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The Morning Rundown™

US sends top commander to Israel ahead of expected attack from Iran

Apr 12


With Israel on alert for an attack from Iran, the U.S. sents over a top military commander in a show of support. O.J. Simpson passed away at age 76, sparking mixed reactions. These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Friday, April 12, 2024.

US sends top commander to Israel ahead of expected attack from Iran

Amid heightened tensions after Iran vowed retaliation for an attack on its embassy in Syria, which resulted in the deaths of several commanders, the U.S. has dispatched its top military commander for the Middle East to Israel as a gesture of solidarity.

General Michael Erik Kurilla, the U.S. Central Command’s leader in the Middle East, arrived in Israel on Thursday, April 11. According to officials cited by The New York Times, General Kurilla will work closely with the Israeli military to prepare for Iran’s expected retaliation, discuss the ongoing conflict with Hamas and coordinate aid efforts.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel is bracing for a potential direct assault from Iran possibly as early as the weekend of April 13. However, sources close to the Iranian leadership have indicated that no definitive decision has been reached.

While Israel has not officially admitted to the airstrike in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a military base on April 11, promised a forceful response to any aggression, stating, “Whoever harms us, we will harm them.”

Relations between the U.S. and Israel have been strained over Netanyahu’s tactics in the Gaza conflict, with President Joe Biden suggesting a shift in America’s stance unless Israel takes further steps to protect civilians and humanitarian workers. Nonetheless, Biden has reaffirmed the U.S.’ unwavering support for Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its allies, describing it as “ironclad.”

Following these developments, the American Embassy in Israel issued a security advisory for U.S. government personnel and their families, imposing travel restrictions within Israel due to the threats from Iran.

Speaker Johnson in talks with White House to push Ukraine aid forward

In Washington, House Speaker Mike Johnson is actively negotiating with the White House to push forward funding for Ukraine and Israel. Johnson, aiming to modify the Senate’s proposed $95 billion security package, is balancing Republican demands with the urgent need for military aid for Kyiv.

The effort has faced delays as Johnson seeks a consensus that satisfies both the White House and divided Republican ranks. Biden has criticized some Republicans for not helping Ukraine, suggesting it benefits Russia and compromises U.S. security.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump, favoring a more isolationist approach, is in talks with Johnson about the funding. Johnson’s considerations include structuring part of the aid as loans and targeting Russian frozen assets.

This comes as Johnson and Trump meet at Mar-a-Lago today for “election integrity” talks.

US, Japan, Philippines convene for trilateral leaders summit

Leaders from Japan, the Philippines and the United States convened at the White House for their inaugural trilateral summit. The agreements aim to update military alliances, enhance defense cooperation, and boost technological collaboration, including AI and space exploration.

Efforts to counter China’s influence in the South China Sea and support a peaceful approach to Taiwan were highlighted. The U.S. and Japan are bolstering the Philippine Coast Guard by providing additional ships, with Japan recently delivering 12 and planning to send five more.

The partnerships also include investments in infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies such as the Artemis moon landing project and nuclear fusion initiatives.

Former interpreter for Shohei Ohtani charged with stealing more than $16 million

Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, is accused of embezzling over $16 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ star to settle gambling debts, leading to a bank fraud charge by the Department of Justice.

Reportedly, the interpreter manipulated Ohtani’s bank account, turning off transaction alerts to secretly fund his gambling. Despite initially claiming Ohtani had given him the money, he has since confessed.

Ohtani, who has denied any involvement in sports betting, is not implicated in the charges. Our Lauren Taylor has a full report here.

Reaction following the death of O.J. Simpson

The family of O.J. Simpson, the former football star acquitted in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, announced he died at 76 on Wednesday, April 10, after battling cancer. Simpson’s death drew reactions from significant figures in the trial that captivated the nation.

Fred Goldman, Ron Goldman’s father, told NBC News, “It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.”

Gloria Allred, who represented Nicole’s family, said to ABC News, “I don’t mourn for O.J. Simpson. I do mourn for Nicole Brown Simpson and her family, and they should be remembered.”

“O.J. Simpson played an important role in exposing the racial divisions in America,” Alan Dershowitz, an adviser to Simpson’s legal team, told The Associated Press. “His trial also exposed police corruption among some officials in the Los Angeles Police Department. He will leave a mixed legacy. Great athlete. Many people think he was guilty. Some think he was innocent.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, responding to a question about Simpson’s passing during a press briefing, said, “Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time, obviously with his family and loved ones, and I know that they have asked for some privacy and so we’re going to respect that. I’ll just leave it there.”

Sailors spell out ‘help’ after being stranded on remote island

In a fortunate turn of events, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy collaborated to rescue sailors stranded for over a week on a remote Pacific island, using only island resources to signal for help.

The sailors, all men in their 40s and believed to be related, crafted a “HELP” sign with palm leaves on the beach — a key factor in their rescue.

The group was on a fishing expedition on Easter Sunday when their sailboat suffered damage, leaving them stranded on a small island within the Federal States of Micronesia.

Following a distress call from a relative on April 6, a Coast Guard aircraft located the “HELP” sign the next day. The Coast Guard then dropped a radio to the sailors, who reported they were healthy and had been surviving on coconuts.

The sailors were successfully rescued on April 9, and have safely returned home.

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