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Morning news brief

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Ireland, Norway and Spain announced today they will formally recognize an independent Palestinian state. The announcements were made separately, and leaders cited peace as their motivation. Here's Ireland's minister for foreign affairs, Micheal Martin.

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MICHEAL MARTIN: Only a political track can deliver a permanent end to the violence. Today, we state clearly our unambiguous support for the equal right to security, dignity and self-determination for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

FADEL: More than 100 member states of the United Nations recognize a Palestinian state. The U.S. and many Western European countries do not. With me now is journalist Miguel Macias, who is in Spain. Good morning.

MIGUEL MACIAS, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So this has been talked about for a while. It was not quite a secret that it was going to happen. Why now?

MACIAS: Well, over the past month, the Spanish prime minister toured Europe to try to convince other countries to join Spain in recognizing Palestine as an independent state. Sanchez was hoping to get the support of as many countries as possible. That effort had some mixed results. Portugal, for example, said no, thank you. But Sanchez was able to enlist Ireland and Norway, for example, which seemed to have been the determining factor here. Now, in late April, Pedro Sanchez ran into some internal political drama. He even considered resigning for a few days. With today's announcement, Sanchez is delivering on an old promise. He's sending a message to the entire world that he's back in business and fulfilling his political agenda.

FADEL: So, in Spain, where you are, Prime Minister Sanchez spoke today in front of the national parliament. What did he say?

MACIAS: Well, Sanchez was not shy about his criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ: (Speaking Spanish)

MACIAS: Sanchez said that fighting Hamas was necessary, but he said that Netanyahu was generating so much pain, destruction and resentment that a two-state solution is now in danger and could no longer be possible. He also announced that Spain will receive in the next few weeks about 30 children with cancer or other injuries from Gaza to get them treatment. He made it clear that this decision was not against Israel or in support of Hamas. Spain supports Israel, he says. Spain supports Jewish people. But he also offered some perspective.

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SANCHEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

MACIAS: He said once the war is over, when we can look back to this time and really see what is taking place in Gaza, we will see that it was one of the darkest moments of this century. So Sanchez says that he wants Spaniards to be able to say then that they were on the right side of history.

FADEL: Now, do we know what impact this decision actually has, or is this just symbolic?

MACIAS: Well, Spain already has open channels of communication with the Palestinian Authority. There's not a lot that will change here. We could say that it's mostly a symbolic move. But I spoke to Amaia Camacho. She's a Middle East coordinator for (speaking Spanish). That's an NGO that works to provide aid around the world, including the Palestinian territories. And she told me that the fact that Ireland, Norway and possibly more countries are making this move is very important when it comes to a possible peace agreement or for any long-term agreement for that matter. Palestinians will have more leverage, knowing that they have the support of some heavyweights in Europe.

FADEL: And how has Israel reacted?

MACIAS: The most immediate consequence is that the Israeli foreign minister already said that he will be recalling the country's ambassadors for the three states for consultations. That's Ireland, Norway and Spain. Now, Spain's relations with Israel were not the best to start with. Back in December, when Pedro Sanchez visited Israel and was very critical of its war in Gaza, Israel already recalled its ambassador in Spain. Sanchez has said multiple times that they support the state of Israel, but finding that balance between his support of a two-state solution and his support of Israel is proving to be very challenging, if not just impossible.

FADEL: Journalist Miguel Macias in Spain. Thank you, Miguel.

MACIAS: Thank you.

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FADEL: Lawyers for former President Donald Trump and two co-defendants are in court in Florida today asking a federal judge to dismiss the charges against their clients. Trump is charged with taking classified and top-secret material with him to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House and then taking part in a conspiracy to hide documents from federal investigators, charges he's pled not guilty to. NPR's Greg Allen has been following all this and joins us now from Fort Pierce, Fla. Good morning.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Leila.

FADEL: What's happening at today's hearing?

ALLEN: There are nearly a dozen motions to dismiss the case filed by Trump and his co-defendants that are still pending. The two being heard today were filed by Trump aide Walt Nauta. In one, he says he's the victim of a selective and vindictive prosecution. The other motion says prosecutor's case is a personal and political attack against Trump and that the indictment doesn't have a plain summary of the alleged crimes with which Trump and his co-defendants are charged. Prosecutors, of course, disagree, and they lay out the specific actions Trump and his co-defendants took to hide boxes containing classified documents and then to attempt to delete footage from surveillance cameras at Mar-a-Lago.

FADEL: Greg, the trial was originally scheduled to start this week, but the judge decided to delay it indefinitely earlier this month. Can you just remind us why this trial is taking so long to get started?

ALLEN: Well, you know, Trump was first charged nearly a year ago now with taking the classified material and then refusing to return it and hiding it from investigators. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who's been hearing the case, has taken many months to make even routine procedural decisions, which has really slowed down the case. Lawyers for Trump and his two co-defendants, aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a- Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira, have filed a slew of motions, including the two being heard today. Many of the motions contain references to sensitive material about witnesses and the investigation that prosecutors don't want to make public before the trial. Judge Cannon, who's a Trump appointee, has been generally receptive to defense arguments and critical of special counsel Jack Smith in her rulings on this issue, and that's slowed things down as well.

FADEL: And we got some new information this week about the government's search for classified documents, right?

ALLEN: Right. Yeah. An order that up to now was sealed lays out concerns by prosecutors that Trump was still hiding classified documents even after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in 2022. Additional searches were conducted over the next several months, and they turned up more classified material, including some documents that were in Trump's bedroom at Mar-a-Lago.

FADEL: Obviously, the case involves a lot of classified documents - I think we said classified about 10 times since we started talking - so tricky to handle. The jury doesn't have clearance to see them. How has the judge decided to deal with that?

ALLEN: Right. Well, it's another issue that slowed proceedings down considerably. Prosecutors say the documents were marked classified and that Trump withheld them illegally, and they say that's really the only thing that they believe jurors need to know about them. Trump and his lawyers - they'll want to raise some of these documents as evidence in the trial. They question how confidential it was. And they also say some of the material might have been stuff that he was entitled to possess as a former president.

FADEL: Now, one complicating factor for the schedule of this trial has been Trump's hush money trial in New York. That's wrapping up now. Will that speed things up in Florida?

ALLEN: It may, but this case still looks unlikely to begin until the fall at the earliest. On her original schedule, Judge Cannon had set a deadline for last November for deciding what classified material Trump could cite in his defense. She now says she won't take up that issue until July, which is eight months later than the original schedule. If that delay carries through through the rest of the case, that suggests the trial might not start until January, which would be, of course, after the election and raises the question that if Trump is elected president, whether the trial will happen at all.

FADEL: NPR's Greg Allen. Thank you, Greg.

ALLEN: You're welcome.

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FADEL: Ascension is one of the largest health care systems in the country, and it's still dealing with the consequences of a ransomware attack that happened two weeks ago. Health care systems hold a lot of sensitive data on patients, and they are big, well-funded businesses. And these two factors make them increasingly appealing targets for cyberattacks. Olivia Aldridge of member station KUT in Austin has been reporting on the Ascension attack and joins us now with the latest. Good morning, Olivia.

OLIVIA ALDRIDGE, BYLINE: Good morning.

FADEL: So what happened to Ascension hospitals in this hack?

ALDRIDGE: Ascension representatives say they first noticed some unusual activity on some of the various technology networks that they use on May 8. Turns out, they'd experienced a ransomware attack, which is basically a kind of cyberattack where malware is used to essentially capture data files and hold them for ransom.

So in the wake of this, they're unable to access some of their electronic health records systems. Patients can't log into the system to see their own records or connect with their doctors virtually. Some phone systems are down, as well as other systems that they use to order tests, medications and procedures. And this is a nationwide problem because Ascension is in 19 U.S. states and D.C., and any of the hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, other facilities that use those systems I mentioned are being affected.

FADEL: So how is it affecting hospital operations?

ALDRIDGE: So while staff can't access those electronic records, they're having to do everything on paper by hand. A nurse who works in the NICU at a hospital in Austin said this means that staff are writing down orders for medication, imaging and labs at the bedside, and then those paper requests are being delivered by hand to other departments. So that's all taking longer to process. There are delays at every step, and that means it takes doctors longer to be able to order those next steps and care for patients. And I talked to Kris Fuentes at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin. She's a veteran nurse, so she remembers paper charts, but she said the hospital just wasn't prepared for this abrupt switch.

KRIS FUENTES: It's like we went back 20 years, but not even with the tools we had then, so it's a little scary.

ALDRIDGE: During all this, Ascension facilities - they're still operating, but the organization has acknowledged that there are some delays and that some folks might get a call saying an appointment has been postponed or rescheduled. And it's also hitting the system's pharmacies really hard, so people are facing some hurdles getting their prescriptions.

FADEL: And what's Ascension doing to try to deal with all this?

ALDRIDGE: There is an ongoing investigation into how this happened and how to fix it. They're working with cybersecurity experts from a few different firms, and they've looped in federal organizations. That includes the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

FADEL: And it sounds like a lot of privacy could be compromised. What is Ascension telling patients?

ALDRIDGE: So, at this point, they haven't made any announcements about what patient data might have been affected, but they've said that they'll reach out to people if they determine that their data was compromised. And they also still don't have a timeline for when patients and their doctors and nurses can expect things will be back to normal even two weeks into this.

FADEL: Member station KUT's Olivia Aldridge. Thanks, Olivia.

ALDRIDGE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
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