Israel cancels military leave after Iran threat and clinics brace for Florida abortion law: Morning Rundown

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Allegations against a company that supplies shrimp to major U.S. grocery stores. Two Southern states brace for more abortion patients. And why one country is threatening to send tens of thousands of elephants to Europe.

Here’s what to know today.

Contaminated shrimp sold to U.S. grocery stores, ‘whistleblower’ says

Congress is looking into allegations that a processing plant in India that supplies major grocery stores has exported shrimp that was in violation of U.S. law.

Joshua Farinella said he managed a Choice Canning shrimp factory in Amalapuram, India, starting in October 2023, but he left the company after about four months on the job because of what he witnessed. According to Farinella, Choice Canning operated unsanitary offsite “peeling sheds” and routinely approved the export of shrimp tainted with antibiotics, in violation of U.S. food safety law. Company leaders even had a code name for antibiotic-tainted shrimp.

At the factory, migrant workers rarely had a day off, slept in overcrowded, bedbug-infested dorms and were restricted from leaving the compound, Farinella alleged.

Before he left the company, Farinella recorded conversations with senior leadership and captured footage of conditions at the plant and at an offsite peeling facility. He filed a whistleblower complaint with the FDA and other regulators and shared it with members of Congress.

Choice Canning supplies shrimp to major U.S. grocery chains, including Walmart, Aldi, ShopRite and H-E-B. Lawyers for the company have denied any wrongdoing.

Read the full story here.

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Two meetings show tensions with Biden admin over Israel’s war in Gaza

A top Israeli official began yelling and waving his arms as he defended Israel’s plans for a ground invasion of Rafah in Gaza, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official familiar with Monday’s meeting. American officials in the meeting, including national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, kept calm and did not respond in kind, the officials said.

The tense moment came after U.S. officials said they did not see Israel’s plans in Rafah as realistic, causing Israeli officials to erupt. Israel’s plan is to move 1.4 million civilians over several weeks from Rafah to tents north of the city, but the proposal did not include plans for addressing sanitation needs or an assessment of how much food or water would be required, the officials said. However, an administration official said the meeting wasn’t supposed to be a presentation of Israel’s detailed plans, but rather a way to kick-start a series of discussions about how Israel might proceed in the war against Hamas. Read more here.

At another meeting this week, displeasure with President Joe Biden’s handling of the war was on full display. When the president met with six Muslim community leaders Tuesday, a Palestinian American doctor who treated gravely injured patients in Gaza left after five minutes. Another doctor who attended was taken aback when Biden claimed to have already seen photos of malnourished women and children in Gaza — except the doctor had printed the photos from her own phone. Another sign of anger at the White House: only six Muslim community leaders attended the meeting. Usually, there are many more. Read more about the meeting here.

Read more

  • The Israeli military has halted leave for all combat units and drafted reservists to boost aerial defenses amid fears of an escalation with Iran. The moves come as Iran’s supreme leader vowed revenge and said that Israel ‘will be slapped’ for a strike on Tehran’s consulate building in Syria that killed senior military commanders. Follow live updates.

The Jan. 6 rioters Trump claims are ‘hostages’

One is charged with throwing an explosive device into a tunnel packed with Capitol officers. Another allegedly bragged that he “f—ed those cops up.” Three were fugitives on the run in Florida.

Those are just some of the men and women who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and whom former President Donald Trump has called “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots” who are being mistreated by the justice system. An NBC News review found that just 15 people charged with the capitol attack are currently being held pretrial. Many are accused of assaulting police. Reporter Ryan J. Reilly rounded up a list of defendants still in jail and found out why they’re behind bars.

The latest Trump news:

  • A bid from Trump’s lawyers to use presidential immunity as part of his defense in the New York hush money trial was rejected. So was a motion to delay the start of the trial.

  • In Trump’s classified documents case, special counsel Jack Smith ripped Judge Aileen Cannon’s request for jury instructions, saying it’s based on a “fundamentally flawed legal premise.”

  • Who put up the $175 million appeal bond for Trump when other insurers wouldn’t? The answer is Don Hankey, a subprime car loan billionaire who has run afoul of regulators.

Taiwan’s earthquake preparedness was put to the test

At least 46 people are still missing a day after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Taiwan, killing 10 people. As of this morning local time, there were 1,050 people injured and 101 trapped. Despite the toll, experts say the island fared as well as could be expected, especially compared to the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake.

“Two thousand four hundred people died. And this time, we only have nine people reported dead. You see the progress,” said Larry Syu-Heng Lai, a geologist at the University of Washington who grew up in and studied Taiwan. In reviews of early images and reports from Taiwan after yesterday’s quake, it appeared that much of the damage was in older concrete buildings, while the island’s tall buildings, which have a higher level of engineering, performed well, said John Wallace, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UCLA.

Is the U.S., particularly the West Coast, as prepared for a major earthquake as Taiwan? Experts aren’t so sure.

A threat to send 20,000 elephants to Germany

A potential ban on the import of elephant trophies is being considered in Germany, and it’s upsetting Botswana’s president so much that he’s threatening to send 20,000 elephants over. “It’s not a joke,” President Mokgweetsi Masisi told a German tabloid newspaper.

Botswana is home to almost a third of the world’s savannah elephants. While conservation efforts there have been hailed a success, a 2014 ban on trophy hunting caused a headache, as elephants ventured into nearby farms and villages and damaged crops. The ban was reversed in 2019. “You should live with the animals the way you try to tell us to,” the Botswanian president said.

While trophy hunting can seem cruel, the relationship between animals and humans is more complex, experts said. Not only does it bring in tourism, but it also aids in conservation efforts.

Two Southern states brace for influx of abortion patients

After the Florida Supreme Court cleared the way for a state ban on abortions after six weeks, clinics in North Carolina and Virginia say they are gearing up to take in more patients by expanding their hours, making more appointments available and working to add more doctors.

Florida is considered a refuge for people seeking abortions across the South. In 2023, 1 in 12 abortions nationwide were performed in the state. But come May 1, the current law allowing abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy will no longer be in effect, and the closest option for some Floridians and others in the South will be in North Carolina. Florida clinics are also preparing their staff for changes in how they operate as a result of the new law.

Politics in Brief

Electoral College: Nebraska legislators blocked an effort to change how the state allocates its Electoral College votes, despite public pressure from Trump to shift the system, most likely in his favor.

A new ‘litmus’ test: Funding to help Ukraine fight its war against Russia is dividing candidates and voters in GOP primaries. So far this election season, candidates have seen mixed results.

FBI office crash: The ex-military member who federal authorities say drove into a barricade at the FBI office in Atlanta had online ties to QAnon-related content and appeared to be a Trump supporter.

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Staff Pic k: Two iconic cheeses ‘on the verge of extinction’

So ubiquitous is Camembert in France that soldiers in the trenches of World War I ate it as part of their daily rations. But now this notoriously pungent delicacy is in trouble — as is brie, another celebrated French cheese. France’s state-run science agency has warned they “could disappear,” owing to a decline in the strains of fungi that give the beloved cheeses their unique taste, smell, color and texture. Très mal indeed. — Henry Austin, senior editor

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

If you’re looking for a way to make grocery shopping more convenient, a delivery service might be the way to go. Here are the 13 best grocery delivery services for food and everyday essentials.

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