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Israel Airstrikes In Rafah Intensify; China: US Must Not Step On ‘Red Lines’

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Israel airstrikes in Rafah intensify: Is a ground offensive coming?

Israel has launched airstrikes in Rafah ahead of what is expected to be an all-out offensive. Tanks and artillery units were seen along the Gaza border near Rafah where an estimated 1 million people have taken refuge. In its war cabinet meeting, Israel discussed ‘how to destroy the last vestiges, the last quarter of Hamas’ battalions, in Rafah and elsewhere’, according to government spokesperson David Mencer. He however did not confirm if the Rafah ground offensive had been given the go-ahead.

Israeli air strikes in Rafah have killed an aid worker with a Belgian agency, 33 year old Abdallah Nabhan was among 7 killed by an Israeli air strike on a building where displaced people were sheltering, according to the Belgian government. Brussels has confirmed it will summon the Israeli ambassador.

Harvey Weinstein’s conviction overturned by NY court

In a major setback to the #MeToo movement, the highest court in New York has overturned the 2020 sex crimes conviction of former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. This was the first case against the disgraced former Hollywood producer and started the #MetToo movement in which women accused men of sexual harassment in a range of fields from entertainment, media to politics. The court said the trial judge had made a critical mistake by letting prosecutors introduce testimony from women who claimed that Weinstein assaulted them, but were not part of the charges he faced. After his conviction in February 2020, Weinstein has been serving a 23-year prison sentence.

China: US must not step on ‘red lines’

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On a visit that was meant to resolve trade and policy disputes between Beijing and Washinton, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Antony Blinken America is suppressing China’s development. He also said the US must not cross certain ‘red lines’ in an apparent reference to Taiwan and the disputes in the South China Sea. On the US agenda is the signal that Washington is prepared to act against Chinese companies supporting Russia. The question of curbing supplies of fentanyl into the US is also top priority for the US.

Hours before Blinken landed in China on Wednesday, Biden signed a bipartisan bill that included $8 billion for Taiwan and $61 billion for Ukraine. The disputed South China Sea also remains a flashpoint

USC cancels graduation ceremony; Several students arrested across campuses

The University of Southern California has said it cannot host its main graduation ceremony, scheduled for May 10, due to security concerns. 90 students were arrested in protests held here. USC and other campuses in the US have been rocked by pro-Palestinian protests led by students, which have seen several arrests. On some campuses, students have set up encampments, classes have moved online, universities are changing rules to disallow students from setting up tents on campus among a slew of measures seen from Stanford to Columbia. Some universities have called in police to break up the demonstrations, resulting in ugly scuffles and hundreds of arrests, while others appeared content to wait out student protests as the final days of the semester ticked down.

Haiti’s transitional council takes charges amid gang violence

Haiti’s transitional council took charge as a part of a transfer of power process that hopes to bring stability to the violence-hit nation. Prime Minister Ariel Henry stepped down as planned as the new council, led by his finance minister, Michel Patrick Boisvert, took charge. Haiti has been rocked by gang violence and chaos in which more than 2,500 people have been killed or injured between January and March this year. The transitional government’s mandate runs until February 2026, by when elections need to be held. People in Haiti have not only been displaced due to the violence, they are also battling severe hunger.