The Guardian 2024-03-01 16:31:44


Navalny funeral: mourners in Moscow chant ‘Putin is a murderer’, ‘Russia without Putin’ and ‘No to war’

Reuters report that many thousands of people turned out to pay their respects at the Borisovskyoe cemetery and outside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in Moscow.

Among the large crowd, many people clutched bunches of flowers and some joined in chants – “Russia will be free”, “No to war”, “Russia without Putin”, “We won’t forgive” and “Putin is a murderer”, reports the news agency. It also said that while police were present in large numbers, they did not intervene.

According to the news agency, more than a quarter of a million people watched the farewell to the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on his YouTube channel, which is blocked inside Russia. Messages, mostly expressing sadness but some also defiance, streamed down beside the video, it said.

Navalny’s top aides, all based outside Russia, struggled to contain their emotions as they broadcast live video of the farewell to their leader.

“This is a photograph that is very hard to look at,” said one of them, Ruslan Shaveddinov, referring to an image of Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila inside the church next to her son’s open casket.

In video streamed from the cemetery, Navalny’s mother and father, Anatoly, stooped over his open coffin to kiss him for the last time as a small group of musicians played. Crossing themselves, mourners stepped forward to caress his face before a priest gently placed a white shroud over him and the coffin was closed.

According to Reuters, state media gave scant coverage to the funeral. The RIA news agency reported the fact of Navalny’s burial, noting the presence of foreign envoys including the US, French and German ambassadors, and recalled that he had been jailed on a host of charges including fraud, contempt of court and extremism.

Navalny denied all those charges, saying they had been trumped up by the authorities to silence his criticism of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Full reportFuneral draws thousands despite heaavy police presence

Alexei Navalny funeral draws thousands to heavily policed Moscow church

Western diplomats join chanting crowd paying tribute to opposition leader who died in Arctic penal colony

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Defying the Kremlin’s warning of arrests, thousands of mourners have gathered in Moscow to bid farewell to the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, two weeks after Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic died in an Arctic prison.

Crowds of people chanted “Putin is a murderer” and “No to war” as they marched, under heavy police presence, to the Borisovsky cemetery where Navalny was lowered into the ground on Friday to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

The public show of support turned Navalny’s last journey into a rare display of dissent in Russia at a time of unprecedented repression.

Accompanied by loud applause and chants of “Navalny”, the hearse carrying his coffin arrived at the Quench My Sorrows church in the Maryino district, where the late politician used to live before he was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in 2020.

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila, who spent more than a week in Russia’s Arctic north to retrieve his body, and his father, Anatoly, were part of the small group of people attending the church ceremony that preceded the burial.

Navalny’s team published a photograph of the memorial service that showed Navalny’s body in an open casket covered in flowers with his parents sitting by his side.

“This is an image that should have never existed,” a tearful Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s longtime ally said during a livestream of the funeral on Navalny’s YouTube channel.

After the short religious procession, Navalny’s coffin was driven to the Borisovsky cemetery and lowered into a freshly dug grave. Footage from the cemetery showed his mother kissing him goodbye for the last time before his face was covered in white cloth.

The theme from Navalny’s favourite film, Terminator 2, was played after his coffin was lowered into the ground.

Many of the opposition leader’s family – including his wife, Yulia, his son, Zakhar, daughter, Dash, and his brother Oleg – live outside Russia and did not attend the funeral. They would risk arrest if they returned to the country.

Most of his closest allies, who have been forced to flee Russia after criminal charges were laid against them, are on Moscow’s wanted list and would face long-term prison sentences if they entered Russia.

Russian authorities claim Navalny fell unconscious and died suddenly aged 47 after a walk. His widow has accused Vladimir Putin of murdering him.

In an emotional post on social media, Yulia bid farewell to her husband: “Thank you for 26 years of pure happiness … I don’t know how to live without you, but I’ll try to make you happy and proud of me up there.”

Western diplomats, including ambassadors from the US and Germany and Britain’s chargé d’affaires, Tom Dodd, attended the funeral.

Video showed mourners throwing flowers at the hearse as it drove away from the church towards the Borisovsky cemetery.

Many of the thousands who came to pay their respects said they understood the risks of attending amid warnings of possible arrests but decided to come anyway. The Kremlin had warned that any unsanctioned gatherings in support of the late Russian opposition leader would be met with arrests. Hundreds of people had already been detained in Russia while laying flowers at vigils for Navalny across the country in the days after his death last month.

While no widespread arrests were reported on Friday, human rights experts warned that those who attended the funeral could be added to a database and possibly punished at a later date.

Ivan, a Navalny supporter who attended the funeral, said: “I feel pain, like any other person who came here. I have come to say bye to a real leader. He was the best of us. He told us not to be scared, and it’s our duty to be here. I am not scared. My fear had evaporated a long time ago.”

Some mourners were heard shouting: “He was not afraid, and neither are we,” and “Russia will be free.”

Before the start of the ceremony, there were reports of arrests, with several Navalny supporters detained as they left their apartments to attend the funeral.

“I am scared, of course, of arrests,” said one mourner, who declined to give her name. “I feel pain that can’t be described. I have been following Navalny for a long time. My hope has died … How can you live without hope,” she said.

More than 250,000 people were watching a live stream of the funeral on YouTube that Navalny’s team set up, despite reports that the authorities interrupted internet access around the church.

The Navalny team said the Kremlin was trying to prevent images of the funeral from circulating online while one internet freedom group said that cellphone service data had been restricted.

The lead-up to the funeral was marked by controversy. Navalny’s family repeatedly accused the Kremlin of pressuring them into holding a closed ceremony without the public, and his mother was forced to battle for days to retrieve his body.

Investigators tried to blackmail her into holding a quiet funeral in the remote Arctic region where he had died.

Putin is yet to comment on Navalny’s death. In a call with reporters on Friday, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to give any assessment of Navalny as a political figure and said he had nothing to say to Navalny’s family.

Russian officials shunned the procession, but it was attended by the pro-peace politicians Yekaterina Duntsova and Boris Nadezhdin, both of whom were recently barred from running against Putin in the presidential elections later this month.

“We have come to say goodbye to a person who was a symbol of an era. There is still hope that everything will be all right and Russia will be free and peaceful as Alexei had dreamed,” Nadezhdin told the Russian independent TV channel Dozhd standing outside the church.

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In picturesFuneral of Alexei Navalny in Moscow

VideoHundreds gather for funeral amid heavy police presence

Supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny formed long queues near the church in Moscow before his funeral on Friday. People chanted ‘Navalny’ as his coffin was carried out of a black hearse on arrival at the Quench My Sorrows Church

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Cricket Australia paid to promote affiliate of controversial gambling company during Boxing Day Test

Cricket Australia paid to promote affiliate of controversial gambling company during Boxing Day Test

Exclusive: Sporting body featured 1xBat logo in broadcast despite receiving warnings from Pakistan the week before

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Cricket Australia was paid to promote the “surrogate” of a controversial offshore gambling company that is banned by several nations and accused of accepting bets on children’s sport, cockfights and promoting topless casinos.

The sporting body immediately removed the 1xBat logo from its international broadcast of the Boxing Day test match once it confirmed the brand was an affiliate of the controversial gambling company, 1xBet, and the subject of an official warning from the Pakistan government.

The gambling company 1xBet, which is licensed in Curacao, was suspended in the UK in 2019 after the gambling regulator launched an investigation into allegations of regulatory breaches.

Multiple English Premier League clubs including Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs severed ties with 1xBet after the Sunday Times reported it had accepting betting on live streams of cockfighting and promoted online casinos featuring topless women.

The online bookmaker was also among several companies sanctioned by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, due to its alleged Russian links.

1xBet has been blocked in Australia, where it does not hold a licence to operate.

Late last year, Cricket Australia signed a commercial deal with 1xBat to superimpose its logo on the field of play during the Australia v Pakistan Test series. The ad was broadcast in Pakistan, where gambling was banned and the promotion of so-called surrogate betting companies – where a gambling operator uses another brand for advertising – was illegal.

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Shortly before the Boxing Day test, Pakistan’s ministry of information and broadcasting issued a warning about the “unambiguous” presence of surrogate gambling advertising during local coverage of the Perth test match in mid-December. It said the state broadcaster, PTV, had lodged a complaint with Cricket Australia.

But the 1xBat ad continued to be broadcast into Pakistan during the Boxing Day Test match a week later, prompting PTV to stop broadcasting the match until Cricket Australia provided a version without the 1xBat logo.

“Any potential betting partnerships are subject to our integrity process and companies that do not meet the necessary standards are not considered,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said.

“In this case, the company’s betting affiliation was not immediately revealed to us and the advertising was withdrawn when we were alerted to reputational concerns.”

Cricket Australia initially believed 1xBat was a clothing and content company with no affiliation to offshore gambling.

The deal with 1xBat was struck by an advertising agency, but the sporting body had oversight. Cricket Australia was reviewing its internal processes.

“When we became aware that a betting advertisement in our world feed used by PTV could cause potential regulatory issues for PTV, the advertisement was removed to ensure that the coverage was reinstated and fans in Pakistan could continue to watch the series,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said.

According to the Indian government, subsidiaries of 1xBet have been used to promote the brand among cricket fans in the subcontinent. The government has noted the company logos often “bear striking resemblance”.

1xBet and 1xBat were contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline. After the Sunday Times outlined allegations of wrongdoing, 1xBet said it abided by all relevant laws and regulations and cooperated with the UK gambling regulator.

Jack Kerr, a gambling researcher and investigative journalist who has written about 1xBet, said it was “one of the most controversial bookmakers in the world”.

“The minister for sport should be asking Cricket Australia why it is getting schooled in the basics of sports integrity by a cricket association synonymous with match-fixing,” Kerr said, referencing previous scandals involving Pakistan cricket.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s chief executive, Carol Bennett, praised Cricket Australia for removing the ads once it realised the link to 1xBet. She said the mistake demonstrated why a national gambling regulator was needed.

“The gambling industry are known to use questionable tactics to push their product in their endeavours to find new markets and without a cop on the beat covering all jurisdictions, its far too easy for these companies to hide in the shadows undetected,” Bennett said.

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Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about the NRL – I can safely say that as an Australian in the US

Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about the NRL – I can safely say that as an Australian in the US

Peter Mitchell

Disappointment awaits if the league expects large numbers of sports-loving locals to watch the season opener and become enthusiastic fans

NRL fans, please don’t get angry. I’m not an NRL hater or a Negative Nigel. I understand why the Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Broncos have descended on Las Vegas this weekend for the NRL’s season-opening double-header.

It’s part of chief executive Andrew Abdo’s job to look for new markets and the US, with its 330 million residents, is the holy grail of sports markets. But there’s one problem for Abdo and the NRL – and it’s a huge problem.

Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about our beloved sport. The NRL double-header will come and go this weekend with most locals unaware it even took place.

If the NRL foray into the US is about increasing sports wagering profits, fair enough. Going to Vegas, the gambling capital of the world, is the obvious place to hold season openers for the next few years. However, if the NRL and rugby league fans expect large numbers of sports-loving Americans to become enthusiastic fans of the game, disappointment awaits.

Plenty has been made about the games being aired in US “prime time” on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports 1 cable channel. Saturday night is not “prime time” in the US and TV ratings are traditionally low at this time.

More Americans watch TV on Sunday nights, which is why the NFL Super Bowl, Academy Awards and other major live events are held then while aired on major free-to-air networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and, Murdoch’s flagship network, FOX. Fox Sports 1 is just one of many cable sports channels.

The US time zones will also limit viewership, with the Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs broadcast beginning in Las Vegas (and other west coast locations) at 6.30pm on Saturday. In New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami and other US east coast cities – where most Americans live – the game will start at 9.30pm. The second game, between the Roosters and Broncos, will kick off at the sleepy hour of 11.30pm on the east coast and end in the wee hours of Sunday.

Visually, expect plenty of tight shots of the field and players during the TV broadcast, to avoid showing large areas of empty seats. Ticket sales have nudged past 40,000 for the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium.

On the positive side, Australian, New Zealander and British expatriates living in the US, along with the 15,000 Australians expected to fly over, will have a great weekend in Vegas. New bonds will be formed while watching their NRL heroes in between gorging themselves at the all-you-can-eat buffets, and watching Carrot Top, Thunder from Down Under or one of U2’s final concerts at The Sphere.

Why am I not drinking the NRL Kool-Aid? It’s because I’ve seen ventures like the NRL double-header in Vegas many times before. I’ve lived in the US for almost 25 years and for most of that time was the North American correspondent for Australian Associated Press.

I’ve written countless articles about Australians with great ideas that Americans should love. But Americans, for multiple reasons, aren’t interested. Just ask the many meat pie companies that have tried to set up shop in the US thinking a hot pie on a cold winter’s day would be gobbled up by Americans. A “pie” in America is a pizza, or has fruit in it. A “pot pie” in the US comes close to an Aussie meat pie, but it’s not something Americans would eat at a Dodgers or Yankees game.

It’s the same problem with rugby league and the NRL. Americans are comfortable with their ample servings of NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball and football, and Nascar.

We can also look to other lukewarm rugby league adventures in the US. There was the State of Origin game in 1987 at Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles, that drew 12,000 spectators. In 2008, Russell Crowe did his best to promote his Rabbitohs playing the Leeds Rhinos in Florida and a crowd of 12,500 showed up. In 2018, England played New Zealand in a sparsely populated Mile High Stadium in Denver.

The NRL faces the same problems as cricket. I was there in 2015 when Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendukar, Wasim Akram, Brian Lara and other cricketing greats brought T20 exhibition games to New York, Houston and Los Angeles for the inaugural “Cricket All-Star Series.” As a cricket lover, it was sensational sitting in the New York Mets’ Citi Field or LA’s hallowed Dodger Stadium watching my childhood heroes.

One of my tasks was to find Americans at the games and ask what they thought about the spectacle. I discovered few Americans showed up. The crowds were mostly filled with Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Australian, New Zealander and British expats. After a lot of searching, I found two Americans at Citi Field and they weren’t ready to convert to cricket.

“It’s a fun experience and I would go to a game for that, but I don’t think I could follow the game,” one of the Americans, Dan Taneski, told me.

Perhaps the best example of how hard it is to become relevant in the US sports world is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s attempt to make his fledgling American football league, the XFL, viable. Johnson is arguably Hollywood’s biggest star and has a legitimate background in American football after playing for the University of Miami. He also has a huge fan base from professional wrestling and 17.1 million followers on X alone, but has struggled to etch a significant foothold for the XFL in the US. Johnson just announced a merger between XFL and another beleaguered American football league, the USFL.

Let’s talk about the NRL’s identity problem in the US. Most Americans don’t know the difference between rugby league, rugby union and Australian rules football. They presume they are the same sport and brand it simply as “rugby”. It has been a running joke in my interviews over the years with the likes of Australian NFL punters Ben Graham, Michael Dickson, Lou Hedley, Mitch Wishnowsky, and many others who grew up kicking a Sherrin. Their American coaches, teammates and fans often presume they played “rugby”. It was a similar situation for Jarryd Hayne and Valentine Holmes, with Americans presuming they played in the AFL.

So, let’s be constructive. How could Abdo and ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys elevate the NRL so the American media and sports fans from coast to coast actually talk about rugby league? There is a way but it includes megastars, and lots and lots of cash.

The best US examples are David Beckham and Lionel Messi joining America’s Major League Soccer. Beckham’s arrival at the LA Galaxy in 2007 and Messi joining Inter Miami last year resulted in ESPN and America’s other NFL/NBA/MLB-obsessed media focusing more on the MLS.

Beckham’s LA Galaxy five-year deal was worth US$250m, and Messi is expected to pocket $US150m in salary, equity in the club and other compensation for his two-and-a-half years in Miami.

So, there you have it. If the NRL wants to be relevant and sell millions of subscriptions to the Watch NRL app, he just needs LeBron James to sign with the Rabbitohs as their new rampaging second rower.

About US$250m should close the deal with James, and Negative Nigel and tens of millions of Americans would watch that at 11.30pm on a Saturday.

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Peter Dutton’s pre-Dunkley detainee scare blew up, but cost of living is the real electoral dynamite

Peter Dutton’s pre-Dunkley detainee scare blew up, but cost of living is the real electoral dynamite

Paul Karp

The opposition leader’s line of attack in question time came unstuck, but it was an irresponsible ploy all the same

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The scare campaign was going so well.

It was question time on Thursday, two days out from the Dunkley byelection. Victoria Police had just confirmed the arrest of a man released from immigration detention had been issued with four assault and stalking charges.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, made the alleged incidents in Richmond the centrepiece of the Coalition’s question time attack; soon after his deputy, Sussan Ley, tweeted an inflammatory claim about “foreign criminals”.

But just hours later, Victoria Police conceded they had got the wrong man. After reviewing footage, they no longer believed the person involved was someone released from immigration detention.

The Coalition campaign – supported by negative ads from right-wing campaign group Advance to try to make a four-month-old high court decision a central issue in Saturday’s byelection – had come unstuck.

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Dutton defended his actions on the basis he was entitled to rely on a Victoria Police statement. Fair enough, as far as concerns believing the narrow fact of an arrest and charges.

But that’s not an excuse for Coalition questions implying that Labor had endangered the community by releasing someone who had since reoffended, a premise that would reverse the presumption of innocence and proved to be incorrect.

It wouldn’t really have mattered if the man were let off charges two hours, two days, or two weeks later, it was still an irresponsible line for Dutton to have pursued. First, because as the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, noted there was potential prejudice to a court process.

And second, because the smear only really works if there were some alternative to letting 149 people out of detention. There wasn’t. The government was required to conform with a high court order and the threshold of evidence required to apply to re-detain someone pre-emptively hasn’t been reached.

By contrast, Labor’s question time strategy was to boast about its income tax cut package, more generous for low and middle income earners.

The mantra of repeating key messages until you’re sick of hearing them went well, so well that independent MP Allegra Spender accused Labor of “tedious repetition”.

Labor asked who won from the tax cut package so many times and so many different ways that the industry minister, Ed Husic, was allowed to vamp about how much a marine biologist called George stood to save – a reference to a Seinfeld.

Labor’s bold move to break its election commitment to stage three to help those earning $147,000 or less gives it another weapon in its arsenal in the cost of living battle, an argument to Dunkley voters, that although they are hurting, the government has done something.

But both sides believe the government is still vulnerable going into Saturday’s poll, despite a 6.3% buffer. Cost of living is the major issue, but because there is no chance of changing the government, the Coalition and Advance campaigns can frame the vote as a consequence-free way to send a message to Albo that he hasn’t done enough.

Never mind that the Coalition voted against many of Labor’s cost of living measures, never mind that grumbling as they waved through the income tax cuts they weren’t able to articulate an alternative. If you hate rent and interest rate rises, power price rises, grocery and petrol prices (who doesn’t?) – vote Liberal. Potent stuff.

Despite agreeing that the result is basically a coin toss, both sides seem relatively relaxed going into the byelection.

For the Coalition, they seem confident of a swing toward the opposition even if they fall short, thus validating the cost of living campaign and its latest scare about fuel efficiency, falsely labelled a new car and ute tax. On Thursday Dutton suggested anything more than a 3% swing would be disastrous for the government, so that’s a good indication he’s expecting at least that.

As for the government, Labor is acutely aware of where the byelection fits in the electoral and economic cycle. The once-in-a-century Aston byelection win was early in the cycle, during Albanese’s honeymoon period. This one comes midterm, after 13 interest rate rises. With inflation softening, the hope is that the Reserve Bank will have started cutting interest rates by the time of the next election, due by May 2025.

Even if the Liberals achieve a 7% swing and win Dunkley, there’s no sense panicking about a one seat snapshot months before the water hose that would be income tax and interest rate cuts are applied to the cost of living fire.

But Labor will have its work cut out for it: this week’s Essential Poll shows the Coalition is actually favoured on handling the cost of living, despite its lack of policy.

To an extent, the dynamics of byelections can encourage a protest vote. But a big swing to the Coalition would be a proof of concept about negative campaigns that will reappear in the next federal election.

Opposition leaders – even unpopular ones, even in the first term of government – can do great damage: think of Tony Abbott pushing the Gillard government into minority at the 2010 election or how Bill Shorten’s Mediscare pushed Malcolm Turnbull to the brink in 2016.

Framing Dutton as a man with no solutions is a smart move in the medium term. But relentless negativity, even without a well-defined alternative platform, has worked before.

A win on Saturday would put Dutton one step closer to the Lodge, which would be cause for concern, if not panic, for Labor.

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Peter Dutton’s pre-Dunkley detainee scare blew up, but cost of living is the real electoral dynamite

Peter Dutton’s pre-Dunkley detainee scare blew up, but cost of living is the real electoral dynamite

Paul Karp

The opposition leader’s line of attack in question time came unstuck, but it was an irresponsible ploy all the same

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The scare campaign was going so well.

It was question time on Thursday, two days out from the Dunkley byelection. Victoria Police had just confirmed the arrest of a man released from immigration detention had been issued with four assault and stalking charges.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, made the alleged incidents in Richmond the centrepiece of the Coalition’s question time attack; soon after his deputy, Sussan Ley, tweeted an inflammatory claim about “foreign criminals”.

But just hours later, Victoria Police conceded they had got the wrong man. After reviewing footage, they no longer believed the person involved was someone released from immigration detention.

The Coalition campaign – supported by negative ads from right-wing campaign group Advance to try to make a four-month-old high court decision a central issue in Saturday’s byelection – had come unstuck.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Dutton defended his actions on the basis he was entitled to rely on a Victoria Police statement. Fair enough, as far as concerns believing the narrow fact of an arrest and charges.

But that’s not an excuse for Coalition questions implying that Labor had endangered the community by releasing someone who had since reoffended, a premise that would reverse the presumption of innocence and proved to be incorrect.

It wouldn’t really have mattered if the man were let off charges two hours, two days, or two weeks later, it was still an irresponsible line for Dutton to have pursued. First, because as the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, noted there was potential prejudice to a court process.

And second, because the smear only really works if there were some alternative to letting 149 people out of detention. There wasn’t. The government was required to conform with a high court order and the threshold of evidence required to apply to re-detain someone pre-emptively hasn’t been reached.

By contrast, Labor’s question time strategy was to boast about its income tax cut package, more generous for low and middle income earners.

The mantra of repeating key messages until you’re sick of hearing them went well, so well that independent MP Allegra Spender accused Labor of “tedious repetition”.

Labor asked who won from the tax cut package so many times and so many different ways that the industry minister, Ed Husic, was allowed to vamp about how much a marine biologist called George stood to save – a reference to a Seinfeld.

Labor’s bold move to break its election commitment to stage three to help those earning $147,000 or less gives it another weapon in its arsenal in the cost of living battle, an argument to Dunkley voters, that although they are hurting, the government has done something.

But both sides believe the government is still vulnerable going into Saturday’s poll, despite a 6.3% buffer. Cost of living is the major issue, but because there is no chance of changing the government, the Coalition and Advance campaigns can frame the vote as a consequence-free way to send a message to Albo that he hasn’t done enough.

Never mind that the Coalition voted against many of Labor’s cost of living measures, never mind that grumbling as they waved through the income tax cuts they weren’t able to articulate an alternative. If you hate rent and interest rate rises, power price rises, grocery and petrol prices (who doesn’t?) – vote Liberal. Potent stuff.

Despite agreeing that the result is basically a coin toss, both sides seem relatively relaxed going into the byelection.

For the Coalition, they seem confident of a swing toward the opposition even if they fall short, thus validating the cost of living campaign and its latest scare about fuel efficiency, falsely labelled a new car and ute tax. On Thursday Dutton suggested anything more than a 3% swing would be disastrous for the government, so that’s a good indication he’s expecting at least that.

As for the government, Labor is acutely aware of where the byelection fits in the electoral and economic cycle. The once-in-a-century Aston byelection win was early in the cycle, during Albanese’s honeymoon period. This one comes midterm, after 13 interest rate rises. With inflation softening, the hope is that the Reserve Bank will have started cutting interest rates by the time of the next election, due by May 2025.

Even if the Liberals achieve a 7% swing and win Dunkley, there’s no sense panicking about a one seat snapshot months before the water hose that would be income tax and interest rate cuts are applied to the cost of living fire.

But Labor will have its work cut out for it: this week’s Essential Poll shows the Coalition is actually favoured on handling the cost of living, despite its lack of policy.

To an extent, the dynamics of byelections can encourage a protest vote. But a big swing to the Coalition would be a proof of concept about negative campaigns that will reappear in the next federal election.

Opposition leaders – even unpopular ones, even in the first term of government – can do great damage: think of Tony Abbott pushing the Gillard government into minority at the 2010 election or how Bill Shorten’s Mediscare pushed Malcolm Turnbull to the brink in 2016.

Framing Dutton as a man with no solutions is a smart move in the medium term. But relentless negativity, even without a well-defined alternative platform, has worked before.

A win on Saturday would put Dutton one step closer to the Lodge, which would be cause for concern, if not panic, for Labor.

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Julia Gillard enters Dunkley byelection campaign as Labor and Liberals brace for close result

Julia Gillard enters Dunkley byelection campaign as Labor and Liberals brace for close result

Exclusive: The former PM has been enlisted to front a social media campaign to help Labor hold the Victorian seat

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Julia Gillard has been enlisted to help boost Labor’s chances in the Dunkley byelection, with Australia’s first female prime minister fronting a social media push aimed squarely at women in the Melbourne seat.

In a sign of Labor’s effort to shore up every last vote in what is expected by both major parties to be a close-run contest, Gillard’s election-eve endorsement praises Jodie Belyea as a “strong local voice”.

As the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, made their final pitches to voters, both sides are expecting a long night of counting on Saturday before a result is reached, and the possibility of no winner being definitively declared.

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In a message to be blasted out on Labor social media channels on Friday evening, Gillard tells voters of the importance of a Labor member for Dunkley “to continue Peta Murphy’s legacy … a seat named after a pioneering woman, Louisa Dunkley, who was also a champion of equality and fairness”.

Gillard, since quitting federal parliament in 2013, has largely stayed out of domestic politics – setting a different course to other recent former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd, John Howard and Paul Keating, who have often aired their reflections on local and global affairs. Howard, for instance, put his name to a Liberal party fundraising email this week, asking supporters to donate cash and “send a powerful message”, and is regularly deployed by the Coalition in the final days of various campaigns.

Gillard’s relative reticence on electoral politics makes the occasional interventions more noteworthy, the most prominent of which was an appearance alongside Albanese in the final hours of his successful 2022 election campaign.

She called the Dunkley poll, triggered after the death of sitting Labor member Peta Murphy last year, an “important byelection”.

“My friend, the late Peta Murphy was one of a kind, a fierce advocate for her community and for the issue she was so passionate about. We will all miss her dearly,” Gillard said.

“That’s why it’s so important that we have a Labor member for Dunkley, who will continue to build on Peta’s legacy, and Jodie Belyea will be that strong local voice.”

Gillard, in a simple video filmed from a computer, highlighted Belyea’s community service, pointing to her founding of a not-for-profit group helping disadvantaged women. She also noted the history of Louisa Dunkley, the unionist and equal pay campaigner for whom the seat is named.

In his Friday campaign blitz, Albanese offered a similar gender-tinged message to Gillard, saying Belyea would – in contrast to the Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy – “not just be another bloke, sitting behind all the other blokes in Peter Dutton’s team. Opposing everything, being negative about everything, running fear campaigns”.

Dutton’s Friday campaigning focused on community safety and cost of living issues. He claimed in a radio interview that there was “a level of anger within the community” about living conditions and urged voters to “send the prime minister a message that the government needs to do better.”

Labor sources had initially been confident of safely holding the seat, but the last-minute campaign swing of the major party leaders points to both sides expecting a very close result. Labor and Liberal sources both noted the potential for counting to continue long into Saturday night or beyond.

The government has sought to highlight its cost of living relief, including the reframed stage-three tax cuts. However Albanese told the Labor caucus this week that some voters were still not aware of the much-vaunted changes.

Both sides have sought to manage expectations – Dutton claimed even a 3% swing against the government would be a strong result for the Liberals, while Albanese claimed on Friday “byelections are tough for governments”. He downplayed the prospect of a strong swing against the government being a blow to Labor’s momentum, noting the 2001 byelection in Ryan where the Liberals suffered a bad defeat before going on to claim a general election win later that year.

“I’m confident that we’ve run the right campaign and I’m confident that we are the political party in Australia that is being positive, that’s concerned about the future, that’s putting forward an agenda for the future,” Albanese said.

“You can’t change the country for the better by just running fear campaigns.”

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Lawyers argue evidence is not available to rule out Britanny Higgins’ consent

Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyers argue evidence is not available to rule out Britanny Higgins’ consent

Lehrmann’s lawyers also admit client’s evidence is ‘unsatisfactory’ but say it would be overstating it to say he is a ‘compulsive liar’

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If the court finds that sexual intercourse took place between Bruce Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins it will also have to find she was “so intoxicated as to be unable to consent” and that evidence is not available, Lehrmann’s lawyers have told the federal court.

“The evidence simply does not permit a positive finding of fact that Ms Higgins’ intoxication was, at any relevant time, such that she could not consent to sexual activity,” new submissions filed in Lehrmann’s defamation case against Channel Ten and Lisa Wilkinson said.

The submission argues that neither CCTV footage from parliament house of Higgins entering through security nor expert evidence about her likely blood alcohol levels proved Higgins was heavily intoxicated.

The court was also told it would have to find – if sex did take place and Higgins was too drunk to consent – that Lehrmann “either knew or believed Ms Higgins was incapable of consenting to sexual activity”.

Justice Michael Lee will deliver his judgment as early as this month in the high-profile case brought by the former Liberal staffer. Lehrmann says he was defamed by a rape allegation made by Higgins on Ten’s The Project. Lehrmann was not named but says he was identifiable.

Lehrmann, Ten and Wilkinson made final submissions on Friday after additional evidence was heard in a cross-claim brought by Wilkinson against Ten for her legal fees. The former presenter on The Project won the case last month.

Lehrmann submitted that even if Justice Lee rejects his evidence about what happened inside Linda Reynolds’ office, he could not be satisfied Ten and Wilkinson “have established any sexual activity, consensual or otherwise, took place for several reasons.”

The reasons include that Higgins may have been found naked on the couch because she removed her own white dress due to either feeling sick or having already vomited on it.

They also admit their client’s evidence is “unsatisfactory” and “it would be open to the court to form an adverse view of his credit” but it is overstating it to say he is a “compulsive liar”.

In closing arguments in court in December, defence lawyers described Lehrmann as a “fundamentally dishonest man”, suggesting his repeated mistruths about the events of March 2019 suggest he might be a “compulsive liar”.

Lisa Wilkinson’s lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou SC, also told the court there “can’t be any doubt in anyone’s mind that there was sex” on the night Brittany Higgins was allegedly raped.

“The only issue that would trouble your honour, having regard to the unsatisfactory state of the evidence by both persons, is the consent issue,” Chrysanthou said.

Both Chrysanthou and Matt Collins KC, representing Network Ten, highlighted a series of lies they allege Lehrmann told also in their closing arguments.

Both also conceded there were issues with Higgins’ credibility but say she delivered a powerful and consistent account of the alleged rape itself.

Collins told the court that Lehrmann was “revealed to be a fundamentally dishonest man who was prepared to say or do anything he perceived to advance his interests”.

He pointed to Lehrmann’s alleged lies about being attracted to Higgins, buying drinks for her at the Dock bar in Canberra, encouraging her to drink and “skol” a drink, touching and kissing her at a later venue, the 88mph nightclub, telling parliament security he had been instructed to pick up documents, and then telling his boss Fiona Brown he was there to drink whiskey.

Chrysanthou also alleged Lehrmann lied about needing to return to the office to make notes of a conversation about submarines he had had with unidentified defence bureaucrats at the Dock.

Lehrmann’s lawyers in the final submissions published on Friday countered that Higgins had a “preparedness to tell lies, including elaborate lies, on the most solemn of occasions” because her evidence in the trial contradicted what she told the Commonwealth in her personal injury compensation claim.

“Ms Higgins’ evidence in this proceeding on multiple elements of the allegation is itself contradicted by other out of court representations made, such as to the Project during the two sit down interviews, or representations in Ms Higgins’ book or representations made to [news.com.au].

“The court would reject Ms Higgins’ evidence in its entirety unless corroborated by other independent evidence or contemporaneous documents,” the submission said.

“In the case of the [Commonweath] Deed, this involved payment of a settlement sum to her that was life changing,” Lehrmann’s submission said. “In the case of the criminal trial it was the prospect of securing a guilty verdict against the man that she had earlier accused of rape in the most public of forums.”

In her final submission to the court Wilkinson said evidence heard in the cross-claim had “graphically illustrated to the court the legal advice and approval from Network Ten that Ms Wilkinson received to give her speech at the Logies”.

“The court now knows that Ms Wilkinson gave entirely truthful evidence about the advice she had received,” it said.

But Lehrmann submitted this does not absolve Wilkinson of responsibility. “Her actions remain ill advised, reckless and prejudicial to the Applicant’s right to a fair trial,” the submission said.

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Australia sweats through third-hottest summer with hot and dry autumn predicted

Australia sweats through third-hottest summer on record with hot and dry autumn predicted

Bureau of Meteorology says only 2018-19 and 2019-20 summers were warmer, meaning Australia’s three hottest seasons have occurred in the past six years

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Australians endured the country’s third-hottest summer on record, while odds strongly favour a hotter and drier than usual autumn, the Bureau of Meteorology has said.

The top-three ranking applied for each of the maximum, mean and minimum temperatures. All states and territories bar Victoria reported one of their 10 warmest summers.

Mean temperatures, which average out daytime and night-time readings, were 1.62C above the bureau’s 1961-1990 yardstick. Only the 2018-19 and 2019-20 summers were warmer, meaning Australia’s three hottest seasons have occurred in the past six years.

Western Australia set a record for its summer mean temperatures, topping 2019-20.

“We did reach the bureau’s threshold for at least low-intensity heatwaves across pretty much all of Australia at some point during the summer,” said Simon Grainger, a senior bureau climatologist. “But really for eastern Australia it was a lot more about the steady heat.”

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Australia’s weather is driven by conditions in surrounding oceans as well as the background warming from climate change that has elevated temperatures by about 1.5C since 1910.

Much of the media attention focused on the development of an El Niño pattern in the Pacific. Such an event, however, tends to have its strongest influence on rainfall in eastern Australia in the spring rather than the summer.

Of the 28 years with an El Niño event since 1900, the summer of 2023-24 was the third wettest, trailing 2009-10 and 1994-95, Grainger said. Rainfall averaged 247.7mm across the country, or almost 19% more than the 1961-90 norm.

The unusual feature was a persistent positive phase of the so-called southern annular mode in December and January. During summer, that pattern means eastward moving weather systems tend to track closer to Antarctica.

“What you do see in those situations [is] easterly flows bringing those muggy conditions and a chance of storms to eastern Australia,” Grainger said. Warmer than usual sea-surface temperatures in the Tasman also contributed to extra rain.

Among the major capitals, Brisbane has started 2024 with the longest streak of overnight temperatures at or above 20C, counting 61 so far with more to come. The previous record was 59 to kick off 1978, he said.

Sydney, meanwhile, reported its third hottest summer on record by mean temperatures, according to Ben Domensino, a senior Weatherzone meteorologist. The city’s mean reading of about 24.1C was slightly more than 2C above the long-run norm.

Abnormally high dew point temperatures were a feature of summer in eastern New South Wales “making it harder for the body to lose heat by evaporating sweat”, he said. Sydney’s summer rainfall of 411mm was also about 80mm above average.

Perth was another standout city, with the Western Australian capital notching its second hottest summer on record for maximum temperatures, Domensino said.

The average daytime high of 32.6C was beaten only by the 2021-22 summer’s 33.3C average. It also clocked a record seven days above 40C in February, beating Perth’s record of six such days set in January 2022, Weatherzone said.

Melbourne was one capital to post a slightly lower than average summer for maximums. Temperatures, though, picked up in February, while rainfall dwindled to just 6mm for the month, Domensino said.

The shift towards drier conditions may continue into autumn, according to the bureau’s latest outlook, released on Thursday.

The eastern two-thirds of the country has odds favouring below-average rainfall, Grainger said.

Temperatures were also tilting towards warmer than normal conditions for the March-May period. Those odds were 80% or higher for maximums to be above-average for much of the nation, he said.

Grainger said uncertainty beyond autumn meant that it was too early to be sure whether another La Niña event may form in the Pacific later in the year.

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Australia sweats through third-hottest summer with hot and dry autumn predicted

Australia sweats through third-hottest summer on record with hot and dry autumn predicted

Bureau of Meteorology says only 2018-19 and 2019-20 summers were warmer, meaning Australia’s three hottest seasons have occurred in the past six years

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Australians endured the country’s third-hottest summer on record, while odds strongly favour a hotter and drier than usual autumn, the Bureau of Meteorology has said.

The top-three ranking applied for each of the maximum, mean and minimum temperatures. All states and territories bar Victoria reported one of their 10 warmest summers.

Mean temperatures, which average out daytime and night-time readings, were 1.62C above the bureau’s 1961-1990 yardstick. Only the 2018-19 and 2019-20 summers were warmer, meaning Australia’s three hottest seasons have occurred in the past six years.

Western Australia set a record for its summer mean temperatures, topping 2019-20.

“We did reach the bureau’s threshold for at least low-intensity heatwaves across pretty much all of Australia at some point during the summer,” said Simon Grainger, a senior bureau climatologist. “But really for eastern Australia it was a lot more about the steady heat.”

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Australia’s weather is driven by conditions in surrounding oceans as well as the background warming from climate change that has elevated temperatures by about 1.5C since 1910.

Much of the media attention focused on the development of an El Niño pattern in the Pacific. Such an event, however, tends to have its strongest influence on rainfall in eastern Australia in the spring rather than the summer.

Of the 28 years with an El Niño event since 1900, the summer of 2023-24 was the third wettest, trailing 2009-10 and 1994-95, Grainger said. Rainfall averaged 247.7mm across the country, or almost 19% more than the 1961-90 norm.

The unusual feature was a persistent positive phase of the so-called southern annular mode in December and January. During summer, that pattern means eastward moving weather systems tend to track closer to Antarctica.

“What you do see in those situations [is] easterly flows bringing those muggy conditions and a chance of storms to eastern Australia,” Grainger said. Warmer than usual sea-surface temperatures in the Tasman also contributed to extra rain.

Among the major capitals, Brisbane has started 2024 with the longest streak of overnight temperatures at or above 20C, counting 61 so far with more to come. The previous record was 59 to kick off 1978, he said.

Sydney, meanwhile, reported its third hottest summer on record by mean temperatures, according to Ben Domensino, a senior Weatherzone meteorologist. The city’s mean reading of about 24.1C was slightly more than 2C above the long-run norm.

Abnormally high dew point temperatures were a feature of summer in eastern New South Wales “making it harder for the body to lose heat by evaporating sweat”, he said. Sydney’s summer rainfall of 411mm was also about 80mm above average.

Perth was another standout city, with the Western Australian capital notching its second hottest summer on record for maximum temperatures, Domensino said.

The average daytime high of 32.6C was beaten only by the 2021-22 summer’s 33.3C average. It also clocked a record seven days above 40C in February, beating Perth’s record of six such days set in January 2022, Weatherzone said.

Melbourne was one capital to post a slightly lower than average summer for maximums. Temperatures, though, picked up in February, while rainfall dwindled to just 6mm for the month, Domensino said.

The shift towards drier conditions may continue into autumn, according to the bureau’s latest outlook, released on Thursday.

The eastern two-thirds of the country has odds favouring below-average rainfall, Grainger said.

Temperatures were also tilting towards warmer than normal conditions for the March-May period. Those odds were 80% or higher for maximums to be above-average for much of the nation, he said.

Grainger said uncertainty beyond autumn meant that it was too early to be sure whether another La Niña event may form in the Pacific later in the year.

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Israel faces mounting pressure to investigate Gaza food aid deaths

Israel faces mounting pressure to investigate Gaza food aid deaths

France calls for ‘independent probe’ and Germany says army must explain after over 100 Palestinians killed

Israel was facing growing international pressure for an investigation after more than 100 Palestinians in Gaza were killed when desperate crowds gathered around aid trucks and Israeli troops opened fire on Thursday.

France called for an “independent probe” into the circumstances of the disaster, and Germany said the Israeli army must “fully explain” what happened.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said civilians had been “targeted by Israeli soldiers” and called for an immediate ceasefire.

“Deep indignation at the images coming from Gaza where civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers. I express my strongest condemnation of these shootings and call for truth, justice, and respect for international law,” he posted on X.

“The situation in Gaza is terrible. All civilian populations must be protected. A ceasefire must be implemented immediately to allow humanitarian aid to be distributed.”

An Israeli military spokesperson claimed “tens” of people were killed in a crush or run over by trucks as they tried to escape, although he also said Israel Defense Forces troops had “opened fire” after feeling under threat.

R Adm Daniel Hagari said: “Tens of Gazan residents were killed as a result of overcrowding, and the Palestinian trucks unfortunately ran over them during an attempt to escape. An IDF force that was securing the area passed by the crowd and opened fire only when they encountered danger, when the mob moved toward it in a manner that endangered the force.”

He added: “Contrary to accusations, we did not fire toward individuals seeking aid and we did not fire toward the humanitarian convoy from the ground nor from the air.”

At an earlier briefing, an Israeli spokesperson said soldiers fired at a small group that moved away from the trucks and threatened a checkpoint.

Amid differing accounts of what happened, Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, said she was shocked by reports of the incident. “People wanted relief supplies for themselves and their families and ended up dead. The reports from Gaza shock me. The Israeli army must fully explain how the mass panic and shooting could have happened,” she wrote on social media.

The White House said the deaths of 112 desperate people seeking food for their families were “tremendously alarming”.

The state department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, told reporters the US was “urgently seeking additional information on exactly what took place” and not all the facts were known. Washington would be “pressing for answers”, he said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said that at a closed-door emergency session of the UN security council the US had blocked a resolution put forward by Algeria that said the deaths were “due to opening fire by Israel forces”. Of the council’s 15 members, “14 members supported the text”, Mansour said after the meeting.

He added: “This outrageous massacre is a testimony to the fact that as long as the security council is paralysed and vetoes [are cast], then it is costing the Palestinian people their lives.” Washington has three times blocked security council resolutions for a ceasefire in Gaza.

On Friday, Stéphane Séjourné, the French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, told France Inter: “We will ask for explanations, and there will have to be an independent probe to determine what happened. France calls things by their name. This applies when we designate Hamas as a terrorist group, but we must also call things by their name when there are atrocities in Gaza.”

If an investigation concluded that the Israeli shooting was a war crime, “then obviously this becomes a matter for the judiciary”, he said.

Spain’s foreign minister said the “unacceptable” events underlined the “urgency of a ceasefire”, while the EU foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, expressed horror at “yet another carnage among civilians in Gaza desperate for humanitarian aid”.

Saudi Arabia strongly condemned what it called the “targeting” of unarmed civilians, while Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also issued condemnations.

Qatar warned that Israel’s “disregard for Palestinian blood … [will] pave the way for an expanding cycle of violence”.

Gaza health officials said at least 112 people were killed and 280 injured after Israeli forces opened fire on an aid distribution point.

The Israeli military said a “stampede” occurred when thousands of desperate Palestinians surrounded a convoy of 38 aid trucks, leading to dozens of deaths and injuries, including some who were run over by the lorries.

Thursday’s casualties added to a death toll in Gaza which the Hamas-run health ministry said had exceeded 30,000, mainly women and children.

The war began after the Hamas attack on southern Israel on 7 October that resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians. About 250 people were taken hostage.

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Billionaire sues OpenAI accusing it of putting profit before humanity

Elon Musk sues OpenAI accusing it of putting profit before humanity

Lawsuit says chief executive Sam Altman’s deal with Microsoft has broken organisation’s mission

Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit accusing OpenAI and its chief executive, Sam Altman, of breaching its foundational mission by putting the pursuit of profit ahead of the benefit of humanity.

The world’s richest man, a founding board member of the artificial intelligence company behind ChatGPT, claimed Altman had “set aflame” OpenAI’s founding agreement by signing an investment deal with Microsoft.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco on Thursday, claims OpenAI is now developing artificial general intelligence (AGI) – a theoretical form of AI that can perform a range of tasks at or above a human level of intelligence – for profit rather than for the benefit of humankind.

“OpenAI Inc has been transformed into a closed-source, de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft. Under its new board, it is not just developing but is actually refining an AGI to maximise profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity,” the lawsuit alleges.

The suit opens with Musk’s often-stated warning that AGI poses “a grave threat to humanity”.

“Where some like Mr Musk see an existential threat in AGI, others see AGI as a source of profit and power,” said the lawsuit, adding that in the hands of for-profit companies such as Google, AGI poses a “particularly acute and noxious danger to humanity”.

Musk and other tech experts are concerned that an AGI could evade human control and take actions that endanger the planet.

The suit claims Altman purported to share Musk’s concerns over AGI and in 2015 proposed forming a non-profit AI lab that would be “the opposite of Google”, now known as OpenAI. Together with Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president, who is also being sued by Musk, the three men agreed to create a lab whose principles would be enshrined in a founding agreement.

The lab would be “for the benefit of humanity”, would be a not-for-profit company and would be open-source, the term for making the technology freely available.

The lawsuit claims that Musk, who stepped away from OpenAI in 2018, was a “moving force” behind the creation of OpenAI and supplied a majority of its funding in its early years. Microsoft is now the biggest investor in the company after a deal struck in 2020.

The lawsuit claims that OpenAI, Altman and Brockman “set the founding agreement aflame” in 2023 after releasing GPT-4, the powerful model that underpins OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. GPT-4’s design was kept secret and such behaviour showed a radical departure from OpenAI’s original mission, the lawsuit said.

“This secrecy is primarily driven by commercial considerations, not safety,” says the lawsuit, which is claiming breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unfair business practices.

It added that GPT-4 was an AGI technology effectively owned by Microsoft, an arrangement that is allegedly outside the scope of the company’s licensing agreement with OpenAI. The lawsuit also claims OpenAI is developing a model know as Q* [Q star] that has an even stronger claim to be AGI.

The lawsuit goes on to claim that the tumultuous period of events in November 2023, when Altman was sacked as OpenAI’s CEO and then reinstated, showed Microsoft had “significant leverage” over the company. The new board introduced after Altman’s reinstatement does not have the expertise to ascertain whether the company has achieved AGI and thus whether it has produced a product outside the scope of Microsoft’s licence, the lawsuit adds.

“This case is filed to compel OpenAI to adhere to the founding agreement and return to its mission to develop AGI for the benefit of humanity, not to personally benefit the individual defendants and the largest technology company in the world,” the lawsuit claims.

OpenAI’s deal with Microsoft is being scrutinised by competition authorities in the US, the EU and the UK.

Brian Quinn, a professor at Boston College law school in the US, said there were multiple issues with the lawsuit. He said Musk did not have the standing to sue for breach of the OpenAI board’s certificate of incorporation because he was not a board member. The suit addresses this by claiming that a 2015 email between Musk and Altman setting out the founding agreement, together with the certificate, constitutes a contract. Quinn said this fell “far short” of being a viable legal argument.

A demand for return of money that Musk invested in OpenAI was also likely to fail because the suit claimed OpenAI veered from its mission in 2023 – long after Musk stopped supporting the non-profit.

“It’s hard to see that he has any standing to attempt to enforce his ‘founding agreement’ or the certificate,” said Quinn.

OpenAI, Microsoft and Google have been approached for comment.

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Ticketing company denies responsibility for refunds to postponed Australian tour

Ticketing company denies responsibility for refunds to Donald Trump Jr’s postponed Australian tour

Ticketbud says money was sent directly to organisers Turning Point Australia, but it says money is only received after events are completed

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A ticketing company has denied claims by the organiser of Donald Trump Jr’s postponed Australian tour that it is responsible for processing refunds, arguing Turning Point Australia received the money.

The eldest son of the former US president and Republican frontrunner for the 2024 US presidential election was due to speak at events in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in July last year, but the event was initially postponed to September amid claims of visa difficulties.

Organisers, Turning Point Australia, said in September the event had been postponed to December because of a “scheduling conflict” with Trump Jr. In early December, ticket holders received another email stating the event would be moved to 2024.

Guardian Australia reported this week that some ticket holders were still waiting for requested refunds and the company had failed to respond to emails for a month.

Turning Point Australia’s founder, rightwing influencer Joel Jammal, said this week the responsibility for ticketing and refunds was with the ticketing companies, saying all money was held by those organisations until after the event.

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“We have had several complaints from ticket holders that ticketing agencies are being slow in refunding tickets, and we are doing our best to investigate each case,” he said. “We have given each request an undertaking that their case will be dealt with and are holding the ticketing agencies to account on each case. We have successfully resolved and refunded over 2,000 individual cases to date.”

While Ticketek has processed refunds for the Sydney show, some customers for Brisbane and Melbourne shows who bought through Ticketbud had reported not receiving refunds despite multiple requests to Turning Point Australia.

A spokesperson for Ticketbud refuted Jammal’s claim on Thursday, stating the payments through the Ticketbud system go through Stripe and are paid to the organisers.

“Unfortunately, Ticketbud is not responsible for issuing refunds,” a spokesperson said.

“Event funds are processed by the payment processor Stripe, and sent directly to the organiser of the event. Event funds are never held or processed by Ticketbud directly. The funds are held by Stripe and the event organiser.”

The spokesperson also disputed the claim that Turning Point Australia does not get the funds until after the event.

“Refunds are the sole responsibility of the organiser. Ticketbud, as an event registration and ticketing platform, does not control how the event is run and does not issue refunds on the event organisers’ behalf.”

Jammal and Stripe were approached for comment.

Jammal said this week that he is in the process of working through Trump Jr’s availability for this year, as well as the logistics for venues, and will make an announcement in March.

Turning Point Australia has not posted on its social media accounts since November. Jammal has not posted on Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, YouTube, X/Twitter or TikTok since November.

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Thomas Kingston died from ‘traumatic head wound’ and gun found, inquest told

Thomas Kingston died from ‘traumatic head wound’ and gun found, inquest told

Gun was near body of Lady Gabriella Kingston’s husband in outbuilding at his parents’ home, coroner’s court hears

Thomas Kingston, the husband of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s daughter, Lady Gabriella Kingston, died from a “traumatic head wound” and a gun was found near his body, an inquest has heard.

Kingston, who married the king’s second cousin in 2019, was found dead in an outbuilding at his parents’ home in the Cotswolds last week, the inquest was told as it opened at Gloucestershire coroner’s court on Friday.

“I have received evidence of the brief circumstances surrounding this tragic incident also in written format, which complies with rule 23 of the Coroners Rules 2013,” the senior coroner Katy Skerrett said.

“These brief circumstances are as follows: Mr Kingston was visiting his parents’ home in the Cotswolds. On 25 February 2024 he ate lunch with his parents. His father went out to walk the dogs. On his return, Mr Kingston was not in the house, and after approximately 30 minutes his mother went to look for him. His father forced entry on a locked outbuilding when no reply could be gained.

“He found Mr Kingston deceased with a catastrophic head injury. A gun was present at the scene. Emergency services were called. Police are satisfied the death is not suspicious. A postmortem has been undertaken by Dr Jones, a consultant histopathologist, and a provisional cause of death has been given as a traumatic wound to head.”

The coroner said she was satisfied with identification, initial cause of death and the brief circumstances surrounding Kingston’s death, and adjourned proceedings to a date yet to be fixed.

Kingston, a financier, married Gabriella at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in 2019 with Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, among the guests. Prince Michael is the late queen’s cousin.

Gabriella paid tribute to her husband in a joint statement with his family, describing him as an “exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him”. They described his death as a “great shock to the whole family”.

The king and queen sent their “most heartfelt thoughts and prayers” to Gabriella, who is known as Ella, and Kingston’s parents and siblings.

A statement released on behalf of Gabriella, Martin and Jill Kingston, Joanna Connolly and Emma Murray, said: “Tom was an exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him. His death has come as a great shock to the whole family and we ask you to respect our privacy as we mourn his passing.”

Gabriella released a personal photo she took of her husband, showing him smiling and dressed in a casual pink shirt as he stood near a stretch of water in the sunshine.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The king and the queen have been informed of Thomas’s death and join Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and all those who knew him in grieving a much-loved member of the family.

“In particular, their majesties send their most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Gabriella and to all the Kingston family.”

Gabriella and the king are both great-grandchildren of King George V.

Kingston was a director of Devonport Capital, which provides finance for companies in “frontier economies”.

The University of Bristol graduate had also worked in Baghdad, Iraq, to procure the release of hostages after joining the diplomatic missions unit of the Foreign Office. He was a close friend of Pippa Matthews, the Princess of Wales’s sister, and the pair were said to have dated in 2011.

Gabriella, who has worked as an arts and travel director for a brand company, is a writer and contributing editor. She is also a singer-songwriter and released two bossa nova-inspired tracks in 2020 to raise money for charity.

Although she is not a working member of the royal family, she and Kingston’s family are being supported by the royal household. No funeral plans have been released.

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