News Headlines 5/17/21

ISRAEL LAUNCHES HEAVY NEW AIRSTRIKES IN GAZA: Israeli launched a series of heavy new airstrikes in Gaza early Monday (May 17th), with Israel’s military saying it attacked the homes of nine Hamas commanders. The barrage came after a series of airstrikes 24 hours earlier in which 42 Palestinians were killed, the deadliest attack in the latest outbreak of violence that’s escalated over the past week between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and is the worst in years. The early Monday airstikes also came hours after a televised address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he said the attacks were continuing at “full-force” and would “take time.” Hamas has also continued launching rockets from Gaza into Israel, with one hitting a synagogue in the city of Ashkelon. However, no injuries were reported. At least 188 Palestinians have been killed by airstrikes in Gaza, including 55 children, and eight people have been killed in Israel in rocket attacks, including one child.

Meanwhile, there have been increasing calls for a cease-fire, as well as for more efforts by the U.S. to try to push for an end to the violence, including from some congressional Democrats urging the Biden administration to do more. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told an emergency high-level meeting of the Security Council that the U.S. was, quote, “working tirelessly through diplomatic channels” to stop the fighting. But the U.S. has blocked attempts to get the Security Council to issue a statement, saying it would interfere with diplomatic efforts. The Biden administration has also so far refrained from sending a top-level envoy, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken instead sending a deputy assistant to try to help de-escalate the situation.

CDC HEAD SAYS CHANGE IN MASK ADVICE NOT MADE DUE TO POLITICAL PRESSURE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Sunday (May 16th) that the unexpected announcement last Thursday advising that people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus don’t need to wear masks outdoors or in most places indoors was made based on science and not because of political pressure. Walensky said on Fox News Sunday, “I’m delivering the science as the science is delivered to the medical journals. And it evolved. I deliver it as soon as I can when we have that information available.” The guidance calls for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people to continue to wear masks, as well as for everyone to still use them in crowded indoor settings, including  buses, trains, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. More than 47 percent of Americans have now gotten at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

CHENEY, OUSTED FROM GOP LEADERSHIP, SAYS JANUARY 6TH-LIKE ATTACK COULD HAPPEN AGAIN: Rep. Liz Cheney, who was removed as House Republicans’ third-ranking leader last week for her criticism of former President Donald Trump over the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, said yesterday (May 16th) that a similar attack could happen again if Trump’s false claims about the presidential election being stolen aren’t challenged. Appearing on Sunday morning news shows, Cheney said, “I think it’s dangerous. I think that we have to recognize how quickly things can unravel.” Cheney was also critical of Republican lawmakers who’ve  downplayed the January 6th attack and condoned Trump’s false claims, saying they were, quote, “complicit” in undermining democracy. Meanwhile, Rep. Elise Stefanik, who was elected to Cheney’s leadership position, on Sunday called Trump “the leader of the Republican Party,” and said the GOP is now unified in their goal of defeating Democrats.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER FOUR-YEAR-OLD’S BODY FOUND IN DALLAS STREET: Dallas police said Sunday (May 16th) that an 18-year-old man had been arrested after the body of a four-year-old boy was found lying in a street in the Texas city on Saturday morning. Darriynn Brown has been charged with kidnapping and theft, with police saying they expect to bring more charges after the results of a forensic analysis. Assistant Police Chief Albert Martinez said it appeared that the boy, whose name hasn’t been released, suffered a violent death, with what he called “an edged weapon” used.