5 things to know Thursday

Biden to sign COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law

President Joe Biden will sign the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law Thursday during a ceremony at the White House, according to his official schedule. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill Tuesday, which sent it to Biden’s desk. As reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans have drastically climbed for more than a year, the legislation is meant to combat the attacks and racism. After a mass shooting in Georgia in March that killed eight people – six of whom were women of Asian descent – lawmakers in both chambers of Congress called for quick action on the legislation which will become law in May, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Israel unleashes more airstrikes after vowing to press on in Gaza

Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip early Thursday, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding several others. The strikes came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against U.S. pressure to wind down the offensive against Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, who have fired thousands of rockets at Israel. Israel’s Foreign Ministry says ministers from Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia will arrive in the country Thursday “to express their solidarity and support” for Israel during its campaign against Hamas. Israel faces mounting international pressure to de-escalate hostilities after 10 days of heavy fighting in Gaza. President Joe Biden, in his most forceful statement yet on the conflict, told Netanyahu on Wednesday that he expects “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” the White House said. Netanyahu, however, said he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”

Apple introduces new features for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Thursday is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which promotes digital access and inclusion for people living with disabilities. To mark the day, Apple will roll out SignTime, which lets customers communicate with AppleCare and other retail services by using American Sign Language in the United States, British Sign Language in the United Kingdom, and French Sign Language in France through a web browser. Customers visiting Apple Stores in those countries can also use SignTime to remotely access a sign language interpreter without booking one ahead of time. It’s one of several new accessibility features on the way for Apple’s iPhones, Apple Watches and iPads.

‘That ’70s Show,’ ‘The Ranch’ actor Danny Masterson in court facing rape allegations

A judge in Los Angeles will determine whether there is enough evidence for “That ’70s Show” and “The Ranch” star Danny Masterson to stand trial accused of raping three women in the early 2000s.  Graphic testimony at a preliminary hearing Wednesday saw a woman identified in court only as Christina B., who was five years into a relationship with Masterson, say she awoke one night to find he was raping her. On Tuesday, a different woman identifying herself only as Jen B., testified that she was slipping in and out of consciousness when she found Masterson raping her. “The first thing I recall is grabbing his hair to pull him off,” she said. Masterson, 45, has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, has said he would prove his client’s innocence.

PGA Championship tees off in South Carolina

The 103rd PGA Championship begins Thursday from Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course in South Carolina. Collin Morikawa won last year’s event, which was played in August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He will open the tournament alongside 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and 2020 U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau. Tiger Woods, golf’s most recognizable player, is still recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident and will not play.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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