The Guardian 2024-03-30 16:01:24


Prosecutors suggest Trump violated gag order by attacking judge’s daughter

Ex-president deserves sanction for Truth Social post that criticized daughter of Juan Merchan, hush-money trial prosecutors say

Manhattan prosecutors asked the judge presiding in Donald Trump’s upcoming criminal trial on charges of covering up hush money to a porn star before the 2016 election to confirm that a recent gag order preventing the former president from making inflammatory comments extends to the judge’s family members.

The prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office suggested in a two-page letter on Friday that, as far as they were concerned, Trump had violated the gag order by attacking the judge’s daughter in a recent social media post and should be sanctioned for future violations.

“The court should warn defendant that his recent conduct is contumacious and direct him to immediately desist. If defendant continues to disregard such orders, he should face sanctions under judiciary law,” said the letter to New York supreme court justice Juan Merchan, referencing statutes for criminal contempt that include possible jail time.

At issue was a post Trump sent on Wednesday assailing the judge’s daughter on his Truth Social platform for supposedly using a photo of Trump behind bars as her profile picture for her X account. The photo “makes it completely impossible for me to get a fair trial”, Trump wrote.

The problem for Trump was that the account appears to be bogus. The handle for the X account did belong to the judge’s daughter, Lauren Merchan, but she has since deleted that account, a court spokesperson said. Someone else – it is unclear who – took over the handle and used the photo.

But Trump and his supporters have remained undeterred despite the formal denial. Trump’s surrogates have maintained that the account supposedly is still connected to the judge’s daughter in order to perpetuate claims that the entire family is partisan against the former president.

The fixation on the judge’s daughter appears to be spurred in part by the fact that she has worked as an executive at Authentic, a digital marketing agency that works with Democratic political candidates. Trump has previously tried, but failed, to have the judge removed over his daughter’s work.

Whether the judge will find that Trump violated the gag order is unclear.

The gag order against Trump in the hush-money case was entered on Tuesday, after Merchan rebuked the former president for making statements about the case he deemed “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” ahead of trial, scheduled to start on 15 April.

Under the order, Trump cannot make, or direct others to make, public statements about trial witnesses concerning their roles in the investigation and at trial, prosecutors other than the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg himself, and members of the court staff or the district attorney’s staff.

The order notably also barred Trump from assailing the family members of any counsel or staff member, if his comments were made with the intention to interfere with their work in the case, or with the knowledge that his comments were likely to interfere with their work.

But it was uncertain whether the judge considered himself as court staff, and therefore whether the prohibition on commenting on the family of court staff extended to his daughter. Trump’s lawyers contended in their own filing on Friday that they considered the judge’s family as fair game.

Merchan did not specify how he would enforce the order. Typically, judges impose escalating fines as punishment but, in extreme circumstances, can ultimately order a defendant to be jailed pre-trial if they are found to be in criminal contempt of the order.

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Trump appeals ruling letting Fani Willis stay on election interference case

Attorneys for ex-president and eight co-defendants ask Georgia’s appellate court to remove Fulton county district attorney

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Donald Trump’s legal team on Friday sought to overturn a Fulton county, Georgia, judge’s decision allowing Fani Willis to continue as prosecutor of that state’s election interference case against the former president.

“[T]he indictment should have been dismissed and, at a minimum, [District Attorney] Willis and her office should have been disqualified from prosecuting the case,” Trump’s attorney Steve Sadow said, in part, in the appeal filed on Friday to an appellate court in Georgia.

The Fulton county superior court judge Scott McAfee noted in his ruling earlier in March that case law gave little instruction in his decision, which required either Willis or her special prosecutor Nathan Wade to withdraw from the case, after they were discovered to have had a romantic relationship.

The filing in Georgia’s state court of appeals on behalf of Trump and eight other defendants argues that an appellate court should clarify precedent on the question of “forensic misconduct” – an act by a prosecutor that requires disqualification in Georgia law.

It also argues that McAfee should have found an actual conflict of interest, and barring that should have disqualified Willis on the basis of an address she gave in the wake of revelations made in court filings by Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for the defendant Michael Roman, that she had been romantically involved with Wade.

In what it described as the “church speech”, the appeal said Willis “while concealing her personal relationship with … Wade, improperly injected race and racial bias into the case, indicating that defendants and their counsel were racists for challenging her unethical conduct, that Defendants were guilty and would be convicted (boasting about her ‘superstar’ team with a ‘conviction rate of 95 percent’) … and implying that that God himself had chosen her for this case, that he was on her side, and that she was doing His work in this prosecution”, the filing argues.

McAfee described Willis as having had a “tremendous lapse in judgment” in his ruling, took issue with her description of the timeline of her relationship and described her using cash to cover costs incurred as she and Wade went on vacation together as leaving an “odor of mendacity”. But McAfee stopped short of directly accusing Willis of lying to the court.

In the appeal, lawyers argue directly that Willis had actually been untruthful in testimony about the relationship, creating an appearance of impropriety that requires her removal.

“The trial court labelled the cash repayments as ‘unusual’ and the lack of supporting documentation ‘understandably concerning,’” the filing states. “The trial court then went further, characterizing it is a ‘financial cloud of impropriety’.

“Stopping just short of calling their testimony regarding these alleged cash payments an outright fabrication, the trial court half-heartedly said that her testimony on this issue was ‘not so incredible as to be inherently unbelievable’.”

If the court accepts hearing the appeal, it would probably be to clarify what prosecutors can and cannot say outside court about a case, said Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor and political scientist at Georgia State University College of Law.

“There is much less case law about public statements that might require disqualification than governing actual conflicts of interest,” he said. “The appeals court will not disturb judge McAfee’s findings of fact, and so because he found no evidence of an actual conflict of interest and provided a remedy for the appearance of impropriety he said existed because of Willis and Wade’s relationship, they’re very unlikely to be interested in the relationship-based allegations of a conflict at all.”

A spokesperson for Willis declined to comment on the filing.

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Lizzo says she’s tired of ‘being dragged’ by online critics: ‘I quit’

Singer posts on Instagram she resents ‘lies being told about me for clout and views’ and implies she is quitting music industry

The Emmy and Grammy award-winning performer Lizzo seems to have announced her departure from entertainment via a post on her Instagram that ended with: “I QUIT.”

“I’m getting tired of putting up with being dragged by everyone in my life and on the internet,” the singer and flautist wrote. “All I want is to make music and make people happy and help the world be a little better than how I found it. But I’m starting to feel like the world doesn’t want me in it.

“I’m constantly up against lies being told about me for clout and views … being the butt of the joke every single time because of how I look,” she continued.

“My character being picked apart by people who don’t know me and disrespecting my name. I didn’t sign up for this shit.”

Her post, published on Friday, was met with a flood of supportive comments, including from Paris Hilton, who said: “We love you Queen”, and Kiara Mooring, a contestant on Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, Lizzo’s 2022 competition reality show, who encouraged her to “keep going”.

“Can’t let the haters win, Mama Lizzo. You are loved: keep going,” Mooring said.

Since Lizzo, whose legal name is Melissa Jefferson, gained popularity in the late 2010s with singles such as Truth Hurts and Good as Hell. Her size and choice to wear revealing clothing made her a heroine of the body positivity movement but also the subject of fat-shaming comments and online ridicule.

In May last year, Lizzo locked her Twitter account and threatened to leave the music industry amid a wave of body-shaming comments that speculated about her dietand whether she avoided losing weight because it would not be advantageous to her brand.

Lizzo followed up her online clapbacks with an Instagram post of her on stage at a concert holding a sign that read: “I’m sorry people on Twitter suck. You are beautiful and special.”

The post was captioned: “I will never shut up about how difficult y’all make it for fat people to simply exist. Minding your business is free. If the internet was limited and one comment took 24hrs to post, I wonder what social media would be like.”

Despite the scrutiny, Lizzo has led a successful career. She has won four Grammy awards, an Emmy for Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, and she performed the opening song in last summer’s Barbie movie.

She was accused of and sued for sexual harassment, racial discrimination and fostering a hostile work environment by her dancers. In September, a former clothing stylist filed a similar lawsuit, alleging that she was subjected to bullying and sexual and racial harassment in an “unsafe, sexually charged workplace culture”.

Lizzo has asked judges to dismiss the lawsuits. But in February a judge denied her motion in the case filed by the former dancers.

Friday’s Instagram post is a stark contrast to one posted on 17 March where she talked about writing new music and thanked her fans for their patience.

“I’m writing some of the best music and I’m so excited for y’all to hear. I’m almost ready to be a normal human again … to be outside … to love and trust people … to try and make new friends … to sing and talk about my pain and joy,” Lizzo’s caption read.

“Just give me a lil more time. Thank u for the patience, and to the ones who unfollowed, thank u too, cus now I know where we stand.”

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A second shipment of aid carrying almost 400 tons of food for Gaza left Cyprus’s Larnaca port on Saturday, a Reuters witness said.

A cargo vessel already anchored outside the port carrying aid was joined by a salvage vessel and a platform also carrying aid and which had previously been moored in port, the witness said. The salvage vessel will be towing the aid.

It will be the second dispatch of aid via Cyprus, where Cypriot authorities have established, in cooperation with Israel, a maritime corridor to facilitiate pre-screened cargoes arriving directly to Gaza.

‘Death at any moment’: fights break out as Gazans compete over airdropped aid

Armed gangs take food and water from desperate locals, as critics say airdrops are dangerous and merely designed to divert public anger

Airdrops of humanitarian aid are leading to fatal fights in Gaza as the desperate and hungry battle to reach parachuted food and essentials, amid fears that little of the much-needed assistance is reaching those most threatened by a looming famine.

Eyewitness accounts, images and interviews with aid workers in Gaza suggest the high-profile airdrop operations are of limited help, and have contributed to growing anarchy there.

Yousef Abu Rabee, a strawberry farmer in northern Gaza before the conflict, said he had given up trying to reach aid drops to provide for his family after being shot at by unidentified armed men during a recent chaotic struggle around one parachuted pallet of assistance.

“Since then, I have stopped going as it is not worth all this risk, as a person is vulnerable to injury and death at any moment,” Rabee, 25, said.

Others have reported deaths by stabbing, as well as in stampedes. Twelve people drowned trying to get to aid dropped by plane off a Gaza beach last week, Palestinian health authorities have said. Earlier last month, five were killed near the coastal refugee camp known as al-Shati, one of the most devastated parts of Gaza, after a parachute failed to deploy properly and aid fell on a group of waiting men, teenagers and younger children.

On 25 March, the UK parachuted more than 10 tonnes of aid, including water, rice, cooking oil, flour, tinned goods and baby formula, to civilians along Gaza’s northern coastline, the Ministry of Defence in London said.

Critics say the airdrops by the UK, US, France, Spain, Jordan and other countries are “inefficient, dangerous and expensive” and primarily aimed at diverting public anger as international powers fail to convince Israel to allow more aid to reach Gaza.

Aid agencies said only about a fifth of required supplies are entering Gaza as Israel persists with an air and ground offensive, triggered by Hamas’s 7 October attack which killed 1,200, mostly civilians, and that deliveries by air or sea directly on to beaches are no substitute for increased supplies coming in by land via Israel or Egypt.

Last week the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said Israel must act immediately “to allow … urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance”.

Israel initially imposed a total blockade on Gaza after the Hamas attacks but then allowed a small amount of strictly controlled aid into the territory.

Aid convoys have to traverse up to 25 miles(40km) of smashed roads strewn with rubble to reach the north, where the threat of famine is greatest. Many convoys have been blocked or delayed by Israeli forces. Some have been looted by organised gangs or desperate individuals.

Israel said it puts no limit on the amount of aid entering Gaza and blames problems on UN agencies, which it said are inefficient.

Rabee said he had fled his home in the town of Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza, in the first days of Israel’s offensive, which has so far killed 33,000, mostly women and children, according to officials from the Hamas-run health ministry. Earlier this month, he returned to Beit Lahia, which is now reduced to rubble.

“At one stage, aid began to arrive by airdrop, and people began to track and watch for this aid where it was landing near the beach. People were gathering in large numbers in unimaginable scenes … fighting to get a single item any way they could,” Rabee said.

When he managed to reach an aid parcel, he was surrounded by men with guns. “Many armed men gathered around me and started shooting to keep me and the others away from the aid, which forced me to leave it in the end and go away without getting anything,” Rabee told the Observer.

Jalal Muhammad Harb Warsh Agha, a 51-year-old livestock trader, now in Rafah, said the airdrops had “led to the outbreak of many troubles with fighting and crimes among the citizens there, through which I lost one of my relatives”.

Nariman Salman, 42, said that her eldest son had been stabbed to death in a fight over assistance airdropped to northern Gaza.

“We fled to Rafah but left my son in our home in the north. This was a terrible mistake. When he went with his cousin to find the airdropped assistance, there was a big fight and the two of them were attacked and someone stabbed him straight in the heart,” Salman said.

“These airdrops not only caused the death of my son, they also caused lot of trouble and fighting amongst people as there isn’t enough and everyone wants to take what they need. So someone with a gun or a knife will get the aid for himself and leave most people helpless.”

Aid officials in Gaza are already seeing deaths caused by acute malnutrition among the most vulnerable – young children, the sick and the elderly. There are acute concerns for those left without protection, such as widows or orphans.

David Miliband, the former Labour foreign secretary and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, said at the start of March that airdrops were a measure of desperation.

“The simple truth is that we wouldn’t need airdrops if the crossings were properly open, there were more crossing points, the bureaucracy was reduced and above all that the humanitarian case for a ceasefire was recognised. This is where all diplomacy must be urgently focused”.

Juliette Touma, the communications director at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said reports of fatalities underlined that the best way to deliver aid to people in Gaza is by road and with the United Nations, including UNRWA, which Israel recently banned from travel to northern Gaza.

“This is the most efficient, fastest, cheapest and, most importantly, safest way to reach people with much-needed humanitarian assistance,” Touma said.

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Children among cancer patients fearing being sent back to Gaza by Israel

Moves to deport those receiving care in East Jerusalem have been called ‘a deliberate risk to innocent lives’

Cancer patients from Gaza, including children, are living in a state of limbo in a hospital in East Jerusalem after Israeli authorities threatened to send them back.

The Guardian was given access to the Augusta Victoria hospital, where at least 22 patients from Gaza in urgent need of advanced cancer treatment are living in fear of deportation. As with numerous others, they received authorisation prior to Hamas’s 7 October attack to receive medical care outside the strip, due to the inadequate facilities in Gaza.

Following the outbreak of war, however, the Israeli defence ministry body responsible for overseeing civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, Cogat, has urged hospital officials to provide a list of patients deemed fit for discharge to be returned to Gaza.

“I arrived here in Jerusalem with my son Hamza on 27 September last year,” said Qamar Abu Zoar, 22, originally from Jabalia. “Hamza, who is four and a half years old, has a brain tumour and needs treatment that he couldn’t receive in Gaza. While we were here, the war broke out. And since then, we have been stranded in this hospital, while my other two younger children are in the north of Gaza with my husband.”

Two of her brothers and her father were killed during Israeli airstrikes on Gaza between December and January. Abu Zoar, who has been using a chair to sleep in next to her son since last September, said that while she would like to return to Gaza to embrace her other children, she knew that Hamza could not receive the radiation therapy he needed there, with hospitals in the territory in dire crisis.

“The hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed with hundreds of wounded due to the conflict,” she said. “Here, I know that Hamza can receive the care he needs.”

She said that although Hamza cannot speak due to his illness, he has improved since being transferred, but that his condition remained critical.

At the end of the corridor of the paediatric oncology ward is Ali, an eight-year-old who arrived at the hospital with his mother in September from Rimal, a neighbourhood on the coastline of Gaza City.

“Ali has leukaemia,” said his mother, who preferred not to be named. “In Gaza, they had misdiagnosed. We were supposed to stay for only a month when we arrived … but then the conflict broke out.”

Adult patients, many of whom are elderly, are instead stranded in a hotel next to the hospital, visiting the facility for chemotherapy cycles. Some come from cities in the strip razed to the ground by Israel. If sent back, they risk ending up in the north, where the threat of famine is highest.

According to the United Nations, fewer than a third of hospitals in Gaza are even partially functioning. The Palestinian Authority’s health minister, Mai al-Kaila, told Al Jazeera that the more than 2,000 cancer patients in Gaza were living in “catastrophic health conditions as a result of the ongoing Israeli aggression on the strip and the mass displacement”.

Some patients have asked to join their families in schools designated as shelters to die among them because they know hospitals in Gaza won’t be able to treat them, Subhi Sukeyk, the director of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital, told Al Jazeera. The only cancer treatment hospital in the strip went out of service on 1 November after it ran out of fuel, health officials said.

Last week, just hours before Cogat was preparing to send about 10 patients back to Gaza, the Israeli supreme court halted the order issued by authorities, in response to a plea by the non-profit organisation Physicians for Human Rights. A decision from the court is imminent, although the exact timeframe remains uncertain. The government has until 21 April to present its case.

Physicians for Human Rights said in a statement: “Returning residents to Gaza during a military conflict and a humanitarian crisis is against international law and poses a deliberate risk to innocent lives. All the more so when it concerns patients who may face a death sentence due to insanitary conditions and hunger, along with the unlikely availability of medical care. The fact that the security officials refuse to convey such a directive in writing indicates that they themselves are aware that it is clearly illegal and are avoiding responsibility.

“The hospitals and the medical staff must strongly oppose the release of the patients from their custody unless a guarantee is given that they will not be returned to Gaza where their lives are in danger.”

Israel’s government has argued that the patients ordered back have finished their medical treatment and that their return would be coordinated with international agencies. “In cases where there is a need for further medical treatment, Cogat arranges their stay with the hospitals to safeguard their health,” the agency told CNN.

While awaiting the court decision, Ali had nothing to do but wait, and dream. Prior to his leukaemia diagnosis, he was the captain of a football team in Rimal and he couldn’t wait, his mother said, to be able to get back on the pitch with his teammates.

Exhausted from the medication administered to him only hours before, Ali raised his hand to say that in addition to returning to playing football, he had an even more pressing desire.

“I want this war to end,” he said in a weak voice.

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‘A family used to live here’: The Spanish sticker rebellion battling tourist lets

Tired of overtourism pushing up rental prices, Málaga locals have found a novel way to vent their anger

Incensed after finding out his rental home of 10 years was about to become a tourist apartment, Dani Romero took to social media. What followed swiftly snowballed into a movement, as residents in Málaga began plastering stickers – reading “A family used to live here” or “Go home” – outside tourist lets across the southern Spanish city.

“I didn’t mean to arm a revolution,” said Romero. “I’m just looking for a house to live in.”

At the core of what one Spanish broadcaster called “the sticker rebellion” is not a rejection of tourism, said Romero. Instead, as city residents grapple with a record number of tourists, it’s a cri de coeur for a more balanced approach that could allow for a better coexistence between residents and tourists.

It’s a debate playing out across Europe, as cities from Athens to Amsterdam wrestle with how best to tackle overtourism.

In Málaga, Romero did all he could to negotiate with his landlord, offering to pony up more rent for the three-bedroom flat he lived in on the outskirts of the city centre. His landlord’s refusal, however, cast Romero into a desperate search amid the slim pickings of a real estate market where tourist lets have for years outstripped the number of residents in the city centre.

“I’ve looked at houses that don’t have windows, another that wanted a €40,000 (£34,192) deposit,” he said. “On Friday, one asked me for a €200 deposit just to visit the apartment.”

Fuelled by frustration, he took to the social media page of the bar he owns, posting his own take on the blue AT – Apartamento Turístico or Tourist Apartment – signs that advertise tourist lets in the city. “ATtack against the citizens of the city,” he said, as he invited others to come up with their own rebrand of these short-term rentals.

Answers soon rolled in, all of them cleverly playing off the AT sign. “This used to be my home,” reads the translation of one response. Others were more blunt: “Go to your fucking home.”

The campaign soon took on a life of its own, as residents began printing out the responses and sticking them on to the AT signs across the city.

“To me it seems a very peaceful way of protesting,” said Romero. “There’s no organisation or political party behind this. It’s neighbours who are fed up because this is an issue that affects absolutely all of us.”

A recent survey of residents in Málaga found that access to housing ranked as their principal concern, with 60% of those polled describing rental prices as “very expensive”.

While about 80% of those surveyed described the impact of tourism as “very positive” or “positive,” the most recent data available showed that in 2021, the number of foreign nationals moving to the city rose by 2,600 while the population of Spanish nationals dropped by nearly 1,000.

As the number of tourist apartments swelled, the supply of rentals for locals shrank, pricing out groups such as retirees, some who had been forced to move into shared accommodation, and young people, said Romero. “I’m 48 years old, have a high income, money saved up and I can’t find a house. What’s the situation like for people who are 25 years old?”

Those lucky enough to own their home were not immune either, he said, as the influx of tourists had steadily replaced fruit shops and fishmongers with souvenir stands and luggage storage. “I don’t have anything against tourism. Tourists visit my bar and I’ve been a tourist,” said Romero. “But we have to regulate tourism – me and half the city can’t live like this.”

The city of Málaga, which recently rejected legislation that would have seen the municipal rental market classified as “under pressure” allowing officials to put in place rent caps in certain cases, did not reply to a request for comment.

As news spreads of Málaga’s sticker rebellion, messages poured in for Romero from across the country. From San Sebastián to Valencia and Madrid and Barcelona, residents got in touch to express interest in printing out their own stickers.

Others had weighed in with opinions. “Some people have been really supportive. Others think this is all silly,” he said. “But at the end of the day, all I’m doing – I repeat – is protesting because I don’t have a home.”

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‘A family used to live here’: The Spanish sticker rebellion battling tourist lets

Tired of overtourism pushing up rental prices, Málaga locals have found a novel way to vent their anger

Incensed after finding out his rental home of 10 years was about to become a tourist apartment, Dani Romero took to social media. What followed swiftly snowballed into a movement, as residents in Málaga began plastering stickers – reading “A family used to live here” or “Go home” – outside tourist lets across the southern Spanish city.

“I didn’t mean to arm a revolution,” said Romero. “I’m just looking for a house to live in.”

At the core of what one Spanish broadcaster called “the sticker rebellion” is not a rejection of tourism, said Romero. Instead, as city residents grapple with a record number of tourists, it’s a cri de coeur for a more balanced approach that could allow for a better coexistence between residents and tourists.

It’s a debate playing out across Europe, as cities from Athens to Amsterdam wrestle with how best to tackle overtourism.

In Málaga, Romero did all he could to negotiate with his landlord, offering to pony up more rent for the three-bedroom flat he lived in on the outskirts of the city centre. His landlord’s refusal, however, cast Romero into a desperate search amid the slim pickings of a real estate market where tourist lets have for years outstripped the number of residents in the city centre.

“I’ve looked at houses that don’t have windows, another that wanted a €40,000 (£34,192) deposit,” he said. “On Friday, one asked me for a €200 deposit just to visit the apartment.”

Fuelled by frustration, he took to the social media page of the bar he owns, posting his own take on the blue AT – Apartamento Turístico or Tourist Apartment – signs that advertise tourist lets in the city. “ATtack against the citizens of the city,” he said, as he invited others to come up with their own rebrand of these short-term rentals.

Answers soon rolled in, all of them cleverly playing off the AT sign. “This used to be my home,” reads the translation of one response. Others were more blunt: “Go to your fucking home.”

The campaign soon took on a life of its own, as residents began printing out the responses and sticking them on to the AT signs across the city.

“To me it seems a very peaceful way of protesting,” said Romero. “There’s no organisation or political party behind this. It’s neighbours who are fed up because this is an issue that affects absolutely all of us.”

A recent survey of residents in Málaga found that access to housing ranked as their principal concern, with 60% of those polled describing rental prices as “very expensive”.

While about 80% of those surveyed described the impact of tourism as “very positive” or “positive,” the most recent data available showed that in 2021, the number of foreign nationals moving to the city rose by 2,600 while the population of Spanish nationals dropped by nearly 1,000.

As the number of tourist apartments swelled, the supply of rentals for locals shrank, pricing out groups such as retirees, some who had been forced to move into shared accommodation, and young people, said Romero. “I’m 48 years old, have a high income, money saved up and I can’t find a house. What’s the situation like for people who are 25 years old?”

Those lucky enough to own their home were not immune either, he said, as the influx of tourists had steadily replaced fruit shops and fishmongers with souvenir stands and luggage storage. “I don’t have anything against tourism. Tourists visit my bar and I’ve been a tourist,” said Romero. “But we have to regulate tourism – me and half the city can’t live like this.”

The city of Málaga, which recently rejected legislation that would have seen the municipal rental market classified as “under pressure” allowing officials to put in place rent caps in certain cases, did not reply to a request for comment.

As news spreads of Málaga’s sticker rebellion, messages poured in for Romero from across the country. From San Sebastián to Valencia and Madrid and Barcelona, residents got in touch to express interest in printing out their own stickers.

Others had weighed in with opinions. “Some people have been really supportive. Others think this is all silly,” he said. “But at the end of the day, all I’m doing – I repeat – is protesting because I don’t have a home.”

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The week in parliament: Albanese’s attempts to appease Dutton land Labor in a political quagmire of its own making

Amy Remeikis

Curtailing of parliamentary debate frustrates crossbench, terse words over bureaucrat’s tears, and unlikely bedfellows on excessive-deaths motion

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Blame it on the short week, blame it on seasonal delirium, blame it on the eclipse.

But there was something in the air this week in parliament, and it wasn’t harmony.

It’s that time of year when the sun doesn’t rise until after 7am in Canberra and starts going down shortly after 5pm, sparking an existential crisis that feels as though you’re running out of time.

And the Albanese government is. Australia’s three-year federal election cycle means we are well and truly in the back end of this term and that means everything is on a deadline.

The promised religious discrimination legislation looks like being one of the casualties, unless there is some sort of come-to-Jesus moment in the major parties where politics is put aside for the greater good.

In this parliament, that seems unlikely. Anthony Albanese has not been shy about making it known he wants to run a “middle of the road” government. And that means negotiating with the Coalition on bills, at least when it comes to national security, the economy, major social justice issues and borders to try to find that middle ground.

But as we saw this week, Labor will never be able to do enough to appease a Coalition led by Peter Dutton.

If Margaret Thatcher felt her greatest achievement was New Labour, then Dutton must be feeling pretty happy with Labor’s moves in the home affairs realm.

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The deportation legislation is the latest example of Labor attempting to get ahead of Coalition attacks, only to find itself in a political quagmire of its own making.

Trying to out-Dutton Peter Dutton – an uber-Dutton if you will – means Labor is not winning on the politics or the policy. It is also increasingly frustrating grassroots supporters who are watching the party’s policy platform morph into something unrecognisable.

It’s also alarmed the crossbench, with the independent Warringah MP, Zali Steggall, telling the ABC:

This week was definitely, from my perspective, a very disappointing week in our relations with the government. We have had a very good working relationship where they have been very constructive, willing to brief the crossbench and myself on a number of pieces of legislation, and as to their plans and where things go.

But this week, Monday, we saw the cutting short of the debate in relation to the offshore gas bill, where members of the crossbench were not permitted to do their second reading speeches, and then on Tuesday we saw, I think blind-sided with a very short debate time on a very serious piece of legislation.

There is no more parliament until budget week starting 7 May. That doesn’t mean any of this will be forgotten, just that the focus will shift. But with more high court cases in the pipeline and the Coalition seeking to make political hay while the home affairs sun shines, Dutton suddenly finds himself with a lot to smile about.

One of the most famous quotes about journalism is that it is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. (In truth, a lot of journalism is closer to the actual quote the phrase was taken from.)

Tears or no tears?

It wouldn’t be Auspol though without mixing things up, which is how most of Wednesday was spent getting to the bottom of whether a very powerful public servant was brought to tears after a dressing down from her minister and not looking at the law, or the people that law would affect, that sparked the alleged tear-gate.

Putting aside that someone who spent more than 20 years in defence and intelligence could apparently be brought to tears by an angry Clare O’Neil, Sussan Ley was determined to get to the bottom of whether a single salty teardrop had tracked its way down Stephanie Foster’s cheek. Readers may remember Foster from a separate eye-related controversy: 2021’s wink-gate.

Ley asked O’Neil five different ways if sparks of fire had led to drops of tears (to misquote Shakespeare) and O’Neil found five different ways not to answer.

That led the Liberals’ hawkiest of security hawks, James Paterson, to take up the tear-gate baton, and he did so with gusto in Senate estimates, asking Foster whether or not the government was concerned Foster had tabled a document detailing the criminal record of people released as a result of the high court’s NZYQ decision.

Paul Karp said it became a somewhat testy exchange before a steely-eyed Foster cut to the chase:

The [home affairs] minister [Clare O’Neil] and I will always discuss the estimates process in a routine way. The reports that the minister verbally abused me are absolutely baseless. I would like to echo comments made by the ministers, that my relationship with both [O’Neil and the immigration minister, Andrew Giles] is very close, very constructive … At no point, on that occasion, or ever, has minister O’Neil verbally abused me.

The strength of relationships [between ministers and public servants] depends on having trusted conversations. [What matters is] not whether or not who said what to whom, but whether I felt or feel any sense of pressure or influence to behave in any way other than with complete integrity.

Paterson begun his questioning by saying he would never question Foster’s independence – but as the hearing went on and Foster and the border force chief, Michael Outram, didn’t have answers for him about the criminality of the 73 without ankle bracelets, his tune changed, implying they were covering up for the government (which they denied).

We are assured the only cries arising from the estimates hearing were metaphorical.

Ute beauty

No one could ever accuse Bridget McKenzie of not sticking to a line. Or letting facts get in the way of that line. The Nationals senator was sent out to argue that Labor’s fuel efficiency standard, which seems to have made the motoring industry and environmental groups if not jump for joy, then at least not burn everything down, is a tax.

It’s not a tax. It’s an incentive for car manufacturers to make and sell more fuel-efficient cars. But McKenzie wants someone to PLEASE THINK OF THE UTE DRIVERS, and she’ll continue to say it’s a tax until a LandCruiser melts into the ground. Even though she hasn’t read the legislation. Even though the boss of Toyota said it wasn’t a tax. Even though it’s not a tax. McKenzie will hold the line. She told Josh Butler:

If I’m wrong, get them to release the modelling on the price impact, get them to release the modelling on their new plan, get them to release the price impact that it will have for cars, the emissions impact it will have for our economy and the choice of cars available.

Dutton had another idea of why the Toyota boss said it wasn’t a tax, telling Sydney radio host Ray Hadley in his weekly love-in:

Yeah, it was like they were holding his family captive until he made the comments and then they’d release them. It was ridiculous, really.

But Dutton did let slip the Coalition had a second policy it would be taking to the election – it’s no longer just nuclear.

We’re going to go to the election with a clear policy that the HiLux and the LandCruiser and the Ranger and the BT-50 and others will be literally thousands and thousands of dollars more expensive under Mr Albanese than they will be under a Coalition government.

So there you have it. Nuclear and what looks like the end of any fuel-efficiency standard this government may pass. Good times.

Dream team?

The Senate can create strange bedfellows at times – for example, the Greens and the Coalition have had the odd team-up (and did so this week to send the deportation legislation to committee).

But more than a few eyebrows were raised when the United Australia party senator Ralph Babet, who seems to spend a lot of his time attempting to attract the attention of Donald Trump, announced the progressive independent senator David Pocock was a co-sponsor of a motion he was putting forward.

Babet made his fifth attempt to have “excessive” deaths in Australia looked at through a Senate inquiry, and this time, with Pocock and Jacqui Lambie’s names attached, managed to get a majority of the Senate to agree. Babet is motivated by some theories floating around about Covid, but Pocock told us he sees something to be investigated.

Pocock said public health experts had raised concerns with him about the number of deaths in Australia being above levels they would normally expect. He wants to see what the actual drivers might be behind the data. So he worked with Babet to broaden the inquiry to see what’s been going on.

He said:

My preference is always to work collaboratively across the parliament on inquiries that will deliver the best outcomes for our community and that’s what I tried to do here together with Senator Lambie by amending the terms of reference.

Maroon melee

Honourable mention to Graham Perrett’s competitive drive which this week led to a bit of Queenslander-on-Queenslander friendly fire, with Matt Canavan’s head coming off second best in a knock with Perrett’s noggin.

The pair were on the same side for a football friendly at the Parliament House oval, but nothing will take Perrett’s eye off the prize – not even a teammate. The collision left Perrett with a bloody cut across his nose, but Canavan was left with a pretty big gash above a bloodshot eye. Both were looked over and given the all-clear (we hear Canavan became acquainted with Canberra hospital’s ER waiting room) but were laughing about it less than a day later. Queenslanders.

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Solar panel waste to reach crisis levels in next two to three years, Australian experts warn

A 12-year industry roadmap has been unveiled to address the rising amount of solar panel waste headed for the tip

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The solar industry is quickly approaching its tipping point, with unprecedented levels of waste headed for the tip.

Solar panel waste levels will reach a crisis point in the next two to three years instead of by 2030, as was previously forecast, according to a white paper released this week.

Led by Rong Deng, a renewable energy engineering researcher at the University of NSW, the paper predicted that if the production of solar panels expands by five to 10 times, as is hoped, “we will run out of the world’s reserves of silver in just two decades”.

“If it’s happening right now, [we] need to do something,” Deng said.

The immense scale of waste comes down to two factors. Victoria is the only state to have banned the disposal of solar panels in landfill, and the cost to recycle solar panels – $10 or $20 per panel – disincentivises recycling. Additionally, for panels that are recycled, the technologies needed to extract valuable materials is not available.

Most commercial solar panel recyclers simply remove the aluminium frame and the wiring, and shred the glass, Pablo Ribeiro Dias, the cofounder of Solarcycle, a solar recycling and sustainability company, said.

The design of solar panels, akin to a “fused, watertight, weatherproof sandwich”, made extracting valuable materials, such as silicon, silver and copper, and turning them into usable components difficult, Deng said.

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The white paper outlined a 12-year industry roadmap, which included developing sophisticated technologies to extract valuable metals, establishing recycling centres in various metropolitan areas and the development of a product stewardship scheme for photovoltaics.

The product stewardship scheme will be introduced in 2025, and could mandate recycling (or penalise not recycling) and make solar panel manufacturers financially responsible for the disposal of end-of-life panels, the paper suggested.

Deng said she was confident the suggestions of the roadmap would be implemented, but was less confident that they would be implemented in the recommended timeframes.

She said Australia lacked a “strong recycling infrastructure”, and attributed this to waste being exported to China prior to 2016.

Richard Kirkman, the chief executive of energy and waste recycling management service Veolia Australia and New Zealand, said the federal government needed to invest in pilot projects to ensure solar panels were designed to be easy to recycle and develop large-scale processes to recycle solar panels.

“If we get this right we can close this loop in a way that will underpin the Australian way of life for generations with the recovery and recycling of the precious metals and rare earths inside discarded end-of-life panels,” he said.

The federal government announced on Friday a $1bn funding boost aimed at increasing the number of Australian-made solar panels, which may increase the number of solar panels designed in a manner that makes recycling easier. Currently, 90% of solar panels used in Australia are imported from China.

Renate Egan, the executive director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics based at the University of NSW, said previous predictions did not consider that two-thirds of Australian solar panels were installed on residential rooftops and were frequently replaced. One in three Australian homes generate solar energy, the highest per capita of any country.

She said some Australians were switching out their solar panels prematurely due to changing electrical safety standards, which has meant that older solar panels might not be deemed safe.

Jeff Angel, the executive director of the Total Environment Centre, blamed relaxed recycling regulations on a slow-moving government bureaucracy and the renewables industry’s proposals of voluntary schemes.

“The current crop of environment ministers are not entranced by voluntary programs,” he said. “So I do think there’s potential to move quicker.”

Angel called for the product stewardship scheme to regulate faster and more decisively than past schemes. He said it was “critical” that all the decommissioned solar panels were actually collected.

“It would be completely irresponsible to keep sending solar panels to landfill.”

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of previous schemes where they aimed [to recycle] a small percentage in the first five years and grow slowly from there,” he said.

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Woman dead and two others in hospital after suspected drug overdoses on the Gold Coast

Woman, 43, died after paramedics were called to a Surfers Paradise hotel on Friday night

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A woman has died and two others have been hospitalised after suspected drug overdoses on the Gold Coast.

Queensland paramedics were called to a hotel in Surfers Paradise at 10.58pm on Friday night. Emergency responders found seven patients, three of whom were in critical condition, including a 43-year-old woman who was experiencing cardiac arrest at the scene.

Efforts to revive the woman at the scene were unsuccessful and she was declared dead.

Two other women, also aged 43, were struggling to breathe and rushed to the Gold Coast University hospital in a critical condition.

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One woman has since been declared stable, but the second remained in intensive care on Saturday.

The Queensland ambulance service (QAS) said another four people at the scene refused transport and treatment after helping paramedics to provide medical care for the other women.

On Saturday, the QAS’s senior operations supervisor, Mitchell Ware, said there was “no such thing as a safe drug”.

“Any time you take something that isn’t prescribed for you, there is obviously an element of risk to that,” Ware said.

“When people are obviously buying these drugs, there is an element of risk. Now you don’t know what’s going into them. You don’t know who’s made them. You may be told one thing, it may be something completely different.”

Ware said similar incidents “occupy a lot of [our] ambulances’ time and a lot of Queensland Ambulance services as well” with paramedics responding to similar incidents “every day”.

Police will prepare a report for the coroner on the 40-year-old woman’s death.

– with AAP

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Woman dead and two others in hospital after suspected drug overdoses on the Gold Coast

Woman, 43, died after paramedics were called to a Surfers Paradise hotel on Friday night

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

A woman has died and two others have been hospitalised after suspected drug overdoses on the Gold Coast.

Queensland paramedics were called to a hotel in Surfers Paradise at 10.58pm on Friday night. Emergency responders found seven patients, three of whom were in critical condition, including a 43-year-old woman who was experiencing cardiac arrest at the scene.

Efforts to revive the woman at the scene were unsuccessful and she was declared dead.

Two other women, also aged 43, were struggling to breathe and rushed to the Gold Coast University hospital in a critical condition.

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One woman has since been declared stable, but the second remained in intensive care on Saturday.

The Queensland ambulance service (QAS) said another four people at the scene refused transport and treatment after helping paramedics to provide medical care for the other women.

On Saturday, the QAS’s senior operations supervisor, Mitchell Ware, said there was “no such thing as a safe drug”.

“Any time you take something that isn’t prescribed for you, there is obviously an element of risk to that,” Ware said.

“When people are obviously buying these drugs, there is an element of risk. Now you don’t know what’s going into them. You don’t know who’s made them. You may be told one thing, it may be something completely different.”

Ware said similar incidents “occupy a lot of [our] ambulances’ time and a lot of Queensland Ambulance services as well” with paramedics responding to similar incidents “every day”.

Police will prepare a report for the coroner on the 40-year-old woman’s death.

– with AAP

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Nightclub hostage standoff in Dutch town ends with arrest of man

Suspect known to authorities and no indication of terrorist motive, police say after nine-hour incident in Ede

A hostage incident at a nightclub in the eastern Netherlands ended on Saturday after nine hours as police arrestied a man wearing a balaclava when he left the premises.

“The last hostage has just been released. One person has been arrested,” a police statement said. “We cannot share more information at this time.”

Four employees were taken hostage at the Cafe Petticoat in the town of Ede, located about 80km (50 miles) south-east of Amsterdam. Officials said at a news briefing that the suspect, who was previously known to police, had threatened the hostages with knives. There was no indication of a terrorist motive, police said.

An initial group of three people were released, with pictures from the public broadcaster NOS showing them leaving the building with their hands in the air. A fourth hostage was freed shortly afterwards, with the suspected hostage-taker then arrested.

Footage from NOS showed a man kneeling on the ground with his hands behind his back, as officers restrained him with handcuffs.

Special police units had been deployed to the nightclub, which is located in the centre of town, police said on social media. Authorities evacuated about 150 homes in the town during the incident, and trains to and from Ede were cancelled.

At one point, a police explosives unit attended the scene with a remote-controlled robot.

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said: “Much respect and appreciation for the police, emergency services and the special interventions service who managed to bring the hostage situation in a cafe in Ede to a successful conclusion. I wish everyone involved a lot of strength to deal with this intense and drastic event.”

The mayor of Ede, René Verhulst, said at a press conference: “As far as we know, it was a Dutch man, a Dutch citizen, and he is known by the police.”

Verhulst said the hostages were “very emotional” and were now with their families. Police would be speaking with them, along with the hostage-taker, he said.

“Fortunately, we are happy,” Verhulst said. “There was a lot of emotion; we had to evacuate the area, but in the end, everything was fine.”

He said he would soon visit the hostages, who were employees of the nightclub.

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‘One of Melbourne’s big characters’: youth worker Les Twentyman dies aged 76

Twentyman spent more than four decades campaigning on youth homelessness and social welfare

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The prominent Melbourne youth worker and social justice campaigner, Les Twentyman, has died aged 76.

The Les Twentyman Foundation announced his death in a statement on Saturday.

“Les inspired us all with his lifelong dedication to helping those in need and his profound contribution to our community has positively changed the lives of thousands of young Victorians and their families,” the foundation said.

The foundation’s chief executive, Paul Burke, said Twentyman’s death had been a “great shock”.

“It was only yesterday that Les was looking to find shoes and clothes for a family in need, and talking about flying to the US for filming of a documentary he had been working on,” he said.

“To his wife Cherie and family, we pass on our love and condolences and will throw our arms around them as they deal with this difficult time – we are all heartbroken.”

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Twentyman grew up in Braybrook in Melbourne’s west. He spent more than four decades campaigning on issues including youth homelessness, drug abuse, prison reform and social welfare, working in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Twentyman spent his early years as a PE teacher, a coach and player for the Yarraville VFL football team, and a passionate supporter of the Western Bulldogs AFL team.

When the Bulldogs made the AFL grand final in 2016, Twentyman spoke glowingly for what it was doing for the western suburbs.

“When you’re dealing with areas that are haemorrhaging with massive social issues around youth unemployment, homelessness, drug issues, gang issues, this is something that puts it all in the back seat,” he told Guardian Australia at the time.

His Back to School program aimed to keep children in education, and provides textbooks and other required materials. The foundation said it has helped about 17,000 people stay in school since launching in 1989.

“In life Les was never afraid to say what was needed to be said, he gave a voice to the voiceless and leaves a legacy of helping the disadvantaged and those in need that will live long past his extraordinary life,” the foundation said.

He was named Victorian of the Year in 2006 and given the medal of the Order of Australia in 1994.

Bill Shorten, the NDIS minister, paid tribute to Twentyman as “one of Melbourne’s big characters”.

“We were in contact just this week and he worked right up ‘til the last,” Shorten said in a social media post. “Thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, colleagues and all the people he helped along his road less travelled.”

The deputy premier of Victoria, Ben Carroll, said he was deeply saddened by the news.

“During my time in the portfolios of youth justice, crime prevention and education he was always helpful, reminding me to see the child first and focus on the causes of crime,” he posted on X.

“[Twentyman’s] work in early intervention saved lives.”

In recent months, Twentyman had been working with director Rod Hardy on a documentary about his life.

Burke said Twentyman was a great man, and larger than life, and his work would continue.

“It has been an absolute honour to work with Les through the Les Twentyman Foundation and we will continue his work in helping young people to a brighter future and will ensure that his passing will not be the end of his legacy.”

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Explainer

Ukraine war briefing: US aid delays could force Ukrainian troops to ‘retreat step by step’, Zelenskiy warns

President says if US support stops, ‘it means we will go back’; Russia attack wave hits Ukrainian power plants, triggering blackouts. What we know on day 766

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  • If Ukraine does not get promised US military aid blocked by disputes in Congress, its forces will have to retreat “in small steps”, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said. “If there is no US support, it means that we have no air defence, no Patriot missiles, no jammers for electronic warfare, no 155-millimetre artillery rounds,” the Ukrainian president told the Washington Post. “It means we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps. We are trying to find some way not to retreat.”

  • Ukraine’s air force said on Saturday that Russia fired four missiles into eastern Ukraine overnight, as well as 12 Shahed drones across the country. Nine of the drones were shot down in four regions, it said.

  • Huge Russian missile and drone attacks hit thermal and hydro power plants in central and western Ukraine the previous night, officials said on Friday, in a barrage targeting the country’s damaged power infrastructure. The Kaniv hydropower plant was among the targets along with the Dnister plant, located on the Dnister River, flowing through neighbouring Moldova, Zelenskiy said. Moscow “wants to repeat the environmental disaster in the Kherson region. But now not only Ukraine but also Moldova is under threat”, he said on Telegram.

  • Ukraine said it had imposed emergency blackouts on several regions after the Russian attacks. National grid operator Ukrenergo said its dispatch centre was “forced to apply emergency blackout schedules in the regions of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kirovograd until the evening.” Restrictions were already in place in the cities of Kharkiv and Kryvyi Rih after a Russian strike last week.

  • The Polish prime minister has said Europe is entering a “prewar” era, cautioning that the continent is not ready and urging European countries to step up defence investment. In an interview with European newspapers reported by the BBC, Donald Tusk said: “I don’t want to scare anyone, but war is no longer a concept from the past. It’s real and it started over two years ago.” His comments came days after a Russian missile briefly breached Polish airspace during an attack on Ukraine, prompting Warsaw to put its forces on heightened readiness.

  • One person was killed and two injured in the Russian city of Belgorod from a Ukrainian drone attack, said the Belgorod region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov.

  • Russia’s security services said they had arrested three people from “a central Asian country” who were plotting an attack in the south of the country, Russian news agencies reported. The trio “were planning to commit a terrorist act by blowing up a device in a public place in the Stavropol region”, the federal security service (FSB) said on Friday. Russian television showed images of several men pinned to the ground by FSB agents.

  • Russia is outgunning Ukrainian forces sixfold on the frontlines, causing losses of troops and positions, Ukraine’s recently appointed commander-in-chief, Oleksandr Syrsky, said in a rare interview published on Friday. He also said Ukraine’s military would need to mobilise fewer people than initially expected to fend off Russia’s invasion. Zelenskiy said in December that his military had proposed mobilising up to 500,000 more Ukrainians into the armed forces as Russia stepped up attacks along the 1,000-km (621-mile) frontline, but Syrsky said in an interview with Ukrainian media published on Friday that the figure had been “significantly reduced” after a review of resources.

  • Ukraine received a $1.5bn (£1.2bn) tranche of funding under a World Bank programme, said the prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, helping it pay for its budget and social spending amid the war.

  • Zelenskiy pressed on with changes to officials close to him, dismissing two deputy heads of his office and appointing a former top security official ambassador to neighbouring Moldova. A presidential decree on Friday announced the dismissal of Andriy Smyrnov, who was responsible for legal policy matters, and Oleksiy Dniprov, who headed the office’s “apparatus”. Zelenskiy said he had appointed Oleksiy Danilov, former head of Ukraine’s security and defence council, as ambassador to Moldova.

  • Nato member Romania said it had found fragments of what appeared to be a drone on a farm near the Danube river and the border with Ukraine.

  • Zelenskiy has declared his income for 2022 rose to 12.42m hryvnias ($316,000/£250,000) from 3.7m hryvnias ($94,000) the previous year, with the increase attributable to improved rent collection and the sale of some government bonds. Most of the income of Zelenskiy and his family came from his salary, bank interest and rent payable from his properties, the president’s website said. Zelenskiy has called for public officials to disclose their incomes as part of efforts to increase transparency.

  • Russian prosecutors have asked the justice ministry to consider labelling Alla Pugacheva, the queen of Soviet pop music, as a “foreign agent”, a move that would officially designate Russia’s most famous star a foe of the Kremlin. Pugacheva has expressed disgust with the Ukraine war.

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Le Crookie: after the cronut and the cruffin, latest croissant hybrid takes Paris by storm

Teenagers queue outside bakeries to buy pastry seen on TikTok that puts American twist on French pâtisserie

It was 3 February when the queues started forming at Boulangerie Louvard in Paris. Even in the sort of downpour that usually empties streets, clued-up teenagers gathered outside the family-run bakery in the 9th arrondissement, desperate to get their hands on one thing: its owner Stéphane Louvard’s invention, le crookie.

It’s a crisp croissant filled with American-style cookie dough, then baked to achieve a soft, gooey centre, and a video of the Frankensteined pastry had gone viral on TikTok.

Arriving a decade after the New York-based French pastry chef Dominique Ansel revealed the recipe for his cronut, the crookie is the latest in a long line of hybrid croissant offerings to cause international fervour. “We were very surprised,” says Louvard, who now sells up to 2,200 crookies per day. “We had to hire two additional people to be able to produce the necessary quantities. It was a little stressful.”

Bakeries across Paris have now started selling them. “My local is doing it, even though it’s not very trendy at all,” says Houssine Bouchama, director of Time Out Paris. Meanwhile, from Singapore to Toronto, copycats are making their own versions. Cookie Crumble, a micro-bakery in London, has been getting orders from across the country. Rhiain Gordon, founder of Babyfaced Baker in Edinburgh tells me it’s “unusual to see any left by 10am”.

To say that cross-bred takes on classic breakfast pastries have captured public imagination is an understatement. In 2013, when Ansel first brought the cronut, with its glazed doughnut outside and flaky pastry inside, to New York, they sold out so quickly that a black market arose on advertising website Craigslist. By the time it landed in the UK in 2016, it was with so much fanfare that Londoners skipped work to try it.

A muffin-croissant hybrid, the cruffin, was next, causing such a stir at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco that in 2015 the recipe was reportedly stolen. Then came the croloaf (croissant dough baked in a bread tin, debuted by M&S in 2016). There have been tacros (pulled pork filled taco-shaped croissants created by San Francisco’s Vive La Tarte) and cretzels (salted pretzels made with croissant dough, by Seattle’s Coyle’s Bakeshop).

Since the global launch of TikTok in 2017, the appetite for these hybrid snacks has accelerated. In 2022, the suprême – a spiral of croissant dough stuffed with the pastry creme-filling of an Italian bomboloni doughnut – became a global sensation. Next came the croffle; croissant dough pressed in a waffle machine, popularised in South Korea by cafe chain Aufglet.

What is it about hybrid croissants that have captured global public imagination for so long? Meg Palmer, a research manager at market research agency Verve, thinks it’s because “there’s something about the merging that makes it more permissible to be indulgent”.

Pastries are also perfect for TikTok, she explains, because they look and sound great. “[In videos of] the crookie you see hands breaking through the croissant. You hear that initial crunch, and you see whether it’s got filling if it oozes out. It’s very sensorial.”

She ties the constant invention of hybrids to small businesses trying to stand out on social media. “They’re always thinking ‘what can be our hook?’ People do latch on to these trends, and they don’t just want a flat white and a croissant any more.”

Bouchama has seen the impact of this in Paris. “There’s an Americanisation of French patisserie going on; the desire to reach an international audience on TikTok,” he says.

Bakery Philippe Conticini in Islington is London’s main purveyor of novelty croissants. The chain launched in London in 2020 with classic French patisserie, but found it hard to survive.

“We’ve found we have to be creative all the time and follow the trends,” says Ludovic Carassi Del Villar, operations manager. The shop soft-launched its £5.90 crookie last week and is already getting calls demanding more.

Back in Paris, TikTokers are already moving on, says Bouchama: “Some bakeries are now experimenting with the pain au chocolat-brownie.”

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