The Guardian 2024-04-14 10:01:34


Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari confirmed there was a direct hit on the Nevatim airbase by ballistic missiles but said it caused only “minor damage to infrastructure” and the base remains fully operational, adding that a young girl was injured in the attack.

All drones and cruise missiles launched by Iran were intercepted before entering Israeli airspace, and the majority of 120 ballistic missiles, he said.

“Ballistic missiles, only a small number … single digits … fell in the base and around,” he said in a morning briefing. “A direct hit with minor damage that doesn’t do anything to the operational of the base.”

One young girl was in intensive care in hospital due to shrapnel injuries after the attacks, Hagari said, adding that so far there are no other reports of major damage or injury.

Hagari described the use of ballistic missiles as an “escalatory factor”. Asked about Israel’s options for an offensive response, he said Israel has plans and was considering its options.

“We have plans, the situation is still ongoing. We are assessing the situation, we are showing the cabinet the plans, and we are ready to do what is necessary for the defence of Israel.”

“I want you to show me another country facing over 110 ballistic missiles, and the drones,” he said. “I think Iran meant to get results and didn’t get results. The ballistic missiles are an escalatory factor. And when they used these numbers they wanted more significant results than what happened.”

Iran warns it will strike again with greater force if Israel or US retaliate

Tehran’s firing of over 300 drones and missiles at Israel threatens to draw region into wider conflict

  • Middle East crisis – live updates

Tehran has warned it will strike again with greater force if Israel or the US retaliate for the Iranian strike on Israel by more 300 drones and missiles on Saturday night.

The air raids, the Islamic Republic’s first ever direct attack on the Israeli state, brought a years-long shadow war into the open and threatened to draw the region into a broader conflagration as Israel said it was considering its response.

“Our response will be much larger than tonight’s military action if Israel retaliates against Iran,” the Iranian armed forces’ chief of staff, Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri, told state TV, adding that Tehran warned Washington that any backing of Israeli retaliation would result in US bases being targeted.

Israel, with the help of key western allies including the US, UK and Jordan, claimed to have intercepted 99% of the launches during the mass strike, but added that some ballistic missiles had reached Israel, damaging the Nevatim airbase in southern Israel, which remained operational.

As the UN security council prepared to convene an emergency session, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said more than 350 missiles were launched during the attack from Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and called the interception rate a “significant strategic success”.

Commenting on Israel’s response to the attack, its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, posted on X: “We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win.”

Israeli’s military spokesperson, R Adm Daniel Hagari, said in a televised statement “the Iranian attack was foiled”, adding that no drones or cruise missiles had entered Israeli territory and “only a few” ballistic missiles reached the country.

Although Israel moved to reopen its airspace, officials said the incident was not yet over.

As of Sunday morning, Israeli officials indicated no decision had been made about a response to the Iranian attack, as an official said any potential response would be discussed at the war cabinet meeting.

However, Israeli war planes were reported to be bombing Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.

On the Gaza front of the fast-expanding regional war, Netanyahu said Hamas had rejected a ceasefire proposal and that Israel would continue to pursue its conflict there with “full force”.

While many of the missiles and drones were brought down outside Israel’s airspace, others were intercepted over Israeli territory by its air defence interceptor system, which lit up the night sky with detonations, while air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem and other cities.

The roar of Israeli air force jets could be heard across the country in the early hours of Sunday.

Some projectiles penetrated the defensive shield. Hagari confirmed a direct hit on an airbase in southern Israel that caused “minor damage to infrastructure” though the base remained fully operational.

One young girl is in emergency care after the attack, he said.

When asked about possible retaliation by Israel, Hagari said: “We have plans, the situation is still ongoing, we are assessing the situation, we are showing the cabinet the plans, and we are ready to do what is necessary for the defence of Israel.”

The New York Times cited Israeli intelligence sources as saying the main targets appeared to be military installations in the occupied Golan Heights, in the far north, and the Negev desert, in the far south. Tehran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, fired volleys of rockets at the Golan Heights at the same time as the Iranian bombardment, and the Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen claimed they had also joined the attack.

Through its mission at the UN, Iran declared the mass aerial attack, which Tehran called Operation True Promise, was a retaliation for the bombing of an Iranian diplomatic building in Damascus on 1 April, and that it now considered the matter closed unless there was further action by Israel.

“The matter can be deemed concluded,” the statement said. “However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the statement on the X social media platform said. “It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the US must stay away!”

Netanyahu spoke by phone for 25 minutes with the US president, Joe Biden, at 4am Israeli time (0200 BST), as the aerial attack appeared to peter out.

After the call, Biden said he had reaffirmed to Netanyahu “America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel”.

“I told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks – sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel,” Biden said, adding that on Sunday he would convene G7 leaders “to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack”.

“My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders,” Biden said. “And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people.”

In the days leading up to the assault, US officials had predicted it would be an unprecedented operation launched from Iran on Israeli territory. They said that if it did not cause mass casualties, Washington would urge Israel to moderate its own response, to prevent tit-for-tat escalation spiralling out of control, drawing in other countries and the US itself.

Biden interrupted a weekend break at his house at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and arrived back at the White House just after the first drones had been launched, meeting his top security officials in the underground situation room. US surveillance planes in the region tracked the incoming attack and US fighter jets shot down incoming drones and missiles.

The Jordanian air force also intercepted some of the projectiles over its territory, and the UK’s Royal Air Force said it was contributing fighters and refuelling planes, mostly to fill in for the US in conducting aerial patrols over Iraq and Syria as part of its campaign against Islamic State, but the defence secretary, Grant Shapps, said British planes could also “intercept airborne attacks within range of our existing missions”.

There had been nearly two weeks of speculation about when, where and how Tehran or its proxy forces would respond to the 1 April strike on an Iranian diplomatic building in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which killed Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and eight other officers.

Israeli officials almost never claim responsibility for attacks carried out on foreign soil. Tehran has blamed Israel for the strike.

Since the war in Gaza began six months ago, there have been near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border that have threatened to escalate into full-blown conflict.

A direct attack by Iran on Israel, however, was not believed to be on the cards: Tehran’s leaders have previously made clear that they are not seeking a war with Israel, which could also draw in the US.

Iran has never responded with such force to previous attacks, including many covert Israeli operations on its soil, or the US assassination of the powerful al-Quds force leader Qassem Suleimani in Iraq in 2020.

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US and UK forces help shoot down Iranian drones over Jordan, Syria and Iraq

US defence official says action is part of ‘ironclad commitment to Israel’s security’, with UK’s Royal Air Force also involved in regional operations

  • Iran launches attack against Israel – live
  • Full report: Israel under fire as Iran launches drones and cruise missiles

A hastily assembled coalition including the US and UK has helped Israel shoot down Iranian drones over Jordan, Iraq and Syria in an effort to blunt the attack and prevent an uncontrollable escalation.

As a mass salvo of Iranian drones and cruise missiles neared its borders, Israel scrambled its fighter jets to intercept the incoming projectiles, according to Israeli news reports, and it was supported in the effort by its partners and neighbours.

Joe Biden said the US had built up its forces in the run-up to the widely telegraphed attack, and that the reinforcements had paid off.

“At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the US military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” Biden said in a written statement. “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles. “

Royal Air Force fighter jets and refuelling aircraft were also involved, taking off from bases in Cyprus. Their role, according to the Ministry of Defence, was to fill in for the US Air Force in the sorties against the Islamic State normally carried out over Iraq and north-eastern Syria, but also to intercept Iranian drones if they came into the UK area of operations.

“In response to increased Iranian threats and the growing risk of escalation in the Middle East, the UK government has been working with partners across the region to encourage de-escalation and prevent further attacks,” a defence ministry statement said.

“We have moved several additional Royal Air Force jets and air refuelling tankers to the region. These will bolster Operation Shader, which is the UK’s existing counter-Daesh operation in Iraq and Syria. In addition, these UK jets will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required.”

Reuters quoted two regional security sources as saying Jordanian jets had downed dozens of Iranian drones flying across northern and central Jordan heading towards Israel.

The report said the drones had been brought down over the east bank of the Jordan river, and had been heading in the direction of Jerusalem, while others were intercepted close to the Iraqi-Syrian border.

There was no confirmation from the Jordanian government on its military role. The Iranian news agency Fars cited a source as saying that the regime in Tehran was closely monitoring Jordan’s actions which could make the Arab state “the next target” if it acted in Israel’s defence.

The Biden administration sent the head of US Central Command, Gen Erik Kurilla, to Israel this week to help coordinate defences against an Iranian attack. Kurilla was reported to have left the country short before the first drones were launched.

As well as fulfilling US defence commitments to Israel, the Biden administration is seeking to prevent out-of-control escalation leading to a regional war. US officials have said that their ability to restrain Israel’s response would depend a lot on what was hit inside Israel and the number of casualties from the Iranian attack.

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Analysis

Fate of Middle East hangs in the balance as Israel mulls its next steps

Julian Borger in Washington

Joe Biden is believed to have urged restraint, and Tehran deems the matter ‘concluded’ but ultimately Israel’s response lies in the hands of three prickly rivals in its war cabinet

  • Iran attack on Israel – live updates
  • Full report: Iran launches hundreds of drones and cruise missiles at Israel in unprecedented attack
  • Iran attack – what we know so far

The prospect of a major regional war in the Middle East hangs in the balance on Sunday morning, when Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet is due to meet to decide Israel’s response to Iran’s drone and missile attack.

Netanyahu’s ministers voted in the middle of the night to delegate that decision to the tiny war cabinet, comprising Netanyahu, defence minister Yoav Gallant and Benny Gantz, a Netanyahu opponent who joined the government as minister without portfolio after the Hamas 7 October attack, which began the spiral of violence that has brought Israel and Iran to the brink of war.

These three prickly rivals will decide the next step, with the fate of the region now resting in their hands.

In the nervous hours leading up to the war cabinet meeting, Netanyahu and Biden spoke by phone for 25 minutes, during which, according to some reports in the Israeli media, the US president urged restraint.

Biden issued a statement minutes after the call in which he gave no explicit advice to Netanyahu but he noted that with US help, “nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles” had been brought down.

That “remarkable” defensive capacity, Biden argued, was by itself “a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel”.

As of early Sunday morning, the only reported casualty from the aerial onslaught was a 10-year-old girl in Israel’s southern desert, from the country’s most marginalised community, the Bedouins. A southern military base was lightly damaged.

In the run-up to the expected Iranian assault, US officials had hypothesised just such an outcome: that Iranian projectiles would fall in the desert and not cause significant casualties. In that case, the officials predicted, Washington would urge strongly against a rash Israeli response.

Iran is clearly hoping for such a muted response. In a message delivered through its mission at the UN, Tehran suggested hopefully that in the wake of its retaliation: “The matter can be deemed concluded.”

Both Biden and the Iranians are well aware that Netanyahu would ideally like to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, which he has long seen as an existential threat to Israel. Reducing them to rubble would be very hard without US help, but it is possible that he and other Israeli hawks could try seize this opportunity to deliver that ambition.

NBC News reported on Saturday night that some top administration officials are “concerned Israel could do something quickly in response to Iran’s attacks without thinking through potential fallout afterward”.

The report said Biden had privately expressed concern that Netanyahu is “trying to drag the US more deeply into a broader conflict”, citing three people familiar with the president’s comments.

Administration officials are well aware that Netanyahu has an incentive to keep hostilities going, as it fends off the collapse of his coalition and new elections.

While the damage to Israel was minimal, Israeli officials could argue that was no thanks to Tehran, but to the reliability of Israeli air defence and its allies, most notably the US, the UK and Jordan. Jordan risked being lambasted in the Arab world for intercepting some of the Iranian drones as they crossed its airspace.

That joint action, prepared in the week before the Iranian attack, almost certainly saved lives and may have fended off a wider war. It could also serve as a reminder of Israel’s dependence on the US to keep Israelis safe.

In the short term, Washington can draw comfort from a few signs any Israeli response will not at least be immediate. Israel has called for a UN security council session on the attack, which will happen at 4pm New York time on Sunday. It would be surprising if a counter-attack was launched before that session.

Another possible sign that the response could be muted was Gallant’s conversation with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, after the attacks. According to the Israeli defence ministry, Gallant “emphasised that the defence establishment is prepared for any further attempts to attack the state of Israel”. His comments made no mention of Israel striking back.

A third positive sign in the early hours of Sunday was a reassurance from an Israeli official cited by the New York Times that “Israel’s response would be coordinated with its allies”.

Washington is likely to remind Israel in the coming hours and days of its gains from having withstood Iran’s fury, largely unscathed.

The attack has for now distracted global attention from Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza. Furthermore, the Iranian attack is also likely to dispel murmurs in the US Congress about curbing weapons supplies to Israel because of Gaza. Now such restrictions can be cast by Israel’s supporters as leaving America’s leading ally in the Middle East defenceless in the face of the proven Iranian threat.

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Industry to face ‘strict tests’ for public funding to incentivise green energy, Jim Chalmers says

Treasurer offers more detail on forthcoming Future Made in Australia plan after concerns raised by productivity commissioner

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Tax breaks and subsidies may be offered to industry as part of the government’s yet-to-be-detailed Future Made in Australia plan – but Jim Chalmers says there will be “strict tests” on public funding for the green energy strategy.

The treasurer says there must be “generational change” in Australia to match similar major green economy programs being undertaken by other nations including the US.

“We’re looking for where we can make our businesses more competitive, build the capacity of our people and our regions,” Chalmers told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

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“Become part of that net‑zero global economy, turbocharge the private sector, get value for money.”

Anthony Albanese last week signalled a dramatic shift to directly supporting Australian industry through an interventionist green industry policy similar to the US president Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Albanese promised direct government support to speed up the energy transition and stem the flow of money and ideas to countries offering investment incentives.

The speech to the Queensland Media Club did not detail exactly what the plan would involve, although concessions, grants or underwriting of projects were all expected.

Chalmers on Sunday sketched out some more detail of what the plan – to be unveiled more fully in the lead-up to the 14 May budget – could entail.

Asked by the Insiders host, David Speers, about tax changes, Chalmers said a broad company tax cut was not on the agenda but indicated more targeted tax concessions were likely.

“That’s obviously one of the tools that we are considering but not the only one,” he said of tax breaks for certain industries. “What you’ll see on budget night is a broad and comprehensive strategy of which incentives for industry is a part but not the only part.

“We are prepared to consider the tax system as one of a whole range of levers that may be useful as we pursue a Future Made in Australia and make ourselves that indispensable part of the global net‑zero economy … The tax system may play a part, public investment will play a part, but overwhelmingly what we’re trying to do here is incentivise private investment, not replace it.”

Asked if there would be a focus more on “tax incentives than direct handouts”, Chalmers said there would be “some combination of all of the levers available to government”.

He stressed there would be “rigorous and robust tests” on any funding, saying it “isn’t some kind of free‑for‑all of public funds”.

“The heavy lifting will still be overwhelmingly done by the private sector but there’s an important role to play by governments and by public investment as well,” he said.

“The world is changing and that pace of change is accelerating and we want a slice of the action for our workers and our businesses and our investors.”

The Productivity Commission chair, Danielle Wood, last week raised concerns that such a program could potentially divert resources and cash away from more productive areas of the economy.

Chalmers said she had made “important but obvious” points about getting value for money from any program, stressing that the strategy would have “strict frameworks” and “exit strategies” in consideration of broader economic impacts.

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Explainer

Bruce Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins saga: the night that spawned more than a dozen legal cases

A judge is set to hand down his verdict in Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson. Here are all the other connected cases

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More than three years after Brittany Higgins alleged on The Project that she had been raped, the defamation case stemming from that broadcast may be about to come to an end.

A judge is set to hand down his verdict in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson on Monday.

Although the February 2021 broadcast did not name the person who allegedly raped her in 2019 in Linda Reynolds’ ministerial office, Higgins’ colleague Lehrmann later claimed he was identifiable.

Lehrmann vehemently denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent. An initial trial was aborted due to jury misconduct. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Lehrmann in December 2022 amid concerns about the impact a second trial could have on Higgins’ mental health.

But a verdict in the defamation case case will not be the end of the long-running saga.

The night in March 2019 when Higgins alleges she was raped has spawned more than a dozen legal cases, judicial inquiries, reviews and federal investigations. Some have been suspended – but many are still ongoing.

Ongoing

1. Lehrmann v Network Ten and Wilkinson

Defamation case

Lehrmann alleged the news outlet The Project and former host Wilkinson defamed him in their initial reporting of Higgins’ allegations in February 2021. The verdict was delayed after the case was reopened so Network Ten could present fresh evidence from the former Seven producer Taylor Auerbach. The judge will hand down his verdict on Monday.

2. R v Wonnocott

Criminal case

David Wonnocott was arrested by a counter-terrorism squad and charged after he allegedly made death threats to Higgins, her partner, David Sharaz, and their pet dog. The accused pleaded guilty on 26 February to using carriage service to threaten to kill and using carriage service to menace, harass or offend and is due to be sentenced at Lismore district court on 15 July.

3. Reynolds v Higgins

Defamation case

Reynolds is suing Higgins for defamation over an Instagram post that included a list of complaints against the senator. The Western Australia supreme court case is ongoing and is likely to head for trial after a closed-door mediation earlier this year failed.

4. Reynolds v Sharaz

Defamation case

Reynolds is suing Sharaz for defamation over tweets her lawyers claim caused damage that “cannot be underestimated”. The Western Australia supreme court case ongoing and heading to trial after mediation failed. Reynolds’ lawyer argued the cases against Sharaz and Higgins should be merged to prevent duplication and save money.

5. Auerbach v Seven

Contractual claim

In an affidavit read to the federal court during the Lehrmann defamation trial, Auerbach said he took legal advice to launch a contractual dispute with his former employer, Seven, after the publication of news.com.au articles in which Lehrmann allegedly made false claims about Auerbach. Auerbach issued a concerns notice to Seven on 27 March.

6. Auerbach v Lehrmann

Threatened defamation case

Auerbach, whose explosive allegations have led to the reopening of Lehrmann’s defamation case against Ten and Wilkinson, last week sent a concerns notice, the first step in defamation proceedings, to Lehrmann.

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Potential other cases

1. National Anti-Corruption Commission investigation

The new anti-corruption watchdog is investigating allegations that sensitive documents tendered in the Lehrmann criminal trial were leaked to the media, after Network Ten made a complaint to ACT police in June. An NACC spokesperson said: “Investigations that had been commenced but not completed by Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity as at 1 July 2023 are now continued by the Commission. To provide any further information could prejudice operational activities or the rights of individuals involved.”

Suspended, dropped or completed

1. Gaetjens review

Prime ministerial inquiry

After Higgins went public with her story in 2021, the then prime minister Scott Morrison asked the secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, to investigate whether staff in his office had any knowledge of the alleged rape before it became public and, if so, when.

Outcome: The inquiry was suspended in August 2021 after Higgins was advised against participating on grounds it may be prejudicial to criminal proceedings.

2. R v Lehrmann

Criminal case

Lehrmann was accused of raping Higgins in Reynolds’ ministerial office in 2019. He vehemently denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent.

Outcome: An initial trial was aborted due to jury misconduct. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Lehrmann in December 2022 amid concerns about the impact a second trial could have on Higgins’ mental health.

3. Lehrmann v News Corp

Defamation case

Lehrmann alleged News Corp defamed him in its initial reporting of Higgins’ allegations.

Outcome: Lehrmann discontinued the proceedings in May 2023 after settling with the media outlet for what was later revealed to be $295,000. News.com.au has not apologised for or corrected its articles, but has added an editor’s note to the two stories Lehrmann sued over. The note refers to the defamation proceedings and says news.com does not suggest Lehrmann was guilty of a criminal charge of sexual assault.

4. Lehrmann v ABC

Defamation case

Lehrmann alleged the ABC defamed him when it broadcast Higgins’ full address to the National Press Club on 9 February 2022.

Outcome: The parties reached an out-of-court settlement the day before federal court defamation proceedings were due to begin in November 2023. Lehrmann received $150,000 towards legal costs.

5. Board of inquiry v ACT director of public prosecutions and police

Inquiry

An independent inquiry was set up by the ACT government in December 2022 to examine how the police and the director of public prosecutions handled the Lehrmann criminal case. The inquiry was headed by Walter Sofronoff KC, an eminent retired Queensland judge.

Outcome: The inquiry’s August 2023 report made “several serious findings of misconduct” against the outgoing ACT director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC. It concluded that Drumgold “at times … lost objectivity and did not act with fairness and detachment” throughout the prosecution of Lehrmann for the alleged rape of Higgins.

6. Drumgold v Board of inquiry

Judicial review

After the Sofronoff inquiry’s report was released, Drumgold launched an application for judicial review of the findings, requesting that the report be quashed entirely or declared invalid and of no effect.

Outcome: In a partial victory for Drumgold, a supreme court in March ruled Sofronoff’s extensive communications with a columnist at The Australian newspaper gave rise to an impression of bias against him during the inquiry.

7. Reynolds v Patrick

Defamation case

Reynolds sued the journalist Aaron Patrick and publisher HarperCollins over a book that she alleged made defamatory statements about her response to Higgins’ rape allegations.

Outcome: Parties settled confidentially in April 2023 and it is unclear how much of the allegedly defamatory content has been removed.

8. Higgins v Reynolds

Defamation case

Higgins sued the then defence minister Reynolds for calling her former staffer a “lying cow” in remarks to her staff when the alleged rape became public.

Outcome: Reynolds apologised to Higgins and agreed to pay legal costs and make a donation to a sexual assault charity as part of the confidential March 2021 settlement.

9. Reynolds v ACT

Defamation case

Reynolds launched legal action against the ACT government and former chief prosecutor Drumgold in December over allegations Drumgold made in a letter to the Australian federal police accusing the senator of “disturbing conduct” during the Lehrmann trial.

Outcome: Reynolds was awarded $90,000 and an apology from the ACT government in March in a compromise settlement.

10. Higgins v The commonwealth

Personal injury claim

Higgins pursued a personal injury claim, including covering lost earning capacity, medical expenses and legal costs, against the commonwealth.

Outcome: The parties reached a settlement after a short mediation in December 2022. Court documents in December revealed Higgins received $2.445m including legal costs from the commonwealth.

11. Wilkinson v Ten

Civil claim

The Project host Wilkinson sued her former employer, Ten, over the payment of her legal costs amounting to more than $700,000.

Outcome: The federal court Justice Michael Lee ruled in Wilkinson’s favour in February, with the amount to be determined after the Lehrmann defamation case judgment.

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‘Miraculous’: exquisite paintings saved from Notre Dame fire back on view

Five years after the inferno at the Paris cathedral, a new exhibition shows the rescued art treasures

There was a moment on 15 April 2019 as the flames consuming Notre Dame cathedral roared into the evening sky when it seemed all would be lost.

Firefighters prevented the blaze from reaching the bell towers – whose collapse would have almost certainly brought down the facade – and from destroying the bells, the Grand Organ and the Parisian monument’s stained-glass rosette windows.

The bee hives on the roof also survived, along with dozens of treasures, including artworks, ancient books and relics saved in extremis as a chain of firefighters, police and city council workers formed to extract them.

In the weeks after, as the fire, smoke and water damage was assessed, a unique collection of 17th-century religious paintings was removed from the cathedral, damp but mostly undamaged. The 13 “Mays” – part of a series of 76 large oil works painted by the best artists in France between 1630 and 1707 – had hung in the cathedral’s dimly lit side chapels, often overlooked by visitors.

Now they will go on public display, having been restored by experts from Mobilier National, the cultural body charged with conserving France’s historical objects, before being returned to Notre Dame in advance of its planned reopening in December.

Emmanuel Pénicaut, director of Mobilier National collections, said: “We were lucky to get them out quite quickly with just a little water damage and dust. It was rather miraculous.

“We began removing them the day after the fire and decided they would all be restored. The exhibition is a chance to see them all in one place, in the order they were painted, which is how they would have been originally displayed. What you see now is how they would have looked the day they were completed.”

The Mays earned their name from the decision of the Confrérie des Orfèvres (Goldsmith’s Guild) in Paris to hold an annual competition for paintings to be completed by May, when they would be offered to the virgin, whose statue stood at the entrance of the cathedral.

It was intended to symbolise the supremacy of the Catholic faith after the French Wars of Religion, the series of eight civil conflicts between Catholics and Protestant Hugenots from 1562 and 1598, which cost the lives of up to four million people.

The theme would be from the acts of the apostles, and the paintings were supposed to be a uniform 10ft 6in high and 8ft 6in wide, though some made them larger. The artists, including Charles Le Brun and Jacques Blanchard, looked to antiquity and Greek and Roman themes for their inspiration. Each year, after the May was presented, it was exhibited and hung on one of the stone pillars flanking the nave of Notre Dame.

During the French Revolution the paintings, like many religious works, were dispersed. Several were returned to the cathedral in 1802 and remained there until 1862, when the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who added the spire to Notre Dame, saw them as incompatible with his new architectural plans, and they were placed in the Louvre.

“The paintings suffered two major catastrophes, the Revolution and the arrival of Viollet-le-Duc, who got rid of much of the medieval decorations in Notre Dame,” Pénicaut said. “In 1905, they were put back but not along the nave pillars as before but in the side chapels, which meant we lost the unity of the collection.”

Pénicaut said the new exhibition is the first time they have been displayed in the same place for more than 160 years. “They are truly great classical paintings and were painted by the best artists of the age. They not only have a great religious significance but an artistic value too. Of the 76 painted, we know the whereabouts of 52 of them, seven of which are in private collections in the UK, others in churches in France.”

The exhibition features another nine religious paintings saved from the fire, and part of Notre Dame’s rarely seen 27m-long chancel rug, ordered by King Charles X of France, that was stored in a box at the time of the blaze and suffered only minor water damage. The rug has been used only a handful of times for major events, including the marriage of Napoleon III, the first president of France and its last emperor, who died in exile in England in 1873.

Visitors will also be able to view 14 large tapestries woven in the 17th century for the Notre Dame chancel, which are now owned by the Strasbourg cathedral, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, and contemporary works and furniture – including 1,500 oak congregation chairs – that will be installed in the cathedral.

In the hours after the fire in 2019, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, pledged to rebuild the cathedral within five years. A Te Deum, a service of thanksgiving, is to be held on Monday, the fifth anniversary of the fire, with Notre Dame reopening on 8 December. The treasures of Notre Dame will be on display at the Mobilier National from 24 April to 21 July.

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‘Miraculous’: exquisite paintings saved from Notre Dame fire back on view

Five years after the inferno at the Paris cathedral, a new exhibition shows the rescued art treasures

There was a moment on 15 April 2019 as the flames consuming Notre Dame cathedral roared into the evening sky when it seemed all would be lost.

Firefighters prevented the blaze from reaching the bell towers – whose collapse would have almost certainly brought down the facade – and from destroying the bells, the Grand Organ and the Parisian monument’s stained-glass rosette windows.

The bee hives on the roof also survived, along with dozens of treasures, including artworks, ancient books and relics saved in extremis as a chain of firefighters, police and city council workers formed to extract them.

In the weeks after, as the fire, smoke and water damage was assessed, a unique collection of 17th-century religious paintings was removed from the cathedral, damp but mostly undamaged. The 13 “Mays” – part of a series of 76 large oil works painted by the best artists in France between 1630 and 1707 – had hung in the cathedral’s dimly lit side chapels, often overlooked by visitors.

Now they will go on public display, having been restored by experts from Mobilier National, the cultural body charged with conserving France’s historical objects, before being returned to Notre Dame in advance of its planned reopening in December.

Emmanuel Pénicaut, director of Mobilier National collections, said: “We were lucky to get them out quite quickly with just a little water damage and dust. It was rather miraculous.

“We began removing them the day after the fire and decided they would all be restored. The exhibition is a chance to see them all in one place, in the order they were painted, which is how they would have been originally displayed. What you see now is how they would have looked the day they were completed.”

The Mays earned their name from the decision of the Confrérie des Orfèvres (Goldsmith’s Guild) in Paris to hold an annual competition for paintings to be completed by May, when they would be offered to the virgin, whose statue stood at the entrance of the cathedral.

It was intended to symbolise the supremacy of the Catholic faith after the French Wars of Religion, the series of eight civil conflicts between Catholics and Protestant Hugenots from 1562 and 1598, which cost the lives of up to four million people.

The theme would be from the acts of the apostles, and the paintings were supposed to be a uniform 10ft 6in high and 8ft 6in wide, though some made them larger. The artists, including Charles Le Brun and Jacques Blanchard, looked to antiquity and Greek and Roman themes for their inspiration. Each year, after the May was presented, it was exhibited and hung on one of the stone pillars flanking the nave of Notre Dame.

During the French Revolution the paintings, like many religious works, were dispersed. Several were returned to the cathedral in 1802 and remained there until 1862, when the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who added the spire to Notre Dame, saw them as incompatible with his new architectural plans, and they were placed in the Louvre.

“The paintings suffered two major catastrophes, the Revolution and the arrival of Viollet-le-Duc, who got rid of much of the medieval decorations in Notre Dame,” Pénicaut said. “In 1905, they were put back but not along the nave pillars as before but in the side chapels, which meant we lost the unity of the collection.”

Pénicaut said the new exhibition is the first time they have been displayed in the same place for more than 160 years. “They are truly great classical paintings and were painted by the best artists of the age. They not only have a great religious significance but an artistic value too. Of the 76 painted, we know the whereabouts of 52 of them, seven of which are in private collections in the UK, others in churches in France.”

The exhibition features another nine religious paintings saved from the fire, and part of Notre Dame’s rarely seen 27m-long chancel rug, ordered by King Charles X of France, that was stored in a box at the time of the blaze and suffered only minor water damage. The rug has been used only a handful of times for major events, including the marriage of Napoleon III, the first president of France and its last emperor, who died in exile in England in 1873.

Visitors will also be able to view 14 large tapestries woven in the 17th century for the Notre Dame chancel, which are now owned by the Strasbourg cathedral, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, and contemporary works and furniture – including 1,500 oak congregation chairs – that will be installed in the cathedral.

In the hours after the fire in 2019, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, pledged to rebuild the cathedral within five years. A Te Deum, a service of thanksgiving, is to be held on Monday, the fifth anniversary of the fire, with Notre Dame reopening on 8 December. The treasures of Notre Dame will be on display at the Mobilier National from 24 April to 21 July.

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Students choose arts degrees in droves despite huge rise in fees under Morrison government

The scheme to incentivise students into other disciplines has failed to stem the ‘massive swell’ of demand for humanities

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Owen Magee knew how high his student loan would be if he enrolled in an arts degree – he saw the headlines in 2020, when he was still in early adolescence.

But measures introduced by the former Morrison government that doubled the price of some degrees to incentivise students into other courses didn’t dissuade him, nor did recent cost-of-living increases.

“I decided I’d prefer doing something I’m interested in,” the 18-year-old says of his decision to study a media and arts degree at the University of New South Wales.

“A lot of young people are moving away from conventional ideas of education and the workforce to pursuing things we genuinely enjoy in life.

“We know what’s best for us – we’re willing to stand up and say ‘this is our future, we’re not going to allow our lives to be dictated’.”

Data provided to Guardian Australia shows Magee is not alone. Students are flocking to arts degrees in record numbers despite a 113% rise in student contributions for communications, humanities and society and culture degrees, implemented as part of the widely condemned Job-ready Graduates (JRG) scheme.

It’s equivalent to $16,323 a year, or about $50,000 for a three-year degree.

Despite the spike, Australia’s largest universities including UNSW, the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney and Monash have all experienced a jump in applications for arts degrees, leading to higher enrolments.

At the University of Melbourne, demand for its Bachelor of Arts degree is higher in 2024 than any time in the past five years.

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It’s had a 14% surge in the number of first preferences for the bachelor program since 2022, while enrolments have also jumped since 2021, rising from 1,597 to 1,641 this year.

Monash University has seen first preferences for arts degrees rise by 11% since 2021. Enrolments jumped almost 2% this year, at the same rate as the University of Sydney, which has consistently grown its arts enrolments since the JRG reforms were introduced.

Prof Claire Annesley, dean of arts, design and architecture at UNSW, says there has been a “massive swell” of students choosing degrees in her faculty.

First preferences for arts degrees surged by 14% at UNSW this year, while the student course load was also up.

“I think they can see the future better than we can,” she says. “This generation of young people will be creating jobs you and I can’t imagine – and industry knows that as well.”

The latest graduate outcomes survey reported the largest increase in employment rates in the field of humanities (up from 81.7% in 2021 to 86.6% in 2022).

Median graduate salaries also jumped, sitting at $66,700 compared with sciences and mathematics at $66,000 and business and management $65,000.

In the unknown future of AI, Annesley says humanities offer skillsets that can’t be replaced by emerging technology. Complex societal problems – from the climate emergency to the pandemic – need effective communicators and policymakers.

“AI can reproduce what we already know, but creativity is an innately human skill,” she says.

“Right now we’re penalising people we need to be part of the business of innovation and core solutions. There’s an urgency here.”

The CEO of Universities Australia, Luke Sheehy, says JRG “failed” to encourage students into certain disciplines and instead shifted additional costs on to students and universities.

According to the University Admissions Centre (UAC), which manages applications for New South Wales universities, 21% of first preferences were directed to society and culture degrees in the most recent intake, with roughly the same number of offers provided.

The most popular courses were a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Double Law at UNSW.

The figures are nearly identical to 2021. Yet in the same period, first preferences to health, historically the most popular study area, have reduced (28% to 25%), as year 12 applicants have turned to arts degrees in higher numbers.

“We’ve already called and will continue to call on government to prioritise student support measures in the forthcoming budget,” he says.

The Universities Accord final report recommended JRG needed “urgent remediation”, adding it had “significantly and unfairly increased what students repay”.

The education minister, Jason Clare, told Guardian Australia the government would respond to the recommendations in the accord “shortly”.

But to Magee, the further into his course he gets, the more concerned about his economic future he becomes.

“Down the road, my student debt will take a lot of my income … it worries me,” he says.

“The government should be encouraging students to find paths they enjoy, not restricting it.”

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‘I can’t explain it’: Salman Rushdie says his survival in knife attack was a miracle

Despite his lack of faith, the author believes ‘something happened that was not supposed to happen’ on the day he was attacked

Salman Rushdie has revealed an abiding sense that his survival after a brutal knife attack two years ago was a miracle, in spite of his lack of spiritual faith. “I do feel that something happened that was not supposed to happen and I have no explanation for it,” Rushdie said this weekend before the publication of Knife, his account of the incident.

“I certainly don’t feel that some hand reached down from the sky and guarded me,” but it still presents a contradiction, he admits, “for one who doesn’t believe.”

Reading from his new memoir during an American television interview for the 60 Minutes show, Rushdie, 76, describes his assailant as “a squat missile” coming in at him “hard and low” in black, “the last thing my right eye would ever see”.

In August 2022 the Indian-born author, who won the Booker prize in 1981 for his novel Midnight’s Children, was on stage ready to give a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State when a knife-wielding man rushed from the audience and managed to quickly inflict several stab wounds. The assault came 33 years after a fatwa had called for Rushdie’s death. Issued by Iran’s then leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, it was a response to the publication of The Satanic Verses, a novel deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.

Sitting alongside Rushdie on the stage that day was Henry Reese, the co-founder of City of Asylum, a not-for-profit organisation that protects writers exiled as a result of their work. Reese, who was to be the moderator of the talk, was also injured and has spent much time since trying to understand what he witnessed.

“When something as terrible as this happens, the question of the importance of writing becomes very real. The violence that day reminded everybody just what it really means to be at risk because of your words,” Reese told the Observer from his home in Pittsburgh. “It’s very brave of him to be prepared to be exposed again and to write about something that happened that is at once so public and at the same time very private.”

Reese’s professional mission, he said, was to protect writers. He could not have had a more dramatic demonstration of the need for this work. “As it was happening I felt what I was witnessing was a very physical and real reminder. It was beyond metaphor. It made it very clear what some writers are dealing with, although perhaps it was even more vivid for those who were watching it than it was for me, who was beside it. I didn’t see most of it, after all.”

He is considering making his own response to the attack: “I’ve been thinking about writing, but it hasn’t got any coherence yet,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to see what Salman has to say.”

Reese does not compare his injuries to those suffered by Rushdie, who has lost movement in an arm and is unable to see in his right eye. But Reese was in the midst of the struggle and came out of it badly. He had been encouraged however, he said, to see that writers continue to tackle dangerous subjects.

In the aftermath Reese did detect fear among writers: “There was a moment when they felt in peril because of what had happened here in the USA; a time when people wondered, ‘Can you be safe anywhere?’ But it reverted to normal afterwards, leaving just a heightened awareness.”

What troubles Reese is the response of literary foundations and the publishing industry, as well as western governments.

“I would have hoped they would have stepped up,” he said. “Instead, I am not aware of any meaningful change. We can proudly sell a book from a writer who may be imprisoned or killed. But what are we doing to make them safe? It is not enough to protect a banned book. We need to protect endangered writers.”

Rushdie’s new memoir is subtitled Meditations After an Attempted Murder and sets out the events from the victim’s perspective for the first time. It also looks at the traumatic aftermath, including his 18 days in hospital and three weeks of rehabilitation.

The trial of the man arrested immediately after the attack, Hadi Matar, was due to start in January but was postponed because of the memoir. Matar has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault.

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Last of 174 people rescued from stranded cable cars in Turkey

Passengers had been trapped in mid-air overnight after a pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring others

The last 43 of 174 people stranded in cable cars high above a mountain in southern Turkey have been brought to safety, nearly 23 hours after one pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring 10 when they plummeted to the rocks below.

The interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, announced the successful completion of the rescue operation on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday afternoon.

A total of 607 search and rescue personnel and 10 helicopters were involved, including teams from Turkey’s emergency response agency, Afad, the coast guard, firefighting teams and mountain rescue teams from different parts of Turkey, officials said. Helicopters with night-vision capabilities had continued rescuing people throughout the night.

The stranded people had been stuck on the Tunektepe cable car, just outside the Mediterranean city of Antalya, since 5.30pm on Friday, when the accident occurred.

Istanbul resident Ayse Hatice Polat and her family were among those rescued. Speaking to the Anadolu agency, she said the power went out and the pod flipped four or five times.

“The night was awful, we were very scared. There were children with us, they passed out,” she said. “It was torture being up there for seven hours. It is swaying every second, you’re constantly in fear … It was very traumatic, I don’t know how we’ll get over this trauma.”

Okay Memis, the head of Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency Afad, said the people had been rescued from at least 16 cable cars after a “very dangerous operation”.

He said: “This accident occurred following the breakage of a mechanism at the top of a cable car pylon.”

State-run Anadolu Agency identified the deceased as a 54-year-old Turkish man. Those injured included two children, six or more Turkish citizens and one Kyrgyz national. They were all rescued by coast guard helicopters soon after the crash and sent for treatment. Images in Turkish media showed the battered car swaying from dislodged cables on the side of the rocky mountain as medics tended the wounded.

Yerlikaya also announced that 13 people rescued from other cars were also taken to hospitals for checkups.

Friday was the final day of a three-day public holiday in Turkey marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when families flock to coastal resorts.

The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 618-metre (2,028 foot) Tunektepe peak. It is run by Antalya metropolitan municipality. The cable car line was completed in 2017 and receives a major inspection around the beginning of the year, as well as routine inspections throughout the year.

Antalya chief public prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation. An expert commission including mechanical and electrical engineers and health and safety experts has been assigned to determine the cause of the incident.

Thirteen people, including managers of the cable car company, received detention orders as part of an investigation into the causes of the accident, Turkish justice minister Yilmaz Tunc said.

“The incident occurred because of inadequate and corroded fastenings at the connection points of the cable car’s support towers,” Tunc said on X referring to a preliminary report that also pointed to the poor condition of the pulley systems.

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Last of 174 people rescued from stranded cable cars in Turkey

Passengers had been trapped in mid-air overnight after a pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring others

The last 43 of 174 people stranded in cable cars high above a mountain in southern Turkey have been brought to safety, nearly 23 hours after one pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring 10 when they plummeted to the rocks below.

The interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, announced the successful completion of the rescue operation on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday afternoon.

A total of 607 search and rescue personnel and 10 helicopters were involved, including teams from Turkey’s emergency response agency, Afad, the coast guard, firefighting teams and mountain rescue teams from different parts of Turkey, officials said. Helicopters with night-vision capabilities had continued rescuing people throughout the night.

The stranded people had been stuck on the Tunektepe cable car, just outside the Mediterranean city of Antalya, since 5.30pm on Friday, when the accident occurred.

Istanbul resident Ayse Hatice Polat and her family were among those rescued. Speaking to the Anadolu agency, she said the power went out and the pod flipped four or five times.

“The night was awful, we were very scared. There were children with us, they passed out,” she said. “It was torture being up there for seven hours. It is swaying every second, you’re constantly in fear … It was very traumatic, I don’t know how we’ll get over this trauma.”

Okay Memis, the head of Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency Afad, said the people had been rescued from at least 16 cable cars after a “very dangerous operation”.

He said: “This accident occurred following the breakage of a mechanism at the top of a cable car pylon.”

State-run Anadolu Agency identified the deceased as a 54-year-old Turkish man. Those injured included two children, six or more Turkish citizens and one Kyrgyz national. They were all rescued by coast guard helicopters soon after the crash and sent for treatment. Images in Turkish media showed the battered car swaying from dislodged cables on the side of the rocky mountain as medics tended the wounded.

Yerlikaya also announced that 13 people rescued from other cars were also taken to hospitals for checkups.

Friday was the final day of a three-day public holiday in Turkey marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when families flock to coastal resorts.

The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 618-metre (2,028 foot) Tunektepe peak. It is run by Antalya metropolitan municipality. The cable car line was completed in 2017 and receives a major inspection around the beginning of the year, as well as routine inspections throughout the year.

Antalya chief public prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation. An expert commission including mechanical and electrical engineers and health and safety experts has been assigned to determine the cause of the incident.

Thirteen people, including managers of the cable car company, received detention orders as part of an investigation into the causes of the accident, Turkish justice minister Yilmaz Tunc said.

“The incident occurred because of inadequate and corroded fastenings at the connection points of the cable car’s support towers,” Tunc said on X referring to a preliminary report that also pointed to the poor condition of the pulley systems.

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‘The Goldmans get zero, nothing’: OJ Simpson’s estate to fight payout to victims’ families

  • Executor of Simpson estate to fight payout of $33.5m judgment
  • Simpson was found liable in civil trial after criminal acquittal

The executor of OJ Simpson’s estate says he will work to prevent a payout of a $33.5m judgment awarded by a California civil jury nearly three decades ago in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Simpson’s will was filed Friday in a Clark County court in Nevada, naming his longtime lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, as the executor. The document shows Simpson’s property was placed into a trust that was created this year.

LaVergne told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the entirety of Simpson’s estate has not been tallied. Under Nevada law, an estate must go through the courts if its assets exceed $20,000.

Simpson died Wednesday without having paid the lion’s share of the civil judgment that was awarded in 1997 after jurors found him liable. With his assets set to go through the court probate process, the Goldman and Brown families could be in line to get paid a piece of whatever Simpson left behind.

LaVergne, who had represented Simpson since 2009, said he specifically didn’t want the Goldman family seeing any money from Simpson’s estate.

“It’s my hope that the Goldmans get zero, nothing,” he told the Review-Journal. “Them specifically. And I will do everything in my capacity as the executor or personal representative to try and ensure that they get nothing.”

LaVergne did not immediately return phone and email messages left by the Associated Press on Saturday.

Although the Brown and Goldman families have pushed for payment, LaVergne said there was never a court order forcing Simpson to pay the civil judgment. The attorney told the Review-Journal that his particular ire at the Goldman family stemmed in part from the events surrounding Simpson’s planned book, titled If I Did It. Goldman’s family won control of the manuscript and retitled the book If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.

Simpson earned fame and fortune through football and show business, but his legacy was forever changed by the June 1994 knife slayings of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles. He was acquitted of criminal charges in 1995 in a trial that mesmerized the public.

Goldman’s father Fred Goldman, the lead plaintiff, always said the issue was never the money, it was only about holding Simpson responsible. And he said in a statement Thursday that with Simpson’s death, “the hope for true accountability has ended”.

The Goldman and Brown families will be on at least equal footing with other creditors and will probably have an even stronger claim, as Simpson’s estate is settled under terms established by the trust created in January. The will lists his four children and notes that any beneficiary who seeks to challenge provisions of the will “shall receive, free of trust, one dollar ($1.00) and no more in lieu of any claimed interest in this will or its assets.”

Simpson said he lived only on his NFL and private pensions. Hundreds of valuable possessions had been seized as part of the jury award, and Simpson was forced to auction his Heisman Trophy, fetching $230,000.

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E Jean Carroll, writer who bested Trump in court, surrenders gun to police

Police were made aware of unlicensed gun after Carroll testified in court she kept a revolver by her bed

New York writer E Jean Carroll has handed over a gun to police that she was keeping, but without a license, during her long legal battles with Donald Trump after she sued him over sexual abuse, according to a new report.

Police in Warwick, New York, “took possession” of the firearm after discussing the matter with the former Elle magazine columnist, NBC News reported, citing a police report the TV network had obtained.

Carroll told the Guardian in 2019 that she had always had a gun but had not kept it loaded until after she accused the former US president of raping her in the 1990s and entered civil litigation with Trump, which prompted her to load the revolver and put it next to her while she slept, out of security fears.

In May of last year, after a tumultuous civil trial, a jury in Manhattan found that Trump had sexually abused Carroll in a New York department store changing room 27 years prior, and awarded her $5m in compensatory and punitive damages. The jury cleared him of rape but the verdict meant that for the first time a former US president became legally branded as a sexual predator.

Less than a year later, another jury, sitting in a separate defamation case stemming from Trump calling Carroll a liar after she had accused him of sexually assaulting her, awarded her more than $83m.

The Warwick chief of police went to Carroll’s home in February “to discuss some open issues”, NBC reported the police report as saying, including that in January, Carroll had disclosed in federal court during the defamation trial that she had an unlicensed firearm.

She had told the court she kept a “high standard revolver, nine chambers” at home with ammunition “by my bed.”

The Warwick police report said that an officer offered to secure the pistol at the police station for safekeeping, until Carroll obtained a license.

Trump denies wrongdoing and ever knowing Carroll and has criticized her vehemently ever since she publicly made the allegations in 2019 in a book.

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Squatters take over Gordon Ramsay hotel and pub in London

At least six people lock themselves in Grade II-listed York and Albany next to Regent’s Park and post notice

Squatters have taken over a pub in London leased by Gordon Ramsay that is up for sale with a guide price of £13m.

A group of at least six people locked themselves inside the Grade II-listed York and Albany hotel and gastropub, next to Regent’s Park, boarding up the windows and putting up a “legal warning” defending their takeover, the Sun reported.

In photographs taken before the windows were further boarded up, a person could be seen sleeping on a sofa in the bar, surrounded by litter.

On Saturday morning, two masked people wearing black tracksuits and carrying backpacks and carrier bags exited the property, running away from reporters before they could be approached for comment.

A notice taped to a door said the group had a right to occupy the venue, which they said was not a “residential building” and was therefore not subject to 2012 legislation in England and Wales that made squatting in a residential building a criminal offence.

The piece of paper, signed by “the occupiers”, also said: “Take notice that we occupy this property and at all times there is at least one person in occupation.

“That any entry or attempt to enter into these premises without our permission is therefore a criminal offence as any one of us who is in physical possession is opposed to such entry without our permission.

“That if you attempt to enter by violence or by threatening violence we will prosecute you. You may receive a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

“That if you want to get us out you will have to issue a claim for possession in the county court or in the high court.”

Ramsay called the police on Wednesday but was unable to have the people removed, it is understood.

Another notice asked passersby for “food and clothes donations or anything else you no longer want or need”.

The occupation of a person’s non-residential property without their permission is not a crime in England, though police can take action if crimes are subsequently committed, including damaging the property or stealing from it.

The Metropolitan police said in a statement: “Police were made aware of squatters at a disused property in Parkway, Regent’s Park, NW1 on Wednesday 10 April. This is a civil matter and so police did not attend the property.”

In 2007, the film director Gary Love bought the freehold of the former 19th-century coaching inn.

He subsequently leased the property to Ramsay on a 25-year term with an annual rent of £640,000.

The Kitchen Nightmares host unsuccessfully attempted to free himself from the lease in a legal battle at the high court in 2015.

The venue went on sale at the end of last year with a guide price of £13m.

According to government guidance, squatters can apply to become the registered owners of a property if they have occupied it continuously for 10 years, acted as owners for the whole of that time and had not previously been given permission to live there by the owner.

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World’s oldest living conjoined twins die in Pennsylvania, aged 62

Lori and George Schappell were joined at the skull with separate bodies and lived on their own since the age of 24

The world’s oldest living conjoined twins have died at the age of 62 in their native Pennsylvania.

Lori and George Schappell died on 7 April at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, according to an obituary. A cause of death was not disclosed.

The Schappell twins were born on 18 September 1961 in Reading, in southern Pennsylvania. They were joined at the skull with separate bodies, sharing 30% of their brain and essential blood vessels.

George had spina bifida and used a mobility device. Lori pushed and steered George’s wheeled stool so the two could move around.

The twins represented the rarest form of conjoined twinning, which affects only 2% to 6% of conjoined twins, NBC Today reported.

George transitioned in 2007, with the Schappells becoming the first same-sex conjoined twins to identify as different genders, Guinness World Records reported.

George discussed his decision to come out with the Sun newspaper in 2011 when the siblings visited London to celebrate their 50th birthday and vowed to “continue living life to the full”.

He said: “I have known from a very young age that I should have been a boy.”

He added: “It was so tough, but I was getting older and I simply didn’t want to live a lie. I knew I had to live my life the way I wanted.”

The Schappells graduated from the Hiram G Andrews Center, a technical institute in Elim, Pennsylvania. They both worked for Reading hospital for a number of years.

The Schappells had distinct hobbies and interests.

George performed as a country music singer, traveling to several countries including Germany and Japan, according to Guinness World Records. Meanwhile, Lori was a lauded tenpin bowler.

The siblings lived on their own since the age of 24. They previously lived in an institution for people with intellectual impairments, despite not being mentally disabled, following a court order, New York Magazine reported.

Later, the two shared a two-bedroom apartment. Each sibling had their own room, alternating which room they would sleep in each night.

The Schappells said that, despite being conjoined, they were able to have privacy in the shared apartment.

“Just because we cannot get up and walk away from each other, doesn’t mean we cannot have solitude from other people or ourselves,” Lori said in a 1997 documentary.

For example, when George needed to rehearse his country music, the pair would go to his room, where Lori would remain quiet and allow George to practice.

While some conjoined twins have opted to be separated via surgery, such procedures weren’t available when the Schappells were born.

The twins also rejected the idea of separation.

“Would we be separated? Absolutely not,” George said in a 1997 documentary. “My theory is: why fix what is not broken?”

“I don’t believe in separation,” Lori said to the Los Angeles Times in a 2002 interview.

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