Connect with us

Published

on

Kamala Harris’s speech marked a shift in tone and maybe a subtle shift in language, but not much more than that. Yet the week ahead could still be critical.

The vice president spoke of the situation in Gaza as “devastating… a humanitarian catastrophe” and she had some pointed messaging for Israel – “it must increase flow of aid, restore basic services – no excuses”.

She echoed some of what President Joe Biden said on Friday when he called for “more routes to get more and more people the help they need. No excuses”.

There was a tonal shift, but beyond that her speech did not mark a policy change by the American administration.

The vice president was calling for a ceasefire, yes, but she was addressing Hamas, not Israel.

“Hamas claims it wants a ceasefire,” she said. “Well, there is a deal on the table. And as we have said, Hamas needs to agree to that deal.”

The framework of a deal to allow for a six-week ceasefire has been in place for a few weeks now. Despite talks in Doha, Paris and Cairo, the two sides have failed to find the common ground that would allow them to close the deal.

More on Benjamin Netanyahu

As we understand it, Israel has not sent a delegation to the latest round of talks this weekend in Cairo because Hamas has yet to respond to specific questions about the number of hostages still alive and about how many of the hostages it is willing to release in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

For context, there are thought to be 134 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza. The precise number still alive is not clear and Hamas said last week that seven had been killed during an Israeli airstrike.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

Israel holds about 9,000 Palestinian prisoners, according to NGO groups, including 2,070 who have been sentenced for crimes (mostly in military courts), 2,656 remanded and a further 3,558 “administrative detainees” held without charge or trial on the grounds that they plan to break the law in the future.

There are currently more Palestinians held in administrative detention than at any other time in decades.

Hamas had demanded the release of thousands of Palestinians from Israeli prisons in exchange for hostages. This has been the main sticking point in the ceasefire negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “delusional” and Biden called it “over the top”. The swap ratio is key and unresolved.

And so, despite Harris’s Sunday evening words, there is no obvious shift yet in the talks. With a framework in place, agreement could come fast or it could remain deadlocked.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

US airdrops reflect fundamental failure

Biden’s ice cream parlour hope of a deal by the start of this week seems like wishful thinking. The start of Ramadan this coming weekend is a goal for negotiators.

Tension between Israelis and Palestinians is always high in Jerusalem during Ramadan. Quite apart from the relief for Gazans and Israeli hostage families, a ceasefire by Ramadan would help to lower tensions in Jerusalem.

Two things have changed that will have helped to mould Harris’s language. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is spiralling. The White House cannot ignore this. And domestic American politics is now sinking in.

Biden’s campaign team were unquestionably alarmed by the results of the Michigan Democratic primary where a staggering 100,000 people voted “uncommitted” in a coordinated protest of his handling of the Gaza crisis.

Michigan protest organisers in the key swing state where there is a large Muslim population had hoped to garner 10,000 “uncommitted” votes. They managed 10 times as many.

Read more:
Analysis – A fresh truce could be highly significant
Analysis – Airdrops illustrate just how much of a disaster Gaza is
Exclusive: The company making millions from Gaza misery

Senior Israeli war cabinet minister and pre-war opposition leader Benny Gantz arrived last night in Washington for talks over the next few days.

He will meet the vice president and the secretary of state Antony Blinken. Ceasefire progress will be a focus, but possibly succession talks too.

With growing unease – within Israel and beyond – about the suitability of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Gantz is an obvious successor who leads the polls.

This coming week will be critical.

Continue Reading

US

Executor of OJ Simpson’s will wants to block $33.5m payout to families

Published

on

By

Executor of OJ Simpson's will wants to block .5m payout to families

The executor of OJ Simpson’s estate has said he will try to prevent a $33.5m (£27m) payout to the families of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.

The former NFL star and Hollywood actor was cleared of their double murder in 1995 in what was dubbed the “trial of the century” but later found liable for the deaths in a civil lawsuit.

Simpson died on Wednesday aged 76 from cancer without having paid the majority of the 1997 judgment but the Goldman and Brown families could be in line to get some of what he left behind.

His will was filed in a Clark County court in Nevada on Friday, naming his lawyer Malcolm LaVergne as the executor.

The document shows Simpson’s property was placed into a trust that was created this year, but Mr LaVergne told the Las Vegas Review-Journal his entire estate has not yet been tallied.

OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson in 1993.
Pic: AP
Image:
OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson in 1993. Pic: AP

The will lists his four children and notes that any beneficiary who seeks to challenge provisions of the will “shall receive, free of trust, one dollar and no more in lieu of any claimed interest in this will or its assets”.

Mr LaVergne, who had represented Simpson since 2009, said he specifically did not want the Goldman family seeing any money from Simpson’s estate.

More from World

“It’s my hope that the Goldmans get zero, nothing,” he told the Review-Journal. “Them specifically. And I will do everything in my capacity as the executor or personal representative to try and ensure that they get nothing.”

Read more:
OJ Simpson has died at the age of 76
OJ murder trial: How the dramatic court case unfolded

Hundreds of valuable possessions had been seized as part of the jury award and Simpson said he lived only on his NFL and private pensions.

Simpson, nicknamed “The Juice”, was acquitted after a 1995 criminal trial watched by millions worldwide, where he famously tried on a pair of blood-stained gloves allegedly found at the scene of the crime.

The gloves appeared to be too small, leading defence attorney Johnnie Cochran to say: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Ronald Goldman
Image:
Ronald Goldman

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

How OJ Simpson’s trial unfolded

Speaking to Sky News following Simpson’s death, the Goldman family’s lawyer David Cook said: “I review and consider Simpson as what he was: that he was a bad person; he was a murderer; he got out of the acquittal here.

“He remains now and in his death as the day that he committed the crime in whatever the amount of years ago.

“He’s still the same person. And the fact that he died doesn’t change it.”

Mr Goldman’s father Fred Goldman told Sky’s partner network NBC News earlier that Simpson’s death was “no great loss”.

“The only thing I have to say is it’s just a further reminder of Ron being gone all these years,” he said.

“It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron being gone.”

Continue Reading

US

OJ Simpson murder trial: How the dramatic court case unfolded

Published

on

By

OJ Simpson murder trial: How the dramatic court case unfolded

Former American footballer and actor OJ Simpson, who has died of cancer, will be remembered most for his role at the centre of the “trial of the century”.

Accused of double murder, his case captured the attention of the US until it came to a dramatic end in late 1995.

Here’s a look back at how that trial unfolded.

12 June 1994

Simpson‘s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson was found dead in front of her home in Los Angeles with her friend Ronald Goldman, who was a waiter at a restaurant where she had just dined.

The pair had been stabbed to death outside her home in the neighbourhood of Brentwood.

Read more:
OJ Simpson has died at the age of 76, his family says

OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown
Pic:MediaPunch/AP
Image:
OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown. Pic:MediaPunch/AP

17 June 1994

After the bodies were found, suspicion quickly fell on Simpson, who had been married to Nicole for seven years until their divorce became final on 15 October 1992, little more than 18 months before her death.

Simpson had been ordered by prosecutors to surrender, but on this day, carrying a passport and a disguise, he instead fled, with friend and former team-mate Al Cowlings in a white Ford Bronco.

A white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings and carrying OJ Simpson, being trailed by Los Angeles police on 17 June , 1994. Pic: AP
Image:
OJ Simpson trailed by Los Angeles police on 17 June 1994. Pic: AP

The vehicle was soon spotted on a California freeway and pursued by police in a car chase that was televised live across the country and watched by an estimated 95 million viewers.

Cowlings, in a phone call to police, said Simpson was lying in the back seat of the car holding a gun to his own head. After eventually driving to his Brentwood home he was persuaded to surrender.

Sky News’ Steve Bennedik recalls how Simpson’s trial was covered

It was the first few weeks of 1995 when Sky News’ live coverage of the OJ Simpson court case got under way. Each evening we showed the trial and invited questions. In those days, the main form of correspondence was by letter.

But there was also a new electronic method emerging, called email. And the first of these had the simple, but deflating, sentence: “Which one is OJ?”

We asked ourselves: Is our audience ready to follow the story of a very American tragedy unfold on British TV? We decided to stick with it.

In contrast, OJ Simpson was a household name in the US. So much more than an ex-football star. But the shock of this icon being arrested for murder, the bizarre Bronco highway chase, the high-profile celebrity defence team, and ultimately the “did he do it?” question had universal attraction.

Although the case stuttered through until October, the weak Judge Lance Ito was obsequious to lawyers’ demands for delays, but the interest among Sky News viewers surged and remained undimmed.

As the court camera panned to the state of California seal, signalling another adjournment, we and no doubt the viewer sighed.

More behind-the-scenes legal wrangling, but we had an ace up our sleeve – Professor Gary Solis. Gary is a Vietnam veteran, former military judge advocate, with alma maters including George Washington University and the London School of Economics.

At the time, he was in London and ready to give up his evenings. He calmly steered our presenters, Laurie and Vivien, and our often puzzled viewers through the complexities of the Californian legal system and became a firm favourite with the newsroom and the public alike.

The court characters emerged. Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden for the prosecution, and the “Dream Team” defence – Jonnie Cochran, F Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz and Robert Kardashian, whose children would go on to outshine his fame.

It was compelling court drama, but it was also the very tragic story of two young people who’d been savagely attacked and murdered, with their families devastated by the loss, and tormented by the lingering back and forth court battle.

The proceedings had lasted months, but the jury reached their verdict in just a few hours and when they returned to the courtroom to deliver it, an early evening audience in the UK was hanging on every moment. And then it was over. OJ was a free man.

The People of the State of California v Orenthal James Simpson faded as a memory, flickering back to life with the news of his death.

24 January 1995

The murder trial, dubbed the “trial of the century” by the media, began.

Prosecutors argued OJ Simpson had killed Nicole and Ron in a jealous rage, and they presented extensive blood, hair and fibre tests linking him to the murders.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

The defence countered that the celebrity defendant was framed by racist white police.

15 June 1995

Perhaps the defining moment of the trial came on a Thursday in June, when the prosecution committed what a defence lawyer would later describe as the “greatest legal blunder of the 20th century”.

OJ Simpson grasps a marker while wearing the leather gloves prosecutors say he wore the night his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
OJ Simpson grasps a marker while wearing the leather gloves prosecutors say he wore on the night of the murder. Pic: Reuters

On this day, a prosecutor asked him to put on a pair of gloves believed to have been worn by the killer.

The gloves appeared to be too small, as OJ Simpson struggled to put on the gloves in a highly theatrical demonstration and indicated to the jury they did not fit.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

This led defence lawyer Johnnie Cochran to famously state in his closing argument: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

3 October 1995

The trial came to an end with two words – not guilty.

Read more:
OJ Simpson a ‘completely free man’ after being released from parole

OJ Simpson, who maintained from the outset he was “absolutely 100% not guilty”, waved at the jurors and mouthed the words “thank you”.

Continue Reading

US

Disney cracks down on disability access rules that allow guests to avoid queues

Published

on

By

Disney cracks down on disability access rules that allow guests to avoid queues

Disney has announced it is making changes to its policy that helps guests with disabilities avoid queuing after people who do not meet the criteria have been exploiting current rules.

The company’s Disability Access Service programme (DAS) was launched in 2013 to assist guests who are unable to wait in ride queues for an extended period of time, according to Disney‘s website.

It allows guests with a “developmental disability such as autism or similar” to return to an attraction at a certain time without having to wait in line – similar to a fast-track pass.

Under the current policy six people from the same group are allowed to use the pass at one time, but from next month, in certain parks this is being cut down to four.

It is unclear from guidance on the company’s website if families of six or more people will be exempt from the changes or not.

Guests will also have to wait 120 days before they can reapply for the DAS programme, double the current 60 days.

A Disney spokesperson said on Friday that DAS is the most popular requested service at Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California and applications have trebled in the past five years, Sky News’ US partner network, NBC, reported.

The spokesperson said the surge in numbers includes those who try to use the service when it is not intended for them.

Len Testa, president of itinerary planning website Touring Plans and co-author of the Unofficial Guides to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, said in an email to The Washington Post: “The system has always had some level of questionable use, if not abuse.”

Read more:
Disney+ launches crackdown on password sharing
Disney hit gets a surprise sequel
Disney loses copyright of early version of cartoon character

Guests are currently required to meet with a Disney staff member – known as cast members – before their visit to determine their eligibility for the DAS programme.

Disney said when necessary, staff will work with healthcare professionals to help them “determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations and ensure that these accommodations are provided only for the guests for whom they are intended”.

A spokesperson reiterated that the parks do not require proof or documentation of disabilities from guests and do not plan to do so in the future, according to NBC.

Those who are found to have lied about a disability can be permanently banned from entering the parks, with any remaining tickets or passes not refunded, the company website states.

The new rules are expected to come into force on 20 May at Florida‘s Disney World and on 18 June in Disneyland, California.

A Disney official told NBC: “Disney is dedicated to providing a great experience for all guests, including those with disabilities, which is why we are so committed to delivering a wide range of innovative support services aimed at helping our guests with disabilities have a wonderful time when visiting our theme parks.”

Continue Reading

Trending