The Guardian 2024-03-13 01:01:20


Mining magnate Clive Palmer is unveiling the design of his Titanic II project and vowing to build a vessel “far, far superior than the original Titanic” at a media event at Sydney’s Opera House.

Palmer is announcing his vision to build a to-scale replica of the doomed ocean liner will finally come to life after years of planning setbacks.

In a media release handed out to journalists before the event, Palmer says he is bringing in some of “the best designers in the world for cruise shipping” and that the Titanic II will be “the ship of love and the ultimate in style and luxury”.

While there’s no real ship in sight, journalists watched a five-minute video on the TV screens set up in the room showing detailed artist impressions of what every floor of the Titanic II will look like.

Set to classical music and featuring CGI animations of people dressed in period attire from the early 1900s, the video detailed the technical specifications of the ship and explained its features, which include a “Lifeboat Overview”.

Palmer says construction will start early next year and with the ship’s maiden voyage over the iconic transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York scheduled for June 2027.

Addressing journalists, Palmer said:

The love story of Rose and Jack is one that touches the hearts of everybody.

The Titanic we hope can act as a catalyst to reinvigorate some of those values that we’ve got, which will hopefully lead to peace.

WA floods: ‘serious welfare concerns’ for seven people, including four children, missing amid heavy rain

Parts of Goldfields, Eucla and south interior hit with six months’ rain in 24 hours, with severe weather forecast for coming days

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Police have said they hold “serious welfare concerns” for seven people missing hundreds of kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie amid heavy rain and flooding that has cut off road and rail links into Western Australia.

Two vehicles, a beige-coloured Toyota LandCruiser and a white Mitsubishi Triton, were believed to have left Kalgoorlie-Boulder on Sunday between 10am and 2pm, making for Tjuntjuntjara, Kalgoorlie Police said on Tuesday.

Both vehicles contained elderly drivers, with the Mitsubishi Triton also containing five other passengers, four of whom are children aged between seven and 17.

“Concerns are held for the occupants of these two vehicles due to serious weather conditions. It is unknown how much food and water the occupants have in their possession,” police said in a statement.

Parts of WA experienced more than half a year’s rain in 24 hours over the weekend, with more than 155mm of rain recorded at Rawlinna, 900km east of Perth, since 9am Friday.

The Eyre Highway has been closed since the weekend and is likely to remain out of operation for several days.

The Trans-Australian Railway line has also been affected, with key freight routes running between WA and South Australia through the Nullarbor closed amid the rain.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast totals of up to 130mm for parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and south interior districts on Tuesday.

Average rainfall for the area is about 260mm a year, with the resulting downpours wreaking havoc with transport routes.

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

Flooding had affected large parts of the Eastern Goldfields, the central parts of the Eucla districts and much of the interior region around there, with many communities affected.

The rain came after a cold front moved across the south-west of WA on Saturday, and it brought significant moisture from the tropics to the eastern goldfields and interior of the state.

WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued a warning to residents in Carnegie, Rawlinna, Cocklebiddy and Eyre to seek shelter, stand clear of windows and refrain from driving through flood waters.

“This is not typical weather for south-eastern Western Australia,” DFES said.

“If you live in parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and South Interior districts you should take action and stay safe with severe weather to come.”

The DFES deputy assistant commissioner, Gary Gifford, told ABC Regional Drive the highway was expected to remain closed until the end of the week.

“With the forecast which the [Bureau of Meteorology] has provided us with regard to the unprecedented weather which is coming through the southern interior at the moment, we’re certainly planning towards three and five days at this point of view.”

The BoM senior meteorologist Joey Rawson said records had been “smashed” amid the downfall.

“We’ve just seen consecutive days of significant rainfall through that area. The 141mm that we had on Sunday just smashed any previous record at Eyre.”

Rawson said the previous record at Eyre, just south of Madura, was 81.2mm, which was recorded in 2011.

“This is an unprecedented event of heavy rainfall, and it is due to continue as well, we could see another 100mm in that area over the next 24 hours.”

Rawson said this was a “unique weather event” with many of the communities there rarely facing flooding this severe.

“The highway hasn’t been closed, completely closed, for a long time,” he said.

“Usually they still allow transport trucks to go through if there’s a smoke event, but it hasn’t been completely closed for many years.”

While it was uncertain how long the flooding would remain, the rain was due to ease later in the week, with the rain band expected to move on by Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, Christmas Island could be facing a tropical cyclone in the coming days, as a tropical low in the Indian Ocean tracks closer to the Pilbara.

The low is expected to develop into a cyclone later this week, with the possibility it will bring gale force winds to Christmas Island as it passes.

Explore more on these topics

  • Western Australia
  • Australia weather
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘Growers have to be optimists’: Australian grape growers cautiously welcome tariff decision

China released an interim recommendation to lift wine tariffs on Tuesday but growers warn it will take time for the industry to bounce back

  • Sign up for the Rural Network email newsletter
  • Join the Rural Network group on Facebook to be part of the community

China has recommended dropping tariffs on Australian wine exports, in a move grape growers hope signals an end to the oversupply that has caused wine grape prices to plummet.

The interim decision was released on Tuesday after a five-month review of trade sanctions, which began after the Albanese government agreed to suspend Australia’s dispute lodged with the World Trade Organisation until March 31.

Beijing will announce its final decision later this month, but the move has sparked hope the tariffs will be fully removed.

The tariffs of up to 200% were imposed in 2020. Australia has since been in the grips of a wine glut with an oversupply equivalent to more than 2.8bn bottles of wine after vintage last year.

Foreign minister Penny Wong said Australia had stabilised the relationship with China without compromising the nation’s values.

“We have delivered on that commitment through calm and consistent dialogue,” she said. “We continue to press for all remaining trade impediments to be removed.”

Australian Grape and Wine chief executive, Lee McLean, said the decision was a “positive step” towards resuming trade with what was formerly the largest export market.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about the forthcoming decision and will await Mofcom’s (China’s commerce ministry) final determination,” he said.

The 2024 vintage, which is well underway, has seen grape prices slashed.

Mintu Brar, a contractor for the CCW co-operative in South Australia’s Riverland, said he was offered less than half the usual price for merlot grapes, which have not been collected from his vineyard. The co-op supplies grapes to Accolade Wine brands including Berri Estates and has been engaged in a bitter pay dispute over prices from the 2023 vintage.

“Last year their price was $360 to $380 [per tonne] and I had nearly 120 tonnes,” Brar said. “I’m still waiting for the winery to pick up my merlot. All the grapes are shrinking, I think it will be 70 or 80 [tonnes] this year, and a price of $170.”

  • Sign up to receive Guardian Australia’s fortnightly Rural Network email newsletter

Brar has just over 40 hectares (100 acres) under vines. After migrating to Australia from India in 2007, he said his “dream” was to own and operate a vineyard. But after a pandemic, floods, trade tariffs and record-low prices for produce fighting against record-high costs of upkeep, he has questioned whether it was worth the cost.

The Punjabi-Australian man shares his grape-growing exploits on YouTube and said he frequently speaks to people who want to move to the regions and start their own business.

“From last year I [stopped] promoting farming, telling people, ‘Please wait … now is not the time to buy anything.’”

Australian wine exports continued to decline in value and volume in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to an export report by Wine Australia.

Charles Matheson, the grower engagement officer at Riverland Wine, said that lifting tariffs will not be a “silver bullet” to restore grape prices.

“Unfortunately, prices are unlikely to rise in the short term due to the current inventory overhang,” he said. “[But] growers have to be optimists, and this provides a ray of hope that the trade barriers may be broken down.”

Brar said vignerons have been advised to change grape varietals in order to meet market demand. The CCW co-op has offered growers rebates of up to $500 per hectare to switch varieties, but he said the market demand shift faster than vines can grow.

“If some wine company is telling the farmer, ‘We are flooded with shiraz and cab sav, can you change the variety’ it’s very easy to say, but if you want to change the vines in time, you need nearly $20,000 for one acre,” he said.

“You can grow [a new variety] in three years, make it ready to go to market, and after three years have a winery say, ‘This variety is over supplied, please put in another variety,’ how can we survive?”

  • Sign up for the Rural Network email newsletter

  • Join the Rural Network group on Facebook to be part of the community

Explore more on these topics

  • Rural Australia
  • The rural network
  • Agriculture
  • Wine
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Australian renewable sector recorded ‘alarming’ slowdown in 2023, energy body finds

Clean Energy Council report details ‘particularly poor’ investment in large-scale plants but says rooftop solar and batteries are ‘storming ahead’

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Investments in renewable energy plants showed an “alarming” slowdown in 2023, with financial approvals for new solar farms shrinking more than a third while no new windfarms won backing, the Clean Energy Council said in its annual report.

The yearly results come as separate data revealed fossil fuel power stations expanded generation in the first two months of 2024 as heatwaves in the east of Australia sent demand soaring.

The renewable sector was increasingly split between “particularly poor” investment in large-scale plants while rooftop solar continued to spread and investments in batteries large and small were “storming ahead”, the council’s report found.

At the end of 2023, Australia had 56 renewable energy projects under construction, down from 72 a year earlier. These had a combined capacity of about 7.5 gigawatts, more than a fifth lower than the 9.5GW at the end of 2022, it said.

New investment commitments provided an “alarming statistic”, though, as such sign-offs were “a good signifier” of how the sector will perform in the future. All up, $1.5bn was secured for new projects in 2023, less than a quarter of the $6.5bn tally for 2022.

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

“There were no new financial commitments to utility-scale wind projects in 2023 (compared to six in 2022) – a disheartening situation that needs to be addressed,” the council said. The seven new solar projects with 912 megawatts of capacity last year was down from the 1.5GW in 10 solar farms in 2022.

On a rolling 12-month average, investment in the December quarter sank to the lowest level since the council began gathering data in 2017, dipping below $1bn.

Industry hopes of a turnaround in large-scale projects hinge partly on the federal government’s capacity investment scheme. The plan, to run from 2024 to 2027, aims to drive an additional 32GW of renewables and storage into the grid by 2030.

“It is crucial that the new policy provides increased certainty to investors and can bring in the enormous private sector capital that will be required,” the report said.

Slow approvals, though, including in states such as New South Wales, mean the decade-end target of supplying 82% of electricity by renewables will be challenging, Green Energy Markets said in a recent report.

Decarbonising the power grid was also intended to deliver much of the government’s legislated target cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Recent increases in electricity use driven by several heatwaves, though, suggest the industry will see a pickup in pollution in the first quarter of 2024 at least.

Coal-fired power station output in January and February was up 4% from a year earlier in the national electricity market to 20.776 gigawatt hours, according to figures supplied by the Australian Energy Markets Operator (Aemo).

Gas-fired generation was up 14% from a year earlier to 1.538GWh.

By comparison, grid solar was 18% higher than in January-February 2023, while wind generation was up 5%. Rooftop solar output increased 10%.

In New South Wales, Australia’s largest producer and consumer of electricity, the increase in black-coal generation was 10% and gas jumped 42%. Wind power was up 18%, grid solar 21% and rooftop solar 10%, Aemo said.

In 2023, renewable energy supplied a record 39.4% of Australia’s electricity, led by wind’s 13.4% share, the council said. Rooftop solar cracked a 10% share for the first time, reaching 11.2% ahead of solar farms at 7% and hydro’s 6.5% share.

About 3.7m households now have solar panels, with the 337,498 systems added in 2023 trailing only 2021’s record, the council said.

Another positive story was in batteries. At the end of 2023, 27 large-scale battery projects were under construction with a combined capacity of 5GW or 11GWh. That tally was up from 19 being built at the end of 2022 for 1.4GW and 2GWh. New financial commitments for big batteries also rose from 2022’s $1.9bn to $4.9bn last year.

About 56,000 households also had small-scale batteries at the end of 2023, up from 43,000 in 2022 and 37,000 in 2021, the report said, citing figures from SunWiz.

Explore more on these topics

  • Renewable energy
  • Energy
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

AFP officers mistakenly handcuffed and arrested Iraqi refugee after acting on bad tip-off

Agency says bad intelligence led to the wrongful arrest of Nahi Al Sharify at his Sydney home in February, leaving him traumatised and distraught

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Australian federal police agents mistakenly handcuffed an Iraqi refugee on strict visa conditions due to bad intelligence, the agency has confirmed.

Nahi Al Sharify has been in community detention since January 2023 but his case has been included in the NZYQ cohort when about 150 detainees were freed in November, despite the 40-year-old having no criminal record in Australia or elsewhere.

The landmark high court decision ruled that indefinite immigration detention was unlawful and unconstitutional, prompting the government to release dozens of detainees with strict monitoring conditions.

These include wearing ankle monitors, making daily phone calls to a designated Home Affairs Department hotline and an overnight curfew from 10pm to 6am.

The AFP says prior to the botched raid on 29 February it had received information from another law enforcement agency, which it didn’t specify, that the western Sydney man had breached one of his bail conditions by failing to report to his local police.

Al Sharify said he was half-dressed when the armed officers arrived at his home around 4pm and rang the bell.

“As soon as I opened the door they arrested me,” he said.

“They didn’t even let me speak one word, they handcuffed me instantly and I kept on asking why and they said you broke bail.”

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

Al Sharify says he was handcuffed for about 15 minutes at the stairwell in front of his apartment, while he pleaded with the five armed officers to access his phone.

Once he opened his phone he showed them proof of a receipt, which AAP has seen, of him reporting to the Parramatta police command on 26 February.

“After speaking to the man, the AFP made further inquiries about the alleged breach of bail and the AFP was informed a system error had occurred,” a spokesperson from the federal intelligence agency said.

“The AFP released the man soon after that information was made available by another agency.”

“The AFP followed process and procedures in this matter.”

Al Sharify’s permanent protection visa was cancelled in 2017 after he went to Iraq in search of a kidney transplant while suffering life-threatening organ failure.

On the back of the visa cancellation, Al Sharify spent five years in Villawood immigration detention centre and was released last year, months before the high court decision.

He originally sought asylum in 2011 after escaping by boat after the powerful Shia paramilitary group Al Mahdi Army executed his older brother and destroyed their trucking business in Basra.

Al Sharify was on bail after he handed himself in on 18 February for allegedly failing to comply with visa conditions stipulating that he ring the Home Affairs hotline to let them know his whereabouts.

He did not understand he was meant to ring every day and therefore did not ring on weekends.

Magistrate Clare Farnan last month said his failure to ring on a daily basis did not present a danger to the community and granted him bail.

But Al Sharify, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and high blood pressure, was shocked to find himself being arrested aggressively on a Thursday afternoon in Sydney.

“I felt the same way how militias in Iraq used to raid my home and violate me with their guns … and that’s what this raid triggered for me. It’s the same feeling – no difference,” he said.

“These militias targeted my family and executed my brother, and tortured me pulling my finger nails out and completely destroyed my life. I escaped to Australia because of them and now this is happening.”

The AFP’s admission of error was hollow, he said.

“Australia is supposedly a country where the rule of law is upheld, that’s why we left our countries, so why did his happen to me?”

“Why were my rights abused?”

Explore more on these topics

  • Australian immigration and asylum
  • Australian federal police
  • Migration
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Biden clinches Democratic nomination, with Trump closing in on Republican

President and ex-president capture nearly all votes in Georgia and Mississippi, in effect ending primary season

Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump won primary elections in Georgia and Mississippi on Tuesday, with Biden sealing the Democratic nomination.

Both men captured nearly all the votes cast so far in what had become token state primaries, along with the primary for Democrats Abroad and the Republican caucus in Hawaii. Biden also won the Northern Mariana Islands primary Tuesday morning, earning 11 delegates.

In Georgia, a nascent effort to register opposition to the Biden administration’s support for the war in Gaza could not be easily expressed with “no preference” protest votes in Georgia, because the ballot does not provide a way to do so. One woman in Roswell, Georgia described voting for Representative Dean Phillips, who dropped out of the Democratic contest last week, as a substitute.

“I voted a protest vote against the war in Gaza because I think it is horrible what is happening and I’m ashamed of my country right now,” said Robin Hawking, 56, a software developer from Roswell. She said she is normally a Republican voter. “I’m hoping if enough people vote for not-Biden, he’ll get the message that he’s going to lose this election unless he does a cease fire.”

Trump ran unopposed in Georgia, though other names appeared still appeared on the ballot, attracting a few voters.

Scott Carpenter of Roswell voted for former ambassador Nikki Haley because he hated Trump, he said. He voted for Biden in 2020. “I don’t like Trump. I don’t like Biden. I just wanted a different choice,” he said.

Biden won enough delegates in Georgia almost immediately to win the Democratic nomination, which required 1,968 on the first ballot to win.

“Four years ago, I ran for president because I believed we were in a battle for the soul of this nation. Because of the American people, we won that battle, and now I am honored that the broad coalition of voters representing the rich diversity of the Democratic party across the country have put their faith in me once again to lead our party – and our country – in a moment when the threat Trump poses is greater than ever,” he said in a statement.

Trump was also on track to secure the required 1,215 delegates needed for the Republican nomination.

Explore more on these topics

  • US elections 2024
  • Joe Biden
  • Donald Trump
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • Washington state
  • Hawaii
Share

Reuse this content

Divided Washington state to choose Biden or Trump: ‘Everything seems a mess right now’

A recent poll puts Biden leading Trump 54-38, but the ex-president has committed supporters ahead of state’s primary

Had he heard it, Joe Biden would surely have been delighted by Bianca Siegl’s comment – and the fact she barely paused before making it.

“Of course I will be voting on Tuesday,” says the 47-year-old, speaking at a farmers’ market in Seattle’s University district. “If Trump were to get elected, it would be incredibly dangerous for the world and for my family.”

After Nikki Haley suspended her campaign following disappointing results on Super Tuesday and the US president made an unusually partisan and pugnacious State of the Union address, America is in general election campaign mode. While polls show up to 70% of people do not want to see a rematch between Biden and Donald Trump it appears that is set to happen. As the campaigns step up their efforts, Washington state holds its presidential primary on Tuesday. Selections for local legislators and federal lawmakers get made in the summer, so Tuesday is solely a choice for voters to show their preference between the 77-year-old former president and the 81-year-old incumbent.

Tina Sutter is also backing Biden. The 46-year-old registered nurse says she tends not to get involved in politics as it does not make a “lot of difference”. Things are complicated by the fact her parents support Trump, and she “cannot speak to them about politics”. She is not voting on Tuesday, but will definitely do so in November.

“Trump is terrifying and everybody needs to make sure we don’t go through that again,” she says. Her policy priorities are reproductive rights, social justice and the environment, all areas in which she believes Trump would move the nation backwards.

Washington state’s heartland is famous for its fruit farms and being the nation’s largest producer of apples, so cities such as Seattle and Tacoma are known for markets where city residents are hours away selecting from apples such as Cosmic Crisp, Fuji and other less common varieties. Eastern and central Washington are more conservative than the west – the state’s two GOP-held congressional districts, the fifth and the fourth are in the east – and the markets can be a rare coming together of people who live on either side of the Cascade Mountains. At the same time, politics per se tends to be avoided.

In 2020, exit polls showed more than 90% of Black women voted for Biden. But a 63-year-old stall holder who asks to be identified as Marylynn P says she is not prepared to say who she is voting for.

“Everything seems a mess right now,” she says. “But there seemed to be [less undocumented immigration and] people pouring into our cities under Trump.”

Trump certainly has his supporters, and they tend to be very committed indeed.

Loren Culp, a former police chief, was backed by him in 2022 to oust the Republican congressman Dan Newhouse, one of 10 GOP “traitors” in the House who voted to impeach Trump over January 6. (While Newhouse held his seat, another Washington member of Congress who voted against Trump, Jaime Herrera Beutler, lost hers albeit to a Democrat, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who saw off a Trump-backed military veteran, Joe Kent.)

Speaking from Goldendale in the south of the state, Culp says he is convinced Trump will win a second term.

Biden rarely campaigns in Washington; the last Republican president to win the state was Ronald Reagan, but he comes for private fundraising events and to tap into the wealth of liberal-leaning tech-rich millionaires.

In 2020, Biden beat Trump here 58 to 39, and a poll posted recently by the website FiveThirtyEight puts Biden leading Trump 54 to 38.

Yet Biden may not have things entirely without a bump. As in Michigan and Minnesota, where 100,000 and 45,000 people respectively voted as “uncommitted”, activists in Washington are looking to send a similar protest message over the administration’s support for Israel’s military operation in Gaza that has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians.

Most Washington voters cast ballots by mail once they are sent out in late February. The first release of results in the state typically skews more conservative than the electorate as a whole, then moves farther to the left over time as more results from later mail returns and same-day voting comes in.

Rami Al-Kabra, the deputy mayor of the city of Bothell and an organizer for the uncommitted group, says “enough is enough”.

“We need to do more than just calling and protesting in the streets. As Americans, the most precious tool we have is our right to vote.”

Al-Kabra, who believes he is the only elected Palestinian American official in the state, added: “And in Washington, we have this uncommitted delegates option to leverage this.”

Professor James Long, a political scientist at the University of Washington, says he will be watching how many vote “uncommitted”. Though he suspects some of those “uncommitted voters” will “return home” in November, there could be a number on Tuesday who want to express dissatisfaction.

“We don’t have as large a pro-Gaza, or pro-Palestinian, cause as in Michigan, but we have a lot of people on the left,” he adds.

While the Guardian spoke to several Democrats who said they would prefer a younger candidate than Biden, nobody said they had thought about picking “uncommitted”.

Many said they felt the election of 2024 was too important to do anything that might weaken Biden’s chances.

Roger Tucker, 68, a retired architect who was browsing the stands with his wife, Becky, 65, a former university administrator, said: “If Trump is in office for another four years, he’s going to be more powerful than before and less worried that people are going to push back on him.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Washington state
  • US elections 2024
  • Joe Biden
  • Donald Trump
  • Democrats
  • Republicans
  • US politics
  • features
Share

Reuse this content

Aide tried to stop Trump praising Hitler – by telling him Mussolini was ‘great guy’

Ex-president’s second chief of staff tried to convince him fascist dictator was ‘great guy in comparison’, John Kelly tells Jim Sciutto

Donald Trump’s second White House chief of staff tried to stop him praising Adolf Hitler in part by trying to convince the then president Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator, was “a great guy in comparison”.

“He said, ‘Well, but Hitler did some good things,’” the retired marines general John Kelly told Jim Sciutto of CNN in an interview for a new book.

“I said, ‘Well, what?’ And he said, ‘Well, [Hitler] rebuilt the economy.’ But what did he do with that rebuilt economy? He turned it against his own people and against the world. And I said, ‘Sir, you can never say anything good about the guy. Nothing. I mean, Mussolini was a great guy in comparison.”

Kelly, a retired US Marine Corps general, was homeland security secretary in the Trump administration before becoming Trump’s second chief of staff. Resigning at the end of 2018, he eventually became a public opponent of his former boss.

Sciutto is a CNN anchor and national security analyst. His new book, The Return of Great Powers, will be published on Tuesday. CNN published a preview on Monday.

Kelly told Sciutto it was “pretty hard to believe” Trump “missed the Holocaust” in his assessment of Hitler, “and pretty hard to understand how he missed the 400,000 American GIs that were killed in the European theatre” of the second world war.

“But I think it’s more … the tough guy thing.”

Trump’s liking for authoritarian leaders, in particular Vladimir Putin of Russia, is well known. His remarks to Kelly about Hitler – like his former practice of keeping a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bed – have been reported before.

But Sciutto’s recounting of his conversation with Kelly comes amid resurgent fears over Trump’s authoritarian leanings, with Trump the presumptive Republican presidential nominee despite facing 91 criminal charges and multimillion-dollar civil defeats, and having seen off attempts to disqualify him for office.

Kelly’s remarks to Sciutto were published shortly after Trump welcomed to his Florida home Viktor Orbán, the strongman leader of Hungary.

Singing Trump’s praises, Orbán said that if Trump defeats Joe Biden for re-election, the US would not “give a penny” more in aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russian invaders.

Kelly told Sciutto Trump “thought Putin was an OK guy and Kim [Jong-un] was an OK guy … to him, it was like we were goading these guys. ‘If we didn’t have Nato, then Putin wouldn’t be doing these things.’”

Trump recently said that if re-elected, he will encourage Russia to attack Nato members Trump deems not to pay enough into the alliance.

Condemning those remarks as “dumb, shameful and un-American”, Biden has sought to portray Trump as a threat to world security as well as US democracy.

Kelly told Sciutto: “The point is, [Trump] saw absolutely no point in Nato. He was [also] just dead set against having troops in South Korea, again, a deterrent force, or having troops in Japan, a deterrent force” to North Korea.

Kelly was not the only general to fill a civil role in Trump’s administration. James Mattis, also a marine, was Trump’s first secretary of defense while HR McMaster, from the army, was Trump’s second national security adviser.

Kelly told Sciutto Trump thought US generals would prove as loyal to him as German generals did to Hitler.

“He would ask about the loyalty issues,” Kelly said, but “when I pointed out to him the German generals as a group were not loyal to [Hitler], and in fact tried to assassinate him a few times, he didn’t know that.

“He truly believed, when he brought us generals in, that we would be loyal – that we would do anything he wanted us to do.”

A Trump spokesperson told CNN Kelly had “beclowned” himself and should “seek professional help”.

Kelly said: “My theory on why [Trump] likes the dictators so much is that’s who he is.

“Every incoming president is shocked that they actually have so little power without going to the Congress, which is a good thing. It’s civics 101, separation of powers, three equal branches of government.

“But in his case, he was shocked that he didn’t have dictatorial-type powers to send US forces places or to move money around within the budget. And he looked at Putin and Xi [Jinping, of China] and that nutcase in North Korea as people who were like him in terms of being a tough guy.”

On Tuesday, the Biden campaign responded to Kelly’s remarks.

A spokesperson, Sarafina Chitika, said: “Donald Trump’s praise for Hitler is disgraceful but wholly unsurprising from the man who has parroted Nazi rhetoric on the campaign trail, called his political opponents ‘vermin’, and sucked up to dictators and authoritarians like Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán, Kim Jong-un, and the rest of the gang.

“When Donald Trump talks like a dictator, praises dictators, and says he wants to be a dictator, we should probably believe him.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Books
  • Donald Trump
  • Trump administration
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Benito Mussolini
  • US politics
  • Politics books
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

2024 US presidential primaries: live results from Georgia, Mississippi, Hawaii and Washington

Full state-by-state results as well as votes of Democrats abroad and in the Northern Mariana territory

  • Key dates for the 2024 election
  • Who’s running for president?

Georgia, Mississippi, and Washington will choose their presidential candidate on Tuesday in contests that come as both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are already their parties’ presumptive nominees.

Hawaii will also hold its Republican caucuses on Tuesday and Democrats abroad and in the Northern Mariana territory will vote as well.

Barring extraordinary events, Biden will formally gain enough delegates to secure the nomination on 19 March. Meanwhile, Trump must win 140 delegates of 161 up for grabs on Tuesday to officially win the Republican party’s nomination.

Trump no longer faces active opposition after former ambassador Nikki Haley’s withdrawal from the race after Super Tuesday. Biden only faces opposition from author Marianne Williamson, who has won no delegates.

Sharon Stone names producer who ‘told her to sleep with co-star’

Actor says Hollywood mogul Robert Evans told her to have sex with William Baldwin while filming Sliver

Sharon Stone has disclosed the identity of the film producer who she claims demanded she sleep with her co-star in the 1993 film Sliver to improve his acting performance.

The actor alleged that Robert Evans, the Hollywood mogul who headed production at Paramount and died in 2019, told her to have sex with William Baldwin.

The Hollywood star had initially revealed the meeting in her 2021 memoir but without disclosing the identities of those involved.

Stone told the Louis Theroux podcast that Evans claimed she was responsible for addressing Baldwin’s poor acting in the film about a woman discovering tenants’ secrets after moving to an exclusive New York City apartment building.

She said: “[Evans is] running around his office in sunglasses explaining that he slept with Ava Gardner and I should sleep with Billy Baldwin, because [then] his performance would get better.

“If I could sleep with Billy, then we’d have chemistry on screen and save the movie. The real problem was me because I was so uptight, and not like a real actress who could just fuck him and get things back on track.

“The real problem was I was such a tight-ass.”

Stone rose to fame in the 1980s and 90s, appearing in hit films such as Total Recall, The Mighty, Casino, The Last Action Hero and Basic Instinct, where she starred opposite Michael Douglas.

The actor believes the studio bosses were to blame for their poor casting decisions. “I didn’t have to fuck Michael Douglas. Michael could come to work and know how to hit those marks, and do that line, and rehearse and show up.

“Now all of a sudden I’m in the ‘I have to fuck people’ business.”

Stone also suggested in the interview that she was labelled as difficult and was never offered a prominent part after Martin Scorsese’s 1995 gangster film Casino, where she was nominated for an Oscar.

She was told by the director Francis Ford Coppola that she would lose out on an Oscar for her performance as Ginger McKenna, with Susan Sarandon triumphing for her role in Dead Man Walking.

The actor said Coppola told her: “It’s because this room can’t hear opera. They don’t let us win because they don’t want us to take over the system.”

Stone attended the ceremony despite Coppola’s warning she would leave empty-handed.

“You have to pretend it’s fantastic, and it’s not fantastic,” she added. “And then I didn’t get any good parts ever again for the rest of my entire life.”

Stone went on to feature in Catwoman, Lovelace and Basic Instinct 2. In 1999 she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry award for the remake of the John Cassavetes thriller Gloria.

She said: “Did anybody notice me in Lovelace? That was a performance you could sharpen your knives on. Did anybody notice that? Nope.

“Do you see any acknowledgment for any of this stuff? Nope. I’m the invisible actress.”

Stone believes Hollywood did not want her to succeed. “It’s easier to say ‘she’s cold’ or ‘I don’t like her’, or ‘she’s difficult’ or ‘she must be sick’, or ‘she’s too old’ or ‘she’s hard to cast’, or ‘we don’t know what to do with her’,” she said.

“‘What if she comes in and gives another performance and she gets nominated instead of Robert De Niro? That’s not what we want to have happen.’”

Stone moved into television roles and appeared in drama series including Mosaic and Agent X, where she was also executive producer.

In 2015, she criticised the gender pay gap in the industry and across all professions. The actor said at the time: “After Basic Instinct, no one wanted to pay me.

“I remember sitting in my kitchen with my manager and just crying and saying: ‘I’m not going to work until I get paid’. I still got paid so much less than any men.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Sharon Stone
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Sharon Stone names producer who ‘told her to sleep with co-star’

Actor says Hollywood mogul Robert Evans told her to have sex with William Baldwin while filming Sliver

Sharon Stone has disclosed the identity of the film producer who she claims demanded she sleep with her co-star in the 1993 film Sliver to improve his acting performance.

The actor alleged that Robert Evans, the Hollywood mogul who headed production at Paramount and died in 2019, told her to have sex with William Baldwin.

The Hollywood star had initially revealed the meeting in her 2021 memoir but without disclosing the identities of those involved.

Stone told the Louis Theroux podcast that Evans claimed she was responsible for addressing Baldwin’s poor acting in the film about a woman discovering tenants’ secrets after moving to an exclusive New York City apartment building.

She said: “[Evans is] running around his office in sunglasses explaining that he slept with Ava Gardner and I should sleep with Billy Baldwin, because [then] his performance would get better.

“If I could sleep with Billy, then we’d have chemistry on screen and save the movie. The real problem was me because I was so uptight, and not like a real actress who could just fuck him and get things back on track.

“The real problem was I was such a tight-ass.”

Stone rose to fame in the 1980s and 90s, appearing in hit films such as Total Recall, The Mighty, Casino, The Last Action Hero and Basic Instinct, where she starred opposite Michael Douglas.

The actor believes the studio bosses were to blame for their poor casting decisions. “I didn’t have to fuck Michael Douglas. Michael could come to work and know how to hit those marks, and do that line, and rehearse and show up.

“Now all of a sudden I’m in the ‘I have to fuck people’ business.”

Stone also suggested in the interview that she was labelled as difficult and was never offered a prominent part after Martin Scorsese’s 1995 gangster film Casino, where she was nominated for an Oscar.

She was told by the director Francis Ford Coppola that she would lose out on an Oscar for her performance as Ginger McKenna, with Susan Sarandon triumphing for her role in Dead Man Walking.

The actor said Coppola told her: “It’s because this room can’t hear opera. They don’t let us win because they don’t want us to take over the system.”

Stone attended the ceremony despite Coppola’s warning she would leave empty-handed.

“You have to pretend it’s fantastic, and it’s not fantastic,” she added. “And then I didn’t get any good parts ever again for the rest of my entire life.”

Stone went on to feature in Catwoman, Lovelace and Basic Instinct 2. In 1999 she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry award for the remake of the John Cassavetes thriller Gloria.

She said: “Did anybody notice me in Lovelace? That was a performance you could sharpen your knives on. Did anybody notice that? Nope.

“Do you see any acknowledgment for any of this stuff? Nope. I’m the invisible actress.”

Stone believes Hollywood did not want her to succeed. “It’s easier to say ‘she’s cold’ or ‘I don’t like her’, or ‘she’s difficult’ or ‘she must be sick’, or ‘she’s too old’ or ‘she’s hard to cast’, or ‘we don’t know what to do with her’,” she said.

“‘What if she comes in and gives another performance and she gets nominated instead of Robert De Niro? That’s not what we want to have happen.’”

Stone moved into television roles and appeared in drama series including Mosaic and Agent X, where she was also executive producer.

In 2015, she criticised the gender pay gap in the industry and across all professions. The actor said at the time: “After Basic Instinct, no one wanted to pay me.

“I remember sitting in my kitchen with my manager and just crying and saying: ‘I’m not going to work until I get paid’. I still got paid so much less than any men.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Sharon Stone
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Turnbull says Australia ‘mugged by reality’ on Aukus deal as US set to halve submarine build

Former PM says the reality is the US will not make their submarine deficit worse by giving or selling submarines to Australia

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia has been “mugged by reality” over the Aukus submarine deal after the US announced it will halve the number of submarines it will build next year, throwing the Australia end of the agreement into doubt.

With the US president, Joe Biden, continuing to face a hostile Congress, the Pentagon budget draft request includes construction of just one Virginia-class nuclear submarine for 2025.

Under the Aukus agreement, production is meant to be ramped up to ensure Australia will have access to the US’s secondhand submarines in the 2030s.

The defence minister, Richard Marles, said the US remained committed to the deal.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Aukus, Australia, the United States and United Kingdom remain steadfast in our commitment to the pathway announced last March, which will see Australia acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines,” he said.

“All three Aukus partners are working at pace to integrate our industrial bases and to realise this historic initiative between our countries.”

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

Greens senator David Shoebridge, who has been critical of the Aukus deal from the start, said the US budget announcement was the beginning of the end of Aukus.

“When the US passed the law to set up Aukus, they put in kill switches, one of which allowed the US to not transfer the submarines if doing so would ‘degrade the US undersea capabilities’. Budgeting for one submarine all but guarantees this,” he said on X.

The US budget does include increased spending on the submarine industrial base, which was a key component of the Aukus pillar one deal, as it laid the groundwork to increase production in the coming years.

But Turnbull, an architect of the French submarine deal which was unceremoniously dumped by the Morrison government in favour of the Aukus deal, said Australia was now at the mercy of the United States for a key part of its defence strategy.

He said that the US needed to increase submarine production to meet its own needs before it was able to transfer boats to Australia, but were now only producing about half as many that were needed for the US navy and were struggling to maintain the boats they held, due to labour shortages.

What does that mean for Australia? It means because the Morrison government, adopted by Albanese, has basically abandoned our sovereignty in terms of submarines, we are completely dependent on what happens in the United States as to whether we get them now,” he told ABC radio.

“The reality is the Americans are not going to make their submarine deficit worse than it is already by giving or selling submarines to Australia and the Aukus legislation actually sets that out quite specifically.

“So you know, this is really a case of us being mugged by reality. I mean, there’s a lot of Aukus cheerleaders, and anyone that has any criticism of Aukus is almost described as being unpatriotic. We’ve got to be realistic here.”

The ALP grassroots activist group, Labor Against War, want the Albanese government to freeze Aukus payments to the US so as not to “underwrite the US navy industrial shipyards”.

The national convenor of Labor Against War, Marcus Strom, said Australian taxpayers should not be footing the bill for America’s dockyards.

“We are on the hook to the tune of $3bn as soon as next year as a downpayment for subs that might never arrive and be useless on delivery,” he said.

“This Labor government managed to junk Scott Morrison’s tax plan. Why would it be so stupid to continue with his war plan?”

While the Pentagon has sought to assure Australia its submarine production will be back on track by 2028, the looming threat of Donald Trump returning to the White House has raised further concerns the deal will be scuttled.

“On Aukus pillar 1 we are effectively in conflict with the needs of the US navy, and you know as well as I do the American government, when it comes to a choice between the needs of the US navy and the Australian navy, are always going to back their own,” Turnbull said.

Explore more on these topics

  • Aukus
  • Malcolm Turnbull
  • Australian foreign policy
  • Australian politics
  • Australian security and counter-terrorism
  • US foreign policy
  • Labor party
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Four federal politicians defend taxpayer-funded trips coinciding with Melbourne Cup that cost more than $5,000

Don Farrell, Anika Wells, David Littleproud and Anne Ruston attended the race in 2022 while in the city for other official events

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

Four federal politicians have defended taxpayer-funded trips that allowed them to attend the 2022 Melbourne Cup, costing more than $5,000 in accommodation and transport.

Labor ministers Don Farrell and Anika Wells, along with the Nationals leader, David Littleproud, and the shadow sports minister, Anne Ruston, attended the event in the Victorian capital on 1 November 2022, charging the public for various expenses associated with their attendance.

Littleproud and Farrell were guests of Tabcorp, Wells was invited by beer company Furphy, while Ruston was a guest of Pernod Ricard Winemakers, according to their registers of interest.

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

A Guardian Australia analysis of the most recent data from the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (Ipea) for the period between October and December 2022 has shown costs associated with travelling to Melbourne, accommodation and the use of official government cars amounted to $5,316 for the four days.

Wells and Littleproud used the Comcar transport service on 1 November, charging taxpayers $244.80 and $489.60, respectively.

Parliamentarians are supplied with the chauffeur service for official parliamentary business, according to the finance department’s advice. The advice adds that the dominant purpose must be parliamentary business and that politicians must be prepared to publicly justify the use of public resources.

Wells and Littleproud did not respond on the record regarding their use of the transport service.

Wells and Farrell stayed in Melbourne for two nights, claiming $928 each for their “official duties” travel allowance.

It is understood Farrell conducted some stakeholder meetings over the two days in addition to his attendance at the races, flying out on Tuesday after the horses crossed the finish line.

A spokesperson for Wells said she had appeared at the racing event as sports minister but her reason for travelling to Melbourne was for an address at the Melbourne Institute the next day.

Wells flew out from Melbourne to Brisbane on 2 November, costing $611.82, shortly after appearing at a panel on aged care funding.

Ruston flew into Melbourne from Canberra on 31 October for $1,102.34. She stayed in Melbourne for three nights, totalling $402.

A spokesperson said Ruston attended the cup in her capacity as shadow sports minister, adding that “all of the senator’s travels are in line with Ipea guidelines”.

Littleproud described his visit to the major sporting event as just “passing through” as part of a larger trip across the region following major floods.

From the Flemington racetrack, the Queensland MP told 2GB’s Ben Fordham he knew “three-fifths of bugger all about the Melbourne Cup”.

The next day Littleproud headed to Traralgon, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, to campaign alongside the state Nationals candidate for Morwell.

Ipea records show Littleproud then took a chartered flight from Traralgon to Bendigo – a three-and-a-half-hour drive – costing $13,200, to visit flood-affected areas.

A spokesperson for Littleproud said he is “constantly travelling across regional Australia meeting with individuals, businesses and communities”.

“The trip to Victoria included visits to regional business owners and communities, as well as speaking directly with communities from flood-affected northern Victoria,” the spokesperson said.

It is not the first time a politician has charged taxpayers for costs associated with attending the Melbourne Cup.

In 2020, Guardian Australia revealed the deputy prime minister at the time, Michael McCormack, had used a VIP government jet to fly himself and his wife to the race.

Ipea had also investigated expenses claimed by the New South Wales senator Hollie Hughes after she claimed a travel allowance on Melbourne Cup day.

Hughes justified the claim – which was accepted by Ipea – by saying the alcohol company that gave her a spot in its marquee had employees in her home state, making her attendance parliamentary business.

Explore more on these topics

  • Australian politics
  • Melbourne Cup
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Hunter Valley bus crash driver Brett Button ‘truly sorry’ after allegedly killing 10 people

Button faces 89 charges, including 10 counts of manslaughter and 16 of causing bodily harm by ‘wanton or furious driving’

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Brett Button, the bus driver accused of causing one of Australia’s deadliest crashes, has apologised for what happened and says he is devastated.

Defence barrister Chris O’Brien read out a brief statement on Button’s behalf outside the Newcastle local court on Wednesday, saying his client was “truly sorry”.

Button said there was not a day or night he doesn’t think about the families of those killed or injured in last year’s crash.

The 59-year-old had been ordered to attend court for the first time since he appeared last June in Cessnock local court, charged over the deaths of 10 people and injuring 25 others.

He appeared briefly before magistrate Ian Cheetham on Wednesday, where O’Brien said an initial case conference had been held with lawyers from the New South Wales Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. O’Brien said discussions were continuing.

Cheetham agreed to adjourn the case to 3 April and continued Button’s bail.

Button had previously been excused from attending court since being charged because he was legally represented.

He was granted bail in June, after concerns were raised over his mental health and wellbeing if he remained in custody.

Button faces a total of 89 charges, after 10 counts of manslaughter and 16 of causing bodily harm by “wanton or furious driving” were added to previous charges when the case was mentioned in court in January.

He has yet to enter pleas to the charges.

He was arrested after allegedly losing control of a bus taking 35 wedding guests from the Wandin Valley Estate to Singleton about 11.30pm on 11 June.

The bus slammed into a guard rail and rolled on to its side.

Button has been accused of taking the roundabout on Wine Country Drive at Greta too fast, allegedly telling some passengers to “fasten your belts” before the fatal crash in thick fog.

Many on board were members of the Singleton Roosters Australian Rules Football club.

The 10 people who died in the crash were Nadene McBride and her daughter, Kyah, 22, of Singleton; Kane Symons, 21, from Tasmania; Andrew Scott, 35, and his wife, Lynan, 33, of Singleton; Zach Bray, 29, from Byron Bay; Angus Craig, 28, from Queensland; Darcy Bulman, 30, from Melbourne; and Tori Cowburn, 29 and Rebecca Mullen, both of Singleton.

The Hunter Valley Bus Tragedy Fund, administered by Rotary, to help those affected by the crash raised close to $1.5m.

Those on board had earlier attended the wedding of Mitchell Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell.

The names of the 25 injured people on the bus have been suppressed.

Explore more on these topics

  • Hunter Valley bus crash
  • New South Wales
  • Hunter Valley
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Andrew Tate faces extradition to UK over rape and human trafficking claims
  • LiveAustralia news live: Clive Palmer re-re-launches Titanic II project, 12 years after replica plans revealed
  • Arsenal beat Porto on penalties to reach Champions League last eight – as it happened
  • Sharon Stone names producer who ‘told her to sleep with co-star’
  • US Holocaust survivors’ foundation calls Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech ‘morally indefensible’

Hunter Valley bus crash driver Brett Button ‘truly sorry’ after allegedly killing 10 people

Button faces 89 charges, including 10 counts of manslaughter and 16 of causing bodily harm by ‘wanton or furious driving’

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Brett Button, the bus driver accused of causing one of Australia’s deadliest crashes, has apologised for what happened and says he is devastated.

Defence barrister Chris O’Brien read out a brief statement on Button’s behalf outside the Newcastle local court on Wednesday, saying his client was “truly sorry”.

Button said there was not a day or night he doesn’t think about the families of those killed or injured in last year’s crash.

The 59-year-old had been ordered to attend court for the first time since he appeared last June in Cessnock local court, charged over the deaths of 10 people and injuring 25 others.

He appeared briefly before magistrate Ian Cheetham on Wednesday, where O’Brien said an initial case conference had been held with lawyers from the New South Wales Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. O’Brien said discussions were continuing.

Cheetham agreed to adjourn the case to 3 April and continued Button’s bail.

Button had previously been excused from attending court since being charged because he was legally represented.

He was granted bail in June, after concerns were raised over his mental health and wellbeing if he remained in custody.

Button faces a total of 89 charges, after 10 counts of manslaughter and 16 of causing bodily harm by “wanton or furious driving” were added to previous charges when the case was mentioned in court in January.

He has yet to enter pleas to the charges.

He was arrested after allegedly losing control of a bus taking 35 wedding guests from the Wandin Valley Estate to Singleton about 11.30pm on 11 June.

The bus slammed into a guard rail and rolled on to its side.

Button has been accused of taking the roundabout on Wine Country Drive at Greta too fast, allegedly telling some passengers to “fasten your belts” before the fatal crash in thick fog.

Many on board were members of the Singleton Roosters Australian Rules Football club.

The 10 people who died in the crash were Nadene McBride and her daughter, Kyah, 22, of Singleton; Kane Symons, 21, from Tasmania; Andrew Scott, 35, and his wife, Lynan, 33, of Singleton; Zach Bray, 29, from Byron Bay; Angus Craig, 28, from Queensland; Darcy Bulman, 30, from Melbourne; and Tori Cowburn, 29 and Rebecca Mullen, both of Singleton.

The Hunter Valley Bus Tragedy Fund, administered by Rotary, to help those affected by the crash raised close to $1.5m.

Those on board had earlier attended the wedding of Mitchell Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell.

The names of the 25 injured people on the bus have been suppressed.

Explore more on these topics

  • Hunter Valley bus crash
  • New South Wales
  • Hunter Valley
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Andrew Tate faces extradition to UK over rape and human trafficking claims
  • LiveAustralia news live: Clive Palmer re-re-launches Titanic II project, 12 years after replica plans revealed
  • Arsenal beat Porto on penalties to reach Champions League last eight – as it happened
  • Sharon Stone names producer who ‘told her to sleep with co-star’
  • US Holocaust survivors’ foundation calls Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech ‘morally indefensible’

Navalny ally Leonid Volkov injured in hammer attack in Vilnius

Photos published by late dissident’s team show Russian citizen covered in blood after assault outside his home in Lithuania

Leonid Volkov, a longtime aide to the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has been attacked with a hammer outside his house in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

“Volkov has just been attacked outside his house. Someone broke a car window and sprayed teargas in his eyes, after which the attacker started hitting Leonid with a hammer,” former Navalny spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote on X late on Tuesday.

The attack comes almost a month after the sudden death of Navalny in an Arctic prison, which Volkov and Navalny’s widow Yulia blamed directly on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Ivan Zhdanov, another Navalny ally, said that Volkov had been taken to hospital after the attack.

Images published by the Navalny team after the attack showed Volkov’s face and legs covered in blood, while another photo showed a car with its window smashed.

Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, described the reported attack as “shocking”.

“News about Leonid’s assault are shocking. Relevant authorities are at work. Perpetrators will have to answer for their crime,” Landsbergis wrote on X.

The Lithuanian police told the local news outlet Delfi that “a man, a Russian citizen, was beaten near his home in Vilnius” on Tuesday evening.

Volkov recently urged Russians to turn out in big numbers for an election day protest ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

The incident marks the first attack on Navalny’s allies since they left Russia more than three years ago. Volkov and other key members of the Navalny team have lived in Lithuania since Russian authorities classified Navalny’s groups as “extremist” organisations in 2021. Most of Navalny’s closest allies are on Moscow’s wanted list and would face long-term prison sentences if they entered Russia.

Berlin police last year also opened an investigation into the suspected poisoning of two independent Russian journalists visiting the city for a conference organised by the Russian Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Explore more on these topics

  • Alexei Navalny
  • Lithuania
  • Russia
  • Vladimir Putin
  • Europe
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Boeing whistleblower found dead in South Carolina

John Barnett was one of several people who raised alarm in 2019 about concerns of safety lapses at Boeing’s North Charleston plant

A former quality manager at Boeing who became a prominent whistleblower and raised concerns over the planemaker’s production line has been found dead.

John Barnett died on Saturday from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to officials in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Charleston police department is investigating. “We understand the global attention this case has garnered, and it is our priority to ensure that the investigation is not influenced by speculation but is led by facts and evidence,” it said.

Barnett, 62, retired in 2017 after almost three decades at Boeing. After finding clusters of metal slivers hanging over flight control wiring on several planes, Barnett said he urged his bosses to remove them. Instead, they moved him to another part of the company’s plant in North Charleston.

After filing a whistleblower complaint with regulators, Barnett made his concerns public in 2019, when he was one of several whistleblowers featured in a New York Times story about concerns over safety lapses at Boeing’s North Charleston site.

Boeing pushed back against his accounts.

“We are saddened by Mr Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends,” the company said on Tuesday.

Boeing is now grappling with its biggest safety crisis since the crashes of two of its 737 Max 8 jets, in 2018 and 2019, in which 346 people were killed. A brand-new 737 Max 9 jet was forced into an emergency landing in January after a cabin panel blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight.

Regulators grounded 171 Max 9 aircraft for several weeks, and are still inspecting the planemaker’s production line. Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, has acknowledged the company faces a “serious challenge” to win back the confidence of officials and airlines.

Earlier this month, however, Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, revealed that Boeing had declined to tell investigators who worked on the door plug that blew off during the Alaska flight, and had yet to provide documentation about a repair job that included removing and reinstalling the panel.

“It’s absurd that two months later we don’t have that,” Homendy told a Senate committee. “Without that information, that raises concerns about quality assurance, quality management, safety management systems” at Boeing.

The company later stressed it had “deep respect” for the agency. “We have now provided the full list of individuals on the 737 door team, in response to a recent request,” Boeing said. “With respect to documentation, if the door plug removal was undocumented there would be no documentation to share.”

While concerns have focused on the Max program, an incident onboard a Boeing 787 this week has broadened scrutiny. The pilot of a Latam Airlines flight from Sydney to Auckland reportedly said he temporarily lost control of the jet amid a sudden drop that threw passengers around the cabin.

Brian Jokat, a passenger, told CNN he woke up as the plane “dropped something to the effect of 500 feet instantly”.

After landing, Jokat said the pilot told him that the gauges “went blank”, and that “for that brief moment he couldn’t control anything”, before the gauges returned and the flight continued as normal. At least 50 people are said to have been hurt, with 10 passengers and three cabin crew members taken to hospital.

Boeing said it is “in contact” with Latam and “stands ready” to support an investigation into what happened. “We are thinking of the passengers and crew from Latam Airlines Flight 800, and we commend everyone involved in the response effort.”

  • In the US, you can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 988, chat on 988lifeline.org, or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org

Explore more on these topics

  • Boeing
  • South Carolina
  • Airline industry
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Police appeal for leads over elderly cyclist’s shooting on Victorian trail seven years ago

Detectives yet to uncover motive for shooting of Kelvin Tennant, who was riding his motorised bicycle along the Myrtleford-Everton Rail Trail

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Detectives are at a dead end in their investigation over what was behind an elderly cyclist’s shooting, seven years after the attack.

Police have returned to the scene of an elderly cyclist’s mysterious shooting in the hopes of finding answers as the man still lives with the consequences of the attack.

It is seven years since Kelvin Tennant was riding his motorised bicycle along the Myrtleford-Everton Rail Trail at Everton in Victoria’s north-east about midday on 18 February 2017, when he was shot a number of times by a man who got out of a parked car.

The shooter then fled in a dark-coloured sedan.

Tennant was shot in the head and chest and found by passing cyclists lying unconscious on the bike trail.

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

The then 72-year-old was flown to Melbourne’s Alfred hospital, where doctors were able to remove two bullets from his body and he fought to stay alive.

Tennant ultimately survived the attack – remembered as one of Victoria’s enduring mysteries – but it took him months to recover and he still lives with eyesight and hearing issues because of the shooting.

Armed crime squad detectives on Wednesday conceded they were still scratching their heads about who was behind the shooting, after announcing a $500,000 reward for information in 2019.

Detectives again returned to Everton this week, searching the homes of people banned from having guns and otherwise asking around in the hope of giving Tennant some answers.

Police hoped interstate holidaymakers who were in the area at the time saw something of use to their investigation but were only yet to realise it.

They urged anyone who was in the Everton area or passed through it on 18 February 2017, to come forward, reiterating that the $500,000 reward for information leading them to the shooter was still on offer.

“Seven years ago, Kelvin was simply out enjoying riding his motorised bike along a beautiful rail trail when someone tried to kill him,” Detective Sergeant Brad Potts said in a statement.

“Despite our extensive enquiries over the years, we’ve never been able to uncover any possible motive for this.

“Someone out there knows who is responsible for trying to kill an innocent man, and it is time to do the right thing and come forward with that information.”

Tennant loved the area and riding his bike before he was shot, Potts said.

The Myrtleford-Everton Rail Trail attracts hundreds of cyclists during warm weather and the area is popular with visitors to the Great Alpine Road.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has the power to grant people who provide information about the investigation indemnity from prosecution.

Explore more on these topics

  • Crime – Australia
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Interest rate rise unlikely after sluggish quarter of GDP growth, Australian economists say

Spending on Taylor Swift concerts defies pattern of consumers tightening their belts, with CBA predicting a September rate cut

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Australia’s economy is experiencing another “very soft quarter” of growth, all but ruling out another interest rate rise by the Reserve Bank despite inflation easing at a slower pace, said Steven Halmarick, CBA’s chief economist.

CommBank’s household spending index, which is based on the outlays of about seven million CBA customers, fell 0.3% in February to 141.6 points. The tally was lower than in November, indicating spending over summer shrank.

The decline last month came despite a splurge on concerts, including seven by US star Taylor Swift. Spending at music festivals was up 76% from January, while transactions at function and event centres, such as on merchandise, leapt 115%.

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

“[T]he jump in hospitality and recreation spending wasn’t enough to offset weakness across seven of the 12 categories of the index, which paints a picture of consumers cutting back,” Halmarick said.

Queensland was the only state to report an increase in spending in February 2024 – despite not hosting a Swift concert. From a year earlier, national spending was up 3.5%, or roughly in line with inflation.

Halmarick said the November interest rate rise by the Reserve Bank started to take effect for many borrowers last month. “It’s going to be another very soft quarter [for GDP growth], which combined with the deceleration in inflation makes us increasingly confident that the RBA rate hikes are done and the next move is down.”

The RBA board meets for a second time in 2024 next Monday and Tuesday. Financial markets were rating a 25 basis-point cut in the cash rate to 4.1% as about a one-in-10 chance. CBA continues to pencil the first rate cut to land in September.

Australia’s economy expanded 0.2% in the December quarter, slowing from 0.3% in the previous three months, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said last week.

A similar pace can be expected for the first half of 2024, Halmarick said, adding the RBA would likely wait until it got the March quarter inflation figures – scheduled for release on 24 April – before deciding whether to remove its tightening bias or not.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said last week the latest GDP figures showed “the balance of risks in our economy is shifting from inflation to growth”, stoking expectations the federal budget to be released on 14 May will include extra spending measures.

Chalmers received an indirect endorsement of his performance from his predecessor, Josh Frydenberg, at an AFR business summit in Sydney on Tuesday.

Some households were “hurting, no doubt” given the many interest rate rises and the cost of living. The RBA, though, had likely hit peak interest rates and inflation was heading down, Frydenberg, now chair of the local operations of Goldman Sachs, said.

Unemployment might tick up but “it’s still relatively low”, he said. “Overall, I think the economy is in pretty good shape.”

NAB’s monthly business survey, out on Tuesday, also showed the economy was remaining “resilient” as conditions improved last month to be back above the long-run average.

“[I]t is really too early to say if this is just a temporary lift or the beginning of a more meaningful turnaround,” Alan Oster, NAB’s chief economist, said.

“Conditions look very robust in some of the services sectors such as transport, recreation and personal services, finance, business and property,” Oster said. “On the other hand, retail and construction both look fairly weak, which reflects direct exposure to the high level of interest rates.”

One asset that has withstood higher interest rates has been housing. The value of the nation’s dwellings rose almost 2% – or $196.8bn – in the final three months of 2023, to just shy of $10.4tn, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

All states and territories saw a pickup in values, with NSW dwellings worth almost $1.2m on average.

By contrast, those in Victoria came in at $895,000 on average, with those in all regions except the ACT lower still, underscoring the relatively high housing cost pressures in Sydney and elsewhere in NSW.

Explore more on these topics

  • Australian economy
  • Reserve Bank of Australia
  • Interest rates
  • Jim Chalmers (Australian politician)
  • news
Share

Reuse this content