The Guardian 2024-07-02 20:07:28


Trump seeks to set aside hush-money verdict hours after immunity ruling

Lawyers ask New York judge to delay sentencing while he weighs high court’s decision and how it may influence case

Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday asked the New York judge who presided over his hush-money trial to set aside his conviction and delay his sentencing, scheduled for later this month.

The letter to Judge Juan M Merchan cited the US supreme court’s ruling earlier Monday and asked the judge to delay the former president’s sentencing while he weighs the high court’s decision and how it could influence the New York case, according to the letter obtained by the Associated Press.

The lawyers argue that the supreme court’s decision confirmed a position the defense raised earlier in the case that prosecutors should have been precluded from introducing some evidence they said constituted official presidential acts, according to the letter.

In prior court filings, Trump contended he is immune from prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office. His lawyers did not raise that as a defense in the hush-money case, but they argued that some evidence – including Trump’s social media posts about former lawyer Michael Cohen – comes from his time as president and should have been excluded from the trial because of immunity protections.

The supreme court on Monday ruled for the first time that former presidents have broad immunity from prosecution, extending the delay in the Washington criminal case against Trump on charges he plotted to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss.

Trump was convicted in New York of 34 counts of falsifying business records, arising from what prosecutors said was an attempt to cover up a hush-money payment just before the 2016 presidential election.

Merchan instituted a policy in the run-up to the trial requiring both sides to send him a one-page letter summarizing their arguments before making longer court filings. He said he did that to better manage the docket, so he was not inundated with voluminous paperwork.

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Biden denounces supreme court decision on Trump immunity: ‘He’ll be more emboldened’

In speech from White House, president said ruling ‘undermined the rule of law’ and compared their characters

Joe Biden has issued a full-throated denunciation of the US supreme court’s decision to grant his predecessor, Donald Trump, broad immunity from criminal charges of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, calling it a “dangerous precedent” that overturned the basic principle of equality before the law.

In a 5-minute speech from the White House, Biden said the 6-3 ruling “undermined the rule of law” and rendered a “terrible disservice to the people of this nation” because it means Trump is much less likely to be held legally accountable for inciting a mob to launch a deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.

Citing and echoing the words of the liberal and dissenting supreme court justice, Sonia Sotomayor – who criticised the ruling – the president said: “I dissent.”

The ruling meant it would fall to voters to decide if Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the forthcoming presidential election, was worthy of being entrusted once again with the presidency, said Biden, using the opportunity to present the electoral choice in character terms.

“This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America,” said Biden, in his public remarks since a weekend family gathering to discuss the future of his own candidacy, seemingly imperiled following a disastrous performance in a televised debate with Trump last week.

“Each, each of us is equal before the law. No one, no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States.

“With today’s supreme court decision on presidential immunity that fundamentally changed for all practical purposes. Today’s decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits to what the president can do. This is a fundamentally new principle. It’s a dangerous precedent, because the power of the office will no longer be constrained by the law, even including the supreme court in the United States, the only limits will be self-imposed by the president alone.”

Subtly casting the issue in an electoral context, Biden said the ruling forced voters to confront the question of whether Trump has the character to constrain his own behavior if he is returned to the White House.

And in what may have been a cryptic message to those in his own party questioning the viability of his candidacy, he compared his opponent’s character traits unfavorably with his own.

“Now the American people have to do what the court should have been willing to do and will not,” he said. “The American people have to render a judgement about Donald Trump’s behavior.

“The American people must decide whether they want to entrust … once again, the presidency to Donald Trump now knowing he’ll be more emboldened to do whatever he pleases, whenever he wants to do it.

“I know I will respect the limits of the presidential powers I have had for three and a half years, but any president, including Donald Trump, will now be free to ignore the law.”

The occasion gave Biden, 81, a chance to reassert the authority of the presidential office after the crisis that has engulfed his candidacy in recent days, with Democrats questioning whether he should be replaced as the party’s candidate in the wake of his feeble debate performance, when he failed to effectively counter Trump’s multiple false statements, frequently misspoke and sometimes appeared stuck for words.

He used Monday’s White House speech to issue a broader attack against the supreme court, whose recent rulings have stemmed from a conservative majority established largely because of three rightwing justices appointed to the bench by Trump.

“This decision today has continued the court’s attack in recent years on a wide range of long established legal principles in our nation – from gutting voting rights and civil rights to taking away a woman’s right to choose, to today’s decision that undermines the rule of law of this nation,” he said.

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Voters react to Biden v Trump debate: ‘Cynical and damaging to our country’

Voters share their reactions, highlight limitations of format and whether event has changed their intentions

US voters shared their reactions to Thursday’s presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, highlighting limitations of the format, weak performances from both candidates and whether the event has changed their voting intentions.

‘A lifetime of being a skilled politician isn’t undone by one bad debate’

“I’m bemused and somewhat disappointed about all the media and political responses that seem to say – a man who’s spent a lifetime as a successful political leader has proven otherwise by one bad debate, a debate that he participated in, in spite of being ill.

“For me the most important outcome of that debate was that Donald Trump reinforced that he was danger to democracy by his pathological lying, delusion, racism and misogyny. The bottom line is that one bad debate has not changed anything, Biden is still the same person. Isn’t he entitled to one bad hour? Annan Boodram, 67, a retired educator, journalist, author and change agent engaged in mental health advocacy and activism through a not for profit NGO, the Caribbean Voice, from New York City

‘Discussions about who’s better at golf are disheartening’

“I knew the debate would be tough, but I couldn’t imagine it would turn out so disastrous. I lean towards the Democratic party but I would not be inclined to support a hollow political agenda whose main argument is simply being anti-Trump.

It’s disheartening to see years of political experience wasted on discussions about who’s better at golf. This makes me question President Biden’s decision not to support a more robust project that could effectively defeat Trump. We’re all going to have to brace ourselves for an election period filled with sadness, frustration and disappointment.” Felix, in his 40s, a hispanic college professor from Indiana

‘I’m not worried about a second Biden term’

“Public speaking has never been Biden’s forte, but I believe his actual performance as chief executive continues to be very good; I have no reason to worry about a second term with him. My only fear is of a felonious [Trump] taking advantage of people who value style over substance.

“Trump lied through the entire debate and looked like an idiot.

“Biden spoke truthfully and rationally and like an adult. His grasp of policy far exceeds anything Trump will ever be capable of. I’m not going to panic; debates don’t decide elections. I hope Democrats will remain calm and stay the course. That said, in the extremely unlikely event that the Dems change candidates, of course I will support that person too. Paula, a retired teacher from Massachusetts

‘An exercise in futility framed as the most important thing’

“I tried to watch, but stopped watching [a short while in], as it was typical soundbite answers and I have better use of my time. As an informed voter who reads the news, presidential debates have always greatly disappointed me in how shallow they are, how much significance they’re given by the press when many in the public don’t watch and don’t care, and how completely divorced anything the candidates may say ends up being from their actual approach to governing.

“An exercise in futility that is framed as the most important thing that happens all year. What a farce the whole production of it ends up being. Yes, I tune in hoping for it to be better. Every time I have less patience as it never is.

“I tend to vote Democrat, and did so last time, but am always reluctant to rubber-stamp the party and desperately want a system that makes third parties and independents a serious and viable option, like proportional representation and ranked voting.” Daniel Dromboski, 30, unemployed, from Pennsylvania

‘The press pounced’

“President Biden had a lukewarm night. The press pounced on it in order to satisfy their billionaire owners. There are very few undecided voters. I don’t think the debate made much difference. I’ll be a Democrat until the day I die.” Della, 70, from New Mexico

‘It’s getting difficult to defend Biden as my choice for president’

“I’ve seen this debate before, four years ago. But this one was different, honestly it just made me sad. I lean left, but have had concerns about Biden’s mental acuity for a long time – even last election, when I voted for him. It’s getting difficult for me to defend him being my choice for president. “I will never vote for Trump, but I have to admit he sounded like the more articulate and compelling candidate in this debate. It makes me sad, because I don’t know if I should just not vote, vote independent, or do I really just sacrifice all of my integrity by voting for a person that I don’t believe has their wits about them.

“Just watching the two of them talk, because Biden’s labored breathing gives me anxiety, and Trump – although I should mention Biden too – are both extremely negative. Neither of them even tries to convince me of a bright future I should believe in. They only try to convince me that the other screwed up this country to lows never seen before, and I believe them.” Manny Alalouf, 28 a conservationist for an international nonprofit from Michigan

‘Biden is not going anywhere’

“Trump lied constantly and the moderators did not call him on it. Yes, Biden is old, but he is a good person and is not going anywhere.” Walter Kopp, 60, retired, from California

‘It was painful to watch Biden squander this opportunity’

“I am angry about the debate, both presenters were terrible. It was painful to watch President Biden squander this opportunity to show voters what Trump, and the Republicans who support him, are really proposing if they are elected.

“Trump has provided so much ammunition to the Democrats and they fail again and again to use it. Instead they are presenting too many statistics and losing the story line. Biden displayed everything the Republicans accuse him of, being old and feeble and incoherent. And – why was Trump allowed to spew so many unchallenged lies? An hour after the debate to correct him is pointless.

“I think both parties are being driven by too many extreme ideas.” Melanie, middle aged, from North Carolina

‘The debate was cynical and damaging to our country’

“Thursday night’s debate was embarrassing. CNN’s moderators glossed over crucial issues. Trump, a convicted felon with a history of serious lies and deceptions, was allowed to evade tough questions, by the moderators.

“The debate focused on familiar topics like the deficit and taxes, with Biden giving sincere but tired sounding responses and Trump making bombastic and false claims. The event highlighted that debates are more about showmanship than substance. The Earth is facing an existential threat through climate change. This is what we should be focusing on.

“The elephant in the room, why a convicted felon should have access to the levers of power, was not addressed.

“Meanwhile, Biden’s hoarse voice and demeanor made him seem like a weak leader. Debates are supposed to inform voters, but both candidates are well-known, and this debate didn’t offer new insights. The event was cynical and damaging to our country.” Alison, a program manager from Seattle who voted Democrat in 2020 and will support an Independent candidate this election

‘This embarrassing debacle has, sadly, likely changed nothing’

“I have for years been waiting for Democrats to put forward a convincing case and a strong character to rally if not liberal then moderate minds in Appalachia and other ‘conservative’ regions, to stand for some common sense. Being the stronger, better candidate than Trump should be an easy game, but it’s almost like it’s being actively thrown. What are the Democrats thinking?

“I used to say I have values in common with both major parties. I’ve come to see their duopoly as the proverbial albatross around our neck. If it were not already a chaotic time in the world, one might hope to see them both collapse.

“Embarrassing as this debacle was, the sad truth is that likely nothing has tangibly changed.” Alex, 29, a clerical worker from Tennessee

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Trump on Trial: The supreme court handed him a partial victory. Now what?

The supreme court ruled that Trump has some immunity – making him less likely to face trial in the election subversion case before the election

On the docket: Trump secures partial immunity

The US supreme court’s decision Monday that Donald Trump has some immunity from criminal prosecution marked a win for the ex-president. While Trump’s not off the hook in his Washington DC federal election subversion case, he is even less likely to face trial in these proceedings before the election.

The justices’ 6-3 decision, which fell squarely along ideological lines, will wind up delaying this trial, playing into Trump’s legal strategy of near-perpetual postponements. This decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, guts one of the allegations and challenges the legal viability of the others, raising the stakes still more.

Let’s look at the nuts and bolts of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s election subversion case against Trump to understand what exactly is going on.

Smith claimed that Trump convened bogus groups of electors and pursued “sham election investigations” through the US justice department to block the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 win.

Trump’s goal was to remain in the Oval Office despite his loss, Smith said. This indictment charges Trump with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, one obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and one count of conspiracy against rights.

The indictment claimed that Trump met with his acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and other top justice department (DoJ) and White House officials to discuss alleged election fraud. The indictment contends that when Rosen refused to comply with his demands, Trump repeatedly threatened to fire him.

The supreme court determined today that the allegations against Trump involving Rosen constituted an official act. In the decision, the court maintained that Trump has “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority”.

The findings relating to other allegations against Trump don’t derail the case per se, but they’re going to be litigated in a way that delays proceedings. The court determined that Trump “is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his official acts” and that “there is no immunity for unofficial acts.”

This deals a huge blow to count one, conspiracy to defraud the United States, as this involves Trump’s alleged pressure on the DoJ. The opinion found that despite Trump’s efforts to rope in the DoJ in his alleged election subversion, doing so still fell under his powers and protections as president.

“Because the president cannot be prosecuted for conduct within his exclusive constitutional authority, Trump is absolutely immune from prosecution for the alleged conduct involving his discussions with justice department officials,” the opinion said.

The question as to whether the other three counts can go forward will probably remain unanswered for the foreseeable future.

Trump, per the indictment, organized false slates of electors to trick his vice-president, Mike Pence, into thinking the election results were uncertain. Pence ultimately didn’t take the bait, so Trump tried to block Biden’s certification by taking advantage of the January 6 insurrection to prop up phoney claims of election fraud, hoping to sway Congress members into delaying Biden’s certification, the indictment said.

The supreme court decision found that “the indictment’s allegations that Trump attempted to pressure the vice-president to take particular acts in connection with his role at the certification proceeding thus involve official conduct, and Trump is at least presumptively immune from prosecution for such conduct”.

The justices identified that their “question then becomes whether that presumption of immunity is rebutted under the circumstances”. They said it’s prosecutors’ “burden to rebut the presumption of immunity” and ultimately didn’t decide on this issue.

Because a lower court has to decide this issue, it will create another delay. And if the lower court rules against Trump, which seems likely to occur, he is all but guaranteed to appeal and, if he doesn’t get the answers he wants, take this issue back to the supreme court.

The supreme court also remanded the question of whether Trump’s interactions with non-executive branch parties – including private citizens – over the election constituted official acts. As for Trump’s comments relating to January 6, which the indictment maintains are part of his alleged subversion conspiracy, the justices also left this up to the trial court.

The president possesses “extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf … So most of a president’s public communications are likely to fall comfortably within the outer perimeter of his official responsibilities”, the justices said.

“There may, however, be contexts in which the president speaks in an unofficial capacity–perhaps as a candidate for office or party leader. To the extent that may be the case, objective analysis of ‘content, form and context’ will necessarily inform the inquiry.”

Even before this decision, the earliest Trump’s election subversion case could have gone to trial was 20 September. So taking into account the issues remanded to the trial court, it’s looking like proceedings will plod along at an even slower clip.

This benefits Trump, of course; his lawyers’ strategy has always been to push for postponement until after the election. If Trump bests Biden, then he can appoint a favorable attorney general who could abandon the federal charges against him.

In her dissent, liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that the decision basically protects the president against any legal accountability in criminal cases.

The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the country, and possibly the world. When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution.

“Orders the navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold on to power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.

“Let the president violate the law, let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain, let him use his official power for evil ends. Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like him to be. That is the majority’s message today.”

What’s next

Trump is expected to be sentenced on 11 July in his New York hush-money case. He also faces state charges in Georgia involving election interference, and a federal criminal case in Florida over his retention of classified documents after leaving the White House.

The likelihood of either case proceeding to trial before the election is virtually nil. Georgia’s court of appeals put a hold on Trump’s state election subversion proceedings in June. The appeals panel did so while weighing whether to disqualify Fulton county prosecutor Fani Willis from this case following revelations that she had a romantic relationship with the special prosecutor she appointed.

In south Florida, US judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, officially abandoned the 20 May trial date without rescheduling the start of proceedings. Cannon has granted extensive leeway to Trump’s lawyers, going along with nearly every extension request and considering his wildest defence theories.

A brief programming note: I’ll be writing the Trump on Trial newsletter for the foreseeable future. Before this, I covered Trump’s New York City criminal trial, and lots of the civil litigation against him, as part of my work covering courts and crime for the Guardian.

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Viktor Orbán visits Kyiv for surprise talks with Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Hungarian PM, an outspoken critic of aid to Ukraine, makes first trip to country since start of Russia’s full-scale invasion

Hungary’s prime minister has made a surprise visit to Kyiv for talks with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the first trip by Europe’s most pro-Russian leader to the Ukrainian capital since the start of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion 28 months ago.

The visit on Tuesday morning by Viktor Orbán, an outspoken critic of western military and financial aid to Ukraine, came a day after Hungary took over the rotating EU presidency until the end of the year, to the dismay of many other European politicians, given the country’s frequent clashes with Brussels over domestic rule-of-law issues and foreign policy.

“The talks will focus on possibilities for achieving peace, as well as issues in Hungarian-Ukrainian bilateral relations,” Orbán’s spokesperson, Zoltán Kovács, wrote on X.

Ukrainian media later published photographs of the talks, showing Zelenskiy and Orbán sitting opposite each other at a small wooden table.

It was not immediately clear if the two leaders planned to hold a press briefing after their talks.

Hungary has been at odds with other Nato countries over Orbán’s continued cultivation of close ties to Russia and refusal to send arms to Ukraine, with Budapest’s foreign minister in May calling plans to help the war-torn country a “crazy mission”.

The Kremlin downplayed Orbán’s visit to Kyiv, stating on Tuesday it did not “expect anything” from the trip.

A Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the Hungarian leader was merely “fulfilling his duties” as part of the country’s presidency of the EU. He added that Moscow was not in contact with Budapest before Orbán’s trip. Peskov commended the Hungarian leader as “a politician who strongly defends his country’s interests”.

Budapest has kept channels open with Moscow, and Orbán’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, has made at least five trips to Russia since the start of the war, most recently to visit an economic forum in St Petersburg last month.

Hungary said last month it would not block Nato decisions on providing support for Ukraine as long as Budapest was not involved in the aid.

Orbán also recently endorsed Mark Rutte to become the next head of Nato with the assurance that Hungary’s forces and financial resources would not be committed to supporting Ukraine.

One source in Budapest with knowledge of the matter said Orbán’s plan to visit Kyiv came together after lengthy negotiations on the issue of rights for Ukraine’s Hungarian-speaking minority, who live in the far west of Ukraine close to the two countries’ border.

“It was a precondition for the meeting that the issue of nationality rights was resolved. In recent weeks, an agreement has been reached. They will be able to announce this as a success,” said a source in Budapest with knowledge of the buildup to the visit.

While nationality rights have been one of Budapest’s most vocal complaints when it comes to Ukraine, critics of Orbán have accused him of using the issue as a smokescreen to facilitate the promotion of Russian talking points over the conflict.

Zelenskiy and Orbán have clashed numerous times since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Orbán included Zelenskiy in a list of “opponents” who had supposedly conspired against him and backed the opposition, while the Ukrainian president personally called out the Hungarian leader for his lack of support to Kyiv in the days after Russia’s invasion.

The two leaders were last seen having an animated exchange at the European Council summit in Brussels on 27 June.

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Speaking on France Inter this morning, the far-right National Rally’s Marine Le Pen said she would be respectful of Jordan Bardella’s role if he becomes prime minister and that she wouldn’t want to be part of the government herself.

Asked if the National Rally would attempt to form a government if it doesn’t get a majority in the national assembly, Le Pen argued a majority would be needed.

“It is evident that we cannot accept to go to government if we cannot act,” she said.

“We wish to govern,” she stressed.

But she also said that if the National Rally is a bit short, it will try to make up that majority with extra MPs, for example from the right.

Le Pen also said she would not sit in the government and that she won’t be president of the national assembly.

“I will be at the head of the group of deputies,” Le Pen said.

Asked whether she would join a new European political group formed by Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, she did not give a concrete answer, instead saying the party will look at what’s on the table after the French election.

“We are concentrated on an election that is fundamental for the future of the country,” she said.

Analysis

Macron sought clarity – and has brought his centrist project tumbling down

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

In an increasingly divided country, Marine Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigration party has cemented its steady rise

When Emmanuel Macron strolled through the seaside resort of Le Touquet on Sunday afternoon, near his holiday home, dressed in a leather jacket with his collar up and aviator shades, smiling and asking passersby how they were doing, he seemed a world away from the fact that his gamble of a snap election was about to dramatically backfire.

Macron had said he needed “clarity” three weeks ago, when he shocked even his own government ministers by calling a high-risk sudden parliament election after his centrists were trounced by the far-right National Rally (RN) in the European parliament vote.

By Monday lunchtime, when the French president gathered his advisers and ministers at the Elysée for crisis talks, he did have some form of clarity, but not the type he had been hoping for. It was clear that, after seven years in power, Macron had brought his centrist project tumbling down.

Macron had sought to wrongfoot the RN and the left with a lightning-speed, three-week election in which he believed he could frighten voters into backing his centrists by warning that a win by the far right or the left alliance would spark “civil war”.

Instead, Marine Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigration RN, which for decades was regarded as a danger to democracy that promoted racist, antisemitic and anti-Muslim views and had to be kept out of mainstream politics at all costs, confirmed its steady rise in parliament.

The RN took about one-third of the national vote, meaning that whether or not it gains an absolute majority to form a government, it is now on track to become the dominant force and biggest party in the French parliament. Its nationwide vote share – combined with its allies from Éric Ciotti’s Les Républicains – exceeded even the resounding score of Macron’s centrists in the parliament elections of 2017. The RN’s strong showing went far beyond its traditional heartlands in the north-east and on the Mediterranean coast, spreading across the country, notably in the south-west, the west and centre.

The left alliance, in second place, is fighting to increase its seats but appears unable to reach an absolute majority in parliament. The centrists, lagging behind in third, are likely to lose more than 100 seats.

The backdrop to this political earthquake is a country that is increasingly divided. Demonstrators on the left have taken to the streets in big cities to protest against the far right and warn of the dangers of racism and discrimination. Meanwhile, in the countryside, villages and cutoff hinterlands outside middle-sized towns, RN voters said they chose the far right because they couldn’t make ends meet, pay their petrol bills or get a doctor’s appointment in rural areas. They celebrated Le Pen’s progress and said they felt hope and wanted change.

The big challenge now, in other words, lies not just in how to form a government, but how to ensure a cohesive society.

The next 24 hours of bargaining over tactical voting in the second round will define the final outcome next Sunday. Historically, parties on the left or centre-right have done deals to stand back in order to avoid splitting the vote against the far right. But this is less than certain now. The left, whose supporters voted for Macron to keep back Le Pen in two presidential elections, expressed anger that many centrists now placed its left alliance on a par with the far right and would not clearly back them.

France is facing several possible scenarios. The first, which most pollsters suggested was likely, would see the RN win a majority of seats, becoming the biggest party in parliament, but falling short of the absolute majority of 289 needed to form a government. It would be the dominant force, with Macron as president, but there could be deadlock.

Another scenario, which is seen as difficult for the RN to pull off but not impossible, is that it wins an absolute majority and forms a government with the young party president, Jordan Bardella, as prime minister. It would be the first time in French history that a far-right party wins a parliamentary election and forms a government. Macron would have to share power.

A third scenario would be somewhere in the middle, with the RN falling short of an absolute majority but finding a way to govern anyway by striking deals or bringing over lawmakers from the right.

The impact of the RN’s anti-immigration project on France would be significant. It seeks to scrap nationality rights for children born and raised in France by foreign parents, and bar dual nationals from strategic jobs. If it forms a government, it would have the final say on budgets for military support for Ukraine.

But its ultimate aim is to lay the ground for Le Pen to win the presidency in 2027 in order to implement its full programme to limit immigration, give French citizens priority over non-nationals for jobs, social welfare assistance and housing and clamp down on what it called “Islamist ideologies” including the wearing of the headscarf.

Macronism – a centrist force built around one man, who in 2017 promised to revolutionise politics with pragmatist cherrypicking from left and right, only to veer right after his reelection in 2022 – is now waning.

The pro-European centrist block in France still exists, but it will be far smaller and weaker from now on. It will seek to reorganise itself after this earthquake, but quite how it will do so is uncertain.

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Israel risking disastrous war against Hezbollah for political reasons, says former US official

Harrison Mann, military expert who quit over Gaza, says ruinous war in Lebanon would pull US into regional conflict

Israel risks going to war against Hezbollah to ensure Benjamin Netanyahu’s political survival, but it would be a miscalculation that could lead to mass civilian deaths in both Lebanon and Israel, a former US military intelligence analyst has warned.

Harrison Mann, a major in the Defence Intelligence Agency who left the military last month over US support for Israel’s war in Gaza, also told the Guardian that such a disastrous new war would pull the US into a regional conflict.

Despite an announcement in June by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that planning for a Lebanon offensive had been completed, and increasingly bellicose rhetoric from Israeli politicians, US officials have been saying privately that Netanyahu’s government is aware how dangerous a war with Hezbollah would be and is not seeking a fight.

Mann, the most senior US military officer to have quit over Gaza to date, said that assessment was optimistic and that there was a high risk of Israel going to war on its northern border for internal political reasons, led by a prime minister whose continuing hold on power and consequent insulation from corruption charges, depends largely on the nation being at war.

“We know specifically that the Israeli prime minister must continue to be a wartime leader if he wants to prolong his political career and stay out of court, so that motivation is there,” Mann said in an interview. He added that any Israeli government would be sensitive to political pressure from tens of thousands of Israelis displaced from the border area because of Hezbollah rocket and artillery attacks.

On top of that, the Israeli military establishment is convinced that the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Shia militia will have to be confronted sooner rather than later, as it grows in strength, Mann said, but he argued the Israelis have miscalculated the costs of a new war in Lebanon.

“I don’t know how realistic their assessments are of the destruction that Israel would incur, and I’m pretty sure they don’t have a realistic idea of how successful they would be against Hezbollah,” the former army officer and intelligence analyst said.

He argued Israel military was well aware it could not strike a decisive blow against Hezbollah’s fearsome armoury with pre-emptive strikes, as the rockets, missiles and artillery are dug into the mountainous Lebanese landscape.

Instead Mann said the IDF would launch decapitation strikes against Hezbollah leaders, and bomb Shia residential areas, to demoralise the movement’s support base, a tactic known as the Dahiya doctrine, after the Dahiya district of Beirut which Israel targeted in the 2006 war.

“It’s not like an actual written doctrine, but I think we can be very comfortable assessing that bombing civilian centres as a way to compel the enemy is clearly an accepted and shared belief in the IDF and Israeli leadership. We’ve just seen them do it in Gaza for the past nine months,” Mann said – but he stressed that such a plan would backfire.

“They think that launching a pre-emptive strike would successfully deter Hezbollah and make Israel safer, and that I think shows the limits of their strategic thinking and planning in general,” he said.

Mann predicted Hezbollah would unleash a mass rocket and missile attack, if it felt it was under existential threat.

“They probably have the ability to at least partially overwhelm Israel’s air defences, strike civilian infrastructure around the country, and inflict a level of destruction on Israel that I’m not sure Israel has really ever experienced in its history – certainly not in its recent history,” Mann said.

Unable to destroy Hezbollah’s arsenal in the air, the IDF would launch a ground offensive into southern Lebanon which would come at high cost in Israeli casualties. Mann warned the shelling of Israeli cities meanwhile would make it impossible for the Biden administration, in the run-up to an election, to turn down Netanyahu’s appeals for the US to become more involved.

“Our least escalatory participation will be possibly striking supply lines or associated targets in Iraq and Syria to help cut off lines of communication and armaments flown to Hezbollah,” Mann said. “But that on its own is risky, because if we start doing that, some of the people that we hit could be Hezbollah, but they could be IRGC [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps].”

He said he thought that the Biden administration would seek to avoid any direct clash with Iran, but the risk of such a conflict would rise anyway.

“I trust the administration not to do that, but I think between us or the Israelis striking Iranian targets outside of Iran, the risk of escalation is also going to get much higher,” Mann said.

Mann first submitted his resignation in November and it took effect in June. In May, he published a resignation letter on the LinkedIn social media platform, saying that US support for Israel’s war in Gaza had “enabled and empowered the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians”.

As the descendent of European Jews, Mann wrote: “I was raised in a particularly unforgiving moral environment when it came to the topic of bearing responsibility for ethnic cleansing.”

He said the response from his former colleagues since he resigned his commission had been mostly positive.

“A lot of people I worked with reached out to me, a lot of people I didn’t work with as well, and expressed that they felt the same way,” he said. “It’s not just a generational thing. There’s quite senior people who feel the same way.”

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Palestinians flee Khan Younis as eight reported dead after Israeli strikes

IDF bombards ruined city and orders mass evacuation after rocket barrage claimed by Islamic Jihad

Hundreds of Palestinians were fleeing Khan Younis in southern Gaza after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) once again bombarded the largely ruined city and ordered a mass evacuation of residents.

Witnesses reported strikes on Tuesday in and around the city, where eight people were killed and more than 30 were wounded, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent and a medical source, Agence France-Presse said.

The attacks came after a rare rocket barrage on Monday claimed by the militant group Islamic Jihad, which has fought alongside Hamas.

The Israeli military said about “20 projectiles were identified crossing from the area of Khan Younis”, most of which were intercepted. It reported no casualties and said artillery was “striking the sources of the fire”.

The bombardment and evacuation orders suggested that troops could launch a new ground assault on the territory’s second-largest city. Israeli forces fought for weeks in Khan Younis earlier this year and withdrew, claiming to have destroyed Hamas battalions.

“For your safety, you must evacuate immediately to the humanitarian zone,” the army spokesperson Avichay Adraee posted on X, addressing residents and displaced people.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said the IDF is “making progress toward ending the phase of the destruction of Hamas’s terror army”, but that “there will be a continuation to strike its remnants”.

Israeli military officials have described a shift to a third phase of the fighting in Gaza, with intermittent raids from troops based at strategic locations within the territory replacing the major offensives seen in recent months.

Monday’s evacuation order also covered much of the Gaza Strip’s south-eastern corner, including the towns of Al-Qarara and Bani Suhaila.

The Bani Suhaila resident Ahmad Najjar said the Israeli order had led to “fear and extreme anxiety”, and “a large displacement of residents”.

Israel’s army told people to move to al-Mawasi, a coastal area designated by the IDF as a safe zone, which has become filled with crowded and unsanitary tent camps.

International aid organisations report that the zone is massively congested and suffers acute shortages of water. Sanitation is almost non-existent, and raw sewage and mountains of rubbish have led to soaring infections of disease.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said the new evacuation order “just shows yet again that no place is safe in Gaza” for Palestinian civilians. “It’s another stop in this deadly circular movement that the population in Gaza has to undergo on a regular basis,” he said in a statement calling for a ceasefire.

Much of Khan Younis was destroyed in a long assault this year, but large numbers of Palestinians had moved back to escape another Israeli offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah.

Israeli forces have been sent back into parts of Gaza where there was fierce fighting earlier in the conflict. Analysts and officials have said Hamas has been able to reform its fighting units in pockets of the north and centre of the territory.

Despite suffering significant losses, the senior leadership of the militant Islamist organisation remains unharmed.

Last week, the Israeli military ordered an evacuation from the northern Gaza district of Shuja’iya, which has been the focus of Israeli offensives, and intense fighting followed soon after.

The military said its forces were operating in northern and central Gaza as well as in Rafah, where aircraft carried out strikes and troops “ambushed an armed terrorist squad” in a car and killed them.

In Shuja’iya, Palestinian militants “were eliminated and dozens of terrorist infrastructure sites above and below ground were dismantled, including tunnel shafts”, it added.

In central Gaza, witnesses said strikes hit the Nuseirat refugee camp where the Palestinian Red Crescent reported at least one dead, a child.

A fresh offensive in the Khan Younis area could further hamper Palestinians’ access to much-needed aid. The area surrounding the Kerem Shalom crossing, the major aid crossing to southern Gaza, is in the evacuation zone.

Most of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled their homes, with many repeatedly displaced. Israeli restrictions, fighting and the breakdown of public order have hindered the delivery of humanitarian aid, fuelling widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine.

Hamas’s 7 October attack on southern Israel that triggered the war has resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the IDF says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive aimed at eradicating the Palestinian militants in Gaza has killed at least 37,900 people, according to Palestinian officials. About half of those fully identified so far are women or children.

  • Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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Cambodia jails 10 environmentalists in ‘crushing blow to civil society’

Activists from the award-winning Mother Nature found guilty on charges of plotting against government

Ten activists from a prominent youth-led environmental group in Cambodia have been sentenced to between six and eight years in jail in a case human rights experts have widely condemned.

The activists from Mother Nature, an award-winning group of environmental campaigners, were found guilty on charges of plotting against the government, while three were also convicted of insulting the king. They denied the charges.

Four of the defendants were arrested outside the court in Phnom Penh after the verdict was delivered on Tuesday morning, according to reports. Others were sentenced in absentia.

Amnesty International said the verdict was “another crushing blow to Cambodia’s civil society”.

“Instead of listening to young leaders at the forefront of the environmental movement, the Cambodian government has chosen to jail those that dare to speak out,” said Montse Ferrer, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for research.

Human Rights Watch said the case sent “an appalling message to Cambodia’s youth that the government will side with special interests over the environment every chance it gets”.

Mother Nature, which has been praised for its use of viral videos and training to engage young Cambodians, is one of the few remaining environmental groups in the country, where freedom of expression has become increasingly restricted.

Last year, Hun Sen, who had led the country for decades, handed power to his son Hun Manet, who was named prime minister after an election in which the only major opposition party was banned from running and independent media outlets were closed down or blocked online.

Mother Nature activists have previously been imprisoned and faced intimidation. In 2023, the group won the Right Livelihood award from the Swedish charity the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, in recognition of what was described as its “fearless and engaging activism”.

The group was praised for successfully campaigning to prevent the Chinese-led construction of a hydroelectric dam in Areng valley, south-western Cambodia, which threatened an Indigenous community and rare species. It also helped end the environmentally damaging, and often corrupt, business of sand export from the coastal estuaries of Koh Kong.

The group’s founder, Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, a Spanish national who was deported from Cambodia in 2015 and sentenced on Tuesday in absentia, told Reuters the accusations of plotting against the state had not been clarified in court, but said three members were arrested after documenting suspected pollution runoff into the Tonlé Sap River in Phnom Penh in 2021.

The lese majesty charges relate to an internal Zoom meeting about political cartooning that was leaked.

Among those sentenced on Tuesday were Thun Ratha, Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoraksmey, Binh Piseth and Pork Khoeuy, who were handed six years in prison for plotting, according to Amnesty International. Three others, Gonzales-Davidson, Sun Ratha and Yim Leanghy were sentenced to eight years for both plotting and insulting the king, and also face a fine of KHR 10,000,000 (£1,900).

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Cambodia jails 10 environmentalists in ‘crushing blow to civil society’

Activists from the award-winning Mother Nature found guilty on charges of plotting against government

Ten activists from a prominent youth-led environmental group in Cambodia have been sentenced to between six and eight years in jail in a case human rights experts have widely condemned.

The activists from Mother Nature, an award-winning group of environmental campaigners, were found guilty on charges of plotting against the government, while three were also convicted of insulting the king. They denied the charges.

Four of the defendants were arrested outside the court in Phnom Penh after the verdict was delivered on Tuesday morning, according to reports. Others were sentenced in absentia.

Amnesty International said the verdict was “another crushing blow to Cambodia’s civil society”.

“Instead of listening to young leaders at the forefront of the environmental movement, the Cambodian government has chosen to jail those that dare to speak out,” said Montse Ferrer, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for research.

Human Rights Watch said the case sent “an appalling message to Cambodia’s youth that the government will side with special interests over the environment every chance it gets”.

Mother Nature, which has been praised for its use of viral videos and training to engage young Cambodians, is one of the few remaining environmental groups in the country, where freedom of expression has become increasingly restricted.

Last year, Hun Sen, who had led the country for decades, handed power to his son Hun Manet, who was named prime minister after an election in which the only major opposition party was banned from running and independent media outlets were closed down or blocked online.

Mother Nature activists have previously been imprisoned and faced intimidation. In 2023, the group won the Right Livelihood award from the Swedish charity the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, in recognition of what was described as its “fearless and engaging activism”.

The group was praised for successfully campaigning to prevent the Chinese-led construction of a hydroelectric dam in Areng valley, south-western Cambodia, which threatened an Indigenous community and rare species. It also helped end the environmentally damaging, and often corrupt, business of sand export from the coastal estuaries of Koh Kong.

The group’s founder, Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, a Spanish national who was deported from Cambodia in 2015 and sentenced on Tuesday in absentia, told Reuters the accusations of plotting against the state had not been clarified in court, but said three members were arrested after documenting suspected pollution runoff into the Tonlé Sap River in Phnom Penh in 2021.

The lese majesty charges relate to an internal Zoom meeting about political cartooning that was leaked.

Among those sentenced on Tuesday were Thun Ratha, Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoraksmey, Binh Piseth and Pork Khoeuy, who were handed six years in prison for plotting, according to Amnesty International. Three others, Gonzales-Davidson, Sun Ratha and Yim Leanghy were sentenced to eight years for both plotting and insulting the king, and also face a fine of KHR 10,000,000 (£1,900).

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Hurricane Beryl strengthens to category 5 storm as it ‘flattens’ island in Grenada

The hurricane has already made landfall on the Caribbean island of Carriacou, ripping off roofs with 240km/h winds

  • Caribbean leader calls out rich countries for climate failures as ‘horrendous’ storm makes landfall

Hurricane Beryl has strengthened to a Category 5 status as it crosses islands in the south-eastern Caribbean.

In a post on X, the National Hurricane Center said “Beryl Becomes a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane In the Eastern Caribbean. Expected to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge to Jamaica later this week.”

Beryl ripped off doors, windows and roofs in homes across the south-eastern Caribbean on Monday after making landfall on the island of Carriacou in Grenada as the earliest Category 4 storm in the Atlantic, fuelled by its record warm waters.

Grenada’s prime minister, Dickon Mitchell, said late on Monday that one person had died and authorities had not been able to assess the situation on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

There were initial reports of major damage but communications were largely down.

“In half an hour, Carriacou was flattened,” Mitchell told a press conference, according to Agence France-Presse.

Later on social media, the prime minister said the government was working to get relief supplies to both Carriacou and the island of Petite Martinique on Tuesday. “The state of emergency is still in effect. Remain indoors,” he wrote on Facebook.

From St Lucia island south to Grenada, the streets were strewn with shoes, trees, downed power lines and other debris. Banana trees were snapped in half and cows lay dead in green pastures with homes made of tin and plywood tilting precariously nearby.

Late on Monday, Beryl’s winds increased to 260km/h (160mph). Fluctuations in strength were likely in the coming days.

Beryl is pushing into the Caribbean Sea on a track heading just south of Jamaica and toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula by late Thursday as a Category 1 storm.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, Tobago, and St Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday as thousands of people hunkered down in homes and shelters.

“It’s going to be terrible,” Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, said ahead of the storm as he urged people to stay indoors “and wait this monster out”.

The last strong hurricane to hit the south-east Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan nearly 20 years ago, which killed dozens of people in Grenada.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Martinique and Trinidad. A tropical storm watch was issued for Dominica, Haiti’s entire southern coast, and from Punta Palenque in the Dominican Republic west to the border with Haiti.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” warned the National Hurricane Center in Miami earlier.

Beryl amassed its strength from record warm waters that are hotter now than they would be at the peak of hurricane season in September, he said. Experts say the hotter water temperatures are a result of the global climate crisis driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels.

With Associated Press and Agence France-Presse

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Q: Are you worried about people not getting postal ballots?

Starmer says he is worried about these reports. He says everything should be done to make sure people get their ballot papers.

Q: What do you make of Tories claims that you won’t work in the evenings? (See 9.29am.)

Starmer says this is “increasingly desperate stuff”.

He says he can hardly believe that, 48 hours before an election, the Tories have not got anything to say.

He says he has been saying that the Tories have nothing positive to say. And now the Tories are proving that. They are in a “negative, desperate loop”. It is a sign of “increasing desperation, bordering on hysterical now”.

UPDATE: Starmer said:

This is just increasingly desperate stuff.

I actually can hardly believe that, 48 hours before the election, the Conservative party has got nothing positive to say as they go into this.

I’ve been arguing throughout this campaign, you’ll have heard me many times saying they haven’t changed, they’re just the same, nothing’s going to change, and they’re proving it. They are not saying look, if you vote Tory and vote Conservative on Thursday, these things will happen. They’re just in this negative, desperate loop.

And it is really desperate. My family is really important to me, as they will be to every single person watching this.

And I just think it’s increasing desperation, bordering on hysterical now.

Greece introduces ‘growth-oriented’ six-day working week

Pro-business government says measure is needed due to shrinking population and shortage of skilled workers

Companies in countries worldwide may be toying with the idea of implementing shorter working weeks, but in Greece employees have been told that, henceforth, they can put in a sixth day of labour in an unorthodox step aimed at turbocharging productivity.

After outpacing other Europeans in terms of economic growth, the nation once at the heart of the continent’s worst financial crisis has bucked the trend again, introducing a 48-hour working week. The measure, decried as “barbaric” by unions, takes effect from Monday.

“It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Akis Sotiropoulos an executive committee member of the civil servants’ union Adedy. “When almost every other civilised country is enacting a four-day week, Greece decides to go the other way.”

The pro-business government of the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, says the initiative was made necessary by the twin perils of a shrinking population and shortage of skilled workers. Prior to announcing the legislation – part of a broader set of labour laws passed last year – Mitsotakis described the projected demographic shift as a “ticking timebomb”. In an unprecedented exodus, about 500,000 mostly young educated Greeks are estimated to have emigrated since the near decade-long debt crisis erupted in late 2009.

The six-day scheme, officials say, will only apply to private businesses providing round-the-clock services. Under the extended working week, staff in select industries and manufacturing facilities will have the option of working an additional two hours a day or an extra eight-hour shift, rewarded with a top-up fee of 40% added to the daily wage.

Either choice, the centre right government claims, will redress the issue of employees not being paid for overtime while also tackling the pervasive problem of undeclared work.

“The nucleus of this legislation is worker-friendly, it is deeply growth-oriented,” Mitsotakis said before the Greek parliament endorsed the law. “And it brings Greece in line with the rest of Europe.”

But the backlash has been fierce. In a country with almost no tradition of inspections in the workplace, critics contend the reform ultimately sounds the death knell of the five-day working week, not least because it enables employers to dictate whether a sixth day of labour is required.

For opponents, who have already taken to the streets in protest, the reform erodes legal protections and rolls back long-established workers’ rights in the name of flexibility.

“In reality this has been passed by a government ideologically committed to generating ever bigger profits for capital,” said Sotiropoulos. “Better productivity comes with better work conditions, a better quality of life [for employees] and that, we now know, is about less hours not more.”

The measure, he said, had been made possible partly because trade unions had also seen their power wane as a result of debt-stricken Athens enacting austerity measures in return for rescue funds during the country’s financial crisis. Unions have long argued that overtime enables employers to hold back on hiring more staff.

Trialled four-day week programmes have repeatedly shown increased levels of productivity with researchers attributing the outcome to improved levels of focus. Belgium in 2022 legislated to give employees the legal right to spread their working week over four days instead of five, and pilot schemes have been carried out in countries including the UK, Germany, Japan, South Africa and Canada.

Greeks already work the longest hours in Europe, putting in an average 41 hours a week according to the EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, although surveys have also proved they get paid much less. The left-wing opposition has frequently decried “Bulgarian salaries in a country of British prices”, claiming the phenomenon has only exacerbated the brain drain.

People on pensions, who have also been encouraged to work under the legislation, have weighed into the debate.

“What the government is essentially saying is ‘go and work longer, we’ll turn a blind eye even if you’re a pensioner,’” said Grigoris Kalomoiris who heads the union of retired teachers (Pesek).

“It knows that the majority of Greeks, on an average monthly salary of €900, can only survive until the 20th of the month. This latest barbaric measure is not going to solve the fundamental problem of labour shortages and a lot of us feel it is very unfair to unemployed young Greeks who may never have a job.”

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Panama to shut down Darién Gap route in deal that will see US pay to repatriate migrants

New president José Raúl Mulino has vowed to close the route through which thousands of migrants travel to the US every year

The US will cover the costs of repatriating migrants who enter Panama illegally, under a deal agreed with the Central American country’s new president who has vowed to shut down the treacherous Darién Gap used by people travelling north to the United States.

In his first address as president, José Raúl Mulino promised to seek international assistance to find solutions to what he described as a costly “humanitarian and environmental crisis”.

Last year, a record 520,000 migrants risked their lives, often at the hands of people smugglers, to traverse the Darién Gap, a dense jungle on Panama’s border with Colombia.

“We cannot continue financing the economic and social costs that massive illegal immigration generates for the country, along with the consequent connection of international criminal organisations,” Mulino said.

Minutes later, Mulino’s new foreign minister signed a memorandum of understanding with the US government to “allow the closing off of the passing of illegal immigrants through the Darién”, Panama’s government said in a statement.

The agreement, signed by US homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas who attended Mulino’s inauguration, will see the US agree to “cover” the costs of repatriating migrants who enter Panama illegally.

The agreement was designed to reduce the number of migrants being “smuggled through the Darién, usually en route to the United States”, a spokesperson for the White House national security council said in a statement.

The efforts to send some migrants back to their homelands “will help deter irregular migration in the region and at our southern border, and halt the enrichment of malign smuggling networks that prey on vulnerable migrants”, the spokesperson said.

Under the terms of the agreement, US homeland security teams on the ground in Panama would help the government there train personnel and build up its own expertise and ability to determine which migrants, under Panama’s immigration laws, could be removed from the country, according to two senior administration officials.

For those migrants who are to be removed, the US would pay for charter flights or commercial airplane tickets for them to return to their home countries.

The Darién Gap has become a superhighway of sorts for migrants from across the southern hemisphere and beyond who are trying to make it to the US.

More than 190,000 people have crossed it so far in 2024, with most of the migrants from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and China.

The Biden administration has struggled to show voters during an election year that it has a handle on immigration and border security. Former president Donald Trump, who has made immigration a key election year issue, has criticised Biden, saying he’s responsible for the problems at the border.

On Monday, data showed that undocumented crossings at the US’s southern border had fallen to a three-year low, marking the lowest in Joe Biden’s presidency just a short time after he signed a controversial executive order limiting immigration there in June.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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Killer Mike will not face charges after Grammys arrest

Rapper was booked for misdemeanour battery over altercation with security guard, but will not be charged after completing community service

Killer Mike will not face charges over an alleged assault at the Grammys in February, officials announced on Monday.

The US rapper, whose real name is Michael Render, was arrested and booked with misdemeanour battery after an altercation with a security guard at the ceremony at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

Shortly before his arrest he had won three awards at the ceremony, for best rap song, best rap album and best rap performance.

“There was some confusion around which door my team and I should enter,” Render said after his arrest. “We experienced an overzealous security guard.”

On Monday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said it will not file charges against Render, saying that he “successfully completed the 0ffice’s hearing process, including a community service requirement that was imposed”.

Render has released a new song, Humble Me, that features a verse about his arrest. “I was sitting there in a room full of cops, like Daniel was sitting with the lions / I had to quiet my mind, I prayed and I prayed and I prayed / The liars were lying their lies, I kept on just keeping my faith,” Render raps.

On Sunday evening, Render was awarded album of the year at the BET awards in Los Angeles, for his Grammy-winning album, Michael.

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