Biden, Trump campaign for Black votes 

U.S. presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump are both campaigning for the support of Black voters. VOA Correspondent Scott Stearns looks at how the presidential campaigns are trying to build African American support.

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Biden says each generation has to ‘earn’ freedom, in solemn Memorial Day remarks

Washington — President Joe Biden marked Memorial Day with a pledge that the country would continue the work of the nation’s fallen toward creating a more perfect union, “for which they lived, and for which they died for.”

Delivering remarks at a solemn remembrance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Biden said each generation must ensure the sacrifice of the country’s service members is not in vain.

“Freedom has never been guaranteed,” Biden said under gray skies in the memorial amphitheater. “Every generation has to earn it, fight for it, defend it in the battle between autocracy and democracy, between the greed of a few, and the rights of many.”

He added: “On this day, we came together again to reflect, to remember, and above all, to recommit to the future they fought for, a future grounded in freedom, democracy, opportunity and equality. Not just for some, but for all.”

Before the ceremony began, Biden, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In his remarks, Biden invoked the anniversary this week of the death of his son Beau, who served in Iraq and later died from brain cancer that the president attributes to his time stationed near toxic burn pits, to highlight the importance of honoring the service of those who came home with injuries, in addition to the dead.

“Last year, the VA delivered more benefits and processed more claims than ever in our history,” Biden said, crediting the PACT Act which grants automatic coverage for certain health conditions suffered by veterans by presuming they result from their military service. “For too long after fighting for our nation, these veterans had to fight to get the right health care, to get the benefits they had earned, not anymore.”

Biden began the day hosting a breakfast at the White House for administration officials, military leaders, veterans, and Gold Star family members.

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Los Angeles’ suburban Chinatown grows with new waves of immigrants

Los Angeles’ Chinatown has undergone many changes, as immigrants from mainland China join those from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia. As Mike O’Sullivan reports, the growing community has also expanded to the suburbs, where recent arrivals find much that is familiar. Mo Yu contributed.

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Major retailers are offering summer deals to entice inflation-weary shoppers

NEW YORK — Americans who spend Memorial Day scouting sales online and in stores may find more reasons to celebrate the return of warmer weather. Major retailers are stepping up discounts heading into the summer months, hoping to entice inflation-weary shoppers into opening their wallets.

Target, Walmart and other chains have rolled out price cuts — some permanent, others temporary — with the stated aim of giving their customers some relief. The reductions, which mostly involve groceries, are getting introduced as inflation showed its first sign of easing this year but not enough for consumers who are struggling to pay for basic necessities as well as rent and car insurance.

The latest quarterly earnings reported by Walmart, Macy’s and Ralph Lauren underscored that consumers have not stopped spending. But multiple CE0s, including the heads of McDonald’s, Starbucks and home improvement retailer Home Depot, have observed that people are becoming more price-conscious and choosy. They’re delaying purchases, focusing on store brands compared to typically more expensive national brands, and looking for deals.

“Retailers recognize that unless they pull out some stops on pricing, they are going to have difficulty holding on to the customers they got,” Neil Saunders, managing director of consulting and data analysis firm GlobalData, said. “The consumer really has had enough of inflation, and they’re starting to take action in terms of where they shop, how they shop, the amount they buy.”

While discounts are an everyday tool in retail, Saunders said these aggressive price cuts that cover thousands of items announced by a number of retailers represent a “major shift” in recent strategy. He noted most companies talked about price increases in the past two or three years, and the cut mark the first big “price war” since before inflation started taking hold.

Where can shoppers find lower prices?

Higher-income shoppers looking to save money have helped Walmart maintain strong sales in recent quarters. But earlier this month, the nation’s largest retailer expanded its price rollbacks — temporary discounts that can last a few months — to nearly 7,000 grocery items, a 45% increase. Items include a 28-ounce can of Bush’s baked beans marked down to $2.22, from $2.48, and a 24-pack of 12-ounce Diet Coke priced at $12.78 from $14.28.

Company executives said the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer is seeing more people eating at home versus eating out. Walmart believes its discounts will help the business over the remainder of the year.

“We’re going to lead on price, and we’re going to manage our (profit) margins, and we’re going to be the Walmart that we’ve always been,” CEO Doug McMillon told analysts earlier this month.

Not to be outdone by its closest competitor, Target last week cut prices on 1,500 items and said it planned to make price cuts on another 3,500 this summer. The initiative primarily applies to food, beverage and essential household items. For example, Clorox scented wipes that previously cost $5.79 are on shelves for $4.99. Huggies Baby Wipes, which were priced at $1.19, now cost 99 cents.

Low-cost supermarket chain Aldi said earlier this month that it was cutting prices on 250 products, including favorites for barbecues and picnics, as part of a promotion set to last through Labor Day.

McDonald’s plans to introduce a limited-time $5 meal deal in the U.S. next month to counter slowing sales and customers’ frustration with high prices.

Arko Corp., a large operator of convenience stores in rural areas and small towns, is launching its most aggressive deals in terms of their depth in roughly 20 years for both members of its free loyalty program and other customers, according to Arie Kotler, the company’s chairman, president and CEO. For example, members of Arko’s free loyalty program who buy two 12-packs of Pepsi beverages get a free pizza. The promotions kicked off May 15 and are due to end Sept. 3.

Kotler said he focused on essential items that people use to feed their families after observing that the cumulative effects of higher gas prices and inflation in other areas had customers hold back compared to a year ago.

“Over the past two quarters, we have seen the trend of consumers cutting back, consumers coming less often, and consumers reducing their purchases,” he said.

In the non-food category, crafts chain Michaels last month reduced prices of frequently purchased items like paint, markers and artist canvases. The price reductions ranged from 15% to up to 40%. Michaels said the cuts are intended to be permanent.

Do these cuts bring prices back to pre-pandemic levels?

Many retailers said their goal was to offer some relief for shoppers. But Michaels said its new discounts brought prices for some things down to where they were in 2019.

“Our intention with these cuts is to ensure we’re delivering value to the customer,” The Michaels Companies said. ”We see it as an investment in customer loyalty more than anything else.”

Target said it was difficult to compare what its price-reduced products cost now to a specific time frame since inflation levels are different for each item and the reductions varied by item.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks consumer prices, said the average price of a two-liter bottle of soda in April was $2.27. That compares with $1.53 in the same month five years ago. A pound of white bread cost an average of $2 last month but $1.29 in April 2019. One pound of ground chuck that averaged $5.28 in April cost $3.91 five years ago.

Why are companies cutting prices on some items?

U.S. consumer confidence deteriorated for the third straight month in April as Americans continued to fret about their short-term financial futures, according to the latest report released late last month from the Conference Board, a business research group.

With shoppers focusing more on bargains, particularly online, retailers are trying to get customers back to their stores. Target this month posted its fourth consecutive quarterly decline in comparable sales — those from stores or digital channels operating at least 12 months.

In fact, the share of online sales for the cheapest items across many categories, including clothing, groceries, personal care and appliances, increased from April 2019 to the same month this year, according to Adobe Analytics, which covers more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites.

For example, the market share for the cheapest groceries went from 38% in April 2019 to 48% last month, while the share for the most expensive groceries went down from 22% to 9% over the same time period, according to Adobe.

How are retailers funding price cuts?

GlobalData’s Saunders said he thinks companies are subsidizing price cuts with a variety of methods — at the expense of profits, at the cost of suppliers and vendors, or by reducing expenses. Some retailers may be using a combination of all three, he said.

Saunders doesn’t think retailers are raising prices on other items to make up for the ones they lowered since doing that would bring a backlash from customers.

Target declined to disclose details but said its summer price promotion was incorporated into the company’s projected profit range, which falls below analysts’ expectations at the low end.

GPM Investments, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of ARKO Corp. said its suppliers are funding the convenience store promotions.

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US philanthropist builds homes for displaced Ukrainians

Since the spring 2022, Dell Loy Hansen has spent over $70 million to build homes for internally displaced Ukrainians. The U.S. philanthropist says he has been to Ukraine four times and is just getting started. Anna Kosstutschenko met him in the Kyiv region and has more in this report.

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Josef Newgarden repeats as Indy 500 winner

INDIANAPOLIS — Josef Newgarden put his cheating scandal behind him to become the first back-to-back winner of the Indianapolis 500 since Helio Castroneves 22 years ago and give Roger Penske a record-extending 20th win in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The Tennessean passed Pato O’Ward on the final lap of Sunday’s rain-delayed race to become the first driver to win consecutive 500s since Castroneves did it for Penske in 2001 and 2002. And just like last year, Newgarden stopped his Chevrolet-powered car on the track and climbed through a hole in the fence to celebrate with fans in the grandstands.

“I love this crowd. I’ve got to always go in the crowd if we win here, I am always doing that,” Newgarden said.

O’Ward slumped his head over his steering wheel in bitter disappointment. He was trying to become the first Mexican in 108 runnings to win the Indy 500.

It looked as if he had been crying when he finally removed his helmet. He finished sixth in his Indy 500 debut, then fourth and then second in 2022 when he was accused of not being aggressive enough to race Marcus Ericsson for the win.

He refused to back down last year and wound up crashing as he raced for the win. As O’Ward bided his time in the closing laps — he and Newgarden traded the lead several times — he waited to make the winning pass on the final lap.

Newgarden got it right back two turns later.

“It is hard to put it into words — we went back, we went forward, we went back, some people were driving like maniacs,” O’Ward said. “We had so many near-race enders. Just so close again. … I put that car through things I never thought it was going to be able to do. It is always a heartbreak when you’re so close, especially when it’s not the first time and you don’t know how many opportunities you have.”

The win was an incredible bounceback for Newgarden, who last month had his March season-opening victory disqualified because Team Penske had illegal push-to-pass software on its cars. Newgarden used the additional horsepower three times in the win and it took IndyCar nearly six weeks to discover the Penske manipulation.

Roger Penske, who owns the race team, IndyCar, the Indy 500 and the speedway, suspended four crew members, including Team President Tim Cindric. The Cindric suspension was a massive blow for Newgarden as Cindric is considered the best strategist in the series.

Newgarden was thrilled to have the win and put the push-to-pass scandal behind him.

“Absolutely, they can say what they want, I don’t even care anymore,” he said.

The start of the race was delayed four hours by rain and it ruined NASCAR star Kyle Larson’s chance to run “The Double.” The delay in Indy made him miss the start of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Although Larson was decent most of the day, two rookie mistakes led to an 18th-place finish. He was on a helicopter headed to a plane for North Carolina within minutes of the race ending.

“I’m proud to have finished but disappointed in myself,” said Larson, who has a two-year deal with Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports for Indy and could return in 2025.

Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing finished third as the highest-finishing Honda driver and was followed by Alexander Rossi, O’Ward’s teammate at Arrow McLaren Racing. Chevrolet took three of the top four spots.

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Libertarians boo, cheer Trump; Biden encourages graduating cadets to defend freedom

Former President Donald Trump faced sharp skepticism on his presidential bid when addressing Libertarians on Saturday. President Joe Biden’s weekend remarks focused on encouraging graduating cadets to “be the guardians of American democracy.” VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias has the details.

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At least 5 dead in Texas after severe weather sweeps across Texas and Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — Powerful storms across Texas and Oklahoma obliterated homes and struck a highway travel center where drivers had rushed to take shelter, leaving thousands of people without power and a wide trail of damage Sunday. A sheriff said at least five people were dead in one rural community in Texas and many more were injured. 

The destructive storms began Saturday night and included a tornado that overturned heavy recreational vehicles and shut down an interstate near Dallas. Officials said multiple people were transported to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter in the Texas county of Denton but did not immediately know the full extent of injuries. 

In neighboring Cooke County, Sheriff Ray Sappington told The Associated Press that the five dead included three family members who were found in one home near Valley View, a rural community near the border with Oklahoma. 

“We do have five confirmed [dead], but sadly, we think that that number is probably going to go up,” Sappington said. “There’s nothing left of this house. It’s just a trail of debris left. The devastation is pretty severe.” 

Forecasters had issued tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of both states, as some heat records were broken during the day in South Texas and residents received triple-digit temperature warnings over the long holiday weekend. 

A tornado crossed into northern Denton County in Texas late Saturday and overturned tractor-trailer trucks, stopping traffic on Interstate 35, Denton County Community Relations Director Dawn Cobb said in a statement. 

The tornado was confirmed near Valley View, moving east at 64 kph, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning for northern Denton County, Cobb said. 

The storm damaged homes, overturned motorhomes and knocked down power lines and trees throughout the area including points in Sanger, Pilot Point, Ray Roberts Lake and Isle du Bois State Park, Cobb said. 

People who suffered injuries in the storm were transported to area hospitals by ground and air ambulances, but the number of injuries in the county was not immediately known, Cobb said, while a shelter was opened in Sanger. 

The fire department in the city of Denton, about 59.5 kilometers north of Forth Worth, Texas, posted on X that emergency personnel were responding to a marina “for multiple victims, some reported trapped.” 

The Claremore, Oklahoma, police announced on social media that the city about 28 miles (45 kilometers) east of Tulsa was “shut down” as a result of storm damage including downed power lines and trees and inaccessible roads. 

Earlier Saturday night, the National Weather Service’s office in Norman, Oklahoma, said via the social platform X that the warning was for northern Noble and far southern Kay counties, an area located to the north of Oklahoma City. “If you are in the path of this storm take cover now!” it said. 

A following post at 10:05 p.m. said storms had exited the area but warned of a storm moving across north Texas that could affect portions of south central Oklahoma. 

At 10:24 p.m., the weather service office in Fort Worth posted a message warning residents in Era and Valley View they were in the direct path of a possible tornado and to immediately seek shelter. The Forth Worth office continued to post notices and shelter warnings tracking the movement of the storm through midnight and separately issued a severe thunderstorm warning with “golf ball sized hail” possible. 

The weather service office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, warned on X of a dangerous storm moving across the northeast part of the state through 2 a.m. and issued severe thunderstorm notices for communities including Hugo, Boswell, Fort Towson, Grainola, Foraker and Herd. 

Excessive heat, especially for May, was the danger in South Texas, where the heat index was forecast to approach 49 degrees Celsius in some spots during the weekend. Actual temperatures will be lower, although still in triple-digit territory, but the humidity will make it feel that much hotter. 

The region is on the north end of a heat dome stretching from Mexico to South America, National Weather Service meteorologist Zack Taylor said. 

Sunday looks like the hottest day with record highs for late May forecast for Austin, Brownsville, Dallas and San Antonio, Taylor said. 

Brownsville and Harlingen near the Texas-Mexico border already set new records Saturday for the May 25 calendar date — 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) and 38 degrees Celsius, respectively — according to the weather service. 

April and May have been a busy month for tornadoes, especially in the Midwest. Climate change is heightening the severity of storms around the world. 

April saw the United States’ second-highest number of tornadoes on record. So far for 2024, the country is already 25% ahead of the average number of twisters, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman. 

Iowa was hit hard last week, when a deadly twister devastated Greenfield. And other storms brought flooding and wind damage elsewhere in the state. 

The storm system causing the severe weather was expected to move east as the Memorial Day weekend continues, bringing rain that could delay the Indianapolis 500 auto race Sunday in Indiana and more severe storms in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky. 

The risk of severe weather moves into North Carolina and Virginia on Monday, forecasters said. 

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US independent booksellers continued to expand in 2023

NEW YORK — Three years ago, Erin Decker was a middle school librarian in Kissimmee, Florida, increasingly frustrated by the state’s book bans and worried that she couldn’t make a difference remaining in her job.

So, she and fellow librarian Tania Galiñanes thought of a way to fight back.

“We just put our heads together and decided a bookstore would help make sure students could get to books that were being pulled from shelves,” says Decker, whose White Rose Books & More opened last fall in Kissimmee. The store is named for a resistance group in Nazi Germany and features a section — ringed by yellow “caution” tape — dedicated to such banned works as Maia Kabobe’s Gender Queer, Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy and John Green’s Looking for Alaska.

White Rose Books is part of the ever-expanding and diversifying world of independent bookstores. Even as industry sales were slow in 2023, membership in the American Booksellers Association continued its years-long revival. It now stands at 2,433, more than 200 over the previous year and nearly double since 2016. Around 190 more stores are in the process of opening over the next two years, according to the ABA.

“Our numbers are really strong, and we have a solid, diverse pipeline of new stores to come,” says Allison Hill, the book association’s CEO. She cites a range of reasons for people opening stores, from opposing bans to championing diversity to pursuing new careers after the pandemic.

“Some are opening to give back to their community. And some still just love books,” she said during a phone interview this week.

Recent members include everyone from the romance-oriented That’s What She Read in Mount Ayr, Iowa; to Seven Stories in Shawnee, Kansas, managed by 15-year-old Halley Vincent; to more than 20 Black-owned shops.

In Pasadena, California, Octavia’s Bookshelf is named for the late Black science fiction author Octavia Butler and bills itself as “a space to find community, enjoy a cup of coffee, read, relax, find unique and specially curated products from artisans from around the world and in our neighborhood.” Leah Johnson, author of the prize-winning young adult novel You Should See Me In a Crown, was troubled by the surge in book bans and by what she saw as a shortage of outlets for diverse voices. Last year, she founded Loudmouth Books, one of several independent sellers to open in Indianapolis.

“I’m not a person who dreamed of opening a bookstore. I didn’t want to be anybody’s boss,” Johnson says. “But I saw a need and I had to fill it.”

Most of the new businesses are traditional “brick and mortar” retailers. But a “bookstore” can also mean a “pop-up” business like Loc’d & Lit, which has a mission to bring “the joy of reading to the Bronx,” the New York City borough that had been viewed by the industry as a “desert” for its scarcity of bookstores. Other new stores are online only, among them the Be More Literature Children’s Bookshop and the used books seller Liberation Is Lit. Nick Pavlidis, a publisher, ghost writer and trainer of ghost writers, launched the online Beantown Books in 2023 and has since opened a small physical store in suburban Boston.

“My goal is to move into a larger space and create a friendly place for authors to host events,” he says, adding that he’d like to eventually own several stores.

Independent bookselling has never been dependably profitable, and Hill notes various concerns — rising costs, dwindling aid from the pandemic and the ongoing force of, which remains the industry’s dominate retailer even after the e-book market stalled a decade ago. Last month, the booksellers association filed a motion with the Federal Trade Commission, seeking to join the antitrust suit against Amazon that the FTC announced in 2023. The motion states in part that Amazon is able to offer prices “that ABA members cannot match except by forgoing a sustainable margin, or incurring a loss.”

Just opening a store requires initiative and a willingness to take risks. Decker says that she and Galiñanes had to use retirement money because lenders wouldn’t provide credit until they were actually in business. The owner of Octavia’s Bookshelf, Nikki High, is a former communications director for Trader Joe’s who relied on crowdfunding and her own savings to get her store started.

“Even with tons of planning, and asking questions and running numbers, it’s been very difficult,” High says. “I don’t know that I could have prepared myself for what a shrewd business person you have to be to making a living out of this.”

High cites a variety of challenges and adjustments — convincing customers they don’t have to order items from, supplementing sales by offering tote bags and journals and other non-book items. Knowing which books to stock has also proved an education.

“I would read a book and think it’s the best thing ever and order a bunch of copies, and everybody else is like, ‘No, I don’t want that book,'” she explains. “And when we started, I wanted to be everything for everybody. We had a ton of different categories. But I found out that short stories and poetry almost never sell for us. People want general fiction, bestsellers, children’s books. Classics sell very well, books by James Baldwin and Toni Morrison and bell hooks and June Jordan.”

“It’s incredibly important to listen to your customers.”

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Average US vehicle age hits record of 12.6 years 

detroit — Cars, trucks and SUVs in the U.S. keep getting older, hitting a record average age of 12.6 years in 2024 as people hang on to their vehicles largely because new ones cost so much. 

S&P Global Mobility, which tracks state vehicle registration data nationwide, said Wednesday that the average vehicle age grew about two months from last year’s record. 

But the growth in average age is starting to slow as new vehicle sales start to recover from pandemic-related shortages of parts, including computer chips. The average increased by three months in 2023. 

Still, with an average U.S. new-vehicle selling price of just over $45,000 last month, many can’t afford to buy new — even though prices are down more than $2,000 from the peak in December of 2022, according to J.D. Power. 

“It’s prohibitively high for a lot of households now,” said Todd Campau, aftermarket leader for S&P Global Mobility. “So I think consumers are being painted into the corner of having to keep the vehicle on the road longer.” 

Other factors include people waiting to see if they want to buy an electric vehicle or go with a gas-electric hybrid or a gasoline vehicle. Many, he said, are worried about the charging network being built up so they can travel without worrying about running out of battery power. Also, he said, vehicles are made better these days and simply are lasting a long time. 

New vehicle sales in the U.S. are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels, with prices and interest rates the big influencing factors rather than illness and supply-chain problems, Campau said. He said he expects sales to hit around 16 million this year, up from 15.6 million last year and 13.9 million in 2022. 

As more new vehicles are sold and replace aging vehicles in the nation’s fleet of 286 million passenger vehicles, the average age should stop growing and stabilize, Campau said. And unlike immediately after the pandemic, more lower-cost vehicles are being sold, which likely will bring down the average price, he said. 

People keeping vehicles longer is good news for the local auto repair shop. About 70% of vehicles on the road are six or more years old, he said, beyond manufacturer warranties. 

Those who are able to keep their rides for multiple years usually get the oil changed regularly and follow manufacturer maintenance schedules, Campau noted.

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Richard Sherman, who with his brother penned classic Disney tunes, dies

NEW YORK — Richard M. Sherman, one half of the prolific, award-winning pair of brothers who helped form millions of childhoods by penning the instantly memorable songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — as well as the most-played tune on Earth, It’s a Small World (After All) — has died. He was 95.

Sherman, together with his late brother Robert, won two Academy Awards for Walt Disney’s 1964 smash Mary Poppins — best score and best song, Chim Chim Cher-ee. They also picked up a Grammy for best movie or TV score. Robert Sherman died in London at age 86 in 2012.

The Walt Disney Co. announced that Sherman died Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital of an age-related illness.

“Generations of moviegoers and theme park guests have been introduced to the world of Disney through the Sherman brothers’ magnificent and timeless songs. Even today, the duo’s work remains the quintessential lyrical voice of Walt Disney,” the company said in a remembrance posted on its website.

Their hundreds of credits as joint lyricist and composer also include the films Winnie the Pooh, The Slipper and the Rose, Snoopy Come Home, Charlotte’s Web and The Magic of Lassie. Their Broadway musicals included 1974’s Over Here! and stagings of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the mid-2000s.

“Something good happens when we sit down together and work,” Richard Sherman told The Associated Press in a 2005 joint interview. “We’ve been doing it all our lives. Practically since college we’ve been working together.”

Their awards include 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They became the only Americans ever to win first prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer in 1973 and were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005.

President George W. Bush awarded them the National Medal of Arts in 2008, commended for music that “has helped bring joy to millions.”

Most of the songs the Shermans wrote — in addition to being catchy and playful — work on multiple levels for different ages, something they learned from Disney.

“He once told us, early on in our career, ‘Don’t insult the kid — don’t write down to the kid. And don’t write just for the adult.’ So we write for Grandpa and the 4-year-old — and everyone in between — and all see it on a different level,” Richard Sherman said.

The Shermans began a decade-long partnership with Disney during the 1960s after having written hit pop songs like Tall Paul for ex-Mouseketeer Annette Funicello and You’re Sixteen, later recorded by Ringo Starr.

They wrote more than 150 songs at Disney, including the soundtracks for such films as The Sword and the Stone, The Parent Trap, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Jungle Book, The Aristocrats and The Tigger Movie.

It’s a Small World — which accompanies visitors to Disney theme parks’ boat ride sung by animatronic dolls representing world cultures — is believed to be the most performed composition in the world. It first debuted at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair pavilion ride.

The two brothers credited their father, composer Al Sherman, with challenging them to write songs and for their love of wordsmithing.

The Shermans teased songs out of each other, brainstorming titles and then trying to top each other with improvements. “Being brothers, we sort of short-cut each other,” Richard Sherman said. “We can almost look at each other and know, ‘Hey, you’re onto something, kiddo.'”

Away from the piano, the two raised families and pursued their own interests, yet still lived close to each other in Beverly Hills and continued working well into their 70s.

Richard Sherman is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children: Gregory and Victoria. He also is survived by a daughter, Lynda, from a previous marriage.

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Louisiana law classifies abortion drugs as controlled, dangerous substances

NEW ORLEANS — First-of-its-kind legislation that classifies two abortion-inducing drugs as controlled and dangerous substances was signed into law Friday by Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry. 

The Republican governor announced his signing of the bill in Baton Rouge a day after it gained final legislative passage in the state Senate. 

The measure affects the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in medication abortions, the most common method of abortion in the U.S. 

Opponents of the bill included many physicians who said the drugs have other critical reproductive health care uses, and that changing the classification could make it harder to prescribe the medications. 

Supporters of the bill said it would protect expectant mothers from coerced abortions, though they cited only one example of that happening, in the state of Texas. 

The bill passed as abortion opponents await a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on an effort to restrict access to mifepristone. 

The new law will take effect October 1. 

The bill began as a measure to create the crime of “coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud.” An amendment adding the abortion drugs to the Schedule IV classification of Louisiana’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law was pushed by Sen. Thomas Pressly, a Republican from Shreveport and the main sponsor of the bill. 

“Requiring an abortion inducing drug to be obtained with a prescription and criminalizing the use of an abortion drug on an unsuspecting mother is nothing short of common-sense,” Landry said in a statement. 

Current Louisiana law already requires a prescription for both drugs and makes it a crime to use them to induce an abortion, in most cases. The bill would make it harder to obtain the pills. Other Schedule IV drugs include the opioid tramadol and a group of depressants known as benzodiazepines. 

Knowingly possessing the drugs without a valid prescription would carry a punishment including hefty fines and jail time. Language in the bill appears to carve out protections for pregnant women who obtain the drug without a prescription for their own consumption. 

The classification would require doctors to have a specific license to prescribe the drugs, and the drugs would have to be stored in certain facilities that in some cases could end up being located far from rural clinics. 

In addition to inducing abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol have other common uses, such as treating miscarriages, inducing labor and stopping hemorrhaging. 

More than 200 doctors in the state signed a letter to lawmakers warning that the measure could produce a “barrier to physicians’ ease of prescribing appropriate treatment” and cause unnecessary fear and confusion among both patients and doctors. The physicians warn that any delay to obtaining the drugs could lead to worsening outcomes in a state that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. 

Pressly said he pushed the legislation because of what happened to his sister Catherine Herring, of Texas. In 2022, Herring’s husband slipped her seven misoprostol pills in an effort to induce an abortion without her knowledge or consent. 

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Preholiday travel sets TSA record for people screened at US airports

ATLANTA — A record was broken ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for the number of airline travelers screened at U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration said Saturday. 

More than 2.9 million travelers were screened at U.S. airports on Friday, surpassing a previous record set last year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, according to the transportation security agency. 

“Officers have set a new record for most travelers screened in a single day!” the TSA tweeted. “We recommend arriving early.” 

The third busiest day on record was set on Thursday when just under 2.9 million travelers were screened at U.S. airports. 

In Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport had its busiest day ever. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport broke a traffic record on Thursday when 111,000 passengers, airlines crew and airport employees were screened at security checkpoints. The second busiest day followed on Friday when 109,960 people were screened, according to the TSA. 

With 104.6 million passengers, the Atlanta airport was the busiest in the world last year, according to Airports Council International. 

U.S. airlines expect to carry a record number of passengers this summer. Their trade group estimates that 271 million travelers will fly between June 1 and August 31, breaking the record of 255 million set last summer. 

AAA predicted this will be the busiest start-of-summer weekend in nearly 20 years, with 43.8 million people expected to roam at least 50 miles from home between Thursday and Monday — 38 million of them taking to the roads. 

The annual expression of wanderlust that accompanies the start of the summer travel season is happening at a time when Americans tell pollsters they are worried about the economy and the direction of the country. 

In what had long been celebrated every May 30 to honor America’s fallen soldiers, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday in 1971, observed on the last Monday in May. 

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US presidential candidates follow different practices of faith

If you ask the U.S. presidential candidates who’s the most religious, chances are both would say, “I am.” VOA’s senior Washington correspondent Carolyn Presutti looks at the attitudes and practices of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump toward matters of faith.

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US, Chinese defense chiefs to meet following Taiwan tension

Washington — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet his Chinese counterpart, the Pentagon announced Friday, after Beijing carried out war games around Taiwan in a sign to the U.S.-backed democracy’s new leader.

The Pentagon said that Austin would meet Chinese Admiral Dong Jun when they attend the May 31-June 2 Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual gathering of defense officials around the world.

China this week encircled Taiwan with warships and fighter jets in a test of its ability to seize the island, which it claims. The drills followed the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te, who has vowed to safeguard self-ruling Taiwan’s democracy.

Austin’s meeting with Dong had been widely expected since they spoke by telephone in April, in what were the first substantive talks between the two powers’ defense chiefs in nearly 18 months.

President Joe Biden’s administration and China have been stepping up communication to ease friction, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken visiting Beijing and Shanghai last month.

But defense talks had lagged behind until Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a resumption of military dialogue during a summit with Biden in California in November.

Austin will also travel next week to Cambodia for talks with defense ministers of the Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN and end his trip in France, where he will join President Joe Biden in commemorations of the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The trip was announced even though Austin late Friday handed over duties for about two-and-a-half hours to his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, due to his latest medical procedure.

Austin is a key figure in Western efforts to support Ukraine against a Russian offensive.

He “underwent a successful, elective, and minimally invasive follow-up non-surgical procedure” related to a previously reported bladder issue at the Walter Reed military hospital in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder said.

During the procedure, Hicks served as acting secretary of defense, and Austin “resumed his functions and duties” as defense secretary later Friday evening and returned home, Ryder said.

The transparency comes after a furor when Austin vanished from public view for cancer treatment in December and again in January when he suffered complications.

A spotlight-shunning retired general, Austin, 70, said later that he was a “pretty private guy” and did not want to burden others with his problems.

But Biden’s Republican rivals went on the attack after it was revealed that Austin did not inform the chain of command.

Austin widely informed the government and public when he returned to the hospital in February for the bladder issue connected with Friday’s procedure.

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5 things to know about the US Memorial Day holiday

NORFOLK, Virginia — Memorial Day is supposed to be about mourning the nation’s fallen service members, but it’s come to anchor the unofficial start of summer and a long weekend of discounts on anything from mattresses to lawn mowers. 

But for people such as Manuel Castaneda Jr., the day is very personal. He lost his father, a U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam, in an accident in 1966 in California while his father was training other Marines. 

“It isn’t just the specials. It isn’t just the barbecue,” Castaneda told The Associated Press in a discussion about Memorial Day last year. 

Castaneda also served in the Marines and Army National Guard, from which he knew men who died in combat. But he tries not to judge others who spend the holiday differently: “How can I expect them to understand the depth of what I feel when they haven’t experienced anything like that?” 

  1. Why is Memorial Day celebrated? 

It’s a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the U.S. military, according to the Congressional Research Service. The holiday is observed in part by the National Moment of Remembrance, which encourages all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence. 

  1. What are the origins of Memorial Day? 

The holiday stems from the American Civil War, which killed more than 600,000 service members — both Union and Confederate — between 1861 and 1865. 

There’s little controversy over the first national observance of what was then called Decoration Day. It occurred May 30, 1868, after an organization of Union veterans called for decorating war graves with flowers, which were in bloom. 

The practice was already widespread on a local level. Waterloo, New York, began a formal observance on May 5, 1866, and was later proclaimed to be the holiday’s birthplace. 

Yet Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, traced its first observance to October 1864, according to the Library of Congress. And women in some Confederate states were decorating graves before the war’s end. 

David Blight, a Yale history professor, points to May 1, 1865, when as many as 10,000 people, many of them Black, held a parade, heard speeches and dedicated the graves of Union dead in Charleston, South Carolina. 

A total of 267 Union troops had died at a Confederate prison and were buried in a mass grave. After the war, members of Black churches buried them in individual graves. 

“What happened in Charleston does have the right to claim to be first, if that matters,” Blight told The Associated Press in 2011. 

In 2021, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel cited the story in a Memorial Day speech in Hudson, Ohio. The ceremony’s organizers turned off his microphone because they said it wasn’t relevant to honoring the city’s veterans. The event’s organizers later resigned. 

  1. Has Memorial Day always been a source of contention? 

Someone has always lamented the holiday’s drift from its original meaning. 

As early as 1869, The New York Times wrote that the holiday could become “sacrilegious” and no longer “sacred” if it focuses more on pomp, dinners and oratory. 

In 1871, abolitionist Frederick Douglass feared Americans were forgetting the Civil War’s impetus — enslavement — when he gave a Decoration Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. 

“We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers,” Douglass said. 

His concerns were well-founded, said Ben Railton, a professor of English and American studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. Even though roughly 180,000 Black men served in the Union Army, the holiday in many communities would essentially become “white Memorial Day,” especially after the rise of the Jim Crow South, Railton told the AP in 2023. 

Meanwhile, how the day was spent — at least by the nation’s elected officials — could draw scrutiny for years after the Civil War. In the 1880s, then-President Grover Cleveland was said to have gone fishing — and “people were appalled,” Matthew Dennis, an emeritus history professor at the University of Oregon, told the AP last year. 

By 1911, the Indianapolis 500 held its inaugural race on May 30, drawing 85,000 spectators. A report from The Associated Press made no mention of the holiday — or any controversy. 

  1. How has Memorial Day changed? 

Dennis said Memorial Day’s potency diminished somewhat with the addition of Armistice Day, which marked World War I’s end on Nov. 11, 1918. Armistice Day became a national holiday by 1938 and was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. 

An act of Congress changed Memorial Day from every May 30th to the last Monday in May in 1971. Dennis said the creation of the three-day weekend recognized that Memorial Day had long been transformed into a more generic remembrance of the dead, as well as a day of leisure. 

In 1972, Time magazine said the holiday had become “a three-day nationwide hootenanny that seems to have lost much of its original purpose.” 

  1. Why is Memorial Day tied to sales and travel? 

Even in the 19th century, grave ceremonies were followed by leisure activities such as picnicking and foot races, Dennis said. 

The holiday also evolved alongside baseball and the automobile, the five-day work week and summer vacation, according to the 2002 book “A History of Memorial Day: Unity, Discord and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 

In the mid-20th century, a small number of businesses began to open defiantly on the holiday. 

Once the holiday moved to Monday, “the traditional barriers against doing business began to crumble,” authors Richard Harmond and Thomas Curran wrote. 

These days, Memorial Day sales and traveling are deeply woven into the nation’s muscle memory. 

Jason Redman, a retired Navy SEAL who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, told the AP last year that he honors the friends he’s lost. Thirty names are tattooed on his arm “for every guy that I personally knew that died.” 

He wants Americans to remember the fallen — but also to enjoy themselves, knowing lives were sacrificed to forge the holiday.

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Allies prepare to mark D-Day’s 80th anniversary in shadow of Ukraine war  

Carentan-les-Marais, France — Agnes Scelle grew up listening to her parents’ stories about life in occupied France, living near the Normandy town of Carentan-les-Marais. She heard of the knife pushed up against her father’s throat for trying to block a strategic river, of how German soldiers held her mother at gunpoint.

“They were very afraid,” said Scelle, a former postal worker and village mayor, who still lives in her family’s ancestral home. “Even when the American soldiers had landed, they didn’t know what was going on because there were bombings.”

As Normandy prepares for the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings on June 6, locals like Scelle are focusing on another war, as Russia gains ground in Ukraine.

“The war is at Europe’s doorstep, so of course we’re afraid,” Scelle said. “We need to stick together, the Americans and the European Union, in case we see another conflict on our soil.”

That message is expected to resonate next month, as onetime D-Day allies gather to mark the 80th anniversary of landings on Omaha Beach, roughly 30 km from Carentan-les-Marais. But the celebrations come as some Europeans worry that decades-old transatlantic ties may unravel, along with a U.S. commitment to Kyiv.

The war in Ukraine is shaping this latest D-Day commemoration in other ways. Host France has invited Russia to the official ceremonies, but not Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even including Moscow has reportedly sparked tensions on the part of other WWII allies.

“I can’t say what the solution is for this commemoration,” said Denis Peschanski, a World War II historian at the Sorbonne University in Paris. “What’s certain is we refuse to deny the fundamental contribution of the Soviet army in the liberation. We would never have had a successful landing in Normandy if there hadn’t been 180 German divisions that were blocked on the eastern front’’ by Soviet soldiers.

Like other towns across Normandy, Carentan-les-Marais — known to locals as Carentan — has a full schedule of D-Day events running before and well after official ceremonies. Among them: a parachute drop in period clothes, a parade of World War II military vehicles, and an opportunity to meet Ukrainian war veterans and view a phalanx of donated ambulances bound for Ukraine’s battlefields.

There’s also the wedding of 100-year-old U.S. World War II veteran Harold Terens to 94-year-old Jeanne Swerlin. Carentan’s mayor, Jean-Pierre Lhonneur, will officiate at the ceremony.

“If you come here for the 80th anniversary, you’ll see we almost live in an American state,” said Carentan’s deputy mayor, Sebastien Lesne. “There will be many American flags flying from windows here to celebrate the peace we got back — and especially to say thank you to the veterans who are coming back this year, and who return every year.”

Price of freedom

A strategic crossroad, cut through by highways, waterways and a railway, Carentan saw a pitched six-day battle before American forces defeated the town’s German occupiers on June 12, 1944.

Scelle still remembers her parents’ accounts of German occupation. Troops lived in her home in the village of Baupte, a few kilometers from Carentan. “It was a regular army,” as opposed to Nazi troops, she said. “If you were nice to them, things went well.”

But when her father threw stones into the village river to try to block German passage, the soldiers threatened him with a knife. After the D-Day landings, they demanded of her mother at gunpoint that she disclose the location of arriving U.S. soldiers. Her family fled their home under falling bombs and found it ransacked when they finally returned.

Roughly 20,000 French civilians died during the nearly three-month Battle of Normandy — along with about 73,000 Allied forces and up to 9,000 or so Germans. Overall, Normandy lost many more of its citizens during its liberation than during the entire German occupation.

“My village didn’t have a lot of deaths, but people wouldn’t have been bitter anyway,” Scelle said. “For them, it was the price to pay for freedom.”

Today, Scelle is helping out other war survivors. Since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, dozens of Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Carentan and surrounding villages. Many have since returned to their homeland. But Ukrainian student Kateryna Vorontsova, 19, and her family remain and count among those Scelle has helped to settle in and learn French.

“I would like to stay in France,” said Vorontsova, although she wants to eventually return to her homeland in peace. “I like the weather, the landscape, the culture.”

Of D-Day, she added, “it’s important to remember the landings. They’re our common history.”

Ukraine ties

Carentan has other ties to Ukraine. Donated ambulances line a field next to the D-Day Experience Museum, just outside Carentan. Some are funded by U.S. donors, others by European entities like the government of Madrid. Just after the D-Day anniversary, volunteers will drive them more than 2,000 km to Ukraine.

“According to doctors I’ve talked to in Ukraine, every ambulance saves an average of 250 lives a month,” said Brock Bierman, president of Ukraine Focus, a nongovernmental group based in Washington and Ukraine, which is spearheading the effort. He is in Carentan organizing the convoy’s departure.

“Our volunteer drivers have delivered them literally to the front lines … in Bakhmut and Kherson, in Odesa and Mykolaiv,” he added, naming towns in Ukraine. “There’s a lot of work to get this done, and we couldn’t do it without an alliance of people from all over Europe and the United States.”

A former senior official with the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Trump administration, Bierman strongly backs U.S. aid for Ukraine, including the $60 billion finally passed by Congress in April. Uncertainty about whether those funds would be approved lingers and is among issues feeding doubts in Europe about long-term U.S. commitment to Ukraine and — if Donald Trump returns to office — to the NATO transatlantic alliance.

Bierman believes the costs will be high if Washington does not stand by Kyiv.

“If we fail to support Ukraine’s independence, what we could be looking at is a longer-term conflict in the next decade — which could involve boots on the ground and possible American lives lost,” he said.

At Carentan’s town hall, Deputy Mayor Lesne believes the Normandy landings offer lessons for today.

“I think the most important message is in two words: to remember,” he said. “Not to forget what happened, so it won’t be repeated. Millions of people died in the Second World War — we can’t have that happen again.”

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Despite Biden’s ICC rejection, US sometimes sides with court

white house — The Biden administration denounced an International Criminal Court announcement this week that it is pursuing arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and the militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel.  

“We made our position clear on the ICC,” President Joe Biden said Thursday. “We don’t recognize their jurisdiction, the way it’s been exercised, and it’s that simple. We don’t think there’s an equivalence between what Israel did and what Hamas did.” 

International law experts say that the relationship between the U.S. and ICC has never been simple. 

The ICC was established in 1998 by the Rome Statute and tasked with prosecuting individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It was signed by the U.S. in December 2000, by U.S. lead negotiator David Scheffer. 

The U.S., fearing that Americans would be vulnerable to prosecution abroad, never ratified the treaty. 

More than 120 countries have ratified it, making them member states. 

The ICC has jurisdiction over atrocity crimes committed by citizens of member states, or committed in member states, or in nonmember states that grant it jurisdiction. It also has jurisdiction over crimes committed in nonmember states that are referred to it by the U.N. Security Council. 

The U.S. maintains that the ICC has no jurisdiction over citizens of non-ICC states. Israel is not an ICC member; therefore, the Biden administration said, the court has no right to issue arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. 

Stephen Rademaker, former chief counsel of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and assistant secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, agrees.

“The fundamental principle undergirding all treaty-based international law is the principle of consent,” he told VOA.  

Under the U.S. argument, which Scheffer calls the “immunity interpretation,” the same standards should apply to all non-ICC states.  

However, various U.S. administrations have supported some ICC investigations. 

The George W. Bush administration supported the ICC’s 2002 investigations into allegations of atrocities committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. The Obama administration supported the ICC’s case in Libya in 2011, which accused the government of Moammar Gadhafi of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Sudan and Libya were non-ICC states, but under the Rome Statute, the U.N. Security Council had the authority to refer those cases to the ICC for investigation, Rademaker said.

The ICC began its investigations of Russian officials for alleged atrocities in Ukraine in 2023, and of Israeli officials and Hamas leaders this month. Russia and Israel are non-ICC states, and neither investigation was authorized by the U.N. Security Council, Rademaker said.

“So the U.N. Charter cannot be cited as a basis of consent by them to action by the ICC,” he said.

However, while it rejected the ICC’s case against Israeli officials, the Biden administration supported the ICC’s investigations of Russian suspects. Biden has used the word “genocide” to describe Russian atrocities in Ukraine and has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal who should be put on trial. 

When asked to explain the distinction, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that Putin’s war aim was “to kill innocent Ukrainian people.”  

“He’s deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure with the aim of killing innocent civilians, and it’s just baked into his operational strategy,” Kirby told reporters Monday. “As we have said before, that is not what the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is doing.” 

Hypocrisy alleged

Critics say this difference in the Biden administration’s posture amounts to hypocrisy.  

“There is an obvious inconsistency,” said Adil Haque, a law professor at Rutgers University who writes on international law and the ethics of armed combat. 

“It is hard to get around,” he told VOA. “And it’s easier to see when you contrast it with European countries which are allies of Israel but also parties to the ICC statute,” he said, referring to Germany, which said it would execute the arrest warrant on German soil despite disagreeing with the decision. 

While the contradiction is apparent under the Biden administration, selective U.S. engagement with the ICC began decades ago. 

In 2002, George W. Bush signed into law the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act, which authorizes the U.S. president to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.”  

The Obama administration rejected the ICC’s preliminary examinations of the war in Afghanistan, including into alleged atrocity crimes committed by the Taliban, Islamic State group and U.S. coalition forces. It also opposed the court as it began pursuing war crimes charges against Israeli officials. 

While the Bush and Obama administrations would apply a case-by-case approach to the ICC, under the Trump administration, U.S. “hostility hit its apex,” said Kip Hale, an attorney specializing in atrocity crimes accountability. He said ICC investigations into Afghanistan and “Israel-Palestine” prompted the Trump administration to level sanctions against then-ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and one of her senior staff and to threaten other ICC staff and their families with visa bans and other punitive actions. 

In the case of investigating Russian atrocities in Ukraine, the Biden administration changed provisions under the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2001 to allow for information sharing, funding and other types of support for the ICC, Hale told VOA.  

“Unfortunately, the criteria is who are your allies and who are your rivals,” he said, adding that geopolitical expediency often dictates the behavior of all states, not just the U.S. 

ICC judges are now reviewing evidence presented by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, who made the decision to pursue arrest warrants with the advice of a panel of international legal experts that included prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. 

“We unanimously conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including hostage-taking, murder and crimes of sexual violence,” Clooney said in a statement. 

“We unanimously conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution and extermination.” 

Netanyahu called the ICC’s move against him and his defense minister absurd and said that he rejected “with disgust” the comparison between Israel and Hamas. 

ICJ decision on Rafah 

On Friday, the United Nations’ top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, as part of proceedings against Israel brought by South Africa in December.  

Israel doesn’t accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction and is unlikely to comply with the order. It maintains that its military campaign is a “defensive and just war” to eliminate Hamas and to secure the release of hostages and that it is “consistent with its moral values and in compliance with international law.” 

The ICJ was established by the U.N. Charter to settle disputes between states and advise the U.N. on legal matters. It does not have jurisdiction to try individuals. 

While the ICJ’s legal jurisdiction is separate from that of the ICC, Friday’s ICJ decision can impact the ICC’s proceedings, said Oona Hathaway, professor of international law at Yale Law School and member of the Advisory Committee on International Law for the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State. 

“ICJ can’t enforce its orders, that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be consequences,” Hathaway told VOA. “If we see Israel refuse to abide by the decision of the International Court of Justice, you could very well see future charges in the International Criminal Court criminal charges,” she said.  

This could include the ICC prosecutor expanding his request for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders to include charges of genocide, she said. 

Hathaway added that other consequences might include states withdrawing their military, financial and diplomatic support for Israel’s war effort, which could further complicate the Biden administration’s effort to continue backing its ally.

Margaret Besheer and Natasha Mozgovaya contributed to this report.

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