The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins in less than two weeks, and NOAA is already predicting we’ll see above-average storm activity for a sixth year in a row.
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1. Mideast violence
Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire after more than a week of intense violence that left hundreds dead, mostly Palestinians. While the agreement may end the immediate bloodshed, it likely won’t end long-term conflict between the two sides. Still, people in Gaza and Tel Aviv celebrated the much-needed respite. The UN Secretary General welcomed the ceasefire but said a return to negotiations between Israel and Palestinians — as well as more humanitarian aid to the battered region — is necessary. Since the latest fighting began, Palestinian militants fired thousands of rockets into Israel, and Israel Defense Forces carried out numerous airstrikes in the Gaza region. About 72,000 Gazans have been displaced by the violence, according to UNICEF.
The average daily pace of US coronavirus vaccinations is down almost 50% from its April peak. This could spell trouble for states like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Georgia and Tennessee, which have the lowest vaccine rates per capita. The concern is that clusters of new outbreaks could pepper underprotected areas over the summer. Some states are getting creative in their bid to increase vaccine rates. New York, Maryland and Ohio are all giving away millions of dollars in vaccine “lotteries” available to those who get a shot. Meanwhile, India has surpassed 26 million Covid-19 cases. However, daily infection numbers are slightly down from the height of the resurgent outbreak that has devastated the country for weeks.
Several high-profile pieces of legislation have reached critical junctures in Congress. The White House had hoped to pass a police reform bill by May 25, the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The Democratic-led House passed it, and bipartisan talks are ongoing with the Senate. But the House won’t be back in session until June, so it’s not likely the bill will hit the deadline. A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation to reform the US Postal Service after the financially struggling agency asked Congress for help. The reforms could save the USPS $45 billion over the next 10 years. Meantime, hope is fading for a bipartisan deal on gun background checks, one of several gun control measures championed by Democrats. And the chances of the Senate agreeing to create a body to investigate this year’s fatal assault on the Capitol are rapidly falling to zero.
Myanmar’s junta-appointed election commission will dissolve the political party of the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The junta, which took over in a brutal February coup, has claimed the country’s November elections, which were swept by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party, were fraudulent. Suu Kyi has been in detention since she was arrested hours before the coup. More than 800 people have died in the ensuing violence. Now, opponents of the military’s rule have formed an undercover National Unity Government and hope to set up a People’s Defense Force to challenge the junta.
5. South Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit the White House today for an important summit that may set the tone for how the longtime allies work together over the next several months. Moon is in need of more Covid-19 vaccines for his country, while Washington needs Seoul’s help in pressuring China on areas of mutual concern, like human rights and trade. Both allies are also keen on discussing diplomatic solutions regarding North Korea. Moon’s visit will be only the second time Biden has hosted another world leader in person since taking office in January. The first, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, came last month.
Sebastián Muñoz hit a golf ball into a trash can during the PGA Championship and asked, ‘Do I have to get it?’
Unfortunately for him, the answer was yes.
Tim Tebow is back in the NFL after signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars
His illustrious minor league baseball career with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies will ne’er be forgotten.
Panera cafes are getting a whole new modern look
As long as they don’t ever change the tomato soup.
Pringles is partnering with Wendy’s for a spicy chicken sandwich chip
What’s this? An unexpected challenger in the fried chicken wars appears!
Alaska man survives encounter with a brown bear that bit his head
This man deserves whatever fried chicken sandwich he wants.
That’s the amount of the ransom Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount authorized after a cyberattack caused a major pipeline stoppage and subsequent gas shortage. Blount will testify before Congress next month about the cyberattack.
“(T)oward the end of their time in office they used this route to intrude into the very heart of what newsgathering is about.”
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, on the revelation that the Trump administration secretly obtained phone calls and email records of CNN correspondent Barbara Starr. The Justice Department can secretly obtain journalists’ records through a court order, without the journalists knowing.
The most calming sounds in nature
It’s been a long week. Take a deep breath and listen in on some of the quietest, most peaceful places on Earth. (Click here to view.)