The Guardian 2024-07-03 04:12:12


Four dead as category 5 Hurricane Beryl wreaks havoc across Caribbean

With winds up to 160mph, the monster storm pushed through Grenada and is on track for Jamaica and the Yucatán peninsula

  • Why Hurricane Beryl foretells a scary storm season

At least four people have died after Hurricane Beryl wreaked “almost complete destruction” on small and vulnerable islands in the Caribbean.

The monster hurricane, which is now barrelling towards Jamaica, has strengthened to category 5 status, which means it can achieve wind speeds of over 157mph (253km/h).

Described by the US National Hurricane Center as “catastrophic” and “life-threatening”, Beryl left a trail of “utter devastation” in Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

According to early reports from the two multi-island nations, hundreds of buildings, including homes, schools, hospitals and police stations, have been badly damaged or completely destroyed.

At least 90% of building structures are believed to have been affected on the Grenadine island of Union, part of SVG.

There was also a country-wide electricity blackout, and Beryl has severely affected communication and transportation channels, leading to difficulties in assessing the true impact of the devastation on some islands.

“The situation is grim,” Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell told Grenadians as he gave an update on the Grenadian islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique early on Tuesday.

“There is no power, there is almost complete destruction of homes and buildings on the island. The roads are not passable, and in many instances, they are cut off because of the large quantity of debris strewn all over the streets.”

“In half an hour, Carriacou was flattened,” Mitchell told a press conference late on Monday.

On Tuesday, officials in the two countries were assessing the damage and seeking support from regional and international agencies.

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.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves, spoke about the “pain and suffering” across the nations and praised the resilience of the Vincentian people. He told reporters: “Hurricane Beryl has come and gone and has left in its wake immense destruction.

“The faces of our men and women are strained and anxious. But tomorrow, we get up with the conviction to rebuild our individual lives and our family’s lives. To rebuild our country, to recover.”

But as the prime minister focused on recovery, the country was on alert for another developing weather system. On Tuesday evening, the SVG National Emergency Management Organisation warned residents of an impending tropical wave, which is expected to bring heavy showers, gusty winds and thunderstorms.

In Grenada’s attorney general, Claudette Joseph, told reporters that the country was working with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the World Food Programme and Samaritan’s Purse on relief and rebuilding efforts.

Beryl ripped doors, windows and roofs off 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 in recorded history, fuelled by record warm waters.

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.

Early on Tuesday, the storm was located about 300 miles (485km) south-east of Isla Beata in the Dominican Republic. It had top winds of 165mph (270km/h) and was moving west/north-west at 22mph (35km/h).

“Beryl remains an impressive category 5 hurricane,” the National Hurricane Center said.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Jamaica, with a hurricane watch for Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac and Haiti’s entire southern coast. Beryl was forecast to start losing intensity on Tuesday but still be near major hurricane strength when it passes near or over Jamaica early Wednesday, near the Cayman Islands on Thursday and into Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Caricom, the regional intergovernmental organisation, was holding an emergency meeting to discuss support to the islands affected by Beryl.

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

The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed reporting

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Explainer

Why Hurricane Beryl foretells a scary storm season

Hot sea temperatures are fueling storm’s explosive growth into an unprecedented early whopper

Hurricane Beryl’s explosive growth into an unprecedented early whopper of a storm shows the literal hot water the Atlantic and Caribbean are in – and the kind of season ahead, experts said.

Beryl smashed multiple records even before its major-hurricane-level winds approached land. The powerful storm is acting more like monsters that form in the peak of hurricane season thanks mostly to water temperatures as hot or hotter than the region normally gets in September, five hurricane experts told the Associated Press.

Beryl set the record for earliest category 4 with winds of at least 130mph (209km/h ) – the first-ever category 4 in June. It also was the earliest storm to rapidly intensify with wind speeds jumping 63mph (102km/h) in 24 hours, going from an unnamed depression to a category 4 in 48 hours.

Late Monday, it strengthened to a category 5, becoming the earliest hurricane of that strength observed in the Atlantic basin on record, and only the second category 5 hurricane in July after Hurricane Emily in 2005, the National Hurricane Center said. Category 5 storms have winds exceeding 157mph .

Beryl is on an unusually southern path, especially for a major hurricane, said University at Albany atmospheric scientist Kristen Corbosiero.

It made landfall Monday on the island of Carriacou with winds of up to 150mph, and is expected to plow through the islands of the south-east Caribbean. Beryl may stay near its current strength for another day before it begins weakening significantly, according to the late Monday forecast.

“Beryl is unprecedentedly strange,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters, a former government hurricane meteorologist who flew into storms. “It is so far outside the climatology that you look at it and you say: ‘How did this happen in June?’”

Forecasters predicted months ago it was going to be a nasty year and now they are comparing it to record-busy 1933 and deadly 2005 – the year of Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Dennis.

“This is the type of storm that we expect this year, these outlier things that happen when and where they shouldn’t,” University of Miami tropical weather researcher Brian McNoldy said. “Not only for things to form and intensify and reach higher intensities, but increase the likelihood of rapid intensification. All of that is just coming together right now, and this won’t be the last time.”

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach called Beryl “a harbinger potentially of … even more potential threats and more – and not just a one-off – maybe several of these kinds of storms coming down later.”

The water temperature around Beryl is about 2F to 3.6F (1C to 2C ) above normal at 84F (29C), which “is great if you are a hurricane”, Klotzbach said.

Warm water acts as fuel for the thunderstorms and clouds that form hurricanes. The warmer the water and thus the air at the bottom of the storm, the better the chance it will rise higher in the atmosphere and create deeper thunderstorms, said the University at Albany’s Corbosiero.

Sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean “are above what the average September [peak season] temperature should be looking at the last 30-year average”, Masters said.

It’s not just hot water at the surface that matters. The ocean heat content – which measures deeper water that storms need to keep powering up – is way beyond record levels for this time of year and at what the September peak should be, McNoldy said.

“So when you get all that heat energy you can expect some fireworks,” Masters said.

This year, there’s also a significant difference between water temperature and upper air temperature throughout the tropics.

The greater that difference is, the more likely it becomes that storms will form and get bigger, said MIT hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel. “The Atlantic relative to the rest of the tropics is as warm as I’ve seen,” he said.

Atlantic waters have been unusually hot since March 2023 and record warm since April 2023. Klotzbach said a high-pressure system that normally sets up cooling trade winds collapsed then and hasn’t returned.

Corbosiero said scientists are debating what exactly climate change does to hurricanes, but have come to an agreement that it makes them more prone to rapidly intensifying and increases the strongest storms.

“This is sort of our worst scenario,” Corbosiero said. “We’re starting early, some very severe storms … Unfortunately, it seems like it’s playing out the way we anticipated.”

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Trump hush-money trial: judge postpones sentencing to September

Judge Juan Merchan agrees to pause proceedings to weigh whether immunity ruling could imperil conviction

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal case in New York postponed his sentencing to 18 September, agreeing on Tuesday to pause proceedings to weigh whether the US supreme court’s recent ruling on immunity could imperil the conviction.

The decision by Judge Juan Merchan to delay the sentencing marks an unexpected setback for the case. It remains unclear whether it will affect what sentence Trump receives given the date is weeks before the 2024 election.

Trump became the first president to be criminally convicted last month when a Manhattan jury found him guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in an illicit hush-money scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

The sentencing had been set for 11 July – days before the start of the Republican national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was set to formally be named the GOP nominee for president – after his own lawyers requested that timetable.

But the expected sentencing date was cast into doubt after Trump’s lawyers asked to have the case re-evaluated, and the sentencing postponed, in light of the supreme court’s decision on Monday that conferred broad immunity on former presidents for official acts undertaken in office.

The supreme court held that core executive functions of the presidency have absolute immunity from prosecution, official acts of the presidency are presumptively immune, and unofficial acts carry no immunity.

Trump’s criminal prosecution in New York was largely centered on his efforts to suppress negative stories during the 2016 election campaign and pre-dated his time in office, though some of the evidence at trial included personal actions Trump took while he was president.

The motion from Trump to set aside his conviction based on the supreme court’s ruling is expected to be an uphill struggle because Trump’s conduct relevant to the trial – signing checks to reimburse the hush-money payments – is widely seen to have been in a personal capacity.

But in a letter to the judge, Trump’s lawyers contended that the conviction should be thrown out because prosecutors built their case on evidence from his time in the White House, and the supreme court also held that official acts cannot be used as evidence at all to bolster a criminal case.

In a letter to the judge responding to Trump’s request, prosecutors wrote that the Manhattan district attorney’s office did not oppose Trump’s request.

“Although we believe defendant’s arguments to be without merit, we do not oppose his request for leave to file and his putative request to adjourn sentencing pending determination of his motion,” wrote Joshua Steinglass, one of the lead prosecutors who secured Trump’s conviction.

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Texas congressman becomes first House Democrat to call on Biden to withdraw

Lloyd Doggett breaks ranks and says Biden should not continue presidential run after Trump debate calamity

The first congressional Democrat has broken ranks and called on Joe Biden to withdraw his presidential candidacy following last week’s calamitous debate performance against Donald Trump.

Lloyd Doggett, a House member for Texas, became the first Democrat in the House of Representative to urge the president to stop aside amid continuing signs of underlying alarm in the wider party over his electability triggered by his faltering display in Atlanta.

As senior party figures continued to offer Biden public support even amid fevered behind-the-scenes concern, Doggett brought his own misgivings into the open, saying he had hoped last week’s debate “would give some momentum” to the president’s stagnant poll ratings in key battleground states.

“It did not,” he said. “Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies.”

He urged Biden to follow the path of a previous Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, and announce that he would not accept the party’s nomination as candidate – a potential move commentators have dubbed as an “LBJ moment” (after Johnson’s full initials).

“I represent the heart of a congressional district once represented by Lyndon Johnson. Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw,” Doggett said. “President Biden should do the same.”

Johnson withdrew from the 1968 election race amid a a popular groundswell of opposition to the war in Vietnam and primary challengers in his own party, including from Robert F Kennedy, whose son is running as an independent candidate in the 2024 election and polling at levels that could further hurt Biden in a close race.

Doggett – at 77, just four years younger than the 81-year-old president – praised Biden’s legislative achievements in office but said the time had come to hand over to a younger generation, pointing out that he had pledged during the 2020 election campaign to be a transitional figure.

“While much of his work has been transformational, he pledged to be transitional,” he said. “He has the opportunity to encourage a new generation of leaders from whom a nominee can be chosen to unite our country through an open, democratic process.

“My decision to make these strong reservations public is not done lightly nor does it in any way diminish my respect for all that President Biden has achieved.

“Recognising that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so.”

It remains to be seen if Doggett’s public stance will encourage other worried Democrats to put their heads above the parapet amid a steady drip of anecdotal and polling evidence that last Thursday’s CNN debate has had a corrosive effect on the president’s standing.

A new poll in New Hampshire – a state Biden won by 10 points in 2020 – showed him now two points behind Trump since the debate.

While Biden’s campaign have tried to frame the debate as one-off and pledged a fierce fightback, there have been mutterings of discontent within Democrat ranks.

State governors – some of whom have been touted as potential replacements – have reportedly complained that Biden has not personally reached out to them since the debate, while similar gripes have been attributed to Hakeem Jeffries and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate respectively.

Other ostensibly supportive figures, including the former House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Jim Clyburn, a representative from South Carolina, have issued statements that hinted at ambivalence.

“I think it’s a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition? When people ask that question, it’s completely legitimate – of both candidates,” Pelosi told MSNBC, adding that she heard “mixed” views on whether Biden was fit for the presidential campaign.

In another sign of simmering discontent, Peter Welch, a Democratic senator for Vermont, criticised the Biden campaign for dismissing concerns over the president’s age as “bedwetters”.

“But that’s the discussion we have to have,” he told Semafor. “It has to be from the top levels of the Biden campaign to precinct captains in the South Side of Chicago. … The campaign has raised the concerns themselves … So then to be dismissive of others who raise those concerns, I think it’s inappropriate.”

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James Carville calls on Democratic party to ‘deliver change’ and replace Biden

Strategist reiterates his months-long calls for party to look at ‘staggering talent’ of governors for candidate

James Carville, one of the few establishment Democrats to have warned about Joe Biden’s age before his disastrous debate performance, has called on his party to “deliver change” and replace the president as its nominee for November’s election.

In an interview on Monday, the longtime strategist also said it would be in the US’s best interest for Biden’s Democratic presidential predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to help persuade him to suspend his re-election – and support an open nomination convention in Chicago in August to select a new ticket for the party.

“If it’s too hard for the Democrats to deliver change, then they’re going to hurt themselves bad – really bad,” said Carville, who led Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign. “Change is messy. But you have to listen to the vox populi. We want something new. I see staggering talent in the Democratic party.

“Let them speak their minds.”

Carville’s comments come after he has spent months saying Biden was too old, should not run again – and that the party’s governors were among the most “breathtaking talent”, as he put it in a 16 December interview. He added: “We’re keeping it bottled up.”

Democrats initially did not like hearing Carville attack Biden on the age issue. Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman told Politico he wished Carville would “shut the fuck up!”

Avoiding a tangle with Fetterman, Carville fell in behind Biden after his re-nomination became inevitable. But in February, when Biden refused an interview offer during the Super Bowl, Carville fumed on CNN: “It’s the biggest television audience, not even close, and you get a chance to do a 20-, 25-minute interview … and you don’t do it, that’s a kind of sign that the staff or yourself doesn’t have much confidence in you.

“There’s no other way to read this.”

As Carville watched Biden debate Donald Trump in his room at the hotel where he was staying for the Ideas festival in Aspen, Colorado, Biden quickly began faltering. Text messages started arriving after three minutes.

“I wasn’t surprised this happened,” he said. “It’s like knowing where you were the night JFK got shot, you’ll remember where you were on Thursday night. Every election is about one thing: is this a change election, or a stay-the-course election? That’s the axis on which politics operates. This is clearly a change election.”

As the text traffic intensified, he got back to the Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein, saying: “I tried, man. I tried.”

He saw a theme emerge as people reacted to Biden’s raspy voice and confusion in certain answers, saying: “OMG – that was my daddy five years ago! Everyone understands old age as they go through it or help their parents through it. Everyone has helped an old lady across the street. This is a water-cooler issue.”

Carville turns 80 in October. “This is nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “Aging happens.”

But, Carville said, there are now “two wars going on”. On one hand, “the ugly, mad supreme court is greenlighting every element of corporate rapacity in their rulings trying to gut the EPA”.

The supreme court on Monday also issued a ruling granting “absolute immunity” from prosecution to presidents for acts that are considered official. Many interpreted the ruling as a boost to Trump’s efforts to combat prosecutions against him in connection with a sprawling effort to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election that he lost to Biden – all of which are still pending after his conviction in the New York case involving hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.

Meanwhile, Carville said, Biden is being told to “stay the course” by the first lady, Jill Biden, and son Hunter, recently convicted on federal gun charges.

“They have every reason in the world to love a tremendous dad, a guy who worships his wife,” Carville said. “My children love me, even though my oldest daughter says: ‘Daddy, I wish you wouldn’t say some of those things.’”

“Change is hard,” Carville said. “The polls show 72% of the public wants change – and not the kind Trump and his cult offer.”

Carville said organizers of an open convention could line up speakers including California’s governor, Gavin Newsom; Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer; former New Orleans mayor and Biden re-election campaign co-chairman Mitch Landrieu; Vice-President Kamala Harris; and Maryland’s governor, Wes Moore.

“You know how many networks would cover that as major breaking news?” Carville said. “It could split the party, yes. Then go cut a deal! Soothe the hurt feelings – do the things that make politics what fascinates so many of us.

“It was a lot of trouble for Magellan to go around the world. Martin Luther King Jr had a nice church in Montgomery – it was a lot of trouble to lead that bus boycott.”

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53 min: Laimer hip-shakes his way down the middle, reaches the edge of the box, then curls his shot wide left. The run deserved a better finish. Austria are asking some serious questions for the first time this evening.

Negotiated outcome most likely result of Russia-Ukraine war, major poll says

In thinktank’s survey of 15 European countries, few respondents believe Ukraine can secure an outright victory

A negotiated outcome with Russia, as opposed to an outright Ukrainian military victory, is now seen as the most likely outcome in most European countries, according to a major poll of 15 countries.

Support for Ukraine’s cause remains strong across Europe despite battlefield reverses, but European voters increasingly regard arming Ukraine as necessary not to achieve a complete Ukrainian battlefield victory, but instead to strengthen Ukraine’s hand in future negotiations with Russia.

The European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR) thinktank polled 19,566 people in 15 countries in the first half of May 2024. The thinktank has regularly carried out surveys on Ukraine, but it is the first time it has also polled inside Ukraine itself, where it finds support for war and victory are strong, despite talk of weakening morale.

A total of 34% of Ukrainians currently say they trust the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, “a great deal”, while a further 31% trust him “quite a lot” – meaning that those who are keeping faith with their leader outnumber those who are not by two to one.

When asked about the most likely outcome of the war, 58% of Ukrainians foresaw a Ukrainian victory, 30% said it would end in a settlement, and only 1% expected Russia to emerge victorious. But a majority preferred ceding territory rather than abandoning sovereignty, defined by the right to join Nato and the EU.

Inside 14 European countries surveyed, only in Estonia was there a prevailing view (38%) that Ukraine would win the war outright. Nevertheless, majorities in Sweden and Poland wanted Europe to help Ukraine fight until all its territory is regained. Majorities in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria opposed this to the extent that they thought it was a bad idea to increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine. Overall, Italy emerged as the largest major European power least supportive of Ukraine. But in most European countries, large majorities still support sending more arms to Ukraine, even if it is to strengthen Ukraine’s negotiating hand.

A middle group of countries, including Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, lack a national consensus on the war and the EU’s role.In no country , even the most hawkish, was there support for sending troops to Ukraine.

A total of 69% of Ukrainians said more weapons were needed to defend itself, but this view did not translate into a disillusionment with the EU. Seventy-five per cent of Ukrainians regarded the EU’s role as positive and saw Ukraine’s membership as necessary to win the war.

Asked to list 10 countries according to the reliability of their support to their homeland, Ukrainians ranked the UK top with 88%, saying Britain had been “very or mostly reliable”, followed by Lithiuania on 77%, although most countries on the list were regarded as reliable.

But some Ukrainians – a third – admitted they were strongly concerned that the US would strike a peace deal with Russia without involving Kyiv.

The poll shows that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has failed to persuade the French to follow him into his personal transition towards adopting a much harder pro-Ukrainian position. One-third of France was in favour of supporting Ukraine in regaining its lost territory, another third would rather push Ukraine towards negotiating a peace deal with Russia, while the final third remained on the fence.

A co-author of the survey report and the chair of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Ivan Krastev, said: “The striking thing about the state of public opinion, vis-a-vis Ukraine, is its remarkable stability – while the conflict has not frozen, in many aspects public attitudes have.”

Co-author and ECFR director Mark Leonard said: “Our new polling suggests that one of the key challenges for western leaders will be reconciling the conflicting positions between Europeans and Ukrainians on how the war will end. While both groups recognise the need for continued military provision, to help Ukraine push back at Russian aggression, there is a profound gulf around what constitutes a victory – and what the purpose of Europe’s support actually is.”

The polling was conducted by Datapraxis with YouGov, Norstat, Alpha Research and Rating Group in 15 countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine).

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Negotiated outcome most likely result of Russia-Ukraine war, major poll says

In thinktank’s survey of 15 European countries, few respondents believe Ukraine can secure an outright victory

A negotiated outcome with Russia, as opposed to an outright Ukrainian military victory, is now seen as the most likely outcome in most European countries, according to a major poll of 15 countries.

Support for Ukraine’s cause remains strong across Europe despite battlefield reverses, but European voters increasingly regard arming Ukraine as necessary not to achieve a complete Ukrainian battlefield victory, but instead to strengthen Ukraine’s hand in future negotiations with Russia.

The European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR) thinktank polled 19,566 people in 15 countries in the first half of May 2024. The thinktank has regularly carried out surveys on Ukraine, but it is the first time it has also polled inside Ukraine itself, where it finds support for war and victory are strong, despite talk of weakening morale.

A total of 34% of Ukrainians currently say they trust the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, “a great deal”, while a further 31% trust him “quite a lot” – meaning that those who are keeping faith with their leader outnumber those who are not by two to one.

When asked about the most likely outcome of the war, 58% of Ukrainians foresaw a Ukrainian victory, 30% said it would end in a settlement, and only 1% expected Russia to emerge victorious. But a majority preferred ceding territory rather than abandoning sovereignty, defined by the right to join Nato and the EU.

Inside 14 European countries surveyed, only in Estonia was there a prevailing view (38%) that Ukraine would win the war outright. Nevertheless, majorities in Sweden and Poland wanted Europe to help Ukraine fight until all its territory is regained. Majorities in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria opposed this to the extent that they thought it was a bad idea to increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine. Overall, Italy emerged as the largest major European power least supportive of Ukraine. But in most European countries, large majorities still support sending more arms to Ukraine, even if it is to strengthen Ukraine’s negotiating hand.

A middle group of countries, including Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, lack a national consensus on the war and the EU’s role.In no country , even the most hawkish, was there support for sending troops to Ukraine.

A total of 69% of Ukrainians said more weapons were needed to defend itself, but this view did not translate into a disillusionment with the EU. Seventy-five per cent of Ukrainians regarded the EU’s role as positive and saw Ukraine’s membership as necessary to win the war.

Asked to list 10 countries according to the reliability of their support to their homeland, Ukrainians ranked the UK top with 88%, saying Britain had been “very or mostly reliable”, followed by Lithiuania on 77%, although most countries on the list were regarded as reliable.

But some Ukrainians – a third – admitted they were strongly concerned that the US would strike a peace deal with Russia without involving Kyiv.

The poll shows that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has failed to persuade the French to follow him into his personal transition towards adopting a much harder pro-Ukrainian position. One-third of France was in favour of supporting Ukraine in regaining its lost territory, another third would rather push Ukraine towards negotiating a peace deal with Russia, while the final third remained on the fence.

A co-author of the survey report and the chair of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Ivan Krastev, said: “The striking thing about the state of public opinion, vis-a-vis Ukraine, is its remarkable stability – while the conflict has not frozen, in many aspects public attitudes have.”

Co-author and ECFR director Mark Leonard said: “Our new polling suggests that one of the key challenges for western leaders will be reconciling the conflicting positions between Europeans and Ukrainians on how the war will end. While both groups recognise the need for continued military provision, to help Ukraine push back at Russian aggression, there is a profound gulf around what constitutes a victory – and what the purpose of Europe’s support actually is.”

The polling was conducted by Datapraxis with YouGov, Norstat, Alpha Research and Rating Group in 15 countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine).

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Salman Rushdie stabbing suspect rejects plea deal over terrorism charge

Agreement would have shortened prison term but exposed alleged attacker to a federal terrorism-related charge

The man charged with stabbing author Salman Rushdie in 2022 rejected a plea deal on Tuesday that would have shortened his state prison term but exposed him to a federal terrorism-related charge, the suspect’s lawyer said.

Hadi Matar, 26, has been held without bail since Rushdie’s attack, in which he is accused of stabbing the acclaimed author more than a dozen times and blinding him as he was onstage, about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Matar’s attorney, Nathaniel Barone, confirmed that Matar, who lived in Fairview, New Jersey, rejected the agreement on Tuesday in Mayville, New York.

The agreement would have had Matar plead guilty in Chautauqua county to attempted murder in exchange for a maximum state prison sentence of 20 years, down from 25 years. It would have also required him to plead guilty to a federal charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, which could result in an additional 20 years, attorneys said.

Rushdie, who detailed the attack and his recovery in a memoir, had spent years in hiding after the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, in 1989 calling for his death over the writer’s novel The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous. The author re-emerged into the public in the late 1990s and has traveled freely over the past two decades.

Matar was born in the US but holds dual citizenship in Lebanon, where his parents were born. His mother has said that her son had become withdrawn and moody after visiting his father in Lebanon in 2018.

Rushdie wrote in his memoir that he saw a man running toward him in the amphitheater, where he was about to speak about the importance of keeping writers safe from harm. The author is on the witness list for Matar’s upcoming trial.

Representatives for Rushdie did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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Taiwan demands China returns fishing boat seized by coastguard

Maritime authorities say they called off pursuit of commandeered vessel to avoid inflaming conflict

Taiwan has demanded that Beijing releases a Taiwanese fishing boat that was boarded by the Chinese coastguard and steered to a port in mainland China.

The Dajinman 88 was intercepted by two Chinese vessels late on Tuesday near the Kinmen archipelago, which lies a short distance off China’s coast but is controlled by Taiwan, Taiwanese maritime authorities said.

They said Taiwan dispatched two vessels to rescue the Dajinman 88 but were blocked by Chinese boats and told not to interfere. The pursuit was called off to avoid escalating the conflict, they added.

“The coastguard calls on the mainland to refrain from engaging in political manipulation and harming cross-strait relations, and to release the Dajinman ship and crew as soon as possible,” the maritime authorities said.

The boat had six crew onboard, including the captain and five migrant workers, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported. The vessel was just over 20km (12 miles) from Jinjiang in mainland China when it was boarded, Taiwanese authorities said.

China claims self-governing Taiwan as its territory and says the island must come under its control. It regularly sends warplanes and ships toward Taiwan and in May staged a large exercise with dozens of aircraft and vessels.

Fishers from Taiwan and China often sail in the stretch of water near the Kinmen archipelago, where tensions have risen as the number of Chinese vessels, including sand dredgers and fishing boats, have increased.

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New Cuban radar site near US military base could aid China spying – report

CSIS calls site near Guantánamo a ‘powerful tool’ that will be able to monitor air and maritime activity of US military

Satellite images appear to show that Cuba is building a new radar site likely to be capable of spying on the US’s nearby Guantánamo Bay naval base, in the latest upgrade to the country’s surveillance capabilities long thought to be linked to China.

The base, under construction since 2021 but previously not publicly reported, is east of the city of Santiago de Cuba near the El Salao neighborhood, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in a report published on Monday and later referenced by the Wall Street Journal.

Cuban vice foreign minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio denied that Cuba was harboring Chinese military interests on the island.

“[The] Wall Street Journal persists in launching an intimidation campaign related to #Cuba. Without citing a verifiable source or showing evidence, it seeks to scare the public with tales about Chinese military bases that do not exist and no one has seen, including the US embassy in Cuba,” de Cossio said on social media.

Cuba’s proximity to the US and its southern military bases makes it a good location for China, Washington’s top strategic rival, to seek to collect signals intelligence. The CSIS called the new site a “powerful tool” that once operational will be able to monitor air and maritime activity of the US military.

The facility, known as a circularly disposed antenna array with a diameter of approximately 130-200 meters, could be able to track signals as far as 3,000-8,000 nautical miles (3,452-9,206 miles) away, the CSIS said.

“Access to such an outpost would provide China with a highly strategic vantage point near Naval Station Guantanamo Bay,” it said, referring to the key US military base 45 miles (73km) east of Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city.

Such arrays were used heavily during the cold war, but Russia and the US have since decommissioned most of their sites in favor of more advanced technology, the CSIS said. However, the thinktank said China has been actively building new such arrays, including on reef outposts in the South China Sea.

Last year, Biden administration officials said Beijing has been spying from Cuba for years and made a push to upgrade its intelligence collection capabilities there beginning in 2019, allegations that both Beijing and Havana have denied.

State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel declined to comment on the report, but told a briefing on Tuesday that the US was “closely monitoring” China’s presence in Cuba.

“We know that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is going to keep trying to enhance its presence in Cuba and the United States is going to keep working to disrupt it,” Patel said without giving details.

The White House national security council and the US defense department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China’s embassy in Washington said the US had repeatedly “hyped up” the idea of China’s spying and surveillance from Cuba.

“Such claims are nothing but slander,” embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu said.

The CSIS also said satellite images from March 2024 show Cuba’s largest active signals intelligence site at Bejucal, located in the hills near Havana and linked to suspected Chinese intelligence activity for years, has undergone “major updates” in the past decade, calling it a “clear indication of an evolving mission set”.

“Collecting data on activities like military exercises, missile tests, rocket launches and submarine maneuvers would allow China to develop a more sophisticated picture of US military practices,” the CSIS said.

It said certain radar systems installed in Cuba in recent years are in range to monitor rocket launches from Cape Canaveral and Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center, a likely interest for China as it seeks to catch up to US space launch technology.

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US woman who posed as Irish heiress extradited to UK to face fraud charges

Marianne Smyth is accused of stealing more than $170,000 from people she met through her work at UK-based mortgage companies

A US-born woman who posed as an Irish heiress to scam thousands of dollars from several victims has been flown to the UK to face additional charges there.

Marianne Smyth is accused of stealing more than $170,000 from five people whom she met through her jobs at UK-based mortgage companies between 2008 and 2010. For years, Smyth feigned being a witch, psychic and friend of A-list celebrities to deceive others into giving her money.

Notably, Smyth stole nearly $100,000 from a television producer, Johnathan Walton, who later helped send her to prison and publicized her crimes on a hit podcast.

A spokesperson for the justice department confirmed to the AP on Tuesday that Smyth had been extradited and referred additional questions to Northern Ireland authorities.

A statement on Tuesday from Northern Ireland police confirmed a woman matching Smyth’s description had been extradited on Saturday from the US “to stand trial … for a number of fraud offences”. It didn’t name Smyth but said she made an initial appearance in front of a judge on Saturday.

Smyth was arrested 23 February in Maine after being released from prison for defrauding Walton, who detailed Smyth’s crime spree in the Queen of the Con: The Irish Heiress podcast. The podcast explained how Smyth defrauded him and others, including in Belfast, Northern Ireland. And it was Walton who provided authorities with Smyth’s location – a short-term rental – prior to her arrest in Maine.

In 2009, police in Belfast had been planning on arresting Smyth after several victims reported her. Smyth was facing theft and fraud charges in the Northern Ireland capital.

But Smyth managed to flee, even killing more than a dozen dogs who were living with her at the time, according to what her daughter said on Walton’s podcast.

Years later, a listener of the Queen of Con podcast ultimately alerted Walton to where Smyth was staying. Walton, in turn, told the police.

In May, a US magistrate judge determined that there was enough evidence to justify Smyth’s extradition. In a statement to the Guardian on Smyth’s extradition order, Walton said: “It’s been said the pen is mightier than the sword, but let me tell you, the podcast is mightier still.

“My only desire now is for justice at long last for the victims in Northern Ireland.”

Smyth reportedly said she was afraid that she would be murdered if she was returned to Northern Ireland, according to a court transcript obtained by the Guardian.

Her attorney also unsuccessfully argued that there was not enough evidence to extradite her.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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Ants can carry out life-saving amputations on injured nest mates, study shows

Research on carpenter ants provides first example of a non-human animal severing limbs to curb infections

It sounds like a scene from a Spielberg film: an injured worker undergoes an emergency amputation, performed by one of her colleagues, allowing her to live another day. But this is not a human story – it is behaviour seen in ants.

While it is not the first time wound care has been seen in ants, scientists say their discovery is the first example of a non-human animal carrying out life-saving amputations, with the operation performed to treat leg wounds and prevent the onset or spread of infection.

And surprisingly, the insects appear to tailor the treatment they give to the location of injury.. “The ants are able to diagnose, to some extent, the wounds and treat them accordingly to maximise the survival of the injured,” said Dr Erik Frank, from the University of Lausanne and the first author of the research.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, Frank and colleagues report how they cut Florida carpenter ants (Camponotus floridanus) on their right hind limb, then observed the responses of their nest mates for a week.

The results revealed that 13 of 17 ants with injuries on their femur or thigh underwent amputation by their nest mates, with their limb severed at the trochanter – the joint with the hip bone.

“Nest mates would begin licking the wound before moving up the injured limb with their mouthparts until they reached the trochanter. The nest mates then proceeded to repeatedly bite the injured leg until it was cut off,” the team wrote.

By contrast, no amputations were observed for the nine ants with injuries on their tibia, or lower leg. Instead, these ants received only wound care from their nest mates in the form of licking.

The team recorded similar results when the setup was repeated using ants with infected wounds.

Another set of experiments revealed isolated ants with infected wounds were far more likely to die than those with sterile wounds. However, their survival rates greatly improved if the injured ants were either returned to their colonies – suggesting the treatments provided by their nest mates were beneficial – or the infected limb was amputated by researchers, although this only brought benefits for thigh wounds.

Frank said at first it was counterintuitive that amputations were not also beneficial for lower leg wounds. However, further work suggested thigh wounds, but not lower-leg wounds, were associated with damage to structures that pumped a blood-like substance around the ants’ bodies. As a result, infections of the lower leg spread around the body much faster than those of the thigh, meaning amputation of the former did little to improve survival.

Frank said ants were most likely to get injured in territorial disputes with neighbouring colonies but treating the wounded brought benefits.

“We see in these Camponotus species that roughly 10-11% of the ants that go out hunting or looking for food carry an injury from a previous day. So they still make up an important part of the colony,” he said.

Prof Francis Ratnieks, at the University of Sussex, who was not involved in the work, said he was not surprised by the results. “It is another example of an adaptation in the lives of social insect workers in which workers help each other to work for their colony and to help their colony,” he said.

“Such as when a worker honeybee makes a waggle dance to direct a nest mate to food, or when a worker sacrifices its life in defence of the colony, or here where workers amputate the limbs of an injured or infected worker.”

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