Iranian Leadership Rocked by Deadly Helo Crash - The Monday AM Quickie 5/20/24

I'm willing to cut the cicadas some slack. -Jacob

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Iran's President and Foreign Minister Die in Helicopter Crash

An Iranian government helicopter crashed over the weekend amidst heavy fog in the country's north, with no survivors. The helicopter was carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian to open a new dam project built jointly with the neighboring government of Azerbaijan. The dam inauguration was going to include Azerbaijan's strongman President Ilham Aliyev.

It took rescuers 15 hours to find the crash site on a fog-shrouded mountain. A cascade of blackened debris left little indication anyone was alive. Iran launched a massive search and rescue effort that includes members of its armed forces.

President Raisi's death comes at a typically sensitive time for Iran. Western sanctions have hobbled the country's economy for years. Besides constant proxy battles with the US throughout the Middle East, Iran has more recently traded direct missile fire with Israel. A fierce women-led protest movement for gender and civil rights erupted two years ago. The government has responded with greater repression, including recently sentencing a popular rapper to death.

Iran's vice president is expected to take over, with an election legally mandated to follow in 50 days. Raisi was considered a relative hardliner. Once known as the Butcher of Tehran, he has been credited with approving hundreds of executions of political opposition members in the 1980s. Some observers had him pegged as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but now Iran's political leadership is left to sort through the wreckage.

Israeli War Cabinet Says Netanyahu Has No Plan as ICC Announces Indictments

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing an increasingly divided war cabinet, with political divisions threatening to take down his government. Benny Gantz, the chairman of the National Unity Party and a potential next prime minister, issued six conditions that Netanyahu must meet by June 8th. “If you choose the path of fanatics and lead the entire nation to the abyss – we will be forced to quit the government,” said Gantz. A few minutes later, Netanyahu refused the ultimatum.

Gantz believes that Netanyahu has no plan for how to rescue hostages, prosecute the rest of the war, or govern a post-war Gaza – priorities for basically all high-level Israeli officials. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant – who infamously declared after October 7 that no food, water, or other essentials would be allowed into Gaza – made similar criticisms last week. But Bibi seems focused on prolonging the war as long as possible and defending his throne so that he may avoid trial for corruption charges.

"Netanyahu doesn't want to move on the hostages issue," an unnamed member of Netanyahu's war cabinet reportedly told leading American-Israeli establishment stenographer Barak Ravid. "He is willing to give up on them. He is holding back everything and leading us to the abyss."

In an interview with CNN today, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor announced that he was seeking arrest warrants leaders of Israel and Hamas. "Nobody is above the law," said Karim Khan.

Israel and the US are not signatories to the ICC. In 2015, the Palestinian government agreed to accept ICC jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territories.

Slovak Prime Minister Shot, In Serious Condition

On Friday, a gunman shot and seriously wounded Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico at a public event in Handlova, about 85 miles from Bratislava. Fico was rushed to a hospital in a nearby coal town. He's now expected to survive.

The dramatic shooting was captured on smartphone cameras and immediately shared around the world. At first, the gunman appeared to be acting alone but later Slovakia's defense minister claimed that a "third party" may have been offering support. Not much is known about the 71-year-old gunman, who was apprehended at the scene.

Fico is a polarizing right-wing populist who resigned from a previous term as president after a journalist was murdered while investigating corruption. He was re-elected last September after promising to stop military aid to Ukraine.


  • Giuliani Learns He's Indicted While Leaving His Birthday Dinner On Friday night, while departing his 80th birthday party, Rudy Giuliani was served with a notice that he was being charged in an Arizona election interference case. He may appear in court as soon as tomorrow. via NYT.
  • Bumbling Coup Plotters Shoot Their Way Into Congo's Presidential Palace A small group of gunmen, including some Americans, shot several people at a Congolese parliamentarian's home before forcing their way into the presidential palace without any apparent plan of what to do next. The group's leader, a businessman named Christian Malanga, was killed. At least two American men were arrested. via WaPo and NYT.
  • Julian Assange's Extradition Case Enters Its Final Stages Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange will have what may be his last legal hearing today in London in his effort to avoid extradition to the United States for espionage charges. Assange's family says that his health is poor and that he may not survive an attempt to send him to the US. via ABC News and Al Jazeera.
  • UAW Faces Setback at Mercedes-Benz Plant Workers at a Mercedes-Benz factory in Vance, Alabama, voted against joining the union by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent. Under the forceful leadership of Shawn Fain, the UAW has made a goal of organizing southern auto workers and says that there will be more elections soon at other southern auto plants. via Reuters and Detroit Free Press.



That's how many U.S. tourists have been arrested by Turks & Caicos authorities for having ammunition in their luggage in recent months. Each defendant faces 12 years in prison. Four of the tourists have said they accidentally had the ammo in their bags, which went undetected or ignored by TSA on their outbound trips. But the crack security detail at Providenciales International Airport apparently has the will and the way to ferret out rogue bullets. As for why American tourists are so lazy or blithe to bring their gun bags, complete with stray rounds, on an international vacation when most other countries have far stricter gun laws – how dare you? Those are their special bullet friends.


5/20: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with Tracie McMillan, editor at Capitol & Main covering worker organizing, to discuss her recent book The White Bonus: Five Families and the Cash Value of Racism in America.


Bill Maher Humiliated During Israel-Palestine Debate

Bill Maher has become such a blowhard that he can't see when his guest is making fun of him to his face.

The World Is Burning and Jordan Peterson Is Losing It

Climate scientists are screaming for us to listen to them about the heating planet, but Mr. Clean Your Room doesn't think they're serious people.


"Let me be clear:

The Palestinian people are suffering.

The need to get increased aid to the most vulnerable is urgent.

And our work with Israel to further increase the amount of aid getting into Gaza by land continues."

-- Joe Biden, who may be surprised to learn that he is president of the United States, the country that is arming Israel and providing essential intelligence and diplomatic assistance as it kills tens of thousands of Gazans. Since October 7, the US has sent more than 100 shipments of munitions to the IDF, which has flattened large parts of Gaza.

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