5 things to know for May 24: State visit, Gaza aid, COVID-19, college sports, mortgage rates

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President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcome President William Ruto of Kenya and First Lady Rachel Ruto to the White House for a state dinner.


Memorial Day weekend is here — it's a time to honor members of the U.S. armed forces who died while serving our country. Most major retailers will be open on Monday's federal holiday, but post offices and banks will be closed.

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President Joe Biden is hosting a lavish state visit for Kenyan President William Ruto. It comes as Biden has praised cooperation with Africa and is seeking to build ties with the region's key leaders in response to Russia and China's inroads on the continent. The state visit is one of the highest diplomatic tools used by the White House to honor a top ally, with the carefully planned event aimed at connecting and highlighting the intertwining of American and Kenyan cultures. Former President Barack Obama and other distinguished guests attended a state dinner held in Ruto's honor on Thursday. The visit marks the first time a U.S. president has hosted an African leader since 2008, when President George W. Bush hosted the president of Ghana.

Aid groups have begun distributing humanitarian aid unloaded at a US-built ferry in Gaza to Palestinians after facing significant obstacles on delivery routes. US officials said deliveries were initially hampered by a Hamas drone attack on Israeli forces “several miles” from the ferry, which halted convoy movement. Some trucks on one of the delivery routes were also looted earlier this week. More than 1,000 US troops helped build humanitarian ferries and bridges along Gaza's coast over the past two months, and the operation was launched last week. Since then, more than 500 metric tons of food and other aid have been unloaded and handed over to humanitarian partners, officials say.

The COVID-19 variant KP.2 has become the most commonly found strain in the U.S. in recent weeks, according to the C.D.C. The variant is part of the broader Omicron family — which caused a previous wave of cases in the winter — but does not cause as severe a disease. Between April 28 and May 11, about 30% of new cases in the U.S. were caused by KP.2, compared to less than 16% in the two-week period before that. Health experts say the variant's mutations pose a risk of increased infections and a potential summer wave because existing vaccines may not be as effective. COVID-19 is also settling into some seasonal patterns, including a summer surge in past years, but the exact level of risk for this year is unclear.

The NCAA and the five power conferences have agreed to a deal that will allow schools to pay student-athletes. According to ESPN, sources said the parties have agreed on a plan that will allow each school to share “about $20 million a year” with their athletes – a profound moment that will usher in a new era in college sports. The agreement settles three antitrust cases and includes the payment of more than $2.7 billion in damages to past and present student-athletes. Over the years, many college programs were punished by the NCAA for their players being compensated in some way for their exploits on the field.

Mortgage rates have fallen for a third consecutive week, settling slightly below 7%, according to new data from Freddie Mac. This is positive news for potential home buyers as stubborn inflation in the U.S. has dashed many hopes that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates in the spring or summer. However, financial experts say the housing market recovery will remain stagnant, at least in the short term. The National Association of Realtors reported this week that sales of previously owned homes, which make up the bulk of the U.S. housing market, fell for the second consecutive month in April. This is a stark contrast to the beginning of the year when sales boomed.

The best barbecue from around the world
Barbecue around Memorial Day is an American tradition, but this favorite cooking style extends far beyond America's shores. Take a look at the best barbecue from around the world – from Brazilian and Indian to Korean and Peruvian.

Hundreds of mammoth bones found in a wine cellar
An Australian man discovered giant bones while renovating his wine cellar. Researchers are calling it an “archaeological sensation.”

Construction of a huge underground museum continues in Rome
Rome is building a six-story underground museum—but the treasures are getting in the way, too!

US files suit to separate Ticketmaster and Live Nation
The US government alleges that Ticketmaster's parent company abused its industry dominance to harm concert-goers across the country for years. Here's how this important lawsuit could impact the concert industry.

Celine Dion describes her battle to return to the stage after being diagnosed with stiff person syndrome
The new trailer for her upcoming documentary “I Am: Celine Dion” shows just how much Dion's love of performing live inspires her, despite suffering from stiff person syndrome.

Which airline was rocked by deadly turbulence this week?
A. United Airlines
B. Singapore Airlines
C. American Airlines
D.Qatar Airways

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Last week, 38% of readers who took the quiz answered eight or more questions correctly. How will you fare?

A new study shows that prescriptions for weight loss and diabetes medications among young people have increased by this much since 2020. This rapid increase is partly attributed to the growing popularity of drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy.

“I think this is an attempt to deceive some of our people.”

— Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New YorkReacting to a rally held by former President Donald Trump in the Bronx on Thursday. The event was Trump's first major campaign rally in New York since his initial presidential run in 2016. Both Trump and President Biden have been engaged in wooing minority voters in recent weeks to boost their potential turnout in the November election.

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And finally …

02:50 – Source: CNN

The 77th Cannes Film Festival gets underway in the south of France

Highlights from the 77th Cannes Film Festival
Are you a movie buff too? See which movies have been the most talked about so far at this year's prestigious festival.

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