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- Maroosha Muzaffar
Biden apologises to family of dead congresswoman for ‘Where’s Jackie?’ gaffe

Jackie Walorski’s brother says family has ‘no hard feelings’ against him

- John Bowden
Herschel Walker denies paying for ex girlfriend’s abortion after report turns own son against him

Presented with receipts in Fox News interview, Walker says he ‘send[s] money to a lot of people’

- Bevan Hurley
From child star to convicted killer: The chilling ‘downward spiral’ of Riverdale’s Ryan Grantham

Grantham killed his mother in cold blood in 2020. He’s since been sentenced to life in prison. Bevan Hurley investigates how he got there

- Arpan Rai and Eleanor Sly
Russia-Ukraine news live: Moscow praises Musk tweets as Zelensky says no Putin talks

World’s richest man has been widely mocked and berated for his ‘fourth-grade’ suggestions

- Arpan Rai and Eleanor Sly
Russia-Ukraine news live: Moscow praises Musk tweets as Zelensky says no Putin talks

World’s richest man has been widely mocked and berated for his ‘fourth-grade’ suggestions

- Graeme Massie
Missing Brooklyn boy found safe after riding subway alone for four days

Youngster was taken to hospital for check up after returning home for fresh clothes

- Arpan Rai
Trial begins of man accused of raping government worker in Australia’s parliament

Brittany Higgins says she was ‘as drunk as she’d ever been in her life’, something her lawyer says is proof she couldn’t consent

- Rachel Sharp
Nikolas Cruz trial - live: Parkland shooter reveals why he chose Valentine’s Day for massacre

Follow live updates on sentencing trial of Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz

- Glenn Gamboa
Sheryl Sandberg steps into abortion fight with ACLU donation
Sheryl Sandberg opened her next chapter as a full-time philanthropist Tuesday with a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union to fight state abortion bans across the country
- David Harding
Russia backs Elon Musk for ‘looking for a peaceful’ solution to Ukraine war

Ukraine had earlier told the billionaire to ‘f*** off’

- David Harding
Russia says it called-up more than 200,000 troops for Ukraine war

Moscow’s announcement comes as Ukraine captured more territory

- Rodney Muhumuza
Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine objects to oil pipeline
Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine says that a planned pipeline to export oil is likely to entrench the long rule of President Yoweri Museveni
- Bill Barrow
Herschel Walker paid for girlfriend's abortion, report says
A new report says Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker paid for an abortion for his girlfriend in 2009
- Gino Spocchia
California police hunt armed man who kidnapped family of four

Motivation unknown, says sheriff

- Eleanor Sly
Emmanuel Macron’s top official charged with conflict of interest

Mr Kohler has been accused over connections with the Italian-Swiss shipping firm Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)

- Maroosha Muzaffar and John Bowden
Trump news - live: Herschel Walker denies abortion report as Trump under fire for ‘garbage’ CNN lawsuit

Republican claims broadcaster ‘fears’ he will run in 2024

- Bevan Hurley
Alec Baldwin accidentally shot a woman on set. He was named a ‘possible defendant’ a year later. What changed?

After an exhaustive 11-month investigation, authorities in New Mexico appear close to filing criminal charges over the on set fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, writes Bevan Hurley

- Bevan Hurley
Alec Baldwin accidentally shot a woman on set. He was named a ‘possible defendant’ a year later. What changed?

After an exhaustive 11-month investigation, authorities in New Mexico appear close to filing criminal charges over the on set fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, writes Bevan Hurley

- Stuti Mishra
‘No doubt’ becoming PM gives Saudi crown prince immunity over Jamal Khashoggi case, lawyers say

Critics say appointment of prince as PM is directly related to efforts to dismiss case over journalist’s brutal murder

The “PM Gati Shakti” (strength of speed) plan was unveiled last October and seeks to improve connectivity by building "trustworthy infrastructure". It also looks to minimize cost overruns and project delays by ensuring better coordination between different government departments and private stakeholders.
Amit Shah, who is on a three-day official visit to Jammu and Kashmir, referred to the Gandhi family of the Indian National Congress Party, the Abdullah's of the regional National Conference and Mufti's of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Russian Researchers Offer New Method to Improve Raman Spectroscopy Accuracy
Scientists from the S.P. Korolev Samara National Research University have reported the world's first comprehensive study of interference in Raman spectroscopy systems.
Power Cables in Baltic Sea to Be Examined Near Nord Stream Pipelines, Reports Say
HELSINKI (Sputnik) - The examination of the power cables running along the bottom of the Baltic Sea will be held on Tuesday near the sites of the explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, Finnish media reported.
Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim took part in the "Reuters impact" conference in London on Monday, where world leaders, businessmen, scientists and thinkers gathered to discuss climate issues.
CAIRO (Sputnik) - A retired military man broke into a bank in eastern Lebanon on Tuesday to demand withdrawal of money from his own savings account, the Depositors' Outcry Association said.
An unnamed 31-year-old Liverpudlian man was arrested on suspicion of owning a dog dangerously out of control. Merseyside Police appealed to anyone who could help them investigate the incident to come forward.
Russia Will Be Able to Land Cosmonauts on Moon by 2030, Space Agency Roscosmos Chief Says
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian cosmonauts will be able to set foot on the lunar surface by 2030, Russian space agency Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov said on Tuesday.
Astronomers intend to keep monitoring the asteroid’s dust trail by using the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope.
BELGRADE (Sputnik) - Kiev has never demanded that sanctions be imposed or a trial be held for those involved in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, but at the same time demands punishment for Russia for its military operation in Ukraine, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Tuesday.
Pyongyang’s fifth such test in the last two weeks, the Tuesday launch prompted Japanese officials to issue a warning to residents of the northern island of Hokkaido and the northern Honshu province of Aomori to "seek shelter immediately.”
Russia and Mali Presidents Discuss Donation of Fertilizer Blocked in EU to States in Need
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Malian Transitional President Assimi Goita have noted the importance of Moscow's initiative on donating 300,000 tonnes of fertilizer blocked in the EU to countries in need, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
Uttarakhand, India is famous for its natural scenic beauty and tough treks. However, the Himalayan state is also prone to avalanches and landslides, due to being located 3,500 meters above sea level with slopes that are steeper than 30 degrees.
The Delhi Zoo is one of the chief attractions in India's capital and home to around 1,100 animals, mammals, birds, and reptiles of around 92 species, including big cats, snakes, bears, deer, elephants, star tortoises, striped hyenas, and many others.
The declaration followed the conclusion of a two-day summit on September 29. The 11-point agreement is designed to provide a framework for intensified US engagement in the region, but the Solomon Islands wanted to avoid choosing between Washington and Beijing.
On September 23, UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced an emergency tax-cutting mini-budget to tackle the country’s cost of living crisis. The decision sparked a backlash from Conservative MPs amid ensuing financial turmoil and the pound plunging to a record low.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Biden administration is expected to announce on Tuesday further restrictions on sales of advanced semiconductors and equipment that would allow China's supercomputing industry to develop further, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the plans.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The US-made F-35A stealth fighters acquired by South Korean air force, have been out of service 234 times in a year and a half due to malfunctions, South Korean media reported on Tuesday.
TOKYO (Sputnik) - The Japanese government has decided to expel one employee of the Russian Consulate General in Sapporo after the expulsion of its diplomat from Vladivostok, the Kyodo news agency reported, citing the Japanese foreign ministry.
Indian-administered Kashmir has witnessed an insurgency which has lasted since 1989, with the government blaming Islamabad for backing the insurgents who have carried out high-profile killings in the past.
- Olivia Burke
North Korea nuclear-capable missile fired over Japan in ‘biggest ever test’ that would be able to hit US bases in Guam

NORTH Korea fired a nuclear capable missile over Japan in its biggest ever test – with the devastating weapon capable of reaching US military bases on the island of Guam.

Japanese residents were sent fleeing for cover as chilling air raid sirens sounded and people were urged to seek safety underground from the missile.

APThe live launch of the terrifying rocket shown in Seoul, South Korea[/caption] Kim Jong-un is believed to have been taunting the US and South Korea following the pair’s military drillsEPA

Mercifully the North Korean missile sailed harmlessly over head before crashing down into the Pacific Ocean.

The weapon, understood to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, landed with a splash after blasting 2,800 miles.

It is believed to be longest ever flight by one of Kim Jong-un’s weapons.

And chillingly it shows the rogue ruler’s weapons can now hit Guam – a US controlled island home to 154,000 people and 22,000 military servicemen.

READ MORE ON NORTH KOREA

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US troops are stationed there at Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam – and it also often welcomes B2 stealth bombers.

North Korea has often threatened Guam while sparring with the US – with the military base being one of the closest US facilities not in Japan or South Korea.

During the height of war tensions some five years ago with Donald Trump promised “fire and fury”, Pyongyang even vowed to bring down an “enveloping fire” on Guam.

Guam – only about 30 miles long and 4 miles across at its narrowest point – is located about three-quarters of the way from the US state of Hawaii to the Philippines

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The missile test is believed to have been of a Hwasong-12 – a 25 ton, 54ft missile which can carry warhead payloads of up to 1,500lbs.

Meanwhile, US and South Korean forces held massive war games – with a “precision bombing drill”.

Lee Choon Geun, an honorary research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, said the test “truly places Guam within striking distance”.

He said this launch was likely a proof of concept before the weapon enters mass production.

Japanese officials issued evacuation notices and suspended some public transport services during the missile’s flight on Tuesday.

Trains were stopped as the long-range ballistic missile flew over the neighbouring nation after being launched from the Jagang Province.

Panic quickly spread throughout Japan after a string of emergency announcements urging people to seek safety.

KIM STRIKES

A statement from the country’s Prime Minister’s Office warned residents to “evacuate inside a building or underground”.

But authorities did not have to intervene with any defence measures to destroy the missile, which later landed in the Pacific Ocean.

There were no reports of any damage to any aircraft or ships despite reportedly landing 1,990 miles off the northern Japanese coast.

PM Fumio Kishida later slammed the firing as a “reckless act” that he “strongly condemns” after his people were left scrambling.

Officials warned North Korea “poses a serious challenge to the entire international community,” amid the surprise firing – the first time a missile has flown over Japan since 2017.

South Korea‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Kim Jong-un will likely continue with worrying missile launches to antagonise his foes.

But the bold power play will only deepen North Korea’s international isolation and prompt Seoul and Washington to bolster their deterrence capacities.

AFPSouth Korean Air Force F-15K dropping two bombs during war games with the US[/caption] AFPFour South Korean Air Force F-15Ks and four US Air Force F-16 fighters flying over South Korea[/caption]

Japan’s top government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno added: “North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threatens the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he had consulted with Japanese officials over the phone in wake of the missile launch.

He reiterated his nation’s “ironclad commitments to the defence of Japan,” while promising to advance its efforts to limit North Korea’s nuclear abilities.

Both South Korea and Japan quickly gathered for their own emergency national security council meetings.

North Korea’s dramatic show of strength is believed to be in retaliation to military drills between the South and the US in Japan last week.

The military muscle-flexing saw the allies stage trilateral anti-submarine exercises with Japanese naval forces.

Kim Jong-un reportedly views the training exercises as a rehearsal for invasion – seeing him shoot back with a nuclear warning.

But South Korea and the US military hit back with a precision bombing drill on Tuesday in response to the dictator’s taunt.

Four F-15Ks of the Korean Air Force and four F-16 fighters of the United States Air Force participated in the exercise.

The South’s F-15K fired two air-to-ground joint direct strike bullets (JDAM) at a virtual target in the West Sea.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said: “Through this combined attack squadron flight and precision bombing training, they have demonstrated their will to respond decisively to any provocation from North Korea, the ability to precisely strike the origin of the provocation with the overwhelming power of the alliance, and a readiness to punish.”

They added that their military is “maintaining a firm readiness” in preparation for further North Korean “provocations”.

Before Tuesday’s launch, the 2,300-mile-long flight of Hwasong-12 in 2017 was North Korea’s longest.

Read More on The Sun

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It has previously tested intercontinental ballistic missiles at steep angles so they flew shorter.

Earlier this month, Japan said it would resume evacuation drills for residents amid the uptick in North Korean launches.

APTrains were suspended in Japan as panicked commuters ran for cover[/caption] ReutersThe nuclear-capable missile proved it has the range to reach US territory Guam[/caption]
- Imogen Braddick
Five chilling ways Putin could detonate nuke bomb… from Poseidon ‘apocalypse’ drone test to blast in Black Sea

VLADIMIR Putin could go nuclear by launching a low-yield device in Ukraine, dropping a bomb over the Black Sea or test firing a Poseidon drone off the US coast, experts warn.

The tyrant – who turns 70 on Friday – is “preparing to make key decisions from a bunker” after warning his closest family to be ready to evacuate Moscow in a hurry, reports claim.

APThe Kremlin claimed Vladimir Putin met his culture minister in Moscow yesterday, but reports claim he is really in a remote bunker in Siberia[/caption] AFPThe tyrant spoke at a rally in Red Square after annexing four regions of Ukraine on Friday[/caption] ReutersPutin warned he would use ‘any means’ to defend the occupied territory[/caption] Russia has warned the Ukraine invasion could end in a nuclear world war

Putin‘s gymnast mistress Alina Kabaeva, 40, and their children are on standby to be whisked to the remote bunker along with top government officials, it is alleged.

His two grown-up daughters and their families have also reportedly been warned they might be evacuated, according to the anti-Kremlin General SVR Telegram channel.

It claims ailing Putin – whose illness is said to be forcing ever more rash decisions – has been holed up underground in Siberia since illegally annexing four regions of Ukraine on Friday.

Mad Vlad warned at the ceremony he will use “any means” to defend them – seen as a threat to start a nuclear world war.

Read more on Ukraine

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VLAD'S ARMY

Humiliating pics show Putin's ageing 'Dad's Army’ lining up for Ukraine war

General SVR claimed all his appearances since then were pre-recorded and he is actually in his bunker consulting witch doctors while mulling a nuclear strike.

Shamans performed a “burning bird” ritual for Putin which could signify “victory and death,” leaving the interpretation “to the president’s painful fantasy”, it claimed.

Fears of an imminent nuke test on the Ukraine border were raised today after a train was seen carrying supplies.

Meanwhile Nato warned Russia has deployed its giant new Belgorod submarine which can be armed with terrifying nuclear “doomsday drones”.

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The Poseidon torpedoes reportedly carry a two-megaton warhead designed to devastate coastal cities with a 300ft radioactive tsunami.

Experts have previously warned Putin is with “more probable” to launch a nuke than accept defeat in Ukraine.

And Joseph Cirincione, a distinguished fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft in Washington DC, has revealed five chilling ways Putin could unleash nuclear weapons on the world.

Speaking on Bill Press Pods, he warned the Russian dictator could initially fire nukes into the Black Sea as a “demonstration shot” before using nuclear weapons on targets in Ukraine.

And in a worrying worst case scenario, Mr Cirincione said Putin could fire at Nato targets or even the United States.

Warning shot

Mr Cirincione said: “The first possibility is you would use a nuclear weapon in a demonstration shot, so you would fire something into the Black Sea, for example.

“The purpose of this is to ‘escalate to de-escalate’ if the war is going badly.

“If the Russians felt they were on the verge of defeat, they would fire off a nuclear shot to indicate the seriousness of the situation, and to cause the West to back off.

“If that were to happen, I would say the reaction would be shock and horror – but it would not require a military response.

“You don’t have to do anything there. I would say the US response would be more diplomatic.”

Battlefield nuke

In a second scenario, Mr Cirincione said Putin could unleash a “very low yield weapon” on a military target in Ukraine.

Russia is known to have so-called tactical nukes, which can be launched onto the battlefield by Iskander missiles.

They would kill thousands and cause major damage.

But Mr Cirincione said: “Again, the US would not necessarily require a military solution.”

City razed

The expert went on: “The third possibility is that they use a serious nuclear weapon – Hiroshima sized or more – and it strikes and it destroys a city in Ukraine.

“At that point, that’s where things get quite serious.

“I would immediately expect to see long-range military response from Nato.

“Not Nato forces on the ground, but long-range strikes, which we are perfectly capable of doing.

“We could strike the launch site, for example, and definitely send a message saying ‘do not do this again’.

“That’s what you’re trying to do, trying to control the escalation.”

But he insisted Nato would not fire a retaliatory nuclear weapon on Russia under this scenario.

Nato under attack

“This is where we go to the fourth scenario… targeting a Nato base,” he said.

“If you saw a low-yield weapon used on a Nato target, then you would get a Nato air and ground assault, that would just wipe off the Russian military in Ukraine.

“We could do that, it would take a couple of weeks, but we could end the war if we wanted to.

“What you’re trying to avoid is Russia firing again – another nuclear weapon.

“That’s where it gets extremely risky. Putin may feel he has no option but to launch.”

All-out war

He added: “This is why the fifth and final stage – if Putin would use a nuclear weapon on a US target and used a long-range missile to fire at the US – then all bets are off.

“There’s no question the US military command would be nearly universal in demanding we respond with a nuclear strike.

“It would probably be multiple strikes to knock out the command structure and some of their capabilities before they could respond – including knocking out Putin himself.”

Mr Cirincione said top US government officials would be working through the scenarios and preparing possible responses if Putin’s war escalates.

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He added: “I just gave you five, but I bet they have a list of 25 that go into more fine-tuning on what you would do and how you would do it.

“But I believe for many of these scenarios, you have to go quite a way up before you get to the US nuclear response.”

Russia’s 604ft Belgorod submarine is designed to carry ‘doomsday drone’ torpedoes AFPA Russian Topol-M ICBM launcher at a Victory Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square[/caption] Putin is said to be mulling a range of options after illegally annexing four regions of Ukraine
- Adrian Zorzut
Chilling moment massive shark stalks two paddleboarders and divides them for the kill in rare encounter

THIS is the chilling moment a massive shark stalked two paddleboarders and divided them in a rare encounter.

The apex predator circled the pair in shallow water before slowing gliding between them head-on and splitting them up.

This is the moment a massive shark circled two paddleboarders in shallow waterInstagram/Scott Fairchild The underwater beast split the boarders apart in an attempt to ‘attack’ themInstagram/Scott Fairchild Instagram/Scott FairchildThankfully, the shark swam away peacefully[/caption]

The incredibly “rare” encounter in waters off California, USA, was captured by shark lover Scott Fairchild and shared on his Instagram account.

“Sometimes the white sharks are confidently curious,” the videographer said.

“Usually self preservation always comes first. This is more rare, intentionally approaching head on, and if you notice, pausing when there is a perfect triangle of separation.

“Then choosing to put itself in the middle, between two people. As always though, its spatial awareness is on-point, as it perfectly splits the difference.”

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It’s not entirely clear what breed of shark is in the clip.

Another clip showed the terrifying moment a great white swam directly at a stand-up paddleboarder.

The swimmer spots the shark and decides to calmly regroup and avoid the underwater beast.

Fairchild shares clips of shark encounters to help change public perceptions of the highly-attuned hunters.

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“These Great White Sharks are not some mindless monster to be vilified like they often are in the movies or on the news,” he wrote in a recent post.

“These are highly skilled and intelligent animals who deserve our respect, our protection.”

Sharks commonly stalk their prey before attacking but less commonly approach them “head-on”.

The active hunters circle their food from a distance away before moving in for the kill, according to animal.mom.com.

They are most likely to hunt in the early morning or late evening when less light penetrates the water, making them harder to see.

Last month, a shark was filmed swimming in the rising flood waters of Hurricane Ian.

video shared on Twitter Wednesday captured the creature as it thrashed against the surge waters off Fort Myers while Florida gets bombarded by the deadly 155mph storm.

The shark’s fins can be seen flipping out of the shallow water around 100 yards inland in the city’s downtown district.

Instead of being frightened, some Twitter users showed sympathy toward the struggling shark.

“Poor Shark is stuck now,” one wrote.

Someone replied: “He needs some help out of there. Blown up in the surge.”

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Other users added some humour calling it a scene out of “Sharknado.”

Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cayo Costa, Florida, USA, on Wednesday, with winds recorded at 155 miles per hour.

mediadrumimages/@evansbaudinSharks are known to circle their pray before attacking them[/caption]
- Felix Allen
Brit couple eaten by crocodiles after being ‘brutally murdered and throw in river by ruthless gang’

A BRITISH couple were murdered, zipped inside their sleeping bags and fed to crocodiles by a ruthless kidnap gang days after they recorded an episode of BBC Gardeners’ World, a court heard.

Respected botanists Rod Saunders, 74, and Rachel, 63, were ambushed as they searched for rare seeds in a remote nature reserve in South Africa.

Nick Bailey/TwitterRod and Rachel Saunders with the BBC’s Nick Bailey days before they were murdered and fed to crocodiles[/caption] Robin Matthews/FacebookRod and Rachel Saunders were filmed for the BBC’s Gardeners’ World[/caption] South African Police ServiceTheir Toyota Land Cruiser was found covered in blood[/caption]

The adventurous pair spent six months a year scouring mountains and forests for wild flower seed stock for their thriving worldwide mail-order business.

In February 2018 they drove 900 miles from their home in Cape Town to meet a BBC crew in the Drakensberg Mountains in Kwa-Zulu Natal, where they were filmed looking for rare gladioli.

A selfie with Gardeners’ World host Nick Bailey and another pic by producer Robin Matthews are believed to be the last snaps taken of them alive.

After filming, expert horticulturist Rod and his microbiologist wife of 30 years Rachel went off to camp at a dam by a remote forest.

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They told an employee at their Silverhill seeds company they were heading for the Ngoye Forest Reserve 90 miles north of Durban, but were never heard from again.

Prosecutors say they were snatched from their camp, beaten to death and thrown off a bridge into the croc-infested River Tugela.

Their part-eaten and badly decomposed bodies were recovered by fishermen days later – but were unrecognisable and were deposited separately at mortuaries.

It was only months later they were identified following DNA tests on unclaimed bodies – Rod’s in April that year and Rachel’s in June.

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Meanwhile police had launched a full-scale search and found money had been drained money from their account.

They feared the missing couple had been kidnapped by ISIS terrorists, the court heard.

The elite Hawks organised crime unit linked Rod and Rachel’s phones to local suspects who had shared extremist messages, it is alleged.

A total of four suspects were arrested – three in South Africa around 30 miles from the reserve, and one in the Netherlands.

Three went on trial this week at Durban High Court, accused of kidnap, murder, robbery and theft.

Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, and their lodger at the time Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 35, deny all the charges.

The court was told: “It was established that the defendants were drawing money from various ATMs which amounted to theft of 734,000 rand (£37,000) and there was the robbery of their Land Cruiser and of camping equipment.”

Receipts in Bibi Patel’s handbag corresponded with the purchases made with Rachel Saunders’ bank card, the court was told.

Lodger Mussa Ahmad Jackson was arrested a month after the married pair, and allegedly told cops he had helped dispose of the bodies.

The court heard: “On March 23 the third accused was arrested and he made a statement to the effect he was woken by Patel at their home on February 10 and told to meet Del Vecchio on the road.

“Del Vecchio in the Land Cruiser and Patel and Jackson followed to the Tugela River Bridge where they helped him remove sleeping bags from the back of the Toyota and they threw them with human bodies inside into the river.”

The victims’ Toyota Land Cruiser was recovered on February 19 with a large amount of Rachel’s blood in the cargo area.

The indictment also alleges that when the phones of all three suspects were analysed, WhatsApp messages led to fears they were members of ISIS.

One message on February 9, 2018, discussed how they must “kill the kuffar (non believer) and abduct their alias, to destroy infrastructure and to put fear in the heart of the kuffar”.

On February 10 – the day of the murders – a message from Del Vecchio to his wife and the lodger said there was an elderly couple in the forest.

He told them it was a good “hunt” and he had the “target”, it is alleged.

And in another message to an unknown person, Del Vecchio allegedly said: “When the brothers in kinya go out and do this work it is very important the body of the victims is never found… It remains a missing person case”.

The fourth suspect in the Netherlands was not involved in the kidnap and killing.

He bought the Saunders’ phones, and was given a suspended sentence in return for vital evidence against the other three, the court heard.

The trial continues.

Rod and Rachel met when he was a nursery manager at the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town and she was a leading microbiologist at a nearby university.

South-African born Rachel – who had dual British citizenship after marrying Rod – was a keen collector of indigenous seeds and travelled to all corners of South Africa to find different types of gladioli.

Rod quit his job to join her on her travels, and together they built up a successful business selling seeds around the world.

Pacific Bulb SocietyRod and Rachel Saunders built up a successful seed business[/caption] Robin Matthews/FacebookThe adventurous pair spent six months a year searching for specimens[/caption] Pacific Bulb SocietyRod and Rachel were experts on rare native flowers in South Africa[/caption]
- Henry Holloway
Putin ‘may test nuclear bomb on Ukraine border’ after nuke train deployed as ‘apocalypse’ torpedo sub stalks Arctic

VLADIMIR Putin may turn the war in Ukraine nuclear by detonating a bomb on the border in a message to the West, it has been claimed.

Russia has been rattling its nuclear sabre as its forces continue to be pushed back even as Moscow declared four regions as their own.

Vladimir Putin is feared to use nuclear weapons in UkraineRex APRussia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world[/caption] East2WestPutin’s massive nuke submarine Belgorod is reportedly at sea in the Arctic[/caption]

Putin has been brazen in his threats of turning the already devastating war nuclear – and Russian military doctrine does leave the door open for them to use a nuclear weapon.

Vlad’s biggest submarine, Belgorod, which can be armed with “apocalypse” nuclear torpedoes is on the move, and there have been reports a convoy linked to a nuclear unit on the move in Russia.

And now the world waits with bated to breath to see if Putin will make good on his threats as his army suffered furthering humiliating defeats yesterday as Ukraine storms towards Kherson.

Defence sources reportedly claim one of the options on the table is for Putin to detonate a nuclear weapon on the border in a massive show of force, reports The Times.

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Putin would have to find a large enough area to detonate the weapon without harming his own people – especially those who it has recently “welcomed” as part of Russia.

But the risky play could send a clear message to Ukraine and the West that he isn’t afraid to use nukes in combat for the first since the end of World War 2.

It is widely understood the current nuclear threats are referring specifically to smaller, tactical weapons designed for battlefield use rather than massive city-killing bombs.

Nato is reported to have warned its members about the possibility that Vlad could be preparing for a nuclear escalation.

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Defence sources said that a more likely option however is for Putin to use a nuclear weapon in the Black Sea.

Vlad could detonate a weapon over the sea which is bordered by Russia and Ukraine, along with Nato states Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Putin could potentially even detonate a bomb on Snake Island – a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance from earlier in the war, famous for the message telling the Russians to “go f*** yourselves”.

Dr. Rod Thornton, a security expert at King’s College London, suggested the outpost during an interview with Forbes.

Other options could be a full on battlefield strike on Ukrainian forces using a tactical nuclear weapons.

While smaller, such devices would be still be utterly devastating – killing thousands and leave a large area bathed in radiation.

Other more drastic – and less realistic options – could see Putin could all out and launch a strike on Kyiv, or even attempt to strike Western weapons entering Ukraine from Poland.

And all these options would likely illicit a response in the West.

It could range from a US nuclear attack on Russians to a sudden effort to end the war and negotiate peace between Kyiv and Moscow.

He’s ready to up the stakes if he is losing on the battlefield

Alexander Gabuev

Either way, the nuclear danger puts humanity on the precipice of the one of the most dangerous moments since the Cold War with the looming spectre of World War 3.

Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Washington Post: “Time and again we are seeing that Vladimir Putin sees this as a big existential war and he’s ready to up the stakes if he is losing on the battlefield.

“At the same time I don’t think the West will back down, so it’s a very hard challenge now.”

He warned the world could “two of three steps away” from the unthinkable – nuclear war.

Professor Joe Siracus, from Curtin University  in Australia, also warned the world is a “nanosecond away” from a full blown nuclear crisis.

He suggested Vlad could see one of his options be to strike Western weapons before they arrive in Ukraine.

“We’re very, very close,” the prof warned.

He went on: “Chances of war … between Putin and Biden are about 10 per cent if given their own ability to do so.

“The chances of an accidental war right now are about 90 per cent because there are no guardrails anywhere and theatre commanders can do what they want.”

Russian state TV has been swamped with talk of nuclear war – with throughout the conflict Putin’s mouthpiece hosts constantly raising the possibility, even suggesting nuking London.

Putin – who is reportedly growing increasingly unpredictable amid his health concerns – has the world’s largest atomic arsenal athis fingertips.

And he gave a rambling speech last Friday as Russia annexed four regions in eastern Ukraine during which he constantly and incoherently moaned about the West.

Moscow has red lines in its doctrine about when to use nukes – but they are softer than those in the West.

Putin is happy to use the weapons if he considers there is an “existential threat” to Russia.

Russia is thought to have around 2,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal in the form of small yield missiles, torpedoes and artillery shells.

Putin’s commanders believed they could roll over Ukraine in a matter of days – but now the war has been raging for eight months.

Russian troops thought they would be greeted with cheers and waving flags, instead they were faced with Kalashnikovs and molotov cocktails.

The war has become a slow and brutal quagmire – one which has seen the Russians change tactics, moving from attempts at surgical strikes to savage, indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

With further defeats on the horizon, a seemingly hopeless mass mobilisation, and a resurgent Ukraine storming towards their new “territory” – fears are growing the war could escalate once again.

Both the US and Russia are believed to have invested much time and money into developing smaller battlefield-ready atomic weapons.

The weapons lack the truly terrifying devastating destructive power of the biggest Cold War-era weapons – such as the Tsar Bomba.

A single 58 megaton Tsar Bomba could cause devastation across 50 miles area, kill millions of people, send a shockwave that would circle the globe three times, and cause a mushroom cloud visible for 500 miles.

Such a bomb was deemed far too big to ever be used due to the potentially apocalyptic consequences of such a nuclear exchange.

But that sort of thinking is what has pushed war planners to develop and potentially use tactical – as opposed to strategic – nuclear weapons.

Moscow’s war doctrine is believed to be open to using nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict as an intimidation tactic – and use of such a weapon must be signed off personally by Putin.

The tactic became known as “escalate to de-escalate”.

Moscow has previously practiced such strategies in the field – such as simulating a Nato attack on the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The scenario saw the Russian forces strike back at the invading West by firing nuclear arms at Poland and the US.

And these drills are believed to have taken place in the nineties and noughties, with tactical nukes used for both offense and defense.

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Russian warships, missile launchers, warplanes and even field artillery guns can be armed with small yield nuclear warheads.

Nato has warned in no uncertain terms that Putin faces “catastrophic consequences” if he uses a nuke – with the alliance describing the war as now in its most dangerous.

- Olivia Burke
I started a side-hustle aged 9 selling my pet hens’ eggs for pocket money – now I run a multi-million-pound business

A NIFTY nine-year-old who started selling his hens’ eggs for pocket money is now running a multi-million-pound business empire.

Josh Murray first realised his pets had profit potential back in 2008 while he was still in primary school.

@joshsrainboweggs/INSTAGRAMJosh Murray has transformed his hobby into a multi-million-pound business[/caption] @joshsrainboweggs/INSTAGRAMHe started selling his hens’ eggs at the tender age of nine[/caption] @joshsrainboweggs/INSTAGRAMThe now-21-year-old has created a successful business from his side hustle[/caption]

His family had just moved to an old pine plantation in Kerrie Valley in Victoria, Australia, when they found that the previous owner had left behind 40 hens.

The youngster, keen to earn some cash, managed to persuade his parents to keep the poultry – on the condition he took care of them.

The then-nine-year-old demonstrated his business acumen, bartering with mum Tamsyn so that he could reap the full rewards.

They eventually struck a deal that Josh would tend to the chickens and could sell their eggs.

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Tamsyn told aunews.com: “He looked after the chickens, he had to feed them, clean out the coup, the hens were his responsibility.

“He started selling to neighbours but we only had three.”

The money-hungry pre-teen realised his lack of clientele was hindering his business plan with his pets.

Josh soon branched out to local shops and a farmer’s market, slowly but surely expanding his client base and raking in around £8,500.

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His mother quickly realised her son’s side hustle had the potential to become a real money maker – marking the creation of his company, Josh’s Rainbow Eggs.

The family threw all their resources into the free-range egg business and dedicated their entire farm to rearing their beloved hens.

By 2012, the Murray brood had taken on their first worker to help collect eggs from their ever-expanding number of chickens.

The following year, Josh had 2,000 hens to take care of on his family farm – which exploded to a whopping 10,000 in 2015.

And as his business grew, so did his workload, seeing the then 13-year-old hire eight full-time employees.

Josh even had to splash out on a later 250-acre farm in Monegeetta to ensure his birds had enough space to roam free.

He added: “It is very different from the forested hills we live among. It is easier to have hens here as they have so much space to forage in.

“The flocks are small, the hens are less stressed and can come and go from the shed easily. It is a place for them to sleep and to lay an egg.”

EGG-CELLENT WORK

The determined teenager decided he wanted to expand his horizons even further in 2015 and wanted a spot in a supermarket.

Josh penned a heartfelt letter to Aussie chain Coles convincing them to take on his product – and he and his mum were invited to their Melbourne office later that day.

The savvy schoolboy also approached Woolworths to strike an egg-cellent deal, who jumped at the chance to worth with him.

Josh’s Rainbow Eggs are also sold in IGA and LaManna Supermarket, as well as Foodworks for around £5 per dozen.

In the last financial year, the firm made nearly £3million in annual turnover and sell their product in almost 100 stories across Victoria.

Now at the age of 21, Josh is running a successful egg empire alongside his loved ones while studying business majoring in marketing.

Tasmyn proudly added: “When tens of thousands eat your eggs every week, that’s a lot of people.”

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Josh also earned the Victorian Young Achiever Award for Environmental Sustainability in 2019 thanks to his admirable business model.

A 3KW off-grid solar system provides the power while he maintains a specific focus on the wellbeing of his hens.

@joshsrainboweggs/INSTAGRAMJosh, seen with mum Tasmyn, now takes care of thousands of chickens alongside his loved ones[/caption] @joshsrainboweggs/INSTAGRAMJosh’s Rainbow Eggs are now stocked in over 100 stores across his state[/caption]
- Aliki Kraterou
Watch jaw-dropping moment pod of killer whales ‘BRAWLS’ with two 35-tonne humpbacks in rare battle

THIS is the jaw-dropping moment a brawl breaks out between a pod of killer whales and a pair of 35-tonne humpbacks.

The rare encounter, filmed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near Seattle, shows the humpbacks clashing with a group of  Bigg’s orcas- known to prey on seals, sea lions and humpback calves.

The clip shows two humpbacks harassing a group of orcas Bigg’s orcas are known to prey on humpback calves The rare encounter happened off the coast of Seattle

Mollie Naccarato, who works for whale watching tour agency Sooke Coastal Explorations, captured the unusual battle on video.

She told KING: “I’ve loved whales my whole life, so I cried three times yesterday on the boat.

“Even doing this every day, things like that just truly take your breath away.”

Naccarato explained that they were Bigg’s transient orcas who are known to eat seals, sea lions and humpback calves.

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She added: “There was definitely a lot of harassing each other.”

The humpbacks were identified as Hydra, from Hawaii, and Reaper, from Mexico.

Researchers believe that in spite of being just two of them, it is possible they struck first.

Erin Johns Gless, executive director for Pacific Whale Watch Association said there have been past incidents of humpbacks harassing orcas hunting prey.

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She said: “There have been a few occasions in recent years that our naturalists have seen humpback whales come to the rescue of other animals, like sea lions, that were being chased by orcas.”

In a previous incident humpback Valient, who was possibly attacked by an orca in the past, was seen acting aggressively near a pod of Bigg’s orcas.

It comes as a great white shark was found with its “organs sucked out” on a New Zealand beach after a suspected orca attack.

Last month, a 13ft great white shark ambushed a humpback in a horrific attack off the coast of South Africa.

- Tariq Tahir
Top Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov sends teenage sons to fight in Ukraine as bizarre images show them firing weapons

A STAUNCH ally of Vladimir Putin has said he is sending his three teenage sons to fight in Ukraine.

Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechen region, is a vocal supporter of the Russian tyrant’s war, and bizarre video shows the three boys practising firing weapons.

Akhmat Kadyrov firing his gun in the bizarre footageRex Brother Adam taking aim on the firing rangeRex APRamzan Kadyrov is a staunch ally of Vladimir Putin[/caption]

Kadyrov – notorious for inflicting medieval torture on opponents -said Monday he was sending Adam, 14, Eli, 15, and 16-year-old Akhmat to the Ukraine front.

The video showed the boys in camouflage clothing and dark glasses, on tanks, guns strapped to their waists, shooting rocket launchers and machine guns.

At times the teenagers smile while shooting or made a thumbs-up gesture.

“It’s time to prove themselves in a real fight, I can only welcome this desire,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram.

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“Soon they will go to the front line and will be on the most difficult sections of the contact line.”

He said the three have trained for combat “almost from their youngest years” and insisted he was “not joking.”

Using children under the age of 15 to fight is considered a war crime by the International Criminal Court though Russia does not recognise its jurisdiction.

Prada-wearing Kadyrov has been described as “the son Putin never had,” such is his slavish devotion to the Russian president.

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Following Russia’s recent humiliating defeats he said Moscow should now consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

In a chilling message, he wrote: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”

He commands his own paramilitary force, the Kadyrovtsy, which he sent into Ukraine during the initial invasion at the very start of the war.

But while they came with a fearsome reputation they have faced slaughter on the battlefield.

They have been mocked by Ukrainians for appearing to focus more on uploading glossy videos to social media than on taking part in front-line battles.

Just three days after the start of the war, top Chechen general Magomed Tushaev was killed in fighting outside Kyiv, as the Russian advance stalled.

Days later, footage was shared on Telegram of a destroyed Russian column in the western Kyiv suburb of Bucha, showing vehicles that reportedly belonged to Kadyrov’s men.

During the brutal siege of Mariupol, Kadyrov himself bizarrely took a rifle-toting Adam son with him as he took his troops into the beleaguered city.

The leader said he wanted his boy “to learn first-hand about the successes and needs of our comrades-in-arms”.

Adam had earlier sparked controversy over his luxury watch collection, including a Richard Mille original reported to cost more than £263,000.

In the first days of the invasion, the former separatist rebel gave a speech urging Volodymyr Zelensky to ask Putin for forgiveness.

During his address, he was pictured wearing military fatigues and a pair of £1200 Prada Monolith boots.

The ruthless with a penchant for torture, murder, kidnapping and anti-gay purges – has an estimated fortune of up to £150million.

He is believed to own an villa on the exclusive man-made palm tree shaped island Palm Jumeriah in Dubai.

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The warlord also has an expensive car collection, including a Rolls Royce and Lamborghini – along with a £70million private plane, an Airbus A319.

He even has a private zoo – including tigers – near one of his mansions.

Kadyrov - TwitterOne of the boys firing a rocket launcher[/caption] Kadyrov - TwitterAdam high-fiving his brother on the range[/caption]

- Elsa Buchanan
Japan orders citizens to EVACUATE buildings or seek refuge underground as North Korea fires missile over country

JAPAN ordered its citizens to evacuate buildings or seek refuge underground after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the country on Tuesday morning.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the North Korean rocket was fired off its northern neighbour’s east coast.

TwitterA breaking news headline on a local Japanese TV channel warns of a ballistic missile being launched by North Korea[/caption] Kyodo News via APJapan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno hurries into the Prime Minister’s office after North Korea launched a ballistic missile towards Japan[/caption]

The Japanese Government warned citizens to take cover after its coast guard reported a launch by North Korea.

A statement from the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office warned residents to “evacuate inside a building or underground”.

The Prime Minister’s office issued the following statement on its official Twitter account: “The missile is believed to have been launched from North Korea. Evacuate inside a building or underground. Date and time received: 07:29 on the 4th Target area: Aomori Prefecture, Tokyo.”

Trains were suspended as panicked residents took cover.

Footage also shows a message running on local TV ordering residents to evacuate and take shelter underground.

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“North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please evacuate to the inside of a building or go to the basement. Target area: Hokkaido,” the message on the local TV read.

The Japanese Prime Minister’s Office later tweeted: “The aforementioned missile is believed to have passed through the Pacific Ocean around 07:29.

The latest launch was Pyongyang’s fifth launch in a week, amid military muscle-flexing by the United States and South Korea, which staged trilateral anti-submarine exercises last week with Japanese naval forces.

In an emergency media conference, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan Hirokazu Matsuno  confirmed the missile had passed over northern Japan and had landed in the Pacific outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (Japanese waters).

Debris may have fallen in the northern Prefectures of Aomori or Hokkaido, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

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Matsuno said the launch threats Japan and the Japanese people.

The official said his government strongly objects to the North Korean missile launch, and will launch “severe protest” to Pyongyang.

The Office warned residents to take extra precautions in light of the incident.

“If you find anything suspicious, do not approach it and immediately contact the police or fire department.”

Earlier this month, Japan said it would resume evacuation drills for residents amid the uptick in North Korean launches.

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It come after the navies of South Korea, the United States and Japan staged trilateral anti-submarine exercises on Friday for the first time in five years.

This follows US Vice-President Kamala Harris’s visit to the demilitarised zone dividing the Koreas on 29 September.

A TV shows J-Alert or National Early Warning System to the Japanese residents in Tokyo
- Jerome Starkey
Russian mum who staged anti-war protest on live TV escapes Moscow house arrest

A RUSSIAN mum who staged an anti-war protest on live TV has escaped from house arrest in Moscow.

Brave Marina Ovsyannikova, 44, was put on a wanted list after giving police the slip.

AFPMarina Ovsyannikova staged an anti-war protest on live TV and she has escaped from house arrest in Moscow[/caption] EPAMarina marched in front of TV cameras with a placard saying ‘Stop the war’ and ‘They’re lying to you’[/caption]

Her husband said she took their 11-year-old daughter and fled “in an unknown direction,” according to state-owned Russia Today.

The propaganda channel had earlier called her a traitor and demanded she stand trial for treason.

The courageous Ukraine-born journalist was facing up to ten years in prison after marching in front of TV cameras with a placard saying “Stop the war” and “They’re lying to you”.

It is not clear how she escaped.

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Her protest garnered worldwide attention as it cut through Russia’s censorship before the live feed was cut on the flagship Channel One news.

She has been charged with spreading false information about the Russian armed forces and was placed under two month’s house arrest in August RT quoted her husband as saying: “Last night, my ex-wife left the place that the court assigned her for house arrest and, together with my 11-year-old daughter, fled in an unknown direction.”

The case relates to a protest in July when she stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin and held up a poster calling President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.

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Royal Navy to send warship to help guard gas supplies after attack on Nord Stream pipelines ‘ordered by Putin’

THE Royal Navy has sent a warship to help guard gas supplies after a suspected Russian attack on a pipelines.

The move comes after a series of explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines which are feared to have been ordered by Vladimir Putin.

AFP or licensorsA Royal Navy warship, believed to be HMS Somerset, is heading to the North Sea[/caption]

Twin 800-mile pipelines Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 can ferry 110billion cubic metres of gas annually from Russia through the Baltic into Western Europe.

Prices had already spiked by up to 12 per cent following the apparent sabotage, deepening fears the continent is facing a cold and bleak winter.

A Royal Navy frigate, reportedly HMS Somerset, has now been sent to work alongside the Norwegian navy to guard gas pipes running under the North Sea the Ministry of Defence said.

It comes after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace joined a crisis meeting of northern European nations on Monday to discuss co-ordinating security responses, including increased maritime presence.

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“The group condemned the blatant attacks against civilian infrastructure,” the MoD said on Twitter.

“A Royal Navy frigate is in the North Sea, working with the Norwegian Navy to reassure those working near the gas pipelines.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss has said the series of explosions which caused major damage to the pipelines were “clearly an act of sabotage”.

Ahead of his meeting with counterparts in the joint expeditionary force, Mr Wallace warned that Russia makes “no secret” of its ability to target underwater infrastructure.

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Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, the Defence Secretary said “the Nordic states and ourselves are deeply vulnerable to people doing things on our cables and our pipelines”.

The “mysterious” damage inflicted to the Nord Stream pipelines should be a reminder of how “fragile” the UK economy and infrastructure are in the face of “hybrid attacks,” Mr Wallace said.

He announced that the Government will acquire “two specialist ships”.

These would be able to patrol and protect the Britain’s “internet and energy” which “are highly reliant on pipelines and cables”.

The joint expeditionary force comprises the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

At the meeting ministers discussed increasing shared intelligence assessments and cooperation to secure critical infrastructure, according to the MoD.

“In this period of heightened concern for all like-minded partner nations, it is right that we act with speed, agility and collective resolve to actively demonstrate our shared commitment to mutual security,” said Mr Wallace.

Two underwater explosions were detected last Monday alongside a mini earthquake.

German security services reportedly believe the damage has left the pipeline “forever unusable” – with three of four tubes so severely damaged they are now beyond repair.

The size of the holes in the pipes is sending large amounts of corrosive salt water flowing inside – further damaging them.

German government officials believe the complexity and scale of the attack could have only been carried out by a “state actor”.

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Russia steadily reduced Nord Stream 1 flows this year before halting them altogether at the end of August, blaming technical difficulties caused sanctions.

But Putin has been previously accused of weaponising the energy crisis in a bid to pile pressure on the West.

- Elsa Buchanan
Heartbreaking moment camels carry bricks in ‘world’s hottest workplace’ with temperatures reaching FIFTY degrees

THIS is the heartbreaking moment camels are forced to work relentlessly in the most extreme conditions in what has been dubbed “the world’s hottest workplace”.

The harrowing footage shows working camels transporting large stacks of bricks by cart at local brick kilns in the Rajasthan state of northern India.

SWNSCamels work in extreme conditions in what has been dubbed “the world’s hottest workplace”[/caption] SWNSCamels haul loads weighing two tonnes, with each cart filled with 800 or 900 individual bricks[/caption] SWNSWithout shade, camels and local workers – including families who help make the bricks – work up to nine hours a day[/caption]

While the sturdy animals play a key role in transporting local materials, they work in punishing conditions in this hard and dusty environment, where temperatures can often reach 50 degrees Celsius.

Without shade, camels and local workers – including families who help make the bricks – work up to nine hours a day, according to global animal charity SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad).

Camels haul loads weighing two tonnes, with each cart filled with 800 or 900 individual bricks, the charity warned.

In the hotter days, they are made to work through the night, from 2am to 11am.

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In these intolerable conditions, the hoofed mammals are under constant threat of injury and illness, with wounds and lameness among common problems.

Additionally, the blistery conditions mean that the animals often also suffer from respiratory conditions, colic and skin diseases such as mange.

Speaking ahead of World Animal Day on Tuesday, Linda Edwards, SPANA’s chief executive, said: “Working animals like the camels working in the brick kilns of Rajasthan perform vital roles in the world’s most impoverished communities.

“However, they are often completely over-looked and many people are unaware about the extreme conditions they face.

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“Sadly, many working animals endure exceptionally harsh conditions, often carrying excessive loads in sweltering heat across tough terrain.

“Their welfare is often very poor – they lack access to water, shelter and veterinary care.”

SPANA, which improves the welfare of working animals in low-income countries, including providing essential veterinary care, has treated more than 9,300 suffering camels at brick kilns in India through its mobile clinics in the last year.

Aside from veterinary care, camel owners are also offered training and advice to care properly for their animals.

This support, which includes educating owners about adequate nutrition and the use of safe and comfortable equipment for their animals, helps to avoid preventable issues for the camels, the charity said.

Worldwide, more than 200 million working animals – horses, donkeys, camels, mules and elephants – make it possible for poverty-stricken families to earn a small income and survive.

These animals do the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis – and transport goods, food, water and firewood – effectively supporting the livelihoods of more than half a billion people, SPANA said.

Whether on the brick kilns in India, the rubbish dumps of Mali‘s capital Bamako, or on the inaccessible terrain of Morocco‘s Atlas Mountains, working animals endure unimaginably hard conditions.

CEO Edwards added: “We are committed to improving the lives of working animals in low-income countries around the world and the need for our work is greater than ever.

“So many working animals are in desperate need of help, but with your support we can ensure that animals receive the recognition, respect and vital care they need.”

In 2021, SPANA provided critical veterinary treatment and vaccinations to more than 291,000 sick and injured animals in 28 countries, along with lifesaving feed and water for animals in crisis situations.

SWNSCamel owners are given training and advice to avoid preventable problems[/caption] SWNSWorking donkeys haul heavy carts up steep slopes of rotting waste, at risk from metal and sharp objects underfoot in Bamako, Mali[/caption] SWNSMules support local communities by carrying food, water and other basic necessities across rocky, inaccessible terrain in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco[/caption]
- Lauren Cole-Lomas

UKRAINIAN soldiers continue to make advances into Russian “annexed” territory, pushing Kremlin forces back 25 miles in one day.

Ukrainian troops pushed along the Dnipro river, meaning Russia is “now in trouble” said Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think tank.

He said: “When this many Russian channels are sounding the alarm, it usually means they’re in trouble.”

It is thought that the latest advance could lead to a victory if President Zelensky‘s army can continue their advance and encircle Russian soldiers, trapping them along the Dnipro river away from their supplies.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky announced that the military had reclaimed Arkhanhelske and Myrolyubivka in Kherson after informing the world that Lyman had been returned to Ukraine, reported the Independent.

Read our Ukraine-Russia live blog below for the latest updates…

- Tariq Tahir
Eerie link between Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy who slaughtered 50 young men and boys between them

THE day John Wayne Gacy was executed, fellow serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was also preparing to meet his maker.

Dahmer wasn’t facing the death penalty for the murder of his victims, also boys and young men, but in an eerie coincidence was baptised in prison as he sought redemption for his gruesome crimes.

John Wayne Gacy was executed on March 10, 1994Rex Features AlamyOn the very same day, Jeffrey Dahmer was being baptised – and there was a solar eclipse[/caption]

The day, March 10 1994, that links the two murderers, who killed 50 young men and boys between them, was made all the more strange by there being a solar eclipse.

Gacy marked the end of his life with a defiant send off, telling those gathered to see his execution to “kiss my ass”.

Born on March 17, 1942, John Wayne Gacy began his crime spree with a string of sexual assaults for which was convicted in 1968.

He would lure his victims in with the promise of construction work.

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When he was released from prison in 1970, Gacy faced multiple sexual assault allegations.

Gacy terrorised the Chicago area for six years until 1978, and earned his chilling ‘killer clown’ nickname after it emerged that he worked as a clown prior to his crimes.

His first victim was 16-year-old Timothy McCoy, who he stabbed to death after picking him up from a bus terminal.

It was at his Chicago home where he would claim his victims.

He would trick boys and young men into his house and pretend to perform a magic trick on them, often in his clown persona.

After convincing his victims to put on a pair of handcuffs, he would rape and torture them before killing his captive.

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He would then bury many of his victims under his house.

Police were investigating the disappearance of teenager Robert Piest, with Gacy the last person thought to have been with the 15-year-old, when they made a gruesome discovery.

They came across the bodies of 29 boys and young men while four other bodies were found in the Des Plaines River.

The smell of the bodies had been building up for years but Gacy dismissed the questions by saying it was just a build-up of damp.

In another strange coincidence, Gacy was arrested in 1978 – the same year Dahmer, dubbed the Milwaukee Cannibal, killed his first victim, Steven Hicks.

Nicknamed “The Milwaukee Cannibal,” Dahmer killed and dismembered at least 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991.

He murdered and dismembered 17 males over a 13-year period before he was apprehended by authorities and at the time of his arrest, police also made a macabre discovery.

They came across seven skulls, two hearts, severed hands, skeletons and dismembered torsos, along with Polaroid photos of the victims, saws, knives, a drill and acid.

Dahmer was sentenced to 16 consecutive life terms in prison in 1992.

During his time behind bars prisoners recall he would shape his food into body parts and squirt ketchup on them to replicate blood, as if in reference to his grisly cannibalism.

Dahmer was killed by fellow Columbia Correctional Institution inmate Christopher Scarver on November 28, 1994.

Just before his death, it was reported he found God while in prison after being sent religious material by Curt Booth, a member of the Crescent Church of Christ in Oklahoma.

Booth had seen an interview Dahmer had given in which he had said that he wished he could “find a little peace”, according to the Oklahoman.

Dahmer replied to Booth thanking him for the courses but said he was “concerned” he wouldn’t be able to find a pastor to carry out the baptism.

Booth then contacted Roy Ratcliff, evangelist at the Madison Church of Christ in Wisconsin.

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Ratcliff set up weekly Bible lessons with Dahmer and baptised him May 10, pushing under water until he was fully immersed.

“I tried several others (preachers), but they were kind of scared to go in,” Booth said after.

Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of the murder and dismemberment of 17 boys and men in 1991
- Elsa Buchanan
My hen do was ruined when thugs stole £50k from our Airbnb – but I tracked the thieves down using my AIRPODS

A BRIDE says her hen do was ruined after burglars took £50,000 from her AirBnB villa in Spain.

The women, who wish to remain anonymous, documented the incident in the in Costa del Sol on TikTok.

The hens showed the extent of the damage left behind after the alleged burglarySWNS At least £50,000 worth of the hens’ cash and belongings were stolenSWNS The hens used AirPods to track down the alleged perpetratorsSWNS

In the first instalment, the women recorded the devastation left behind after they realised they had been burgled, including the content of 13 suitcases strewn across the villa’s floor, beds and wardrobes.

The video, captioned “13 girls robbed in Marbella by Cuban gang and police refused to help”, shows one hen touring the house, saying: “Everything is gone”.

Listing items that had been stolen, the young woman explained that her designer clothes and trainers had been stolen, alongside at least £50,000 worth of the hens’ cash and belongings.

Another instalment shows the young women speaking with the local police following the burglary.

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The next morning, after visiting the police station, the young women realised they could use the stolen AirPods to track their stolen items.

Users can locate their lost AirPods using the Find My app on their phones, which will show the device’s last known location on a map.

Police allegedly told the young women to go to the location and take a look around, but that they should contact officers should the situation escalate with the alleged perpetrators.

According to the hens, the group of thieves included a squatter and a man who is part of a “Cuban gang”.

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A video showed the moment the situation escalated when one of the men can be seen wielding a pair of bolt cutters.

The young women alleged they were physically attacked after police left them on their own at the scene.

The man they suspected of having burgled their villa tried to flee after police spoke to him, the women said.

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The young women, whose passports were stolen during the home invasion, claimed they have not had any update from the local police.

Their passports were mysteriously returned and placed under the group’s rental car, they claimed.

The hens were able to speak to police and file a complaintSWNS The young women managed to track down the location of the alleged suspectsSWNS Documenting the whole incident, the hens identified the alleged burglarsSWNS
- Felix Allen
Iran’s morality cops kill two more girls, 16 & 17, leaving one with crushed skull in brutal crackdown on hijab protests

TWO more young girls have been killed during the Iran regime’s brutal crackdown on hijab protests that have swept the country.

YouTuber Sarina Esmailzadeh, 16, died after security forces beat her round the head with batons, according to Amnesty International.

@sarinacmz/CENSarina Esmailzadeh, 16, died amid a brutal crackdown on protests in Iran[/caption] NewsflashNika Shakarami, 17, had a fractured skull and smashed nose, her family say[/caption]

Her death was reported as officials handed over the body of “fearless” teenager whose family had been searching for her for ten days.

Nika Shahkarmi, 17, went missing during a protest rally in the capital Tehran on September 20.

Atesh Shakrami, Nika’s aunt, told BBC Farsi she had left the house with a bottle of water and a towel – which they later realised were to combat tear gas.

In her last phone call to a pal she said she was “running away from security agents”.

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That night her Telegram and Instagram accounts were deleted and her mobile phone went dead.

Her family spent the next ten days searching for her in prisons, hospitals and even the mortuary.

Finally they were told a girl matching her description was in the Kahrizak morgue.

Her body showed signs that her skull was fractured and her nose had been smashed, reports say.

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The official cause of death was given as a fall from a height, but relatives do not believe it.

They say a photo of her lifeless body on the pavement shows “the water bottle and mobile phone were arranged next to her for photography.”

At least 52 people have been killed in protests across Iran since the death of Mehsa Amini last month, according to Amnesty’s figures.

Activists in Iran say the true figure is now more than 300.

Mehsa, 22, from Kurdistan, was arrested by the feared morality police for allegedly wearing a hijab that did not fully cover her hair. 

Officials claimed she had a heart attack and was rushed to hospital, but her family said she was beaten into a coma by the guards.

Leaked medical reports claimed she had a skull fracture after a “blow to the head”.

Her death sparked furious protests across Iran and defiant women were filmed burning their headscarves as they called for an end to the Ayatollah’s regime.

Colonel Ebrahim Khouchakzai is alleged to have taken the girl in for questioning while investigating the murder of one of her neighbours.

He stripped her in his office and forced himself on her, it is claimed.

The girl’s family filed a complaint with police and then went to a local media outlet when they say nothing was done.

Now city police have taken three members of her family “hostage” to force them to publicly deny she was raped, according to the latest reports.

Supporters took to the streets demanding justice at the same time as demos raged over Mehsa’s death and women’s rights.

Panicking authorities shut down social media sites and a large part of the internet in a desperate attempt to quell protests.

Paramilitary police and Revolutionary Guards soldiers have also been ordered to “mercilessly confront” civilians with lethal force.

“The Iranian authorities knowingly decided to harm or kill people who took to the streets to express their anger at decades of repression and injustice,” said Amnesty’s Agnes Callamard.

Protests also erupted around the world, and a growing list of politicians and celebrities have voiced their support.

Outrage was stoked further by the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a police commander in the city of Chabahar.

ReutersFresh clashes erupted between protesters and riot police in Tehran last night[/caption] NewsflashMahsa Amini, 22, died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police last month[/caption]
- Jacob Bentley-York
Ukraine makes ‘biggest breakthrough’ on Southern front in latest blow to Putin days after he declared the region Russian

UKRAINIAN forces have achieved their biggest breakthrough on the southern front since the war as they are now storming towards the key city of Kherson.

Brave soldiers have reportedly made rapid progress along the Dnipro River on Monday, encircling thousands of Russian troops.

A destroyed tank in the in the eastern city of Izium showcases the damage inflicted on Russian vehiclesGetty 23 tanks have been destroyed and another 26 armoured vehicles have been wiped out in the latest offensiveGetty Ukrainian flag waves in a residential area heavily damaged in the village of Dolyna in Donetsk OblastGetty APNewly mobilised Russian troops, picture above, have been pushed back by Ukrainian forces[/caption]

Kyiv gave no official confirmation of the gains, but Russian sources acknowledged that a Ukrainian tank offensive had advanced dozens of miles along the river’s west bank, recapturing a number of villages along the way.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence claimed the milestone advancement after a further 500 Russian troops had been eliminated – taking the total to over 60,000.

The breakthrough mirrors recent Ukrainian successes in the east that have turned the tide in the war against Russia, even as Moscow has tried to raise the stakes by annexing territory, ordering mobilisation and threatening nuclear retaliation.

Images from the eastern city of Izium showed the damage inflicted as a further 23 tanks were destroyed and another 26 armoured vehicles were wiped out in the latest offensive.

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It is though that Ukrainians forces currently occupy territory just 20 miles from the city of Kherson, the capital of one of the annexed regions, as they seek to push on.

“The information is tense, let’s put it that way, because, yes there were indeed breakthroughs,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts pf Kherson province told Russian state television.

“There’s a settlement called Dudchany, right along the Dnipro River, and right there, in that region, there was a breakthrough. There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces,” he said.

Dudchany is around 25 miles south of where the front stood just a day earlier, indicating one of the fastest advances of the war and by far the most rapid in the south.

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It is believed that Russian forces had been dug into heavily reinforced positions along a mainly static front line since the early weeks of the invasion, but have lost vital territory in the latest push.

Stanford’s Francis Fukuyama, an expert in military and international policy, exclaimed on Twitter that “a much bigger Russian collapse will unfold in the coming days.”

The advance in the south mirrors the tactics that have brought Kyiv major gains since the start of September in eastern Ukraine, where its forces swiftly seized territory to gain control of Russian supply lines, cutting off larger Russian forces and forcing them to retreat.

Meanwhile, in the south, Ukraine’s advance is thought to have targets supply lines for thousands of Russian troops – perhaps as many as 25,000 – where it sent a large contingent to halt a counter-attack Ukraine announced there in August.

Ukraine has already destroyed the main bridges across the Dnipro, forcing Russian forces to use makeshift crossings.

A substantial advance along the river could bring those remaining crossings into artillery range.

“The fact we have broken through the front means that … the Russian army has already lost the ability to attack, and today or tomorrow it could lose the ability to defend,” said Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kyiv.

“A month of our work destroying their supplies and reducing the combat effectiveness of this group means that they are functioning on minimal rations in terms of ammunition, fuel and food.”

INTERNAL CONFLICT

The latest advancements comes just days after Vladimir Putin was upstaged as he hosted a concert on Moscow’s Red Square on Friday to proclaim the provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be Russian territory forever.

Merely hours later, Ukraine recaptured Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province.

Despite parroted lines by the Russian state, the gains have reportedly opened the way for Ukrainian forces to advance deep into Luhansk province, threatening the main supply routes to territory Moscow captured in some of the war’s bloodiest battles in June and July.

Amid the latest reports of Ukraine’s battlefield advances, chaos has also continued to ensue back in Russia over the mobilisation, which Putin ordered 10 days ago.

Tens of thousands of Russian men have been called up, while tens of thousands of others, including young men, have fled to escape being called up to fight in the bloody war.  

Some have even resorted to self-inflicting horrific injuries as confidence in the war effort dwindles by the day.  

The internal conflict in Russia has reportedly signalled a turn in the tide for “cancer stricken” Putin who was today described as “desperate” by intelligence experts watching on.

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David Petraeus, who served as Director of the CIA under Barack Obama, told ABC: “It can still get worse for Putin and for Russia.

“And even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield won’t change this at all.”

East2WestVladimir Putin has cut a ‘desperate’ figure in recent days[/caption] The tyrant announced the annexation of four regions on FridayGetty APProtests have continued across Russia against an increased mobilisation[/caption] AFPTroops bearing the Z symbol have been deployed across the country[/caption]
- Imogen Braddick
Five devastating ways West could strike back at Putin if Russian tyrant launches nuke in Ukraine

AS desperate Putin ramps up his nuclear threats in the face of his faltering Ukraine war, the West is weighing up its options for how it could strike back.

Tensions escalated over the weekend as a key ally of the tyrant called for Russia to unleash a “low-yield nuclear weapon” in Ukraine after humiliated Russian forces retreated from a major battleground.

APDesperate Putin is ramping up his nuclear threats as the Ukraine war falters[/caption] APRussian troops line up before heading to the Ukraine frontline[/caption] East2WestRussian president Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Red Square concert[/caption]

After being encircled by Ukrainian troops, Russia pulled its struggling soldiers out of the city of Lyman – and Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechnya region, called for more “drastic measures” to be taken.

In a chilling message, he wrote: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”

Although other top Putin allies have suggested Russia may need to resort to nukes, Kadyrov’s call was the most urgent and explicit.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Kadyrov had the right to voice his opinion – but Russia’s military approach should not be driven by emotions.

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“Even in difficult moments, emotions should be kept out of any kind of assessment,” he said. “So we prefer to stick to balanced, objective assessments.”

Peskov said the basis for any use of nuclear weapons was set down in Russia’s nuclear doctrine.

The rules allow for the use of nukes if they are used against Russia, or if the Russian state faces an existential threat from conventional weapons.

Last month, Putin warned the West he was “not bluffing” when he said Russia was prepared to use nuclear weapons to protect its land.

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And in a deranged speech on Friday, Putin said he would “defend our land with all our strength and all our means”.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg has warned of “severe consequences for Russia” if nuclear weapons are launched as the reckless move would “change the nature” of the war.

As the tyrant edges the world into the most dangerous moment since his invasion, the West is now weighing up its options for how it would strike back in the event of a nuclear attack from Russia.

But the choices are complicated.

Although the US and NATO don’t want to appear weak in the face of a nuclear threat, there are fears some responses could escalate the conflict into a devastating global nuclear war.

FULL-BLOWN NUKE RETALIATION

In the event of a nuke strike, the West could respond with full-blown nuclear retaliation by launching a nuclear weapon of its own in Russia.

But experts have pointed out that this scenario is unlikely as it would escalate the conflict into a terrifying all-out nuclear war between the West and Russia.

US national security expert Jeffrey Edmonds told The Bulletin: “Striking a target in Russia with a nuclear weapon, regardless of yield, fundamentally changes the conflict.

“Using a nuclear weapon against Russia immediately turns the conflict into a Russia versus the United States and NATO war that has skipped all the conventional options for escalation management.

“Striking targets inside Russia with nuclear weapons is unlikely to be viewed by the US president as a viable option.”

WIPING OUT RUSSIAN ARMY

Another option for the West is to wipe out Putin’s army.

Former CIA director and retired army general David Petraeus said the US and its allies would destroy Russia’s troops and equipment in Ukraine if Putin launches a nuke.

He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypothetical, we would respond by leading a NATO – a collective – effort that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea.”

Although Ukraine is not yet a member of NATO, a “US and NATO response” would be in order if Russia uses nukes, Petraeus said.

Petraeus admitted the likelihood that radiation would reach NATO countries could be taken as an attack on a NATO member.

“Perhaps you can make that case. The other case is that this is so horrific that there has to be a response – it cannot go unanswered,” he said.

Senator Marco Rubio, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it was “quite possible” Putin could strike distribution points where supplies are coming into Ukraine.

And NATO will have to respond to it, he said.

He told CNN: “How it will respond, I think a lot of it will depend on the nature of the attack and the scale and scope of it.”

AFPThe Moskva, missile cruiser flagship of Russian Black Sea Fleet, before it sank[/caption] AFPFrench and Romanian army soldiers take part in a NATO exercise[/caption] AFPWiping out the Black Sea Fleet is one option for the West[/caption] SINKING THE BLACK SEA FLEET

To make sure Putin’s forces struggle on land and water, Petraeus said the US and its allies would also sink his Black Sea Fleet if he launches a nuke.

The Crimea-based fleet was considered central to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as it provides the main supply route for Russian forces in southern Ukraine.

Wiping out the fleet would make moving troops and equipment around by sea more difficult, and destroying the naval force would mean also taking out the Black Sea Fleet’s aviation regiment.

The Black Sea Fleet is much larger than Ukraine’s navy and a source of national pride.

But it’s been battered by Ukrainian missile and drone attacks over the last seven months.

In April, Ukraine hit its lead warship, Moskva, with Neptune missiles, causing it to catch fire and sink.

TARGETED STRIKE

NATO might also choose to retaliate with a conventional targeted strike against a ship of the Russian navy or a targeted campaign against Moscow’s Air Force.

Mary Glantz, from the United States Institute of Peace, said the West could also take out Russian units responsible for the use of nuclear weapons.

Glantz warned: “It would… show the world that the United States is serious about defending states that renounce the development and use of nuclear weapons.”

The US has also positioned about 100 of its own tactical nuclear weapons in NATO countries and it could use these to respond against Russian forces.

We would respond by leading a NATO effort that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see

David PetraeusRetired US army general

Tactical bombs are designed to have a more limited impact on the battlefield – compared to nuclear weapons which are designed to fight and win all-out wars.

They are small weapons, ranging from 0.3 kilotons to 100 kilotons of explosive power – compared to the 1.2 megatons of the largest US strategic warhead, or the 58 megaton bomb Russia tested in 1961.

Matthew Kroenig of the Atlantic Council said it “would demonstrate resolve and remind Moscow of the danger of its actions”.

INTENSIFYING SANCTIONS

The West has already slapped a series of sanctions against Russia in response to the Ukraine war.

And the sanctions could be intensified in the event of a nuke strike to hit the Russian economy hard.

Just last week, Britain and America immediately responded to Putin’s move to annex the Ukraine regions with a wave of fresh sanctions.

But Glantz said: “This response is not significantly different than current activities and would not as notably highlight the difference between Russian conventional and nuclear aggression.

“It is uncertain that would-be nuclear powers observing the response to Russia’s attack would consider this sufficient defence of a non-nuclear power.”

SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING

The West could do nothing in response to a nuclear attack – although this remains unlikely.

It’s likely there would be some form of response from NATO and the United States if Putin pressed the nuke button.

For example, the West might continue to provide military aid to the Ukrainians without escalating the war with attacks against Russia, or impose new sweeping sanctions.

PUSH FOR SETTLEMENT

This option involves ending the war in a way that gives the Russian leadership an “out” from the conflict.

But this move from the West would show that nuclear blackmail works.

US national security expert Edmonds said: “While seemingly reasonable given the level of destruction and costs of escalation, this option has significant challenges and implications for the international security environment.”

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He explained that Russia would want a negotiated settlement which endss security cooperation between the US, Ukraine and NATO – and the accepts Russian possession of Crimea and the Donbass.

“Given the Ukrainian success in defending their country thus far, this does not seem politically feasible or desirable from the perspective of the Ukrainian leadership,” he said.

- Felix Allen
British expat killed & his wife fighting for life after horror crash in classic convertible sports car during rally

A BRITISH expat was killed and his wife seriously injured when their classic sports car crashed into a ditch during a rally in Italy.

David Twaites, 82, was at the wheel of the racing green Austin Healey convertible when he reportedly lost control and ran off the road.

The classic 1955 Austin Healey 100 convertible crashed into a ditch in northern Italy

His Swiss-born wife Henriette, 80, was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition.

Londoner David – who was well known in the world of classic car restoration – and his wife were taking part in a rally called the Via Flaminia.

They were heading with fellow British, Dutch and Belgian enthusiasts through northern Italy to Genoa where they were due to catch the ferry to Corsica.

But David’s 1955 right-hand-drive Austin Healey 100 crashed at 4pm on Thursday between Albonese and Mortara, southwest of Milan.

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It ran into a ditch on a straight stretch of road, reports La Provincia Pavese.

Firefighters and other emergency crews found the couple unconscious when they arrived soon after.

Henriette was flown by helicopter to San Matteo hospital in Pavia, but David could not be saved.

The couple lived in Switzerland, officials said.

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David was originally from South London and was a violinist in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Hong Kong, according to an online profile.

Later he set up a workshop for restoring pre-War classic cars in Montreux, Switzerland.

The Foreign Office said: “We are assisting the family of a British man who has died in Italy and are in contact with the local police.”

The Via Flaminia rally sees 30 classic car lovers cruise through the winding roads of northern Italy and the Mediterranean island Corsica, enjoying local food and wine at each stop.

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It was established in 2005 and describes itself as the “rally with a smile”.

Organisers say: “The Via Flaminia is a relaxed rally where the competition serves the atmosphere. Winning is not a goal in itself.”

- Olivia Burke
Inside incredible 425ft ‘floating mansion’ megayacht complete with on board infinity pool, beach club and cinema

MERGING the luxury of an on-land mansion with the abilities of a megayacht sounds like the perfect recipe for a fabulous floating pad.

And it’s exactly what a renowned Dutch design studio has created to capture the essence of opulence and share it with the sea.

Jam Press/Sinot Yacht ArchitectuThe stunning 425ft superyacht was designed by Dutch water wizard Sander Sinot[/caption] Jam Press/Sinot Yacht ArchitectuIt boasts numerous pools, a beach club and even a spa to unwind in[/caption] Jam Press/Sinot Yacht ArchitectuA snug home cinema is also featured in the concept design for the vessel named Poetry[/caption] The creators wanted to ensure the floating mansion had a homey yet luxury feelJam Press/Sinot Yacht Architectu

Water wizards at Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design unveiled their new 425ft concept ahead of the hotly anticipated Monaco Yacht show.

The vessel, named Poetry, will leave guests wishing they never had to return to shore thanks to its wealth of extravagant amenities.

The megayacht boasts its own beach club with an infinity pool, spa, sauna, and beauty salon – meaning dry land will be a distant memory.

But designer Sander Sinot was keen to make sure the floating mansion feels “more like a home” than a cruise liner.

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The design combines the perfect contrast of light and shadows, proving the perfect monochrome palette for its sleek and sexy design.

Guests can even manipulate the illuminations after dark – as the superyacht is equipped with ambient-controlled lighting to allow you to set the mood.

Looming deckheads paired with the promise of warm sunshine produce the perfect silhouette for the aptly named Poetry.

Sander’s incredible concept saw him go back to the drawing board and relocate the wheelhouse in a bid to maximise space.

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As well as adding another degree of privacy, it adds an attractive minimalistic look to the normally cluttered top deck.

And it allows the lucky owner to unwind in a humongous suite that spans the entire upper level.

It means there’s plenty of room for up to 14 guests and 47 crew members to enjoy while sailing the seas.

With a 19m beam, a maximum speed of 17.5 knots and a cruise speed of 12 knots, this sprawling superyacht is surprisingly cosy.

There are four guest staterooms, two VIP staterooms, and one owner’s stateroom to bed down in, making it perfect for entertaining.

Sander intended to create a design concept that “depicts the owner’s dreams – less formal, more genuine, more like a home.”

‘RESORT-LIKE’

But despite his quest to achieve an intimate feel, the design marvel didn’t skimp on any luxury additions.

Stunning mock-up images show how each room would be kitted out with mod cons and beautiful neutral furnishings.

The other facilities on offer are directly “inspired by the flexibility you find in resorts”, ensuring every guest is catered for entirely.

Its impressive beach club, beauty salon with space for nail and beauty treatments, spa including sauna and hammam, and gym ready to melt away stresses and strains, may clinch the purchase for an uber-rich client.

There is even a stylish and snug cinema room with a gigantic screen to curl up and watch your favourite film in.

But for those who enjoy an afternoon of something more adventurous, it’s best to venture onto the deck.

This is a new, thematic approach to yacht design that starts with the dreams of the owner.

Sander Sinot

Sun worshippers can take a break from the rays with moveable deck heads, while swimmers can take a dive off extended platforms, allowing people to explore the ocean.

Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and six huge fold-down hatches ensure the sea is never too far away from your eyeliner.

Or you can enjoy a bite to eat while relaxing in the semi-alfresco dining area with magnificent views of your chosen route.

Speaking about the design, which could one day be a reality, Sinot said: “This is a new, thematic approach to yacht design that starts with the dreams of the owner.

“For him/her we explore the inner values of space and how we live our lives with a mixture of elements that people normally do not think about.

“This is a poetic concept inspired by the flexibility you find in resorts, having the freedom to enjoy privacy or socializing with family or friends.

“By moving the wheelhouse to a new location, we could create a genuine private area to be enjoyed by the owner.”

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Sinot Architecture & Design have nearly thirty superyacht projects under its belt after making a name for itself over the years.

Poetry’s design will be presented by the firm at the Monaco Yacht Show 2022 at the Yacht Design & Innovation Hub.

Jam Press/Sinot Yacht ArchitectuYou never need to return to dry land thanks to the addition of an on-board beauty salon[/caption] Jam Press/Sinot Yacht ArchitectuThe sprawling bedrooms boast a panoramic ocean view[/caption] Jam Press/Sinot Yacht ArchitectuGuests can dine alfresco on the deck, which is complete with looming deckheads[/caption] Jam Press/Sinot Yacht ArchitectuThe concept will be presented at the upcoming Monaco Yacht show and could one day become a reality[/caption]
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Russia Wants to Lock Ukraine Back in the Soviet Cellar

As Putin gave his latest rant of resentment in the Kremlin, hinting at Cold War style nuclear threats, medieval holy war with the “satanic” West, and restoring the USSR by annexing slices of Ukraine, the Ukrainian army continued liberating parts of the country he was claiming to annex. As Ukrainian forces have freed people over the last few weeks in the Kharkiv region over from Russian occupiers, they were greeted by relieved locals. Many told how they spent weeks, sometimes even months, hiding in their cellars from the Russian invasion. Such cellar stories are one of the repeating leitmotifs of the invasion.
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Since February some Ukrainians have retreated to cellars for safety, seeking shelter from indiscriminate bombardment, ears attuned to measuring the proximity of each missile blast, bodies reverberating with every tremor. Across Ukraine there have been underground hospitals and underground schools, underground TV studios and underground concerts. Some 2500 civilians hid in the labyrinthine passages and halls underneath the vast, four square mile factory complex of Azovstal in Mariupol, as the Russians obliterated the city above them.

There are grimmer cellars, where Russian troops interrogate, torture, tie up, and rape. In recently liberated Izyum victims speak of torture cellars where they were given electro-shocks, had gas masks put on their faces and had flashlights shone in their face during interrogation. Such torture chambers are so systemic, the forms of torture so consistent, they can’t just be the work of soldiers breaking bad: torture is Russian policy. Many more victims can’t speak: a mass grave with over 400 bodies is currently being exhumed.

Holding cells are visible in a basement of a police station that was used by Russian forces to detain and torture Ukrainians in the recently liberated town of Izium, Ukraine, on Sept. 22, 2022. Evgeniy Maloletka—APHolding cells are visible in a basement of a police station that was used by Russian forces to detain and torture Ukrainians in the recently liberated town of Izium, Ukraine, on Sept. 22, 2022.

In the village of Yahidne, in northern Ukraine, Russian soldiers drove three hundred villagers in the cellar beneath the school, from infants through to old-age pensioners. Without medical care some died. When I asked one of the women who had been imprisoned in Yahidne how one imagines what’s going on in the rest of the world when locked underground, she explained how her world shrank to four walls, the little walks she was permitted to take outside, and the mood of the soldiers guarding them.

Read More: How Ukraine Turned the Tide of the War

It was the Ukrainian journalist Andrii Bashtivoi, now a soldier at the front of the counter-offensive, who in the opening weeks of the invasion first turned my attention to how cellars were one of the important symbols of this war. They are emblematic of how Russia wants to imprison a whole country, trap and confine it, the physical manifestation of Russia’s war aims—and its motivations. But what precisely is this cellar that Russia wants to drive Ukraine into? What lurks in the basement of the Russian mind?

Ukraine at war is a territory where the literal and the metaphorical meet, where abstract words take on a bloody reality, and where physical objects swell with symbolism.

Whenever I cross into Ukraine the very air seems to thicken with meaning. As I leave behind the Polish border with its stalls of charities helping refugees, pass through passport control and emerge from the long, zig-zag, wire-fenced corridor of customs I enter a dimension where cliches turn into lived experience.

“Fighting for democracy” is something people do in Ukraine every day, laying down their lives for the right to live in a society where their voice matters. Russia kills and arrests elected officials and imposes violent dictatorship wherever it occupies.

“Civil society,” that web of horizontal social interconnections whose loss is always being lamented in the U.S., actually exists here—citizens band together to build city defenses, clean up the debris after missile hits, nurse the wounded and orphaned. Ukraine reminds what “family values” really mean: the whole country fights like one great family.

“Patriotism,” “sovereignty”—terms which have become so wasted in the West, are imbued with meaning in Ukraine.

But even as Ukrainians make talk about “democratic values” tangible, so the physical world here also pushes into the metaphorical, into the cellars.

People gather to look at an apartment building damaged by two Russian rockets that hit earlier on Sept. 11, 2022, at around three o'clock in the afternoon, in Donetsk, Ukraine. Iva Zimova—Panos Pictures/ReduxPeople gather to look at an apartment building damaged by two Russian rockets that hit earlier on Sept. 11, 2022, at around three o’clock in the afternoon, in Donetsk, Ukraine.

In Kharkiv in July, in the far East of Ukraine, I was in the cellar of my colleague, the journalist Natalia Kurdiokova. Since an artillery strike knocked out the toilet of her apartment she has moved underground. It’s a comfortable cellar that she was already using as an office before the war. There’s a broadcast studio, bean bags, bright lighting, a kitchen and a bedroom.

At night we listened to the noise of artillery rolling over Kharkiv. The Russians failed to take the city in Spring, so now they were randomly shelling the city and lobbing random missiles in order to terrorise the population. The week I was there the Russians hit two buildings in the centre, killing five and injuring many others. On local news I watched the clip of a man whose wife was killed as they went out shopping. He knelt on the street by the bloodied body bag which contained her corpse, wept, ripped it open and began to kiss the dismembered limbs. A few weeks after I left the Russians hit a hospital for the hard of hearing. 21 died. Natalia told me she heard the missile as it gave a high pitch scream and tore the air above the city. As the Ukrainian forces liberated the Kharkiv Oblast and pushed past, Russia increase long range missile attacks on the city as punishment and vengeance.

Natalia and I were researching how people survive psychologically under such terror. In the first months of the invasion thousands Kharkivchani moved into the metro stations, like Londoners during the Blitz. Some became so paralyzed by fear they refused to emerge for months. Natalia described how even when the initial bombardment subsided she would see people standing at the bottom of the escalators, paused in silent panic, unable to ride up.

Natalia recalled how much she used to enjoy climbing on her roof to gaze out over the city and beyond.

“They want to take away our sense of the horizon. Of the sky.”

Climbing up high always inspires a sense of possibilities. The barrages of Russian artillery have made such ascents impossible. Russia is not only forcing Ukrainians physically into cellars, it’s trying to do so mentally as well: to rob Ukrainians of their sense of a future, of horizons, of openness.

In Putin’s rambling, aggressive, misinformed speeches about Ukraine he always harps on a false history, claiming that Russia and Ukraine are one people, that Ukraine belongs to Russia. The speeches are also interesting for what they leave out. There’s no attempt to deal with the oppressions of the Russian and Soviet past, the way the Kremlin repeatedly colonizes, ethnically cleanses, deports, starves and mass murders other nations, and the way it kills and arrests and humiliates masses of its own people too in labour camps, Gulags, and the killing cellars of the KGB. Russia is a country that makes no effort to make sense of, define who was responsible, ask for forgiveness and move on from its legacy of mass murder and institutionalized sadism. There isn’t even a museum any more to the tens of millions killed in Stalin’s gulags, let alone to Russia’s colonial crimes. Right before the current invasion the NGO Memorial, which tried to document Soviet crimes, was shut for being a “foreign agent.”

Read More: Ukraine Is Our Past and Our Future

All this horror stays locked up in the cellar of the Russian mind, a history of humiliation played out in a sado-masochistic torture cellar. And it’s this cellar the Russians want to lock the Ukrainians into. Russia’s current invasion replays Soviet-style “filtration” camps and mass executions, deportations, mass destruction of cities, show trials and crass propaganda. Just like in many centuries past Russia destroys Ukrainian language school books, arrests and “disappears” anyone who stands up for Ukrainian language and letters. In its stead Russia recreates a Soviet Dismaland of crass propaganda with marching pioneers and Soviet style songs, Soviet insignia and Soviet posters.

If we didn’t manage to escape the past—is the message—you have to suffer it with us, too. Russia wants to lock Ukraine into its cellar of horrors and force it to replay the past in a twisted fantasy where the mass murders, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and intent to genocide are all very real.

It’s striking how little mention of the future there is in the Kremlin’s propaganda. There’s only vengeance, warped nostalgia for the USSR, a mythic, cruel “Russian World”—and resentment. The Russian project has failed, so the aim now is to bring everyone down to its own level, drag all down to its cellar. “How dare you live so well” read a piece of graffiti scrawled by Russian soldiers in the suburbs of Kyiv.

A view of destruction in Irpin, Ukraine on Sept. 18, 2022. Gian Marco Benedetto—Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesA view of destruction in Irpin, Ukraine on Sept. 18, 2022.

Ever since the first weeks of the war Ukrainians have been asking the West to “protect our sky”: whether through enforcing a no fly zone, or at least by providing Ukraine with fighter jets. The sky needs protecting literally from Russian planes and missiles, but also figuratively for Ukraine’s right to define its own future. Wein the West did far too little to help, refusing to give planes and more sophisticated air defence systems. Now Ukraine is fighting for its own skies—and our future. Russia wants to lock Ukraine into the cellar of its past, but it wants to drag Europe down there too, to return us to a world where bullying states humiliate small ones—a world we thought had passed. It’s using energy to blackmail and break Europe and make the free world kiss its boots. It uses nuclear threats to bring back the nightmares of the Cold War: Putin wants a cheaper, nastier remake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. As Anton Barbashin, a political analyst and editor of Riddle, noted as he watched Putin’s surreal speech announcing the annexation of parts of Eastern Ukraine on September 30, Putin was trying to return the world to the 1970s: the USSR is on par with America; Moscow controls half of Europe. Until we learn to fight back with the spirit of Ukrainians we will risk losing our future, too.

Whenever I’m in Ukraine I’m always glancing up at the sky with a mix of fear and hope. Every distant rumble of thunder makes me start: is that a missile? Like some medieval villager, the sky seems full of portents, danger, hope and symbols. Whenever I leave again, walking back across the border into Poland, the return to a zone of safety seems so cruel. Just a few hundred meters away is the zone of danger, where the innocent are being slaughtered every day. Here the trees, grass, birds all look the same but everything is different, both more secure and less alive, below a meaningless sky.

- Ben Westcott/Bloomberg

Australia has committed to preventing any animal or plant extinctions in the coming decade under a new environmental protection plan, as the government aims to reverse widespread degradation.

An additional 50 million hectares (124 million acres) of land in Australia, more than 30% of the country, will be protected by 2027 under the government’s new Threatened Species Action Plan, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said Tuesday.

Under the new policy, 110 “priority species” will be protected over the next 10 years, including the koala, the quokka and the northern hairy-nosed wombat. The government has also pledged no new extinctions in the next ten years.
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Read More: Koalas Were Already on the Brink in Australia. Bushfires Have Killed 1,000 in 2 Months, Experts Say

Plibersek said Australia was the “mammal extinction capital of the world” at a press conference announcing the new plan in Sydney, adding the country’s environmental laws were “not fit for purpose.”

“The need for action has never been greater,” she said in the statement ahead of the launch. “I will not shy away from difficult problems or accept environmental decline and extinction as inevitable.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of species’ extinction in the world, driven by the spread of feral animals, climate change and widespread deforestation. It is estimated that more than one billion animals died in the bushfires, which blanketed Australia’s east coast in smoke during the summer months of 2020 and 2021.

Read More: Climate Change and Australia’s Bushfires Are Driving This Marsupial to Extinction

In February, koalas were officially listed as an “endangered” species by the government for the first time. A report which was suppressed under the previous government and released by Plibersek in July found Australia’s environment was deteriorating across every indicator, with the number of vulnerable and endangered species increasing by 8%.

Plibersek told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she would be introducing new environment laws to protect ecosystems and allow “sustainable development” in 2023.

- AGOES BASOEKI and EDNA TARIGAN/AP
Police Chief Among Officers Fired as Indonesia Investigates Deadly Stadium Disaster

MALANG, Indonesia — An Indonesian police chief and nine elite officers were removed from their posts Monday and 18 others were being investigated for responsibility in the firing of tear gas inside a soccer stadium that set off a stampede, killing at least 125 people, officials said.

Distraught family members were struggling to comprehend the loss of their loved ones, including 17 children, at the match in East Java’s Malang city that was attended only by hometown Arema FC fans. The organizer had banned supporters of the visiting team, Persebaya Surabaya, because of Indonesia’s history of violent soccer rivalries.

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The disaster Saturday night was among the deadliest ever at a sporting event.

Read More: What to Know About the Stampede at an Indonesian Soccer Match That Left At Least 125 Dead

Arema players and officials laid wreaths Monday in front of the stadium.

“We came here as a team asking forgiveness from the families impacted by this tragedy, those who lost their loves ones or the ones still being treated in the hospital,” head coach Javier Roca said.

On Monday night, about a thousand soccer fans dressed in black shirts held a candlelight vigil at a soccer stadium in Jakarta’s satellite city of Bekasi to pray for the victims of the disaster.

INDONESIA-FBL-UNREST-STAMPEDE ARIANDI—AFP/Getty ImagesIndonesians hold a candlelight vigil for victims of a stampede, in Medan on Oct. 3, 2022.

Witnesses said some of the 42,000 Arema fans ran onto the pitch in anger on Saturday after the team was defeated 3-2, its first loss at home against Persebaya in 23 years. Some threw bottles and other objects at players and soccer officials. At least five police vehicles were toppled and set ablaze outside the stadium.

But most of the deaths occurred when riot police, trying to stop the violence, fired tear gas, including in the stands, triggering a disastrous stampede of fans making a panicked, chaotic run for the exits. Most of the 125 people who died were trampled or suffocated. The victims included two police officers.

Read More: As the Kanjuruhan Tragedy Shows, Indonesia Has Not Resolved Its Long-Standing Problem of Soccer Violence

At least 17 children were among the dead and seven were being treated in hospitals, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection said. Police said 323 people were injured in the crush, with some still in critical condition.

National Police spokesperson Dedy Prasetyo said Malang police chief Ferli Hidayat had been removed along with nine members of an elite police mobile brigade and face possible dismissal in a police ethics trial.

He said 18 officers responsible for firing the tear gas, ranging from middle- to high-ranking, were being investigated.

Police are questioning witnesses and analyzing video from 32 security cameras inside and outside the stadium and nine cellphones owned by the victims as part of an investigation that will also identify suspected vandals, he said.

The parents and other relatives of Faiqotul Hikmah, 22, wailed Monday when an ambulance arrived at their home with her body wrapped in white cloth and a black blanket. She died while fleeing to exit 12 at Kanjuruhan Stadium.

TOPSHOT-INDONESIA-FBL-UNREST-STAMPEDE Juni Kriswanto—AFP/Getty ImagesDiscarded shoes sit by the pitch at Kanjuruhan stadium days after a deadly stampede following a football match in Malang, East Java, on Oct. 3, 2022.

A dozen friends had traveled with her to see the match, but Hikmah was one of only four who were able to enter the stadium because tickets were sold out, her friend, Abdul Mukid, said Monday. He later bought a ticket from a broker after hearing of the chaos inside the stadium in order to search for Hikmanh.

“I have to find her, save her,” Mukid recalled thinking.

Mukid found Hikmah’s body laid at a building in the stadium compound, with broken ribs and bluish bruises on her face. He learned that a second friend had also died from other friends who called him while he was in an ambulance taking Hikmah’s body to a hospital.

“I can’t put into words how much my sorrow is to lose my sister,” said Nur Laila, Hikmah’s older sibling. “She was just a big Arema fan who wanted to watch her favorite team play. She shouldn’t die just for that,” she said, wiping away tears.

President Joko Widodo ordered the premier soccer league suspended until safety is reevaluated and security tightened. Indonesia’s soccer association also banned Arema from hosting soccer matches for the rest of the season.

Arema FC President Gilang Widya Pramana expressed his sadness and deepest apologies to the victims and the Indonesian people, and said he is ready to take full responsibility for the tragedy at his team’s stadium.

He said the management, coach and players were in shock and speechless.

“I am ready to provide assistance, even though it will not be able to return the victims’ lives,” Pramana said at a news conference Monday at Arema’s headquarters in Malang.

“This incident was beyond prediction, beyond reason … in a match watched only by our fans, not a single rival supporter,” he said, sobbing. “How can that match kill more than 100 people?”

APTOPIX Indonesia Soccer Deaths Dicky Bisinglasi—APPeople looking for their relatives inspect photographs of soccer match stampede victims provided by volunteers to help them identify their family members in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

He said Arema FC is ready to accept any sanctions from Indonesia’s Soccer Association and the government, and “hopefully, it will be a very valuable lesson.”

Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud said he will lead an inquiry that will examine law violations in the disaster and provide recommendations to the president to improve soccer safety. The investigation is to be completed in three weeks.

Mahfud instructed the national police and military chiefs to punish those who committed crimes and actions that triggered the stampede.

“The government urged the national police to evaluate their security procedures,” Mahfud said at a news conference.

Rights group Amnesty International urged Indonesia to investigate the use of tear gas and ensure that those found responsible are tried in open court. While FIFA has no control over domestic games, it has advised against the use of tear gas at soccer stadiums.

Despite Indonesia’s lack of international prominence in the sport, hooliganism is rife in the soccer-obsessed country where fanaticism often ends in violence. Data from Indonesia’s soccer watchdog, Save Our Soccer, showed 78 people have died in game-related incidents over the past 28 years.

Saturday’s game was among the world’s worst crowd disasters in sports, including a 1996 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica in Guatemala City in which over 80 died and more than 100 were injured. In April 2001, more than 40 people were crushed to death during a soccer match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. In February 2012, 74 people were killed and more than 500 injured after a match between rivals al-Masry and al-Ahly when thousands of al-Masry fans invaded the field and attacked visiting supporters. The Egyptian league was suspended for two years as a result.

- Simon Maghakyan
The U.S. Might Be the Surprising Determining Factor in the Future of Armenia

Few would be surprised to hear that the United States is involved in supporting a democratic nation that was recently invaded by its authoritarian neighbor. But many Americans are likely unaware that their country is doing so for two such post-Soviet nations: not just Ukraine, but also Armenia, which has been suffering from Azerbaijan’s invasion for almost three weeks now.

The two situations are not unrelated. A key factor behind the ongoing U.S. engagement in Armenia is Russia’s visible absence in a region that the latter considers its backyard. But the U.S. isn’t simply trying to push Russia out from the post-Soviet South Caucasus. Rather, Washington seems to have realized just how serious the threat is—not just for Armenia, but for the world.
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In the early minutes of Sept. 13, as families across eastern Armenia slept, Azerbaijan launched the unprovoked shelling of three dozen Armenian towns with heavy artillery and unmanned combat drones. The two countries have been locked in off-and-on hostilities for decades over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh republic, but Azerbaijan’s regime now seems to take advantage of its rival’s military unpreparedness and global, especially Russian, distraction. Azerbaijan attempted to deny having attacked within Armenia’s borders, but the onslaught was so intense that NASA’s fire-management satellites detected massive thermal anomalies. In just two days, Azerbaijan’s forces killed over 200 Armenians, primarily soldiers, according to official government counts. Videos spread by the invaders appeared to show them giggling while mutilating fallen Armenian women, and executing Armenian soldiers who had surrendered.

Read more: Inside Azerbaijan’s Grand Plan To Make the Disputed City of Shusha a Cultural Capital

Further details of the incursion came via Armenia-based journalists and officials alike. On Sept. 14, foreign journalists reported having come under Azerbaijani shelling in the Armenian town of Sotk, which is nowhere near military installations. The following day, at the United Nations Security Council emergency hearing, Armenia disclosed that, despite the prior day’s ceasefire, Azerbaijan is amassing additional troops, including in Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan’s exclave bordering southwest Armenia. This would open a second invasion front. On Sept. 23, Western embassies in Yerevan issued still-active “travel warnings” for southern Armenia and beyond, insinuating that they expected further attacks. Still, many media outlets across the world lack on-the-ground regional journalists, so the news from Armenia largely stayed off the mainstream radar.

It was not until U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Armenia the weekend of Sept. 17, in support of Armenian “security and democracy” against Azerbaijan’s “illegal and deadly attacks,” that it became fully clear that the U.S., in a dramatic transformation, is fully engaged, albeit probably only diplomatically, in preventing existential threats against Armenia.

ARMENIA-US-PARLIAMENT-DIPLOMACY-PELOSI Karen Minasyan—AFP via Getty ImagesArmenia’s Head of the Parliament Alen Simonyan (R) and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (L) attend a joint press conference in the Parliament in Yerevan, Armenia, on Sept. 18, 2022.

Jackie Speier, one of the two Armenian-American Congresswomen to accompany Speaker Pelosi, recalled at a large Armenian-American gathering in Los Angeles on Sept. 25 that in Armenia she told their dinner host, the Prime Minister, that she didn’t want another girl to feel the way she did growing up: reluctant to identify as Armenian because her homeland, then part of the USSR, did not appear on a world’s map. As the Congresswoman announced at the gathering, she is introducing a resolution in condemnation of and accountability for Azerbaijan’s war crimes and aggression, following a similar motion by prominent House Democrat Adam Schiff, and a bipartisan Senate resolution introduced by key Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio. But this is not about internal electoral politics.

More significantly—especially as Congress has been historically attentive to Armenian American constituency concerns—the White House has now transformed its traditionally “both-sidist” rhetoric on the conflict. It was the U.S., not the regional hegemon Russia, that played the key role in halting Azerbaijan’s Sept. 13-14 aggression. Since then, the Biden Administration has initiated numerous meetings for and with Armenian and Azerbaijani officials, both in person and on the phone, despite threats by Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president—who has made Armenophobia his power-consolidation formula since inheriting the presidency in 2003—that “no one and nothing can stop us.”

U.S. engagement may also come as a surprise given that Armenia is formally part of CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), Russia’s failed mini-version of NATO. Preoccupied with its failing invasion of Ukraine and forced mobilization of troops, Russia is both unable and unwilling to defend its treaty ally Armenia today. But in 2020 and 2021, during previous rounds of aggression by Azerbaijan, Russia likewise chose not to do more to defend its ally, despite having had the military might to do so. On paper, Russia is democratic Armenia’s security guarantor. In reality, Russia and Azerbaijan, two fossil fuel-rich authoritarian states, are much closer; the unwavering support for the latter by Turkey, which has become an ever-more important partner for Russia given western sanctions, complicates Russia’s support for Armenia even more.

Today, the U.S. appears to realize that a preoccupied Russia’s temporary absence in the Caucasus means potential involvement from not just Turkey but also Iran, which has warned against border changes; it has a northern border with Armenia, a secure lifeline to Europe. A potential Turkey-Iran confrontation resulting from Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenia could result in an unmanageable destabilization of the Middle East and beyond, something that neither Russia nor the U.S. want.

The U.S.’s recent involvement in the Caucasus is unprecedented. For the very first time since the Cold War, it’s the actions of a country other than Russia that matter most right now in the region. Will Washington succeed in preventing a full-scale invasion of democratic Armenia? Is it willing to make sacrifices to meet that goal, such as selling defense weaponry to Armenia and sanctioning Azerbaijan, despite intense Turkish pressure and European energy needs? The only public American sacrifice over the last three weeks in defense of Armenian existence appears to have come from the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. On Sept. 28, Lynne Tracy risked her safety to travel to Syunik, Armenia’s southmost region, despite her own embassy’s travel warning against visiting the entire region.

Read more: Putin’s Isn’t the Only Regime Leveraging Fossil Fuels for Aggression

Earlier, President Joe Biden announced that he would nominate Tracy to serve as U.S. ambassador to Russia, a testament to her courage and to the necessity of a deeper understanding of Moscow through those who are most dependent on it. Perhaps Washington realizes that if it fails to thwart Azerbaijan’s next aggression, it will leave Armenia with no choice but to further integrate with Russia. Similar circumstances a century ago, in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, helped to revive the collapsed Russian empire into the USSR.

With the possibility of further violence hanging over their talks, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Geneva on Oct. 2, as Azerbaijani special forces reportedly neared Armenia’s borders. Hostilities may resume any moment, given that Azerbaijan’s autocrat seems to have few reasons for restraint. At the Oct. 1 unveiling of a new gas pipeline to Europe, E.U. leader Ursula von der Leyen praised Azerbaijan as “reliable”; Europe, facing the energy impacts of its determination to punish Russia, appears willing to embolden another authoritarian aggressor. The U.S., at least in rhetoric, seems to be slightly more cautious.

Whether the history—of unrealized western promises pushing a vulnerable Armenia closer to Russia—will repeat itself, this time as a cruel joke, largely depends on where American leadership goes next.

- Katherine Corcoran

Mexico has hit a record for most journalists killed in a year—at least 13 in 2022—and we’re only in October. If you ask why, most people say “the narcos.” If you ask Mexican President Andrés Manual López Obrador, he says there is no persecution of journalists by officials and no impunity, and anyone who says otherwise only wants to smear his administration.

Neither is entirely correct.

I worked as a journalist in Mexico for nine years. The spike started in 2006 with seven killings. In 2010, when I became Associated Press bureau chief for Mexico and Central America, there were 10. Since then, the numbers have grown beyond comprehension, unseen outside of war zones (Ukraine has had 15 journalist killings so far this year), and shocking for a democracy where freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Constitution.
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Though the targets tend to be local journalists far from the capital, and not foreign correspondents, the killings dominated our coverage and forced us to create new security protocols for covering the country. The safety of our teams was my responsibility. By the time I left Mexico, I couldn’t leave behind the paradox: Why was Mexico, a democracy, the most dangerous country on Earth for journalists? The free press is the enemy of despots and authoritarians, not freely elected governments.

I eventually learned the answer, and it made me fear for the free press in my own country.

More from TIME

When the murders started, the government blamed the cartels—and the journalists. If a reporter was killed, it meant they were corrupt, being paid by narcos, or some other dark interest for good coverage. It was an easy sell. Mexico had a long history of corruption and collusion in its press corp. Politicians repeated the script: “They’re not really journalists.” So did my fellow correspondents. It was likely true in some cases. Yet we really had no way of knowing for sure. The crimes were never investigated, nor did they result in arrests.

Eventually, the script showed its holes. Reporters known to be beyond reproach, often honored internationally for their ethics and bravery, started turning up dead: Regina Martínez in 2012, and Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdéz in 2017 among the more infamous cases. (Arrests and convictions were made in each case, but not necessarily of the people responsible. The suspected mastermind in the Javier Valdéz murder just completed a short prison sentence in the U.S. for cooperating with authorities in another case, and it remains unclear if the U.S. will agree to extradite him to Mexico to be tried for the journalist’s killing.)

Read More: The Number of Journalists Murdered for Their Work Doubled in 2020

The killings escalated with the growing independence of the Mexican press. Since the murders started in 2008, the amount and quality of investigative journalism in Mexico, and the number of reporters working to uncover malfeasance and corruption have taken a huge leap.

In many of these assassinations, there are reports of people in uniform showing up just before the journalist disappeared, or mayors, governors and former candidates implicated, or former police arrested and public officials going on the lam. Mexican journalists say they fear the government more than the cartels. That means the perpetrators are sometimes the same people charged with investigating the journalist killings. No wonder the cases are never solved, or maybe worse, the wrong people are incriminated.

The first step in controlling the citizenry for your own gain is attacking the press. This is not a coincidence, it’s a deliberate political strategy. It works. Democracy came to Mexico, but not the institutions necessary to fortify and defend it. So it is easy for elected leaders to manipulate the powers of government for whatever they see fit. In Mexico, when a reporter exposes the link between the state and a criminal enterprise, that’s when they step on the deadly third rail.

In one particular state, Veracruz, where 20 percent of all journalist murders have occurred since the uptick began in 2006, and where reporter Regina Martínez was found beaten to death in her bathroom, ex-Gov. Javier Duarte succeeded in terrorizing or buying off the press to report only niceties as his administration stole billions in tax dollars and oversaw the disappearance of thousands of citizens. The government itself had become organized crime, partnering with cartels in some cases, but also using the full powers of the state, the treasury, police, judiciary, etc., to create its own criminal enterprises. This system exists in state and local governments across the country.

Despite the claims of Mexico’s president, there is more public corruption now, not less. And with more independent reporters, more risk. That’s why so many are getting killed.

But the most startling part for me in trying to explain how a democracy could be deadly for journalists was the emergence of the same narrative in my own country. The script from Mexico—a newer democracy plagued by weak institutions, violence, and moral bankruptcy on the part of many leaders—is now being used in the oldest democracy in the world.

The free press in the U.S. has always drawn criticism in its adversarial role but we’ve never wavered in seeing it as a fundamental democratic institution. Now we seen as the enemy of the people, the corrupt purveyors of “fake news.” We can’t be believed. The same political forces planting distrust in independent voices also seek to undermine our trust in all democratic institutions, our electoral system, the military, the Justice Department.

And the first target here in the U.S. was the press.

Journalist assassinations remain rare in the U.S., though Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German was recently stabbed to death — allegedly by a small-time public official who was reportedly running his office like a fiefdom. The accused official was said to have become unhinged when German exposed his crimes to the public, and he lost re-election.

But holding power structures to account here has become increasingly dangerous work. Since 2017, there have been more than 1,600 recorded attacks on journalists in the U.S., at least 900 of them physical assaults.

Before five years ago, there was no official count. We didn’t need one.

- JILL LAWLESS / AP

BIRMINGHAM, England — The British government on Monday dropped plans to cut income tax for top earners, part of a package of unfunded cuts unveiled only days ago that sparked turmoil on financial markets and sent the pound to record lows.

In a dramatic about-face, Treasury chief Kwasi Kwarteng abandoned plans to scrap the top 45% rate of income tax paid on earnings above 150,000 pounds ($167,000) a year.

He and Prime Minister Liz Truss have spent the last 10 days defending the cut in the face of market mayhem and increasing alarm among the governing Conservative Party.
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Read More: What To Know About Liz Truss, Britain’s New Prime Minister

“We get it, and we have listened,” Kwarteng said in a statement. He said “it is clear that the abolition of the 45p tax rate has become a distraction from our overriding mission to tackle the challenges facing our country.”

The pound rose after Kwarteng’s announcement to around $1.12 — about the value it held before the Sept. 23 budget announcements.

The U-turn came after a growing number of Conservative lawmakers, including former ministers with broad influence, turned on the government’s tax plans.

“I can’t support the 45p tax removal when nurses are struggling to pay their bills,” Tory lawmaker Maria Caulfield said.

It also came hours after the Conservatives released advance extracts of a speech Kwarteng is due to give later Monday at the party’s annual conference in the central England city of Birmingham. He had been due to say: “We must stay the course. I am confident our plan is the right one.”

Truss defended the measures Sunday but said she could have “done a better job laying the ground” for the announcements.

Truss took office less than a month ago, promising to radically reshape Britain’s economy to end years of sluggish growth. But the government’s announcement of a stimulus package that includes 45 billion pounds ($50 billion) in tax cuts, to be paid for by government borrowing, sent the pound tumbling to a record low against the dollar.

Read More: Queen Elizabeth II’s Death Slowed Action on a U.K. Economy Already in Turmoil

The Bank of England was forced to intervene to prop up the bond market, and fears that the bank will soon hike interest rates caused mortgage lenders to withdraw their cheapest deals, causing turmoil for homebuyers.

The package proved unpopular, even among Conservatives. Reducing taxes for top earners and scrapping a cap on bankers’ bonuses while millions face a cost-of-living crisis driven by soaring energy bills was widely seen as politically toxic.

Truss and Kwarteng insist that their plan will deliver a growing economy and eventually bring in more tax revenue, offsetting the cost of borrowing to fund the current cuts. But they also have signaled that public spending will need to be slashed to keep government debt under control.

Kwarteng has promised to set out a medium-term fiscal plan on Nov. 23, alongside an economic forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility.

Axing the top-earners tax rate would have cost about 2 billion pounds, a small share of the government’s overall tax-cutting plan. Kwarteng said Monday that the government was sticking to its other tax policies, including a cut next year in the basic rate of income tax and a reversal of a corporation tax hike planned by the previous government.

Tony Danker, who heads business group the Confederation of British Industry, said he hoped the government U-turn would bring stability to the markets.

“None of this growth plan will work unless we have stability. Let’s hope this is the beginning of it,” he told broadcaster LBC.

Opposition parties said the government should scrap its whole economic plan.

“UK gov U-turns on top tax rate abolition because it’s a ‘distraction,’” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party wrote on Twitter. “Morally wrong and hugely costly for millions is a better description. Utter ineptitude.”

- David Keyton, Frank Jordans and Laura Ungar/AP

STOCKHOLM — Swedish scientist Svante Paabo won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for his discoveries on human evolution that provided key insights into our immune system and what makes us unique compared with our extinct cousins, the award’s panel said.

Paabo spearheaded the development of new techniques that allowed researchers to compare the genome of modern humans and that of other hominins — the Neanderthals and Denisovans.

While Neanderthal bones were first discovered in the mid-19th century, only by unlocking their DNA — often referred to as the code of life — have scientists been able to fully understand the links between species.
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This included the time when modern humans and Neanderthals diverged as a species, determined to be around 800,000 years ago, said Anna Wedell, chair of the Nobel Committee.

“Paabo and his team also surprisingly found that gene flow had occurred from Neanderthals to Homo sapiens, demonstrating that they had children together during periods of co-existence,” she said.

This transfer of genes between hominin species affects how the immune system of modern humans reacts to infections, such as the coronavirus. People outside Africa have 1-2% of Neanderthal genes.

Read More: 6 Groups Making Mental Health Care More Accessible to People of Color

Paabo and his team also managed to extract DNA from a tiny finger bone found in a cave in Siberia, leading to the recognition of a new species of ancient humans they called Denisovans.

Wedell described this as “a sensational discovery” that subsequently showed Neanderthals and Denisovan to be sister groups which split from each other around 600,000 years ago. Denisovan genes have been found in up to 6% of modern humans in Asia and Southeast Asia, indicating that interbreeding occurred there too.

“By mixing with them after migrating out of Africa, homo sapiens picked up sequences that improved their chances to survive in their new environments,” said Wedell. For example, Tibetans share a gene with Denisovans that helps them adapt to the high altitude.

“Svante Pääbo has discovered the genetic make up of our closest relatives, the Neanderthals and the Denison hominins,” Nils-Göran Larsson, a Nobel Assembly member, told the Associated Press after the announcement.

“And the small differences between these extinct human forms and us as humans today will provide important insight into our body functions and how our brain has developed.”

Paabo said he was surprised to learn of his win on Monday.

“So I was just gulping down the last cup of tea to go and pick up my daughter at her nanny where she has had an overnight stay, and then I got this call from Sweden and I of course thought it had something to do with our little summer house in Sweden. I thought, ‘Oh the lawn mower’s broken down or something,’” he said in an interview posted on the official home page of the Nobel Prizes.

He mused about what would have happened if Neanderthals had survived another 40,000 years. “Would we see even worse racism against Neanderthals, because they were really in some sense different from us? Or would we actually see our place in the living world quite in a different way when we would have other forms of humans there that are very like us but still different,” he said.

Paabo, 67, performed his prizewinning studies in Germany at the University of Munich and at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. He is the son of Sune Bergstrom, who won the Nobel prize in medicine in 1982. According to the Nobel Foundation, it’s the eighth time that the son or daughter of a Nobel laureate also won a Nobel Prize.

Scientists in the field lauded the Nobel Committee’s choice this year.

Read More: Human Waste Could Help the Fight Against Future Infectious Disease Outbreaks

David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, said he was thrilled the group honored the field of ancient DNA, which he worried might “fall between the cracks.”

By recognizing that DNA can be preserved for tens of thousands of years — and developing ways to extract it — Paabo and his team created a completely new way to answer questions about our past, Reich said. That work was the basis for an “explosive growth” of ancient DNA studies in recent decades.

“It’s totally reconfigured our understanding of human variation and human history,” Reich said.

Dr. Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, called it “a great day for genomics,” a relatively young field first named in 1987.

The Human Genome project, which ran from 1990-2003, “got us the first sequence of the human genome, and we’ve improved that sequence ever since,” Green said. Since then, scientists developed new cheaper, extremely sensitive methods for sequencing DNA.

When you sequence DNA from a fossil millions of years old, you only have “vanishingly small amounts” of DNA, Green said. Among Paabo’s innovations was figuring out the laboratory methods for extracting and preserving these tiny amounts of DNA. He was then able to lay pieces of the Neanderthal genome sequence against the human sequencing coming out of the Human Genome Project.

Paabo’s team published the first draft of a Neanderthal genome in 2009. The team sequenced more than 60% of the full genome from a small sample of bone, after contending with decay and contamination from bacteria.

“We should always be proud of the fact that we sequenced our genome. But the idea that we can go back in time and sequence the genome that doesn’t live anymore and something that’s a direct relative of humans is truly remarkable,” Green said.

Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou, professor of paleoanthropology at the University of Tübingen in Germany, said the award also underscores the importance of understanding humanity’s evolutionary heritage to gain insights about human health today.

“The most recent example is the finding that genes inherited from our Neanderthal relatives … can have implications for one’s susceptibility to COVID infections,” she said in an email to the AP.

The medicine prize kicked off a week of Nobel Prize announcements. It continues Tuesday with the physics prize, with chemistry on Wednesday and literature on Thursday. The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Oct. 10.

Last year’s medicine recipients were David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch.

The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

Jordans reported from Berlin. Ungar reported from Louisville, Kentucky. Maddie Burakoff contributed from New York.

- Ciara Nugent
Leftist Lula Edges Far-Right Bolsonaro as Brazil’s Presidential Election Heads to Run-off

Brazilian voters backed Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, a left-wing former President, over the incumbent and right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro by a narrow margin in the first round of elections on Sunday. With 99.9% of the vote counted, Lula—as the former President is universally known—got 48.4% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 43.2%.

Because neither candidate won a majority, the contest will go to a run-off on Oct. 30.

For most of 2022, polls had suggested no candidate would win more than 50% of the vote and the contest would go to a second round—as has happened in all of Brazil’s elections for the last two decades.
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In recent weeks, however, Lula had extended his lead in the polls by a wide enough margin that many experts had predicted he might even win outright in the first round. Bolsonaro had told his supporters not to believe the polls though, and Sunday’s results show he significantly outperformed expectations.

That means that the battle between Bolsonaro and Lula—already one of the most polarizing political clashes in Brazil’s modern history—will continue for weeks. Both are bombastic, divisive figures with sharply divergent visions for the country of 200 million people. And the second round in Latin America’s largest democracy is now set to be unexpectedly competitive.

Read More: Exclusive: Brazil’s Most Popular President Returns From Political Exile With a Promise to Save the Nation

Lula, a 76-year-old former union leader, has seen his Worker’s Party tarnished by a vast corruption scandal over the last decade. But he remains Brazil’s most widely beloved political leader. Lula has promised to rebuild public services for poorer Brazilians, address inequality, and return the economy to the boom times of his 2003-2010 presidency—a tall order in current global economic conditions.

Brazilians Go to Polls in Tight Elections Polarized between Lula and Bolsonaro Wagner Meier—Getty ImagesSupporters of president Jair Bolsonaro gather in front of the condominium where the president has a home, in Barra da Tijuca, west zone of Rio, during presidential election day on Oct. 2, 2022 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Bolsonaro, 67, had pledged to continue his relaxation of the country’s gun laws and environmental regulations, and fight against so-called liberal “gender ideology.” Bolsonaro has faced a series of scandals involving alleged abuses of power since taking office in 2019, including attempts to intervene in the federal police and high profile clashes with Brazil’s supreme court.

Read More: Political Violence Is Surging Ahead of Brazil’s Election

The international community’s eyes will remain on Brazil in the coming weeks amid what could be a turbulent period. Bolsonaro, an avowed supporter of the country’s brutal 20th century military dictatorship, has often implied that he would not accept the election result if he loses. “Only God can remove me from office,” he said in September 2021. In recent months, Bolsonaro and his supporters have repeatedly questioned the integrity of Brazil’s electoral system, without offering evidence for their claims. Just four days before the vote, his conservative Liberal Party released a document warning that some election workers had the “absolute power to manipulate election results without leaving a trace.”

Many observers see clear echoes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s behavior in the run up to the 2020 election, and have warned that Bolsonaro is preparing supporters to stage a Brazilian version of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Even more troublingly, certain sections of Brazil’s armed forces have refused to condemn Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic statements ahead of the ballot, raising fears that he may have military backing for an attempt to illegally hold onto office.

Read More: Why ‘Stop the Steal’ Could Soon Reach Brazil

Polls have predicted Lula would likely secure a return to the presidency later this month. It would be a dramatic about-face in the leftist leader’s story. In 2017, a federal judge sentenced Lula to nearly 10 years in prison for allegedly receiving a luxury apartment as a bribe, and a court banned him from participating in politics from behind bars. But in 2021, Brazil’s Supreme Court annulled that conviction, saying a biased judge on his case had compromised his right to a fair trial, clearing him to run for President again this year. (In April 2022, the U.N.’s human-rights committee echoed that ruling, saying that Lula’s 2017 trial had been biased and violated due process.)

In an interview with TIME in March, Lula offered plenty of buoyant optimism about his leadership abilities were he to return for another term.

“In American football, there is a player—as it happens he’s ended up with a Brazilian model,” he said, referring to Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen. “He’s been the best player in the world for a long time, but in each game, his fans demand that he plays better than he did in the last one. For me, with the presidency, it’s the same thing. I am only running because I can do better than I did before.”

- JADE LE DELEY / AP

PARIS — Thousands of people marched in Paris on Sunday to show their support for Iranian protesters standing up to their leadership over the death of a young woman in police custody. Several female demonstrators chopped off chunks of their hair and tossed them into the air as a gesture of liberation.

Women of Iranian heritage, French feminist groups and leading politicians were among those who joined the gathering at Republique Plaza before marching through eastern Paris.

“Woman, Life, Liberty!” the crowd chanted, undeterred by the rainy weather. Some banners read: “Freedom for Iranian women,” or “No to Obligatory Hijab” or just the young woman’s name: “#Mahsa Amini.”
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It was the latest and appeared to be the largest of several protests in France in support of the Iranian demonstrators. Iranians and others have also marched in cities around the world.

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by Iran’s morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.

The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic Republic, and the demonstrations escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since 1979.

At the Paris protest, some chanted in Persian and French, “Khomenei get out!” — referring to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomenei. Some women’s cheeks bore drawings of a red poppy, the symbol of a martyr in Iran.

Iris Farkhondeh, a 40-year-old French scholar who came to France as a refugee when she was a toddler, said she worries about rising Islamist extremism and the risk of terrorist attacks in France by religious extremists.

“The battle we fight in Iran is the same as that in France,” she said.

Other protesters described anger at Iran’s dress codes and encroaching restrictions on women. Some were afraid to give their names out of concerns for repercussions for family members in Iran.

Romane Ranjbaran, 28, came to protest with her mother and other family members.

”Iran is part and parcel of my history. My mom knew free Iran, when women were free,” she said.

She said she was happy to see so many people at Sunday’s gathering.

“It is an international fight. If we want the situation in Iran to improve, we need international support,” she said.

- DIANE JEANTET and MAURICIO SAVARESE / AP

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilians were voting on Sunday in a highly polarized election that could determine if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office for another four years.

The race pits incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro against his political nemesis, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. There are nine other candidates, but their support pales to that for Bolsonaro and da Silva.

Recent opinion polls have given da Silva a commanding lead — the last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50% to 36% advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of two percentage points.
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Agatha de Carvalho, 24, arrived to her local voting station in Rio de Janeiro’s working class Rocinha neighborhood shortly before it opened, hoping to cast her ballot before work, but found 100 others were already lined up. She said she would vote for da Silva, and called Bolsonaro “awful.”

“A lot of people died because of him during the pandemic. If he hadn’t done some of the things he did, some of those deaths could have been avoided,” she said.

Bolsonaro’s administration has been marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions, his widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years.

But he has built a devoted base by defending conservative values, rebuffing political correctness and presenting himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil.

Luiz Garcez, 49, in the southern city of Curitiba, said Bolsonaro’s presidency has been “among the best in history” because “he built a lot and helped the country.”

A slow economic recovery has yet to reach the poor, with 33 million Brazilians going hungry despite higher welfare payments. Like several of its Latin American neighbors coping with high inflation and a vast number of people excluded from formal employment, Brazil is considering a shift to the political left.

Gustavo Petro in Colombia, Gabriel Boric in Chile and Pedro Castillo in Peru are among the left-leaning leaders in the region who have recently assumed power.

Da Silva could win in the first round, without need for a run-off on Oct. 30, if he gets more than 50% of valid votes, which exclude spoiled and blank ballots. Brazil has more than 150 million eligible voters, and voting is mandatory, but abstention rates can reach as high as 20%.

An outright win by da Silva would sharpen focus on Bolsonaro’s reaction to the count. He has repeatedly questioned the reliability not just of opinion polls, but also of Brazil’s electronic voting machines. Analysts fear he has laid the groundwork to reject results.

At one point, Bolsonaro claimed to possess evidence of fraud, but never presented any, even after the electoral authority set a deadline to do so. He said as recently as Sept. 18 that if he doesn’t win in the first round, something must be “abnormal.”

The two frontrunners have key bases of support: evangelicals and white men for Bolsonaro, and women, minorities and the poor for da Silva.

Da Silva, 76, was once a metalworker who rose from poverty to the presidency and is credited with building an extensive social welfare program during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class.

But he is also remembered for his administration’s involvement in vast corruption scandals that entangled politicians and business executives.

Da Silva’s own convictions for corruption and money laundering led to 19 months imprisonment, sidelining him from the 2018 presidential race that polls indicated he had been leading against Bolsonaro. The Supreme Court later annulled da Silva’s convictions on the grounds that the judge was biased and colluded with prosecutors.

Marialva Santos Pereira, 47, said she would vote for the former president for the first time since 2002.

“I didn’t like the scandals in his first administration, never voted for the Workers’ Party again. Now I will, because I think he was unjustly jailed and because Bolsonaro is such a bad president that it makes everyone else look better.”

Speaking after casting his ballot in Sao Bernardo do Campo, the manufacturing hub in Sao Paulo state where he was a union leader, da Silva recalled that four years ago he was imprisoned and unable to vote.

“I want to try to make the country return to normality, try to make this country again take care of its people,” he told reporters.

Bolsonaro grew up in a lower-middle-class family before joining the army. He turned to politics after being forced out of the military for openly pushing to raise servicemen’s pay. During his seven terms as a fringe lawmaker in Congress’ lower house, he regularly expressed nostalgia for the country’s two-decade military dictatorship.

His overtures to the armed forces have raised concern that his possible rejection of election results could be backed by top brass.

Traditionally, the armed forces’ involvement in elections has been limited to carrying voting machines to isolated communities and beefing up security in violent regions. But this year, Bolsonaro suggested the military should conduct a parallel count of the ballots.

While that didn’t materialize, the Defense Ministry said it will cross check results in over 380 polling stations across Brazil. Any citizen or entity is able to do the same, consulting a vote tally available at each station after ballot closure and online.

On Saturday, Bolsonaro shared social media posts by right-leaning foreign politicians, including former U.S. President Donald Trump, who called on Brazilians to vote for him. Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed gratitude for stronger bilateral relations and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also praised him.

After voting Sunday morning, wearing a T-shirt with the green and yellow of Brazil’s flag, Bolsonaro told journalists that “clean elections must be respected” and that the first round would be decisive. Asked if he would respect results, he gave a thumbs up and walked away.

Because the vote is conducted electronically, preliminary results are usually out within minutes, with the final result available a few hours later. This year, all polls will close at 5 p.m. Brasilia time (4 p.m. EDT; 2000 GMT).

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