Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for a second straight night, attacking and forcibly removing Palestinians who were praying during the holy month of Ramadan. Police deployed stun grenades and fired rubber-coated steel bullets at worshipers. Earlier today, Israeli police escorted dozens of Israeli settlers into the Al-Aqsa courtyards. Meanwhile, witnesses say Palestinian men under the age of 40 are being barred from entering the mosque. Rockets were fired from the occupied Gaza Strip in response to the latest attack. On Wednesday, Israeli jets struck Gaza following another rocket fire in protest of the raid. Demonstrations took place in Gaza, Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere as international officials condemned the Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa and warned against further acts of violence as Passover and Ramadan overlap. This is Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations.
Riyad Mansour: “The Israeli occupying authorities has no right whatsoever ever to tell people when to pray and when not to pray.”
New research finds ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica melted at a far faster rate than previously believed at the end of the last ice age, raising fears that global sea level rise could rapidly accelerate this century as modern-day glaciers collapse due to human activity. The report in the journal Nature found the Norwegian continental ice shelf retreated by as much as 2,000 feet per day. The findings came just days after another study in Nature found melting ice could soon cause deep ocean currents around Antarctica to collapse, with dire effects on the oceans and Earth’s climate that could last centuries. The collapse could play out on a scale of just decades or even years.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to reopen embassies, resume official visits and facilitate visas for its citizens during talks in Beijing. This follows a China-brokered deal last month between the two nations to restore diplomatic ties following a seven-year dispute.
French President Emmanuel Macron is also in Beijing meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Macron stressed Xi’s key role in helping reach a diplomatic end to the war in Ukraine.
President Emmanuel Macron: “The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to this stability. It ended decades of peace in Europe. I know I can count on you, moreover, under the two principles I have just mentioned, to bring Russia to its senses and everyone to the negotiating table.”
Macron also said France and China agree that nuclear weapons should be excluded from the Ukraine war.
China vowed to take unspecified “actions” after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a bipartisan congressional delegation in California Wednesday. Speaking from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, McCarthy urged the Biden administration to expedite arms deliveries to Taiwan. President Tsai also spoke to reporters.
President Tsai Ing-wen: “In a discussion with congressional leaders this morning, I reiterated Taiwan’s commitment to defending the peaceful status quo. … I also highlighted a belief which President Reagan championed, that to preserve peace, we must be strong.”
Ahead of the meeting, a Chinese aircraft carrier group was spotted in the waters off Taiwan’s coast. China views any official visits or meetings with Taiwan as a challenge to its sovereignty.
Mike Pence said he will not appeal a federal district court’s ruling requiring him to testify before a grand jury investigating the January 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. Donald Trump’s legal team could still try to appeal the decision. This comes after a D.C. appeals court rejected an emergency request by Trump to block former aides from testifying before the grand jury, citing executive privilege. Those officials include former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House adviser Stephen Miller, and Ken Cuccinelli, who was Trump’s acting deputy secretary of homeland security.
This all comes as Trump faces an April 25 court date in New York, where a civil suit brought by author E. Jean Carroll alleges Trump raped her in a dressing room at a department store in the mid-1990s.
Indiana Republican Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill Wednesday banning gender-affirming care for children. The new law, which takes effect on July 1, will require trans youth who are currently transitioning to stop taking medication by the end of the year. Twelve states now have such laws on the books, after Idaho Republican Governor Brad Little signed a similar bill Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Kansas on Wednesday successfully overrode Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill barring transgender athletes from competing on K-through-12 and college sports teams that match their gender identities.
In Texas, the Justice Department has reached a tentative $144 million settlement with relatives and victims of the 2017 mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, which left 26 people dead. Victims sued the U.S. Air Force after it failed to report the shooter’s history of violence to the FBI, which should have prevented the gunman from obtaining the assault rifle and other weapons used in the attack.
Students at more than 100 schools walked out of their classrooms Wednesday in a nationwide protest against gun violence. The walkouts included students in Uvalde, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Nashville, Tennessee. At least 74 people have been killed or injured by guns in schools across the U.S. so far this year.
In Nashville, faith leaders held a peaceful sit-in protest at the state Capitol, inside the office of Republican Speaker Cameron Sexton. They were calling on the Tennessee Legislature to abandon its plan to expel three state legislators who supported students demanding gun safety. House Republicans, who hold a supermajority in Tennessee, are voting on the expulsions today. The legislators represent Tennessee’s three largest cities; only two other lawmakers have been ousted from the Tennessee House of Representatives since the Civil War. Click here to see our interview with Tennessee state Representative Justin Jones.
North Carolina Democratic state Representative Tricia Cotham announced Wednesday she is switching parties and will become a Republican. Her move gives a veto-proof supermajority to Republicans in the state House as they attempt to ram through new abortion restrictions, anti-LGBTQ laws and other measures.
In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers are already talking about impeaching newly elected state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz after her decisive win in Tuesday’s election. Her victory gave Wisconsin’s high court a liberal majority for the first time in 15 years and renewed hopes that Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban can be reversed. This week, state Senator Duey Stroebel told The New York Times impeachment was “not impossible.”
In Nevada, a man is facing murder charges following a car ramming that targeted a Food Not Bombs distribution site in Reno. Fifty-five-year-old Michelle Jardine was identified as the deceased victim, while two others were critically injured. David Turner admitted to intentionally attacking the three.
A new report by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office finds nearly 160 Catholic priests and other members of the Archdiocese of Baltimore raped or sexually abused more than 600 people over a span of eight decades. Its authors called the breadth and depravity of the abuse “astonishing.” Just hours after the report was released Wednesday, Maryland’s state Senate passed the Child Victims Act, which removes a statute of limitations to allow more survivors to sue people who sexually abused them. Governor Wes Moore promised to sign the bill into law. The Maryland Catholic Conference opposed the bill and has signaled plans to challenge it in court.
In the Mediterranean, Doctors Without Borders says it rescued 440 migrants after responding to a distress call in rough seas off the coast of Malta on Tuesday. The passengers were from Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Somalia and Sri Lanka, 30 of them children. Meanwhile, rights groups are condemning the U.K. government’s latest anti-migrant move, after it rented a massive barge where it says 500 asylum seekers can be housed while they wait for their cases to proceed. This is British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: “We’re bringing forward alternative sites, like, indeed, the barge that we’ve announced today, that will save us money and indeed reduce pressure on hotels, all part of our plan to stop the boats. We’re also putting through Parliament a new law which will ensure that if you arrive here illegally, you will not have the ability to stay. We will be able to detain you and then swiftly remove you to your own country, if it’s safe, or a third alternative, third country alternative, like Rwanda.”
Amnesty International UK slammed the plan as “ministerial cruelty.”