National and world news at a glance
FBI director calls Texas synagogue attack an act of antisemitism
The FBI is treating the attack on a suburban Fort Worth, Texas, synagogue Saturday as “an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday during a webinar hosted by the Anti-Defamation League. The bureau initially said that the attacker, a British citizen named Malik Faisal Akram, was not driven by antisemitism when he held four people at the synagogue hostage for 11 hours. The bureau on Sunday attempted to walk back its initial claim, issuing a statement referring to the event as “a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted.”
Atlanta DA requests special grand jury in Trump election inquiry
A district attorney in Atlanta on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The inquiry is seen by legal experts as potentially perilous for the former president. The grand jury request from the district attorney in Fulton County, Fani Willis, had been expected after crucial witnesses refused to participate voluntarily. The Georgia case is one of two active criminal investigations known to involve the former president and his circle; the other is the examination of his financial dealings by the Manhattan district attorney.
Climate action could move forward
A growing number of Democrats in Congress want to move ahead with the climate portion of President Joe Biden’s stalled spending bill, saying the urgency of a warming planet demands action and they believe they can muster enough votes to muscle it past Republican opposition. Faced with the possibility that Democrats could lose control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, the party is now looking to salvage what it can from the $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act. Biden endorsed the strategy during a news conference Wednesday, saying that he was “confident we can get pieces, big chunks” of the bill passed.
Jan. 6 panel seeks testimony from Ivanka Trump
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot on Thursday requested cooperation from Ivanka Trump as it revealed pieces of what it has learned about a scramble inside the White House that day to get former President Donald Trump to denounce and call off the mob that was laying siege to the Capitol. The summoning of Ivanka Trump suggested that the committee was delving deeper into the question of what Donald Trump was doing and saying while the attack unfolded. A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump said Thursday that she had “just learned” that the committee “issued a public letter asking her to appear.”
Kidneys from genetically altered pig implanted in brain-dead patient
Surgeons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported Thursday that they had for the first time successfully transplanted kidneys from a genetically modified pig into the abdomen of a 57-year-old brain-dead man. The surgery was reported in The American Journal of Transplantation, the first time a pig-to-human organ transplantation has been described in a peer-reviewed medical journal. According to the surgical team, the pig kidneys started functioning and making urine after about 23 minutes and continued to do so for three days, though one kidney made more urine than the other.
Biden strengthens words on Ukraine after flustering European partners
President Joe Biden on Thursday strengthened his warning to Russia about a potential attack on Ukraine, saying that any movement of Russian units across the Ukrainian border would be taken as an invasion, a day after the president triggered alarm in European capitals with his suggestion of divisions among allies. Biden, speaking to reporters at the White House after hours of efforts by his administration to walk back his comments in a news conference Wednesday, insisted that he had been “absolutely clear” with President Vladimir Putin of Russia that a new incursion in Ukraine would be met by a “severe and coordinated economic response.”
Benedict faulted for handling of abuse cases when he was an archbishop
A report commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church in Munich and released Thursday accused retired Pope Benedict XVI of mishandling at least four cases of sexual abuse by priests when he was the archbishop there. The accusations, most of them new, reach to the very top of the hierarchy of a Catholic Church devastated by a sexual abuse crisis over the last 20 years. They are all the more explosive, and damaging, as they are directed at a living, if retired, pope. The accusations, which Benedict has rejected, threaten to tarnish the legacy of a soft-spoken, if doctrinaire, pontiff revered by many conservatives.
US charges 4 Belarus officials with piracy in forced landing of jet
United States prosecutors in New York have charged four officials of the government of Belarus with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy in the 2021 forced landing of a European airliner in Minsk, where a prominent opposition journalist aboard the plane was seized. The charge was contained in an indictment filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. In response to a purported bomb threat, Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ president, sent a fighter jet on May 23 to intercept the Ryanair Boeing 737-800 carrying some 170 passengers from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania — among them the journalist, Roman Protasevich. The forcing down of the plane and his seizure led to international outrage.
US charges new suspect in Haiti president’s murder, widening investigation
A major suspect in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti was charged with taking part in the murder plot in a federal court in Florida on Thursday, in a sign of an accelerating U.S. investigation into the crime that plunged the Caribbean nation into chaos. The suspect, Rodolphe Jaar, a Haitian businessman and former drug trafficker, admitted to providing weapons and logistical support for the plot, according to court documents unsealed during his hearing Thursday. The U.S. is increasingly assuming a leading role in investigating the president’s death, as questions mount over the Haitian authorities’ ability and willingness to get to the bottom of the crime.