News Headlines 5/19/21

U.S. REPORTEDLY ENCOURAGING ISRAEL TO WIND DOWN GAZA OFFENSIVE: The U.S. is privately encouraging Israel to wind down its airstrikes offensive against Gaza, AP reports, citing administration officials. The report said top U.S. officials emphasized to Israel that time isn’t on their side in the face of growing international criticism, and that it’s in their interest to stop military operations soon. However, new strikes early Wednesday (May 19th) killed at least six people in Gaza, with Israel saying it was acting amid continued rocket fire from Hamas militants that rule the territory. Some 47,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in Gaza, where medical supplies, fuel and water are all running low. Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories carried out a general strike yesterday with people not working and shops closed. Although the strike was peaceful in many places, there was violence in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians burned tires and threw stones at an Israeli military checkpoint, clashing with Israeli troops.

HOUSE TO VOTE ON SETTING UP INDEPENDENT COMMISSION TO PROBE U.S. CAPITOL ATTACK: The House is set to vote today (May 18th) on establishing an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. It’s expected to be approved in the Democratic-led House, but Republicans in the Senate are indicating they will try to block or delay it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday he’s, quote, “pushing the pause button” on the legislation, which the GOP could seek to block  using a filibuster. McConnell said he wanted to make sure both parties would have equal say on the commission, and questioned whether its work would interfere with the hundreds of criminal cases related to the attack. Earlier yesterday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he will oppose the bill, even though a Republican, Rep. John Katko, had negotiated it with House Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called McCarthy’s opposition “cowardice.”

NORTH CAROLINA PROSECUTOR SAYS DEPUTIES JUSTIFIED IN FATAL SHOOTING OF BROWN JR.: A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday (May 18th) that sheriff’s deputies were justified in fatally shooting Andrew Brown Jr. last month as they were serving drug-related search and arrest warrants at the 42-year-old Black man’s Elizabeth City home. District Attorney Andrew Womble said at a news conference that Brown had used his car as a, quote, “deadly weapon,” hitting a deputy with his car and nearly running him over, while ignoring commands to show his hands and get out of the car. Womble said the deputies won’t face any criminal charges as a result of the April 21st shooting, which sparked weeks of protests. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said the deputies will keep their jobs, but will be “disciplined and retrained.” Brown’s family, whose attorneys have said he was trying to drive away and wasn’t a threat, called the DA’s decision “an insult and a slap in the face.” The FBI is carrying out a separate investigation.

N.Y. ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS TRUMP ORGANIZATION PROBE NOW CRIMINAL: The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James said yesterday (May 18th) that its civil probe of the Trump Organization is now a criminal investigation. No explanation was given for the change. Spokesperson Fabien Levy said, “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the company is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.” The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been conducting a criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump and his company for two years.