, the Jews decided to fight to the end; they refused to allow the Nazis to choose their time and place of death, and desired to call attention to the world's troubling inaction in the face of growing awareness of Nazi atrocities.SS Brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop, who commanded Warsaw, gave the Jewish defenders an ultimatum, offering them an opportunity to surrender. Upon rejection, Stroop resorted to burning the Jewish resistance out, employing flamethrowers and fire bottles. The so-called "Bunker Wars" lasted for a month, as the brave Jewish defenders slowed German progress in dense house-to-house urban warfare. Some driven from above ground, many defenders took refuge below in dugouts, bunkers and sewers. GREAT SYNAGOGUE OF WARSAW TO 'REAPPEAR', 76 YEARS AFTER BEING DESTROYED BY NAZIS DURING GHETTO UPRISING Following weeks of combat, the Jewish Military Union lost all of its commanders, prompting its last fighters to escape to the Michalin forest through the Muranowski tunnel on April 29, marking the end of the major engagement, although sporadic resistance continued until early June.An estimated 13,000 Jews were killed during the uprising, while nearly all the rest were deported to the Majdanek and Treblinka concentration camps. Virtually every structure in the Warsaw Ghetto was subsequently demolished, and Stroop reported to his superiors on May 16, 1943, that the Warsaw Synagogue had been blown up. After razing the incinerated buildings, the Nazis built the Warsaw concentration camp complex in their place.However, justice would come for Stroop and the other Nazi commanders who oversaw the anti-Jewish brutality in Poland. Virtually all died in combat during the war or were captured by Allied forces and faced either execution or lengthy prison sentences. Stroop was captured in Germany by American troops, and following his conviction for war crimes, was hanged in Poland in 1952.While the Jewish resistance faced overwhelming odds against the vastly larger and better armed German forces, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising stands as an important milestone in Jewish history, demonstrating the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity, and inspiring other resistance and partisan forces both in Poland and beyond.In 2018, Simcha Rotem, who played a key role as a courier in the Warsaw resistance, became the last survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, dying in Jerusalem, aged 94. 

Iranian senior official says country has no plan to respond to Israeli strike immediately: report

An Iranian senior official has revealed that Tehran has no plan to hit back immediately against Israel after the Jewish state carried out limited strikes inside the country early Friday, a report says. The strikes in Iran's Isfahan province - which is where Natanz, one of Iran's nuclear facilities, is located - come in retaliation for Iran firing a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel last Saturday.  The senior official told Reuters that Iran has no immediate plans to fire back at Israel and that "the foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed." "We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack," he also claimed.  ISRAEL STRIKES SITE IN IRAN IN RETALIATION FOR WEEKEND ASSAULT: SOURCE   Iran went after Israel last weekend in response to a suspected Israeli airstrike on April 1 targeting the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, that left a dozen dead, including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. A well-placed military source told Fox News that Friday's strike by Israel was "limited." Sources familiar said the U.S. was not involved and there was pre-notification to the U.S. from the Israelis.  ISRAEL HITS IRAN WITH 'LIMITED' STRIKES DESPITE WHITE HOUSE'S REPORTED OPPOSITION   Iranian state media reported that three drones had been shot down over Isfahan by air defense systems, according to Reuters. Iranian state television later described all sites in the Natanz area as "fully safe" and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on X Friday morning that there is no damage to the nuclear facilities. "Director General Rafael Grossi continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts," the IAEA added. "IAEA is monitoring the situation very closely." Details surrounding the intended target of the strike were not immediately available, but Fox News was able to confirm the target was "not nuclear or civilian." As of early Friday morning, Pentagon officials have not confirmed the strike and the White House and the National Security Council have declined to comment on the unfolding situation.  Fox News' Bradford Betz, Jennifer Griffin and Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report. 

Iranian academic at Princeton University accused of publicly supporting terror groups

FIRST ON FOX - A decades-old interview is adding to a widening scandal involving a former high-ranking Iranian official and controversial Princeton professor. Seyed Hossein Mousavian is accused of endorsing Hezbollah and Hamas in a 1997 German newspaper interview.The new revelations about Mousavian's pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah interview in a German paper, coupled with what some claim was an endorsement of an Iranian regime fatwa (religious order) ordering the assassination of British-American author Salman Rushdie, comes at a time when the Ivy League professor is the subject of a congressional probe. Mousavian is currently facing a  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce investigation  for allegedly advancing the interests of Iran. WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES NEW SANCTIONS ON IRAN FOLLOWING ATTACK AGAINST ISRAEL: 'THE PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE' In November,  Fox News Digital exclusively reported  on the investigation into Mousavian's ties to the world's worst state-sponsor of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The investigation is ongoing, and the congressional committee has not issued any findings.In an interview back in 1997 with the left-wing German daily paper Taz, Mousavian, who was Iran's Ambassador to Germany at the time, was asked if Iran supports groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Mousavian seemed to put his support behind Hamas. "If by that you mean that we supply Hamas with weapons: No, we do not. But if you mean that we support the Palestinians in their struggle, yes, we do."When asked by the paper if Iran provides Hezbollah support materially or   financially Mousavian said  " We support Hezbollah morally and not by supplying weapons." 'NOTHING WOULD REMAIN': IRAN'S PRESIDENT VOWS TO COMPLETELY DESTROY ISRAEL IF IT LAUNCHES 'TINIEST INVASION' The U.S. Middle East Media Research Institute first  translated Mousavian's German language interview  earlier this month on its website and provided background material on his alleged role in stoking terrorism in Europe, including the assassination of Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant named Mykonos in 1992.Mousavian, a Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University, was hosted by the Obama administration, according to the Washington Free Beacon , at least three times at the White House, and invited to speak at an important U.S. STRATCOM military event in August 2023 during the Biden administrationAccording to the congressional letter, first obtained by Fox News Digital, Mousavian's appearance at the STRATCOM symposium "concerned members of the Armed Services Committees of both the House and the Senate. Additionally, aspects of this issue trouble us as members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce."Mousavian told Fox News Digital in November that, "My talk at the U.S. Strategic Command was all about peace in the Middle East and why the U.S. should avoid wars and focus on peace and cooperation."  DOZENS DEAD, OVER 1,200 ARRESTED IN IRAN AS REGIME WARNS OF 'DECISIVE' CRACKDOWN When asked by Fox News Digital if he considers Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations, Mousavian refused to answer numerous Fox News Digital press queries via email, telephone and WhatsApp. Fox News Digital approached Princeton University via telephone and email for comment. The Ivy League institution did not respond to Fox News Digital's questions.Mousavian also seemed to defend the Iranian-led campaign to assassinate  U.S. and British writer Salman Rushdie  because the famous novelist depicted the Muslim prophet Muhammad irreverently.In 2022, a 24-year-old man named Hadi Matar, who is fan of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, allegedly stabbed Rushdie in the neck and liver during the author's speech in Chautauqua, New York. After the attack, Rushdie lost sight in one eye and the use of one hand.A Nov. 5,  1992 Reuters report, titled  "German Opposition Wants Iranian Envoy Expelled," said that, " ...Hossein Mousavian was summoned to the German Foreign Ministry after remarking in a radio interview that Bonn would not act against its trade interests with Iran to back Rushdie's request for the death decree to be lifted."The Reuters report continued "Social Democrat Freimut Duve told parliament in a special debate on what has become known as the 'Rushdie Affair' that Mousavian should leave Germany as he did not respect its laws."In  the radio interview  after Rushdie's appearance, Mousavian defended the historic Islamic practice of imposing the death sentence for blasphemy. IRAN'S ATTACK ON ISRAEL SHINES SPOTLIGHT ON TEHRAN'S ADVANCING NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM Mousavian declined to answer numerous Fox News Digital press queries about whether he continues to endorse the Iranian religious decree to murder Rushdie.Mousavian denied his country's role in the Iranian state-sponsored murders of the four Kurdish dissidents in the Mykonos restaurant. He termed the Berlin court verdict, which convicted Iranian and Hezbollah operatives of the assassinations, as "nonsense" in the German Taz interview. Mousavian refused to answer Fox News Digital press queries about his rejection of the Berlin court Mykonos verdict.According to a 1997 article from the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, Abolghasem Mesbahi, a former senior-level Iranian intelligence official, told a Berlin court during the Mykonos trial, "Mousavian participated in most of the [Iranian regime's] crimes that took place in Europe."During Mousavian's tenure as Iran's ambassador to Germany, he was in charge of the embassy that the Berlin court found "served as the 'headquarters" for the planning of the  1992 assassination of four Iranian  dissidents at the Greek restaurant Mykonos in Berlin.""This accusation is a big lie," Mousavian told Fox News Digital in November. "The 398-page verdict is published, and everyone can have access to it. The Berlin court verdict does not contain any direct or indirect allegations against me. German authorities never forced me to leave the country. ... I have been a frequent visitor to Germany," added Mousavian.The calls for Mousavian to be fired coincide with the scandal-plagued pro-Iran regime academic, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who taught at Oberlin College in Ohio.Mahallati was Iran's ambassador to the U.N. from 1987-1989.  Oberlin College ousted Mahallati  in November 2023 after a mushrooming series of scandals, including Mahallati's pro-Hamas teachings and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. According to Amnesty International, Mahallati covered up the Iranian regime's mass murder of 5,000 Iranian dissidents in 1988.The California-based Alliance Against the Islamic Regime of Iran Apologists (AAIRIA) spearheaded the high-intensity campaign to fire Mahallati.  WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES NEW SANCTIONS ON IRAN FOLLOWING ATTACK AGAINST ISRAEL: 'THE PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE' Iranian American human rights activist Lawdan Bazargan, the lead organizer on the AAIRIA campaign, told Fox News Digital about Mousavian "It is profoundly disheartening that Princeton University would appoint such an individual, allowing him to masquerade as a proponent of peace. To think that an agent of an oppressive Islamic regime, known for its flagrant disregard for religious freedom and its menacing slogans of 'death to America' and 'death to Israel,' could have the audacity to proclaim involvement in peace initiatives is nothing short of a cynical farce."She added, "Princeton's endorsement of Mousavian tarnishes its reputation and undermines the principles of peace, tolerance, and academic integrity it purports to uphold."AAIRIA urged Princeton to summarily fire Mousavian, who is not a tenured academic, and the NGO announced a protest at Princeton University next week against the controversial academic. Just last month, the  National Association of Scholars  issued a call to terminate Mousavian's employment. BIDEN SAYS ISRAEL NOT TO BLAME FOR ROCKET ATTACK ON GAZA HOSPITAL THAT LEFT 500 DEAD: 'DONE BY THE OTHER TEAM' A leading antisemitism expert has claimed that Mousavian's account contains antisemitic posts against Israel. Mousavian falsely claimed in an  October X post  that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza and termed it "a crime similar to the Holocaust of Nazi Germany." Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Fox News Digital that "Cleary, this is a person who feels no matter what he does that his status will be protected at Princeton."Regarding Mousavian comparing Israel with the crimes of Nazi Germany, Cooper said "that anyone who uses that language is proving his antisemitic credentials. He feels confident and is immune from any action against him."A Fox News Digital examination of Mousavain's X Posts since Oct. 7 shows the overwhelming number of posts are attacks on the Jewish state and support of many Hamas talking points, including that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.Cooper said "I think Princeton has a lot to answer for," and Mousavian should be disqualified as an academic in American higher education."To say this is a scandal would not give justice to the issues exposed. It might be time to call Princeton University forward at a congressional hearing because it covers issues of sensitive national security, "said Cooper, who has testified in Congress about antisemitism.

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