The Guardian 2024-03-15 01:01:25


Continuing from our last post:

Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas said Victoria still receives less than its population share “as it has in every year since the GST was introduced”:

If premier [Chris] Minns is concerned about mendicant states, I would remind him that New South Wales has been an infrastructure ‘welfare recipient’ from the Commonwealth at the expense of Victorians for decades. In the federal government’s latest mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, Victoria received one per cent of new infrastructure spending, and has only received 60% of our population share over the past five years.

He ended the statement by boasting about Victoria leading the nation in creating new jobs and a forecast from Deloitte that says the state will lead the nation in economic growth in the next five years. Pallas said:

Isn’t it just so Sydney of premier Minns to bemoan Melbourne’s success.

Australian woman among two tourists killed in Bali landslide that swept away villa

Wooden villa in Jatiluwih hit by landslide after heavy rain the previous night, official says

Two tourists, including an Australian woman, have been killed on the Indonesian resort island of Bali after heavy rain triggered a landslide that swept away their villa, an official said on Thursday.

Large areas of the archipelago of 17,000 islands are prone to flooding and landslides during the wet season which starts around November.

The wooden villa in Jatiluwih village on the popular tourist island was hit by the landslide on Thursday morning after a downpour in the area the previous night, local disaster mitigation agency official I Nyoman Srinadha Giri told AFP.

The intense rain eroded water canals used for irrigation that sit above the villa and triggered the landslide, killing the two, according to the official.

“The victims were evacuated from the debris while in sleeping (positions). There were two victims, a man and a woman in one bed,” he said.

The female victim, 47, was born in Australia and had a US permanent residence permit, while the male victim’s was reported to be her 50-year-old Dutch partner.

The victims’ bodies were transferred to a hospital in the provincial capital Denpasar.

Landslides in Indonesia have been aggravated in some places by deforestation, with prolonged torrential rain causing flooding in some areas.

Landslides and floods triggered by intense rains on Sumatra island last week killed at least 27 people.

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More pharmacies open across Australia despite guild’s dire forecasts on 60-day prescriptions

Lobby group, which is meeting on the Gold Coast with Peter Dutton giving the keynote address, warned in 2023 that hundreds of pharmacies would close

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The federal government received 87 applications to open new pharmacies in the months after the announcement of 60-day prescriptions– 50% more than were received in the same period the year prior.

The increase occurred despite warnings from lobby group the Pharmacy Guild, and from the federal opposition, that the dispensing changes may lead to pharmacy staff cuts, fee increases for services and hundreds of pharmacy closures.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, said at the time that while he supported cheaper medicines, taxpayers should bear the cost of the reforms. He also supported a Pharmacy Guild campaign opposing the reforms.

Dutton will deliver the keynote address on Friday at the annual Australian Pharmacy Professional conference, organised by the Pharmacy Guild, being held from 14-17 March on the Gold Coast.

Since 1 September, doctors have been issuing eligible patients with a 60-day prescription for 184 common medicines to treat ongoing health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and osteoporosis. It means patients can fill two scripts for the price of one, halving the cost of many common medicines to the consumer.

The changes followed reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that almost 1 million Australians delayed or did not fill their medications in 2019-20 due to the time and cost involved in attending GP consults for repeat scripts, and the cost of medicines.

Changing the 30-day supply to 60 days was also a recommendation from clinical experts at the independent pharmaceutical benefits advisory committee in 2018 but the measure was not implemented by the former Coalition government.

Since the reforms were introduced, Australians have saved $11.7m on almost 3 million 60-day scripts issued between September and January, the latest available data shows.

The health minister, Mark Butler, told Guardian Australia that a further 100 medicines will become eligible on 1 September.

He said the latest available data shows the government received 87 new pharmacy applications between May 2023 and January 2024.

The government had reinvested the savings made from fewer dispensing fees paid to pharmacies for each script back into the industry. For example, the national immunisation program has been expanded so pharmacists now receive the same fee as a doctor for administering a vaccine.

Rural and regional pharmacies will also see upwards of $300,000 allocated towards them over the next four years through new and increased government payments.

Pharmacists also receive payments through the pharmaceutical benefits scheme for dispensing opioid dependency medicines.

“Together, these investments have already seen an extra $50m flow into pharmacies, over and above business as usual,” Butler said.

Dutton’s office told Guardian Australia key points from his keynote address at the Australian Pharmacy Professional Conference will not be shared before Friday.

The Pharmacy Guild did not respond to questions about any impact they had seen to pharmacies since the dispensing reforms were introduced.

Despite the data showing pharmacy losses had not eventuated, the government announced on Thursday that it had reached a non-binding draft agreement with the Guild over the Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement, which will see pharmacists allocated an extra $3bn over the five year agreement term.

The agreement, which governs how pharmacies supply medicines subsidised by the government under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, will commence from 1 July 2024 if finalised.

Guardian Australia asked Butler’s office for any further details about what specifically the additional $3bn will go towards, but did not receive a response.

The chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum (CHF), Dr Elizabeth Deveny, said the CHF had not heard from any consumers about their local pharmacy closing due to the 60-day dispensing reform.

“Our expectation is that the government is monitoring this so people, especially in rural and remote areas, have continued access to their valued community pharmacy,” she said.

However, Deveny said she had received feedback from consumers that they found some of the dispensing changes confusing.

“Many are confused by the eligibility rules or a lack of information from some pharmacists and GPs, especially in the early stages of the rollout, about how this was applied to patients,” she said.

“In particular, the amount of money saved by patients depends on whether their medicines are priced over or under the $31.60 general co-payment, and has led to some confusion about the ‘two-for-one’ offer.”

While she said the CHF and consumers broadly are supportive of any reform that reduces healthcare costs, there is a need for more education about how changes apply to them, and consultation throughout the entire reform process.

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Concerns raised over solitary confinement in Queensland youth detention after deaths of two First Nations boys

Government report says placing children in prison isolation can affect their health and wellbeing in ‘severe, long-term and irreversible ways’

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A Queensland government report has raised concerns over the use of solitary confinement in youth detention, detailing the case of two First Nations children with disabilities who died after spending extensive time in isolation at overcrowded and understaffed youth detention centres.

The Child Death Review Board’s annual report, tabled in state parliament on Thursday, details the anonymised cases of two boys, Harry* and Jack*. One boy died by suicide and the other by drug overdose.

The report detailed that both boys had an extensive history of trauma, exposure to violence, substance abuse, disengagement from school and subsequently involvement in the criminal justice system.

Both were suspected to have undiagnosed foetal alcohol syndrome, which was not properly identified at an early age.

Harry spent 376 days in a youth detention centre; Jack was detained for 319. Both spent extensive periods in “separation”, which is a bureaucratic term for solitary confinement.

Of the entire time he was in detention, Harry was confined to his cell 78% of the time.

Jack was confined to his cell for more than 22 hours a day on 55 separate days. On 22 days he was in his cell for more than 23 hours. Three times he spent 24 hours in his cell without a break.

The report said one of the boys “experienced incidents of bullying and victimisation from other young people while in detention”.

“Records show he was spat on by other young people, punched in the head, had water thrown on him and was bullied because of his size,” the report said.

“Records show this boy requested to move cells because he feels he is being bullied …[and]… that he is sick of the sexualised behaviours and inappropriate comment[s] by some of the other young people in the unit.

“When he considered that this move was not actioned quickly enough, he tried to flood his cell and his access to water was turned off. He reported spending additional time in his cell by choice because he felt unsafe.”

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Most of the recorded separations were due to staff shortages. Guardian Australia’s reporting last year revealed the true extent of solitary confinement and lockdowns in the Cleveland youth detention centre in Townsville, where children were routinely locked in “separation” for weeks, and received little schooling or other form of rehabilitation.

Concerns were also raised about “filthy” conditions. Staff shortages had been blamed for the extensive lockdowns, and the state government has since said it has recruited more staff.

The death review report said the extended separations “significantly impacted” Jack’s access to education, therapeutic and cultural programs, social and leisure activities, exercise, fresh air and sunlight.

“Youth Justice noted separation periods directly led to [Jack] having limited ability to engage in criminogenic programs during his time remanded,” it said.

“While the number and length of separations experienced by [Harry] were not as significant, he too had his programs, education and activities interrupted by staff shortages and separations.”

The report labelled separation “counter-productive”.

“Rather than improving behaviour, it creates problems with reintegration and fails to address the underlying causes of behaviour,” it said.

When both boys were locked in confinement, the number of incidents they were involved in increased.

“Both boys experienced heightened emotions and behaviours as a direct result of extended periods of separations and the associated reduction in access to activities and programs,” the report said.

An incident report about Jack recorded that he “appeared extremely agitated and it was clear that [he] was frustrated being in the unit and with minimal activities”.

Other records related to Jack detail “behavioural escalations” during separation periods including being verbally abusive and kicking the cell door. In August 2021, he armed himself with a broom and afterwards told staff he had not wanted to return to his cell after only an hour and 12 minutes outside. Some of his personal belongings were confiscated in response.

“There is a trend with the number of behavioural incidents increasing as his time locked in his cell per day increased,” the report said.

The report raised concern that the youth detention system – particularly the practice of placing children in separation, isolation or solitary confinement – can affect their health and wellbeing in “severe, long-term and irreversible ways”.

“Many of the children and young people in detention have experienced a life of significant disadvantage and marginalisation, with many being the victims of abuse and neglect,” it said.

“Being confined in a cell for extended periods of time, without interaction with peers, family, culture and support networks creates an environment of re-traumatisation. Research has shown pre-existing mental health problems are likely exacerbated by experiences during incarceration, such as isolation, boredom and victimisation.”

The report said Harry enjoyed fishing, basketball, football and computer games. He had a mild language disorder, suspected foetal alcohol syndrome and reported feelings of anxiety and suicidal ideation. He had poor emotional regulation and problem solving skills and demonstrated antisocial behaviour from about age 11. He went to detention nine separate times.

Jack liked to play football. He was the victim of a sexual assault at age 14, about the same time he became involved in the youth justice system. He suffered from multiple suspected disabilities, some which were not properly diagnosed, and had cognitive and language impairments.

Greens MP Michael Berkman said the information about the deaths should spark “an immediate end to, or at least an investigation into” the use of separation in youth prisons.

“It shouldn’t take two tragic deaths like this to wake the government up. But if not now, when?” Berkman said.

“This report confirms a devastating truth: that isolating children in detention compounds their mental and emotional distress, and is driving some children to suicide.”

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. 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. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org

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CSIRO chief warns against ‘disparaging science’ after Peter Dutton criticises nuclear energy costings

Douglas Hilton says he will ‘staunchly defend’ scientists as opposition leader repeats incorrect claim that CSIRO report does not accurately represent cost of renewables

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Australia’s science agency, CSIRO, has rejected Peter Dutton’s claim its estimates of the cost of renewables are unreliable.

CSIRO chief executive, Douglas Hilton, has warned that maintaining trust “requires our political leaders to resist the temptation to disparage science”, rejecting Dutton’s comments about its GenCost report.

But the opposition leader has doubled down, repeating his incorrect claim on Friday that the report does not properly cost renewables and transmission required to integrate them into the grid.

On Tuesday, Dutton claimed the annual CSIRO report that had included estimates of costs for small modular reactors – which are not yet available commercially – was “discredited” because it “doesn’t take into account some of the transmission costs, the costs around subsidies for the renewables”.

Despite Dutton’s claim, the most recent GenCost report does include the cost of integrating renewables such as solar and wind into the electricity grid. That is, it includes the cost of building new transmission lines and energy storage such as batteries.

On Friday Hilton said that he will “staunchly defend our scientists and our organisation against unfounded criticism”.

“The GenCost report is updated each year and provides the very best estimates for the cost of future new-build electricity generation in Australia,” he said in a statement.

“The report is carefully produced, its methodology is clearly articulated, our scientists are open and responsive to feedback, and as is the case for all creditable science, the report is updated regularly as new data comes to hand.

“The GenCost report can be trusted by all our elected representatives, irrespective of whether they are advocating for electricity generation by renewables, coal, gas or nuclear energy.”

The most recent GenCost report estimates a theoretical small modular reactor built in 2030 would cost $382 to $636 per megawatt hour. It says this is much more expensive than solar and wind, which it puts at between $91 and $130 per MWh even once integration costs are included.

Hilton said that “science is crucial to providing the data and models that allow society to tackle profound challenges … like the Covid-19 pandemic, transition to net zero, keeping Australian industry productive and sustainable, and protecting our unique biodiversity”.

“For science to be useful and for challenges to be overcome it requires the trust of the community.

“Maintaining trust requires scientists to act with integrity. Maintaining trust also requires our political leaders to resist the temptation to disparage science.”

Hilton insisted that “CSIRO’s scientists and engineers can be relied on by the community to work creatively, assiduously and with integrity”.

On Friday Dutton doubled down on the comments, despite the rebuke, telling Channel Nine his point was “we need to compare apples with apples”.

“And at the moment that report … doesn’t take into consideration all of the costs around renewables,” he claimed, repeating his original error.

“I’m strongly in favour of renewables, but we need to keep the lights on and we need to keep power prices down.

“And the fact that most other developed countries are adopting a zero emissions latest generation nuclear technology means that we could get greener power, we could get cheaper power, but also reliable power as well,” he said, without evidence.

“All I’m saying is, let’s have a fair comparison. Instead of a skewed one. And that’s why I was critical of that particular report, not of the CSIRO in general. And I think it was a fair point to make.”

The Coalition is yet to produce a costed energy policy, despite arguing to lift Australia’s ban on nuclear energy and suggesting it will nominate six potential sites for nuclear reactors.

On Tuesday the shadow energy minister, Ted O’Brien, told ABC 7:30 “our view is we should not be closing our coal-fired power stations prematurely” – comments that were seized on as an indication the Coalition will prolong their life, worsening greenhouse gas emissions.

The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, has repeatedly rebuffed Dutton’s nuclear push, citing cost – including an estimate from the energy department that replacing fossil fuels with nuclear could cost $387bn.

Bowen has accused the Coalition of using “the rightwing playbook of 2023 – populism, polarisation and post-truth politics” in making false claims about the potential for nuclear power in Australia.

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Time to stop using term ‘long Covid’ for symptoms like those after flu, study finds

Queensland research’s lead author says thinking longer-term Covid symptoms are unique can create hypervigilance and impede recovery

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Long Covid may be no different from other post-viral syndromes such as those experienced after flu, according to new research from Queensland Health.

The lead author of the study, the state’s chief health officer Dr John Gerrard, said it was “time to stop using terms like ‘long Covid’” because they imply there is something unique about the longer-term symptoms associated with the virus, and in some cases create hypervigilance for them which can impede recovery.

There are different definitions of long Covid but the World Health Organization defines post-Covid or long Covid as occurring in people still experiencing symptoms three months after their initial Covid-19 infection, when those symptoms can’t be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

The study surveyed 5,112 adults who had symptoms of a respiratory illness and underwent PCR testing between May and June 2022. Of those, 2,399 were positive for Covid-19, 995 positive for influenza and 1,718 negative for both.

A year after their PCR test, participants were asked about ongoing symptoms and impairment using a questionnaire delivered by SMS link.

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Overall, 16% reported ongoing symptoms a year later, and 3.6% reported moderate-to-severe impairment in their daily activities.

The results of the study, which Gerrard will present next month at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona, found no evidence that those who had Covid-19 were more likely to have functional limitations a year on compared with those who did not have Covid-19 (3.0% v 4.1%).

The 3% of the study participants who had ongoing impairments after Covid-19 infection was similar to the 3.4% with ongoing impairments after influenza.

Gerrard said long Covid may have appeared to be a distinct and severe illness because of the high number of people infected with Covid-19 within a short period of time, rather than the severity of long Covid symptoms.

“We believe it is time to stop using terms like ‘long Covid’. They wrongly imply there is something unique and exceptional about longer-term symptoms associated with this virus. This terminology can cause unnecessary fear, and in some cases, hypervigilance to longer symptoms that can impede recovery.”

The researchers acknowledged the findings are associations and do not represent prevalence, and acknowledged limitations in that participants who were attended hospital or had pre-existing illness were not identifiable. They also said because 90% of people in Queensland were vaccinated when Omicron emerged, the lower severity of long Covid could be due to vaccination and the variant.

Prof Philip Britton, a paediatric infectious diseases physician from the University of Sydney and a member of the Long Covid Australia Collaboration, welcomed the study given the lack of published research from Australia in this area.

However, Britton said the study’s conclusion that it was time to stop using terms such as long Covid was “overstated and potentially unhelpful. Long Covid has been a global phenomenon, recognised by WHO.”

Prof Jeremy Nicholson, the director of the Australian National Phenome Centre at Murdoch University, said the question of whether long Covid is unique “cannot be simply answered in this work”.

“The study is observational, based on reported symptoms with no physiological or detailed functional follow-up data. Without laboratory pathophysiological assessment of individual patients, it is impossible to say that this is indistinguishable from flu-related or any other post-viral syndrome,” Nicholson said.

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Neurological conditions now leading cause of ill-health worldwide, finds study

Numbers living with or dying from disorders such as stroke rises dramatically to 3.4bn people – 43% of global population

Neurological conditions ranging from migraine to stroke, Parkinson’s disease and dementia, are now the leading cause of ill-health worldwide, causing 11.1 million deaths in 2021, research has revealed.

The number of people living with or dying from disorders of the nervous system has risen dramatically over the past three decades, with 43% of the world’s population – 3.4 billion people – affected in 2021, according to a study published in the Lancet.

The analysis in the Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors study suggested that the total amount of disability, illness and premature death caused by 37 neurological conditions increased by just over 18% from about 375m years of healthy life lost in 1990 to 443m years in 2021.

Researchers said the rise was owing to the growth of the global population and higher life expectancy, as well as increased exposure to environmental, metabolic and lifestyle risk factors such as pollution, obesity and diet respectively.

In the UK, figures from Brain Research UK show one in six people have some form of neurological condition, with 2.6 million people living with the effects of traumatic brain injury or stroke.

There are more than 944,000 people in the UK who have dementia, with the numbers expected to increase to more than a million by 2030.

Globally, stroke was the condition with the greatest burden of disease. The other leading contributors included meningitis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, brain injury in newborn babies, neurological complications in babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, nerve damage caused by diabetes, autism and cancers of the nervous system.

The most prevalent neurological disorders in 2021 were tension headaches, with about 2bn cases, and migraine, with about 1.1bn cases.

The fastest growing condition surveyed was nerve damage caused by diabetes, which was ranked as having the fifth highest disease burden globally, reflecting the steep rise in type 2 diabetes over the same period.

For the first time, the study examined neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, and neurological disorders in children, finding that they accounted for 80m years of healthy life lost worldwide in 2021 – about a fifth of the total.

The researchers highlighted global health inequalities, with 80% of neurological deaths and health loss occurring in low- and middle-income countries. In the worst-off regions of western and central sub-Saharan Africa, the death rate and years lost to ill-health, disability or early death were five times higher than the global average.

The study flagged up the importance of preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing some neurological conditions, most importantly lowering high systolic blood pressure, which measures arterial pressure when the heart beats. These measures could prevent 84% of illness, disability and premature death from stroke, it found.

The lead author, Dr Jaimie Steinmetz, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said: “As the world’s leading cause of overall disease burden, and with case numbers rising 59% globally since 1990, nervous system conditions must be addressed through effective, culturally acceptable and affordable prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care strategies.”

Dr Leah Mursaleen, the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “These figures are really concerning and underline the need for urgent action. Without it, dementia is going to continue to devastate millions of lives across the world. Here in the UK, that means placing an even greater strain on the NHS.”

Juliet Bouverie, the chief executive at the Stroke Association, said: “It is highly concerning to read that neurological conditions like stroke are now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. In the UK alone, there are more than 100,000 strokes each year and 1.3 million stroke survivors and these numbers are only set to grow.

“While stroke has a devastating effect on many people and their family and friends, it also has a huge societal impact financially. By next year, the average cost of stroke to the NHS will rise to £43bn and this could increase to £75bn by 2035. Then there is the loss of productivity – with one in four strokes happening to people of working age, without support to get stroke survivors back into work, the UK is looking at a cost of £1.3bn per year in lost productivity.”

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Father of Michigan school shooter found guilty of involuntary manslaughter

Groundbreaking verdict holds James Crumbley, father of teen who killed four students, criminally responsible for actions of his child

The father of a school shooter in Michigan has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a case that created headlines across the United States for seeking to find a parent criminally responsible for the actions of their child.

James Crumbley, 47, is the father of Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old boy who took a gun from home and killed four students at Oxford high school on 30 November 2021.

In February, Ethan’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, raising the prospects that parents of future school shooters will also face trial in American courts.

The Crumbleys are the first US parents to be prosecuted in such a way.

During the five-day trial for James Crumbley, prosecutors showed that the gun, a newly acquired Sig Sauer 9mm, was not safely secured at the Crumbley home.

While Michigan didn’t have a storage law at that time, James Crumbley had a legal duty to protect others from possible harm by his son, prosecutors have argued.

“James Crumbley is not on trial for what his son did,” prosecutor Karen McDonald told the jury. “James Crumbley is on trial for what he did and for what he didn’t do.”

He “doesn’t get a pass because somebody else” actually pulled the trigger, she said.

Ethan’s mental state was slipping on the day of the shooting: he made a macabre drawing of a gun and a wounded man on a math assignment and added: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. Blood everywhere. The world is dead.”

But the Crumbleys declined to take Ethan home after a brief meeting at his school, accepting only a list of mental health providers as they returned to work. They didn’t tell school staff that a handgun similar to one in the drawing had been bought by James Crumbley just four days earlier.

Ethan pulled the gun from his backpack a few hours later and began shooting. No one had checked the bag.

The Oxford victims were Justin Shilling, 17; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Hana St Juliana, 14; and Tate Myre, 16.

The verdicts – one each for the four victims – were read around 7.15pm local time at the end of a full day of deliberations.

James Crumbley listened to the outcome through headphones worn throughout the trial because of a hearing issue. He shook his head from side to side as the jury foreman said “guilty”.

Family members of some of the fallen students wept quietly and gripped each other’s hands in the second row of the courtroom gallery.

“I know this verdict will not bring them back,” said McDonald, “but I hope it will serve as an example of the importance of holding those who enable gun violence accountable.”

James and Jennifer Crumbley are the first US parents to be charged with having responsibility for a mass school shooting by a child.

Earlier, in November 2021, Ethan wrote in his journal that he needed help for his mental health “but my parents don’t listen to me so I can’t get any help”.

Defense attorneys have said James Crumbley didn’t know that Ethan knew where to find the gun at home and school officials seemed more concerned about him harming himself, not others.

Ethan Crumbley, now 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and terrorism.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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Father of Michigan school shooter found guilty of involuntary manslaughter

Groundbreaking verdict holds James Crumbley, father of teen who killed four students, criminally responsible for actions of his child

The father of a school shooter in Michigan has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a case that created headlines across the United States for seeking to find a parent criminally responsible for the actions of their child.

James Crumbley, 47, is the father of Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old boy who took a gun from home and killed four students at Oxford high school on 30 November 2021.

In February, Ethan’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, raising the prospects that parents of future school shooters will also face trial in American courts.

The Crumbleys are the first US parents to be prosecuted in such a way.

During the five-day trial for James Crumbley, prosecutors showed that the gun, a newly acquired Sig Sauer 9mm, was not safely secured at the Crumbley home.

While Michigan didn’t have a storage law at that time, James Crumbley had a legal duty to protect others from possible harm by his son, prosecutors have argued.

“James Crumbley is not on trial for what his son did,” prosecutor Karen McDonald told the jury. “James Crumbley is on trial for what he did and for what he didn’t do.”

He “doesn’t get a pass because somebody else” actually pulled the trigger, she said.

Ethan’s mental state was slipping on the day of the shooting: he made a macabre drawing of a gun and a wounded man on a math assignment and added: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. Blood everywhere. The world is dead.”

But the Crumbleys declined to take Ethan home after a brief meeting at his school, accepting only a list of mental health providers as they returned to work. They didn’t tell school staff that a handgun similar to one in the drawing had been bought by James Crumbley just four days earlier.

Ethan pulled the gun from his backpack a few hours later and began shooting. No one had checked the bag.

The Oxford victims were Justin Shilling, 17; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Hana St Juliana, 14; and Tate Myre, 16.

The verdicts – one each for the four victims – were read around 7.15pm local time at the end of a full day of deliberations.

James Crumbley listened to the outcome through headphones worn throughout the trial because of a hearing issue. He shook his head from side to side as the jury foreman said “guilty”.

Family members of some of the fallen students wept quietly and gripped each other’s hands in the second row of the courtroom gallery.

“I know this verdict will not bring them back,” said McDonald, “but I hope it will serve as an example of the importance of holding those who enable gun violence accountable.”

James and Jennifer Crumbley are the first US parents to be charged with having responsibility for a mass school shooting by a child.

Earlier, in November 2021, Ethan wrote in his journal that he needed help for his mental health “but my parents don’t listen to me so I can’t get any help”.

Defense attorneys have said James Crumbley didn’t know that Ethan knew where to find the gun at home and school officials seemed more concerned about him harming himself, not others.

Ethan Crumbley, now 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and terrorism.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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Aaron Rodgers denies he believes Sandy Hook murders were an inside job

  • CNN reported quarterback believes shooting was staged
  • NFL star issues statement on 2012 school shooting

Aaron Rodgers has denied he believes the murder of 20 children in the Sandy Hook school shooting was an inside job by the US government.

The New York Jets quarterback has been under increased scrutiny this week after the New York Times reported he is a potential running mate for Robert F Kennedy Jr’s independent presidential campaign.

On Wednesday night, CNN ran a report in which one of its journalists said Rodgers told her in 2013 that he believed the Sandy Hook tragedy was staged. CNN quotes another person who said that Rodgers said the 2012 shooting “never happened … All those children never existed. They were all actors.” The person alleges the quarterback said the parents of the murdered children were “all making it up. They’re all actors.”

Conspiracy theories around the shooting have circulated for years and have been disproven. Parents of the victims have suffered harassment by people who do not believe the murders took place.

On Thursday, Rodgers issued a statement outlining his beliefs on the shooting.

“As I’m on the record saying in the past, what happened in Sandy Hook was an absolute tragedy,” he wrote on X. “I am not and have never been of the opinion that the events did not take place. Again, I hope that we learn from this and other tragedies to identify the signs that will allow us to prevent unnecessary loss of life. My thoughts and prayers continue to remain with the families affected along with the entire Sandy Hook community.”

Rodgers is known for promoting widely disproved fringe theories around subjects such as Covid-19, immigration, vaccines, the September 11 attacks and masking.

The 40-year-old has spoken of his admiration for Kennedy, and last week called him “presidential”. Kennedy says he will announce his running mate on 26 March. In a podcast last month, Rodgers said he does not support Joe Biden or Donald Trump for president.

“Trump got four years. I don’t know how much this swamp got drained,” he said on Look Into It With Eddie Bravo. “It seemed like there are certain members of the establishment who stayed in power or got to power. Biden. I mean, he’s a puppet. I don’t know who’s actually running the country, whether it’s somebody else, but he can barely put his sentences together.”

Rodgers has yet to comment on whether he would be interested in being Kennedy’s vice-presidential candidate. He is guaranteed $38m in salary next season from the Jets, who would presumably object to him campaigning during the NFL season, which starts in September. In his prime, Rodgers was one of the most talented players in the NFL but he tore an achilles tendon in his Jets debut last year and missed the rest of the season.

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Bee invasion forces delay of Alcaraz-Zverev quarter-final at Indian Wells

  • Players ran for cover as bees swarmed court, stands and cameras
  • Sinner, Paul, Świątek and Gauff through to semi-finals

Defending BNP Paribas Open champion Carlos Alcaraz and sixth seed Alexander Zverev were forced off the court for more than an hour by a swarm of bees during their quarter-final match in Indian Wells.

With the Spaniard serving at 1-1 in the first set the bees invaded the court area, stands and covered cameras.

The umpire Mohamed Lahyani suspended the match and the players retreated into the tunnel, swatting bees away as they went.

A member of staff appeared to be attempting to vacuum some bees off the camera equipment while play was suspended.

The match had only been going for nine minutes when the bees disrupted play, with the eventual winner to face Italian Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals.

Sinner defeated Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 6-3 to cruise into the semi-finals and continue his 16-match winning streak this year.

Women’s world No 1 Iga Świątek said she was glad she was not on the court when the bees flew in.

“That’s crazy,” she said in her post-match press conference. “There was nothing like [that] 30 minutes ago. I would run away!”

Earlier, Świątek of Poland reached the semi-finals when former World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark retired in the second set of their quarter-final.

Wozniacki, who won at Indian Wells in 2011, held a 4-1 lead in the first set before Swiatek rallied for a 6-4 win.

Wozniacki took a medical time-out in between sets for a foot issue, then played just one game in the second set before pulling out of the match. Swiatek, seeking her second title at Indian Wells in three years, won the match 6-4, 1-0.

“I have huge respect for her,” Świątek said. “I’m sad that it had to finish that way, but I hope she is going to recover and be ready for Miami.”

Next up for Świątek in the semi-finals will be No 31 seed Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, who beat No 28 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-0, 7-5 in just 68 minutes.

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Pierce Brosnan pleads guilty to hiking off-trail in Yellowstone park

James Bond star fined $500 and told to donate $1,000 to non-profit that supports park after stepping out of bounds in a thermal area

Pierce Brosnan, whose fictitious movie character James Bond has been in hot water plenty of times, pleaded guilty Thursday to stepping off a trail in a thermal area during a November visit to Yellowstone national park.

Brosnan, who called in to the court hearing, was fined $500 and ordered to make a $1,000 donation to Yellowstone Forever – a non-profit organization that supports the park – by 1 April, court records showed.

A second petty offense, for violating closures and use limits, was dismissed by US magistrate judge Stephanie Hambrick.

Brosnan’s attorney, Karl Knuchel, was not immediately available for comment.

Brosnan, 70, walked in an off-limits area at Mammoth Terraces, in the northern part of Yellowstone near the Wyoming-Montana line, on 1 November, according to the citations. He was in the park on a personal visit and not for film work, the US attorney’s office for Wyoming has said.

Mammoth Terraces is a scenic spot of mineral-encrusted hot springs bubbling from a hillside. The spot is just some of the park’s hundreds of thermal features, which range from spouting geysers to gurgling mud pots, with water at or near the boiling point.

Going out-of-bounds in such areas can be dangerous: some of the millions of people who visit Yellowstone each year get badly burned by ignoring warnings not to stray off the trail.

Getting caught can bring legal peril, too, with jail time, hefty fines and bans from the park handed down to trespassers regularly.

In addition to his four James Bond films, Brosnan starred in the 1980s TV series Remington Steele and is known for starring roles in the films Mrs Doubtfire and The Thomas Crown Affair.

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Prosecutors willing to delay Trump’s hush-money trial to review new records

Manhattan prosecutors say they are willing to delay ex-president’s trial – due to start later this month – up to 30 days

Manhattan prosecutors on Thursday said they are willing to delay Donald Trump’s trial on charges related to making hush-money payments for up to 30 days so they can review records newly obtained from federal authorities.

The request has the potential to delay the proceedings, which were to begin with jury selection on 25 March in New York and would be the first of the four criminal indictments against the former US president to go to trial.

The office of the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, told the court that they were open to the delay because they had received from federal prosecutors about 31,000 page of records, and expected more next week.

“Based on our initial review of yesterday’s production, those records appear to contain materials related to the subject matter of this case, including materials that the People requested from the [US attorney’s office (USAO)] more than a year ago and that the USAO previously declined to provide,” prosecutors wrote.

Trump’s lawyers have asked to either delay for 90 days or for the charges to be dropped against him, alleging violations of the discovery process, in which the defense and prosecution shares evidence with each other. Prosecutors have said a delay of that length is not necessary.

The New York case centers on allegations Trump directed his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet before the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she says they had a decade earlier, and then falsely recorded his reimbursement to Cohen as legal expenses.

Trump, who recently clinched enough delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination and is expected to face off against Joe Biden in November, denies the encounter with Daniels and has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsification of business records.

Last month, prosecutors said they planned to introduce evidence of a “pressure campaign” by Trump in 2018 to ensure Cohen did not cooperate with a federal investigation into the payment to Daniels. Cohen pleaded guilty that year to violating campaign finance law.

In their motion, Bragg’s office noted “that the timing of the current production of additional materials from the USAO is a function of defendant’s own delay”.

“[D]efendant waited until January 18, 2024 to subpoena additional materials from the USAO and then consented to repeated extensions of the deadline for the USAO’s determination,” the office wrote.

Trump, alongside 18 co-defendants, is also facing charges in Georgia for allegedly meddling in the state’s 2020 election results in order to block Biden from winning its electoral votes.

At the federal level, the justice department special counsel Jack Smith has indicted him on charges that he plotted to keep Biden from entering the White House. He has separately accused Trump of taking classified government documents with him after his presidency, and conspiring to keep them out of the hands of authorities sent to retrieve them.

Trump is the first former president to face criminal charges, and a conviction could upend what is expected to be a hard-fought rematch against Biden, who has struggled with poor approval ratings for most of his presidency. However, Trump’s three criminal cases outside New York are facing delays as judges weigh pre-trial motions and appeals, and it is unclear if any will be resolved before the 5 November election.

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Prosecutors willing to delay Trump’s hush-money trial to review new records

Manhattan prosecutors say they are willing to delay ex-president’s trial – due to start later this month – up to 30 days

Manhattan prosecutors on Thursday said they are willing to delay Donald Trump’s trial on charges related to making hush-money payments for up to 30 days so they can review records newly obtained from federal authorities.

The request has the potential to delay the proceedings, which were to begin with jury selection on 25 March in New York and would be the first of the four criminal indictments against the former US president to go to trial.

The office of the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, told the court that they were open to the delay because they had received from federal prosecutors about 31,000 page of records, and expected more next week.

“Based on our initial review of yesterday’s production, those records appear to contain materials related to the subject matter of this case, including materials that the People requested from the [US attorney’s office (USAO)] more than a year ago and that the USAO previously declined to provide,” prosecutors wrote.

Trump’s lawyers have asked to either delay for 90 days or for the charges to be dropped against him, alleging violations of the discovery process, in which the defense and prosecution shares evidence with each other. Prosecutors have said a delay of that length is not necessary.

The New York case centers on allegations Trump directed his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet before the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she says they had a decade earlier, and then falsely recorded his reimbursement to Cohen as legal expenses.

Trump, who recently clinched enough delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination and is expected to face off against Joe Biden in November, denies the encounter with Daniels and has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsification of business records.

Last month, prosecutors said they planned to introduce evidence of a “pressure campaign” by Trump in 2018 to ensure Cohen did not cooperate with a federal investigation into the payment to Daniels. Cohen pleaded guilty that year to violating campaign finance law.

In their motion, Bragg’s office noted “that the timing of the current production of additional materials from the USAO is a function of defendant’s own delay”.

“[D]efendant waited until January 18, 2024 to subpoena additional materials from the USAO and then consented to repeated extensions of the deadline for the USAO’s determination,” the office wrote.

Trump, alongside 18 co-defendants, is also facing charges in Georgia for allegedly meddling in the state’s 2020 election results in order to block Biden from winning its electoral votes.

At the federal level, the justice department special counsel Jack Smith has indicted him on charges that he plotted to keep Biden from entering the White House. He has separately accused Trump of taking classified government documents with him after his presidency, and conspiring to keep them out of the hands of authorities sent to retrieve them.

Trump is the first former president to face criminal charges, and a conviction could upend what is expected to be a hard-fought rematch against Biden, who has struggled with poor approval ratings for most of his presidency. However, Trump’s three criminal cases outside New York are facing delays as judges weigh pre-trial motions and appeals, and it is unclear if any will be resolved before the 5 November election.

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Coles pay offer labelled ‘insulting’ as staff say they can’t afford to shop at own workplace

One worker says she feels ‘disrespected’ by proposed agreement, which includes in-store gift cards if staff vote to accept

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Some Coles workers say an offer from the supermarket giant of in-store gift cards if they vote to accept a new enterprise agreement is “insulting”, and the agreement doesn’t give them a meaningful pay rise despite the company’s increased profits.

One employee said she felt “disrespected” by the offer, which comes at a time when some staff say they are skipping meals and shopping at other supermarkets because they can’t afford food from their own workplace.

Australia’s second-largest supermarket chain this week delivered a proposed new enterprise agreement to staff that would determine their wages and workplace conditions for four years. Workers are scheduled to vote on the agreement from Monday.

Coles has negotiated separately with the SDA retail and warehouse union and the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) in recent months.

The SDA has hailed the proposed agreement as improving wages and allowances, enabling fairer rostering and including better leave provisions.

But the RAFFWU has decried it as undermining safety conditions, introducing split shifts and tying any pay rise only to Fair Work’s annual wage review, which increases award minimums. Under the agreement, a level one Coles worker would earn $25.27 per hour, just 54 cents above the award base rate.

The agreement also includes an offer of a Coles gift card – to the value of $600 for a full-time staff member, $250 for a part timer or $150 for a casual – if the employee is working for the company when the agreement is voted in, and is still working for the company when the agreement is approved by the Fair Work Commission. Approximately 85% of Coles staff are part-time or casual employees.

A new agreement has long been delayed: the previous one expired in 2020, with Coles only forced back to the bargaining table after the Labor government’s flagship industrial relations laws came into effect at the end of 2022.

“It’s insulting,” said Taylor Dempsey, 27, a part-time Coles worker in Brisbane. “Team members [are] already so close to what I would call a modern poverty situation.”

‘That’s no way to live’

Dempsey said he has needed the assistance of charities to put food on the table, despite working close to full time hours for the company.

“And if I’m in that situation there’s an issue, because I have significantly more hours than other team members would,” Dempsey said.

“We’ve got team members that are skipping meals, eating food that’s provided by the company in the tea room – bananas, apples, Coles Ultimate brand cookies – because they can’t afford it. They’re putting $10 at a time in their car for fuel and just barely get to work and back. That’s no way to live.”

Dempsey said he would be urging other Coles workers to vote against the agreement and push for a better deal.

Coles posted a 4.8% rise in annual profit to $1.1bn last financial year and has been accused of inflationary profiteering amid the cost-of-living crisis. The company has defended its pricing and said it was working hard to keep goods affordable.

The major supermarkets are currently facing a federal Senate inquiry into how they set prices and use their market power when dealing with suppliers.

Shona*, a part-time Coles employee in regional New South Wales, said she usually shops at one of Coles’ competitors because she can’t afford to shop at her own workplace.

“I work there, but where I shop is cheaper, even with the 5% [Coles staff] discount,” Shona said.

Shona, who receives a partial jobseeker payment, said she felt “disrespected” by the gift card offer.

“It’s not even cash. I can’t even top up my rent or take it to the dentist.”

Josh Cullinan, secretary of the RAFFWU, said the gift card offer was a “deliberate effort … to induce a [yes] vote by offering poor people food, and to try and attract their own staff to come back to shop for them again because they can’t afford to shop for them now”.

The campaign has highlighted the rising tensions between the SDA, the powerful and conservative legacy union of the retail sector, and the fledgling but rapidly growing RAFFWU. The latter has been trying to get Coles to bargain on a new agreement since 2020, including taking a petition to the Fair Work Commission.

Since bargaining opened, the RAFFWU has been campaigning for a minimum wage of $29 an hour, the abolition of junior rates (which still apply to Coles workers for two years after they turn 18), as well as better job security and safer workplaces. Its members took rolling strike action in stores across the country in the lead-up to Christmas. SDA members did not take industrial action.

Gerard Dwyer, the SDA’s national secretary, said the union’s bargaining positions had been endorsed by its members. He said the agreement contained “significant benefits” and the SDA recommended it be voted in next week.

“The agreement includes a number of improvements for Coles employees, such as increased minimum hours for part timers, access to additional hours, superannuation on paid and unpaid parental leave (a priority issue for SDA members), increased compassionate leave and annual leave for part-timers to be based on actual hours worked,” Dwyer said.

“The sign-on bonus [gift card] would be welcome money in the pocket for workers confronting significant cost of living pressures.”

A Coles spokesperson said the proposed agreement provided “several benefits” for staff including “greater flexibility”, “maintaining above-award base rates of pay … a mechanism for future wage rate increases” and “enhanced” leave entitlements.

“We are pleased to be able to deliver all of this as part of the proposed enterprise agreement,” the spokesperson said.

“We have been working hard to listen to our team members and their bargaining representatives to provide a proposed enterprise agreement that provides benefits for our team members and which supports our operations.”

The RAFFWU said it would continue fighting to improve employment conditions through the Fair Work Commission if the agreement was voted up.

* Name has been changed

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‘No longer a novelty’: massive rise in Australian EV sales, industry report finds

EVs represent about 1% of light vehicles in Australia – but Electric Vehicle Council warns there is ‘more work to be done’ to reach 2050 emissions targets

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Electric vehicles are “no longer a novelty” and their uptake in Australia is booming, with the industry recording a 120% rise in sales over the past year, according to a new report on the industry.

There are now more than 180,000 EVs on Australian roads, with 98,436 of those bought last year, the Australian Electric Vehicle Industry Recap 2023 found.

The Electric Vehicle Council and University of Sydney report, released on Friday, also showed that charging infrastructure locations increased by 75% on the previous year, with 812 charging stations now in place across Australia.

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Bolstered by government policy encouraging EV use, the Australian Capital Territory leads the national EV market, with EVs accounting for more than 20% of all new vehicles sold.

New South Wales’ EV sales growth was 9%, followed by Queensland – which has the most generous EV rebate scheme in Australia – at 8.3%, and Victoria at 8%. While comparatively low, EV sales in the Northern Territory tripled in 2023.

Of the sales, 43% were in outer metropolitan areas, with inner metropolitan areas accounting for 39%.

Tesla Model Y and Model 3 by far outstripped the competition in the field of 99 EVs available in Australia, followed by BYD Atto 3 and MG MG4.

With EVs now representing about 1% of all light vehicles in Australia, the report’s authors stated that there is “more work to be done” if Australia has a hope of reaching its 2050 zero emissions targets.

The council advocates for a target of one million EVs on Australian roads by 2027, but efforts to boost EV uptake are hampered by the low supply of new EVs to Australia, which is in turn affected by the absence of a new vehicle efficiency standard, the report stated.

The council said it welcomed the federal government’s plans for a new fuel efficiency standard, as announced in February.

The proposed model would place a yearly cap on emissions output for new cars to incentivise carmakers to supply low- and zero-emissions vehicles and penalise companies that do not.

The chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council, Behyad Jafari, said it was “genuinely exciting to see the electric vehicle revolution now rolling out all over Australia”.

“To sustain this positive trajectory we need sensible reform. The federal government’s new vehicle efficiency standards are a crucial step that finally brings Australia into line with the rest of the developed world.

“EVs are no longer a novelty, they are a core part of everyday Australian lives. Hopefully the abundant benefits of switching to an EV will be embraced by millions more Australians as the decade progresses,” he said.

The report also highlighted the state of the US EV market, which it said continued to grow significantly despite claims made to the contrary by those with “vested interests” in slowing EV sales.

In the US, about 1.4m EVs were sold in 2023 – more than the total number of all new vehicles sold in Australia in the same period.

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Pro-Ukraine exiled Russian fighters launch cross-border raid into southern Russia

Members of the Siberia, Freedom of Russia Legion and RDK battalions work closely with the Ukrainian army

Three pro-Ukrainian battalions made up of recruits from Russia have launched a fresh incursion into southern Russia in a cross-border raid meant to sow chaos before Vladimir Putin’s widely expected re-election this weekend.

The three armed groups of Russian exiled fighters, who operate in close coordination with Ukraine’s military, said they had crossed the border into the southern Kursk and Belgorod regions. In a statement, the Russian National Guard acknowledged the raid, saying that together with the armed forces, they were repelling the Ukrainian-backed armed groups’ attack near the village of Tyotkino in Russia’s western Kursk region.

Russia’s defence ministry later in the day said it had foiled the raids and posted a video appearing to show destroyed tanks and armoured fighting vehicles belonging to the pro-Ukrainian fighters.

But several pro-war Russian journalists close to the military said that fighting on the Russian border was continuing on Thursday evening. Readovka, a pro-Kremlin news site with ties to security services, said the pro-Ukrainian battalions had entered the Russian border village of Kozenka in the Belgorod region, where fighting was taking place.

The Kremlin-controlled RT channel said some people living in border towns in Belgorod were evacuating their homes.

Members of the Siberia, Freedom of Russia Legion and RDK battalions – the three groups that claimed the cross-border raid – closely work with the Ukrainian army.

Russia Legion and RDK battalions comprise members ranging from far-right nationalists to anarchists, while the Siberian battalion is predominantly made of minority ethnic people from Siberia, including Buryats, Yakuts, and Tuvans.

While the cross-border raids are unlikely to result in Ukrainian territorial gains, they could pull Russian troops away from significant battles in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow holds the momentum.

Using several tanks and armoured vehicles, the three groups earlier this week first launched an attack on Tyotkino, a small village located on the Russian border, but soon appeared to have made a retreat back into Ukraine.

On Thursday, the anti-Putin militias posted a statement on Telegram saying that cross-border assault to “liberate” the Kursk and Belgorod regions would continue “until all targets are achieved”.

They urged Russians to evacuate the border regions, announcing a humanitarian corridor from Thursday evening till Friday morning. “After that, we launch a massive attack on Putin’s military,” the militias said.

The border skirmishes were accompanied by sustained Ukrainian drone and missile strikes targeting the city of Belgorod. On Thursday, Ukraine fired at least eight missiles at Russia’s Belgorod border region, killing one person and wounding six, local officials said. Kyiv this week also stepped up its attacks on refineries and energy facilities deep inside Russia, disrupting production at least one vital oil refinery.

The latest wave of Ukrainian attacks comes days before the 15-17 March presidential election, which Vladimir Putin is guaranteed to win.

In an interview with state media on Wednesday, Putin said the latest flurry of Ukrainian border attacks were meant to disrupt the presidential elections. “The main goal, I do not doubt it, is to … somehow prevent the normal process of the expression of the will of the citizen,” he said.

In a message aired on Wednesday, Putin urged Russians to cast their ballots in this week’s carefully managed vote. “It is vital to underscore our cohesion and resolve and move forward together. Every vote you cast is valued and meaningful,” Putin said in a video address first shown in the far east region of the country.

Moscow earlier this week opened polling stations in the four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine that it annexed in September 2022. The Ukrainian foreign ministry described the voting held in the four territories as illegal and void and called on its international partners not to recognise the results of the presidential elections.

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103-year-old Italian woman fined for driving with expired licence

Police were called to reports of dangerous driving in Bondeno, northern Italy, in the early hours of the morning

Police in Italy have fined a 103-year-old woman who was caught driving an uninsured car at night with an expired driving licence.

Officers received a call at about 1am reporting a vehicle being driven dangerously in the centre of Bondeno, a town with about 13,000 inhabitants near Ferrara.

The officers dispatched to the scene in the northern Emilia Romagna region were “greatly surprised when they discovered the year of the driver’s birth”, according to a police report.

Giuseppina Molinari, known as Giose, was born in 1920. She had been driving to Bondeno to meet friends and “probably” got disoriented in the dark and lost her way, police said.

Molinari’s licence expired two years ago. In Italy, drivers over 80 must undergo a medical exam every two years to renew their licence.

Molinari was fined and taken home by police.

“I will buy myself a Vespa,” Molinari told local newspaper La Nuova Ferrara.

In the meantime, she plans to visit friends by bicycle instead.

Ferrara’s mayor, Alan Fabbri, hailed her approach to life. “I would give Giose a medal rather than a fine,” he said.

“It’s not common to have such inner strength, and it gives me hope for my own old age!” he wrote on Facebook.

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