Five Things to Know, May 20, 2024
(Haden Tolbert/Oklahoma National Guard)

Five Things to Know, May 20, 2024

1.   Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported. Raisi was 63. State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. With Raisi were Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

2.   New recruits and incoming officers into the military would not have to undergo mandatory cannabis testing under the House’s version of an annual must-pass defense policy bill. The draft of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act bars the services from requiring an individual to submit to marijuana testing as a condition of enlisting or commissioning. Supporters of the measure believe it will help the military attract recruits at a time when few young people want to or are eligible to serve.

3.   U.S. troops ordered out of Niger by the West African country’s ruling junta will complete their withdrawal by the middle of September, the Pentagon and Nigerien defense officials said Sunday. The timeline was the product of four days of talks between the countries’ defense officials in the capital city of Niamey, according to a joint statement. Niger’s decision to kick out American forces dealt a blow to U.S. military operations in the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara desert where groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate.

4.   Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, said in his inauguration speech Monday that he wants peace with China and urged it to stop its military threats and intimidation of the self-governed island that Beijing claims as its own territory. “I hope that China will face the reality of (Taiwan)’s existence, respect the choices of the people of Taiwan, and in good faith, choose dialogue over confrontation,” Lai said after being sworn into office.

5.   Hundreds of Air Force members in dress blues joined Roger Fortson’s family, friends and others at a suburban Atlanta megachurch on Friday to pay their final respects to the Black senior airman, who was shot and killed in his Florida home earlier this month by a sheriff’s deputy. People lined up well before the start of the service at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest to file past the open coffin and say their goodbyes to Fortson, who was shot six times by a deputy responding to a May 3 call about a possible domestic violence situation at Fortson’s apartment complex in the Florida Panhandle. He was 23.