The Guardian 2024-04-16 01:01:33


In a video shared via private WhatsApp groups, the alleged attacker is seen being held on the ground inside the church, surrounded by people.

Amid the chaos, the alleged attacker can be heard speaking. He allegedly says in Arabic:

If he [the bishop] didn’t get himself involved in my religion, if he hadn’t spoken about my Prophet, I wouldn’t have come here.

If he just spoke about his own religion, I wouldn’t have come.

The video reportedly shows the mayhem that followed the attack, with people in bloodied clothes walking around as the alleged attacker is held against the ground.

It is unclear who was holding him down and why, or if there were any authorities present at the time.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, who has a popular online presence, has previously criticised Islam and the Prophet Mohammed in public sermons.

Sydney church stabbing: police treating as terrorist attack the alleged stabbing of bishop during livestreamed mass

NSW premier Chris Minns said a ‘major and serious criminal investigation’ was underway after the incident at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, which Anthony Albanese describes as ‘extremely concerning’

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New South Wales police are treating the alleged stabbing of a bishop during the live stream of a mass in western Sydney as a terrorist attack.

The premier, Chris Minns, said the decision was taken early on Tuesday morning and validated by the police minister.

The NSW police commissioner, Karen Webb, said a strike force had been established to investigate last night’s incident

“This is a major and serious criminal investigation,” Minns said on Tuesday.

“It is crucial that New South Wales police are able to devote their resources and intelligence as well as officers to the investigation of this crime.”

Hundreds of people clashed with police in western Sydney on Monday night after a prominent Orthodox Christian leader was allegedly stabbed at the altar of his church.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was saying mass at the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd church in Wakeley just after 7pm on Monday when the alleged attack took place.

A live stream of the mass on the church’s website showed a person approaching the altar who then appeared to stab toward the bishop’s head multiple times. Three other people were also injured in the alleged attack.

Police and ambulance crews responded shortly afterwards, and police arrested the alleged offender, who they understand to be 16 years old.

A crowd of people then “converged on that area and began to turn on police”, Webb said. Police estimate the crowd grew from 50 people to approximately 500.

“People used what was available to them in the area, including bricks, concrete palings, to assault police, and throw missiles at police and police equipment, and police vehicles.”

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Some police officers were injured and taken to hospital overnight, while 20 police vehicles were damaged and 10 rendered unusable, Webb said.

“That is unacceptable and those that were involved in that riot can expect a knock at the door. It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow. But we’ll find you and we’ll come and arrest you. That is totally unacceptable.”

Dominic Morgan, commissioner for NSW Ambulance, said 30 patients had been assessed and treated overnight, with seven taken to hospital, around 20 of them having been affected by capsicum spray.

The bishop and the priest, who were stabbed, were in surgery on Tuesday morning.

Paramedics had come “directly under threat” and had to retreat into the church during the riot, with six of them stuck in the church for three and a half hours, Morgan said.

The decision to designate the stabbing incident a terrorist attack was made in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Minns said, validated by the police minister at 1.45am and the premier himself notified at 2am.

Webb said the legislative definition of a terrorist act was satisfied in that police believed the act was religious-motivated extremism and involved intimidation of the public through that act – partly due to the fact that the service was being livestreamed.

The alleged offender had not previously been on any terror watch list.

A joint counter-terrorism team were investigating, including members of the Australian federal police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) and New South Wales police.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, described the Wakeley incident as “very distressing” and “extremely concerning”.

Albanese repeatedly declined to state the religion of the alleged offender.

“It’s a really good idea if politicians don’t lead this information disclosure,” he told ABC Melbourne. “It’s a really good idea if police and authorities do, when things are confirmed.

“There’s been a declaration of a terror incident, which means it is ideologically motivated.”

In a press conference on Tuesday morning, Albanese called for community cohesion in the wake of the incident, and expressed his sympathies to the Assyrian community in Western Sydney.

“This is a disturbing incident. There is no place for violence in our community. There’s no place for violent extremism. We’re a peace-loving nation. This is a time to unite, not divide, as a community, and as a country,” he said.

“We have overwhelmingly a harmonious society in Australia. In my local community, people of different faith live side by side. And that is overwhelmingly the experience of Australians. It is vital in my view that we continue to stress what unites us, and that respect for each other be maintained at all times.”

Albanese warned it is “completely not acceptable” to damage or impede police vehicles, as occurred after the incident.

A separate strike force, called Dribs, had been established to investigate the riot, and additional police would be patrolling Sydney in response.

The incident comes just days after another man, Joel Cauchi, killed six people and injured others, some critically, in a stabbing spree at a Westfield shopping centre in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction. Investigators do not believe Cauchi’s attack was terrorism related.

Minns called for community calm on Tuesday.

“I understand, coming just days after the criminal activities in Bondi Junction, Sydney and New South Wales is on edge and there’s understandable community anxiety at the moment. However, it’s crucially important the police are able to conduct their inquiries and finish their investigation,” Minns said.

Minns said any further violence would be diverting resources away from the investigation of the incident.

“I want to make something very, very clear – there’s no such thing in Australia as taking the law into your own hands. It doesn’t exist. That’s for several reasons. Firstly, you will be met by the full force of the law, if there’s any attempt for tit-for-tat violence in Sydney over the coming days.

“Lastly and perhaps most importantly, every religious leader representing communities across Western Sydney has expressly said don’t do it, and implored the community to come together to express faith and hope in the New South Wales police, and ensure that we remain united during these difficult days.”

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Trump’s hush-money trial: key takeaways from the first day

Monday’s day in court indicated that jury selection could take weeks – and that Trump could yet be held in contempt

Donald Trump struggled through the opening day of his New York criminal trial on Monday as the jury selection process formally got under way in Manhattan in the first criminal trial of a current or former US president.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in trying to cover up hush-money payments to an adult film star that influenced the 2016 election.

Trump himself did little during his time in the courtroom of the New York supreme court judge Juan Merchan. But the eventual proceeding showed the momentous nature of the case and highlighted Trump’s divisiveness.

Here are the takeaways of day one of “People v Donald Trump”:

Seating jury could take weeks

Legal experts widely expected that seating a jury in the Trump case – 12 jurors and six alternates – was going to be a difficult and lengthy process as Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

But moving through the first 100 or so potential jurors showed just how tricky the “voir dire” process could be: more than half of the group told the judge they could not be impartial and were excused immediately.

The voir dire process involves each potential juror reading their responses to a 42-point questionnaire and the judge reading out to the jurors the people who might serve as witnesses or otherwise come up at trial.

The potential jurors’ reactions toward Trump were varied. One man smiled when he saw Trump. Another woman giggled and put her hand over her mouth, looking at the person seated next to her with raised eyebrows. And one of the potential jurors, who was excused, said leaving the courtroom: “I just couldn’t do it.”

Trump’s lawyers are looking for a so-called “holdout juror” who could be partial to Trump and not convict on any of the counts – and thereby hang the jury for a mistrial.

The process also appeared to tire out Trump. Before the jury selection began in the afternoon, Trump often appeared to nod off.

Trump was stuck with judge despite delay tactics

Trump tried one more time before jury selection began to have the judge recuse himself from presiding in the case, claiming Merchan had conflicts of interest and had shown indications of bias that meant he could not be fair.

The judge addressed two of Trump’s main complaints – and dismissed them summarily.

In the first instance, the judge rejected Trump’s complaints about an interview he did with the Associated Press because he did not talk about Trump’s case, meaning the judge’s statements did not “reasonably or logically” reflect bias.

And in the second instance, the judge said a podcast interview his daughter did in 2019, in which he said he disliked politicians using Twitter, similarly did not reflect bias against any party.

Prosecutors score two additional wins

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, had some partial wins on Monday morning, after Merchan allowed them to admit into evidence materials that would bolster their case that Trump’s falsification of records was to influence the 2016 election.

The judge had previously ruled that prosecutors could not use as evidence the actual tape of Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape, as well as a video of Trump referencing the Access Hollywood tape in a deposition in an unrelated case.

But Merchan allowed prosecutors to admit into evidence the full transcript of the Access Hollywood tape, which means the infamous Trump quote that he could assault women and “grab them by the pussy” can be read to the jury at trial.

The judge also allowed prosecutors to use an email chain in which the former Trump aide Hope Hicks forwarded the transcript to another former Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway, asking if the tape was Trump’s voice. Conway then asked the ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who was doing damage control.

Trump could yet be held in contempt

Trump left the courtroom after the first day of his criminal trial with another cloud hanging over his head: whether he will be found in contempt for violating a gag order that prohibited from assailing potential trial witnesses.

The former president was recently hit with an expanded gag order after he went after the judge’s daughter, alleging that her work doing campaign work for Democratic political candidates meant the judge was conflicted.

But prosecutors asked Merchan to impose a $3,000 fine on Trump for attacking two potential trial witnesses – Stormy Daniels, the adult film star at the centre of the criminal case, and his ex-lawyer Cohen – and warning him that future violations could result in jail.

The matter was scheduled for arguments at a 23 April hearing. Merchan promised to address the alleged gag order violations but said he did not want to get into it on Monday because they had several hundred potential jurors waiting.

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Trump’s criminal trial for hush-money payments crawls to a start

Everything you need to know about the ex-president’s 34 felony charges for falsifying business records for his 2016 campaign

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Today in court: the Trump trial is underway

Donald Trump’s first criminal trial has officially crawled to a start.

Before the former president entered the courtroom this morning, he declared the trial was an “assault on America”. But the opening day showed exactly how long this trial may drag on – and how long it might take to actually get into the meat of the accusations.

The New York State supreme court justice Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over the case, began the arduous process of jury selection on Monday afternoon to find twelve citizens (and six alternates) who will determine the former president’s fate. Trump faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records to cover up hush-money payments to help his 2016 campaign.

The alleged crimes are the most benign seeming of those in the four potential trials Trump faces – hush-money payments to cover up an affair with a porn star don’t exactly rise to the level of trying to overthrow democracy. But the legal and political risk for Trump is sky-high: he could face jail time, and the moniker “convicted felon” wouldn’t exactly be a helpful label on the campaign trail if he loses this case.

Trump himself seemed like he was struggling to stay tuned in. A few hours into the proceedings, Trump closed his eyes and appeared to nod off before jolting awake multiple times, according to Guardian US reporter Victoria Bekiempis. During the afternoon session, Trump leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed and his eyes shut tight for several minutes at a time.

Merchan had initially predicted the trial would last around six weeks – but judging by how things progressed on Monday, that might be optimistic.

Jury selection

The trial began with jury selection this afternoon, as the first pool of 96 jurors filed into the courtroom around 2.30pm ET, after Merchan reminded the court that the jurors’ names were absolutely confidential.

According to pool reports from the half-dozen reporters allowed in the room (the jurors took up a lot of the courtroom), many prospective jurors stared at Trump or craned their necks to get a glimpse of him, while Trump stood, turned around and gave them a brief smirk when he was introduced as the defendant.

More than half of the first wave of prospective jurors were excused after saying they couldn’t be fair or impartial, with at least nine more excused for other conflicts. The three dozen or so remaining prospective jurors then began the arduous process of verbally answering yes or no to the 42-question survey Merchan crafted for jury selection. In total, 500 people have been sent summons to be potential jurors in the case.

Before jury selection began, Merchan made a number of last-minute rulings that will help shape the trial.

Merchan sided with prosecutors and against Trump on a number of issues, including:

He refused to recuse himself from the case, as Trump’s lawyers had once again requested, calling their claim he has a conflict of interest because his daughter runs a media firm that works for Democrats “offensive”.

He stood by an earlier ruling against letting prosecutors play the infamous Access Hollywood recording of Trump declaring that women let him “grab them by the pussy” because of his fame because it would be prejudicial – but ruled that prosecutors could use a transcript of the comments.

Merchan also ruled that prosecutors would be allowed to include in evidence an email chain where the former Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks forwarded a press request about the Access Hollywood video to campaign officials who then forwarded it to former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, a key witness in this case.

Merchan said he would allow most testimony about the National Enquirer’s alleged “catch-and-kill” scheme, which the tabloid had with former Playboy model Karen McDougal, with whom Trump allegedly had an affair.

He denied Trump’s request to be excused from trial next week so he could attend the US supreme court hearing on presidential immunity that has held up his DC criminal case (though he held off on ruling whether Trump might be excused to attend his youngest son Barron’s high school graduation).

But it wasn’t all bad news for Trump:

Merchan told prosecutors they couldn’t introduce public allegations from women who say Trump sexually assaulted them, calling them unproven and saying they’d be “very prejudicial” to the case.

He said that the fact that Trump’s alleged affair with McDougal occurred while Trump’s wife Melania was pregnant will not be allowed as evidence.

Just before the trial broke for lunch, prosecutors asked Merchan to hold Trump in contempt for violating a gag order that prohibits Trump from attacking potential witnesses in the trial. They pointed to three social media posts Trump had made in recent days that attacked likely witnesses. They asked Merchan to fine Trump $1,000 for each post.

Merchan gave Trump’s attorneys until Friday to file a written response, and scheduled a hearing for 9.30am next Tuesday, 23 April to decide.

In other news

A judge rejected former Trump adviser and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s appeal to overturn the $148m in damages he owes for defaming a pair of Georgia election workers.

Trump’s team has until the end of today to file paperwork proving that the $175m bond he obtained to cover his $454m civil fraud penalty is sound. Trump obtained the bond from Knight Specialty Insurance, a company owned by Trump-supporting billionaire Don Hankey.

But New York attorney general Letitia James’ office has challenged whether that loan is valid, noting that Hankey’s company isn’t registered to issue bonds in the state and hadn’t obtained a certificate of qualification from the New York department of financial services. State law also says a company can’t make a bond to a single borrower that’s more than 10% of its total surplus money – and according to documents filed, the company has just $138m in surplus money and its parent company has around $1bn in surplus.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over Trump’s New York business civil fraud case, has scheduled a hearing for 22 April to consider the matter.

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Trump trial turns ordinary task of jury selection into the extraordinary

Procedures that played out in New York courtroom were banal, but their significance was historic: the first US president facing a criminal trial

Jury duty in America can often be a banal affair, a day spent in a courthouse filling out forms and telling lawyers when you scheduled your next vacation.

But for those New Yorkers summoned to the state courthouse on Monday it was a day when the ordinary had become extraordinary. They arrived to a frenetic scene of loud protest and high security in downtown Manhattan – a sure sign that Donald Trump is yet again in court.

Though the procedures that played out in the courtroom at 100 Centre St were banal, their significance was pure history: the first US president facing criminal charges at trial. And not only that, but at a time when Trump is all but guaranteed to be his party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential election.

Police closed off the block in front of the courthouse to pedestrians, requiring people to show press or court badges to get on to the street to the building. That didn’t stop passersby, including double-decker tour buses heading downtown, from stopping to ogle at the spectacle.

The scene inside the courtroom was much calmer than the crowds that gathered outside the building. Security getting into the building was tight. Trump briefly gave remarks to the small pool of reporters who were allowed to stay in the hallway outside the courtroom.

“This is political persecution, persecution like never before,” Trump said, standing in front of a police barricade, his lawyer Todd Blanche standing beside him. “It’s an assault on America. And that’s why I’m very proud to be here. This is an assault on our country, and it’s a country that’s failing.”

The morning was taken up by proceedings. Judge Juan Merchan declined Trump’s second request that he recuse himself from overseeing the trial. Trump on social media attacked Merchan’s daughter, who worked for a company that assisted the digital campaign of Democratic candidates, and has called the judge biased. The judge also ruled that prosecutors could use certain evidence in the case.

The atmosphere in the courtroom appeared calm, with Trump at times appearing to doze off during proceedings. Much of the courtroom was left empty to allow room for jurors.

Jury selection did not start until later in the afternoon, and if the activity outside the courthouse was any indication, it will take lawyers a few days to select an unbiased group of New Yorkers who will ultimately decide the outcome of the trial.

Outside of the courthouse, multiple news channels were doing wall-to-wall coverage of the trial.

A few people holding what appeared to be jury ID slips – which jurors are sent in the mail and told to bring with them the day they are summoned to court – were let into the line of people entering the building. Some, looking bewildered, stopped to take pictures of the scene before entering the courthouse.

Police shuffled the small groups of protestors, both for and against the former president, who arrived to commemorate the day into Collect Pond Park, a small, concrete park across the street from the courthouse.

“Fuck Joe Biden!” a lone voice chanted the pro-Trump crowd, which was flying a giant “Trump 2024”, shouted.

The conservative activists Laura Loomer and Andrew Giuliani stood among a small crowd of Trump supporters, standing under a Trump 2024 and a flag that read “Trump or Death”. Another person held a “Trump 2028” flag.

“Can you believe the president of the United States has a gag order on him?” Loomer, shouting into a bullhorn, asked the crowd.

“Fire Tish James! Fire Tish James,” Loomer started to chant, referencing the New York attorney general who prosecuted Trump’s fraud trial and is not involved in this hush money trial. “Fire Alvin Bragg! Fire Alvin Bragg! All of them have to go.”

In the scrabble of Trump supporters, a man playing the flute offered renditions of Yankee Doodle and The Star Spangled Banner. A truck embossed with Trump 2024 stickers and bearing four Trump flags circled the streets around the courthouse, appearing to play homemade hip-hop music focused on re-electing Trump.

Meanwhile, a small group of protestors chanting “Trump is not above the law” briefly blocked traffic while holding signs. The same group had also appeared on the first day of Trump’s fraud trial in October, which took place in a courthouse down the street.

Trump entered the courthouse through a side entrance, away from the news cameras and the crowd of supporters. While press would typically be gathered right outside the courthouse, construction scaffolding obscured much of the front of the building.

Though Trump could not greet his supporters when entering the building, he raised a fist to the cameras in the distance before going inside.

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Fake snooze? Trump appears to doze off during first day of hush-money trial

As lawyers engaged in back-and-forth, ex-president’s eyes seemed to close, his head edging down, causing him to right himself

Sleepy Joe, meet dozing Don.

Donald Trump, who has repeatedly derided his Democratic opponent Joe Biden with digs at his age and vigor, appeared to nod off in Manhattan court on Monday, hours before jury selection on the first day of his historic hush-money criminal trial.

The former US president seemed to slip toward sleepiness at approximately noon. The events unfolded several hours into lugubrious legal battles over evidence that dominated the morning session in the downtown Manhattan courtroom.

The housekeeping back-and-forth between Trump’s team and prosecutors seemed like it might finally come to an end, as the judge Juan Merchan appeared eager to move things along. Merchan noted that there were hundreds of potential panelists waiting in the wings for jury selection to start.

Right around this time, reporters in the overflow courtroom noticed a curious movement on-screen. Trump’s eyes appeared closed – beyond their normal level of squinting. Meanwhile, it seemed like Trump’s head was edging forward, progressing downward until it would cause him to stir and right himself.

The cycle repeated several times. Members of the press in a media overflow room glanced toward one another, sometimes pointing to the screen, uncertain how to process what they most certainly saw: the first former American president to face a criminal trial had just nodded off in court.

When court resumed after lunch, Trump did not seem afflicted by sleepiness. He could be seen gesturing with his hands in conversation with his attorney.

His voice carried to the back of Merchan’s courtroom, per a pool report, though exactly what he was saying could not be heard. Nor was Trump seeming inactive online. All morning his Truth Social account posted message after message deriding the trial and attacking those he sees as his enemies.

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Iran attack shows Israeli deterrence policy ‘shattered’, Netanyahu critics say

Opposition leader among those accusing PM and his government of severely damaging defence strategy

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Iran’s weekend attack is a sign that Israel’s key defensive policy of deterrence has been severely damaged by the actions of the Netanyahu government, according to the leader of Israel’s opposition, analysts and former Israeli officials.

“This government, this prime minister, have become an existential threat to Israel. They have shattered Israeli deterrence,” the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, said on Monday.

Israel’s deterrent policy has long been an obsession of the country’s political and military circles, and is regarded as a vital pillar of its security. The term refers to military policies – including retaliations to previous attacks and maintaining capabilities – and the deployment of soft and hard power to persuade enemies that an attack is not worth it.

“Our enemies are looking at this government and they smell weakness,” Lapid said, referencing a well-known quote of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran’s attack on Israel – blocked by Israel’s air defences, aided by the US, UK and other allies – was the first on Israel by a foreign state in over three decades. Other signs that deterrence has weakened include the Hamas attack on 7 October, the conflict with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and attempted drone strikes by Yemen’s Houthis.

Writing in Ma’ariv newspaper in the aftermath of the Iranian strikes, the commentator Ben Caspit summed up the mood of many of Netanyahu’s domestic critics – who have cited the undermining of Israeli deterrence as proof of the prime minister’s unsuitability for office.

“Israel’s deterrence, which had prevented Iran from attacking it directly, collapsed,” Caspit wrote. “How did Netanyahu once put it?” he added, referring to the same quote as Lapid: “When terror smells weakness, it strikes.

“The Iranians have lost their sense of fear. No more proxies, undercover agents and covert terror attacks. From now on, it is Iran against Israel, out in the open. Israeli deterrence, which got Iran to swallow its pride every time anew and not to attack Israel directly, has now been shattered.”

Posting on the blog of the Institute for National Security Studies, Tamir Heyman, a former head of intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces, described a new and difficult strategic reality for Israel.

“Israel and the United States failed to deter Iran from attacking,” he wrote. “Iran managed to harm Israel without obliging the United States to attack in response with Israel’s cooperation.

“Israel acted for the first time as part of a coalition. This is effective and important, but it limits the freedom of action in response.”

Michael Milshtein from the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, an Israeli thinktank, said that while Israel’s deterrence had been reduced, the picture was complex.

“The big dramatic question mark was 7 October, which was not only the moment when Israel’s basic deterrence was undermined, but it was clear that Hamas – contrary to Israeli intelligence assessments – was not deterred at all.”

Beyond that, Milshtein said, the picture of Israeli deterrence was more relative. “With Iran and Hezbollah the question becomes more tricky. Deterred from what? Iran could have attacked various embassies. Hezbollah is not deterred from an ongoing conflict of attrition in the north but is deterred from an escalation, but largely because of the context within Lebanon itself.”

In making clear it would not support an offensive strike by Israel on Iran, the Biden administration has sharply defined the limits of what Israel can rely on for external support, echoed by the UK and others.

Others have pointed to the fact that Arab countries that cooperated with Israel in various ways to defend against the Iranian attack at the weekend are highly unlikely to help with an Israeli attack against Iran, suggesting the fragility even of that coalition.

HA Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute thinktank, also said he saw a complicated picture.

“When Iran did attack, it was massively choreographed,” he said, referring to the fact the strike had not only been flagged up in advance but that the US and neighbours had been warned.

“If it had not been so well choreographed, if it had been a complete surprise, I think fewer missiles would have been taken out and others would have got through. And I think while it is definitely a cliche to say Israel is completely indebted and dependent on the US, it is also true that if the US and other allies had not stood alongside Israel we would have seen a different outcome.

“The fact that Israel had to rely on a coalition contains a message: that you can’t imagine it’s always going to be like that.

“I don’t think people have grasped that properly before. That without American support there is really no way for Israel to maintain its security paradigm in way that it has.”

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Iran attack shows Israeli deterrence policy ‘shattered’, Netanyahu critics say

Opposition leader among those accusing PM and his government of severely damaging defence strategy

  • Middle East crisis – live updates

Iran’s weekend attack is a sign that Israel’s key defensive policy of deterrence has been severely damaged by the actions of the Netanyahu government, according to the leader of Israel’s opposition, analysts and former Israeli officials.

“This government, this prime minister, have become an existential threat to Israel. They have shattered Israeli deterrence,” the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, said on Monday.

Israel’s deterrent policy has long been an obsession of the country’s political and military circles, and is regarded as a vital pillar of its security. The term refers to military policies – including retaliations to previous attacks and maintaining capabilities – and the deployment of soft and hard power to persuade enemies that an attack is not worth it.

“Our enemies are looking at this government and they smell weakness,” Lapid said, referencing a well-known quote of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran’s attack on Israel – blocked by Israel’s air defences, aided by the US, UK and other allies – was the first on Israel by a foreign state in over three decades. Other signs that deterrence has weakened include the Hamas attack on 7 October, the conflict with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and attempted drone strikes by Yemen’s Houthis.

Writing in Ma’ariv newspaper in the aftermath of the Iranian strikes, the commentator Ben Caspit summed up the mood of many of Netanyahu’s domestic critics – who have cited the undermining of Israeli deterrence as proof of the prime minister’s unsuitability for office.

“Israel’s deterrence, which had prevented Iran from attacking it directly, collapsed,” Caspit wrote. “How did Netanyahu once put it?” he added, referring to the same quote as Lapid: “When terror smells weakness, it strikes.

“The Iranians have lost their sense of fear. No more proxies, undercover agents and covert terror attacks. From now on, it is Iran against Israel, out in the open. Israeli deterrence, which got Iran to swallow its pride every time anew and not to attack Israel directly, has now been shattered.”

Posting on the blog of the Institute for National Security Studies, Tamir Heyman, a former head of intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces, described a new and difficult strategic reality for Israel.

“Israel and the United States failed to deter Iran from attacking,” he wrote. “Iran managed to harm Israel without obliging the United States to attack in response with Israel’s cooperation.

“Israel acted for the first time as part of a coalition. This is effective and important, but it limits the freedom of action in response.”

Michael Milshtein from the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, an Israeli thinktank, said that while Israel’s deterrence had been reduced, the picture was complex.

“The big dramatic question mark was 7 October, which was not only the moment when Israel’s basic deterrence was undermined, but it was clear that Hamas – contrary to Israeli intelligence assessments – was not deterred at all.”

Beyond that, Milshtein said, the picture of Israeli deterrence was more relative. “With Iran and Hezbollah the question becomes more tricky. Deterred from what? Iran could have attacked various embassies. Hezbollah is not deterred from an ongoing conflict of attrition in the north but is deterred from an escalation, but largely because of the context within Lebanon itself.”

In making clear it would not support an offensive strike by Israel on Iran, the Biden administration has sharply defined the limits of what Israel can rely on for external support, echoed by the UK and others.

Others have pointed to the fact that Arab countries that cooperated with Israel in various ways to defend against the Iranian attack at the weekend are highly unlikely to help with an Israeli attack against Iran, suggesting the fragility even of that coalition.

HA Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute thinktank, also said he saw a complicated picture.

“When Iran did attack, it was massively choreographed,” he said, referring to the fact the strike had not only been flagged up in advance but that the US and neighbours had been warned.

“If it had not been so well choreographed, if it had been a complete surprise, I think fewer missiles would have been taken out and others would have got through. And I think while it is definitely a cliche to say Israel is completely indebted and dependent on the US, it is also true that if the US and other allies had not stood alongside Israel we would have seen a different outcome.

“The fact that Israel had to rely on a coalition contains a message: that you can’t imagine it’s always going to be like that.

“I don’t think people have grasped that properly before. That without American support there is really no way for Israel to maintain its security paradigm in way that it has.”

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IDF chief of staff says Israel will respond to Iran missile attack

General gives clearest confirmation yet that Israel will hit back but it is unclear what form response will take

  • Middle East crisis – live updates

Israel’s top general has said the country will respond to Iran’s missile and drone attack, but it remains unclear what form that response will take and whether it will be so forceful that it could tip a worsening spiral of violence into a full-scale regional war.

US officials said on Monday that some form of counter to Iran’s attack, which involved more than 300 missiles and drones, was almost inevitable, but the Biden administration was still hoping it would be a limited counterstrike and not aimed at Iranian territory.

The Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, gave the clearest confirmation so far since the attack that Israel would strike back.

“This launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response,” Halevi said, speaking from the Nevatim air force base in southern Israel, which was lightly damaged in the attack.

Israel’s war cabinet met for the fourth time in the last two days on Monday afternoon, as the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, and Benny Gantz, the former defence minister and centrist Netanyahu rival, again discussed how to walk the tightrope between escalation and deterrence.

“We respect that that’s a decision the war cabinet, the prime minister, have to make. We know that they live in a very tough neighbourhood,” the White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, told CNN on Monday. But he added that Joe Biden had “also been very clear that we don’t want a war with Iran. We don’t seek to widen and broaden this conflict. We don’t want to see things escalate.”

A range of options were discussed during a meeting that lasted several hours, Israel’s Channel N12 News reported, which would show Iran its actions had crossed a red line without triggering an even bigger response, as Tehran has threatened.

N12 reported that Israel intended to coordinate with the US on its response, but the Biden administration has said repeatedly it will not take part or assist any Israeli counterattack. US officials appeared resigned on Monday that the Israeli government would not heed Biden’s advice to “take the win” of having shot down the overwhelming majority of incoming Iranian missiles and drones on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and that there would be some sort of Israeli response.

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, told his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday that Tehran was willing to exercise restraint and had no intention of further escalating the situation, according to state media.

The IDF claims it shot down 99% of the drones and ballistic and cruise missiles. But it was later reported that many of the Iranian munitions had failed to launch or fell far short of their targets. In the end, only four Iranian missiles struck in and around the Nevatim base.

The Biden administration remained hopeful, however, that the counterstrike would not physically target anything on Iranian soil, but would take the form of a large-scale cyber-attack, or aim at an Iranian proxy or an Iranian military target, such as a drone manufacturing plant, in a third country such as Lebanon, Syria or Iraq.

Officials suggested another possibility was a covert attack on a target inside Iran, not to be explicitly acknowledged by Israel but which would be widely known to have been carried out by Israeli special forces or intelligence.

Over the past decades there have been a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and blasts at sensitive military sites that have been attributed to Israel, but any open attack on military sites or infrastructure targets inside Iran would be viewed differently by Tehran, which has threatened to escalate further, making an all-out war much more likely.

Some hardline Israeli security establishment figures may view this weekend’s developments as a window of opportunity to go after Iran’s nuclear facilities, where Iranian technicians have come much closer to making weapons-grade uranium since the collapse of a 2015 nuclear deal, triggered by Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the agreement.

As with Saturday’s attack on Israel, the amount of casualties or damage caused by a direct Israeli retaliation would be likely to determine Iran’s next move.

Biden and the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, contacted Israel’s Arab neighbours on Sunday and Monday to reassure them of Washington’s position: that it was urging Netanyahu not to respond to the Iranian attack and that the US would play no part in any Israeli counterstrike.

During talks in Washington on Monday, Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, called for restraint in the Middle East.

“We encourage all the efforts of stopping the expansion of the area of conflict, especially the latest development,” Sudani said at the start of a meeting with Biden.

France, whose aircraft played a part in shooting down incoming Iranian munitions on Sunday, joined the chorus of foreign powers calling for Israeli restraint. “For several years now we have had an airbase in Jordan to fight terrorism,” Emmanuel Macron told the BFM TV news channel. “Jordanian airspace was violated … We made our planes take off and we intercepted what we had to intercept.”

Macron echoed the Biden position, saying France would help bolster Israeli defences but would not countenance a counterattack on Iranian territory. “We will do everything to avoid a conflagration – that is to say an escalation,” the French president said. “We need to be by Israel’s side to ensure its protection to the maximum, but also to call for a limit to avoid an escalation.”

He said the emphasis of the international community should be on “isolating Iran, convincing countries in the region that Iran is a danger, increasing sanctions, reinforcing pressure over nuclear activities”.

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Collingwood’s Nathan Murphy forced to retire from AFL due to concussion

  • Pies 2023 premiership player calls time on career at age 24
  • ‘My priority is on … ensuring I live a full and healthy life,’ he says

Collingwood player Nathan Murphy has been forced into early retirement on medical advice, due to a string of concussions sustained by the 24-year-old throughout his AFL career.

The 2023 premiership player suffered the 10th concussion of his career in last year’s grand final and was ruled out of match simulation training on the eve of the season in February. He has not taken to the field since.

After extensive consultation with the league’s medical concussion panel, the decision was taken to immediately call time on his career after just 57 games.

He becomes the second AFL player this year, after Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw in February, to retire prematurely on medical advice around concussion.

Murphy informed Pies teammates and staff of the decision on Tuesday morning.

“I feel it is the right time and the right decision for me to hang up my footy boots,” Murphy said. “I love my football, but my priority is on my future and ensuring I live a full and healthy life.

“I’d like to thank the club, coaches, teammates, staff and the Magpie Army for all their support throughout my playing career and for allowing me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream of playing AFL.

“To my family and friends, I couldn’t have gone through this journey without your continued love and support, which I am so grateful for.

“It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to have been able to experience premiership success with this group and club. I hope I did the jumper proud and thank the many people and supporters who helped me along the way.

“I will forever cherish the memories and friends I’ve made at our great club.”

Murphy was drafted to Collingwood with pick 39 in 2017, but struggled with injury throughout the 2019 season. He returned to fitness and played 31 games over the course of the 2021 and 2022 seasons before enjoying a breakout campaign last year.

Murphy cemented his place in the Pies’ lineup and played a total of 24 games in 2023, including the grand final, during which he collided with Brisbane’s Lincoln McCarthy’s left shoulder in the first quarter.

At the time, Murphy passed a concussion test but given his history with concussions, he ruled himself out and was subbed out.

“Having battled several injuries throughout his career, a credit goes to Nathan’s resilience and perseverance to come back and perform to a high standard on many occasions,” Collingwood’s general manager of football Brendon Bolton said.

“While we will miss Murph, he’ll forever be a part of Collingwood’s history as a 2023 premiership player. On behalf of the entire club, we wish him all the best for this next chapter.”

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Global heating pushes coral reefs towards worst planet-wide mass bleaching on record

The percentage of reef areas experiencing bleaching-level heat stress is increasing by about 1% a week, scientists say

Global heating has pushed the world’s coral reefs to a fourth planet-wide mass bleaching event that is on track to be the most extensive on record, US government scientists have confirmed.

Some 54% of ocean waters containing coral reefs have experienced heat stress high enough to cause bleaching, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch said.

A global bleaching event is declared when at least 12% of corals in each of the main ocean basins – Pacific, Atlantic and Indian – experience bleaching-level heat stress within a 12-month period. The declaration also requires confirmed reports of bleaching.

Coral Reef Watch also confirmed the world’s largest coral reef system – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – had been through its most widespread heat stress event on record in 2024.

The first global bleaching event happened in 1998 with 20% of the ocean’s reef corals exposed to a level of heat stress high enough to cause bleaching. The second event, in 2010, saw 35% reaching that threshold, and the third from 2014 to 2017 peaked at 56%.

Dr Derek Manzello, the Coral Reef Watch director, told the Guardian the current bleaching was likely to surpass the previous most widespread event soon “because the percentage of reef areas experiencing bleaching-level heat stress has been increasing by roughly 1% per week”.

NOAA’s threshold for the onset of bleaching relates to the amount of accumulated heat corals are facing at any given time, known as degree heating weeks (DHWs).

For example, a 1 DHW is accumulated if corals are subjected to temperatures 1C above the usual maximum for seven days. Coral Reef Watch considers 4 DHWs as a bleaching threshold.

Coral reefs are rich in biodiversity and provide habitat to a quarter of all marine species while covering less than 1% of ocean area. Reefs provide food and tourism income to millions of people and protect coastlines, but are considered to be one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to global heating.

The current global event started in early 2023 and in the northern hemisphere summer reefs across the Americas bleached from record levels of heat stress.

Mass bleaching has been confirmed throughout the tropics, NOAA said, including Florida, the Caribbean, Brazil, many countries across the south Pacific, the Middle East and in parts of the Indian Ocean from Indonesia’s west coast to reefs off east Africa.

Prolonged and severe bleaching can kill corals, but if temperatures fall quickly enough the animals can recover. Research has found previously bleached corals find it harder to reproduce and can be more susceptible to disease after bleaching.

Manzello said global heating had combined with a global El Niño to push up sea surface temperatures. He said predictions made by scientists decades ago about the fate of corals in a warming world were now coming to pass.

“The bottom line is that as coral reefs experience more frequent and severe bleaching events, the time they have to recover is becoming shorter and shorter. Current climate models suggest that every reef on planet Earth will experience severe, annual bleaching sometime between 2040 and 2050.”

Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a pioneer of coral research who was among the first to link bleaching to global heating, said: “It’s a shock. We clearly have to prevent governments from investing in fossil fuels, or we won’t have a chance in hell [to save reefs].”

Earlier this year, Coral Reef Watch was forced to add three new alert levels to its global coral bleaching warning system to represent ever-increasing extremes.

Prof Tracy Ainsworth, the vice-president of the International Coral Reef Society, said the bleaching had extended to some of the most remote places on earth.

“Globally we are failing to protect coral reefs and the communities that rely upon them. This is neglect on a global scale,” Ainsworth said.

The Great Barrier Reef is now suffering its fifth mass bleaching in eight years. Coral Reef Watch data shows 80% of the reef was subjected to bleaching-level heat stress in 2024, the highest extent on record and above the previous high of 60% seen in 2017.

Dr Roger Beeden, the chief scientist at the Australian government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said it was more important than ever to see global action on climate change.

“But the prognosis is not good for coral reefs as we know them, and the GBR is not immune. We are certainly not giving up on reefs, but they’re under serious pressure.”

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Palestinians were refused Australian visitor visas due to concerns they would not ‘stay temporarily’

Senators label refusing 150 people, with Palestinian citizenship, visas into Australia during first months of conflict as ‘cold-blooded’ and ‘cruel’

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About 160 Palestinians were refused visitor visas to come to Australia in the first three months of the Israel-Gaza conflict, mostly due to concerns they would not stay temporarily.

According to answers to questions on notice, 150 people with Palestinian citizenship were refused because they “did not demonstrate a genuine intention to stay temporarily in Australia” – a justification labelled “cold-blooded” and “cruel” by crossbench senators. Ten people who applied during the same period were rejected for other reasons.

Adam Aljaro, a civil engineer from Townsville who arrived in Australia in 1996, has two brothers and two sisters in Gaza who applied for visas in mid-November.

Aljaro says one brother, a doctor in central Gaza, “has seen too many people die”.

“His house has been destroyed. Our farm has been destroyed. My own house there has been destroyed.”

“Why are Palestinians being rejected … They think they will stay and not go back. I will support them, I am OK financially, I can look after them.”

“I don’t want to tell them they have been rejected. They have hope. If I tell them they will lose their hope, especially the kids.”

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Mohammed Amee, a construction worker from Highpoint, Victoria, who arrived in Australia in 2013, applied for visas for his dad, three sisters and their families five months ago.

“The first time I put the full application, they said I did something wrong,” he said. “I filled the application and then I fixed it, but still we are waiting.”

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network president, Nasser Mashni, said it “beggars belief” that the Australian government is rejecting some visa applications “while implying that it believes people won’t leave Australia because of how unbearably oppressive and dangerous the Israeli government has made life for Palestinians”.

“Ukrainians were told to apply for these same visas when Russia invaded back in 2022, and there were no reports of visas being rejected on these grounds,” he said.

“The government must treat Palestinians with the humanity and compassion it so rightly offered to Ukrainians.”

The Greens’ immigration spokesperson, David Shoebridge, said: “It is beyond cruel to deny people fleeing the onslaught in Gaza the possibility of safety because they might be unable to return to their homes.”

“Let’s be clear, the main reason people would be unable to return to Gaza is because of the Israeli invasion, with 80% of homes in Gaza made uninhabitable.

“Palestinians fleeing that devastation are being denied safety in Australia because their homes have been destroyed, with their lives and the lives of their family threatened.”

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe said “to reject visa applications from people fleeing … a war zone is a cold-blooded act from the Albanese government”.

“We should know if any of the applicants who have been rejected remain in Palestine. The government should review those applications and fast-track the approval of visas for those people to come to Australia as a matter of urgency,” she said.

Max Kaiser, the co-executive officer of the Jewish Council of Australia, said it is “unconscionable to apply bureaucratic rules to people fleeing war”.

In March Guardian Australia reported on the plight of Palestinians who came to Australia on tourist visas, and were therefore unable to work, relying on the generosity of community organisations.

Charity groups said that at least 70 people who had to cancel or postpone flights due to cancellation of their visas were “collateral damage” for the federal government’s failures on visa processing.

Palestinian groups and refugee advocates said they were “relieved” when the federal government later reversed its visa cancellations for people fleeing Gaza.

According to figures from the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian government granted 2,273 temporary (subclass 600) visas for Palestinians between 7 October and 6 February but only 330 people had arrived in Australia in that period.

In the answers to questions on notice, the department said although “additional resources are applied to assist with processing, in order to be granted a visa, whether in a conflict zone or not, every person must satisfy [requirements] … including health, security and character criteria”.

The department also noted those seeking to flee the conflict in Gaza, which it described as “grave, and remains extremely fluid” are “not limited to one visa pathway”.

People coming from the Occupied Palestinian Territories can apply for a 12-month bridging visa E “as a safety net where they are unable to access standard visa pathways”. The visa grants access to Medicare and work rights.

In November the Albanese government explained Palestinians granted visas have undergone all standard security checks, rebuffing fears raised by the opposition that the cohort carried a terrorism risk.

Guardian Australia contacted the home affairs department, minister and immigration minister for comment.

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Palestinians were refused Australian visitor visas due to concerns they would not ‘stay temporarily’

Senators label refusing 150 people, with Palestinian citizenship, visas into Australia during first months of conflict as ‘cold-blooded’ and ‘cruel’

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

About 160 Palestinians were refused visitor visas to come to Australia in the first three months of the Israel-Gaza conflict, mostly due to concerns they would not stay temporarily.

According to answers to questions on notice, 150 people with Palestinian citizenship were refused because they “did not demonstrate a genuine intention to stay temporarily in Australia” – a justification labelled “cold-blooded” and “cruel” by crossbench senators. Ten people who applied during the same period were rejected for other reasons.

Adam Aljaro, a civil engineer from Townsville who arrived in Australia in 1996, has two brothers and two sisters in Gaza who applied for visas in mid-November.

Aljaro says one brother, a doctor in central Gaza, “has seen too many people die”.

“His house has been destroyed. Our farm has been destroyed. My own house there has been destroyed.”

“Why are Palestinians being rejected … They think they will stay and not go back. I will support them, I am OK financially, I can look after them.”

“I don’t want to tell them they have been rejected. They have hope. If I tell them they will lose their hope, especially the kids.”

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

Mohammed Amee, a construction worker from Highpoint, Victoria, who arrived in Australia in 2013, applied for visas for his dad, three sisters and their families five months ago.

“The first time I put the full application, they said I did something wrong,” he said. “I filled the application and then I fixed it, but still we are waiting.”

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network president, Nasser Mashni, said it “beggars belief” that the Australian government is rejecting some visa applications “while implying that it believes people won’t leave Australia because of how unbearably oppressive and dangerous the Israeli government has made life for Palestinians”.

“Ukrainians were told to apply for these same visas when Russia invaded back in 2022, and there were no reports of visas being rejected on these grounds,” he said.

“The government must treat Palestinians with the humanity and compassion it so rightly offered to Ukrainians.”

The Greens’ immigration spokesperson, David Shoebridge, said: “It is beyond cruel to deny people fleeing the onslaught in Gaza the possibility of safety because they might be unable to return to their homes.”

“Let’s be clear, the main reason people would be unable to return to Gaza is because of the Israeli invasion, with 80% of homes in Gaza made uninhabitable.

“Palestinians fleeing that devastation are being denied safety in Australia because their homes have been destroyed, with their lives and the lives of their family threatened.”

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe said “to reject visa applications from people fleeing … a war zone is a cold-blooded act from the Albanese government”.

“We should know if any of the applicants who have been rejected remain in Palestine. The government should review those applications and fast-track the approval of visas for those people to come to Australia as a matter of urgency,” she said.

Max Kaiser, the co-executive officer of the Jewish Council of Australia, said it is “unconscionable to apply bureaucratic rules to people fleeing war”.

In March Guardian Australia reported on the plight of Palestinians who came to Australia on tourist visas, and were therefore unable to work, relying on the generosity of community organisations.

Charity groups said that at least 70 people who had to cancel or postpone flights due to cancellation of their visas were “collateral damage” for the federal government’s failures on visa processing.

Palestinian groups and refugee advocates said they were “relieved” when the federal government later reversed its visa cancellations for people fleeing Gaza.

According to figures from the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian government granted 2,273 temporary (subclass 600) visas for Palestinians between 7 October and 6 February but only 330 people had arrived in Australia in that period.

In the answers to questions on notice, the department said although “additional resources are applied to assist with processing, in order to be granted a visa, whether in a conflict zone or not, every person must satisfy [requirements] … including health, security and character criteria”.

The department also noted those seeking to flee the conflict in Gaza, which it described as “grave, and remains extremely fluid” are “not limited to one visa pathway”.

People coming from the Occupied Palestinian Territories can apply for a 12-month bridging visa E “as a safety net where they are unable to access standard visa pathways”. The visa grants access to Medicare and work rights.

In November the Albanese government explained Palestinians granted visas have undergone all standard security checks, rebuffing fears raised by the opposition that the cohort carried a terrorism risk.

Guardian Australia contacted the home affairs department, minister and immigration minister for comment.

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Ukraine war briefing: attacks on nuclear plant are Russian ‘false flag’, Kyiv tells UN security council

Zaporizhzhia ‘getting dangerously close to a nuclear accident’ says IAEA chief, as Russians and Ukrainians trade accusations. What we know on day 783

  • See all our Ukraine war coverage
  • Ukraine’s UN ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, has accused Russia of a “a well-planned false-flag operation” endangering the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, as the two countries traded accusations at the UN security council over alleged attacks on Europe’s largest nuclear power station. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, said without attributing blame that three “reckless” attacks since 7 April had put the world “dangerously close to a nuclear accident”.

  • Ukraine and its allies on Monday again blamed Russia for dangers at the site. “Russia does not care about these risks … If it did, it would not continue to forcibly control the plant,” US deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the security council. Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said that while the IAEA had not pinpointed which side was behind the attacks, “we know full well who it is”. Grossi, outside the security council meeting, said: “We are getting dangerously close to a nuclear accident. We must not allow complacency to let a role of the dice decide what happens tomorrow.”

  • Voldoymyr Zelenskiy has called on allies to show Ukraine the same unity they displayed in helping Israel fend off Iranian attacks. The Ukrainian president issued a fresh plea for air defences to protect against Russian strikes on cities and infrastructure. Zelenskiy said: “Israel is not a member of Nato … and no one was drawn into the war,” he said. “They simply helped save lives. Shaheds [drones] in the skies of Ukraine sound just like in the skies of the Middle East. Ballistics strike the same everywhere if not shot down.” Western allies have hesitated to send additional air defences to Ukraine which needs 26 Patriot systems for full protection. Germany has pledged to deliver one additional system.

  • In the US, the House speaker, Mike Johnson, has unveiled a proposal to separate out Ukraine military aid from other assistance for Israel and Taiwan, instead of passing a $95bn combined bill that already has Senate approval. The US president, Joe Biden, called on the House to take up the Senate funding package immediately: “They have to do it now.” Johnson insisted the House would this instead this week consider separate bills for Ukraine, Israel and Indo-Pacific security.

  • Johnson said the new House bills provide roughly the same amount of foreign aid as the Senate bill but would include differences including some aid in the form of a loan. However, critics say it amounts to further unnecessary delay as the Senate bill was passed two months ago. “If House Republicans put the Senate supplemental [spending bill] on the floor, I believe it would pass today, reach the president’s desk tonight and Israel would get the aid it needs by tomorrow,” said the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer.

  • The US has imposed sanctions on 12 Belarus entities and 10 individuals, accusing them of supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine. The treasury department said among the entities targeted were a machine tool building firm, a company selling control systems for the Belarus armed forces, and another producing radio communication equipment.

  • Asylum claims from Russians, including soldiers who have deserted, have surged since the full-scale invasion but few are winning protection, the Associated Press has reported. In France, asylum requests rose more than 50% between 2022 and 2023, to a total of about 3,400 people, according to the French office that handles the requests. In 2023, Germany got 7,663 first-time asylum applications from Russian citizens, up from 2,851 in 2022. US Customs and Border Patrol officials encountered more than 57,000 Russians at US borders in fiscal year 2023, up from about 13,000 in fiscal year 2021. The Independent Russian media outlet Mediazona has documented more than 7,300 cases in Russian courts against deserting soldiers since September 2022; cases of desertion leapt sixfold in 2023, AP said.

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Rust film armorer sentenced to 18 months in prison for fatal on-set shooting

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s punishment is most substantial criminal consequence yet over Alec Baldwin shooting cinematographer

The chief weapons handler on Rust was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the 2021 fatal, on-set shooting of the movie’s cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by the actor Alec Baldwin.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in March for mistakenly loading a live round into the revolver Baldwin used in the film. The judge in the case said on Monday she had failed to take responsibility for her role in Hutchins’s death and sentenced her to prison.

“You were the armorer – the one that stood between a safe weapon and a weapon that could kill someone,” Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said. “You alone turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon. But for you Ms Hutchins would be alive, a husband would have his partner and a little boy would have his mother.”

Her punishment is the most substantial criminal consequence yet in the legal fallout over Hutchins’s death. But the case, which has captivated Hollywood and the US, is still far from over.

The trial for Baldwin, who was both an actor and co-producer on the film, is set for 10 July after a grand jury indicted him for involuntary manslaughter.

A Santa Fe jury on 6 March took less than two hours to find Gutierrez-Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter, with one juror afterwards saying the defendant had not done “her job” to ensure weapons safety on set.

During the trial, prosecutors accused Gutierrez-Reed of failing to follow essential safety procedures and said the weapons supervisor had loaded the fully functioning revolver used by Baldwin with dummy rounds and at least one live round. The shooting killed Hutchins, 42, and wounded the film’s director, Joel Souza.

“She was negligent, she was careless, she was thoughtless,” said Kari Morrissey, the prosecutor.

The prosecution requested 18 months for Gutierrez-Reed, pointing to jailhouse phone calls in which the armorer blamed Baldwin and others for the shooting and said the judge had been “paid off”.

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense asked the judge to consider probation and said that the incident was a “cascade of tragedy” with “multiple systems failures by multiple people”.

“I beg you please don’t give me more time,” Gutierrez-Reed told the court on Monday, adding that her “heart ached” for Hutchins’s family.

The judge said she was weighing three options for sentencing: probation – the only option in which Gutierrez-Reed would avoid a felony conviction on her record and could continue to possess firearms – letting her remain at the county jail for one year and serve out the remainder of her sentence under probation, or prison.

The armorer was responsible for ensuring the safety of weapons on set and had plenty of time to check the gun used by Baldwin, but failed to do so, Sommer said. In recent calls from jail, where she has been held since her conviction, the judge said Gutierrez-Reed did not take accountability and lamented the impact of the case on her modeling career.

“Hannah says she’s looking at 13 months, which is ridiculous,” Sommers said, quoting the calls. “Hannah says ‘people have accidents and people die. It’s an unfortunate part of life’, but it doesn’t mean she should be in jail.”

A conditional discharge would not be appropriate, Sommers said, and allowing Gutierrez-Reed to remain in the detention center rather than prison “would be giving you a pass you do not deserve”.

Hutchins’s death initially prompted US film and television productions to stop using real firearms and blank ammunition. Two and a half years later, they are returning as productions favor their realistic effects, according to armorers.

The shooting fueled outcry about dangerous working conditions in Hollywood. Crew members who testified at Gutierrez-Reed’s trial had described a chaotic set where safety was “secondary” with one stating that production had been working at “ludicrous speeds”.

Baldwin shot Hutchins to death when he pointed his gun at the cinematographer and the weapon fired the live round as she set up a camera shot. The actor denies pulling the trigger. The FBI and an independent firearms expert found the gun would not fire without the trigger depressed.

Baldwin is accused of causing Hutchins’s death either by negligence or “total disregard or indifference” for safety. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney had argued that she was being used as a scapegoat and that Baldwin was responsible for what occurred.

“It was not in the script for Mr Baldwin to point the weapon,” defense attorney Jason Bowles said during the trial. “She didn’t know that Mr Baldwin was going to do what he did.”

Previous on-set fatal shootings of actors Brandon Lee in 1993 and Jon-Erik Hexum in 1984 involved blank rounds.

  • Reuters contributed to this report

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Belarus prisoner smuggles out account of brutal jail written on toilet paper

Katsiaryna Novikava is one of hundreds of political prisoners in country ruled by dictator Alexander Lukashenko

A political prisoner in Belarus has shed light on the country’s brutal prison system by smuggling out her story written on pieces of toilet paper.

Katsiaryna Novikava, 38, described being repeatedly beaten by security forces after she was detained in June 2023 wearing only a nightshirt. She became one of hundreds of political prisoners in the country of 9.5 million people ruled by authoritarian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

“Everyone who was in the office beat me. They hit me on the head,” Novikava wrote, describing how she was assaulted during interrogation in several detention centres. Her account was published in independent Belarusian media.

Belarus was rocked by mass protests during Lukashenko’s controversial re-election in August 2020 for a sixth term, which the opposition and western nations condemned as fraudulent. Since then, Belarusian authorities have detained more than 35,000 people, many of whom were tortured in custody, forced to flee the country and labelled “extremists” by authorities, according to the Belarusian human rights centre Viasna.

Novikava, who participated in opposition protests, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in January. She was convicted for inciting hatred and interfering with the work of an interior ministry employee.

Novikava’s health condition worsened after being beaten, and she said she was not getting the required medical attention. “I fell from the upper bunk of my bed, and my head hit a wooden shelf,” Novikava wrote, adding that her injury was photographed but no treatment was given.

Although most political prisoners are kept in solitary confinement, Novikava said she was kept in the same cell as Marina Zolotova, editor-in-chief of the country’s largest independent online news outlet, Tut.by, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

“The letters almost never arrive. Even drawings were banned,” Novikava said.

Viasna said Novikava’s messages should be investigated by the UN committee against torture.

“Novikava’s letter sheds light on the catastrophic situation for political prisoners in Belarusian prisons,” Viasna’s Pavel Sapelka told the Associated Press, adding that Belarusian authorities knew that “systemic bullying, beatings, denial of medical care and information isolation amounts to the torture of political prisoners”.

Key Belarusian political figures including Viktar Babaryka, Maria Kalesnikava, Mikola Statkevich and Maxim Znak have been held in such conditions, and there has been no word from them for more than a year.

There are now 1,385 political prisoners in Belarus, including Nobel peace prize laureate Ales Bialiatski. At least six political prisoners have died behind bars, Viasna said.

Human rights advocates are documenting torture and illegal treatment of prisoners in Belarus with such regularity that the country is “rapidly turning into a black hole in Europe”, Sapelka said.

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Don’t say ‘show a little leg’, Hannah Waddingham rebukes photographer

Footage shows Olivier awards host saying outside Royal Albert Hall: ‘Oh my God, you’d never say that to a man’

The actor Hannah Waddingham was cheered by onlookers after she reprimanded a photographer who appeared to ask her to “show leg” as she arrived for the Olivier awards on Sunday.

In a video posted on X, the photographer’s comments are inaudible but Waddingham responds: “Oh my God, you’d never say that to a man, my friend.”

She warns that she will move on if they continue in that vein, saying: “Don’t be a dick, otherwise I’ll move off. Don’t say ‘show a little leg’. No.”

Waddingham was arriving to host the annual awards for excellence in theatre at the Royal Albert Hall when the comments were made.

The footage posted on social media shows her posing on stone steps, wearing a lilac beaded one-shoulder maxi dress with a semi-sheer skirt, before gesturing towards the photographer who is thought to have made the remarks. As she walks away, she points and adds: “Have some manners.”

The crowd is heard cheering after the actor’s comments. Waddingham appears to discuss the issue with the photographer as she continues walking towards the building.

She is best known for playing the Richmond FC owner, Rebecca Welton, in Ted Lasso, which won her an Emmy, a Critics’ Choice award and a Screen Actors Guild award.

Waddingham, from south London, also starred in Game of Thrones and Sex Education, and co-hosted last year’s Eurovision song contest in Liverpool. She also hosted the 2023 Oliviers.

Waddingham has also been a stage actor in the West End and on Broadway. She has appeared in a number of shows, including Spamalot, as the Lady of the Lake, and as Desiree Armfeldt in Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed revival of A Little Night Music, roles that earned her two Olivier nominations.

The Oliviers were established in 1976 to celebrate the “world-class status of London theatre”, according to the awards’ website, and are among Britain’s most prestigious stage honours.

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