The Guardian 2024-02-03 16:04:31


Middle East crisis: fears of ‘disastrous consequences’ for region after US strikes

Iraq has called the US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran-linked targets a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty” that could have ‘“disastrous consequences” for the region, reports Reuters.

Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for Iraq’s prime minister, said:

These airstrikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government, and pose a threat that could lead Iraq and the region into disastrous consequences.

Full reportUS strikes will have disastrous consequences for region, warns Iraq

US strikes will have disastrous consequences for region, warns Iraq

Attacks on Friday also described as ‘a strategic mistake’ by Iran, which insisted no Revolutionary Guards were present in areas hit

  • Middle East crisis – live updates

The US reprisal strikes in Syria and Iraq will have disastrous consequences for the region, the military spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, has warned. Maj Gen Yahya Rasool’s response was one of many from inside the Iraqi government that furiously condemned a violation of its sovereignty.

The US military launched airstrikes on Friday against more than 85 targets linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the militias it backs, in retaliation for last weekend’s drone attack in Jordan that killed three US troops. Iraq’s Anbar Operations Command reported 16 fatalities and 25 injuries, but no official death toll has been issued.

Iran claimed the attacks would only hasten the withdrawal of US troops from both countries and insisted that no Revolutionary Guards had been present in the areas struck by US forces, a claim that will be tested in the hours ahead.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, said it was “an adventurous action and a strategic mistake that will result in increased tension and instability in the region”, adding that the attacks would only lead to the US government becoming “more engaged” in the region than it was before.

The US decision to strike inside Iraq, relayed to the Iraqi government in advance, was always a high risk since political pressure has been mounting in the Iraqi parliament for months to conclude negotiations that end with an agreement for US troops to withdraw.

Initial responses suggested that political pressure on the US would now build, especially if the death toll of 16 inside Iraq started to rise. The relatively low death toll for the size of the attack reflects the warnings the militias received that an attack was imminent.

Bassem al-Awadi, an Iraqi government spokesman, said: “Iraq reiterates its refusal to let its lands be an arena for settling scores, and all parties must realise this. Our country’s land and sovereignty are not the appropriate place to send messages and show force between opponents.

“At the same time, we affirm that the presence of the international coalition, which has deviated from the tasks assigned to it and the mandate granted to it, has become a reason for threatening security and stability in Iraq and a justification for involving Iraq in regional and international conflicts.

“The Iraqi government will make every effort required by moral, national, and constitutional responsibility to protect our land, our cities, and the lives of our children in all types of armed forces.”

The spokesman added that “the US had deliberately tried to deceive public opinion and falsified the facts by claiming there had been prior consultations with the government before the attacks were mounted”.

Britain called the US its “steadfast” ally on Saturday and said it supported Washington’s right to respond to the attacks.

“The UK and US are steadfast allies. We wouldn’t comment on their operations, but we support their right to respond to attacks,” a British government spokesperson said.

“We have long condemned Iran’s destabilising activity throughout the region, including its political, financial and military support to a number of militant groups.”

Iranian sources said there had been no direct contact between Washington and Tehran before the attacks, but messages had been sent via third parties that a US attack on Iranian soil would be viewed differently from attacks on Iraq and Syria.

Rasool, the spokesperson for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, gave details of where the strikes had been launched within Iraq and said on X: “These strikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, an undermining of the efforts of the Iraqi government, and a threat that will drag Iraq and the region into unforeseen consequences, the consequences of which will be disastrous for security and stability in Iraq and the region.”

The Iranian backed groups inside Iraq have coalesced into a loose coalition termed Islamic Resistance in Iraq and contain at least six different militia. Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful of these groups and the one responsible for the drone attack that killed three US soldiers a week ago on the Jordan-Syria border, announced two days ago that it was suspending its operations against US bases. The claim was met with scepticism from the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin.

Imran Khan and his wife sentenced in ‘un-Islamic’ marriage case

Imran Khan and his wife sentenced in ‘un-Islamic’ marriage case

Pakistani former PM says case was created to ‘humiliate’ him and Bushra Bibi, who were sentenced to seven years each

A local court in Pakistan has sentenced Imran Khan, the country’s former prime minister, and his wife to seven years each in a case related to their marriage, which it declared “un-Islamic”.

Khan and Bushra Bibi were both last week separately handed 14-year sentences in a corruption case, known as Toshakhana, for illegally selling state gifts.

The verdict was announced on Saturday in the “un-Islamic marriage case”, which was filed by Bushra Bibi’s former husband.

It was the third sentence handed to Khan in a week. It was given at a hearing in the Rawalpindi prison, where he has been incarcerated since August and is facing more than 100 different charges.

After his conviction in the “iddat” case for not waiting 40 days to remarry after Bibi’s divorce, Khan told the reporters the case was created to “humiliate and disgrace” him and his wife.

“This marks the first instance in history where a case related to iddat has been initiated,” Khan said.

The timing of the three convictions is viewed as significant by observers, coming days before the general election scheduled for 8 February. Khan is banned from running in the election but he remains popular among voters.

Civil society, experts and analysts criticised the verdict. Hamid Mir, a renowned journalist and analyst, said: “The verdict is disgraceful for the judiciary.”

Reema Umer, a law expert, wrote on X: “The proceedings + convictions in the ‘iddat case’ (or specifically, ‘going through a marriage ceremony fraudulently without being lawfully married’) are a damning blot on our justice system.

“Horrifying the state stooped this low seemingly just to humiliate IK, Bushra Bibi.”

Khan was toppled from power in 2022 after a constitutional vote of no confidence against him, but he claims that the cases brought against him are politically motivated and denies any wrongdoing.

After his ousting, Khan started attacking the powerful military who once brought him to power and accused the serving military chief of having personal grudges against him. The country’s military has long been accused of meddling in politics.

Khan’s party leaders have parted ways or are behind the bars, and party workers have faced a severe crackdown. Khan’s party accused the state of not allowing them to campaign for the coming elections and arresting their workers and leaders.

Syed Zulfikar Bukhari, Khan’s close aide and media adviser, said the latest conviction was a fake case and that he had been a witness to the marriage.

“Is this all that’s left in the country and courts or systems to do? In a way it’s a victory for Imran Khan. Pakistan has stooped to a level where the whole politics is now about someone’s marriage or divorce,” Bukhari said.

Michelle O’Neill becomes first minister in historic breakthrough for Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill appointed first minister as Stormont reconvenes

Northern Ireland assembly members gather to restore power sharing after two-year DUP boycott

Northern Ireland’s devolved government has reconvened and appointed Michelle O’Neill as first minister in a historic moment for Sinn Féin and Irish nationalism.

The Stormont assembly nominated the County Tyrone republican as the region’s first nationalist first minister.

O’Neill avoided triumphalism and made no explicit mention of Irish unity in an inaugural address that focused on reconciliation and bread-and-butter issues.

“Wherever we come from, whatever our aspirations, we can and must build our future together,” she said. “We must make power sharing work because collectively, we are charged with leading and delivering for all our people, for every community.”

The appointment of a republican first minister represented “a new dawn” unimaginable to previous generations that grew up with discrimination against Catholics, said O’Neill. “That state is now gone.”

O’Neill will jointly lead the executive with Emma Little-Pengelly, a Democratic Unionist who was nominated deputy first minister, a post with equal power but less prestige.

The devolved government reconvened after the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) walked out of Stormont on 3 February 2022 in protest against post-Brexit trading arrangements that it said undermined the region’s place in the UK. The party agreed to end the boycott this week after its leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, wrung concessions from the UK government that smoothed the so-called Irish Sea border.

O’Neill, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader, became first minister in accordance with a May 2022 assembly election in which the republican party overtook the DUP as the biggest party, a seismic symbolic and psychological shift.

The former DUP leader, Edwin Poots, was elected as speaker by members.

O’Neill had played down constitutional issues in the run-up to the sitting but earlier this week Sinn Féin’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said Irish unity was now within “touching distance”.

Sinn Féin, the DUP, the Alliance and the Ulster Unionist party will share ministerial positions using the D’Hondt mechanism based on party strengths, with the exception of the justice ministry, which is decided using a cross-community vote. The Social Democratic and Labour party will form the executive’s opposition.

The executive faces a daunting list of problems including a fiscal crisis, crumbling public services and eroded faith in democracy.

Stormont’s restoration will release a £3.3bn package – including pay rises for public sector workers who have staged multiple strikes – that the UK government had made available, conditional on the revival of institutions set up under the 1998 Good Friday agreement. Donaldson said the parties would seek additional funding from the Treasury. “The finance piece is unfinished business which we intend to finish.”

Business leaders and the Irish government have welcomed the return of power sharing, saying it should provide stability after years of Brexit-related convulsions.

The new rules to smooth trade across the Irish Sea were unveiled by the government on Wednesday. The measures remove routine checks on goods from Great Britain that are destined to remain in Northern Ireland and replace them with a “UK internal market system” for goods that remain within the UK.

The House of Commons approved the changes on Thursday without a formal vote, despite Brexiters’ concerns about the region remaining under EU law.

ExplainerWhat does return to power sharing mean for NI?

What does return to power sharing mean for Northern Ireland?

After a two-year DUP boycott, the Northern Ireland assembly is to reconvene with a Sinn Féin first minister

Power sharing will return to Northern Ireland on Saturday after two years, with Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill making history as she becomes the first nationalist first minister. Here are answers to some of the key questions surrounding the historic event.

What is happening at Stormont on Saturday?

Members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) will return to Parliament Buildings in Belfast after a political impasse that has lasted for two years. Several previous attempts to restart the devolved government have failed since the 2022 assembly elections.

This time the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) has stated it will support the restoration of the power-sharing executive, which needs the support of the largest parties in unionism and nationalism to operate.

This will end the deadlock, allowing a new speaker to be elected and clearing the path for parliamentary business to resume.

Michelle O’Neill, of Sinn Féin, will be nominated as first minister, while a DUP MLA will fill the role of deputy first minister. The party has not yet confirmed who it will nominate, although speculation has suggested Emma Little-Pengelly could take the position.

Then a series of ministers will be appointed using the D’Hondt mechanism, which measures party strengths. Ministers will be appointed to the departments of health, education, finance, economy, communities, infrastructure and agriculture, environment and rural affairs.

A justice minister will also be appointed on Saturday, although the rules are different for this department as the minister needs to have cross-community support.

Sinn Féin will be entitled to three ministries, the DUP and the Alliance parties two and the Ulster Unionists one. The Social Democratic and Labour party did not win enough Stormont seats to gain a ministry and will go into opposition.

What is different this time?

At the 2022 assembly election, Sinn Féin emerged as the largest party in Northern Ireland for the first time. This means their Stormont leader, O’Neill, will make history as the first nationalist first minister in the region’s history.

The republican party has emphasised that this is a moment of significance, with the party leader, Mary Lou McDonald, stating that their ultimate goal of Irish unity is now within “touching distance”.

However, under the rules of power sharing, the offices of first and deputy first minister, filled by the largest parties from the nationalist and unionist communities, have equal authority. All decisions are taken on a joint basis.

What happens after Saturday?

The business of governing Northern Ireland will begin. A first meeting of the executive will take place early next week followed by the first plenary session of the new assembly. Party leaders from executive parties have already met to discuss the immediate priorities to be addressed.

Ministers will have bulging in-trays. Long periods without devolved government, combined with a series of budget crises in Stormont departments, have had a damaging impact on public services.

As part of the negotiations that led to Stormont’s return, the UK government offered a £3.3bn package to stabilise Northern Ireland’s finances, including £600m to settle public sector pay claims.

Ministers will be expected to begin making decisions quickly to alleviate some of the pressures facing public services.

Why has there not been a devolved government for two years?

During the Brexit divorce talks, the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, negotiated the Northern Ireland protocol with the EU to ensure the continued free movement of goods on the island of Ireland.

However, this led to the requirement for checks on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and was deeply unpopular with unionists, who described it as an Irish Sea border.

After feeling that Westminster was not responding adequately to his concerns, the DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, collapsed the Stormont power-sharing institutions when he withdrew Paul Givan as first minister two years ago.

In response, the new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, negotiated the Windsor framework with the EU, introducing new rules on the movement of goods and a veto for the implementation of EU law in Northern Ireland.

However, Donaldson insisted this did not go far enough, leading to months of protracted negotiations that have culminated in the command paper Safeguarding the Union, published by the government this week.

Why has the DUP agreed to the deal?

Donaldson has insisted the new arrangements have removed the Irish Sea trading border and restored Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market.

The deal will end routine post-Brexit checks on goods shipped from Great Britain to final destinations in Northern Ireland, as well as introduce measures aimed at providing assurances around Northern Ireland’s constitutional position within the UK.

The DUP leader says this is the best deal that could be achieved for the people of Northern Ireland and it persuaded him to end the DUP boycott. He has long argued in favour of restoring devolved government, providing his concerns over post-Brexit trade and sovereignty were addressed.

Does this represent a major change to the trading arrangements agreed with Brussels?

It depends who you listen to.

Donaldson says his party has delivered “fundamental change” to the Windsor framework by ending routine checks on goods moving from Great Britain to, and staying in, Northern Ireland.

Downing Street, however, has insisted the measures unveiled on Wednesday and approved by MPs on Thursday do not require specific EU sign-off, characterising them instead as “operational” changes to the framework, without altering the “fundamentals” of the bilateral deal.

Does anyone oppose the DUP leader’s move?

Not everyone in the DUP supports accepting the arrangements. A meeting of the party’s ruling executive, where Donaldson presented the proposals to members, lasted for more than five hours on Monday night.

He was ultimately able to secure the backing of the executive, insisting the margin of support was “decisive”, and the endorsement of the majority of his 12 party officers.

However, just hours after the command paper was published on Wednesday, the senior DUP MP Sammy Wilson launched a scathing broadside against the government in the House of Commons, in a clear sign of the differing opinions at the highest levels of the party.

The arch-Brexiter claimed the ongoing application of EU law in Northern Ireland was the result of a “spineless, weak-kneed, Brexit-betraying government, refusing to take on the EU and its interference in Northern Ireland”.

On top of internal tensions, Donaldson faces criticism from some in the wider unionist and loyalist community.

On Thursday night, the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party, Jim Allister, and a loyalist activist addressed a meeting of unionists and loyalists opposed to the deal. They have insisted the Irish Sea trading border has not been removed.

On Friday, Allister a legal opinion commissioned by himself and others from Northern Ireland’s former attorney general John Larkin.

Key among the questions asked of Larkin were whether the plans set out in the command paper would: restore the 1800 Acts of Union; remove a customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea; and ensure “zero checks and zero paperwork” for goods from Great Britain destined for Northern Ireland.

Larkin argued they achieved none of those objectives.

However, Donaldson has rejected the findings of the legal opinion, stating that he “fundamentally disagreed” with it.

Sinn FéinWith Michelle O’Neill in first minister post, has the republicans’ day come at last?

With Sinn Féin in first minister post, has the republicans’ day come at last?

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent

Michelle O’Neill has taken the top job but Irish unity is unlikely to be ‘within touching distance’

The elevation of Michelle O’Neill as Northern Ireland’s first minister is a historic moment that breathes new life into the republican slogan “tiocfaidh ár lá” – “our day will come”.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader, a working-class republican, has taken charge of a state that was designed in 1921 to enshrine a unionist majority in perpetuity, and that the IRA vowed to destroy.

Even in 1998, when the Good Friday agreement drew a line under the Troubles, it seemed inconceivable that the IRA’s political wing, the fourth-biggest party, would one day claim the top post at the Stormont executive.

But the Democratic Unionist party’s decision to drop a boycott of power sharing in return for an easing of post-Brexit trade arrangements means that O’Neill, 47, has belatedly become first minister in accordance with the 2022 assembly election, when Sinn Féin pipped the DUP as the biggest party.

The former deputy first minister – a post with equal power but less prestige that the DUP will now occupy – has been sworn in amid the marbled grandeur of an edifice once regarded as a Protestant assembly for a Protestant people.

It could appear that nationalism’s day has finally come. Sinn Féin’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald, this week spoke of a “historical turning of the wheel” and said Irish unity was “within touching distance”.

Except it’s not. Political and demographic winds blow favourably but the republican dream remains distant. The party’s breakthrough at Stormont has symbolic and psychological force but does not signify a looming united Ireland.

Paradoxically, O’Neill’s ascent could cement Northern Ireland’s position in the UK by restoring stability and confidence in the status quo.

The region divides roughly into three camps: 40% nationalist, 40% unionist and 20% non-aligned who tend to favour staying in the UK. Some change is under way. In local elections last year, first-preference votes for pro-unification parties for the first time outnumbered those who backed pro-union parties and candidates.

But a recent Irish Times opinion poll found that 30% would vote for unification in a referendum versus 51% that would vote against, with the rest undecided or inclined to abstain. Other polls have consistently shown a clear majority favour remaining in the UK, albeit with fluctuating margins.

This has endured despite Catholics now outnumbering Protestants; despite Brexit, which most people opposed; despite crumbling public services; and despite the Republic of Ireland becoming wealthy, secular and pluralist.

Sinn Féin has advanced not by attracting centrist voters but by cannibalising its nationalist rival, the Social Democratic and Labour party (SDLP). The nationalist bloc is largely static and coalescing around one party while the unionist bloc is shrinking and more split, denting unionist parties but not necessarily their cause – a dynamic seen in Scotland.

“I don’t think there ever will be a unionist first minister in Northern Ireland again. It’s over,” said Jon Tonge, a University of Liverpool politics professor and authority on unionism. “It’s not that the union is over but the unionist state is over.”

Tonge notes that O’Neill shuns the name Northern Ireland in favour of the “north of Ireland”, a jab at partition. “It’s astonishing that Sinn Féin can ascend to such electoral heights while still refusing to recognise Northern Ireland as a political entity.”

The republican party will continue to lobby for a referendum, which only a secretary of state can call, and project a sense of inevitability about unification.

But to sustain support – and to show voters in the Irish republic it can be trusted with power – it must focus on improving Northern Ireland’s economy, public services and infrastructure. To show, in other words, that the state it wants to abolish works.

Michelle O’NeillThe Sinn Féin leader from an IRA family who has vowed to respect the royals

Michelle O’Neill: Sinn Féin leader from IRA family who has vowed to respect royals

She’s pledged to be first minister ‘for all’ and her ability to navigate political tensions will shape her Stormont tenure

When Michelle O’Neill is sworn in as Northern Ireland’s first minister, it will be a moment of personal triumph steeped in irony.

As a teenage mother, she was treated as if she had the “plague”, and wept, yet went on to ascend the ranks of Sinn Féin and is now poised to make history as the first nationalist to lead Northern Ireland – a state that, in theory, she wishes to eradicate.

There is little expectation of republican thunder when O’Neill takes her post in the gilded chamber of Stormont on Saturday. She has pledged to be a first minister “for all”, unionists as well as nationalists, and to show respect to the royal family.

Yet the 47-year-old comes from an IRA family, defends the legitimacy of IRA violence, and honours IRA members who died during the Troubles. How she navigates the tension between these positions will shape her tenure at the helm of an executive that faces immense challenges after two years of political paralysis.

O’Neill should have become first minister in May 2022 after Sinn Féin overtook the Democratic Unionist party in an assembly election. But the DUP boycotted power-sharing in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements, leaving Stormont mothballed until a deal with the government coaxed it back this week.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader will head an executive with a DUP deputy first minister who has equal power but less prestige. The two parties, in coalition with Alliance and the Ulster Unionist party, inherit a fiscal crisis, crumbling public services, creaking infrastructure and widespread cynicism about Stormont’s capacity to fix things. Republicans will want progress towards unification, while unionists will want to anchor themselves in the UK.

Solomon and Machiavelli might have passed up such a job as impossible, but O’Neill has professed optimism and keenness to “work together with all parties to deliver on the needs and aspirations of workers, families and businesses”.

Sexist jibes will not help. Since entering the public eye as a minister and deputy first minister, O’Neill has had to field comments on her appearance. “The beauty from a family drenched in blood,” the Daily Mail declared in 2017. “Glossy blonde hair. Bright lipstick. Curled eyelashes. Painted nails. Figure-hugging outfits. Michelle O’Neill certainly isn’t what we expected.”

When Arlene Foster was a DUP first minister, she was pressed in an interview to sum up her Sinn Féin colleague in a word. “Blonde,” she replied.

If wounded, O’Neill did not show it. Her public persona is of an open, affable, down-to-earth politician who gets on with her work. Officials at Stormont say she is the same when cameras are not rolling. “No airs, easy to get on with,” said one.

O’Neill’s background did not hint at a future hobnobbing in Washington, London and Brussels. She was born Michelle Doris into a working-class family in Clonoe, a village in County Tyrone. Her father, Brendan Doris, was an IRA prisoner and an uncle, Paul Doris, raised funds for the group. Two cousins, IRA members, were shot by security forces, one fatally.

Aged 15, she became pregnant and recalled being treated at school “like I was a plague”. At home she collapsed and sobbed. “I’ll never forget that experience and I thought, ‘Nobody will ever treat me like this again,’” she told the Irish Times in 2021.

O’Neill’s family helped care for her baby daughter while she completed her A-levels and trained as a welfare rights adviser. In 2005 she won a seat on Dungannon borough council that had previously been held by her father and went on to become a protege of Francie Molloy, a Sinn Féin assembly member, and Martin McGuinness, the party’s dominant figure alongside Gerry Adams.

After she was elected to Stormont in 2007, the party hopscotched her over more senior colleagues by appointing her agriculture minister in 2011, health minister in 2015 and deputy first minister in 2017 after McGuinness’s death.

“Initially she was seen as a puppet for Adams and the boys,” said Shane Ross, a former Irish government minister and author of a biography of McDonald, using a euphemism for IRA veterans suspected of behind-the-scenes influence. “But she has grown in stature. Her authority is growing. She’s certainly able enough.”

O’Neill, now a grandmother, has reached out to unionists by attending King Charles’s coronation and occasionally referring to “Northern Ireland” rather than the “north of Ireland”. She has also accepted Police Service of Northern Ireland protection, a break with the Sinn Féin tradition of using republican bodyguards.

But she defends the IRA’s armed campaign up to the 1998 Good Friday agreement, saying there was “no alternative”, and attends memorials for former members, including a large funeral in 2020 during Covid restrictions.

“It’s hypocritical to go and shake hands with various dignitaries but not condemn the killing of innocent people who were just doing an honest day’s work,” said Roy Crawford, an Ulster Unionist councillor for Fermanagh and Omagh district council. An IRA bomb killed his father, Ivan Crawford, a part-time Royal Ulster Constabulary officer, in 1987. “Justice has not been got. The killers are running free,” he said. “I’m only one of many.”

Still, the unionist expressed hope about Stormont’s restoration. “We are entering a new phase of history. We don’t know what the future holds for us. We hope it’s something tangible and positive.”

Family of teen who murdered trans girl praise victim’s mother for ‘incredible selflessness’

Family of Brianna Ghey murderer apologise and pay tribute to mother

Scarlett Jenkinson’s relatives thank Esther Ghey for ‘incredible selflessness and empathy towards our family’

The family of Scarlett Jenkinson, who was sentenced to a minimum of 22 years for the murder of Brianna Ghey, have said they are “truly sorry” for the teenage killer’s “brutal” actions and paid tribute to Brianna’s mother.

Jenkinson, described by the judge as the “driving force” behind the murder, was sentenced on Friday for what the Crown Prosecution Service said was “one of the most disturbing cases” its lawyers had ever dealt with. Her accomplice, Eddie Ratcliffe, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Both were 15 when they carried out their plan to murder Brianna, 16, in a “frenzied and ferocious” attack with a hunting knife in February last year. They were identified for the first time as they were sentenced on Friday after the judge lifted reporting restrictions.

In a statement released on Friday, Jenkinson’s family said: “All of our thoughts are for Brianna and her family.

“The last 12 months have been beyond our worst nightmares as we have come to realise the brutal truth of Scarlett’s actions. We agree with the jury’s verdict, the judge’s sentence and the decision to name the culprits.”

After the killers were convicted, Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, called for “empathy and compassion” for their families as “they too have lost a child” and “must live the rest of their lives knowing what their child has done”.

Jenkinson’s family, saying their lives had been left “in turmoil”, thanked Brianna’s mother for her “incredible selflessness and empathy towards our family”.

“Her compassion is overwhelming and we are forever grateful,” they said. “To all of Brianna’s family and friends, our community and everyone else that has been affected by this horror, we are truly sorry.”

Jenkinson, 16, had “enjoyed” the killing and found the thought of violence “sexually arousing”, Manchester crown court heard.

Ratcliffe had expressed transphobia in relation to the victim, Mrs Justice Yip ruled.

Yip said Jenkinson was motivated by a “deep desire to kill” and pronounced her concern on hearing that the teenager had “expressed the desire to kill again” after her conviction. After her detention, she had written a new “kill list”, which included the names of some of her carers, the court heard.

To both defendants, the judge said: “You picked Brianna because you both thought she would be an easy target.”

Yip warned the pair they may never be released if they “remain a danger”. Though Jenkinson pleaded not guilty to the murder, Manchester crown court heard that since her conviction she had admitted taking part in the stabbing, having previously blamed Ratcliffe for the murder.

Jenkinson told a psychiatrist she had stabbed Brianna “repeatedly” and had found it “exciting” because she thought Brianna would stop being her friend. She murdered Brianna so she would “always be with her”, the court heard.

Jenkinson, who was obsessed with serial killers, also admitted to the psychiatrist that she “intended to take parts of Brianna’s body as a token”. She had previously told Ratcliffe she wanted to keep Brianna’s “pretty eyes”.

The court heard that Brianna was stabbed 28 times but there was no evidence that the killers took body parts.

Family of teen who murdered trans girl praise victim’s mother for ‘incredible selflessness’

Family of Brianna Ghey murderer apologise and pay tribute to mother

Scarlett Jenkinson’s relatives thank Esther Ghey for ‘incredible selflessness and empathy towards our family’

The family of Scarlett Jenkinson, who was sentenced to a minimum of 22 years for the murder of Brianna Ghey, have said they are “truly sorry” for the teenage killer’s “brutal” actions and paid tribute to Brianna’s mother.

Jenkinson, described by the judge as the “driving force” behind the murder, was sentenced on Friday for what the Crown Prosecution Service said was “one of the most disturbing cases” its lawyers had ever dealt with. Her accomplice, Eddie Ratcliffe, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Both were 15 when they carried out their plan to murder Brianna, 16, in a “frenzied and ferocious” attack with a hunting knife in February last year. They were identified for the first time as they were sentenced on Friday after the judge lifted reporting restrictions.

In a statement released on Friday, Jenkinson’s family said: “All of our thoughts are for Brianna and her family.

“The last 12 months have been beyond our worst nightmares as we have come to realise the brutal truth of Scarlett’s actions. We agree with the jury’s verdict, the judge’s sentence and the decision to name the culprits.”

After the killers were convicted, Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, called for “empathy and compassion” for their families as “they too have lost a child” and “must live the rest of their lives knowing what their child has done”.

Jenkinson’s family, saying their lives had been left “in turmoil”, thanked Brianna’s mother for her “incredible selflessness and empathy towards our family”.

“Her compassion is overwhelming and we are forever grateful,” they said. “To all of Brianna’s family and friends, our community and everyone else that has been affected by this horror, we are truly sorry.”

Jenkinson, 16, had “enjoyed” the killing and found the thought of violence “sexually arousing”, Manchester crown court heard.

Ratcliffe had expressed transphobia in relation to the victim, Mrs Justice Yip ruled.

Yip said Jenkinson was motivated by a “deep desire to kill” and pronounced her concern on hearing that the teenager had “expressed the desire to kill again” after her conviction. After her detention, she had written a new “kill list”, which included the names of some of her carers, the court heard.

To both defendants, the judge said: “You picked Brianna because you both thought she would be an easy target.”

Yip warned the pair they may never be released if they “remain a danger”. Though Jenkinson pleaded not guilty to the murder, Manchester crown court heard that since her conviction she had admitted taking part in the stabbing, having previously blamed Ratcliffe for the murder.

Jenkinson told a psychiatrist she had stabbed Brianna “repeatedly” and had found it “exciting” because she thought Brianna would stop being her friend. She murdered Brianna so she would “always be with her”, the court heard.

Jenkinson, who was obsessed with serial killers, also admitted to the psychiatrist that she “intended to take parts of Brianna’s body as a token”. She had previously told Ratcliffe she wanted to keep Brianna’s “pretty eyes”.

The court heard that Brianna was stabbed 28 times but there was no evidence that the killers took body parts.

President restates support for Ukraine after Crimea remarks

Polish president restates support for Ukraine after Crimea remarks

Andrzej Duda sparked row after saying he was unsure if Kyiv could regain control of Russian-occupied Crimea

Poland’s president has declared he has always been unwavering in his support for Ukraine after being criticised for saying he was unsure whether Kyiv would be able to regain control of Crimea.

Warsaw has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters since Russia invaded the country in 2022 and has said Ukraine must regain control over all of its territory in order to deter Moscow from further aggression.

Andrzej Duda reiterated this position during an interview on the YouTube channel Kanal Zero on Friday. However, when asked if he believed Ukraine would really be able to retake Crimea, he said: “It is hard for me to answer that question. I don’t know if [Ukraine] will regain Crimea, but I believe it will regain Donetsk and Luhansk.”

He said the Crimean peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014, was “a special place … also for historical reasons. Because in fact, if we look historically, it was in Russia’s hands for most of the time”.

Parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine were also taken by Moscow-backed forces in 2014 and have been embattled during the course of the current war, unlike Crimea. Ukraine has vowed to recover every inch of its territory, including Crimea.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Poland, Vasyl Zvarych, wrote on X: “Crimea is Ukraine: it is and will remain so. The de-occupation of Crimea is our shared task and obligation with the free world.”

Duda’s remarks were criticised by lawmakers from Poland’s ruling pro-European coalition, who are in a different political camp to the president.

The president is an ally of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, which lost power in December after failing to build a coalition following the loss of its majority in an October election.

Roman Giertych, a lawmaker from the largest grouping in the government, Civic Coalition (KO), wrote on X: “I would like to remind Mr Duda that there are cities in our country that in their history belonged to Poland for a shorter time than to another country. What an incredibly stupid statement!”

On Saturday, Duda sought to defuse the row, saying in a post on X that his “actions and position on Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine have been and are clear from day one”.

He added: “Russia’s attack on Ukraine and occupation of internationally recognised territories of Ukraine, including Crimea, is a crime … We all stand shoulder to shoulder for a free, sovereign and independent Ukraine against aggression and brutal imperialism!”

Meanwhile, two Ukrainian drones struck a primary oil processing facility at the Volgograd oil refinery in southern Russia on Saturday in an operation conducted by the SBU security service, a Ukrainian source told Reuters.

Local authorities in Russia said earlier that a fire had been extinguished at the large refinery, owned by Lukoil, after a drone attack.

The strike is the latest in a recent series of Ukrainian drone attacks targeting Russian oil facilities, infrastructure that Kyiv sees as important for the Kremlin’s war effort.

The source in Kyiv told Reuters such drone attacks would continue. “By hitting oil refineries working for the Russian military-industrial complex, we not only cut off the logistics of fuel supplies for enemy equipment, but also reduce the filling of the Russian budget,” the source said.

The distance from the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and the southern Russian city of Volgograd is more than 370 miles (600km).

Russia has been conducting regular long-range missile strikes on targets in Ukraine since the beginning of its invasion, prompting Kyiv to find a way to close the gap on Moscow’s more advanced military technology. It has sought to spur innovation in drone technology and to support the production of long-range drones.

E Jean Carroll lawyer says he used coded version of C-word against her

E Jean Carroll lawyer says Trump used coded version of C-word against her

Roberta Kaplan says ex-president directed ‘See you next Tuesday’ remark at her after deposition in unrelated case at Mar-a-Lago

E Jean Carroll’s attorney says Donald Trump used a coded expression to call her the C-word during a deposition before she helped the magazine columnist win an $83.3m verdict in her defamation case against the former president.

Roberta Kaplan shared the anecdote during an appearance Friday on the George Conway Explains It All podcast, saying it happened while Trump was deposed at his Mar-a-Lago resort as part of an unrelated, since-dismissed case in which he faced accusations of collaborating with a fraudulent marketing company.

As Kaplan told it, at the end of the questioning, Trump’s attorneys ensured the two sides were no longer on the record before he looked at her and remarked: “See you next Tuesday.”

The phrase is well-known, thinly veiled code for perhaps the most offensive misogynistic insult that can be directed at a woman, combining words that sound like the first two letters of the word – “C” and “U” – along with words that start with the letters “N” and “T”.

Kaplan told Conway that she initially didn’t understand the meaning of what Trump said because the opposing sides weren’t scheduled to meet that upcoming Tuesday. “I, thank God, had no idea what that meant, so I said to him, ‘What are you talking about? I’m coming back on Wednesday,’” Kaplan remarked. “Literally, it was an honest answer. I had no idea what he’s talking about.”

Colleagues of Kaplan informed her what Trump had meant by saying “see you next Tuesday” once they were all in their car driving away from Trump’s property, she said.

“That is a teenage boy-level joke,” the podcast co-host Sarah Longwell said.

Kaplan replied: “Had I known, I for sure would have gotten angry … I looked like I was being above it all, which I wasn’t. I just did not know.”

Conway – a conservative attorney formerly married to Trump’s White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway – punctuated Kaplan’s recollections by saying: “So that’s just an amazing story.”

According to Kaplan, Trump had also thrown a temper tantrum that day when his legal team offered to provide lunch to Kaplan and her associates.

“There was a huge pile of documents, exhibits, sitting in front of him, and he took the pile and he just threw it across the table – and stormed out of the room,” Kaplan said.

That claim about Trump throwing papers across a table in particular called to mind another anecdote produced by testimony to the congressional committee that investigated the Capitol attack staged by the ex-president’s supporters after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden. A former White House aide testified that Trump angrily threw a plate of food at a wall in the White House – smearing it with ketchup – after his attorney general at the time publicly denied Trump’s lies that there had been voter fraud in the race won by Biden.

Friday’s remarks from Kaplan are also sure to open Trump to renewed criticism over his mistreatment of women.

Kaplan represented Carroll in a separate legal matter that saw the former Elle magazine writer sue Trump on accusations that he sexually abused her in a department store changing room in the mid-1990s. Carroll’s lawsuit asserted that Trump then defamed her as he attacked her credibility.

On 26 January, a jury in federal court in New York awarded Carroll $18.3m in compensatory damages as well as $65m in punitive retribution over defamatory statements that Trump made against her. Those damages were in addition to an award of about $5m that the presumptive 2024 Republican White House nominee was ordered to pay in May after being found liable for abusing Carroll.

Trump has said he intends to appeal the recent verdict awarded to Carroll, which came as he grapples with more than 90 criminal charges in various jurisdictions for subversion of the 2020 election, illegal retention of government secrets after he left the Oval Office, and hush-money payments to an adult film actor who has alleged extramarital sex with him.

For her part, Kaplan appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday and expressed confidence that her team would be able to collect the judgment against Trump.

“We might not get it right way,” she said. “But one way or the other, he owns a lot of real estate. It can be sold.”

Model Poonam Pandey fakes death to raise cervical cancer awareness

Indian model Poonam Pandey fakes death to raise cervical cancer awareness

Reality TV star reveals social media stunt and says she is proud of what ‘death news has been able to achieve’

An Indian model who faked her own death in a publicity stunt to raise awareness about cervical cancer has defended her actions, saying in a social media post that she was proud of what her “death news has been able to achieve”.

Poonam Pandey, a 32-year-old reality TV star and former Bollywood actor who shot to fame in 2011 when she promised she would strip for the India cricket team if they won the Cricket World Cup, was said to have died on Friday.

In a statement that appeared to be from her management team, her 1.3 million followers were informed on Instagram: “This morning is a tough one for us. Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. Every living form that ever came in contact with her was met with pure love and kindness.”

Her team confirmed in media statements that Pandey had “bravely fought the disease” but had “tragically passed away”. “Her unwavering spirit amidst her health struggles was truly remarkable,” her manager, Nikita Sharma, told reporters, adding that there was a “critical need for increased awareness and proactive measures against preventable diseases like cervical cancer”.

Colleagues and co-stars posted about their sadness and grief on social media, and a flurry of obituaries were published, but others were sceptical, pointing out that footage of Pandey looking healthy and enjoying a boat ride in Goa had been posted on social media four days earlier.

Pandey then conceded in a video that she “didn’t die” and apologised to her followers for shocking them.

“Yes, I faked my demise. Extreme, I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren’t we?” Pandey said. “I am proud of what my death news has been able to achieve.”

“Unlike some other cancers, cervical cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease. Let’s empower one another with critical awareness and ensure every woman is informed about the steps to take.”

She then urged her followers to “bring #DeathToCervicalCancer”.

According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for nearly one-quarter of the world’s cervical cancer cases, with more than 200 women losing their lives every day to the disease.

Health campaigners are lobbying the Indian government to roll out national HPV vaccinations for young girls, which in the UK has cut the incidence of cervical cancer by 87% in women now in their 20s who were offered the vaccine between the ages of 12 and 13.

Model Poonam Pandey fakes death to raise cervical cancer awareness

Indian model Poonam Pandey fakes death to raise cervical cancer awareness

Reality TV star reveals social media stunt and says she is proud of what ‘death news has been able to achieve’

An Indian model who faked her own death in a publicity stunt to raise awareness about cervical cancer has defended her actions, saying in a social media post that she was proud of what her “death news has been able to achieve”.

Poonam Pandey, a 32-year-old reality TV star and former Bollywood actor who shot to fame in 2011 when she promised she would strip for the India cricket team if they won the Cricket World Cup, was said to have died on Friday.

In a statement that appeared to be from her management team, her 1.3 million followers were informed on Instagram: “This morning is a tough one for us. Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. Every living form that ever came in contact with her was met with pure love and kindness.”

Her team confirmed in media statements that Pandey had “bravely fought the disease” but had “tragically passed away”. “Her unwavering spirit amidst her health struggles was truly remarkable,” her manager, Nikita Sharma, told reporters, adding that there was a “critical need for increased awareness and proactive measures against preventable diseases like cervical cancer”.

Colleagues and co-stars posted about their sadness and grief on social media, and a flurry of obituaries were published, but others were sceptical, pointing out that footage of Pandey looking healthy and enjoying a boat ride in Goa had been posted on social media four days earlier.

Pandey then conceded in a video that she “didn’t die” and apologised to her followers for shocking them.

“Yes, I faked my demise. Extreme, I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren’t we?” Pandey said. “I am proud of what my death news has been able to achieve.”

“Unlike some other cancers, cervical cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease. Let’s empower one another with critical awareness and ensure every woman is informed about the steps to take.”

She then urged her followers to “bring #DeathToCervicalCancer”.

According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for nearly one-quarter of the world’s cervical cancer cases, with more than 200 women losing their lives every day to the disease.

Health campaigners are lobbying the Indian government to roll out national HPV vaccinations for young girls, which in the UK has cut the incidence of cervical cancer by 87% in women now in their 20s who were offered the vaccine between the ages of 12 and 13.

Three people wounded in knife attack at railway station

Three people wounded in Paris knife attack at railway station

Police arrest man who was reportedly tackled by passengers after leaving three victims with non-life-threatening injuries

A man has been arrested after three people were stabbed at a busy railway station in Paris.

Reports suggested the alleged attacker was first tackled by passengers and a security agent at the Gare de Lyon just before 8am on Saturday, before officers arrived at the scene. Police said early indications suggested the attack was not terrorism-related.

The three victims, who were in the station’s lower level hall number three, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Two were taken to hospital, where one was said to have a serious wound.

French media reported that the arrested man, who was allegedly carrying a knife and a hammer, was originally from Mali and had shown police an Italian driving licence during his arrest.

Le Figaro said the man, 32, had tried to set fire to his backpack before police arrived. The paper quoted a police source saying he appeared to have “psychological difficulties”.

“The profile is of someone who is a mix of homeless person and person with psychiatric troubles,” a police source told the paper.

The interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, wrote on X: “This morning at the Gare de Lyon an individual injured three people with a knife before being arrested. One person is seriously injured; two others suffered less serious injuries. They were treated by the emergency services. Thank you to those who restrained the perpetrator of this unacceptable act.”

Police have opened an official investigation into the attack.

There have been several knife attacks in the French capital in the past year. In December a 26-year-old French man stabbed a German tourist to death near the Eiffel Tower. Darmanin said at the time there had been a “failure” in the suspect’s psychiatric treatment.

In January last year, six people were injured in a knife attack at the Gare du Nord in Paris. The attacker was shot three times by police.

The Gare de Lyon is one of six mainline railway stations in Paris. It serves national trains to the south-east of France and international links to Switzerland, Italy and Spain. It is also a hub for suburban train services and the Paris Metro.

New discovery reveals bedbugs came to Britain with the Romans

‘Incredibly rare’ discovery reveals bedbugs came to Britain with the Romans

Archaeologists find remains of insects that ‘hitchhiked’ here nearly 2,000 years ago

From plumbing to public baths, the Romans left their mark on Britain’s health. But it may not have all been positive. Archaeologists working at Vindolanda, a Roman garrison site south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, have unearthed fresh evidence that the Romans also brought us … bedbugs.

Dr Andrew Birley, who heads the Vindolanda archaeological team, said: “It is incredibly rare to find them in any ancient context.”

The discovery was made by Katie Wyse Jackson 24, a University College Dublin (UCD) student working on the excavated material as part of her research masters in archaeoentomology, the study of insects at archaeological sites.

Focusing on one of Vindolanda’s lowest layers, which dates to around AD100, she recovered two thoraces believed to have come from the common bedbug known by its Latin name, Cimex lectularius. With needle-like mouthparts, they pierce the skin of humans to suck their blood.

“Finding this kind of thing helps humanise the people of the past,” said Wyse Jackson. Noting that Pliny, the Roman philosopher, wrote of the medicinal value of bedbugs in the treatment of certain ailments, such as ear infections, she added: “People then had all sorts of notions of what insects could do.”

The specialist team included Dr Stephen Davis, a lecturer in environmental archaeology at UCD. He said that there is one other Roman site in England where these were previously found – Alcester in Warwickshire – but the Vindolanda ones would be “the earliest found in Britain so far”.

In analysing soil samples, she has also found beetles that can give further insights: “I can learn about trade, food storage, hygiene, waste disposal from what species are present and in what numbers. At the moment, I’m finding a large amount of grain and dung beetles.

“So we’re really not looking at a clean space here. Most importantly, a large proportion of the insects I’m finding are what we call synanthropic. They live in close proximity to humans.

“The Romans do have that reputation as being extremely clean and so it’s interesting to find all of these insects that are contrary to that.”

One theory is that the Romans brought bedbugs to Britain in their straw mattresses. Wyse Jackson said: “It’s very likely they came with whatever the Romans were bringing over. Today, we see bedbugs travelling on aeroplanes in luggage, in clothes. “The Romans were bringing over clothes, straw, grain in great quantities as they were setting up their camps. So it’s the perfect opportunity for one or two bedbugs to hitchhike over.”

Rare wine from Michelin-starred restaurant to be sold at auction

Le Gavroche: rare wines from Michelin-starred restaurant to be sold at auction

Auction lots include illuminated front sign and Burgundy wine expected to sell for up to £12,000

It was famous for serving diners the most expensive meal in the world. Now, rare wine, artworks, silverware and porcelain from the Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche are to be sold at auction.

The contents of the exclusive eatery, which include £12,000 bottles of red wine and the illuminated “Le Gavroche” sign, will be sold by Christie’s in April, after Michel Roux Jr’s decision to close the restaurant.

Founded by the brothers Michel and Albert Roux in 1967 to be a “bastion of classically rich French haute cuisine”, Le Gavroche was the first restaurant in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars in 1982.

Chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing, Pierre Koffman and Monica Galetti all earned their stripes in its kitchen, and clients included Charlie Chaplin, Robert Redford, Mick Jagger, Adele, Paul McCartney and, reportedly, the Queen.

One of the auction lots is a painting of a street urchin from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Misérables, which used to hang in the restaurant. It depicts the character that gave Le Gavroche, which means “the urchin” in French, its name and is estimated to fetch £10,000 to £15,000.

Also going under the hammer are bottles of 2013 vintage Domaine de la Romanée-Conti grand cru, a rare Burgundy wine, which are expected to sell for £9,000 to £12,000.

Roux Jr, who is the son of the late Albert Roux, said the restaurant’s wine cellar had been “lovingly curated for decades” and that the artwork was “of significance to the Roux family and familiar to everyone who has eaten at the restaurant since we first opened”.

He added: “Sadly, we are unable to find a home in our other restaurants and businesses for these iconic pieces, but I am pleased to know that our beloved guests will be able to enjoy a part of Le Gavroche in their homes.”

Tim Triptree, Christie’s international director of wine, said the bottles included in the auction were “the finest France has to offer”.

Bidding for the sign that hung above the restaurant door will start at £1,000. In 1993, the restaurant lost its third Michelin star but went on to earn a place in the Guinness World Records for serving the most expensive meal per person, after three diners spent $20,945 (£16,580) on a single meal in 1997.

US Coast Guard inspectors rescue stowaway dog from shipping container

‘It’s scratching, dude’: US Coast Guard inspectors rescue stowaway dog from shipping container

During a routine day at the Port of Houston, four marine inspectors heard barking from amid 10,000 containers

It was just another routine day of inspecting shipping containers at the Port of Houston for US Coast Guard officer Ryan McMahon when he and his team thought they heard barking coming from inside one of the thousands of containers that surrounded them.

“Oh, it’s scratching, dude,” one of the inspectors said on a video they recorded Wednesday morning as the team looked up at the container, stacked about 25ft (8 metres) in the air.

A crane was used to bring it to the ground, and out popped a very sweet and friendly dog.

“As soon as we opened it, we could see the little dog’s face poking out. She was right there, like she knew we were going to be there to open it for her. And she just, she wasn’t scared or anything. She just seemed happy more than anything, to be out of that dark space and in the arms of people that were going to take care of her,” McMahon, a petty officer 2nd class, told the Associated Press on Friday.

Coast Guard officials would later determine that the canine – since nicknamed Connie the container dog – had been trapped for at least eight days, with no food or water.

She was a little dirty and “definitely pretty skinny”, McMahon said.

McMahon and the three other inspectors drove Connie to an animal shelter in the Houston suburb of Pasadena, where she was checked out. A rescue group, Forever Changed Animal Rescue, has taken her in and is working to get her healthy and ready for adoption.

Coast Guard officials are not sure where the container came from, but inside were junked vehicles that were likely being shipped overseas to be sold for parts.

“So based on that, they think that the dog most likely was in a junkyard, in a car. And that’s how she accidentally got put in the container,” Coast Guard spokesperson and chief petty officer Corinne Zilnicki said.

McMahon said he’s grateful he and his team were at the right place and at the right time to hear Connie barking and prevent the container from being put on a cargo ship. They usually conduct inspections once a week throughout the Port of Houston, and on Wednesday they were at the port’s Bayport container terminal, which likely has more than 10,000 containers, he said.

“It would take at least another week to get to where she was going [on a cargo ship] and two weeks without food or water. I don’t think she would have made it,” McMahon said.

Forever Changed Animal Rescue thanked “all of the amazing people involved in this rescue and saving Connie’s life”.

The rescue group said in a Facebook post that Connie was a bit underweight, tested positive for heartworm and would be getting treatment for it.

“We will also be doing a full workup on her to ensure that she receives all the care she needs and deserves,” the group said.

The inspectors had thought about adopting Connie, but it wasn’t the right time for any of them.

“We know with all this, she’s going to go to a good home where they love her and take care of her,” McMahon said.