The Guardian 2024-07-03 12:11:38


Biden to meet Democratic governors to assuage fears after debate performance

President looks to reassure party leaders as 25 House members reportedly prepare to call for him to step down

Joe Biden will meet with Democratic governors on Wednesday as the president faces increasingly concerning polls and growing calls to withdraw his candidacy, including from a congressional Democrat.

Biden will talk with governors and Capitol Hill leaders this week, officials said on Tuesday, to reassure them of his competence and address escalating discontent among party leaders after last week’s calamitous debate performance against Donald Trump. News of the meetings comes after Lloyd Doggett, a congressman from Texas, became the first Democrat in the House of Representatives to publicly urge the president to step aside.

As of Tuesday evening, a House Democratic aide said, there are 25 Democratic members of the House of Representatives preparing to call for Biden to step aside.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday also found that one in three Democrats said Biden should end his re-election campaign following the debate in Atlanta where he gave a low-energy, garbled performance.

At a Virginia campaign event on Tuesday evening, Biden blamed his weak debate on his international trips leading up to the event, saying: “I wasn’t very smart. I decided to travel around the world a couple times, going through around 100 time zones … before … the debate. Didn’t listen to my staff and came back and nearly fell asleep on stage. That’s no excuse but it is an explanation.”

His campaign, he noted, had raised $38m since last week.

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 the 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 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 whether 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 a one-off and pledged a fierce fightback, there have been mutterings of discontent within Democratic ranks, including from some state governors who have reportedly complained that the president had not personally reached out to them.

Some 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 had 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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‘Waiting in the wings’: as Biden stumbles, Gavin Newsom’s name is on everyone’s lips

Ever since Biden’s poor performance at debate, the California governor who’s spent years seeking a national stage finds himself at the centre of one

To paraphrase Jan Brady of the Brady Bunch, lately it’s been “Newsom, Newsom, Newsom” all day long.

He’s been at the Vatican for a climate summit, and in Alpharetta, Georgia, for a televised debate with Florida governor Ron DeSantis. He’s all over the TV, actually – on Fox News and MSNBC, and in advertisements airing in Tennessee.

And ever since Joe Biden’s catastrophic performance at the first presidential debate on CNN, his name has popped up in nearly every list of possible successors. With just four months to go until the presidential election, chances that the president would step aside now are exceedingly remote – but that hasn’t stopped the speculation. Online political betting odds that Gavin Newsom, the California governor, would end up at the top of the presidential ticket this year tripled to a one-in-four chance last week.

For the ambitious governor of the most populous US state, this crowning moment has been a long time in the making. For years, Newsom’s flair for a photo op and steady pursuit of network news spots have fueled speculation about his presidential ambitions, and sparked scepticism among constituents who’d rather he stick to his day job. Now, it seems, the man who has spent the last several years seeking a national stage has finally found himself at the centre of one.

“I think it’s been clear that he’s been waiting in the wings for some time,” said Emily Hoeven, an opinion columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and politics reporter who has followed Newsom’s career closely. “But I think that now there is a far bigger opening for him than there ever has been.”

The governor was swarmed by the press the moment the debate ended. “It was like human piranhas descending on the governor after the end of this debate,” marvelled MSNBC host Alex Wagner, as she settled in for a post-debate interview with him.

Newsom, who is top surrogate for Biden’s 2024 campaign, waved away the buzz about whether he would replace Biden on the Democratic ticket. When Wagner asked about growing calls for Biden to step down, he quickly said such talk was “unhelpful and unnecessary” – before highlighting Biden’s record on the economy and abortion, and the threats his opponent poses to the continuation of US democracy.

“I think what you’ve seen is this, what Gavin Newsom has to say is really not so different from what Joe Biden has to say,” said Bill Whalen, a policy fellow at the Hoover Institution thinktank in Palo Alto, California. “But he takes Joe Biden’s message, and he delivers it much more effectively.”

For Democrats across the US, Whalen said, Newsom is living out a dream scenario – leading a blue state with a Democratic supermajority in the legislature, where he can easily pass liberal reforms that would be nearly impossible to get through in other states or at a national level. “A lot of what Democrats would love to do nationally, California is doing,” Whalen said.

It has also helped that as California governor – one who handily defeated a recall campaign in 2021 – Newsom has amassed formidable political funds that he has been using not only to aid other Democratic candidates including Biden, but also his own political aspirations. Since his easy re-election in 2022, the governor has funnelled millions in campaign funds towards ads and appearances outside his home state.

Whether he can translate that momentum into a successful national campaign remains uncertain, Whalen and other political analysts said.

While he has been busy pursuing the national limelight, his reputation at home has soured. Only 47% of likely voters in California approved of his job performance in a Public Policy Institute of California survey in June, down from 57% in March 2023.

It may not help Newsom’s case that amid recent budget shortages, the state has been grappling with a spiralling homelessness crisis, an underperforming education system and growing economic inequality.

“I think that his actions demonstrate that his priorities are increasingly lying outside of California,” said Hoeven. “And I think that that is frustrating to Californians who obviously did not elect him to be the president.”

In recent months, Newsom has appeared to abandon some of his more progressive political stances – including backtracking on support for supervised injection sites, vetoing a bill to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and occasionally siding with Republicans and against allies in the legislature – which some supporters have perceived as an appeal to swing voters.

But it remains unclear whether the liberal governor of a blue state will ever truly have what it takes to amass national support in an increasingly divided country. And while his powerful political connections have helped his star rise in California, it is unclear whether he will be able to shed a certain elitist affect that has dogged his campaigns here.

Then there’s the enduring image that’s haunted the governor’s political career for two decades: a photograph of Newsom stretched across a luxurious rug in Ann Getty’s penthouse, with his ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle – who is now a rightwing TV personality and Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law.

It will be easy for opponents to hearken back to the governor’s infamously ill-timed visit to the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant amid a Covid-19 surge, or to point out his family’s decision to move, part-time, from California’s capitol in Sacramento to the wealthy Bay Area enclave of Marin – to enrol their child in a private academy.

In a recent bit on Jimmy Kimmel Live, comedian Josh Meyers plays “your lovin’ Govin” in a fake political ad where Meyers-as-Newsom attempts a bench press in his signature startup-chic navy business jacket and half-buttoned white shirt while promoting “lunar power”. He huffs a vape and when someone asks for a hit he says: “Sure, but I only vape merlot” without breaking out of his toothpaste commercial smile.

“There is such a thing as perhaps being too attractive, or, more to the point, looking like the person whose photo comes with the new wallet that you buy at the department store,” said Whalen. “That’s Gavin Newsom.”

Hoeven thinks back to Newsom’s inauguration in 2023, when he led what was billed as an “anti-January 6 march to the capitol”. He was meant to march about a quarter-mile, alongside supporters, down to the governor’s office. “But in reality, there were these massive fences up on either side of the promenade, basically, so the average person could not participate or really even watch the parade,” she recalled.

The governor walked only a little bit, before getting into a car. “It was emblematic of some of the ways that he’s failed to connect, I think, with the average person,” she said.

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Explainer

What does the immunity ruling mean for Trump’s criminal cases?

The supreme court’s decision changed everything, offering Trump a huge assist in his attempts to avoid accountability

The US supreme court on Monday handed down a decision that changed everything for Donald Trump, who in the months leading up to his third run for office has been doing his best to delay and dodge prosecution over his failed coup attempt in 2020.

In ruling that presidents enjoy broad immunity from prosecution in connection with their actions in office, the court has offered Trump a powerful assist in his attempts to avoid accountability – and guaranteed him broad legal protections as president in the event that he is re-elected in November.

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House Democrat pledges amendment to reverse Trump immunity ruling

Congressman Joe Morelle vows to act in wake of supreme court decision – but plan is highly unlikely to succeed

A Democratic congressman is calling for a new constitutional amendment to reverse the supreme court’s ruling granting presidents broad immunity from criminal prosecution, a decision that could hamstring the federal case against Donald Trump over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Congressman Joe Morelle, a New York Democrat, raised the idea on Monday, just hours after the supreme court issued its 6-3 decision, which fell along ideological lines.

“I will introduce a constitutional amendment to reverse Scotus’s harmful decision and ensure that no president is above the law,” Morelle wrote on X. “This amendment will do what Scotus failed to do – prioritize our democracy.”

But Morelle’s plan is highly unlikely to succeed. A constitutional amendment can be proposed either by a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate or by a constitutional convention, which may be called by two-thirds of state legislatures.

With Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and a majority of state legislative chambers, that hurdle appears impossible to overcome. Republicans largely celebrated the court’s ruling as a win for the rule of law, despite legal experts’ warnings that the decision could set a dangerous precedent for future presidents.

“Today’s ruling by the court is a victory for former president Trump and all future presidents, and another defeat for President Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice and Jack Smith,” Mike Johnson, the Republican House speaker, said on Monday.

Even if a two-thirds majority of Congress members did somehow come together to propose Morelle’s suggested amendment, it would need to be ratified by three-quarters of state legislatures to be added to the constitution. Given that Democrats control just 41% of state legislative chambers, ratification efforts would almost certainly prove futile.

With few options to challenge the court’s ruling, Democrats seem intent on turning the immunity case into a campaign issue. As he addressed the court’s decision on Monday evening, Joe Biden called on Americans to prevent Trump from returning to the White House at a time when “he’ll be more emboldened to do whatever he pleases”.

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

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Four dead as Hurricane Beryl wreaks havoc across Caribbean

Storm moving towards southern Hispaniola and expected to hit Jamaica with ‘devastating hurricane-force winds’ on Wednesday

  • 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, had strengthened to category 5 status. Although the storm is now back down to a Category 4, the US National Hurricane Center is warning that Beryl is still expected to bring “devastating hurricane-force winds” and life-threatening and storm surge to parts of Jamaica as well as the Cayman Islands.

On Tuesday, the US National Hurricane Center said that the eye of the storm was moving quickly towards southern Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Beryl, the 2024 Atlantic season’s first hurricane and the earliest storm on record to reach the highest category, 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.

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.

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.

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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US expels more than 100 Chinese migrants in rare mass deportation

Department of Homeland Security says it plans more such ‘large charter flights’, sparking concerns for safety of migrants escaping poverty or repression

The US has sent back 116 Chinese migrants in the first such “large charter flight” in five years, the Department of Homeland Security has said.

“We will continue to enforce our immigration laws and remove individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States,” homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

The flight, which happened over the weekend, comes amid intense political debate ahead of the US presidential election over the issue of Chinese immigration.

The department said it was working with China to “reduce and deter irregular migration and to disrupt illicit human smuggling through expanded law enforcement efforts”. It did not respond to questions about how long the migrants had been in the US.

The department said it was working with China on more removal flights in the future but did not give a timeline for when the next one would happen.

In recent years, the US has had a difficult time returning Chinese nationals who do not have the right to stay in America because China has resisted taking them back. Last year, the US saw a surge in the number of Chinese immigrants entering the country illegally from Mexico.

US border officials arrested more than 37,000 Chinese nationals on the southern border in 2023, 10 times the number during the previous year.

Chinese migration has increasingly become a rallying cry for Republicans and former president Donald Trump who have raised suspicions about why Chinese migrants are coming to the US.

Asian advocacy organisations are concerned the rhetoric could encourage harassment of Asians, while migrants themselves have said they’re coming to escape poverty and repression.

Earlier this year, the US and China resumed cooperation on migration issues. The Chinese government has said it is firmly opposed to “all forms of illegal immigration”. In a statement in May, China’s US embassy said the country’s law enforcement was cracking down “hard on crimes that harm the tranquility of national border, and maintained a high pressure against all kinds of smuggling organisations and offenders”.

Earlier this year, a charter flight carried a small but unknown number of deportees to the north-eastern Chinese city of Shenyang, according to Thomas Cartwright of Witness at the Border, an advocacy group that tracks deportation flights.

Homeland security officials did not say how many people were on that 30 March flight, but the Gulfstream V aircraft typically has a seating capacity of 14. It also made a stop in South Korea before heading back to the US, Cartwright said.

The announcement of the weekend’s large charter flight comes amid efforts elsewhere to shut down key routes used by Chinese migrants to get to the western hemisphere.

On Monday, the US announced that it would 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 US.

Also, as of 1 July Ecuador in effect reinstated visas for Chinese nationals after the South American country said it had seen a worrying increase in irregular migration.

Ecuador was one of only two mainland countries in the Americas to offer visa-free entry to Chinese nationals and had become a popular starting point for Chinese migrants to then trek north to the US.

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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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Gunok miracle save keeps Austria at bay after Demiral sparks frantic Turkey win

This match had an epic ­quality throughout and was decided by a moment that will enter ­Turkey’s football folklore.

They were ­clinging on to their lead amid rain, smoke, ­excruciating whistles and a ­barrage of Austrian pressure when ­Alexander Prass looped a long, deep cross towards the far post in hope rather than expectation. It arced to ­Christoph Baumgartner, who had pulled away from his man and hung high in the Leipzig sky, and the next thrilling act seemed set. There was little wrong with the header, directed downwards and skipping sharply up. How Mert Gunok, the Turkey goalkeeper, reacted to paw the ball up and wide is a thing of wonder and, after one last corner was seen off, the celebrations could start.

Gunok joined his teammates partying in front of the Turkey support, decibel levels surely ­exceeding anything heard in Germany all summer. At the other end a ­tearful ­Baumgartner, who could have scored a hatful, had to be consoled by a member of Austria’s staff.

Unbridled triumph on one side and, opposite, a sense of sporting tragedy. A dose of revenge, too: much as Vincenzo Montella had attempted to play it down beforehand, he and his players had been desperate to ­settle a score after the 6-1 thrashing they received in Vienna just over three months back.

More importantly than any tit-for-tat, Turkey are in the quarter-finals. Their wild, highly strung roadshow will career to Berlin for more appointment ­viewing against the Netherlands and ultimately they deserved to go through. Montella’s players were out on their feet in those dying moments, their opponents’ appetite to run, run and run some more finally threatening to wear them down.

But they were tough, technical and composed when it mattered for the majority. The occasion had been billed as a clash of Turkey’s emotion and Austria’s mechanised drills, yet the end product should be framed as a triumph for Montella. He packed the centre of the pitch and, in the first half at least, it meant Austria could not quite execute their usual swamping job. Even in the absence of their captain and heartbeat, Hakan Calhanoglu, they were able to execute their game plan and bite hardest when it mattered.

In the afterglow of a match this gloriously pulsating, though, discussion of tactics may be for the birds. It was ­bedlam from the beginning, six Austria ­players hurtling into the opposition half from kick‑off and Gunok having to smother at Marcel ­Sabitzer’s feet almost immediately. Their propensity to score early goals is well documented so the only surprise was that, when one came, it was Turkey who profited. Proceedings were still well inside the opening minute when ­Turkey won a corner, the defender Kaan Ayhan whirling his arms to work the crowd into a higher state of frenzy in case that were possible.

Arda Guler swung the ball in from the right side and the delivery completely flummoxed Austria’s defence, almost creeping straight in before Baumgartner blocked on the line. He could only clear against Stefan Posch at point-blank range and the ball was goalbound once again until Patrick Pentz scooped clear. That reprieve lasted a millisecond: Merih Demiral smashed the loose ball in and Turkey were ahead after 57 seconds.

The promised level of chaos had already been hit. Baumgartner shot just wide straight afterwards and saw Demiral somehow divert a corner from in front of him on the line: he had hoped for a triumphant outing at the stadium he calls home, but he and the rest of Austria’s Red Bull school were ultimately consigned to look on as Turkey turned it into theirs.

Further half-chances arrived for Baumgartner and Philipp Lienhart but Turkey looked increasingly comfortable as the interval neared. Confident, too: the outstanding Guler offered a flourish in attempting to beat Pentz from halfway, the ball sailing wide. Demiral, a centre-back who approached his tasks in each box gladiatorially, missed a good headed opportunity but atoned soon enough.

Austria had ripped into the second period, Ralf Rangnick rolling the dice with two changes and seeing Gunok block from Marko Arnautovic after they had finally shown some subtlety in the middle. The giant substitute Michael Gregoritsch headed wide and Konrad Laimer shot waywardly before the sting arrived from the same one-two as before.

Guler was pelted with plastic cups as he shaped to take another corner but was undeterred from whipping in another gorgeous delivery that Demirel converted emphatically after rising above Kevin Danso.

Game over? Not here. It never quite seemed likely and Gregoritsch, jabbing in after Stefan Posch had headed on yet another set piece, set up an exhilarating finale. Turkey squandered chances on the break but the luckless Baumgartner, beating Gunok to the ball on one occasion, missed two headers and Austria’s siege could not break through.

Then Gunok had his biggest moment of all. Rangnick was asked whether the save reminded him of Gordon Banks. “That is correct,” he said, leaving any other sentiments to float in the air. For Turkey and their relentless contingent, the atmosphere is now thick with awe and promise.

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  • Gunok miracle save keeps Austria at bay after Demiral sparks frantic Turkey win

Gunok miracle save keeps Austria at bay after Demiral sparks frantic Turkey win

This match had an epic ­quality throughout and was decided by a moment that will enter ­Turkey’s football folklore.

They were ­clinging on to their lead amid rain, smoke, ­excruciating whistles and a ­barrage of Austrian pressure when ­Alexander Prass looped a long, deep cross towards the far post in hope rather than expectation. It arced to ­Christoph Baumgartner, who had pulled away from his man and hung high in the Leipzig sky, and the next thrilling act seemed set. There was little wrong with the header, directed downwards and skipping sharply up. How Mert Gunok, the Turkey goalkeeper, reacted to paw the ball up and wide is a thing of wonder and, after one last corner was seen off, the celebrations could start.

Gunok joined his teammates partying in front of the Turkey support, decibel levels surely ­exceeding anything heard in Germany all summer. At the other end a ­tearful ­Baumgartner, who could have scored a hatful, had to be consoled by a member of Austria’s staff.

Unbridled triumph on one side and, opposite, a sense of sporting tragedy. A dose of revenge, too: much as Vincenzo Montella had attempted to play it down beforehand, he and his players had been desperate to ­settle a score after the 6-1 thrashing they received in Vienna just over three months back.

More importantly than any tit-for-tat, Turkey are in the quarter-finals. Their wild, highly strung roadshow will career to Berlin for more appointment ­viewing against the Netherlands and ultimately they deserved to go through. Montella’s players were out on their feet in those dying moments, their opponents’ appetite to run, run and run some more finally threatening to wear them down.

But they were tough, technical and composed when it mattered for the majority. The occasion had been billed as a clash of Turkey’s emotion and Austria’s mechanised drills, yet the end product should be framed as a triumph for Montella. He packed the centre of the pitch and, in the first half at least, it meant Austria could not quite execute their usual swamping job. Even in the absence of their captain and heartbeat, Hakan Calhanoglu, they were able to execute their game plan and bite hardest when it mattered.

In the afterglow of a match this gloriously pulsating, though, discussion of tactics may be for the birds. It was ­bedlam from the beginning, six Austria ­players hurtling into the opposition half from kick‑off and Gunok having to smother at Marcel ­Sabitzer’s feet almost immediately. Their propensity to score early goals is well documented so the only surprise was that, when one came, it was Turkey who profited. Proceedings were still well inside the opening minute when ­Turkey won a corner, the defender Kaan Ayhan whirling his arms to work the crowd into a higher state of frenzy in case that were possible.

Arda Guler swung the ball in from the right side and the delivery completely flummoxed Austria’s defence, almost creeping straight in before Baumgartner blocked on the line. He could only clear against Stefan Posch at point-blank range and the ball was goalbound once again until Patrick Pentz scooped clear. That reprieve lasted a millisecond: Merih Demiral smashed the loose ball in and Turkey were ahead after 57 seconds.

The promised level of chaos had already been hit. Baumgartner shot just wide straight afterwards and saw Demiral somehow divert a corner from in front of him on the line: he had hoped for a triumphant outing at the stadium he calls home, but he and the rest of Austria’s Red Bull school were ultimately consigned to look on as Turkey turned it into theirs.

Further half-chances arrived for Baumgartner and Philipp Lienhart but Turkey looked increasingly comfortable as the interval neared. Confident, too: the outstanding Guler offered a flourish in attempting to beat Pentz from halfway, the ball sailing wide. Demiral, a centre-back who approached his tasks in each box gladiatorially, missed a good headed opportunity but atoned soon enough.

Austria had ripped into the second period, Ralf Rangnick rolling the dice with two changes and seeing Gunok block from Marko Arnautovic after they had finally shown some subtlety in the middle. The giant substitute Michael Gregoritsch headed wide and Konrad Laimer shot waywardly before the sting arrived from the same one-two as before.

Guler was pelted with plastic cups as he shaped to take another corner but was undeterred from whipping in another gorgeous delivery that Demirel converted emphatically after rising above Kevin Danso.

Game over? Not here. It never quite seemed likely and Gregoritsch, jabbing in after Stefan Posch had headed on yet another set piece, set up an exhilarating finale. Turkey squandered chances on the break but the luckless Baumgartner, beating Gunok to the ball on one occasion, missed two headers and Austria’s siege could not break through.

Then Gunok had his biggest moment of all. Rangnick was asked whether the save reminded him of Gordon Banks. “That is correct,” he said, leaving any other sentiments to float in the air. For Turkey and their relentless contingent, the atmosphere is now thick with awe and promise.

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Xi’s central Asia trip aims to cement ties as China vies for influence with Russia

SCO summit brings together leaders of global south but also likely to test Beijing and Moscow’s ‘strategic partnership’

Leaders from China, Russia and countries in the global south are gathering in Kazakhstan for the annual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a group that has been described as the “anti-Nato”.

The summit is part of China’s efforts to establish what it calls a “multilateral” world order that is not dominated by the US. But it is also a forum in which China and Russia’s “strategic partnership” will be tested by their competing desires to wield influence in central Asia.

Xi Jinping, China’s president, arrived in Astana on Tuesday for a five-day trip that will include state visits to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. More than a decade ago, Xi used an official visit to Kazakhstan to launch the belt and road initiative, China’s sprawling development project that has seen $9.55bn (£8bn) invested in Kazakhstan alone since 2013, according to the China Global Investment Tracker.

That investment is part of China’s pitch to central Asia that it can help countries to develop outside Russia’s shadow. “The war in Ukraine has proven to the central Asian countries that the diversification of their ties with the world is key to their successful existence in the region,” said Temur Umarov, a fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center. Although the former Soviet republics have been trying to de-Russify their countries since the fall of the Soviet Union, the war in Ukraine “has made the process of replacing Russia [with China] happen more quickly,” he said.

Xi and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, preach the importance of establishing a multipolar world order to countries in the global south that have felt let down by US-dominated geopolitics. Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at Renmin University in Beijing, was quoted in a Chinese state media report published on Sunday as saying the SCO “sends a message to the western world that there are many different voices from the emerging economies that need to be heard and represented.”

Still, relations between Xi and Putin – which the two pledged to deepen as recently as May – may be strained this week by the shadow of Putin’s recent visit to North Korea. Putin signed a mutual security pact with Kim Jong-un, an agreement which China fears could create the perception of a cold war-style bloc and damage Beijing’s influence in east Asia.

In recent months, there has been some scrutiny of the role that central Asia plays in facilitating the flow of goods from China to Russia to support Moscow’s war machine. Chinese exports to Kyrgyzstan increased from $7.5bn in 2021 to nearly $20bn in 2023, with much of those goods bound for Russia, according to the China-Russia Report newsletter. Analysts say that countries such as Kyrgyzstan will be impervious to western pressure to intercept this trade. “Not having good relations with China is something that’s completely out of the question,” says Niva Yau, a fellow at the Atlantic Council.

There are plenty of other pieces on the SCO chessboard this week. Established as the “Shanghai Five” in 1996, the group was originally a forum for the founding members – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – to thrash out border disputes. Since then, its membership and scope has expanded to include countries as diverse and mutually disagreeable as India, Pakistan and Iran. This year, Belarus is expected to be welcomed into the fold.

However, the group’s growing size – it already accounts for about 40% of the world’s population – does not necessarily make it more relevant. India’s newly re-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, is expected to skip the summit, despite the fact that he is planning to visit Moscow next week to meet Putin.

“Inside the SCO, there are countries that have fundamentally different views on nearly everything,” says Umarov. “It’s almost impossible to imagine what would be a scenario that could make India and Pakistan put aside their problems and their mutual conflict for the sake of something else”. India and China have a similarly fraught relationship; Modi’s trip to Russia is in part an attempt to ensure that India’s relationship with Russia is not imperilled by Moscow’s deepening ties with Beijing.

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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 only 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 scheduled 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 to set aside Trump’s conviction could struggle.

Trump actually raised the official acts argument before his New York trial, asking for certain tweets that Trump sent as president to be suppressed. Merchan denied the motion, ruling that Trump had filed it too close to trial.

The Trump legal team would need to be able to show that not only were the tweets examples of official acts – the supreme court held that presidents making communications to the public are a function of the office – that could not be used as evidence at trial, but that Merchan was wrong on the timeliness matter.

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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Jewish figures criticise ‘stigmatising’ Tory attack on Starmer family time

Conservatives push out ‘final warnings’ amid backlash over targeting of Labour leader’s Friday night ‘protected time’

Keir Starmer has accused the Conservatives of desperate tactics amid claims that Tory criticism of his defence of family time was insensitive and had antisemitic undertones.

With Rishi Sunak embarking on a marathon day of campaigning, beginning with a pre-dawn visit to a distribution centre and closing with a late-night rally, Tory ministers and aides sought to contrast these efforts with what they termed Starmer’s “part-time” approach.

As an increasingly personal election campaign neared its end, the Conservatives pushed out “final warnings” about what they said a massive Labour majority would mean for taxes, migration and other policy areas.

Downing Street chiefs believe the criticism of Starmer for saying he would maintain his current habit of trying to spend time with his wife and children after 6pm on Fridays “pretty well come what may” has resonated with voters.

However, it has sparked an angry backlash, with senior Jewish figures saying the decision to target such a culturally significant time of the week – Starmer’s wife, Victoria, comes from a Jewish family – was ill-judged and deeply unfair.

“I would have thought to anybody it’s blindingly obvious that a Friday night is quite important in some religions and faiths,” Starmer told reporters during a campaign stopover in Derbyshire.

Calling the attacks “laughably pathetic”, the Labour leader said his comments in a radio interview the day before had simply been to set out how he tried to keep Friday evenings aside for his family and would if elected prime minister, adding: “But I know very well it’s going to be really difficult to do it.”

Starmer said the aim was to create “protected time” for his children, his wife and her father. “Obviously her dad’s side of the family is Jewish, as people will appreciate, and we use that for family prayers – not every Friday, but not infrequently.

“That doesn’t mean I’ve never had to work on a Friday, of course it doesn’t. Plenty of times I haven’t been able to do it, but I try to protect that time, I’d like to try and protect it in the future.”

After spotting a social media response to the comments, Conservative campaign organisers chose to pile in and inaccurately argue that Starmer had said he would not work on any evening.

“It’s after 6pm so of course Angela Rayner is back in charge,” said the party’s official account on X. Claire Coutinho, the energy secretary, said: “I do think that it’s pretty unrealistic for a prime minister not to work past 6pm.”

The comments prompted warnings from senior Jewish figures about the risks of singling out someone for trying to observe the tradition of spending time with family on Friday evenings.

Marie van der Zyl, who was president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews until earlier this year, called the attacks “horribly stigmatising”.

“For Jews of all denominations and their loves ones it’s really a sacred time and I think we should be recognising that here is someone who appreciates values and traditions,” said Van der Zyl, who has recently become a Labour party member.

“He’s setting a good example and for that to become something that is criticised I think is grossly unfair.”

John Mann, a former Labour MP and now peer, who is the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, called the Conservative attacks “dangerous”, noting that parliament did not sit on Sundays due to Christian traditions.

He said: “It’s a very strange thing to attack over. I’m the independent adviser to the prime minister and my advice would be this is not an area to stray into.”

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, the paper’s former editor Stephen Pollard called the Conservative line of attack “puerile, pathetic and degrading for everyone involved”.

With Starmer and Sunak both set to embark on long final days of campaign trips, opinion polls have shown a slight narrowing of Labour’s lead, to 19 points, still enough most likely to deliver a significant majority for Starmer’s party.

A survey of more than 20,000 voters by Redfield and Wilton put Labour on 41%, its lowest total for the pollster since Boris Johnson was in No 10. The Conservatives were on 22%, six points above Reform UK.

With the Labour poll lead largely unmoved since the start of campaign and constituency-extrapolated polls predicting Labour majorities starting at about 150 seats, much of the final Tory message has implicitly accepted defeat and sought to limit the damage with warnings about a Labour “supermajority”.

A Tory campaign video posted on social media and emailed to supporters shows an imaginary voter in July 2025 struggling with power cuts, unpayable bills and closed schools, ending with the message: “48 hours to stop a Labour supermajority.”

Conservative campaign managers have dismissed the idea that this strategy was made up on the hoof, saying it had been prepared long in advance to be used if the polling did not tighten.

Sunak’s penultimate day of campaigning focused on seats that would ordinarily be safely Conservative, including an early morning visit to a supermarket in Witney, Oxfordshire, formerly David Cameron’s constituency.

Held by the Tories with a 15,000-plus majority in 2019, this is now under threat from the Liberal Democrats, who have stepped up campaigning in such seats in recent days.

Speaking to reporters, Sunak endorsed the attack about Starmer’s supposed work ethic, if without much apparent enthusiasm. “Everyone is going to approach this job in a different way, in my experience there is always work to do,” he said. “There’s always decisions that need to be made.”

Asked if it was right for Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, to claim that Starmer might clock off when pressing military decisions needed to taken, Sunak said: “I do worry about our country’s security, as there are deep concerns about it. This is the most dangerous time that our country has lived in it for decades.”

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  • Gunok miracle save keeps Austria at bay after Demiral sparks frantic Turkey win

Jewish figures criticise ‘stigmatising’ Tory attack on Starmer family time

Conservatives push out ‘final warnings’ amid backlash over targeting of Labour leader’s Friday night ‘protected time’

Keir Starmer has accused the Conservatives of desperate tactics amid claims that Tory criticism of his defence of family time was insensitive and had antisemitic undertones.

With Rishi Sunak embarking on a marathon day of campaigning, beginning with a pre-dawn visit to a distribution centre and closing with a late-night rally, Tory ministers and aides sought to contrast these efforts with what they termed Starmer’s “part-time” approach.

As an increasingly personal election campaign neared its end, the Conservatives pushed out “final warnings” about what they said a massive Labour majority would mean for taxes, migration and other policy areas.

Downing Street chiefs believe the criticism of Starmer for saying he would maintain his current habit of trying to spend time with his wife and children after 6pm on Fridays “pretty well come what may” has resonated with voters.

However, it has sparked an angry backlash, with senior Jewish figures saying the decision to target such a culturally significant time of the week – Starmer’s wife, Victoria, comes from a Jewish family – was ill-judged and deeply unfair.

“I would have thought to anybody it’s blindingly obvious that a Friday night is quite important in some religions and faiths,” Starmer told reporters during a campaign stopover in Derbyshire.

Calling the attacks “laughably pathetic”, the Labour leader said his comments in a radio interview the day before had simply been to set out how he tried to keep Friday evenings aside for his family and would if elected prime minister, adding: “But I know very well it’s going to be really difficult to do it.”

Starmer said the aim was to create “protected time” for his children, his wife and her father. “Obviously her dad’s side of the family is Jewish, as people will appreciate, and we use that for family prayers – not every Friday, but not infrequently.

“That doesn’t mean I’ve never had to work on a Friday, of course it doesn’t. Plenty of times I haven’t been able to do it, but I try to protect that time, I’d like to try and protect it in the future.”

After spotting a social media response to the comments, Conservative campaign organisers chose to pile in and inaccurately argue that Starmer had said he would not work on any evening.

“It’s after 6pm so of course Angela Rayner is back in charge,” said the party’s official account on X. Claire Coutinho, the energy secretary, said: “I do think that it’s pretty unrealistic for a prime minister not to work past 6pm.”

The comments prompted warnings from senior Jewish figures about the risks of singling out someone for trying to observe the tradition of spending time with family on Friday evenings.

Marie van der Zyl, who was president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews until earlier this year, called the attacks “horribly stigmatising”.

“For Jews of all denominations and their loves ones it’s really a sacred time and I think we should be recognising that here is someone who appreciates values and traditions,” said Van der Zyl, who has recently become a Labour party member.

“He’s setting a good example and for that to become something that is criticised I think is grossly unfair.”

John Mann, a former Labour MP and now peer, who is the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, called the Conservative attacks “dangerous”, noting that parliament did not sit on Sundays due to Christian traditions.

He said: “It’s a very strange thing to attack over. I’m the independent adviser to the prime minister and my advice would be this is not an area to stray into.”

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, the paper’s former editor Stephen Pollard called the Conservative line of attack “puerile, pathetic and degrading for everyone involved”.

With Starmer and Sunak both set to embark on long final days of campaign trips, opinion polls have shown a slight narrowing of Labour’s lead, to 19 points, still enough most likely to deliver a significant majority for Starmer’s party.

A survey of more than 20,000 voters by Redfield and Wilton put Labour on 41%, its lowest total for the pollster since Boris Johnson was in No 10. The Conservatives were on 22%, six points above Reform UK.

With the Labour poll lead largely unmoved since the start of campaign and constituency-extrapolated polls predicting Labour majorities starting at about 150 seats, much of the final Tory message has implicitly accepted defeat and sought to limit the damage with warnings about a Labour “supermajority”.

A Tory campaign video posted on social media and emailed to supporters shows an imaginary voter in July 2025 struggling with power cuts, unpayable bills and closed schools, ending with the message: “48 hours to stop a Labour supermajority.”

Conservative campaign managers have dismissed the idea that this strategy was made up on the hoof, saying it had been prepared long in advance to be used if the polling did not tighten.

Sunak’s penultimate day of campaigning focused on seats that would ordinarily be safely Conservative, including an early morning visit to a supermarket in Witney, Oxfordshire, formerly David Cameron’s constituency.

Held by the Tories with a 15,000-plus majority in 2019, this is now under threat from the Liberal Democrats, who have stepped up campaigning in such seats in recent days.

Speaking to reporters, Sunak endorsed the attack about Starmer’s supposed work ethic, if without much apparent enthusiasm. “Everyone is going to approach this job in a different way, in my experience there is always work to do,” he said. “There’s always decisions that need to be made.”

Asked if it was right for Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, to claim that Starmer might clock off when pressing military decisions needed to taken, Sunak said: “I do worry about our country’s security, as there are deep concerns about it. This is the most dangerous time that our country has lived in it for decades.”

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  • General election 2024
  • Keir Starmer
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  • Rishi Sunak
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  • Jewish figures criticise ‘stigmatising’ Tory attack on Starmer family time
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  • Gunok miracle save keeps Austria at bay after Demiral sparks frantic Turkey win

Robert F Kennedy Jr brushes off sexual assault allegation: ‘I am who I am’

Independent candidate says ‘I am not a church boy’ after ex-nanny tells Vanity Fair he assaulted her at his home in 1998

Robert F Kennedy Jr has responded to an allegation that he sexually assaulted an employee by stating: “I am not a church boy,” as scrutiny grows over his long-shot run for the presidency.

The independent candidate, who is seen as a threat by both the Biden and Trump campaigns, made the statement after his former babysitter told Vanity Fair that Kennedy assaulted her at his home in 1998.

Eliza Cooney, who worked for Kennedy and his then wife as a live-in nanny at the family’s home in Mount Kisco, New York, said Kennedy touched her leg at a business meeting and later appeared shirtless in her bedroom before asking her to rub lotion on his back.

A few months later, Kennedy blocked Cooney in the kitchen “and began groping her”, Vanity Fair reported. Cooney told the magazine that Kennedy touched her inappropriately.

“My back was to the door of the pantry, and he came up behind me,” Cooney said.

“I was frozen. Shocked.”

The assault was interrupted, Cooney said, when a male worker entered the kitchen.

Asked about the sexual assault allegation on the Breaking Points podcast, Kennedy said: “The [Vanity Fair] article is a lot of garbage.”

He added: “Listen, I have said this from the beginning. I am not a church boy. I am not running like that.

“I said in my … I had a very, very rambunctious youth. I said in my announcement speech that I have so many skeletons in my closet that if, if they could all vote, I could run for king of the world.

“So, you know, Vanity Fair is recycling 30-year-old stories. And, I’m not, you know, going to comment on the details of any of them. But it’s, you know, I am who I am.”

Asked if he was denying that he assaulted Cooney, Kennedy said: “I’m not going to comment on it.”

The Kennedy campaign did not respond to a Guardian request for comment.

Cooney said she kept the alleged assault secret until the #MeToo movement prompted many women to come forward with stories of abuse in 2017. She told her mother, and after Kennedy announced his campaign for the presidency in 2023, Cooney told two friends and a lawyer, Elizabeth Geddes. Geddes did not respond to a request for comment.

Kennedy, 70, initially ran against Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination before launching a campaign as an independent in October of last year.

As the son of Robert F Kennedy, the US senator for New York who was assassinated in 1968, and the nephew of John F Kennedy, who was assassinated while serving as president in 1963, Kennedy’s campaign drew widespread attention but has been littered with controversies.

In July 2023, a video surfaced of Kennedy making false claims that Covid-19 was “ethnically targeted” to attack Black people and white people while sparing Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people, while Kennedy has also claimed that wifi causes “leaky brain”.

He has also linked antidepressants to school shootings, and in 2023 he claimed that chemicals in water are making children transgender.

Kennedy, a former environmental lawyer, is polling at 9.1% of the national vote, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average, and is highly unlikely to win the presidency.

But both the Biden and Trump campaigns fear he could pull votes away from them in key states. Kennedy will be on the ballot in Michigan, a crucial swing state that the president won by 150,000 votes in 2020, and is working to gain ballot access in Wisconsin, which Biden won by 20,000 votes.

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Google’s emissions climb nearly 50% in five years due to AI energy demand

Tech giant’s goal of reducing climate footprint at risk as it grows increasingly reliant on energy-hungry data centres

Google’s goal of reducing its climate footprint is in jeopardy as it relies on more and more energy-hungry data centres to power its new artificial intelligence products. The tech giant revealed Tuesday that its greenhouse gas emissions have climbed 48% over the past five years.

Google said electricity consumption by data centres and supply chain emissions were the primary cause of the increase. It also revealed in its annual environmental report that its emissions in 2023 had risen 13% compared with the previous year, hitting 14.3m metric tons.

The tech company, which has invested substantially in AI, said its “extremely ambitious” goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2030 “won’t be easy”. It said “significant uncertainty” around reaching the target included “the uncertainty around the future environmental impact of AI, which is complex and difficult to predict”.

Google’s emissions have risen by nearly 50% since 2019, the base year for Google’s goal of reaching net zero, which requires the company removing as much CO2 as it emits.

The International Energy Agency estimates that data centres’ total electricity consumption could double from 2022 levels to 1,000TWh (terawatt hours) in 2026, approximately Japan’s level of electricity demand. AI will result in data centres using 4.5% of global energy generation by 2030, according to calculations by research firm SemiAnalysis.

Data centres play a crucial role in training and operating the models that underpin AI models like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s GPT-4, which powers the ChatGPT chatbot. Microsoft admitted this year that energy use related to its data centres was endangering its “moonshot” target of being carbon negative by 2030. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, admitted in May that “the moon has moved” due to the company’s AI strategy.

Microsoft’s co-founder, Bill Gates, said last week that AI would help combat the climate crisis because big tech is “seriously willing” to pay extra to use clean electricity sources in order “to say that they’re using green energy”.

Big tech companies have become major purchasers of renewable energy in a bid to meet their climate goals.

However, pledges to reduce CO2 emissions are now coming up against pledges to invest heavily in AI products that require considerable amounts of energy for training and deployment in data centres, along with carbon emissions associated with manufacturing and transporting the computer servers and chips used in that process. Water usage is another environmental factor in the AI boom, with one study estimating that AI could account for up to 6.6bn cubic metres of water use by 2027 – nearly two-thirds of England’s annual consumption.

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At least 116 killed in crush at Hindu gathering in northern India, say officials

Most of the dead are women or children, say officials, with suggestions a dust storm created panic as thousands were leaving a prayer meeting in Hathras, south-east of Delhi

At least 116 people, most of them women and children, have been killed in a crowd crush at a Hindu religious gathering in northern India, and more than 80 others were injured, local police have said.

The crush happened when thousands of devotees tried to leave a prayer meeting, or satsang, with a local religious leader in Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh state. “The attendees were exiting the venue when a dust storm blinded their vision, leading to a melee and the subsequent tragic incident,” Chaitra V, a divisional commissioner of Aligarh city in Uttar Pradesh, told Agence France-Presse.

“We … are focusing on providing relief and medical aid for the victims,” she added.

The latest death toll was given by Prashant Kumar, the director-general of police in Uttar Pradesh. Most of the dead were women, according to state chief medical officer Umesh Kumar Tripathi.

“The scenes were unbelievably horrific,” said Vijay Singh, a 45-year-old devotee from Agra, whose sister-in-law was one of the victims. She was pushed into a ditch after the family were separated. Singh’s wife witnessed her last moments and barely managed to escape, he added.

“My wife said the crowd was pushing each other because they were struggling to breathe. My sister-in-law fell in the ditch, and due to the violent pushing many others fell in the ditch.”

The bodies of 60 victims had been taken to health centres in Hathras, and another 27 dead were taken to hospitals in neighbouring Etah district, local officials said.

One of the dead was 60-year-old Eashwar Pyaari, a devotee who lived in Etah and often went to religious gatherings to “find peace”, her son Ramdas said in a phone interview from the hospital, where he was waiting to collect her body.

“I had written my phone number on a piece of paper and gave it to my mother so she could reach me if she needed me. I received a call from a stranger who found it on her body. That’s when I found out she was killed in the stampede today,” he said.

“It’s been a devastating few hours for us,” he added. “I didn’t have the heart to tell the grandchildren that their beloved grandmother is dead.”

Police said overcrowding may have contributed to the tragedy, the latest in a grim succession of mass deaths at religious events in India.

“Every year, these kinds of incidents keep repeating themselves, and we learn nothing,” MP Manoj Kumar Jha told the New York Times.

“Both the state and federal governments have failed to develop a sensitive approach toward crowd management. As a nation we are good at drawing crowds but not good at managing them.”

Organisers had a permit for 5,000 people to attend the event, which was held in a tent, but it drew a crowd of over 15,000, Indian media reported. Video footage appeared to show the structure collapsed, as women wailed over the dead.

“As we tried to exit towards a field, suddenly a commotion started, and we didn’t know what to do,” an unidentified witness told broadcaster India Today, adding that the venue had a narrow exit.

The leader of the satsang, named Bhole Baba, is from Etah, which is about 200 km (125 miles) south-east of New Delhi, Indian media reported. He claimed to have been in the intelligence services, before pursuing religious leadership over two decades ago.

The prime minister, Narendra Modi, offered condolences to the families of those killed, and his office said victims’ families would be given 200,000 rupees ($2,400) compensation and the injured 50,000 rupees.

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, said relief and rescue operations were on a “war footing” and he had ordered an investigation into the deaths.

Recent mass casualties at religious gatherings include at least 112 people killed in 2016 at a temple complex in Kerala state. A crowd of thousands had gathered to mark the Hindu new year when a banned fireworks caused a huge explosion that tore through concrete buildings and started a fire.

In 2013, at least 115 people were crushed to death or died in a river in central Madhya Pradesh state, when a rumour that a bridge was about to collapse sparked panic among pilgrims visiting a popular temple for a festival.

Agencies contributed reporting

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Robert Towne, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Chinatown, dies aged 89

Writer, who died in his Los Angeles home, also worked without credit on The Godfather and Bonnie and Clyde

Robert Towne, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Chinatown, considered one of the greatest screenplays of all time, has died at age 89.

Towne, the screenwriter also nominated for his films Shampoo and The Last Detail, died on Monday among family members at his Los Angeles home, said his publicist, who did not disclose a cause of death.

Recognizable around Hollywood for his high forehead and full beard, Towne won an Academy Award for Chinatown and was nominated three other times, for The Last Detail, Shampoo and Greystroke. In 1997, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Writers Guild of America.

His success came after a long stretch of working on television shows, including The Man from UNCLE and The Lloyd Bridges Show, and on low-budget movies for B-movie producer Roger Corman. In a classic show business story, he owed his breakthrough in part to his psychiatrist, through whom he met Warren Beatty, a fellow patient. As Beatty worked on Bonnie and Clyde, he brought in Towne for revisions of the Robert Benton-David Newman script and had him on the set while the movie was filmed in Texas.

Towne’s contributions were uncredited for Bonnie and Clyde, the landmark crime film released in 1967, and for years he was a favorite ghostwriter. He helped out on The Godfather and Heaven Can Wait among others and referred to himself as a “relief pitcher who could come in for an inning, not pitch the whole game”. But Towne was credited by name for Nicholson’s macho The Last Detail and Beatty’s sex comedy Shampoo and was immortalized by Chinatown, the 1974 thriller set during the Great Depression.

Towne’s script has been a staple of film-writing classes ever since, although it also serves as a lesson in how movies often get made and in the risks of crediting any film to a single viewpoint. He would acknowledge working closely with Roman Polanski as they revised and tightened the story and arguing fiercely with the director over the film’s despairing ending – an ending Polanski pushed for and Towne later agreed was the right choice (no one has officially been credited for writing the film’s iconic line: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown”).

But the concept began with Towne, who had turned down the chance to adapt The Great Gatsby for the screen so he could work on Chinatown, partly inspired by a book published in 1946, Carey McWilliams’ Southern California: An Island on the Land.

“In it was a chapter called ‘Water, water, water’, which was a revelation to me. And I thought: ‘Why not do a picture about a crime that’s right out in front of everybody,’” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2009.

The backstory of Chinatown has itself become a kind of detective story, explored in producer Robert Evans’ memoir The Kid Stays in the Picture; in Peter Biskind’s East Riders, Raging Bulls, a history of 1960s-1970s Hollywood; and in Sam Wasson’s The Big Goodbye, dedicated entirely to Chinatown. In The Big Goodbye, published in 2020, Wasson alleged that Towne was helped extensively by a ghostwriter – former college roommate Edward Taylor. According to The Big Goodbye, for which Towne declined to be interviewed, Taylor did not ask for credit on the film because his “friendship with Robert” mattered more.

The studios assumed more power after the mid-1970s and Towne’s standing declined. His own efforts at directing, including Personal Best and Tequila Sunrise, had mixed results. The Two Jakes, the long-awaited sequel to Chinatown, was a commercial and critical disappointment when released in 1990 and led to a temporary estrangement between Towne and Nicholson.

Around the same time, he agreed to work on a movie far removed from the art-house aspirations of the 70s, the Don Simpson-Jerry Bruckheimer production Days of Thunder, starring Tom Cruise as a racecar driver and Robert Duvall as his crew chief. The 1990 movie was famously over-budget and mostly panned, although its admirers include Quentin Tarantino and countless racing fans.

Towne later worked with Cruise on The Firm and the first two Mission: Impossible movies. His most recent film was Ask the Dust, a Los Angeles story he wrote and directed that came out in 2006. Towne was married twice, the second time to Luisa Gaule, and had two children. His brother, Roger Towne, also wrote screenplays, his credits including The Natural.

Towne was born Robert Bertram Schwartz in Los Angeles and moved to San Pedro after his father’s business, a dress shop, closed down because of the Great Depression. (His father changed the family name to Towne.) He had always loved to write and was inspired to work in movies by the proximity of the Warner Bros Theater and from reading the critic James Agee. For a time, Towne worked on a tuna boat and would speak often of its impact.

“I’ve identified fishing with writing in my mind to the extent that each script is like a trip that you’re taking – and you are fishing,” he told the Writers Guild of America in 2013. “Sometimes they both involve an act of faith … Sometimes it’s sheer faith alone that sustains you, because you think: ‘God damn it, nothing – not a bite today. Nothing is happening.’”

Associated Press contributed to this report

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