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Chinese prez’s middle finger on exports, no women-only spaces at all and other commentary

China Watch: Xi’s Middle Finger on Exports “Given her approach to the People’s Republic of China, failure was the only possible option” of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s unsuccessful visit to Beijing to discuss “China’s predatory trade practices,” frets Gordon G. Chang at Newsweek. “Before Yellen left China, Chinese officials were expressing their profound disagreement with her criticisms.” Top dog Xi Jinping is “intent on putting China on a wartime footing, which means he’s determined to build even more industrial capacity.” Meanwhile, Yellen’s remarks signaled “reluctance in the Biden administration to ruffle the Chinese leadership, with tariffs or anything else,” in response to China’s “predatory conduct.” So of course “Xi Jinping has made it clear that he does not intend to change course on exports.” Culture war: No Women-Only Spaces at All? An Australian case will determine “whether individuals should be allowed to self-define as whatever ‘gender identity’ they choose, and whether that identity then trumps biological sex,” reports Julie Bindel at The Spectator. It pits a “transwoman called Roxanne Tickle” against businesswoman Sall Grover, who banned Tickle from her “females only” app Giggle, where “women can find a flatmate, or organize social meet-ups.” Tickle seeks “to make it illegal for women to even have boundaries.” Grover’s already suffered through a four-year legal battle, bad publicity and financial loss as her site’s been shut down. It can happen elsewhere: “If the trans activists” had their way, “a man could simply declare he is a woman, based on nothing more than a ‘feeling’, and be considered so legally.” From the right: RFK Jr.’s Power in 2024 Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “remains the most likely third-party candidate to influence the outcome of the race,” notes The Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley. Polls put “his support at just under 10%,” and “even if his support drops to half its current level,” he’s still a force “in swing states.” Polls show “black and Latino working-class men” moving away from the Democratic Party, and a recent survey showed “the share of the black vote with a favorable view of Kennedy had climbed to 51% from 38%.” Then again, “If black voters . . . no longer believe that racial identity should determine which political party they support, this is progress.” Liberal: Sonia Should Step Down In purely partisan terms, Nate Silver argues at his Silver Bulletin, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 70 and diabetic, would be wise to resign now, lest she “die or become unable to carry out her duties before Democrats again control both the presidency and the Senate” — which could be a long time: “Prediction markets give Democrats only a 25 percent chance of keeping control of the Senate” in November, and the presidency is 50-50. And “even if Democrats do retain the presidency and the Senate in 2024, they’ll probably lose the Senate in 2026.” Fact is, since justices serve an average of 28 years, each high court seat (of the nine) has more than half as much impact as a one-term president. Joe Biden can pick “one of the many other qualified Latino or Latina” jurists to replace her. And a confirmation “fight would galvanize the Democratic base, particularly given that abortion tends to unite the party.” War watch: Joe’s Latest Mideast Mistake President “Biden, more likely than not, just seriously messed things up in the Middle East,” warn Mark Toth & Jonathan Sweet at The Hill. By “pressuring Israel to draw back from Hamas,” he “may prod it into taking the fight directly to the source: Iran.” Israel’s April 1 bombing of “Tehran’s diplomatic compound in Damascus, Syria,” killing seven Revolutionary Guard commanders, may prove “the first shot in a dangerous regional war.” “Israel had been likely content to eliminate Hamas as a threat and militarily check Hezbollah as needed in Lebanon,” but if Biden won’t let Israel “beat Hamas in Rafah, Israel will cut its roots in Iran and Lebanon, starving the terrorist organization and its affiliates in Gaza.” Give Israel “the latitude it needs to destroy Hamas in Rafah. Otherwise, Jerusalem may be forced to finish the job in Tehran.” — Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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Arizona abortion ruling upends legal and political landscape from Phoenix to Washington

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs earlier called on the Legislature to repeal the ban. “They could do that today,” she told CBS News. “They could gavel in today and make a motion to repeal this.” According to AP VoteCast, 6 out of 10 Arizona voters in the 2022 midterm elections said they would favor guaranteeing legal abortion nationwide. The state recorded 11,530 abortions in 2022, the last data available, according to the Department of Health Services. At Camelback Family Planning in Phoenix, where about one-fourth of Arizona abortions are performed, registered nurse Ashleigh Feiring said abortion services were still available and that staff hope emergency legislation will avoid interruptions or closure. “Our plan is to stay open as long as possible,” Feiring said. “Our clinic has been shut down twice in the last four years, but we’ve always resumed service.” At the same time, anti-abortion groups including SBA Pro-Life America urged Arizona residents to oppose a proposed ballot initiative aimed at placing abortion rights in Arizona’s state constitution. “They would wipe away all pro-life laws put in place by the Legislature, reflective of the will of the people,” SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.

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The ultimate spring cleaning checklist for each zodiac sign

Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, daylight is going the extra mile — and Aries season is raging. Yes, friends, spring hath sprung and with it the ancient call to begin again. Human behavior is intrinsically tied to seasonal patterns and natural cycles. Our energy levels dip when less daylight is available as darkness triggers the body’s production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Come spring and its extended sunshine, our energy levels soar and we are more inclined to want to scrub, dust, polish and purge. Read on to learn how each zodiac sign can make the most of this momentum. Be sure to check out our list of the best cleaning products of 2024, plus an expert explanation of why decluttering your home can work wonders for your mental health. ARIES (March 21 – April 19) Polish mirrors, clean windows Clean your windows and polish your mirrors, Aries. As the ruler of the first house of the self, who you are and how you are seen are of primary importance at the first sign of spring. The practice of clearing away any dirt or debris from mirrored surfaces lends itself to taking a long look at yourself. In terms of ritual and intention, cleaning and clarifying your window panes will invite clarity and the light of a new dawn into your daily life. Pro tip: Clean your windows on a cloudy day as the showboating sun can dry cleaning solutions too quickly, leaving panes streaky rather than squeaky clean. TAURUS (April 20 – May 20) Deep clean your refrigerator and purge your pantry As the sign of wealth and worth, Taurus understands that you must eat well to be well. Clear the way for brighter days and better meals by cleaning out your refrigerator and purging your pantry this spring. Pitch the expired aioli, the wilted romaine and the flat Champagne. Give your shelves a scrubbing and restock like the earthen royalty you are. To save space when you restock, remove products from their packaging when possible and mark the expiration date with a permanent marker. GEMINI (May 21 – June 20) Clean up your communication systems As a Mercury-ruled sign, you would be best served by cleaning up your communication systems, Gemini. Unsubscribe to conspiracy newsletters, delete apps you don’t need and update the ones you use, and scrub your camera roll of exes, accidental screenshots and mediocre nudes. Apply an editorial eye to your social media platforms, and clean out any content that doesn’t feel relevant or rewarding. Back up the files on your phone — and make the outside match the inside by cleaning your device with a microfiber cloth to remove dirt, dust and bacteria. CANCER (June 21 – July 22) Kondo your closet, cull your keepsakes and donate your clothing I see you, Cancer, huffing your ex’s hoodie, carrying around a quarter-full bottle of old cologne and hoarding baby teeth that don’t belong to you. The time is nigh to free yourself from the physical reminders of a past that you no longer need to revisit. Cut the cord, burn the letters, donate the detrimental. LEO (July 23 – August 22) Refresh your mattress Rulers of the heart and the fifth house of creativity, Leos require rest to maintain their manes and regal bearing. The mattress, that horizontal throne, is where cat naps are held and dreams and love are made. In-kind and in service to both romance and regeneration, lions should launder all of their bedding, replace pillows if need be and mattresses if necessary. If new springs are out of the question or beyond your budget, flip your mattress, sprinkle it with baking soda and vacuum the hell and hair out of it. Also, make sure you clear out and clean out the space beneath your bed as it is a magnet for the stagnant — both energetically and tangibly. VIRGO (August 23 – September 22 Update your first-aid kit As the sign of divine service, Virgo, it is important that you feel prepared for any crisis. Updating your first-aid kit to include practical essentials and spiritual tools will help ensure you can take care of yourself and provide for others. Beyond bandages, consider adding crystals, sound bowls and homeopathic remedies to your toolbox and implementing a therapy practice to ensure you are giving with and from a hearty cup. LIBRA (September 23 – October 22) Cull your toiletries Ruled as you are by aesthetics = actualization planet Venus, Libra, I bow to your need for products. In the interest of fresh starts and faces, I urge you to purge your toiletries. If you don’t use it, lose it; if it’s expired, let it go. Streamline your skincare and, for the love of the Almighty, get rid of the 14 half-used bottles of lotion that are littering your life and silently sending the message that you need more and deserve less. SCORPIO (October 23 – November 21) Release resentment As a fixed sign, Scorpios tend to hold onto things — namely grudges and festering resentments. In a true spring cleaning ritual, I recommend that every scorpion under the sun forgive, privately and quietly, at least one person who has wronged, betrayed, failed or disappointed them. Turn the other cheek and transform the poison you make into the medicine you need. SAGITTARIUS (November 22 – December 21) Clean your means of movement As the sign of endless adventure and the siren song of the open road, it is recommended that archers first and foremost ensure their passports are up to date. Beyond that, however you get where you are going, Sagittarius, refresh your means of movement. Clean out your car, replace your bike tires or, if you’re on foot, invest in a fresh pair of kicks or new soles for old boots. CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 19) Upgrade your home office Capricorns rule the teeth and skeletal system and tend to keep it clean and always stay on their proverbial grind. Sea goats with home offices or work studios would be wise to recycle unnecessary paperwork, sanitize their computer, dust ye olde bookshelf, straighten their trophies and, perhaps most importantly, introduce an element of pure aesthetic joy into the space they frequent the most. Think bold accent wall, abstract art, Banzai tree, vintage club chair, etc. — one thing whose purpose is prettiness. AQUARIUS (January 20 – February 18) Replace lightbulbs and check for damaged wires You’re the resident visionary/oddball genius of the zodiac, Aquarius, and if you can’t see clearly, you won’t be able to see clearly. Addressing any electrical issues in your home and replacing your lightbulbs/light sources with adjustable, warm or colored lighting will serve to soften your edges and enhance your space. PISCES (February 19 – March 20) Ritual floor wash Wide-eyed empath babies, Pisces folks tend to absorb the energy of others, collecting the psychic clutter of strangers, lovers and friends. To help remove unwanted attachments or energies and prevent future intrusion, I recommend a deep cleaning of the home, followed by a ritual floor wash to remove hexes and then a suds bucket to protect against negativity. Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture, and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love of dive bars, a “girl’s guide” to strip clubs, and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.

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Rescuers search off Northern California coast for young gray whale entangled in gill net

“The team went out there yesterday and made some attempts but as the team approached, the animal became very reactive,” Viezbicke said. NOAA’s team, which is working on the rescue effort with the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, was searching Wednesday for the whale north of San Francisco. Kathi George, director of cetacean conservation biology at the Marine Mammal Center, said a rescue crew in Southern California couldn’t disentangle the whale last month but the team was able to attach a satellite tag to the net to track it and two buoys to make it easier to spot the animal. But the tracker is no longer attached, she said. George said that if the rescue team spots the whale on Wednesday they will attempt to cut the net or at least attach another satellite tag. “Our goal is to retrieve the gear that’s on the whale, so we can learn more about the entanglement and how it happened so, we could use that to inform risk reduction efforts,” she said. Every spring, Gray whales migrate 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from birthing waters off Baja California, Mexico to feeding grounds in the Arctic.

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What to know about the latest trial involving Amanda Knox

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Amanda Knox is again defending herself in an Italian court in a slander case that has the potential to remove the last legal stain against her, following her exoneration nine years ago in the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Despite a murder conviction against a man whose DNA and footprints were found at the scene, and a 2015 high court verdict definitively clearing Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, doubt about her role persists, particularly in Italy, and among members of Kercher’s family. AMANDA KNOX FACES A NEW SLANDER TRIAL IN ITALY THAT COULD REMOVE THE LAST LEGAL STAIN AGAINST HER A slander case against Knox for wrongly pinning the murder on the owner of a bar where she worked is part of the reason for this. Here is a glance at the key details in the case: WHO IS AMANDA KNOX? Knox was a 20-year-old student who had recently arrived in the university town of Perugia when her British roommate, Kercher, was found dead in her room in the apartment they shared with two others on Nov. 2, 2007. The murder grabbed worldwide attention as suspicion fell on Knox and Sollecito, with whom she had been involved at the time for just about a week. Knox and Sollecito were convicted in their first trial but were ultimately exonerated by Italy’s highest court in 2015. WHAT IS THE SLANDER CASE? Knox was accused of slandering the Congolese bar owner who employed her part-time, based on two statements typed by police that she signed during a long night of questioning just days after the murder. She recanted in a four-page handwritten note the next afternoon, but the memo showed her confusion as she attempted to reconcile the signed statements with her own conflicting recollections. The slander conviction and three-year sentence remained until the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Knox’s rights had been violated during questioning without a lawyer or qualified translator. Based on that ruling, Italy’s highest court threw out the conviction last November and ruled the two statements typed by police were inadmissible. It ordered a new trial. HOW DID KNOX REBUILD HER LIFE? Knox returned to the United States after an appeals court threw out her first conviction in 2011, following four years behind bars. While she hoped to resume her life as a college student, she was dogged by public scrutiny as her legal cases continued in Italy. Now 36 and the mother of two small children, Knox campaigns for criminal justice reform and against forced confessions, drawing on her experience. She has a podcast and a new limited series in development for Hulu that includes Monica Lewinsky among the executive producers. She also has recorded a series on resilience for a meditation app. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP WHAT HAPPENED IN WEDNESDAY’S HEARING? An appeals court panel of two judges and eight civilian jurors heard arguments from the prosecution and the lawyer for the wrongly accused man — the bar owner — maintaining their position that Knox committed slander. Her defense attorneys stressed her overturned murder conviction and the interrogation techniques that were strongly censured by Europe’s human rights court. The trial will continue on June 5, when a verdict is expected.

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Travis Kelce shows off new haircut ahead of ‘Are You Smarter Than a Celebrity?’ filming

Travis Kelce never fails to get people buzzing. The Kansas City Chiefs star got a fresh cut to prepare for an upcoming episode of “Are You Smarter Than a Celebrity?” from his barber, Patrick Regan, who shared a preview pic of the shorter ‘do on Instagram Tuesday. Regan shared a photo of his client’s new look — which appears to be a shorter version of his signature fade — on his Instagram Story, tagging Kelce and writing “showtime ready.” Kelce even wore his own custom Chiefs cape emblazoned with his jersey number for the occasion. Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, 34, filmed the Prime rebooted game show in Los Angeles, with a fan snapping a pic of the NFL star in an electric blue suit and white T-shirt on stage. While Kelce serves as the host, the guest appears to be former Washington Commanders quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, with one fan posting a behind-the-scenes look at the stage. Swift may have been in the audience as well, with the “Cruel Summer” singer joining her beau for an incognito date night in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The couple were spotted attempting to hide from the paparazzi, ducking into an SUV at the Bird Street Club in Los Angeles Tuesday, with a spy telling Page Six that the duo appeared “stylish and happy.” The couple’s outing comes after they returned from a vacation in the Bahamas and were spotted on a lunch date in Malibu, Calif., with the billionaire pop star opting for her own shade of blue, wearing a baby blue Khaite crewneck sweater ($1,100) and khaki pleated Sandy Liang skirt. For more Page Six Style … See the best celebrity looks of the week in our new series, “Instantly Iconic Style” Browse the best fashion and beauty products, according to celebs Shop our exclusive merch The tight end also opened up about his relationship in Wednesday’s episode of his “New Heights” podcast, saying that he does not “know how the f—k” he won over Swift. “She wasn’t into sports,” he said, though he admitted he knew “exactly” what he was doing while pursuing her. “It’s fun, man,” the “Catching Kelce” alum said. “I’m having a blast in life, baby. Just flying high. Enjoying it all. “[We’re] bringing new lives to the football world and opening the football world up to new things as well,” he concluded.

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We’ll Work With FG To Provide Housing For Rivers People – Fubara

PORT HARCOURT – Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured that the State Government would work harmoniously with the Federal Government to address the issue of housing affecting low income earners in the State. This synergy, he said, will no doubt reduce the pressure faced by citizens facing the challenge of housing, which is not only affecting low income but also medium income earners. Governor Fubara made the assertion when he received the management team of the Federal Housing Authority of Nigeria (FHAN), led by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, who paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday. The Governor, who noted that the problem of housing has become a major issue confronting Nigerians, said the Rivers State Government recently flagged off a 20,000 housing units project to address the housing needs of low income earners in the State, which, he added, is also in line with Mr President’s Renewed Hope Agenda. “Let me use this medium to say a big thank you to Mr President. We all know the basic needs of a family: food, clothing and shelter. And in our country today, because of the cost of living, housing has become an issue. “It is no longer an issue of medium income earners, because medium income earners cannot even afford housing again. So, it is an issue that the government, both at federal and state levels must come together and work together to find a lasting solution. Maybe, we may not completely eradicate the problem, but we can reduce that pressure on the citizens,” he said. He noted, “We are thinking in the same line with Mr President. In our dear State, some months back, we did flag off a 20,000 housing units project, specifically for low income earners. What is the purpose: how many persons can afford housing in the GRAs? Just a few of us. We need to make provision for our civil servants. We need to make provision for our traders and taxi drivers. We need to make provision for our teachers and other classes of workers. That is what gave birth to that programme. And I am happy to say it today that the project is ongoing, and there is evidence of seriousness to that.” The Governor Fubara, according to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi on Wednesday, expressed delight with the purpose of the visit, which he said, keys into the social housing policy of his Administration, emphasising that FHA’s commitment to partner the State Government in providing housing will add in mitigating the plight of the citizens. He described the administration of President Bola Tinubu as people-oriented, given the seriousness the FHA attaches to ensuring the success of the project in collaboration with the State Government, and assured of his Administration’s commitment to give the necessary support for the success of the project. “I am really happy this evening to receive this delegation from the Federal Housing Authority, because even the houses we are providing still won’t solve the problem. So, adding this to what we are already doing, will also help in mitigating the challenges. “Your demands are very simple. We have records available which show that lands given to some people have been undeveloped. That will not be the story anymore. We are dealing with a team that has come, made commitments, and already pledged their seriousness, telling us here that they are not interested in just the land, but want even the contractors, who must be indigenous people from Rivers State, to be part of the project. They didn’t even end there. They are also saying that this project, they want to do it in such a way that they want the state to support off-takers. What else does anybody need to show that this Federal Government is people-oriented,” he said. “I want to assure you that we will, as a Government, and as the head of the State Government, I will call the team that is concerned: the Permanent Secretary of Lands, and the Commissioner for Housing, they are going to meet with you, assess areas that are still undeveloped, and you make your choice and commence work. “You said something very interesting. It’s not just building housing for the sake of building, but building in such a way that will consider the income of the would-be occupiers. It means, you have the people at heart. “You are not just embarking on the project as white elephant project, you are not just embarking on the project because you want to come and flag off the project or commission it, you are interested in the end product. It shows seriousness, and that is our motto. As a Government, the few things that we are doing, we are interested in ending them well, and people seeing the purpose and the usefulness of our projects. “So, I want to assure you, we will give you all the necessary support. Our message to Mr President is that: we are going to own the project, we will see that it succeeds so that it will also be a legacy for him in our dear State.” Earlier, the Managing Director/CEO, Federal Housing Authority of Nigeria, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, had said they were at Government House to pay a courtesy visit on the Governor as well as intimate him on Mr President’s mandate to the authority to provide affordable housing to Nigerians as encapsulated in the Renewed Hope Agenda. Hon. Ojo, who noted the strategic position of Rivers State in the country, solicited for the Governor’s partnership in making available land to enable the authority to fulfil its mandate of providing affordable housing to the people. “We are here for two reasons: to pay a courtesy visit, and to intimate you on the mandate of Mr President given to the Federal Housing Authority of Nigeria to provide affordable housing to Nigerians. In the Renewed Hope Agenda, we all know that housing is a specified area in which Mr President really talked on. “Right now in Nigeria, we are seriously lacking shelter. And I say, it’s not only lacking shelter, it’s about being affordable. And what is affordable? It is what the low income earners can really purchase and afford. “Your Excellency, you all know the position of Rivers State in this country. After Abuja being the capital city, Lagos and Rivers are two major economic hubs of Nigeria which nobody can down-play in this country. “And by so doing, we in the Federal Housing Authority have decided to take a position, and what is our position of coming here today. The land is vested in your authority as the owners of the land in the State. It’s one thing that you give us the land and we go to Abuja and do a design. “In our own tenure, we want a scenario where we have a partnership, not just collecting land, but also sitting down with your team in designing what you think is suitable with your own people. The houses will be designed and tailored towards the needs of the residents and people of Rivers State,” he said. He said that the collaboration was necessary to secure the buy-in of the off-takers so that they can own the houses for their sustainability.

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Transit police investigating after boat struck by commuter rail train in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) – Transit police are investigating an unusual incident in Cambridge early Wednesday morning during which a boat left on the tracks was struck by a commuter rail train. Police say someone left the boat on the right of way on the Fitchburg Line between Cambridge and Belmont and that it was struck around 12:15 a.m. There were no reported injuries and no damage to the train. The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Transit Police. This is a developing news story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest details. (Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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Man pleads not guilty to terrorism charge in alleged church attack plan in support of Islamic State

An 18-year-old man accused of planning to attack churches in a northern Idaho city in support of the Islamic State group has pleaded not guilty to a federal terrorism charge. Alexander Mercurio appeared Wednesday in Idaho’s U.S. District Court and pleaded not guilty to the charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terror organization, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported. Prosecutors say he planned to use a metal pipe, butane fuel, a machete and, if he could get them, his father’s guns in the attack. Mercurio was arrested Saturday, the day before investigators believe he planned to attack people attending a church near his Coeur d’Alene home. According to authorities, Mercurio adopted the Muslim faith against his Christian parents’ wishes and had been communicating for two years with FBI informants posing as Islamic State group supporters. Mercurio told one informant he intended to incapacitate his father with the pipe, handcuff him and steal his guns and a car to carry out his plan, according to an FBI agent’s sworn statement in the case. His father’s guns included rifles, handguns and ammunition that were locked in a closet, but Mercurio planned to attack with the pipe, fire and knives if he couldn’t get the firearms, alleged the sworn statement by FBI task force officer John Taylor II. Mercurio in an audio recording he gave the informant said if he could get access to the guns, “everything will be so much easier and better and I will achieve better things,” according to the statement. After attacking the church, Mercurio told the informant he planned to attack others in town before being killed in an act of martyrdom, according to the statement. Mercurio told a confidential informant that he first connected with the Islamic State group during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools were closed, Taylor said, and investigators later found files on his school-issued laptop detailing the group’s extremist ideology. Mercurio eventually began to worry that he was a hypocrite for not yet carrying out an attack, according to the statement. “I’ve stopped asking and praying for martyrdom because I don’t feel like I want to fight and die for the sake of Allah, I just want to die and have all my problems go away,” he wrote in a message to the informant, according to the statement. On March 21, Mercurio sent a direct message to the informant again, saying he was restless, frustrated and wondered how long he could keep living “in such a humiliated and shameful state,” the statement alleged. “I have motivation for nothing but fighting … like some time of insatiable bloodlust for the life juice of these idolators; a craving for mayhem and murder to terrorize those around me. I need some better weapons than knives,” the direct message said, according to the statement. Law enforcement arrested Mercurio after he sent an audio file pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State group, the statement alleged. If convicted, Mercurio could face up to 20 years in prison. His trial is set for May 28. The Islamic State group took control of a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and had been largely defeated on the battlefield by 2018. However, it maintains desert hideouts in both countries and its regional affiliates operate in Afghanistan, West Africa and the Far East. Islamic State Khorasan claimed responsibility for last month’s Moscow concert hall shooting attack that killed 145 people, the deadliest attack in Russia in years.

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