The Guardian 2024-03-16 16:01:18


Queensland’s Labor government may lose safe seat in byelection

Shock loss of once safe seat of Ipswich West would be Queensland’s biggest byelection swing in decades

Queensland’s Labor government appears to have suffered a shock loss of the once-safe seat of Ipswich West, in one of the state’s biggest byelection swings in decades.

Queensland’s governing party has also bled votes to the left, with the Green party registering its best-ever result at Saturday’s local government elections.

Labor appears to have lost nearly half its primary vote – 30% – in its safest seat, Inala. If the result holds, it would be a worse result than the Liberal National party government of Campbell Newman experienced in two disastrous byelections before its defeat at a general election in 2015.

The bigger of the two was lost with a primary vote swing of 17%. The party also appeared to have suffered a 17.7% two-party preferred swing in Ipswich West, according to early counting.

Candidate Darren Zanow, a retired former concrete business owner, campaigned on a platform of cracking down on youth crime.

Members of the Liberal National party were confident of taking the seat on Saturday night, although not yet declaring victory.

The state will hold a general election in October. If repeated, Saturday’s result would mean an end to the 10-year Labor government and give the state’s conservative party its third government since 1989.

The opposition leader David Crisafulli told a jubilant crowd of supporters at the Mihi Tavern in Ipswich that the electorate had sent the government a message. “It is clear that tonight we have created history.

“The results in the seats give comfort to people who are looking for a better way. Who are looking to be listened to, who are looking for an end to the youth crime crisis, the housing crisis, the cost of living crisis and the health crisis.

“Tonight, residents in two Labor party heartlands said enough is enough.”

The byelections were the first electoral test for the new Labor leader, Steven Miles, who replaced Annastacia Palaszczuk as premier in December. Her resignation in Inala sparked the byelection there.

Miles left an election-night party in Inala early on Saturday night, without speaking to media. Earlier on Saturday he told media it wasn’t unusual to see large swings in byelections.

“Byelections are hard for governments and easy for oppositions,” he said.

Council elections

Labor’s woes may be compounded by the continued advance of the Green party, to their left.

Brisbane’s lord mayor, Adrian Schrinner, has held on at the head of Australia’s biggest council and has retained a majority of council wards, which are elected separately.

Just one LNP electorate, Paddington Ward, appears most likely to have fallen, to the Greens. Several others are in doubt.

The far-left party, which campaigned with the slogan “the system needs a shake-up”, replaced Labor as the second party in a number of inner city wards.

The lord mayor candidate Jonathan Sriranganathan failed to beat Labor into second place, with just 20.7% to 26.3% at close of counting.

“We are getting much closer to the point where Brisbane is not a two-party city,” the state MP Michael Berkman told ABC radio.

The Labor backbencher Mark Bailey said the advance of the minor party wasn’t coming at the expense of the major party, because they weren’t losing wards to the Greens. “The Greens have got one more out of 26, we have five,” he said.

“Labor is still the opposition in the council and the Greens have still got to make up, I suggest, a fair bit of ground, before they can consider themselves a genuine threat.”

Meanwhile, the state held 76 council elections on Saturday, with one local government ballot delayed a week due to bad weather.

Due to low staffing at the state’s electoral commission, people queued for more than an hour in many Brisbane booths, despite turnout being lower than that at the height of the pandemic in March 2020.

Some voters were turned away from booths due to local government boundary issues; some reportedly after waiting in line for lengthy periods. 150,594 voters weren’t issued a ballot at all, due to uncontested elections.

Counting had yet to begin for many positions on Saturday night.

The alleged murderer Ryan Bayldon-Lumsden looks to have failed in his bid for reelection to the Gold Coast council, trailing in third place.

The controversial former LNP MP Andrew Laming has also fallen short in his bid to become the mayor of Redland City, south of Brisbane.

The Labor-aligned Townsville mayor, Jenny Hill, looks to have lost to challenger Troy Thompson.

The Gold Coast’s mayor, Tom Tate, has been comfortably reelected.

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Olivia Rodrigo stops distribution of morning-after pill at her concerts

Singer was praised for earlier allowing distribution of Plan B at her shows, but is now stepping back citing the presence of children

Olivia Rodrigo has reportedly stepped in to halt the distribution of free contraceptives and the morning-after pill at her concerts, days after the American singer was praised for encouraging young people to take responsibility for their sexual health.

According to abortion organizations cited by Variety, Rodrigo’s “team” became concerned about the messaging and insisted groups no longer pass out lubrication, condoms and the emergency contraceptive pill known as Plan B because “children are present at the concerts”.

They will still be allowed to have booths at dates on Rodrigo’s Guts world tour, which continues on Saturday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – but only to hand out information and materials such as hats, T-shirts, stickers and badges.

Women’s sexual health groups say they are dismayed by the decision, which also follows a backlash by conservatives to the handouts that took place in partnership with the Fund 4 Good initiative, which the three-time Grammy winner says she set up to build “an equitable and just future for all women, girls and people seeking reproductive health freedom”.

Destini Spaeth, chair of the Prairie Abortion Fund, which was present at Friday night’s Rodrigo concert in St Paul, Minnesota, told Variety that she strongly disagreed with the move. “There is something really positive about a 16- or 15-year-old having a Plan B and a few condoms in her dresser to use as she needs it,” she said.

“Sex and sexual health tools, whether that be abortion, Plan B, condoms, are villainized because you’re [seen as being] promiscuous. We don’t look at it as a sign of responsibility. [But] if the kids aren’t getting the education they need in school, at least they can rely on reproductive health organizations in their communities to get that information and resources to them.”

Rodrigo’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Guardian.

News that contraceptives and Plan B were being handed out at concerts in partnership with Fund 4 Good quickly went viral and earned the singer widespread praise, even though the initial call to distribute them came from the abortion groups themselves.

Talking to the Guardian this week after a concert in St Louis, Stephanie Kraft Sheley, project director of Right by You, said: “She invited us, but it was our decision to bring it and hand it out. It fills my heart with so much joy and gratitude to Olivia, and it shows how well received it will be when other artists step up and do this. I hope they follow this example.”

There was also criticism of the 21-year-old artist. “Curious how the Disney Channel churns out so many high priestesses of child sacrifice,” a tweet by the rightwing television channel Breitbart News said, referring to Rodrigo’s career beginnings.

Others accused Rodrigo of operating “abortion dispensaries” at concerts and being a “satanic [abortion] industry plant”.

But Jade Hurley, communications manager for the DC Abortion Fund, told Variety the rightwing backlash is based on false information. “It’s disappointing that extremists are causing a moral panic over something they don’t even understand,” she said.

“They don’t know the difference between emergency contraception and the abortion pill, which are two completely different things.”

Abortions are illegal in Missouri, where Rodrigo performed her St Louis concert on Tuesday, but there is no law prohibiting the distribution of emergency contraception.

Still, the order to stop their distribution came directly from Rodrigo’s team, Jezebel reported, following the media coverage and because they feared children could too easily access the products.

Robin Frisella, community engagement director of the Missouri Abortion Fund, told Variety in a statement before Friday night’s concert that it would honor the request.

“While we are disappointed to learn that other abortion funds will not get the same opportunity, we are encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response,” the statement said. “We can’t speak to why this decision was made, but we hope this conversation highlights the work being done by abortion funds across the country.”

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Where is Catherine, Princess of Wales? The internet is rife with ‘Katespiracies’

The royal’s absence has led to a proliferation of conspiracy theories after announcement of a mysterious abdominal surgery

It seems that everyone has recently become fixated on one question: where in the world is the Princess of Wales?

We’ve long known the world is watching the royal family, but the visible absence of Catherine has sent social media and US news outlets into a tailspin – driving even those ordinarily not interested in the royals to pay attention.

The latest saga surrounding the royal family began when Kensington Palace announced on 17 January that the future queen consort was due for a mysterious abdominal surgery at the London Clinic. The world was told that she would be in the hospital and out of commission for “10 to 14 days” – therefore out of the public eye until Easter. Prince William postponed some engagements that same day.

Then a series of coincidences made internet sleuths suspicious.

Victoria Howard, a royal commentator and founder of a website devoted to the royal family called The Crown Chronicles, offered some clarity on the princess’s recent accidental entrance into the global spotlight.

“The length of Kate’s absence is unusual which suggests a significant procedure, but the lack of details is what is driving the rumor mill,” Howard said. “For those abroad, who don’t have a royal family and liken them more to celebrities, they can’t quite understand why the details aren’t being shared.”

Shortly after, on 5 February, it was announced that King Charles was diagnosed with cancer. Now, two leading figures in the royal family have health issues around the exact same time but only one of them has been seen.

“There is a bit of a vacuum in the royal family right now, because of both ongoing health issues, so this lack of news and public visibility of royals is driving some of this narrative,” Howard said. “The timing is unusual being so close together but for me it’s an example of how the offices do not communicate that well, and equally their different approaches with the level of detail provided.”

But Howard cautioned coincidences can happen and that “health often doesn’t align with your schedule”.

“As Kate is not monarch there is no cause for concern. Charles has counsellors of state who can be appointed and step in should he be incapacitated,” she said.

Still, rumors are swirling and many outside the UK, particularly in the US, have become obsessed with this Middleton mystery.

Theories, or “Katespiracies”, about the princess’s whereabouts range from Kate being revealed as the newest contestant on the TV gameshow The Masked Singer to getting a Brazilian butt lift (or some other cosmetic work).

Howard called some of these conspiracies “quite frankly ludicrous”.

“To not be away for so long due to real health issues would be highly risky and take advantage of public goodwill,” she said. “No sensible communications team would allow them to do that.”

Middleton was reportedly seen on 4 March in a car with her mother, but the poor quality of the photo has not convinced some of her fans.

On 10 March, things reached a bit of an apex when it was revealed that a family photo of Catherine and her three children posted by the princess on her Instagram account was Photoshopped. Various discrepancies in the image led to even more speculation, prompting major news agencies such as the Associated Press to pull the photo from distribution “because at closer inspection, it appears that the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP’s photo standards”.

This proved cataclysmic for gossip, which seemingly pushed the princess to issue a rare statement explaining the situation: “Like many amateur photographers, I occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C”

The metadata of the file shows that the image was processed in Photoshop first on 8 March at 9.54pm local time and again on 9 March at9.39am local time, per an ABC News report.

The very next day on 11 March, William and someone who appeared to be Catherine were seen leaving Windsor Castle together in a car. But faces were obstructed so it’s not clear if it was actually the princess.

Still, the princess’s spokesperson doubled down on Catherine’s perfectly normal condition: “We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant.”

The spokesperson underscored the princess was “doing well”.

The US, which has no royal family, is giving the princess the “celebrity-in-crisis” treatment previously seen with the likes of Britney Spears or Amanda Bynes. If not by those on social media like TikTok, the media coverage of Catherine’s every move has shown no signs of letting up.

US news outlets like the Washington Post, ABC News and NPR have even weighed in on the altered photo debacle. The Los Angeles Times likened Kate and sister-in-law Duchess of Sussex’s drama to that surrounding Diana, Princess of Wales, who dominated international news headlines in the late 80s and 90s.

The royals expert and former BuzzFeed News reporter Ellie Hall told Nieman Lab last week that she believed the obsession with Catherine stems from “distrust” people have of the royals – in no small part to Diana’s legacy.

“People have started to really distrust not just the royal family – as an institution/bureaucracy, not necessarily the individual members – but the reporters and outlets that cover the royal family,” Hall said, adding: “A lot of people still hold a grudge against the royals because of Princess Diana and wonder about the circumstances of her death. I also feel like a lot of this distrust stems from what Harry and Meghan have said since leaving working royal life. Their descriptions of a back-stabbing, machiavellian organization in interviews and Harry’s memoir Spare have definitely made an impact on the public’s perception of the monarchy and the royal reporting beat.”

So, what’s really going on and who has the answers?

Howard noted that “Kensington Palace has been very reactive”, which is unusual because they mostly don’t “comment or respond in other cases”. She says it’s “the wrong approach if they wanted to ease people’s worries” and “doing so shows real concern about the conversation and indicates their level of panic essentially”.

Perhaps the former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger said it best in 2020, pointing out: “It is unusually difficult to judge the reliability of most royal reporting because it is a world almost devoid of open or named sources.

“So, in order to believe what we’re being told, we have to take it on trust that there are currently legions of ‘aides’, ‘palace insiders’, ‘friends’ and ‘senior courtiers’ constantly WhatsApping their favourite reporters with the latest gossip. It has been known to happen. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. We just don’t know.”

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Conspiracies and kill notices: how Kate’s edited photo whirled the rumour mill

With Princess of Wales out of sight for health reasons, impact of altered family photo has been magnified

On Tuesday, as the crisis in Gaza continued, turmoil built in Haiti and Joe Biden and Donald Trump were confirmed as their parties’ presidential candidates, the White House press secretary was asked a question by a journalist that caused her, briefly, to laugh.

“Does the White House ever digitally alter photos of the president?”, Karine Jean-Pierre was asked by a reporter.

“Why would we digitally alter photos? Are you comparing us to what is going on in the UK?” she replied. “No – that is not something that we do here.”

When Kensington Palace released an apparently candid photograph last weekend of the Princess of Wales and her children, timed to coincide with Mother’s Day, it no doubt expected the usual warm reception, perhaps with a few approving front pages.

One week on, it is fair to say things have not gone to plan. After multiple clumsy edits to the photo were identified, five leading photo agencies issued an almost unprecedented “kill notice” of the “manipulated” image.

Since then, not only the White House press corps but large sections of the world’s media have been fascinated by the photograph – and what it may say about the princess, who has been recovering from surgery – putting the royals at the centre of a dangerous crisis of credibility.

If you’re caught being untruthful once, after all, why should anyone ever believe you? In Spain, some outlets have repeated claims, rubbished by the palace last month, that the princess is in a coma. On US talkshows, longstanding if highly libellous rumours about the royal marriage, similarly denied, are being openly aired and mocked.

And on social media, needless to say, the unfounded conspiracies are wilder still. Kate has had a facelift, or she is in hiding, or has been replaced by a body double. Most are easy to dismiss, but when even the ITV royal editor, Chris Ship, one of the select handful of “royal rota” journalists who are briefed by the palace, posts a tweet that begins: “I’ve never been much of a conspiracy theorist but …”, the Firm undeniably has a problem.

Who would be a royal? According to the palace, lest we forget, the 42-year-old mother of three has undergone major abdominal surgery and is not well enough to appear publicly. When the operation was first revealed on 17 January, Kensington Palace said she was not expected to make any appearances until at least Easter. That, they insist, has not changed. So why the frenzied conspiracies?

Perhaps because Catherine remains media catnip, and is incredibly important to the royal public image; three months without her was always going to be a challenge. Things would arguably have been more manageable were it not for the unhappy coincidence of King Charles’s announcements of his prostate treatment and cancer .

While Catherine had requested privacy over her diagnosis, the king and his Buckingham Palace press team opted to be more open, though the type of cancer has not been revealed. Most were happy to accept this as the princess’s right, yet the fact the king has remained somewhat visible, even while undergoing cancer treatment, made the absolute silence from Catherine all the more evident.

What tipped online mutterings into febrile speculation was when the Prince of Wales pulled out of the funeral of his godfather on 27 February, citing only a “personal matter”. The Mother’s Day photo was evidently an attempt to settle the mood; instead, its inept handling turned an uncomfortable drama into a full-blown crisis. Even a brief apology, signed in Catherine’s name, did not help. Either palace advisers had not grasped the gravity of their mistake, or – just possibly – the royal couple, so protective of their children’s privacy, were resisting their guidance.

Can they recover from it? Only if they change tack, says Emma Streets, an associate director at the communications agency Tigerbond who specialises in crisis PR. There remains a lot of empathy towards the princess, she says, adding: “I think [the episode] proves that she’s only human. But it’s crucial that the palace do not repeat a [mistake] on this scale.”

They will have to provide some form of update on the princess’s health by Easter, says Streets, whether or not Catherine is well enough to resume normal public appearances. “I think they really need to maintain that timeline to avoid any further controversy. So the pressure is on for the comms team to handle that without putting a foot wrong, and really, meticulously, plan.”

Streets says the royal family’s long-practised strategy of “never complain, never explain” is outdated. “That doesn’t work today, given the speed that this story will spread online, and I think that massively needs addressing from a strategic point of view.”

That view is echoed by Lynn Carratt, the head of talent at digital specialists Press Box PR, who says she has been “racking my brains” trying to understand why Kensington Palace did not simply release the undoctored image. “They could have put this to bed straight away,” she says.

“There needs to be an overhaul of their comms strategy and a bit of honesty and trust with the press. I kind of understand why there isn’t – but they need a whole new approach to PR, to bring it into the modern world of the media.

“We’re not just talking about print press and broadcast, when it’s now social media and the digital space where people are consuming the news. It’s very different, and you need to do PR differently for that space.”

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‘More than the usual gastro’: at least 260 people report symptoms after outbreak at Victorian music festival

Those who attended the Esoteric festival in Donald on 8-12 March warned about Shigella bacteria

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Victoria’s health department says at least 260 festival goers have reported gastroenteritis symptoms after attending a dance music festival, with authorities urging anyone showing signs of shigellosis to be tested.

Those who attended the Esoteric festival in Donald on 8-12 March have been warned that the Shigella bacteria had been detected in a number of those with gastroenteritis. Symptoms could take up to a week to emerge after exposure.

The highly contagious bacterial infection causes the acute onset of diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever. It is spread by the foecal-oral route or contaminated food.

It could also be transmitted during sexual contact, health authorities said.

Preliminary results suggest the outbreak was caused by an antimicrobial resistant strain of Shigella and would not respond to antibiotics.

“If you attended or worked at the Esoteric festival last weekend and have gastro symptoms, you may have Shigella and be at risk of spreading it,” a Victorian health department spokesperson said.

“We’re asking that you please seek medical care and get a test for Shigella, and not return to work until 48 hours after symptoms resolve.”

They said that those who had the illness and work in food handling, with children, or in aged care should only return to work if they have received a negative test result and have had no symptoms for 48 hours.

Patrons and staff who were returning to locations within Victoria and interstate may develop symptoms in the coming days, authorities warned.

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Dr Rebekah Hoffman, chair of the New South Wales and ACT branch of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said Shigella was “really uncommon” in Australia.

“Gastroenteritis is usually viral, not bacterial. When you put lots of people together and they don’t have the best hand hygiene, Shigella is more likely to be spread,” she said.

“You get really sick from it. We really worry about dehydration and you might be sick enough to have blood and mucus in your stool as well. It is more than the usual gastro.”

Symptoms last around a week, she said, but “you’ll feel rubbish for a few weeks afterwards”.

Anyone with symptoms has been encouraged to stay hydrated and practise good hand hygiene.

Those who attended the festival and work with elderly people or children should be particularly vigilant, even if not showing any symptoms, she said, adding that anyone who has had gastroenteritis should avoid swimming pools for two weeks after symptoms clear.

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‘My soul is so tired’: Stormy Daniels stands up to Maga hate in new film

The adult film star – at center of hush-money payments in run-up to 2016 election – is featured in the new documentary Stormy

Stormy Daniels, the adult movie star who received hush-money payments at the center of one of Donald Trump’s pending criminal cases, says she is “so tired” as she confronts the prospect of testifying against the former president, whose supporters have flooded her social media accounts with threats.

“I’m desensitized to some of it … but I’m also tired,” Daniels says in a new documentary premiering on Monday on Peacock, according to Slate, which reported viewing the film in advance. “Like, my soul is so tired. And I don’t know if I’m so much a warrior now as out of fucks, man. I’m out of fucks.”

Daniels’ remarks in the documentary, titled Stormy, are meant to illustrate how overwhelmed, exhausted and – at times – hopeless she has felt since she accepted a $130,000 payment before Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory to keep quiet about an extramarital sexual encounter she says she had with him a decade earlier.

Authorities allege that they later learned the payment to Daniels – whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford – was falsely recorded as a legal expenses reimbursement from Trump to the attorney who made the transaction and later pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law, Michael Cohen.

Trump has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, has pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records that were filed against him by New York state prosecutors, and is facing a trial date tentatively set for April at the earliest.

Caught in the middle of the slowly unwinding legalities is Daniels, who is shown in Stormy telling a journalist that one of the reasons she accepted Trump’s hush money was to establish a “money trail” that linked her to him – “so he could not have me killed”, as she put it.

After all, Daniels recalls in the film, a friend had admonished her that the Republican party under Trump’s command likes “to make [its] problems go away”, Slate noted. The film also reportedly shows a horse belonging to Daniels with a wound in its flank – she explains how she fears it may have been inflicted by someone who fired a rubber bullet at the animal in hopes of drawing its owner out into the open.

Daniels also details how much mental anguish she suffers from the invective aimed at her online by Trump supporters reacting to coverage of the criminal charges against him. Some of the comments are insulting and misogynistic – “liar”, “slut” and “gold digger” – but stop short of violence.

Others that she cites are overtly violent. “It is … ‘I’m going to come to your house and slit your throat.’ ‘Your daughter should be euthanized,’” Daniels says in the documentary, according to Slate. “They’re not even using bot accounts. They’re using real accounts.”

It was enough to prompt Daniels to record a last will and testament outlining how she wanted her affairs handled in the event of her untimely death. While many people take such a step as a standard part of their life’s long-term planning, Daniels did so under circumstances few ever have to confront, a journalist who captured video footage seen in the documentary suggested.

“When I met Stormy, she was convinced she was living in the last weeks or months of her life,” that journalist, Denver Nicks, says in the documentary, according to Slate.

Daniels says she has acquired a measure of “legal knowledge” that has left her better positioned to navigate her role in the case against Trump than when the hush-money payment first became public in 2018. But at times it has also forced her to be away from family – whether for safety reasons or to exert whatever control that she can over her public narrative.

One such instance was in April 2023, when she was on a media tour in the UK shortly after Trump was indicted in connection with her case and learned that her 11-year-old daughter had finished her school year with a straight A report card over a text message rather than in person.

“Instead of being there with her, I’m here talking about an ex-president’s penis,” Daniels reportedly tells the documentary film-makers, a remark that possibly contained an allusion to her 2018 book which compared Trump’s reproductive organ to a toadstool.

Besides the Daniels case, Trump is also facing dozens of criminal charges for subverting the outcome of his failed 2020 re-election bid as well as retention of classified documents. A separate civil jury verdict has also found him liable for the sexual abuse of writer E Jean Carroll, and he has also been adjudicated a business fraudster in a lawsuit over his entrepreneurial practices.

Trump nonetheless has clinched the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Joe Biden for a second presidential term in November.

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‘My soul is so tired’: Stormy Daniels stands up to Maga hate in new film

The adult film star – at center of hush-money payments in run-up to 2016 election – is featured in the new documentary Stormy

Stormy Daniels, the adult movie star who received hush-money payments at the center of one of Donald Trump’s pending criminal cases, says she is “so tired” as she confronts the prospect of testifying against the former president, whose supporters have flooded her social media accounts with threats.

“I’m desensitized to some of it … but I’m also tired,” Daniels says in a new documentary premiering on Monday on Peacock, according to Slate, which reported viewing the film in advance. “Like, my soul is so tired. And I don’t know if I’m so much a warrior now as out of fucks, man. I’m out of fucks.”

Daniels’ remarks in the documentary, titled Stormy, are meant to illustrate how overwhelmed, exhausted and – at times – hopeless she has felt since she accepted a $130,000 payment before Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory to keep quiet about an extramarital sexual encounter she says she had with him a decade earlier.

Authorities allege that they later learned the payment to Daniels – whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford – was falsely recorded as a legal expenses reimbursement from Trump to the attorney who made the transaction and later pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law, Michael Cohen.

Trump has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, has pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records that were filed against him by New York state prosecutors, and is facing a trial date tentatively set for April at the earliest.

Caught in the middle of the slowly unwinding legalities is Daniels, who is shown in Stormy telling a journalist that one of the reasons she accepted Trump’s hush money was to establish a “money trail” that linked her to him – “so he could not have me killed”, as she put it.

After all, Daniels recalls in the film, a friend had admonished her that the Republican party under Trump’s command likes “to make [its] problems go away”, Slate noted. The film also reportedly shows a horse belonging to Daniels with a wound in its flank – she explains how she fears it may have been inflicted by someone who fired a rubber bullet at the animal in hopes of drawing its owner out into the open.

Daniels also details how much mental anguish she suffers from the invective aimed at her online by Trump supporters reacting to coverage of the criminal charges against him. Some of the comments are insulting and misogynistic – “liar”, “slut” and “gold digger” – but stop short of violence.

Others that she cites are overtly violent. “It is … ‘I’m going to come to your house and slit your throat.’ ‘Your daughter should be euthanized,’” Daniels says in the documentary, according to Slate. “They’re not even using bot accounts. They’re using real accounts.”

It was enough to prompt Daniels to record a last will and testament outlining how she wanted her affairs handled in the event of her untimely death. While many people take such a step as a standard part of their life’s long-term planning, Daniels did so under circumstances few ever have to confront, a journalist who captured video footage seen in the documentary suggested.

“When I met Stormy, she was convinced she was living in the last weeks or months of her life,” that journalist, Denver Nicks, says in the documentary, according to Slate.

Daniels says she has acquired a measure of “legal knowledge” that has left her better positioned to navigate her role in the case against Trump than when the hush-money payment first became public in 2018. But at times it has also forced her to be away from family – whether for safety reasons or to exert whatever control that she can over her public narrative.

One such instance was in April 2023, when she was on a media tour in the UK shortly after Trump was indicted in connection with her case and learned that her 11-year-old daughter had finished her school year with a straight A report card over a text message rather than in person.

“Instead of being there with her, I’m here talking about an ex-president’s penis,” Daniels reportedly tells the documentary film-makers, a remark that possibly contained an allusion to her 2018 book which compared Trump’s reproductive organ to a toadstool.

Besides the Daniels case, Trump is also facing dozens of criminal charges for subverting the outcome of his failed 2020 re-election bid as well as retention of classified documents. A separate civil jury verdict has also found him liable for the sexual abuse of writer E Jean Carroll, and he has also been adjudicated a business fraudster in a lawsuit over his entrepreneurial practices.

Trump nonetheless has clinched the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Joe Biden for a second presidential term in November.

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United Airlines Boeing plane loses external panel in flight

FAA investigating loss of panel before Boeing 737-800 landed safely in Oregon

The US Federal Aviation Administration is investigating how a United Airlines Boeing 737-800 lost an external panel before landing safely in Oregon.

United flight 433 landed at Medford airport at about 1.45pm on Friday carrying 139 passengers and six crew after departing from San Francisco, the FAA and airline said.

The FAA said a post-landing airline inspection of the 25-year-old plane revealed a missing panel. United said it would also investigate. It said no emergency had been declared because there was no indication of the damage during flight.

“We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service,” the airline said.

Boeing did not comment, directing questions to United Airlines.

FAA records show the plane was built in late 1998. The Rogue Valley Times posted a photo of the plane with the missing panel. Traffic was briefly halted at the airport to search for it.

US flight incidents are getting more attention after a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 in mid-air. Boeing has been under heavy regulatory scrutiny since the 5 January incident, with investigations under way into the company’s safety and quality standards in its production process.

Last week a United Airlines-operated Boeing 737 MAX rolled off the runway in Houston, prompting investigations; and a United-operated Boeing 777-200 bound for Japan lost a tyre after takeoff from San Francisco and was diverted to Los Angeles where it landed safely.

A United Boeing 737 bound for Florida from Houston on 4 March returned to the airport shortly after takeoff because the engine had taken in plastic bubble wrap that was on the airfield before departure. Social media posts showed flames coming out of the engine.

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A source has told Reuters that David Barnea, head of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, is expected to resume Gaza ceasefire talks with Qatar’s prime minister and Egyptian officials in Doha on Sunday.

The source said the discussions would cover the remaining gaps between Israel and Hamas on the ceasefire negotiations, including the number of Palestinian prisoners who could potentially be released in exchange for the remaining Israeli hostages as well as humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Seattle child abuse suspect faked death by jumping off bridge then lived in LA

Christian R Basham spent his life as Mark Clemens, a building maintenance man, after police presumed he was dead

A man suspected of child sexual abuse feigned his death by jumping off a Seattle-area bridge nearly two decades earlier – then spent the final years of his life under an alias and working as a Los Angeles apartment building maintenance man, according to authorities.

The stunning truth about Christian R Basham surfaced after the Los Angeles county medical examiner’s office investigated his 26 February death.

Basham’s body arrived at the LA county medical examiner’s office under the identity of 56-year-old Mark Clemens, who was reputed to be the longtime handyman of a downtown apartment building. But investigators determined Basham’s true identity and on Wednesday notified police in Bremerton, Washington, about 65 miles (105 km) outside Seattle, because he had unresolved criminal charges there.

A statement from Bremerton police on Thursday explained that the agency had arrested Basham on charges of second-degree child rape in 2008. He posted bail in the amount of $350,000 to be released from custody pending the outcome of the case, but he never waited to find out what that would be, police said.

Instead, on 29 March 2009, a witness reported to Bremerton police that Basham had jumped off a local bridge over the Puget Sound. Police later found Basham’s car as well as a suicide note. Authorities used a plane and boats to search for Basham, but they never found his body.

They said they presumed him to be dead, though he remained on a most wanted list and an outstanding warrant to arrest him was kept on file.

None of that apparently prevented Basham from assuming the Clemens name, moving to LA and developing a respected reputation at the downtown apartment building where he lived and worked as the handyman for more than a decade.

“This was our maintenance guy,” building resident Tommy Cuellar reportedly told the LA news station KABC. “This was the guy who had keys to our apartments.”

While Cuellar described having generally positive interactions with him, he said the truth about the man known to him as Clemens was “very shocking” and “troubling to say the least”.

Cuellar said Clemens was already established as their building’s handyman when Cuellar moved in about 10 years earlier.

He told KABC that he wondered whether the Clemens name was a clue about the dark secret in Basham’s past. The author Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemens, and two of his most famous characters – Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn – faked their deaths.

Bremerton police said they had since closed the child sexual abuse case against Basham. But they also said that they planned to investigate Basham’s “movements and actions” after faking his death in 2009.

The police’s statement didn’t address how it would proceed if it determined that anyone helped Basham.

Details about Basham’s death weren’t immediately available. Information online from the LA county medical examiner’s office listed his cause of death as “deferred”, or requiring additional investigation, according to the Associated Press.

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Two injured at Westfield Liverpool after teenager accidentally reverses display car into department store

A man in his 50s and another in his 30s have been taken to hospital after being hit by an SUV at a Sydney shopping centre

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Two people are in hospital after being struck by a display car at a busy shopping centre in Sydney.

A teenager was sitting in the SUV when it accelerated forward and hit a glass panel before it reversed into a department store, New South Wales police said.

The incident happened at Westfield Liverpool at 12.30pm on Saturday.

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A man in his 50s suffered minor head injuries and another in his 30s suffered chest injuries.

Both were taken to hospital in a stable condition.

Police said officers spoke to a 14-year-old boy who later left with a family member.

Images of the incident posted to social media show a red vehicle at a standstill next to a cosmetics counter, with mannequins lying flat on the floor nearby.

SafeWork NSW is investigating and a crime scene has been set up.

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Billie Piper says she dislikes discussing ex-husband Laurence Fox’s comments

Actor also says dealing with press headlines about Fox’s remarks has made her ‘stronger’

Billie Piper has said she dislikes being told or asked about her ex-husband Laurence Fox’s incendiary comments.

However, Piper, 41, who was married to the actor turned political campaigner from 2007 until 2016, believes dealing with press headlines over his remarks had made her “feel stronger in many ways”.

They have two sons together, Winston and Eugene.

The Doctor Who actor told British Vogue she “had to make some choices and a divorce speaks for itself” and that Fox’s family, including sister Lydia Fox and her husband, Richard Ayoade, “might have a more interesting take” on him.

Fox, 45, was sacked as a presenter on GB News last year after “misogynistic” comments he made about journalist Ava Evans, which were found by the regulator Ofcom to have broken broadcasting rules.

The remarks in September by Fox, the leader of the rightwing Reclaim party – in which he asked, “Who would want to shag that?” in reference to Evans – received 8,867 complaints.

Piper, who appears in the upcoming Netflix film Scoop about the infamous Newsnight interview with the Duke of York in 2019, said she has handled Fox hitting the headlines with “enormous difficulty”.

She said: “I close everything down and keep a very strict routine with the kids so that there’s consistency. I keep them close. That’s all I can do.

“I try to keep people from telling me stuff but it’s really, really hard. I don’t read it but everyone wants to talk about it.

“Sometimes I have to say to people: ‘Please don’t bring this to me, now or ever.’”

Piper added: “It’s made me feel stronger in many ways.

“I’ve learned I have a lot of resilience I didn’t know I had. I’ve had to learn the hard way that you can only control yourself and how you react to things. It’s really fucking hard … I hate that.”

Fox responded to Piper’s comments in a lengthy statement on X.

The campaigner said: “The reality is that not all marriages work out and the world isn’t perfect.”

Speaking about his children, he added: “My only focus these past years has been to be present in their lives and be a loving dad.

“I’m not perfect, but I’ve done my absolute best to put the kids first … I take full responsibility for my role in the breakdown of our marriage. It takes two to tango, as they say.”

Piper is now in a relationship with Tribes lead singer Johnny Lloyd, with whom she shares a daughter called Tallulah.

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