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The Latest: Rallies back Palestinians in Los Angeles, Boston

The Latest: Rallies back Palestinians in Los Angeles, Boston

Hundreds of protesters have shut down traffic as they took to the streets of Los Angeles, calling for an end to Israeli airstrikes over the Gaza Strip

By The Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 9:07 PM• 20 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressTwo policemen secure the entrance to the New Synagogue Berlin, Germany, Friday, May 14, 2021. (Fabian Sommer/dpa via AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Latest on the continuing violence between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers amid the latest escalation in the Middle East:

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LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of protesters shut down traffic as they took to the streets of Los Angeles, calling for an end to Israeli airstrikes over the Gaza Strip.

The protesters waved flags and signs that said “free Palestine” and shouted “long live intifada,” or uprising. They marched from outside the federal building to the Israeli Consulate in the western part of the city on Saturday.

Police shut down traffic on Wilshire Boulevard, a major thoroughfare, and urged motorists to avoid the area. Police from multiple agencies were monitoring the ongoing demonstration.

Also on Saturday, hundreds of protesters gathered in Boston’s Copley Square and walked a short distance through the streets to the location of the Israeli Consulate for New England, blocking traffic.

Footage on social media shows protesters then unfurled a banner in the colors of the Palestinian flag with the words “Free Palestine” while standing on top of the awning of the building where the consulate is located.

Other smaller protests in support of Palestinians took place in Hartford and Pittsburgh, where footage shows one speaker at the protest called on lawmakers to put restrictions on how Israel can spend aid from the United States.

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JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the ongoing campaign against Palestinian militants, now in its sixth day, will “continue as long as needed.”

The prime minister spoke on Saturday from Israel’s defense ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv and issued a warning to leaders of Gaza’s militant Hamas group after a series of airstrikes targeted high-level officials and commanders.

Netanyahu says: “You cannot hide — not above ground, and not underground. Nobody is immune.”

The Israeli leader added that there was “no more just or moral campaign” than Israel’s against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and thanked President Joe Biden and other world leaders for their support.

Netanyahu’s remarks came at the end of a day that saw Israeli airstrikes target and destroy a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. Everyone was safely evacuated from the building before the strike hit.

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JERUSALEM — Israel’s Electric Company says that high voltage lines supplying the Gaza Strip with electricity were damaged by rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

The company released a statement on Saturday saying five of the 10 lines have been damaged, in the latest escalation of fighting and that the company cannot fix them because there is no access to the area.

Damage to the power lines came amid days of intense fighting between Palestinian militants and Israel in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s only other source of electricity — besides the power provided by Israel — is its single power plant, which has been working only partially due to fuel shortages. However, both sources are insufficient to cover Gazans’ needs.

Outages of at least eight hours have long been a daily occurrence in the strip and with the power plant not working at regular capacity, rolling blackouts have increased to 12-15 hours per day recently.

With the latest hits on the power line, more outages are expected.

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BEIRUT — A top Hamas leader says militant groups in the Gaza Strip will not retreat in the face of attacks by Israeli troops, warning that their fighters still haven’t used all their force at their disposal.

Ismail Haniyeh spoke during a rally attended by hundreds in the gas-rich nation of Qatar on Saturday night. He said that “resistance is the shortest road to Jerusalem” and that Palestinians will not accept anything less than a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He added that “the Zionist enemy struck Gaza, flattened towers and carried out massacres,” thinking that this will make militant groups retreat. He said that as the Israeli attacks escalate, “the resistance will increase (its force) to a higher level.”

Haniyeh also said that despite the fact that Gaza has been under siege for nearly 15 years, militant groups will not retreat.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has expressed “strong support” for Israel’s strikes in Gaza in retaliation for Hamas missile attacks on its territory, but raised concerns about civilian casualties and the protection of journalists on a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The White House says Biden on Saturday also shared his “grave concern” about intercommunal violence within Israel and escalating tensions in the West Bank. Biden and Netanyahu also discussed Jerusalem, with Biden saying it should “be a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

Biden also held his first call since taking office with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the violence, in which he called for Hamas, the PA’s rival, to stop firing rockets into Israel.

The White House says Biden “expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve” and highlighted the resumption of U.S. aid to the Palestinians under his administration.

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken on the phone with President Joe Biden and urged the U.S. to intervene in the conflict and “put an end to Israeli attacks on Palestinians.”

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa says Abbas on Saturday updated Biden on the escalations across the Palestinian territories and said he was working to halt “the Israeli aggression against our people and to reach a cease-fire.”

The report says Abbas also told Biden that “security and stability will be achieved when the Israeli occupation ends,” adding that Palestinians are ready and willing to work toward peace with international mediators.

Biden stressed the need to achieve calm and reduce violence in the Mideast, noting intensive American diplomatic efforts to that end. That’s according to the Wafa statement.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Qatar’s foreign minister has met with a top Hamas official.

That’s according to a statement by Qatar’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday. It said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met Hamas leader Ismail Haniya in the capital, Doha.

The Foreign Ministry said Sheikh Mohammed “stressed the need for the international community to act urgently to stop the repeated brutal Israeli attacks against civilians in Gaza.”

There was no mention of the Israeli strike that toppled a Gaza tower that was home to offices of both The Associated Press, Doha’s Al-Jazeera satellite news network and others.

Meanwhile, Arab League chief said Saturday that Arab states’ ambassadors to the United Nations are trying to rally international support for Palestinians amid Israeli attacks on Gaza .

Ahmed Aboul Gheit called upon the U.N. Security Council to “fulfill its responsibilities” in holding Israel accountable in a session scheduled on Sunday to discuss the violence.

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CAIRO — An Egyptian intelligence official says efforts to reach a cease-fire between Israel and the Gaza militant groups are ongoing and have gained a push with the arrival of a U.S. envoy to Tel Aviv.

The official said Saturday that Egypt and other mediators hope that the U.S. will pressure Israel to end the fighting.

The official said it’s up the U.S. “to order Israel to stop such disastrous” actions ” and added that “the situation has started to get out of control in the occupied Palestinian territories.” referring to protests in West Bank, Jerusalem and other areas.

He says the mediators do not expect a cease-fire before the U.N. Security Council meeting Sunday.

The official says Egypt is now seeking an hours-long lull to evacuate severely wounded people from Gaza. He says Egypt is pushing for such a humanitarian pause overnight as ambulances are waiting on the Egyptian side of the border.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. U.S. diplomat Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary for Israeli and Palestinian affairs. is now in the region to try resolve the escalation.

— Samy Magdy in Cairo;

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BEIRUT — Hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinians have protested along the Lebanon-Israel border, with some climbing a border wall and triggering Israeli fire that wounded one person.

The protest on Saturday evening in the Lebanese border village of Adaisseh saw hundreds marching and waving Palestinian, Lebanese and yellow flags of the militant Hezbollah group.

Some protesters climbed a high border wall where they placed Palestinian and Hezbollah flags.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that Israeli troops fired warning shots near Adaisseh, wounding one person who was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Lebanese and Palestinians from around Lebanon have been heading to the border to protest against Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip over the past days. On Friday, Israeli troops opened fire at protesters who crossed a border fence, killing a 21-year-old Hezbollah member.

Earlier Saturday, an Israeli military spokesman warned Lebanese authorities not to allow protesters to breach the border.

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VIENNA, Austria — An international network of journalists and media executives “vehemently” condemn the Israeli airstrike on a Gaza City building housing the offices of The Associated Press and broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Barbara Trionfi, the executive director of the International Press Institute, said after Saturday’s airstrike that “the targeting of news organizations is completely unacceptable, even during an armed conflict.”

She added that “it represents a gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms.”

Three heavy missiles struck and destroyed the 12-story building about an hour after the Israeli military telephoned the owner to warn a strike was imminent. AP staffers and other tenants safely evacuated the building, which also contained residential apartments.

AP Vice President and Editor at Large John Daniszewski, who chairs IPI’s North American Committee and is special envoy for journalist safety, said “there is no doubt that Israeli forces were aware that the media offices would be destroyed.”

The Israeli military said the militant group Hamas was operating inside the building, but it provided no evidence to back up the claim.

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TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian state TV channel says the head of the expeditionary force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard has had a phone call with the head of the militant Hamas group.

Al-Alam, the Arabic-language service of the Iranian state television, reported that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke by telephone with Quds Force commander Gen. Esmail Ghaani.

Ghaani reportedly praised Hamas as offering a “unique and successful answer” to Israel.

Hamas officials have praised Iran for providing it weapons and aid in its fighting against Israel, Tehran’s regional rival.

The report comes amid a dramatic escalation in the confrontation between Israel and Hamas this week. An Israeli airstrike on Saturday targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets, including Al-Jazeera and also Kuwait’s state television.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The foreign ministers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are calling for an immediate cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

That’s according to a statement on Saturday carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

It says that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan had spoken to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

It said the two both agreed that an immediate cease-fire was needed. Egypt has been trying to negotiate a stop to the fighting.

The Saudi statement also said the two diplomats called on “the international community to confront the aggressive Israeli practices against the brotherly Palestinian people.”

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JERUSALEM — President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have spoken about the situation with Gaza.

According to a statement from Netanyahu’s office, the Israeli leader updated Biden on the developments and actions that Israel has taken and intends to take. It says Netanyahu also thanked Biden for the “unreserved support of the United States for our right to defend ourselves.”

It says Netanyahu emphasized in the conversation that Israel is doing everything to avoid harming the uninvolved. The statement added “the proof of this is that in the towers where there are terrorist targets attacked by the IDF, they are evacuated from the uninvolved.”

The Biden-Netanyahu call came just hours after an Israeli airstrike on Saturday targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An American organization promoting literature and freedom of speech has called Israel’s airstrike that destroyed a building in Gaza that was home to the offices of The Associated Press and other media “deeply disturbing.”

PEN America said in a statement after Saturday’s strike that the only reason the world knows about the ongoing fighting between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel is due to the “tireless, indefatigable work of journalists, risking their lives to inform the world.”

The organization demanded a detailed accounting of why Israel launched the strike.

PEN America added that “the resulting destruction will hobble the ability of professional journalists to do their work documenting a fraught, complex conflict at a critical time.”

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Al-Jazeera has called the Israeli bombing that destroyed its office in Gaza a “clear act” to stop journalists from reporting on the conflict between it and Hamas.

Al-Jazeera issued the statement Saturday night after an Israeli strike that destroyed the building that was also home to the Gaza offices of The Associated Press.

The Doha-based broadcaster said in a statement: “Al-Jazeera calls on all media and human right institutions to join forces in denouncing these ruthless bombing and to hold the government of Israel accountable for deliberately targeting journalists and media institutions.”

Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al-Jazeera Media Network, called the Israeli strike a “war crime.”

“The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza,” Souag said.

Al-Jazeera is a major broadcaster in the Mideast, funded by the Qatari government. It operates in both Israel and the Palestinian territories

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ISTANBUL — The communications director to Turkey’s president tweeted that Israel’s targeting of The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera offices in the Gaza Strip were a blow on the freedom of press.

The airstrike on Saturday targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets.

Fahrettin Altun said after the attack: “I curse these lowly attacks by Israel hitting press centers to cover up its massacres.” He also claimed that “Israel is continuing its massacres and war crimes.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that Turkey stands with the Palestinians, who are still facing “ethnic, religious and cultural cleansing.”

AP staffers and other tenants safely evacuated the building after the Israeli military telephoned a warning that the strike was imminent within an hour. Three heavy missiles struck the 12-story building, collapsing it in a giant cloud of dust.

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WASHINGTON — The White House says Israel has a “paramount responsibility” to ensure the safety of journalists covering the spiraling conflict.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Saturday that the U.S. has “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”

President Joe Biden has urged a de-escalation, but has publicly backed Israel’s right to self-defense from Hamas rockets fired from Gaza.

The White House statement followed an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. AP’s president and CEO Gary Pruitt said the agency was “shocked and horrified” at the strike.

AP staffers and other tenants safely evacuated the building after the military telephoned a warning that the strike was imminent within an hour. Three heavy missiles struck the 12-story building, collapsing it in a giant cloud of dust.

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MADRID — Thousands have marched in Spain’s capital to protest the attacks by Israel’s military on the Gaza Strip.

Many waved Palestinian flags as they marched toward Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square on Saturday.

Protesters chanted “This is not war, this is genocide” in Spanish. Some held up homemade signs that read ““USA Terrorist State” and “Muslim Lives Matter.”

The rallies in Madrid and elsewhere in the world are taking place against the backdrop of a most serious escalation in the Mideast.

On Saturday, an Israeli airstrike targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets hours after another Israeli air raid on a densely populated refugee camp killed at least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children.

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BAGHDAD — Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in cities across Iraq to stand in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and Jerusalem.

The demonstrators on Saturday waved Palestinian flags and banners across five provinces in rallies called for by influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr called on followers to take to the streets and support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is under attack by the Israeli military.

Protesters gathered in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and the southern provinces of Babylon, Dhi Qar, Diwanieh and Basra in a show of support. In Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square, demonstrators carried a Palestinian flag several feet long. Many also held up photos of al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr is a firebrand cleric who wields significant power in the country. In the May 2018 elections his party won the most number of seats.

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BEIRUT — Hundreds of people have participated in the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter who was shot dead along the Lebanon-Israel border during a rally denouncing Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The funeral of Mohammed Tahhan was held in his hometown of Adloun in southern Lebanon on Saturday afternoon. The 21-year-old man died of wounds sustained on Friday, shortly after he was struck during the protest at the border.

On Saturday, scores of Palestinian and Lebanese youth gathered in the border area again to rally against the Israeli military campaign in Gaza. Lebanese troops detained several people who tried to reach the border wall.

Earlier in the day, an Israeli military spokesman warned Lebanese authorities not to allow protesters to breach the border.

A small group had breached the fence on Friday and crossed the border into Israel, triggering the shooting. The Israeli military said troops fired warning shots toward the group after they sabotaged the fence and crossed over briefly.

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BERLIN — The United Nations’ human rights chief is urging all in what has developed into a battle between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers to lower tensions, and faulted actions by both sides.

Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement issued in Geneva on Saturday that “rather than seeking to calm tensions, inflammatory rhetoric from leaders on all sides appears to be seeking to excite tensions rather than to calm them.”

Bachelet’s statement was issued on Saturday, shortly before an Israeli airstrike destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets.

In the statement, Bachelet “warned that the firing of large numbers of indiscriminate rockets by Palestinian armed groups into Israel, including densely populated areas, in clear violation of international humanitarian law, amounts to war crimes.”

There also are concerns that some attacks by the Israeli military in Gaza “have targeted civilian objects that, under international humanitarian law, do not meet the requirements to be considered as military objectives.”

It added that “the failure to adhere to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in the conduct of military operations amounts to a serious violation of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes.”

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BERLIN — Iran’s foreign minister has called off a planned visit to his Austrian counterpart in Vienna. The decision came after Austria’s chancellery and foreign ministry flew the Israeli flag as a signal of solidarity in Israel’s conflict with the militant Hamas group.

Austrian daily Die Presse reported Saturday that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was due to meet Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg on Saturday morning. But he called off the trip over the Austrian leaders’ decision to fly the Israeli flag on Friday.

The Austria Press Agency said Schallenberg’s spokeswoman, Claudia Tuertscher, confirmed the report. She said: “We regret this.”

Vienna has been hosting negotiations in recent weeks aimed at bringing the United States back into the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at allaying concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China are still parties to that agreement.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, tweeted on Friday that Austria “so far been a great host for negotiations” but it was “shocking & painful to see flag of the occupying regime, that brutally killed tens of innocent civilians, inc many children in just few days, over govt offices in Vienna.”

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia has called for foreign ministers of the world’s largest body of Muslim nations to hold a meeting Sunday. The gathering is to discuss Israeli acts of violence against Palestinians and the Israeli police’s use of force against protesters at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The kingdom will host the virtual summit, gathering ministers of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation “to discuss the Israeli aggression in the Palestinian territory,” particularly acts of violence in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the body said Saturday.

The Saudi-headquartered OIC includes countries Iran, Turkey, Indonesia and a range of Muslim majority nations.

The sanctity of Al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, is a sensitive and emotive issue for Muslims around the world. The OIC was formed 51 years ago in response to a Jewish extremist arson attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in east Jerusalem.

The hilltop on which the mosque stands is also sacred to Jews, who revere it as the Temple Mount because it was the site of the biblical temples. Some Jews and evangelical Christians support building a new Jewish temple on the site, an idea that Muslims find alarming because they fear it would lead to the mosque being partitioned or demolished.

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinians have begun gathering across the occupied West Bank to mark the anniversary of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees from what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation.

Nakba Day, Arabic for “catastrophe,” comes amid widespread Jewish-Arab violence in Israel and heavy fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza. The main event Saturday was held in West Bank city of Ramallah, where the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority is headquartered.

On Friday, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank held some of the largest protests in years and clashed with Israeli forces, who shot and killed 11 people, including a Palestinian who tried to stab a soldier at a military position.

Some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes during the 1948 war. Today, they and their descendants number around 5.7 million and mostly reside in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Israel strikes Gaza home of Hamas leader, AP office

Israel strikes Gaza home of Hamas leader, AP office

Israel has escalated its attacks on the Gaza Strip, bombing the home of a senior Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp and destroying a high-rise that housed The Associated Press and other media

By FARES AKRAM and LEE KEATH Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 9:01 PM• 7 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressA view of a 11-story building housing AP office and other media in Gaza City is seen moments after Israeli warplanes demolished it, Saturday, May 14, 2021. The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted. The building housed The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel slammed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes on Saturday, in a dramatic escalation that included bombing the home of a senior Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp — most of them children — and pulverizing a high-rise that housed The Associated Press and other media.

The Hamas militant group continued a stream of rocket volleys into Israel, and one man was killed when a rocket hit his home in a suburb of Tel Aviv.

With a U.S. envoy on the ground, calls increased for a cease-fire after five days of mayhem that have left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza — including 41 children and 23 women — and eight dead on the Israeli side, all but one of them civilians, including a 6-year-old child. U.S. President Joe Biden, who has called for a de-escalation but has backed Israel’s campaign, spoke separately by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Still, Israel stepped up its assault, vowing to shatter the capabilities of Gaza’s Hamas rulers. The week of deadly violence, set off by a Hamas rocket Monday, came after weeks of mounting tensions and heavy-handed Israeli measures in contested Jerusalem.

On Saturday, Israel bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’ political branch, saying the building served as part of the group’s “terrorist infrastructure.” There was no immediate report on al-Hayeh’s fate or on any casualties.

The bombing of al-Hayeh’s home showed Israel was expanding its campaign beyond just the group’s military commanders. Israel says it has killed dozens in Hamas’ military branch, including senior commanders and fighters in the field, though Hamas and the smaller group Islamic Jihad have only acknowledged 20 dead members.

Since the conflict began, Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they house elements of the Hamas military infrastructure. On Saturday, it turned to the 12-story al-Jalaa Building, where the offices of the AP, the TV network Al-Jazeera and other media outlets are located, along with several floors of apartments.

“The campaign will continue as long as it is required,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Saturday evening. He alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating inside the building. Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting certain locations in airstrikes, including residential buildings. The military also has accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields, but provided no evidence to back up the claims.

The AP has operated from the building for 15 years, including through three previous wars between Israel and Hamas, without being targeted directly. During those conflicts as well as the current one, the news agency’s cameras from its top floor office and roof terrace offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surroundings.

In the afternoon, the military called the building’s owner and warned a strike would come within an hour. AP staffers and other occupants evacuated safely . A video broadcast by Al-Jazeera showed the building’s owner, Jawwad Mahdi, pleading over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer and asking for just 10 more minutes to allow journalists to go inside the building to retrieve valuable equipment.

When the officer rejected the request, Mahdi said, “You have destroyed our life’s work, memories, life. I will hang up, do what you want. There is a God.”

Soon after, three rockets hit the building and destroyed it, bringing it crashing down in a giant cloud of dust.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statemen t. “We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza.”

“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” he said, adding that the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was engaged with the U.S. State Department to learn more.

Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al-Jazeera Media Network, called the strike a “war crime” aiming to “silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza.”

Later in the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that the U.S. had “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”

In the early hours Saturday, another airstrike hit an apartment building in Gaza City’s densely populated Shati refugee camp, killing two women and eight children.

Mohammed Hadidi told reporters that his wife and her brother’s wife had gathered at the house with their children to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday ending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The only survivor was Hadidi’s 5-month-old son, Omar.

The blast left the children’s bedroom covered in rubble and smashed the salon. Amid the wreckage were children’s toys, a Monopoly board game and, sitting on the kitchen counter, unfinished plates of food from the holiday gathering.

“There was no warning … You filmed people eating and then you bombed them?” a neighbor, Jamal Al-Naji, said, referring to Israel’s surveillance over the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets at southern Israel in response to the airstrike.

In his call with Netanyahu, Biden expressed his “strong support” for Israel’s campaign but raised concern about civilian casualties and protection of journalists, the White House said.

The bombings took place a day after U.S. diplomat Hady Amr arrived in Israel as part of Washington’s efforts to de-escalate the conflict. Israel turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian intelligence official said Friday on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

Mediators from Egypt, which works closely with Israel on security issues and opposes Hamas rule in Gaza, appeared to be growing alarmed. The intelligence official said Egypt hopes the U.S. intervention could halt the Israeli assault, warning that the West Bank could also spiral out of control. The U.N. Security Council was set to meet Sunday.

The tensions began in east Jerusalem earlier this month, when Palestinians protested attempts by settlers to forcibly evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews.

Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza. Since then, Hamas has fired more than 2,000 rockets, though most have either fallen short or been intercepted by anti-missile defenses. Israel’s warplanes and artillery have struck hundreds of targets around blockaded Gaza, where some 2 million Palestinians live.

The turmoil has also spilled over elsewhere, fueling protests in the occupied West Bank and stoking violence within Israel between its Jewish and Palestinian citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property.

Palestinians on Saturday marked the Day of al-Nakba, or “the Catastrophe,” commemorating the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what was now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. Thousands of Arab Israelis marched in a Nakba rally in the northern Israeli city of Sukhnin, and scattered protests took place in the West Bank.

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Keath reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.

Merkel to youth: Build political support for climate action

Merkel to youth: Build political support for climate action

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she understands young people’s frustration about the pace of efforts to combat climate change, but is stressing the need to build political majorities to support effective action

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 7:18 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressA climate activist hangs on a rope above the federal highway 32, above him a poster “Who sows roads, will reap traffic jams” in Ravensburg, Germany, Saturday, May 15, 2021. The road has been closed for hours. The police are preparing to clear the road and take the activists down. (Felix Kaestle/dpa via AP)

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she understands young people’s frustration about the pace of efforts to combat climate change, but is stressing the need to build political majorities to support effective action.

Merkel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ambitious plan to reduce Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2045, five years earlier and with deeper cuts than previously planned. The move came after the country’s top court, acting on complaints filed by individuals and backed by environmental groups, ruled in late April that the government must set clear goals for reducing emissions after 2030.

“I understand — and of course it saddens me a bit — that young people say, ‘man, did we have to go to court before they in the government give us what we are entitled to?’” Merkel said in a recorded online panel discussion at an event Saturday organized by Catholic and Protestant groups.

“One of the great advantages of democracy is that of course we now have to keep to this and take the next step,” Merkel added. “But there also have to be majorities that do the right thing … and so we must work on these majorities.”

Germany holds a national election on Sept. 26 in which all major contenders are portraying combating climate change as a priority and Merkel’s center-right Union bloc faces a strong challenge from the environmentalist Greens. Merkel herself is not seeking a fifth term after nearly 16 years in office.

The chancellor said she would like “those who do something for climate protection, for sustainability and for biodiversity” to win, “but we have a lot of work to do — that is not a foregone conclusion.”

Luisa Neubauer, a member of the Fridays for Future group, told the same event: “To be honest, I think it’s very difficult to frame climate protection with a ‘but we’re in a democracy’ clause, because that implies that democracy is standing in our way.”

“It’s obvious that more climate crisis won’t do our democracies any good either,” she said.

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Follow all AP stories on climate change at https://apnews.com/hub/climate

Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

French riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons on defiant protesters supporting Palestinians in the Gaza Strip despite a ban on Saturday’s demonstration in the French capital

By ELAINE GANLEY and BOUBKAR BENZABAT Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 6:53 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article3:32

There’s concern that violence between the Israelis and Palestinians could get worse as the annual commemoration of what Palestinians call the “catastrophe” has arrived.The Associated Press

PARIS — French riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons Saturday in Paris as protesters supporting Palestinians in the Gaza Strip defied a ban on marching in the French capital.

In Paris, protesters scattered and played cat-and-mouse with security forces in the city’s northern neighborhoods after their starting point for a planned march was blocked.

Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement had ordered 4,200 security forces into the streets and closed shops around the kick-off point for the march in a working-class neighborhood after an administrative court confirmed the ban due to fears of violence. Authorities noted that a banned July 2014 pro-Palestinian protest In Paris against an Israeli offensive in Gaza degenerated into violence to justify the order against Saturday’s march.

Organizers sought to “denounce the latest Israeli aggressions” and mark the fleeing of Palestinians after Israel declared independence in 1948. “Stop Annexation. Palestine Will Vanquish,” read one poster in a small crowd facing off with police.

Protesters shifted from neighborhood to neighborhood in Paris as police closed in on them, sometimes with tear gas and water cannons, and police said 44 people were arrested. In a lengthy standoff, protesters pelted a line of security forces with projectiles before police pushed them to the edge of northern Paris.

“We don’t want scenes of violence. We don’t want a conflict imported to French soil,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said.

Anger over the Israeli offensive in Gaza drew protests elsewhere in Europe on Saturday. Thousands marched on the Israeli Embassy in London to protest Israel’s attacks, which included an airstrike that flattened a 12-story building in Gaza that housed media outlets, including The Associated Press.

Demonstrators chanting “Free Palestine!” marched through London’s Hyde Park and gathered outside the embassy gates, watched by a large number of police. Organizers demanded that the British government stop its military and financial support to Israel.

Husam Zumlot, head of the Palestinian mission to the U.K., told the crowd that “this time is different.”

“This time we will not be denied any more. We are united. We have had enough of oppression,” he said.

In the Netherlands, a few hundred people in The Hague braved the cold and rain to listen to speeches and wave Palestinian flags on a central square outside the Dutch parliament building. On Friday evening, Dutch police briefly detained about 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators in the city of Utrecht because they were not social distancing.

In other French cities, large pro-Palestinian crowds marched peacefully Saturday in Strasbourg in the east and Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea. Demonstrations were also held in several German cities and in Brussels, host to the European Union. In Madrid, protesters chanted “This is not war, this is genocide!” in Spanish, with some people holding up homemade signs that read ““USA Terrorist State” and “Muslim Lives Matter.”

In Berlin, police broke up a pro-Palestinian protest of 3,500 people for failure to comply with coronavirus distancing rules. Protesters responded by throwing stones, bottles and fireworks.

———

Jill Lawless in London, Mike Corder in Netherlands and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

Bleak futures fuel widespread protests by young Colombians

Bleak futures fuel widespread protests by young Colombians

Thousands of young people and college students have been at the forefront of Colombia’s antigovernment protests for more than two weeks, armed with improvised shields made from garbage cans and umbrellas

By REGINA GARCIA CANO and ASTRID SUÁREZ Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 6:34 PM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressA student performs a play called “Who killed them” during anti-government protests in Cali, Colombia, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Colombians have protested across the country against a government they feel has long ignored their needs, allowed corruption to run rampant and is so out of touch that it proposed tax increases during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andres Gonzalez)

BUCARAMANGA, Colombia — Thousands of young people and college students have been at the forefront of Colombia’s antigovernment protests for more than two weeks, armed with improvised shields made from garbage cans and umbrellas.

They have taken the brunt of the tear gas and gunshots from security forces, and dozens have paid for it with their lives.

“To a large extent, we found that there was no fear of death. Sometimes it is the only thing that remains when the system is starving us and there are no opportunities,” said Yonny Rojas, a 36-year-old law student who also runs soup kitchens in one of the poorest areas of Cali, the city where the government response has been especially violent.

The students didn’t begin the demonstrations, which erupted on April 28 when unions called people into the streets after President Iván Duque’s government tried to raise taxes on public services, fuel, wages and pensions, effectively squeezing the middle class. That protest drew tens of thousands of people across the South American nation.

The administration withdrew the proposal four days later, but it was not enough to quell the discontent that had simmered during the pandemic. Anger grew with reports of police brutality, deaths and disappearances of protesters.

Despite more than a half century of nearly constant civil conflict between the government and leftist rebels, Colombia is among the wealthier nations in the region, with one of the highest levels of university education in Latin America.

But it is plagued by profound inequality and violence, by powerful drug trafficking organizations and paramilitary groups blamed for displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their lands, and by murders of social and labor activists at a scale unseen elsewhere in the hemisphere.

Hopes that a 2016 peace deal with the largest rebel group would lead to a flowering of opportunities had been frustrated even before the pandemic hit.

Duque tried to calm the protests by meeting with young demonstrators in Cali and Bogota, the capital, promising subsidies for low-income students at public universities. But student leaders rejected the offer, complaining it would not apply to all students and repeated a pledge that was only partly fulfilled following 2019 protests.

The protests continued this weekend.

Human rights groups, including the U.N.’s rights body, have accused government security forces — long accustomed to confronting suspected guerrillas and drug gangs — of excessive use of force against protesters.

The government said it has confirmed only 14 deaths directly tied to the protests, but Human Rights Watch said it has received “credible” reports of 48 deaths — most between the ages of 13 to 34.

The government accuses protesters of vandalizing properties, looting and setting up roadblocks that have caused food shortages, prevented vaccine deliveries and blocked ambulances. Officials have also accused the protesters of trying to burn alive 10 police officers in Bogota.

The Ministry of Defense has reported the arrests of nearly 700 people as well as the seizure of 520 firearms and 14,000 sharp weapons.

Paloma Valencia, a pro-Duque senator, equated the roadblocks to “kidnappings of Colombian society with a social protest.”

“We understand that our constitutional obligation is also to protect those who participate in the protests, in the mobilizations, if they are peaceful, but it is also to combat the vandalism and the violence when it emerges, and avoid that they affect the rights of others,” Defense Minister Diego Molano told reporters last week.

Young people were also heavily involved in protests in 2018 and 2019 against other proposed government reforms. But the anger has spread throughout the nation as people lost jobs, friends and relatives to a pandemic that has claimed at least 80,250 lives across the country. Many have given up hopes of being able to afford to return to colleges when they reopen.

“Thousands of young people have taken the streets across Colombia because they feel they have no future. They see government institutions as distant entities that are not willing to listen to them,” José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch’s director for the Americas, said in a statement. “While some of them have engaged in violence, police officers have arbitrarily dispersed peaceful protests and responded with excessive, often brutal, force to violent protesters.”

Colombia’s security forces have spent decades fighting rebels — and have been often accused of cooperation with right-wing paramilitaries and of killing innocent civilians to boost “rebel” body counts.

“Struggles to make Colombia more democratic and equitable are often met with murderous force, whether by government forces, particularly the police in 2021, and in 2019, or sometimes what they called paramilitary forces that are kind of loosely allied in shadowy ways with usually the armed forces, or the police or both,” said Forrest Hylton, a professor of history and politics at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín. “So anybody who stands up for their rights in Colombia is often risking his or her life.”

The government also has alleged that rebel factions that rejected the 2016 peace deal, along with drug traffickers, have infiltrated the protests.

“It’s a continuation of a long history of state repression of popular protests, and stigmatizing protesters,” said Lesley Gill, a Vanderbilt University professor focused on cultural anthropology, political violence and human rights.

“The situation in Cali is so sad that today, unfortunately, young people in less favored communities are more likely to be linked to a criminal gang than to a cultural group,” said Andrés Felipe González, a 29-year-old communications student and community leader in an impoverished neighborhood in Cali. “Colombia is in a very precarious situation and in all social classes.”

Government attacks western Myanmar town that resists junta

Government attacks western Myanmar town that resists junta

The U.S. and British embassies in Myanmar are expressing concern about reports of fierce government attacks on a town in the western Chin state where martial law was declared Thursday because of armed resistance by opponents of military rule

By GRANT PECK Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 6:28 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article0:56

Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar painted eggs with protest slogans, in what they’re calling the “Easter Egg Strike.”San Thawdar Phyo via Storyful

Saturday’s fighting began around 6 a.m. when government troops who had been reinforced by helicopters began shelling the western part of the town of Mindat, destroying several homes, said a spokesman of the Chinland Defence Force. It is a locally formed militia group opposed to the army’s February takeover that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Helicopters also took part in the attack, according to the spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

“Mindat Town is now under siege and is bracing for an all-out assault by the junta troops from air and by land,” said a statement issued by the Chin Human Rights Organization.

A statement from the shadow National Unity Government, set up by lawmakers who were blocked by the army from taking their seats in Parliament, warned that “Within the next 48 hours, Mindat can potentially become a battleground and thousands of people are facing the danger of being displaced.” Many have already left the town of about 50,000 people, said a resident contacted by phone who was also fleeing.

The Mindat Township People’s Administration, another opposition grouping, claimed that 15 young men had been seized by government troops and used as human shields as they advanced. It said at least five defenders of the town had been killed in clashes and least 10 others wounded.

None of these details could be independently verified, but a Myanmar state television broadcast Saturday night reported that fighting was going on, and acknowledged the town’s defenders have been putting up stiff resistance against the army.

“The military’s use of weapons of war against civilians, including this week in Mindat, is a further demonstration of the depths the regime will sink to to hold onto power,” the British embassy said on Twitter. “We call on the military to cease violence against civilians.”

The U.S. Embassy said it was “aware of increasing violence in Mindat, including reports of the military shooting civilians,” and urged that evidence of atrocities be sent to U.N. investigators.

Detailed tallies compiled by several different watchdog groups say government security forces have killed upwards of 750 protesters and bystanders as they have tried to suppress opposition to the military’s seizure of power. In April, security forces were accused of killing more than 80 people in one day to destroy street barricades that militants had set up as strongholds in the city of Bago.

In many or most cases, police and soldiers were trying to break up peaceful protests, though as they increased the use of lethal force, some protesters fought back in self-defense. In recent weeks there has been an upsurge in small bombings in many cities, mostly causing little damage and few casualties.

The ruling junta says the death toll is less than 300 and the use of force was justified to quash what it calls riots.

Mindat’s resisters are only lightly armed, mostly with a traditional local type of single-shot hunting rifle, but the territory around the town is mountainous and wooded, favoring defenders over attackers.

The report on state television MRTV listed past attacks on government security forces and installations, most recently on Thursday, when it claimed a force of about 100 defenders blocked security forces from entering the town, destroying one vehicle and leaving an unspecified number of security force personnel dead and missing.

In a later attack, it said, an even bigger force was said to have launched an attack from the city on security forces patrolling nearby, destroying six vehicles and causing an unspecified number of government casualties.

The opposition’s National United Government earlier this month announced a plan to unify groups such as the Chinland Defense Force into a national “People’s Defense Force” which would serve as a precursor to a “Federal Union Army” of democratic forces including ethnic minorities.

Khin Ma Ma Myo, deputy defense minister of the shadow government, said one of the duties of the People’s Defense Force is to protect the country’s resistance movement from military attacks and violence instigated by the junta.

Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief registers presidential run

Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief registers presidential run

Iran’s judiciary chief and a prominent hard-line cleric has registered to run in the country’s June presidential election

By JON GAMBRELL Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 5:44 PM• 6 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article3:13

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press

The cleric, Ebrahim Raisi, is among the more prominent hopefuls — he garnered nearly 16 million votes in the 2017 election. He lost that race to Iran’s relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the atomic accord.

Raisi’s close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his popularity — due partly to his televised anti-corruption campaign — could make him a favorite in the election. Analysts already believe that hard-liners enjoy an edge as Rouhani is term limited from running again. The public has widely grown disenchanted with Rouhani’s administration after 2018, when then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal.

Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, offered fiery remarks to journalists at the Interior Ministry as he registered. He vowed that if he wins the June 18 vote, corruption will be “dried up.”

“Those who founded and partnered with the current situation can’t claim they can change it,” Raisi said. “People are complaining about the current situation. They are upset. Their disappointment is on the rise. This should be stopped.”

The 60-year-old sought to strike a populist note, urging the public to donate to his campaign and “turn their homes into election headquarters” as he wasn’t wealthy.

“We need individuals who believe in change,” he said.

Raisi had been named as a possible successor to Iran’s 82-year-old supreme leader, leading some to suggest he wouldn’t run in the race. His entry immediately saw some hard-liners announce they would withdraw, raising Raisi’s prominence further among the candidates.

A February telephone survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Toronto-based organization IranPoll found 27% of respondents said they wished Raisi would become Iran’s next president, the highest among named candidates. The survey found 35% undecided; the poll interviewed 1,006 Iranians and had a margin of error of 3.09%.

“I think he’s someone that the system trusts, particularly Khamenei,” said Sanam Vakil, the deputy director of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Program. “If you look at Raisi’s biography and background, it reads quite similar to that of the supreme leader’s.

“If Khamenei is thinking about his legacy, he would probably be looking for someone who is similar to him and ideologically aligned with him and looking to protect what Khamenei has done over the last 30 years,” Vakil added.

Activists hold a jaded view of Raisi. As the head of the judiciary, he oversees a justice system in Iran that remains one of the world’s top executioners. United Nations experts and others have criticized Iran for detaining dual nationals and those with ties abroad to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.

Then there’s the 1988 mass executions that came at the end of Iran’s long war with Iraq. After Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a U.N.-brokered cease-fire, members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, heavily armed by Saddam Hussein, stormed across the Iranian border in a surprise attack.

Iran ultimately blunted their assault, but the attack set the stage for the sham retrials of political prisoners, militants and others that would become known as “death commissions.” Some who appeared were asked to identify themselves. Those who responded “mujahedeen” were sent to their deaths, while others were questioned about their willingness to “clear minefields for the army of the Islamic Republic,” according to a 1990 Amnesty International report.

International rights groups estimate that as many as 5,000 people were executed, while the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq puts the number at 30,000. Iran has never fully acknowledged the executions, apparently carried out on Khomeini’s orders, though some argue that other top officials were effectively in charge in the months before his 1989 death.

Raisi, then a deputy prosecutor in Tehran, took part in some of the panels at Evin and Gohardasht prisons. A tape of a meeting of Raisi and his boss meeting prominent Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri leaked out in 2016, with Montazeri describing the executions as “the biggest crime in the history of the Islamic Republic.”

Raisi never publicly acknowledged his role in the executions while campaigning for president in 2017. After his loss, Khamenei appointed him as head of the judiciary in 2019.

Raisi previously ran the Imam Reza charity foundation, which manages a vast conglomerate of businesses and endowments in Iran believed to be worth tens of billions of dollars. It is one of many bonyads, or charitable foundations, fueled by donations or assets seized after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Analysts have speculated that Khamenei could be grooming Raisi as a possible candidate to be Iran’s third-ever supreme leader, who has final say on all state matters and serves as the country’s commander-in-chief.

Within Iran, candidates exist on a political spectrum that broadly includes hard-liners who want to expand Iran’s nuclear program, moderates who hold onto the status quo, and reformists who want to change the theocracy from within.

Those calling for radical change find themselves blocked from even running for office by the Guardian Council, a 12-member panel that vets and approves candidates under Khamenei’s watch.

Other candidates who registered on Saturday, the last day of the registration, include Ali Larijani, a prominent conservative voice and former parliament speaker who later allied himself with Rouhani. Another hopeful is Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, the eldest son of the late former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and a prominent reformist on Tehran’s city council.

Rouhani’s senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri also registered, as did Central Bank chief Abdolanasser Hemmati.

Several of the hopefuls have prominent backgrounds in the Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Khamenei. Iran’s former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered Wednesday.

The Guardian Council will announce a final list of candidates by May 27, and a 20-day campaign season begins the following day.

———

Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

Ethiopia again delays national election amid deadly tensions

Ethiopia again delays national election amid deadly tensions

Ethiopia has again delayed its national election after some opposition parties said they wouldn’t take part and as conflict in the country’s Tigray region means no vote is being held there

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 5:18 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressPassengers look out from an auto-rickshaw, known locally as a “bajaj”, in Gondar, in the Amhara region of Ethiopia Sunday, May 2, 2021. Ethiopia faces a growing crisis of ethnic nationalism that some fear could tear Africa’s second most populous country apart, six months after the government launched a military operation in the Tigray region to capture its fugitive leaders. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The head of the national elections board, Birtukan Mideksa, in a meeting with political parties’ representatives on Saturday said the June 5 vote in Africa’s second most populous country would be postponed, citing the need to finish printing ballots, training staffers and compiling voters’ information. The board said she estimated a delay of two to three weeks.

Since then, war in Tigray has killed thousands and led the United States to allege that “ethnic cleansing” against Tigrayans was being carried out in the western part of Tigray, a region of some 6 million people. The term “ethnic cleansing” refers to forcing a population from a region through expulsions and other violence, often including killings and rapes.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday said the U.S. is “gravely concerned by the increasing number of confirmed cases of military forces blocking humanitarian access” to parts of Tigray, calling it “unacceptable behavior.” The statement again urged the immediate withdrawal from Tigray of soldiers from neighboring Eritrea who witnesses say have blocked or looted aid and carried out atrocities including gang rapes. “Both Eritrean and Ethiopian authorities have repeatedly promised such a withdrawal,” Blinken said.

Ethiopia’s prime minister, who introduced sweeping political reforms after taking office in 2018 and won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, has vowed that this election would be free and fair. Abiy will keep his post if his Prosperity Party wins a majority of seats in the national assembly.

But questions about the vote have been growing amid sometimes deadly ethnic tensions in other parts of the country of some 110 million people and more than 80 ethnic groups.

The campaign director for one of Ethiopia’s largest opposition parties, Yilkal Getnet with the Hibir Ethiopia Democratic Party, told The Associated Press his party has long believed the country is not ready to hold an election at this time.

“There are lots of peace and security challenges across the country in addition to the border issue with Sudan,” Yilkal said, adding that the safety of millions is in question. “As opposed to the ruling party’s thinking, we don’t believe that the election will solve these problems. A national dialogue on a range of issues should come first.”

The European Union recently said it would not observe the vote, saying Ethiopia failed to guarantee the independence of its mission and refused its requests to allow the importation of communications equipment. Ethiopia replied that external observers “are neither essential nor necessary to certify the credibility of an election.”

The opposition Oromo Federalist Congress earlier this year pulled out of the vote. Several of the party’s leaders remain behind bars after a wave of violence last year sparked by the killing of a popular Omoro musician.

Late last month, five U.S. senators wrote to the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, expressing concerns about Ethiopia’s ability to hold fair elections while the Tigray conflict continues.

In response to that, Ethiopia’s national election board said it was “striving” to ensure the poll will be free. “Shortfalls are inevitable given factors such as population size, development deficits at all levels, a nascent democratic culture and an increasingly charged political and security environment,” it said.

The election board has said some 36.2 million people have registered to vote. It was hoped that up to 50 million would do so.

“We are deeply concerned about increasing political and ethnic polarization throughout the country,” the State Department said Friday.

Chileans choose assembly to draft a new constitution

Chileans choose assembly to draft a new constitution

The face of a new Chile begins taking shape this weekend as the South American country elects 155 people to draft a constitution to replace one that drafted under a military dictatorship

By EVA VERGARA and PATRICIA LUNA Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 5:00 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressA soldier walks through a voting center being set up at the Republica de Siria school in Santiago, Chile, Friday, May 14, 2021, the day before weekend elections to elect a constitutional assembly. The face of a new Chile begins taking shape this weekend as the South American country elects 155 people to draft a constitution to replace one that has governed it since being imposed during a military dictatorship. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

SANTIAGO, Chile — The face of a new Chile began taking shape this weekend as the South American country was electing 155 people to draft a constitution to replace one that has governed it since being imposed during a military dictatorship.

Nearly 80% of voters in a plebiscite last year chose to draft a new charter for the nation following a year of protests, though there is much less consistent agreement over what it should contain.

Their ability to get any strong clauses may be limited, though: Two-thirds agreement is required, so any bloc that can muster a third of the votes in the constitutional convention can block any clause.

The governing center-right coalition and other conservative parties are running a single slate in the two-day voting, while the left and center-left are divided among several tickets.

The document that emerges from the wrangling will go to a public vote in mid-2022. If rejected, the current constitution will remain in force.

Members of congress are barred from the convention and by law half of the body must consist of women — the first time any constitution has been drafted in conditions of gender parity, according to the United Nations.

“I don’t believe in the current politicians. …It’s the hour for us, for all who have been fighting for a most just country, to be part of the change,” said candidate Natalia Aravena, a 26-year-old nurse who lost an eye during the the recent wave of protests.

Seventeen seats are reserved for Indigenous peoples, who are not mentioned in the existing constitution.

The left, especially, has long detested Chile’s current constitution, which was written and imposed under the 1973-1990 military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

That document, which created a strong presidency and guarantees protections for private property, has guided the nation through a period of overall prosperity but also of intense inequality. It also gives broad powers to security forces that civil libertarians see as excessive.

The old constitution was amended over the years, notably with the 2005 repeal of an article that had allowed appointed senators and senators for life in Congress.

The vote originally was scheduled for April, but was delayed by an upsurge of COVID-19 cases. Overall, Chile has been among the countries most successful at vaccinating its population, with nearly 60% of Chileans getting at least one dose, though most of the country’s districts remain under some sort of pandemic restrictions.

The election will also decide mayoral and gubernatorial posts across the country.

Zimbabwe court blocks leader from keeping chief justice on

Zimbabwe court blocks leader from keeping chief justice on

Zimbabwe’s High Court has forced the country’s chief justice to retire, ruling that an extension of his term by the president is illegal

By Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 4:46 PM• 2 min read

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s High Court on Saturday forced the country’s chief justice to retire, ruling that an extension of his term by the president is illegal.

The ruling is a major setback for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose party in May pushed through constitutional amendments that critics said concentrated power in the hands of the president.

Amid a furor, Mnangagwa used his new powers to extend Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s tenure by 5 years on May 11, three days before the justice’s scheduled retirement. Judges in Zimbabwe retire at 70, but the recent constitutional amendment gives the president the power to extend the terms of Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges by 5 years.

The Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe and others sued, arguing that the constitution also stated that Malaba and all current Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges cannot benefit from the amendment. Only judges appointed after the amendment can.

A panel of three High Court judges on Saturday agreed and said Malaba had “ceased being a judge and chief justice.”

Masks off, Poles cheer reopening of bars and restaurants

Masks off, Poles cheer reopening of bars and restaurants

Across Poland people are taking off masks and making toasts as restaurants, bars and pubs re-open for the first time in seven months

By VANESSA GERA and RAFAL NIEDZIELSKI Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 4:21 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article7:38

The CDC now says fully vaccinated people can ditch their masks in most situations, even indoors.The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland — Poles pulled off their masks, hugged their friends and made toasts to their regained freedom as restaurants, bars and pubs reopened for the first time in seven months and the government dropped a requirement for people to cover their faces outdoors.

“Now they are opening and I feel so awesome. You know, you feel like your freedom is back,” said Gabriel Nikilovski, a 38-year-old from Sweden who was having beer at an outdoor table at the Pavilions, a popular courtyard filled with pubs in central Warsaw. “It’s like you’ve been in prison, but you’ve been in prison at home.”

DJs were finally back at work and waiters and waitresses were rushing to fill orders once again. Meanwhile, the end of a requirement to wear masks outdoors added to the sense of liberation. Masks will still be required in settings like public transport and stores.

Bar owners were also happy, thanks to the prospect of being able to finally start earning money, and many said they had been bombarded with reservation requests leading up to the opening.

“Today we feel as if it was New Year’s Eve because we are counting down to midnight,” said Kasia Szczepanska, co-owner of a bar, CAVA, on Warsaw’s trendy Nowy Swiat street. “It’s like New Year’s in May.”

Pandemic restrictions have meant that restaurants, cafes and other establishments have been limited to offering only takeout food and drinks since last fall.

“Everyone says they’re fed up with takeout food, food served on plastic,” Szczepanska said.

The easing of the country’s lockdown is coming in stages but the reopening of bars with outdoor gardens or dining areas was clearly a key psychological step on the road back to normality. From May 29, indoor dining will again be allowed.

Not all businesses survived the long months of forced closure, however, even with some government assistance, and others will be working at first simply to recoup their losses.

The loosening of restrictions comes as vaccinations have finally picked up speed across the European Union, of which Poland is a member, and the numbers of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have plunged in Poland in recent weeks.

Yet many people don’t feel like they can fully relax yet.

Aleksandra Konopka, who manages a bar along a popular promenade on the Vistula River where people were lounging in deck chairs and sipping drinks in the sandy garden with a beach-like vibe, said she was thrilled that things were coming back. But she is also nervous there could be more lockdowns as new virus variants circulate. And she said there are new challenges coming from the difficulty of finding workers.

“Not everyone is willing to work in the gastronomy or hotel industry because they expect that they will lose their job,” Konopka said. “They changed professions and it’s hard to get service.”

One of the customers lounging at her bar, Monika Rzezutka, said she had badly missed contact with people during the many months of lockdown and welcomed the resumption of normal life.

“What used to be the norm suddenly becomes something unbelievable,” said Rzezutka, a 23-year-old psychology student. “It’s a nice feeling.”

The Israeli military says it has bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a top leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip

The Israeli military says it has bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a top leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip

The Israeli military says it has bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a top leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 4:20 PM• 1 min read

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it has bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a top leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Myanmar frees Japanese journalist as gesture to Tokyo

Myanmar frees Japanese journalist as gesture to Tokyo

An arrested Japanese reporter has returned home after being released by Myanmar’s ruling junta in what it called a gesture of friendship to Japan

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 4:15 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressYuki Kitazumi, a Japanese freelance journalist detained by security forces in Myanmar in mid-April and accused of spreading fake news criticizing the military coup gestures to speak upon his arrival at Narita International Airport, in Narita, east of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Yuki Kitazumi was released after efforts by Japanese diplomats and others. The reporter boarded a plane at Yangon’s airport and landed in Japan on Friday night.

Kitazumi, a freelance journalist and former reporter for Japan’s Nikkei business news, said in brief comments at the airport that he learned of his release the night before and was told to pack his bag in 10 minutes.

“As a journalist I wanted to stay in Yangon and keep reporting, but I had to come back, and that is my regret,” he said. He said he hopes to keep telling the world about what’s happening in Myanmar.

The military seized power on Feb. 1, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. It has faced large, constant popular opposition, which it has tried to suppress by using force that has cost hundreds of lives and by muzzling the news media.

Myanmar’s army-run Myawaddy TV said Kitazumi was arrested on April 18 for “inciting” anti-military civil disobedience and riots.

“Although the journalist is a lawbreaker, the case will be closed and he will be released at the request of the Special Envoy of the Japanese Government for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, in view of the close ties and future relations between Myanmar and Japan,” the junta said in a statement read on TV.

Japan has criticized the military government’s deadly crackdown on opposition but has taken a milder approach than the United States and some other countries that imposed sanctions against members of the junta.

Kitazumi was also charged with violating visa regulations. He was the first foreign journalist to be charged under a statute which the state press has described as aiming at “fake news.”

He has posted reports and views about developments in Myanmar on Facebook. Hours before his arrest, he posted a video showing Myanmar citizens gathering at a Tokyo temple to pay tribute to people killed by Myanmar security forces trying to quell protests.

Kitazumi had been detained briefly by police in late February while covering pro-democracy protests in Myanmar.

The announcement that he had been granted clemency came a day after a military court sentenced a Myanmar journalist, Min Nyo, to three years in prison on similar charges.

Min Nyo is a correspondent for the Democratic Voice of Burma, an online and broadcast news agency which has continued to operate despite being banned by the junta.

A statement issued by DVB said Min Nyo was covering a March 3 anti-junta protest in the town of Pyay, 260 kilometers (160 miles) northwest of Yangon, when he was arrested and severely beaten by police.

About 80 journalists have been arrested since the military’s takeover. Roughly half are still detained and most of them are being held under charges similar to the one for which Min Nyo was convicted, as are many activists opposed to the military regime.

Rights group Amnesty International said Min Nyo’s case showed the ruthlessness of the junta and the risks faced by journalists reporting on the junta’s abuses.

“Min Nyo’s conviction must be quashed, and he should be released immediately -– along with all other journalists, activists and human rights defenders imprisoned and detained solely for their peaceful opposition to the military coup,” the group’s deputy regional director, Emerlynne Gil, said in a statement. ———

This story was first published on May 14, 2021. It was updated on May 15, 2021 to correct the name of the journalist on first reference. He is Yuki Kitazumi, not Yuki Kigazumi.

India police jail 21 Kashmiris amid pro-Palestinian rallies

India police jail 21 Kashmiris amid pro-Palestinian rallies

Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir say 21 people were arrested for disturbing public order by expressing solidarity with Palestinians and holding protests against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza

By AIJAZ HUSSAIN Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 3:58 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressA Kashmiri Muslim walks towards a mosque during sunset in Srinagar, India, Friday, May 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

SRINAGAR, India — Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir said Saturday that 21 people were arrested for disturbing public order by expressing solidarity with Palestinians and holding protests against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Police said in a statement they were keeping a “close watch on elements who are attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb public peace and order” in Kashmir. The statement said police were “sensitive to public anguish” but wouldn’t allow those sentiments to “trigger violence, lawlessness and disorder.”

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety. Kashmiris have long shown strong solidarity with Palestinians and have often staged anti-Israel protests when fighting broke out in Gaza.

Police inspector-general Vijay Kumar told reporters that 20 people were arrested in Srinagar, the region’s main city, and one from a village in southern Kashmir.

A police officer, speaking anonymously in line with department policy, said the 21 were arrested for social media posts, taking part in anti-Israel protests and making graffiti in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and Jerusalem.

Some of the arrested could be soon released after “counseling and assurances from their parents that they would desist from such acts in future,” the officer said.

The officer said the arrested include Sarjan Barkati, a Muslim cleric and a prominent anti-India activist, as well as an artist. The artist was arrested for painting pro-Palestinian graffiti on a bridge in Srinagar on Friday showing a woman wearing a scarf made of a Palestinian flag and a tear tricking from her eye, with the words: “WE ARE PALESTINE.” The graffiti was later painted over by police.

Since Monday, Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and Palestinian militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. The latest round of fighting between the bitter enemies has already begun to resemble — and even exceed — a devastating 50-day war in 2014.

During that war, large anti-Israel protests erupted in Kashmir, which often morphed into clashes with demands of an end of India’s rule over the region and causing dozens of casualties.

Relations between Hindu-majority India and Israel have long been viewed with suspicion and hostility in Kashmir, and Israel has also emerged as a key arms supplier to India.

China cancels Everest climbs over fears of virus from Nepal

China cancels Everest climbs over fears of virus from Nepal

China has canceled attempts to climb Mount Everest from its side of the world’s highest peak because of fears of importing COVID-19 cases from neighboring Nepal

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 2:59 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article3:13

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press

The closure was confirmed in a notice Friday from China’s General Administration of Sport, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China had issued permits to 38 people, all Chinese citizens, to climb the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) -high mountain this spring. Nepal has given permission to 408 people. Climbing was not allowed from either side last year because of the pandemic.

In Nepal, several climbers have reported testing positive for COVID-19 after they were brought down from the Everest base camp.

The month of May usually has the best weather for climbing Everest. Scores have reached the summit this week and more are expected to make attempts later this month once the weather improves. Two climbers have died on the Nepalese side, one Swiss and one American.

China earlier said it would set up a separation line at the peak and prohibit people on its side from coming into contact with anyone on the Nepalese side. It was unclear how that would be done.

“We ended our expedition today because of safety concerns with the given COVID outbreak,” Furtenbach said in a message from base camp. “We don’t want (to) send people or Sherpas up, they (could) get sick high up there and die.”

Before leaving for the mountain, he had warned that the virus could spread among the hundreds of other climbers, guides and helpers who are now camped on the base of Everest if all of them are not checked immediately and safety measures aren’t taken.

Ethiopia again delays its national election amid deadly ethnic tensions, other challenges; no new date set

Ethiopia again delays its national election amid deadly ethnic tensions, other challenges; no new date set

Ethiopia again delays its national election amid deadly ethnic tensions, other challenges; no new date set

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 2:29 PM• 1 min read

Deutsche Welle journalist sentenced in Belarus to 20 days

Deutsche Welle journalist sentenced in Belarus to 20 days

German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle says one of its freelance correspondents has been sentenced to 20 days in jail in Belarus

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 2:28 PM• 1 min read

MOSCOW — German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle says one of its freelance correspondents has been sentenced to 20 days in jail in Belarus.

DW said in a statement that Alexander Burakov was sentenced Saturday for taking part in an “unauthorized event.” It said Burakov was arrested on Wednesday while waiting with other journalists for access to the trial of six people charged with mass unrest.

“Classifying the group of journalists waiting outside the courthouse on May 12 as a ‘banned gathering’ is another step by Lukashenko’s regime to suppress critical media reports,” the DW statement said.

Burakov said Saturday that he was repeatedly awakened at night and forced to strip naked while in pre-trial detention, according to DW.

Nepal scales back Hindu chariot festival amid virus surge

Nepal scales back Hindu chariot festival amid virus surge

A drastically scaled-back version of a Hindu chariot festival took place in Nepal’s capital amid strict COVID-19 restrictions

By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 2:16 PM• 2 min readThe Associated PressPolicemen stand guard as Nepalese devotees pull a chariot during the Rato Machindranath chariot festival in Lalitpur, Nepal, Saturday, May 15, 2021. A truncated version of a Hindu chariot festival took place in Nepal’s capital on Saturday amid strict COVID-19 restrictions, following an agreement between organizers and authorities that prevented a repeat of violent confrontations between police and protesters at last year’s festival. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A drastically truncated version of a Hindu chariot festival took place Saturday in Nepal’s capital amid strict COVID-19 restrictions, following an agreement by organizers and authorities that prevented a repeat of violent confrontations between police and protesters last year.

Typically, a five-story-high wooden chariot of the deity Rato Machindranath — whose statue is made from clay and covered in red paint with wide-open eyes — is pulled by devotees around a suburb of the capital, Kathmandu. The annual festival lasts about a month and draws tens of thousands of people.

But this year, only around a hundred hand-picked devotees were allowed to pull the chariot for just a few meters (yards), as riot police sealed off the neighborhood to prevent any spectators from entering.

The Himalayan nation is experiencing a coronavirus surge, with record numbers of new infections and deaths. Authorities imposed a lockdown across most of the country last month, and extended it in recent days by another two weeks.

The agreement to drastically scale back the festival came after consultations among local politicians, officials, security forces, priests and organizers. Many devotees stayed home and celebrated with feasts and rituals with their families.

Last spring, the statue was built but remained parked because of virus restrictions until September, when thousands of protesters defied a lockdown to take part in the festival. Several people were injured as police in riot gear blocked protesters as they moved the chariot, dousing them with water cannons and firing tear gar. The protesters threw stones at the police.

The festival is held in the belief that it will to please gods so they can provide for a generous rainfall, a good harvest and prosperity. It’s thought to have been held for more than 1,350 years.

Nepal, with a population of around 30 million, has reported 447,704 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4,856 deaths.

On Friday, China canceled attempts to climb Mount Everest from its side of the world’s highest peak because of fears of importing COVID-19 cases from neighboring Nepal.

Back-to-back tornadoes kill 12 in China; over 300 injured

Back-to-back tornadoes kill 12 in China; over 300 injured

Back-to-back tornadoes have killed 12 people in central and eastern China and left more than 300 others injured

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 1:30 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressWorkers clear debris at a factory that was damaged by a reported tornado in Shengze township in Suzhou in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, Saturday, May 15, 2021. Two tornadoes killed several people in central and eastern China and left hundreds of others injured, officials and state media reported Saturday. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING — Back-to-back tornadoes killed 12 people in central and eastern China and left more than 300 others injured, authorities said Saturday.

Eight people died in the inland city of Wuhan on Friday night and four others in the town of Shengze, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east in Jiangsu province, local governments said.

The first tornado struck Shengze about 7 p.m., damaging homes and factories and knocking out power, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The Suzhou city government, which oversees the town, said in a social media post that four people had died and 149 others had minor injuries. Shengze is near Shanghai on China’s east coast.

Another tornado hit Wuhan at about 8:40 p.m. with winds of 86 kilometers (53 miles) per hour, destroying more than two dozen homes and triggering a power outage affecting 26,600 households, Xinhua said. Officials in Wuhan said at a news conference Saturday that eight had died and 230 were injured.

They said that 28 homes collapsed in Wuhan, another 130 were damaged and put economic losses at 37 million yuan ($5.7 million), the Hubei Daily newspaper said. Construction site sheds and two cranes were also damaged, while downed power lines knocked out electricity, Xinhua said.

Photos showed a swarm of rescuers searching through building debris in Wuhan after midnight Friday and workers clearing metallic debris at a factory in Shengze in the morning.

Wuhan is the city where COVID-19 was first detected in late 2019.

Tornados are rare in China. In July 2019, a tornado killed six people in the northeastern Liaoning province, and another tornado the following month killed eight on the southern resort island of Hainan.

In 2016, a tornado and accompanying hailstorm killed 98 people in the eastern Jiangsu province.

Israeli airstrike flattens high-rise building housing AP offices in Gaza City

Israeli airstrike flattens high-rise building housing AP offices in Gaza City

Israeli airstrike flattens high-rise building housing AP offices in Gaza City

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 12:19 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrike flattens high-rise building housing AP offices in Gaza City.

Israeli airstrike hits target near high-rise building housing AP office in Gaza City

Israeli airstrike hits target near high-rise building housing AP office in Gaza City

Israeli airstrike hits target near high-rise building housing AP office in Gaza City

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 12:17 PM• 1 min read

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrike hits target near high-rise building housing AP office in Gaza City.

Owner of Gaza high-rise that houses AP office says army warned it would target building.

Owner of Gaza high-rise that houses AP office says army warned it would target building.

Owner of Gaza high-rise that houses AP office says army warned it would target building.

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 11:31 AM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Owner of Gaza high-rise that houses AP office says army warned it would target building.

Liberal mayor wants to run against Hungarian prime minister

Liberal mayor wants to run against Hungarian prime minister

The liberal mayor of Hungary’s capital has announced that he will enter an upcoming primary race that will choose a candidate to face nationalist Prime Minster Viktor Orban in closely watched elections next year

By JUSTIN SPIKE Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 9:09 AM• 3 min read

“I made this decision because I feel that my homeland is in big trouble,” Karacsony said, adding that he believes the biggest problem facing Hungary is polarization dividing the country’s citizens. “I would like to serve the purpose of reuniting Hungary,” he said.

Karacsony, 45, was elected mayor of Budapest in 2019 as part of an effort by six opposition parties to join forces against Orban’s right-wing Fidesz, which has firmly governed Hungary with a two-thirds parliamentary majority since 2010.

Those municipal elections led to major losses for Fidesz in many of Hungary’s cities, and the same six parties plan a repeat of their unity strategy in national elections next spring, expected to be the most competitive in more than a decade.

The opposition coalition contains Greens, Socialists and centrist liberals, but has also found common cause with the right-wing Jobbik party, which has since 2018 sought to break ties with its radical, antisemitic past and shift to become a center-right people’s party.

Fidesz has criticized its liberal opponents for collaborating with Jobbik, whose politicians have in the past made antisemitic and racist remarks.

An OSCE election monitoring delegation in 2018 found that “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing” had made elections that year unfair, but still characterized the voting process as free.

Hungary’s opposition parties argue that electoral changes have meant that coordinating their efforts into a single bloc against Fidesz is the only means to unseat the party. Recent polling finds that Fidesz and the opposition coalition are neck and neck in voter support.

In his video Saturday, Karacsony alluded to allegations of corruption against Fidesz, and vowed to serve the “99 percent” if he is elected prime minister, invoking a left-wing populist slogan used by the Occupy movement nearly a decade ago.

Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric linked to 1988 mass executions, registers to run for president

Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric linked to 1988 mass executions, registers to run for president

Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric linked to 1988 mass executions, registers to run for president

ByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 7:48 AM• 1 min read

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric linked to 1988 mass executions, registers to run for president.

Joyryde – FUEL TANK Lyrics

[Build]
(I’m comin’ boy)
Let’s go!
(Maniac material that murder the danceflo’)
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder, murder, murder
Murder, m-m-m-m-m-m-m

[Pre-Drop]
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’

[Drop]
Murder the danceflo’, murder the danceflo’
Maniac material-material that-maniac materi-
What!
Murder the-murder-
Murder the danceflo’, murder the danceflo’
Maniac material-material that-maniac materi-
M-M-Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the-murder-murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the-murder-murder the danceflo’
(Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’)
Muuurrrd

(Go!)

[Build]
(Maniac material that murder the danceflo’)
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder, murder, murder
Murder, murder, murder
Murder, m-m-m-m-m-m-m

[Pre-Drop]
Maniac material that-
R-R-R-Run the-

[Drop]
Come on!
Maniac material that murder the danceflo’
Murder the-murder-murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the-murder-murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the-murder-murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Maniac material-material that-maniac materi-
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Murder the danceflo’
Muuurrrd
(Go!)

Darlingside – Ocean Bed Lyrics

Ghost dog running down the rocky edges
To the churned up under of the ocean bed

No, I’m not running and I never have been
To the true blue bottom where the light ends

Old growth forest and the sun in your veins
At the daily dawning of a green new age

No, no one changes with a snap in the air
And you can’t repurpose what was never there

Restart in the old familiar dark we’re swimming through
Long view into the blue

It’s day I think, but we might be underwater
In a sea creature’s dream, in a dreaming drink

No, there’s no time for the end over end
And everything to do before dying again

Long view into the blue

Ghost dog running
To the churned up under of the ocean bed
No, I’m not running
To the true blue bottom where the light ends

Restart in the old familiar dark we’re swimming through
Long view into the blue

Waste Of Aces – Wicked Backslider Lyrics

Oh backslider so misunderstood
You were trying to be good but you’re just a backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder, ooh backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder

Oh backslider they say you went astray
Now hell is where you’ll pay you wicked backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder, ooh backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder

And now you know what they don’t know
That good and evil grow in a garden
And you’ve received a pardon

Oh backslider doing what you could

To stay up on that wood
But you’re just a backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder, ooh backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder

Oh backslider, house upon the sand
As God removed his hand from the wicked backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder, ooh backslider
Sneaky-sidewinder

And now you know what they don’t know
That good and evil grow in a garden
And you’ve received a pardon…

Barbara Mason – I Believe And Have Not Seen Lyrics

I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe

I believe
And I have not seen those piercing eyes
That can look so deep

I know that Christ died for me
Just so my soul could be free
He's got a kind ear
He's the only one who's always there

I believe
When I have not seen those hands
That were nailed to that cross

I believe
That He loves and He loves me
Cause He said He'd love me more

Than any man ever could

I believe He took that journey to Calvary
Just so all mankind could be free
He's coming again on a white cloud
And all of His angels will call out His name out loud
I believe
And I have not seen those crown of thorns
That were around His head

I believe that He loves me
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe in the Lord

Cage The Elephant – Night Running Lyrics

We’re on a night run
Boy you better hold your tongue
Talking like you coming from kingdom come
Rhythm and reeling
The feeling I’m riding
The sound to the ceiling
Never got no money
But I’m running from the gun
My engines flooded
Cold blooded no money
Drunk on something uh
Killing the moonlight
With daylight
Got my x-ray eyes
And I’m feeling so fine

Night running all night running
Star studded not far from it
We’re running all night running
Cold blooded all night running
Night running all night running
Star studded not far from it
Night running all night running
Cold blooded we’re all night running

We’re on the night shade
Tell me what we’re hiding from
Like someone could steal it
Are we waiting for some kind of feeling
Or saving it up for the morning?
Under cover
The cloak and dagger
Is there a creature in the attic
Are we for real yeah
Or just pretending
Will it burn it out by the morning

Night running all night running
Star studded not far from it
We’re running all night running
Cold blooded all night running
Night running all night running
Star studded not far from it
Night running all night running
Cold blooded we’re all night running

We’re on a night run
No telling who we’re running from
In a world of secrets and demons and people hiding from the sun
Sending my message to everyone losing control
Better not stop till I get home
Sentimental flowers don’t grow
Got to live through tidal waves
And parishes and biblical floods
I got the Gris Gris love
And the streets in my blood
I’m on the final run
Falling in and out of love

Night running all night running
Star studded not far from it
We’re running all night running
Cold blooded all night running
Night running all night running
Star studded not far from it
Night running all night running
Cold blooded we’re all night running

Joyryde – DAMN Lyrics (feat. Freddie Gibbs)

[Sample: Freddie Gibbs]
When I hit you up I'm talking about bangin' something
Chill off in your crib and have a thing, probably make it stank or something
Girl you like my bottom bitch, post my bail, pay for my lawyer
Play your position when them other hoes get out of order
When you wanna give me that p*ssy? You purchase a plane ticket
Run around town, when I bust her down they want shit like them lames did it
Got her dick whipped, my dick smeared with lipstick
Basically if this bitch lay with me she payin' me, I'm on some pimp shit

For real! It's 2 A.M. club was bout' to close up
Thumbing through my contacts bout' to call one of my hoes up
Then I met you, kicked game and followed you to the breakfast spot
f*cked you like I married you that night up in the Marriott
Scream like you got your cherry popped
f*cking, switching up positions
Thought this shit would never stop
Motherf*ck an intermission
Damn!