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In the letter, Sandy Smith said an individual had come forward to the family claiming to have witnessed Stephen being beaten to death with a baseball bat
Police believe the shooter is a student
Prince of Wales thanks soldiers for ‘defending our freedoms
Active shooting incident reported at East High School in Denver on Wednesday morning
A man who was once Donald Trump’s legal adviser may be the one responsible for sparking a historic presidential prosecution, John Bowden writes
Goop founder faces civil lawsuit regarding 2016 skiing accident involving retired optometrist Terry Sanderson at Deer Valley resort
Grand jury investigating Trump’s role in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election could return an indictment on Wednesday
The Prince of Wales met soldiers based an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border
Man barricaded himself inside apartment in luxury CitySpire building in Manhattan
‘It was his decision to show mercy, and that’s what he wanted to do,’ lawyer says
Scottie Morries, 14, has been missing for almost a week after investigators believe ran away from his home in Eaton, Indiana. As the search shows no signs of a breakthrough, questions are mounting over the chilling shirt he was wearing. Andrea Blanco reports
New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan has been assigned to multiple cases involving Mr Trump and his allies
Despite his being head of the world’s most popular app, the enigmatic CEO’s Wikipedia page is just six sentences long
A cancellation could delay a vote to indict Donald Trump in connection with an investigation into hush money payments to Stormy Daniels
Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday but he was wrong. Now he waits in Mar-a-Lago
Despite what Trump’s MAGA allies say, the Florida governor likely has little authority to stop the former president’s extradition from their mutual home state. Eric Garcia and Andrew Feinberg write
‘I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage,’ Florida governor says
Former president expects to be arrested this week. Mystery remains over how such an arrest could be carried out
A five-year story finally looks to be nearing some kind of conclusion. John Bowden takes a look at the saga that may lead to criminal charges against Donald Trump
A DIVER has revealed the terrifying moment he was swallowed whole by a great white shark as it tried to eat him alive.
Eric Nerhus, from Eden, Australia, is one of very few who have been inside the jaws of the fearsome predator and survived to tell the tale.The scars from a great white shark’s jaw can be seen outlined on Eric Nerhus’ chestBeautyOfWildlife Eric Nerhus / FacebookEric’s face mask took the brunt of the shark’s first bite, crushing his goggles and breaking his nose on impact[/caption] Eric was diving for abalone when he was attacked by a 10ft great white sharkGetty
Eric was scouring reefs for abalone – a type of edible sea snail – at Cape Howe on New South Wales’ rugged southern coastline in January, 2007.
But as he was diving, a great white shark charged him – swallowing his head and torso whole.
The veteran waterman then found himself inside the belly of the 10ft beast.
More than 77 jagged teeth sunk into his body as its jaws clamped shut.
The monstrous creature then tried to swallow him, crushing his head and chest, which were only protected by his heavy diving gear.
Inside, it was pitch black as Eric looked down the back of its throat with his arm dangling in front.
As its teeth gnashed into his flesh and started to thrash him around, Eric was now in the fight of his life – a horrific ordeal that he will never forget.
An incident report obtained by The Sun Online from the Global Shark Accident File can now reveal the horrific details that ensued.
It all began around 9am when Eric began his 26ft descent to the sea floor and started bagging the highly sought after mollusc.
He was 41 at the time and was working as a professional abalone diver.
Weather reports on the day forecasted rough conditions – fierce enough to deter most seasoned divers from taking the plunge.
In the weeks prior, there had also been some white pointer sightings in the area due to unusually cold waters.
However, it was a spot Eric had dived on 100 times before.
And that morning his 16-year-old son, Mark, was his trusted deckhand.
Eric said: “When you are a diver and you’re in that domain you’ve got that inkling in the back of your mind wondering if a shark will show up.
“A bob of seals or big fish shoot past you… you think ‘ok I wonder what’s chasing them’
“That’s when the hair on the back of your neck will stand up.”
Abalone divers can spend up to eight hours below the surface using lead weight vests to control their buoyancy.
They are usually hooked up to a machine on the boat that feeds them oxygen through a hose that’s connected to an industry-grade mask.
Despite that day’s murky water, Eric was in his element, casually making his way around submerged boulders.
He was in the tranquillity of the deep blue Tasman Sea and the only thing he could hear was the hum of his air regulator.
He took a reassuring upwards glance at the hull of his boat and continued on with the task at hand.
Next minute, everything went black.
Eric came to the vice-like pressure of his torso being crushed between two trucks colliding.
Eric said: “One minute it was day light, the next second everything went black.
“Inside the jaws it was just dark, I couldn’t see anything because I was looking down the back of his throat.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
Remarkably, Eric was still alive.
The shark’s first bite was absorbed by his diving mask and air regulator, which split and broke his nose instantly.
Angered that its prey had not relented, the monster took a wider chomp pushing the man further down its pharynx.Channel 9One the shark’s teeth sunk an inch into his shoulder[/caption] GettyHe was in the waters just off the north side of Cape Howe, near Eden, New South Wales[/caption]
This time, the brunt of the bite was taken by his lead-weight vest.
And at least 14 sharp jagged teeth had now sunk in and had a grip of him.
Eric said: “I started to get shaken horizontally with a really hard threshing motion.
“I thought ‘is this the end, is this what is like to die’.
“I was actually being eaten alive.”
Amid the horror, his survivalist instinct kicked in and he felt around for its eye socket and proceeded to gouge it.
Suddenly the clamp of the jaws released.
Eric said: “I started to wriggle out backwards and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get out or not.
“Just as I thought I was getting free, the bottom jaw closed and I felt the teeth sink into the back of my head and into my skull.
“I twisted its eye as hard as I could and the shark reacted again and let go.”
Eric managed to escape and quickly put the regulator back in his mouth to get some oxygen.
The terror, however, was not over.
According to Aidan Martin, a shark scientist, one of the hunting strategies of a white shark is to make an initial, crippling bite on a prey animal, then retreat until it bleeds out and becomes and easier meal.
The man was now hovering above the sea floor, blood spewing out of his lacerations and was being tightly circled by the shark with its black, glassy five inch eye traced on him.
Eric said: “The big round black eye was staring straight into my face with not one hint of fear of any boat, any human, or any other animal in the sea.
“It was the scariest site I have ever seen.”
The veteran waterman calmed himself and had to make the daring decision to swim for the boat.
He spread his arms and legs in an attempt to alert the shark that he was not a seal.
Eric slowly made his way to the top with the shark still circling, brushing his flippers with its tank-like body.
He broke the surface and his son desperately pulled him aboard.Channel 10 newsThe bloodstained rail from Eric’s boat after his son pulled him to safety[/caption] Eric Nerhus / FacebookScars from when the shark clamped its jaws on Eric’s head for the final time[/caption] Eden MagnetThe 41-year-old was rushed to Wollongong hospital[/caption]
Emergency crews were reached and he was flown to Wollongong hospital by a Snowy Hydro rescue helicopter.
He required 75 surgical sutures to stitch him back up but the tough Aussie had survived.
The fear, however, was too much to ever return to the water.
Eric said: “I am glad I am still around.
“Sometimes you get a break in life… I’m a working man that just wanted to survive very, very badly, at all costs.
“I have no animosity towards the shark because I realise it obviously mistook me for its natural prey, which possibly would be a seal.
“When you think about it, this was probably a one in ten million chance of escape.”
For his pal John Smythe, who has been diving for more than 50 years, it was the most epic tale of survival he had come across.
He told The Sun Online: “I’ve been hassled by makos, stalked by wobbies, crawled under rocks to hide from big whites… but Eric’s escape was incredible.”
The recollection comes as Australia experiences a surge in shark attacks.
The occurrence of unprovoked shark bites has increased globally for more than 30 years but Australia has been identified as a “hotspot”.
Those claims were backed up by a study that was published last year called: Increased shark bite survivability revealed by two centuries of Australian records.
While bull shark survivability increased over time between 1807 and 2018 – survivability decreased for both tiger and white sharks.
Especially when the person was doing an in water activity, such as swimming or diving.
Just a month ago, 16-year-old Stella Berry was mauled to death by a shark.
It was Western Australia’s first fatal shark attack in the Swan River for 100 years.
As of March 2023, there have been seven shark attacks in the country, three of which have been fatal.
And by October last year, seven people had already been killed by sharks.
It was a spike that had not been seen in the country for 86 years.
The highest annual figure on record was in 1929, with nine deaths.
However, the probability of shark-human interaction is extremely low and the likelihood of a bite being fatal is even lower.Eric Nerhus / FacebookEric seen with a massive abalone[/caption] Eric Nerhus / FacebookYears later, Eric lives his best life with his wife Tracy.[/caption]
RUSSIAN fighter pilots Sergey Popov and Vasily Vavilov were awarded the Orders of Courage by Vladimir Putin’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu for the downing of the American MQ-9 Reaper drone.
The unarmed US drone had its tail propeller struck by the Russian fighter jet – a move seen as a “brazen violation of international law” by America while Russia portrays its pilots as heroes.
Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: ”The aircraft was flying with its transponders off, and it entered the zone of the special military operation.
“It [the information about the zone] was made public via international channels. We, Russia, have warned everyone about it. I think this was a real provocation.”
The Russian pilots were portrayed as “professional” and hailed for their “courage.”
Read our Ukraine war blog below for the latest news…
ANDREW Tate has been behind bars in a detention centre since being arrested as part of a sex trafficking investigation.
Here, we look at the latest on the situation regarding Tate and his brother Tristan, and how much longer they could be held for.ReutersThe brothers were arrested by Romanian police during a series of raids[/caption] When will Andrew and Tristan Tate be released from prison?
Andrew and Tristan will spend another 30 days in custody following a hearing on March 30, 2023.
Under Romanian law, people can only be held in a detention centre for six months.
The latest vote meant that they would spend a fourth month behind bars.
The judge decided to detain both Tate brothers and their personal assistants Georgiana Naghel and Luana Radu on December 29, 2022.
Andrew Tate has remained an active presence on social media despite his incarceration.
The Romanian authorities seized many of the brothers assets from their compound following their arrest.Why were Andrew and Tristan Tate arrested?
Andrew, Tristan and his two associates are being held on suspicion of sex trafficking.
Romanian authorities have since said that, having identified six alleged victims, that their pair had subjected them to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” as well as “sexual exploitation”.
They are alleged to have recruited and exploited women by coercing them into “forced labour… and pornographic acts with a view to producing and disseminating such material” online to “obtain substantial financial benefits”.
Tate, who previously claimed to be a “trillionaire” was in fact living in a property he did not own in surroundings much different to the image he portrays online.What will happen when Andrew and Tristan Tate are released?
Andrew and Tristan look set to remain in custody for the foreseeable, after a successful appeal from Romanian authorities on March 22, 2023, which meant they would spend a fourth month in jail.
The investigation into the charges alleged against the pair will continue during this time.
There is no set date for the release of the brothers, and based on the extensions to their terms inside, it may be a while before they could be freed.
A WOMAN who was born into the notorious Children of God cult was forced to marry the paedophile leader aged three – and only escaped sick abuse videos by crying.
Serena Kelley was born into the twisted cult in the Philippines, and was a child bride when she was just a toddler.Instagram - @serkelleyBorn into one of the world’s most notorious cults, Serena Kelley, 39, suffered at the hands of its paedophile leader[/caption] WENNSerena was given as a child bride to David Berg, the leader of apocalyptic sex cult Children of God[/caption] check copyrightBerg pictured with another member of the Children of God cult[/caption]
The Children of God cult was founded in 1968 by David Berg, who created it as a Christian group with a message of peace and love.
But he eventually spun the group to cater for his own sick and perverse sexual fantasies.
As the cult’s numbers grew, Berg became fanatical, claiming the world would end soon and only his followers would be saved.
He also declared sex – including with children – was to be celebrated.
Serena has described horrific early memories of orgies, child sex films, incest, physical abuse and sex work.
But now she is working with victims of trauma and child abuse and revealed to the Shaun Attwood podcast the grisly truths behind the apocalyptic sex cult.
She told Attwood the horrifying story of how she became a child bride to the leader when she was just three – Berg was 67 at the time.
In 1986, Serena’s mum led her to Berg’s home where they were “married”.
An adult-sized heart-shaped ring – with tape inside to make it smaller – was put on her tiny finger and her parents were thrilled.
Serena then went on to explain how she had been “cursed” with a “crystal-clear memory” as she remembers the gory details of the atrocities she witnessed growing up.
She recalls being groped by Berg, who she was encouraged to call “Grandpa” when she was two, and learning to swim in his pool while an orgy took place.
When Serena was just three-years-old, the cult leader began getting into making pornographic videos with children and having children do stripteases.
“I ended up crying because I was so petrified and I was taken out of the video and punished and beaten and put in a dark room – ‘you’re not going to eat you ruined the video’,” she said.
“In my mind, I actually figured out that if I cried, that if I looked ugly I wouldn’t have to be in the videos.
“So there were ways where, as a child, I had to figure out survival of the fittest.”
Berg’s followers eventually devoted themselves to his ideologies of “sexual sharing” and “free expression” as the cult grew.
He once ordered female members to seduce and bed strangers – in a bid to attract more recruits.
His followers – including those that are married – were also often called upon to sacrifice their bodies in the name of God.
Serena also explained how most cult members lived in “extreme poverty” – while her and her family lived in “top leadership” households which was the highest tier.
But this didn’t mean her situation was any better.
“If anything it was even more abuse, more evil and a lot of testing on children going on in his household to see what works to see what he could do,” Serena said.
Before his death in Portugal in 1994, Berg’s granddaughter Merry claimed he’d molested her when she was a teen.
And by 1977, the cult had established more than 130 communities around the world.
In 1983, the group reported more than 10,000 full-time members living in more than 1,600 communities.
The Children of God was then officially renamed “The Family”, and Berg’s wife Karen Zerby took over.
At age 18, in 2002, the Serena managed to escape when she moved back to America with her mum.
She recalls living with her initially, but breaking away to live with an ex-cult member to avoid her mums control.
In 2013 the cult survivor enrolled at university in Austin, Texas, to study corporate communications, and completed her degree in 2015.
This was all while facing a long battle with anxiety, depression and an eating disorder.
“I’ve had therapy to help with my eating disorder and depression – it’s an ongoing process, but today I feel whole, happy and unafraid,” she said.
Serena has since taken a course in trauma recovery coaching and is now certified to help others who may have faced similar situations.
Serena said she still has the ring Berg placed on her finger 36 years ago – while once it was his way of controlling her, now she keeps it as proof of what happened to her.Berg used his position to sexually abuse childrenWENN Instagram - @serkelleySerena said it took her decades to get over her trauma – now she helps others[/caption]
A POLICE officer has been shot during a raid on “Citizens of the Reich” German coup plotters who support Prince Heinrich XIII.
Tactical police stormed multiple homes across eight federal states in Germany as part of an investigation into the Reichsbürger group.An officer was shot during the early morning raids across Germany on Wednesday GettyOne man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder[/caption]
It is the second swoop on the extremists – who believe post-Second World War Germany is illegitimate – in recent months.
During the operation on Wednesday morning, officers raided a home in Reutlingen, in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.
One police officer was shot and wounded at the property. He suffered minor injuries, according to reports.
One person was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder at the scene, a spokesperson for the Attorney General said.
The Federal Public Prosecutor in Karlsruhe has now taken over the investigation into the shooter, they added.
According to Zeit Online, the suspect was waiting in the living room with a large-caliber gun. Reports claim he had a permit to own weapons.
Justice minister Marco Buschmann wrote in a tweet: “This shows how dangerous the missions are.
“It is the duty of the authorities to disarm Reichsbürger.”
The raids, which also took place in Switzerland, targeted five people who were suspected of belonging to a terrorist organisation.
Authorities also searched the homes of another 14 people, who were not suspects in the case.
German broadcaster ARD claimed some of these included police officers and soldiers from southern Bavaria, northern Lower Saxony and eastern Saxony.
No further arrests were made, German prosecutors said.
Cops reportedly raided 22 properties throughout Germany, including in the capital, Berlin, and in Singen.
A property near Göttingen, Lower Saxony, was also targeted as part of the raid.
Since last year more than 50 suspects linked to Prince Heinrich XIII have been under investigation – while 24 have been locked up.
Police foiled a plot by the Reichsbürger group to overthrow the government in December.
Prince Heinrich XIII was allegedly the mastermind behind the scheme, alongside a former paratrooper commander, known only as Rüdiger v. P.
He is also alleged to have reached out to Russian officials for their help to storm the German parliament building, the Reichstag.
Members of the Reichsbürger movement planned to stage a violent coup to install the aristocrat, 71, as leader and restore the Second Reich.
The Second Reich was the German Empire which ruled from 1871 before being defeated by the British and their allies in World War 1.
Germany’s defeat saw the Kaiser abdicate and the monarchy collapse – leaving a weakened state known as the Weimar Republic.
The republic was eventually overtaken by Adolf Hitler, leading to World War 2.
Federal Prosecutor’s Office officials said the plotters wanted to overthrow the state order in Germany and replace it with their own.
Members of the Reichsbürger movement fail to recognise the political legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany, which was formed in wake of the war.
Instead, they believe that it was forced upon the nation by the allies.
The radicals are only prepared to accept the German Reich as the official sovereign, governing authority of Germany.
The group is estimated to be around 23,000-strong, with 1,000 of the members armed.
They have been involved in numerous shoot-outs with the police, which resulted in the death of a police officer in Bavaria in 2016.
Heinrich – an entrepreneur who worked in property, wine and the arts – was arrested at his office in Frankfurt in early December.
His family had already distanced themselves from him in the “clearest possible terms” after he publically met with far-right politicians in August last year.
It is reported he left the family 14 years ago – and he was described by the House of Reuss as a “confused old man”.
The Reichsbürger group is alleged to have tried to recruit members from the German police and state defence force, the Bundeswehr, as well as calling on Russian officials for help.
Mad tyrant Vladimir Putin is known to be seeking to destabilise Western governments, especially Germany, amid the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s embassy in Germany denied any involvement in plot, saying they didn’t work with “terrorist groups”.
In January this year, a retired teacher dubbed “the terror granny” was arrested over an alleged treason plot to overthrow the government.
The pensioner, 75, is accused of being the ringleader of a far-right terrorist cell that hoped to kidnap a public official as part of a similar warped plan to bring reinstate the Second Reich.
The woman, named only as Elisabeth R. due to German privacy laws, is accused of planning to spark a bloody civil war and topple the federal government.
ANDREW Tate is set to spend even more time in prison, with prosecutors deciding that he should be kept behind bars for another 30 days on March 22, 2023.
Here’s the latest on the disgraced influencer.Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan remain in prison following their arrest in December 2022 Is Andrew Tate still in prison?
Andrew Tate is still in prison, and has now had his detention extended for a fourth time.
Tate, along with his brother Tristan and two associates were jailed as part of a human trafficking probe.
Tate was seen holding a copy of the Quran while entering and leaving his first appeal hearing – which was rejected – following his conversion to Islam.
The brothers are reportedly being held in a cell for 23 hours a day, at a prison described as a “hellhole”.Why is Andrew Tate in prison?
Andrew and his brother Tristan were arrested as part of a probe into human trafficking, rape, and organised crime.
They are accused of recruiting women on social media platforms and getting them to travel to their villa on the outskirts of Bucharest.
The brothers are alleged to have pretended to fall in love with the women, before getting them to work for the business and making them perform sexual acts on webcams.
Women were forced to film porn videos in the compound and were kept under 24/7 house arrest, according to Romanian investigators.
Romanian authorities have reported that they have identified six alleged victims in the case who were subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” as well as “sexual exploitation”.When did Andrew Tate get arrested?
Tate’s Romanian home was raided by the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DICCOT) in Bucharest on December 29, 2022.
Despite this, he has remained active on social media since being incarcerated, with regular posts on Twitter.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying that he is a victim of something called “The Matrix”.Is Tristan Tate still in prison?
Tristan remains in prison, much like his brother, after both appeals against their detentions were rejected by a Romanian court.
He appeared leaving the court after his initial hearing, handcuffed to his brother and under heavy police supervision.
The social media influencer has been vocal since about the conditions he is being subjected to behind bars.
Despite adding American lawyer, Tina Glandian, to his legal team both he and his brother remain in custody.
She told The Mirror: “Pre-trial detention is the harshest form of punishment.
“Terrible things happen to people when they’re in custody; people are killed sometimes in custody, it’s dangerous and should be the method of last resort.
“The authorities can continue to extend the detention.
“Every 30 days they can make a new application up to a six-month period without filing charges.”
Tate along with his brother and business partners Luana Radu and Georgina Naghel, were had their stay in detention extended by 30 days on March 22, 2022.
It is the fourth time that their time behind bars has been extended by the Romanian court.
US nuclear B-52 bombers were flanked by NATO fighters in V-formation during a massive show of strength to Vladimir Putin.
The warning to the tyrant comes after his jets intercepted a pair of the bombers over the Baltic earlier this week – the first encounter between the sides since Russia brought down a US drone.One of the B-52s with the NATO fighter escort The view of the formation taken from the cockpit of one of the bombers The moment a Russian Su-35 intercepted B-52 bombers earlier this week East2WestRussian TU-95 bombers also took to the skies[/caption]
Fighter jets from Italy, Spain and Romania can be seen in a V-formation in the video, which appears to have been taken from one of the B-52s and released by NATO today.
“Get a cockpit view of the US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers working with NATO Allies during a recent mission over Europe,” said the alliance.
“The B-52s are training with Allied Air Forces during their BTF (Bomber Task Force) mission strengthening our Euro-Atlantic partnership.”
On display are Italian Typhoons, Spanish F-18s and Romanian F-16s.
The spectacular footage comes as Russia warned Britain over plans to potentially arm Ukraine with tank shells containing depleted uranium.
Moscow is fuming over the plan – with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov decrying it as “genocide” and another warning of a “nuclear collision”.
Britain has accused the Russians of “deliberately trying to disinform” over a “standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities”.
On Tuesday Russia’s defence ministry said its radar detected two targets which were identified as US Air Force B-52H bombers, the state-owned TASS news agency reported.
Footage taken from the Su-35 shows it flying beside one of two massive B-52s while Russian Tu-95 Bear nuclear bombers were seen taking off in a tit-for-tat show of strength.
Before the B-52s were intercepted by Vladimir Putin’s planes, a photo shows them being escorted by Polish F-16 jets over the Baltic Sea.
The ministry said a Su-35 fighter jet took to the air in order to prevent a border violation.
After that “the foreign military aircraft moved away from the Russian Federation state border, the Russian fighter returned to its base airfield”.
The Su-35’s flight was strictly in line with international rules of the use of airspace during Monday’s incident, added the ministry.
“No violation of the state border of the Russian Federation was permitted,” it said.
At the same time, Putin ordered up two of his own Tu-95MS – the world’s only propeller-powered strategic bombers – with Su-30SM and Su-35S warplanes providing fighter support in eastern Russia.
The move saw Putin flexing his nuclear muscles as it was announced that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is making a surprise trip today to Ukraine.
“Two Tu-95MS strategic missile-carrying bombers of long-range aviation performed a scheduled flight in the airspace over the neutral waters of the Sea of Japan,” said the Russian defence ministry.
“The flight lasted over seven hours.”
The United States has a number of military bases on Japan, including ones just across the Sea of Japan from Russia.
The Russians didn’t reveal where the Su-35s flew from but some are known to be based in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic.
During a clash last week a Russian Su-27 jet struck the propeller of a US MQ-9 Reaper drone – forcing it to crash into the sea.
The drone was taken down while flying near Russian-occupied Crimea and the Ukraine frontline.What is the B-52 bomber?
The B-52 Stratofortress is a US Air Force's heavy bomber which has been in use since the mid-1950s.
One of the reasons why the plane – which has a 150ft wingspan – is still in use is its staggering flying range of 9,000 miles.
And then there’s the awe inspiring payload capability.
In fact its enormous size means they can carry more than 30 tonnes of bombs.
The hulking bomber can also be fitted with large numbers of nuclear-able cruise missiles and precision air-to-surface rockets.
B-52s were synonymous with the bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s during the Cold War.
Its destructive capability was also demonstrated in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars where they were used to demolish caves and underground facilities.
The majority of the 76-strong fleet are based at Barksdale in Louisiana and Minot in North Dakota.
The planes also fly missions from bases outside the US, including the UK and Spain.
Prior to the collision, which happened at 7am local time, two Su-27s had “dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9” in a “reckless” and “unprofessional” manner, the US military said.
Footage of the moment was released by the US European Command.
It shows one of the Russian fighter jets zooming towards the drone before flying above it – dumping fuel on it.
Horrified US military personnel in Germany watched a live feed from the drone as the Russian jets repeatedly flew around it, dumping fuel to damage cameras and sensors.
Senior US officials have been worried for months that some sort of incident over the Black Sea could lead to miscommunication and confrontation.
The Russians said the drone manoeuvred sharply and crashed into water after its fighter jets were scrambled to intercept it near Crimea.
Moscow denied its warplanes came into contact with the drone and insisted they didn’t fire their weapons to shoot down the drone, which would have been an act of war.
The area has seen intense NATO military activity and is close to the frontlines of the Ukraine war.
The Russians reportedly said they won the race to retrieve the drone from the 3,000ft under the Black Sea.
The bringing down of the drone is part of Russia’s increasingly dangerous pattern of behaviour that experts fear could spark a wider conflict.
US researchers at the RAND Corporation have compiled a report detailing hundreds of such incidents in recent years which they describe as “coercive signalling”.
This is designed to send a message to the US and other NATO planes and ships through “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct – with Russian aircrafts increasingly armed.Footage of one of the B-52s taken from the Russian fighter jet The Russians intercepted the US bombers over the Baltic Sea The US planes were first escorted by Polish fighter jets Youtube - @USEUCOMFootage shows the moment a Russian jet dumps fuel on a US drone[/caption]
PROSECUTORS have won a court bid to keep “dangerous” Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan behind bars for 30 more days.
The misogynists are languishing in a Romanian prison after the court threw out both Andrew’s and Tristan’s requests for house arrest earlier this month.
The disgraced influencer was detained more than two months ago alongside Tristan and has been going to and from the court as his legal team fights against the arrest warrant and the extensions to his detention.
And today – for the fourth time in a row – prosecutors convinced a judge to keep them behind bars for a further 30 days.
In Court documents seen by MailOnline, the judge ruled the decision was reached due to the “particular dangerousness of the defendants” and their capacity to identify victims “with an increased vulnerability, in search of better life opportunities.”
Read our Andrew Tate blog below for the latest news and updates…
RUSSIA has fired a new warning at Britain over plans to potentially arm Ukraine with tank shells containing depleted uranium.
Moscow is fuming over the plan – with one of Vladimir Putin’s officials decrying it as “genocide” and another warning of a “nuclear collision”.ReutersVladimir Putin is raging over the UK’s plan[/caption] GettySergei Lavrov warned Britain risks ‘serious escalation’[/caption] EPAA Russian T-90 battle tank fires a shell in the Donetsk[/caption]
“This is a step towards a further escalation, and a serious one at that,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
He added that the use of such ammunition would “sharply reduce” Ukraine’s ability to “produce high-quality, uncontaminated food”.
It came after Putin vowed Russia would be “forced to react” to any such moves by the UK.
And meanwhile nuclear capable bombers have been active over Europe, with incredible footage showing a B-52 flanked by six Nato fighter jets.
Britain has accused the Russians of “deliberately trying to disinform” over a “standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities”.
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu also fired a warning at the UK.
“Only one thing can be said here: there are not so many steps, another step has been passed, and there are fewer and fewer of them,” said Shoigu.
When asked whether this meant that the world was closer to a nuclear collision, he replied: “It was not by chance that I told you about steps.
“There are fewer and fewer.”
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also hit back – accusing the UK of “genocide”.
“The use of ammunition with depleted uranium is a manifestation of genocide of the population against which it is used and the people who use them,” she said.
Zakharova went on: “This is another British provocation, which aims to bring the situation around Ukraine to a new round of aggression, conflict and confrontation, to give a qualitatively different dimension.”
Moscow has been reacting to a written response by a UK defence minister, Annabel Goldie, who was asked whether “any of the ammunition currently being supplied to Ukraine contains depleted uranium”.
She responded on Monday by saying that “we will be providing ammunition including armour piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium”.
Depleted uranium is a by-product of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons. It is around 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium.
Its heaviness lends itself for use in armour piercing rounds as it helps them easily penetrate steel.
The United Nations Environment Program has described it as a “chemically and radiologically toxic heavy metal”.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly rubbished the criticism from Russia.
Cleverly told reporters at an event in London that Russia was the only country talking about nuclear issues.
“There is no nuclear escalation,” he said. “The only country in the world that is talking about nuclear issues is Russia. There is no threat to Russia, this is purely about helping Ukraine defend itself”
“It’s worth making sure everyone understands that just because the word uranium is in the title of depleted uranium munitions, they are not nuclear munitions, they are purely conventional munitions.”
Britain has used depleted uranium in its armour piercing shells for decades and does not consider those rounds as having a nuclear capability.
Russia is known to also use ammunition containing depleted ammunition.ReutersVolodymyr Zelensky visited the frontline today in Bakhmut[/caption] AFPUkrainian soldiers are holing the line in the key city against the Russians[/caption] AFPUkrainian servicemen fire an antitank gun near Bakhmut[/caption]
Kyiv continues to call for Western support to help them defeat Putin, who has so far lost more than 150,000 soldiers.
Vlad foolishly believed his forces would be welcomed into Ukraine as liberators when he invaded last February.
But instead the initial attack ended in a disaster which saw his forces devastated and thrown back to Russia.
Putin’s future is now believed to be tied to the success or failure of his war in Ukraine – with an arrest warrant being issued for him over war crimes.
And meanwhile, today Ukraine’s hero president Volodymyr Zelensky visited the frontline in Bakhmut.
Ukrainian forces have held out for about eight months in the city despite taking heavy casualties in one of the bloodiest battles since Russia’s full-scale invasion 13 months ago.
Video footage posted on social media showed Zelenskiy, dressed in a dark sweatshirt and military khaki trousers.
He was seen handing out awards to exhausted-looking soldiers in combat gear in what appeared to be a large warehouse.
“I am honoured to be here today to give awards to our heroes. To shake hands and thank them for protecting the sovereignty of our country,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram.
“Your fate is so difficult, yet so historic. To defend our land and to return everything to Ukraine for our children,” he said.
“I bow low before all the heroes, your close comrades you have lost in the east, and in general throughout this war.”
Zelensky has portrayed “Fortress Bakhmut” as a symbol of defiance which is bleeding the Russian military dry.
The brutal battle has been raging with street-by-street fighting and sometimes hand-to-hand combat in makeshift trenches.
The battlefield has been described as a “meat grinder” by commanders on both sides
Putin visited the frontline as well over weekend in a tightly stage managed trip to Mariupol.
It was such a strange and unusual visit that Ukrainian officials seized on it – accusing Putin of using a “body double”.ReutersBritish Foreign Secretary James Cleverly rubbished the criticism by Putin[/caption]
A DREAM job offering a £50,000 salary and the chance to travel the world is now up for grabs – and you don’t even any qualifications.
The incredible employment opportunity is in the Australian Navy and they’re still taking applications from thrill-seeking job hunters.GettyThe perfect job for thrill-seeking job hunters is no w up for grabs in Australia[/caption] GettyThe Australian Navy are hiring an Electronics Technician – and the salary is up to £50,000[/caption]
The job on offer is an Electronics Technician – and you don’t even need experience in the industry to apply.
According to an Aussie jobsite, the role would consist of maintaining, diagnosing and repairing weapons systems, circuits and equipment on board ships or submarines and ashore.
Whether the applicant has experience as a tradie or none at all – the Australian Navy are on the hunt for someone to fill this tantalising poisition.
Extensive on-the-job training will be provided to the full-time worker, and they even pay from day one on the job.
The lucky individual to score this opportunity would be faced with some mind-blowing duties such as maintaining military grade guns, missiles and torpedo launchers.
They would also be responsible for the maintenance of satellite equipment, underwater systems, electronic warfare and combat management systems.
There is also opportunity to specialise as an Electronics Technician Submariner – for those that are seeking a challenging yet rewarding job.
The role would consist of making sure the submarine’s torpedo-firing systems, underwater sonars, navigation systems, periscopes and other high-tech systems are kept in top shape.
But it doesn’t stop there – to top it off, there’s a long list of perks for the successful candidate.
These include travel opportunities, free medical and dental care, a competitive salary package, subsidised housing, chef made meals at sea and a wild adventurous lifestyle.
A former tradie in the Australian Navy said that being an Electronics Technician is “a uique experience like no other”, in a review on the jobsite.
They also wrote: “Travel is awesome and you can do and see things not many will never get the chance to”.
Although you don’t need any qualifications to sign up for this dream job, they do expect you to have passed Year 10 English, Maths and Science – preferably Physics).
Applicants must be over the age of 17 at the time of enlistment and be an Australian Citizen.
Another job offering a six-figure salary with perks of a room in a luxury resort with a cinema and Olympic pool is up for grabs – but you need to be willing to get dirty.
Plus, nature lovers were mad for this opportunity that allowed the lucky job hunter to live on a picturesque island – and be paid for it.
And, here are the highest paying jobs that you don’t need qualifications for, some offer a mind-blowing salary of up to £90,000 a year.
Some examples are a train driver, commercial pilot and ethical hacker.GettyApplicants don’t even need any qualifications to score this dream job[/caption]
A BRITISH teenager has been killed by an avalanche while on a ski tour in Switzerland.
The 18-year-old man was found dead after he was swept away by the avalanche in Meiringen, Bern on Tuesday evening.GettyThe 18-year-old was killed by an avalanche in Bern[/caption]
Rescue teams are currently searching for a second person who was caught up in the disaster.
The 18-year-old Brit was living in Bern, police said.
According to reports, cops received a report at 4.25pm that “an avalanche had fallen near the Gstelliwang and two ski tourers had been buried”.
The Gstelliwang is a ski slope on the Wellhorn mountain in the Bernese Alps.
It’s understood the 18-year-old and the missing skier had split from the rest of their group when the avalanche hit.
The search for the second person was stopped at around 7.30pm last night and resumed at first light this morning.
Swiss Alpine Rescue, helicopters, mountain specialists and cops have joined the desperate search effort, Berner Oberlander reports.
VLADIMIR Putin’s alleged election fixer for over nine years has died suddenly from a heart attack despite seeming well days earlier.
Vladimir Churov – who infamously coined the motto “Putin is always right” – died on Wednesday at age 70.AFPVladimir Churov, 70, died suddenly of a heart attack[/caption] AFPPutin’s close pal was dubbed ‘the magician’ for fixing elections in the tyrant’s favour[/caption]
The former chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission is said to have been in hospital following a “massive stroke” last week.
He died this morning shortly after undergoing surgery, according to the Russian state-owned news agency TASS.
Lawmaker Leonid Ivlev said: “It is sad news indeed. [He died] after surgery in a hospital at 8:00 am today.
“[He] passed away after suffering a serious heart attack.”
But a shocked Ivlev said Churov had appeared in good health when he saw him on both Monday and Tuesday.
The pal claimed he had been talking about future plans despite his reported health woes.
He explained: “He had a heart operation, then came to his senses, began to get up, walk around the ward, talked about his plans, was going to write a book, but that’s how it all happened.”
Opposition factions strongly criticised Churov over “election fraud” in Putin’s favour during his term from 2007 to 2016.
His career was riddled with controversy regarding rigged votes, which earned him the nickname “the magician”.
A former Western diplomat in Moscow said: “Churov knew where the bodies were buried over election falsification which gave Putin a clear run, preventing opposition parties gaining a foothold.”
He was seen as doing the Kremlin’s bidding to give presidential and parliamentary polls the veneer of respectability when in fact they were rigged.
The Russian President also allegedly pulled some strings to help Churov rise through the ranks.
Putin made amendments to the Russian election legislation in 2007 to enable people without a law degree to become members of the Central Election Commission – allowing his fixer to get elected.
Churov made his unwavering loyalty to the leader clear from the get-go, adding fuel to the fire of the rumours of election fraud.
Putin’s close pal triggered some of Russia’s biggest pro-democracy protests in 2011 amid claims of falsifying ballots.
Activists demanded Churov’s resignation, but the defiant election official vowed to serve the remaining four years of his term.
He insisted footage that showed ballot-stuffing and other fraudulent activity had been doctored.MYSTERIOUS DEATHS
Churov was ultimately replaced by Ella Pamfilova in 2016, but was then personally appointed as a Russian ambassador at large by Putin.
The pair’s friendship dates back to the 1990s, when the former election chief worked under the tyrant as deputy head of the St. Petersburg mayor’s external relations committee.
Churov celebrated his 70th birthday less than a week ago on March 17.
He was reportedly writing a book on alleged US meddling in elections abroad when he died.
The official had previously slammed the country’s own voting system, describing it as “contradictory, archaic and not corresponding to the democratic principles.”
Churov’s passing marks the latest in a string of sudden and mysterious deaths of Russia’s elite over the last year.
Dozens of high-profile figures in Mad Vlad’s inner circle have died since Putin launched his bloody war in Ukraine.
Sergey Grishin – the so-called “Scarface” oligarch who sold Meghan and Harry their California mansion – died on March 6 from sepsis after criticising Putin.
One of the creators of Russia’s Covid vaccine Sputnik V was brutally strangled to death in his Moscow apartment on March 2.‘MODERN DAY MURDER INC’
Top scientist Andrey Botikov, 48, was reportedly murdered with a belt during an altercation with an intruder in his home.
It came after Russian oligarch and founder of energy giant Urals Energy Vyacheslav Rovneiko, 59, was found dead.
His body was found at his home on February 22 – just hours after a former politician on trial for bribery died in custody.
Andrei Bralnin, an elected official in the town of Kotlas in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, was reportedly unable to be resuscitated.
Former Prime Minister of the oil-rich Dagestan region Magomed Abdulayev died at the start of January after being hit by a car.
The 61-year-old suffered serious injuries when he was rammed by the vehicle while crossing the street in Makhachkala city.
Jon Sweet, a retired US Army Military Intelligence Officer, and Mark Toth, a national security analyst, described Putin as running “modern-day FSB version of Murder Inc.”
“Anyone seen as a potential threat seems to have an attraction to an open window,” he told The Sun Online.
Putin’s regime of course has never admitted to anything – and has always dealt with the deaths of their enemies with a wry smile.
But the pile of bodies however has appeared to have grown at an alarming rate over the last 12 months.
And while not all the deaths will involve the hand of Vlad – with some having more prosaic or tragic explanations – all eyes remain on the Kremlin.AFPThe President personally appointed Churov as a Russian ambassador at large in 2016[/caption] The 70-year-old was writing a book on alleged US election meddling when he died
RESCUERS are desperately searching for survivors among the rubble of a Ukrainian high school after a Russian drone strike left three dead.
Another seven were wounded in the horror attack on the dormitory in the city of Rzhyshchiv near Kyiv in the early hours of the morning.ReutersThe deadly drone attack on the school near Kyiv has left at least three dead[/caption] ReutersRescue teams scoured the rubble for survivors after the bombardment in the early hours of Wednesday[/caption] ReutersThe ambush sparked an inferno which quickly tore through the dormitories[/caption] Residential buildings in Zaporizhzhia were rocked by S-300 missilesTwitter/redcat3168246 President Zelensky denounced Russia’s ‘brutal cruelty’ in wake of the shelling of civilian homes
The first explosions rang out at around 3am, as Vladimir Putin reportedly launched 21 kamikaze drones in a mammoth air attack.
An 11-year-old was among the victims, rescue services announced.
It comes just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the President over his alleged involvement in the abductions of children from Ukraine.
Two dormitories and an educational facility bore the brunt of Russia‘s latest bombardment in the Kyiv region, “partially destroying” the structures.
The State Emergency Service announced a series of drones slammed into the school in an update on the Telegram messaging app.
It read: “Three people died, two people were injured and one person was rescued. Four people are probably under the rubble.”
The military administration of Kyiv later confirmed the numbers.
Authorities were forced to evacuate hundreds of people in the dead of night as the blasts rocked the region – just hours after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida departed Ukraine after his surprise visit.
The leader toured the capital and paid tribute to fallen soldiers, saying he was “outraged by the cruelty”.
The strike on the school, situated around 50 miles south of Kyiv, destroyed two floors of student residences and a study building.
A fire quickly broke out as a result, which engulfed more than 3,200 square feet of the building.
Chilling images published by the emergency services show the ominous glow of the blaze looming over one of the surviving structures.
Another showed how the school had been reduced to piles of rubble as the inferno continued to rage.
Firefighters battled to douse the flames and eventually extinguished them shortly before 7am local time.
A search and rescue operation then immediately followed, with teams pictured rummaging through the rubble for victims.
Officials said 20 people were taken to hospital, while another five currently remain unaccounted for, according to Ukrinform.
Andriy Nebytov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, slammed Russia in wake of the deadly drone attack on the school.
“We see that the enemy once again attacked the civilian infrastructure, innocent people were killed, including the ambulance driver who came to save citizens,” he said.DEADLY DRONES
“This is another shameful war crime of the occupier.
“Significant casualties can be avoided in case of timely response for air raid and shelter signals, so don’t neglect safety, it saves lives.”
Ukraine claims to have shot down 16 out of 21 drones that were hurtled towards the nation in the early hours of Wednesday.
Reports suggest they were dealing with an onslaught of Iran-made self-destroying Shahed-136 UAVS, also known as Heran 2.
They were developed as suicide crafts that could loiter above targets before attacking them and have recently been hammering Ukrainian cities.
The drones, which are guided by satellite navigation, come equipped with an explosive warhead and can fly at a range of up to 2,500km at 185km/h.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet: “Over 20 Iranian murderous drones, plus missiles, numerous shelling incidents, and that’s just in one last night of Russian terror against Ukraine.”
Residential buildings in Zaporizhzhia and the island of Khortytsia were also targeted by S-300 missiles, forcing people to hide in basements.
The city’s acting mayor, Anatoly Kurte, said at least 18 people – including two children – were injured in the strikes.
Chilling footage captured the moment a Russian rocket blasted into an apartment block, as onlookers are seen frantically running for cover.SHELLING OF CIVILIAN HOMES
The explosion quickly decimated a chunk of the building before the flames began to spread as thick black smoke billowed into the sky.
Another clip showed a number of buildings on fire, with entire flats being completely charred within moments of the attack.
Terrified residents were seen gathered on the ground below, helplessly surveying their homes as they went up in smoke.
Zelensky said of the footage: “Right now, a Russian missile hit a multi-storey building. Russia shells the city with brutal cruelty.
“This should not become ‘just an ordinary day’ in Ukraine, or anywhere else in Europe or the world.
“We need more unity and decisiveness of the world in order to quickly defeat Russian terror and protect lives.”
The Ukrainian leader suggested Russia is still refusing to consider a ceasefire after nearly 13 months of war.
He added: ” Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”
His words came just hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping had left Russia after a landmark meeting with Putin.
The leaders discussed the the “no-limits friendship” between their countries during the two-day visit.‘CHANGE IS COMING’
Xi barely mentioned Putin’s shambolic invasion of Ukraine – but insisted China had an “impartial position”.
Xi said he signed an agreement with Putin – bringing their ties into a “new era” of cooperation and “deepening” their partnership.
Their first meeting was followed by a luxurious meal ahead of peace talks about Ukraine.
Beijing has proposed a 12-point peace plan to end the Ukraine war that would see ceasefire on both sides – but would mean a territorial loss for Ukraine.
Putin praised Xi for a peace plan he proposed last month, and blamed Kyiv and the West for rejecting it.
But the West sees the peace plan as a ploy to buy the Russian dictator time to regroup his troops and cement his grip on occupied land.
In a chilling threat to the West as he left Moscow, Xi told Putin: “Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years.
“And we are driving this change together.”
Footage shows how a Russian fighter jet intercepted a pair of US nuclear bombers after Putin ordered his own planes into the sky.
Video from the Su-35 shows it flying beside one of two massive B-52s while Russian Tu-95 Bear nuclear bombers were seen taking off in a show of force from the Russian tyrant.
The encounter between the US and Russian planes was the first between the sides since the drone clash.
Before the B-52s were intercepted by Vladimir Putin’s planes, a photo shows them being escorted by Polish F-16 jets over the Baltic Sea.ReutersTwo dormitories and an educational facility were destroyed[/caption]Two dormitories and an educational facility were destroyed[/caption] ReutersAt least seven were injured and another 20 taken to hospital[/caption] ReutersPutin has been slammed for again targeting innocent civilians in Ukraine[/caption] ReutersOfficials said five people remain unaccounted for in wake of the attack[/caption]
RAMADAN is a month where Muslims fast and reflect.
Here, we take a look at what the rules of fasting are during this month and when they can eat.
Muslims break their daily Ramadan fast with iftar – the evening meal taken at sunsetGetty Images - GettyWhat are the rules of fasting during Ramadan?
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.
If they break fast, they must compensate by fasting later in the evening.
Or they can pay “fidyah”, a religious term for donation of food or money.
It is expected that adult Muslims fast as it is one of the five pillars of Islam.
LATEST ON SPECIAL DAYS OF THE YEAR HOLDING FAST What to say when opening and closing your Ramadan fast HOLDING FAST A look at the fasting rules during Ramadan
However, there are some allowances for those who are pregnant, ill, or menstruating.
It is thought abstaining from these activities will lead to greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God.
A pre-fast meal is eaten before dawn, called the suhur, and a meal is eaten to break the fast once the sun sets – iftar.How long do Muslims fast for?
Ramadan lasts for 30 days, and takes place in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.
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The first day of fasting begins on March 23, 2023.
The fast begins at sunrise after suhur and then finish at sunset with iftar.
The final iftar should take place on the evening of April 21, 2023.Do children fast?
Muslims are expected to begin fasting when they begin puberty, usually at the age of 14.
There is no law opposing children or teens observing the fast.
The advice from the NHS reads: “It’s a good idea to make children aware of what fasting involves and to practice fasting for a few hours at a time.“It is important that anyone who is fasting continues to get their daily recommended nutrients, no matter what age they are.” The NHS suggests that people under the age of eight should abstain from fasting.
DAVID Koresh, the delusional leader of The Branch cult, brainwashed his victims into believing the apocalypse was about to destroy earth.
His “teachings” and “church” ultimately led to the massacre of 76 cult members, including 25 children and two pregnant women and four ATF agents.
David Koresh claimed to be Christ and to have knowledge of the seven seals of the apocalypseRex FeaturesWho was David Koresh?
David Koresh was born on August 17, 1959, in Houston, Texas, to Bonnie Clark.
His real name was Vernon Howell, before changing it to copy Old Testament kings, and claiming to be God’s prophet.
Bonnie was a 14-year-old single mother and Koresh never met his dad, Bobby Wayne Howell – who abandoned his mum for another teenage girl.
It is reported Bonnie started living with a violent alcoholic following the split and eventually left Koresh in the care of her mother Earline Clark.
He was just four-years-old when Bonnie ran away with her boyfriend, and seven when she returned.
Koresh had a difficult childhood and was bullied at school due to his dyslexia.
Fellow students reportedly nicknamed him “Mr Retardo” and he ended up dropping out of Garland High School in his junior year.
In his 20s he became a born-again Christian and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church after allegedly getting an underage girl pregnant.
But this transition was short lived when he was exiled after claiming God wanted him to marry the leader’s daughter.
Koresh turned to the Seventh-day Adventist Church splinter group the Branch Davidians and moved into their remote rural compound in Waco, Texas.
It is claimed by David Thibodeau in his book A Place Called Waco, that Koresh had begun a sexual relationship with the widow of the former sect leader.
After this, he claimed God had chosen him to father a child by her – the Chosen One.
Soon he began claiming he was a prophet – the so-called “lamb” and Son of God who was the only one who could unlock the Book of Revelation’s Seven Seals.
Koresh had extensive knowledge of the Bible, which he had memorised large sections of, and became leader of the group in 1987.
Koresh, who regarded himself as an angel and God’s agent, collected followers from around the world, including Britain.
And despite annulling followers’ marriages, he said that God had ordered him to have as many wives as he wanted and that he could have sex with whomever he wished to.
Koresh claimed to be Christ and to have knowledge of the seven seals of the apocalypse.
He was depicted in the media as having total control over his followers, 30 of whom were British, and hailed from London, Nottingham and Manchester.
David Koresh and many of his followers died in the Waco blaze on April 19, 1993Getty - ContributorWhen was the Waco Siege?
Reports differ on the exact number of people who died at the Waco Siege, but 76 Davidians, including 25 children and two pregnant women are thought to have perished.
Twenty-four of the victims were British.
Only nine Davidians escaped the fire.
The 51-day standoff between the religious sect and the American Government began in early 1993.
On February 28, 1993, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) tried to carry out search and arrest warrants for Koresh.
They suspected he was in possession of illegal firearms and explosives, and asked for help from FBI agents.
Government officials estimated there was a stockpile of nearly 250 weapons inside the compound, which was believed to house more than 100 men, women and children. There was a year’s supply of food rations.
However, the raid descended into a gun battle, which resulted in four ATF agents being killed, 20 agents being wounded and an unknown number of Davidians killed and injured.
Koresh was among those wounded, but he and the majority of his followers refused to leave the compound.
On March 1, 1993, FBI agents took control of the 77-acre complex, and a 51-day siege followed the initial bungled operation.
On April 19, with Koresh still refusing to surrender despite ongoing negotiations, and pressure tactics, the siege ended after FBI agents carried out a tank and tear gas assault to force the Branch Davidians to leave the compound.
By midday, after a few hours of being under gas attack, several fires started inside the compound.
Koresh, 33, reportedly died of a gunshot wound during the fire.
AS one of cult leader David Koresh’s trusted lieutenants, Kathy Schroeder handed out guns and ammunition to kids during the Waco siege, which ended in 86 deaths – 28 of them children.
Now, 30 years on from the deadly stand-off, the mum of four has controversially insisted that she still believes in the teachings of the charismatic preacher, who claimed he was the second coming of Christ.APBranch Davidian leader David Koresh in a police line-up[/caption] APFlames engulf the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas[/caption]
In a new Netflix documentary, Waco: American Apocalypse, the cult’s survivors and agents involved in the 51-day siege at a remote Texan ranch recall the horrifying events which ended in an enormous fireball on April 19, 1993.
And Kathy makes a twisted defence of child sex abuse by Koresh, who took a 14-year-old as one of his many wives and was accused of having sex with girls as young as ten.
Kathy, now 60, says: “People think that a man having sex with a lot of underage girls is a crime and in conventional wisdom that could probably very well be true.
“However, these weren’t underage girls, because you come of age at 12. So all these girls were adults in our belief system.”
Three decades after he brainwashed her, Kathy still defends Koresh’s abuse of women.
She says: “Every single one of us was married to David because David was our Christ giving us the truths from God. The whole time we were having sex it was a bible study.
“He did it to give me that one little bit of tenderness with my God.”
The documentary features never- before-seen footage from the chaotic siege, which began with a shootout between the cult and federal agents.‘Talking to God’
Former FBI officers reveal how the escalating power struggle between negotiators and gung-ho enforcers led to the final fireball that killed Koresh along with most of the victims.
Koresh convinced his followers the end of the world was coming and they should be armed for “war.”
He amassed a huge armoury of over 50 illegal machine guns, 1.5 million rounds of ammunition and 1,000 grenades — sparking federal agents’ initial raid on the house in the Mount Carmel Center on February 19, 1993.
FBI hostage negotiator Gary Noesner says his organisation’s strong-arm tactics during the ensuing stand-off led to many lost lives.
He says: “We did not save every life we could. Therefore in my mind, it’s a failure.”
David Koresh — real name Vernon Wayne Howell — had a nervous breakdown in 1979, when, according to ex-girlfriend Linda Campion, “he thought he was talking to God.”
In his early twenties, he joined the ultra-religious Branch Davidians and took it over in 1989, introducing his twisted doctrine, the New Light.
He claimed God wanted him to have 24 children, who would be chosen as the ruling elders after the second coming, and ordered him to take 12 wives, one of whom was 14-year-old Michelle Jones, younger sister of legal wife, Rachel.
He also “dissolved” the marriages in the Waco community and decreed only he could have sex with women there.
Heather Jones, whose parents were raised in the sect, was nine at the time of the siege and says that before David seized power it was a “caring environment”.
But she says the New Light decree split her family, adding: “My dad went along with it, my mum didn’t agree with it, so in the middle of the night she packed up and left.APKathy Schroeder handed out guns and ammunition to kids during the Waco siege, which ended in 86 deaths – 28 of them children[/caption] Still under Koresh’s spell, Kathy points out he was 33 when he died — like Christ© 2023 Netflix, Inc.
“After she left I wasn’t allowed to be around my dad. David Koresh was my mum and my dad.”
Although she was never sexually abused by Koresh, she details horrific physical abuse.
Now 39, he says: “The girls who were between ten and 13 would giggle and laugh about being one of his wives one day, having his kids, how much it was an honour.
“But not me. He was hard on me for everything. Down to the spankings, with a really big paddle.
“He would take me in his room, and make me lay over his lap. That happened almost every day. A lot of people have told me he was grooming me.”
Like all the children in the commune, Heather and her two brothers were taught to fire guns.
As well as stockpiling explosives Koresh was converting semi-automatic assault rifles into illegal machine guns, and even had a 50-calibre Barrett rifle which could penetrate armoured vehicles.
The huge arsenal came to the attention of the US government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which planned a surprise raid on the property.
But a news photographer, who had been tipped off and got lost on the way to the ranch, asked a passing mailman for directions and let it slip that agents were moving in.
That mailman was David Jones — Heather’s dad.
He reported straight back to Koresh, who told followers: “The time has come.”
As helicopters flew overhead, and 50 armed agents spilled out of two cattle trucks, the biggest gun battle on US soil since the Civil War broke out.
Heather saw bullets flying through the windows and witnessed one of Koresh’s wives, who was armed, being shot dead.‘Upset and angry’
She also heard her grandfather Perry, who had been shot in the stomach, screaming and begging to be killed.
He was allegedly “put out of his misery” by his fellow cult members.
Four law enforcement officers died in the battle.
After withdrawing from fire, agents managed to contact Koresh — who had been shot — and negotiate a ceasefire.
In chilling recordings, Koresh can be heard telling the ATF handler: “There’s a bunch of us dead. There’s a bunch of you guys dead. Now, that’s your fault. You got your big butt whooped.”
Over the next 51 days, FBI negotiator Gary Noesner and his team built up a rapport with Koresh and eventually persuaded him to release the children “two by two” in return for his messages being broadcast on a religious radio station.
Koresh kept his 14 biological children in the house with him because they were “chosen ones”.
But Kathy’s four children — Scott, Jake, Crissy from her first marriage and three-year-old Bryan — were among the 19 who left, along with Heather.APHeather Jones was nine at the time of the siege and says that before Koresh seized power it was a ‘caring environment’[/caption] Heather said the New Light decree split her family© 2023 Netflix, Inc.
Kathy’s older children were taken by their father, who was not a cult member, but little Bryan was left alone in a children’s home.
The FBI used video footage of him, looking alone and forlorn, to lure Kathy out of the compound.
But just minutes after her tearful reunion with Bryan, Kathy was arrested and carted off to jail.
She was eventually sentenced for three years for attempted murder, after striking a bargain for a lesser sentence for testifying against 11 surviving cult members.
Negotiator Noesner was “upset and angry” at the trick because Koresh’s followers would know what had happened and would be less likely to surrender.
The Hostage Rescue Team, under pressure to end the siege which was costing over £800,000 a week, began a fresh assault the day after Noesner negotiated the exit of seven more members.
FBI boss Jeff Jamar sent in tanks to crush the group’s cars just as Noesner felt there was a chance the stand-off could end peacefully.
In a recording, Koresh is heard telling him: “We had an agreement and it was working out. Your side destroyed it.”
The HRT tried in vain to get the group to surrender by blasting out recordings of jet planes, pop music, Buddhist chanting, and screams of rabbits being slaughtered.
Finally, after getting the all clear from US Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI began punching holes in the wall using explosives and firing tear gas grenades into the building.
On April 19, three fires were seen burning on different parts of the building.FBI hostage negotiator Gary Noesner said: ‘We did not save every life we could. Therefore in my mind, it’s a failure’© 2023 Netflix, Inc. AP:Associated PressA helicopter makes a low pass over the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas[/caption]
There is dispute over whether they were set by the FBI or cult members.
Koresh and all the remaining members left inside were killed.
Bob Ricks, the special agent in charge of the operation, believes Koresh played the FBI all along.
He said: “We had to respond to the demands of David Koresh and we were like actors in his play.”
Still under Koresh’s spell, Kathy points out he was 33 when he died — like Christ.
And she still believes the message of salvation for his followers rings true.
She says: “Watching everybody I know die is painful but acceptable because they did it for a reason.
“They did it for their own glory, worship and praise of their God.”
THIS is the shocking moment a young TV presenter collapsed in the studio during a live broadcast.
Elianis Garrido, 35, was co-hosting Colombian TV show Lo Sé Todo when she suddenly fell to the floor.Jam Press VidElianis Garrido became visibly uncomfortable while presenting a Colombian TV show[/caption] Jam Press VidShe then collapsed from her chair onto the floor[/caption]
In the clip, the model and actress can be seen fidgeting on her stool as she sat alongside co-presenter Ariel Osorio.
She became visibly uncomfortable, before turning away from the cameras with her hands around her mouth.
Moments later she toppled off her chair as crew members rushed onto the set to come to her aid on March 16.
Osorio looked around and then leapt to his feet, calling for the channel to cut to an ad break as he checked on his stricken co-star.
The crew then picked Garrido up and moved her to another part of the set, while one kind helper fanned her to keep her cool.
The presenter was taken away for treatment and Osorio informed viewers that she had suffered from “respiratory problems”.
He addressed Garrido’s mother directly, saying: “Everything is fine, Eli is perfect.
“She is finishing up some security protocols and she is fine, don’t worry.
“She will call you soon, we will tell you what is happening with Eli.”
Several days later, Garrido herself posted to her social media, thanking her 6.2million Instagram followers for their support.
She said: “Thank you all for your messages.”
Local media have reported that she is making a good recovery.
XI Jinping told Vladimir Putin “change is coming” in a chilling threat to the West as he left Moscow after a landmark visit.
The ominous farewell came just hours after the Russian tyrant vowed to respond to Britain’s plans to send ammunition to Ukraine – as Moscow warned the risk of a “nuclear collision” was increasing.ReutersVladimir Putin gripped Xi Jinping’s arm as they shook hands and said goodbye[/caption] ReutersPutin shakes hands with Xi during talks[/caption] ReutersXi travelled to Moscow to meet Putin to discuss ‘no limits friendship’[/caption]
In the unsettling parting message on Tuesday night, Xi told Putin: “Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years.
“And we are driving this change together.”
As he gripped Putin’s hand before being waved off by the Russian despot, Xi added: “Please, take care, dear friend.”
The Chinese leader travelled to Moscow on Monday to meet Putin and discuss the “no-limits friendship” between their countries.
During his two-day visit, Xi barely mentioned Putin’s shambolic Ukraine war – but insisted China had an “impartial position”.
Xi said he signed an agreement with Putin – bringing their ties into a “new era” of cooperation and “deepening” their partnership.
Responding to the meeting of the two leaders, the White House urged Beijing to pressure Russia to withdraw from Ukraine to end Europe’s biggest conflict since World War Two.
As Xi prepared to leave Moscow on Wednesday, air raid sirens blared across Kyiv and in Ukraine’s north and east, with reports of drone strikes.
Xi was the first leader to meet Putin since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the president over his alleged involvement in the abductions of children from Ukraine.
Their first meeting was followed by a luxurious meal ahead of peace talks about Ukraine.
Beijing has proposed a 12-point peace plan to end the Ukraine war that would see ceasefire on both sides – but would mean a territorial loss for Ukraine.
Putin praised Xi for a peace plan he proposed last month, and blamed Kyiv and the West for rejecting it.
But the West sees the peace plan as a ploy to buy the Russian dictator time to regroup his troops and cement his grip on occupied land.
And in remarks after his summit with Xi, Putin slammed the UK’s plans to send tank ammunition that contains depleted uranium to Ukraine – and warned of retaliation.
“If all this happens, Russian will have to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component,” Putin said.
Putin’s warning was followed by Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu who said the British decision left fewer and fewer steps before a potential “nuclear collision” between Russia and the West.
He told reporters: “Another step has been taken, and there are fewer and fewer left.”
Depleted uranium is used in weapons as it helps them easily penetrate tanks and armour.
It is a by-product of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons – and around 60 per cent as radioactive as natural uranium.
The mildly radioactive material is denser than lead and can breach almost any type of protection on armoured vehicles but is not a type of nuclear weapon.
It is a by-product of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons. It is around 60 per cent as radioactive as natural uranium.
But it is highly toxic and can affect people’s lungs and vital organs.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the plan the “Yugoslavia scenario” – saying the ammunition caused cancer and infected the environment.
PM Rishi Sunak previously confirmed a group of four Challenger 2 tanks would be sent to Ukraine.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine we will be providing ammunition, including armour piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium.
“Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armoured vehicles.
“The British Army has used depleted uranium in its armour-piercing shells for decades.
“It is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities. Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to misinform.
“Independent research by scientists from groups such as the Royal Society has assessed that any impact to personal health and the environment from the use of depleted uranium munitions is likely to be low.”
Meanwhile, Zelensky said Kyiv has invited China to talks and is waiting for an answer from Beijing.
“We offered China to become a partner in the implementation of the peace formula,” he said.
“We passed over our formula across all channels. We invite you to dialogue. We are waiting for your answer.”ReutersXi and Putin shook hands as they said farewell after the two-day visit[/caption] The Russian defence minister issued a warning over Britain’s plans to send depleted uranium ammunition to UkraineAFP Putin said Moscow will be ‘forced to react’ if the UK sends ammunition to Ukraine Rishi Sunak previously pledged to send a tank squadron to Ukraine
A CHILLING TikTok shows a 12-year-old schoolgirl laughing with her ‘killer’ before she was lured to her death.
The video shows the murdered girl giggling with her classmate who has been accused of stabbing her to death.TikTokThe TikTok showed Luise with one of the girls who has been accused of her death[/caption] TikTokThey were seen laughing together while having an iced drink[/caption] NewsflashLuise F was stabbed 32 times, allegedly by two classmates[/caption]
Luise F, from Freudenberg, Germany, was knifed 32 times in the brutal attack before her body was left in the woods.
The 12-year-old tragically died from a loss of blood from multiple stab wounds following the incident.
Police carried out interviews with two of Luise’s schoolmates from Esther Bejarano secondary school, who claimed they were her “best friends”.
The two girls, aged 12 and 13, initially denied any involvement in the grisly murder.
But even though they both confessed to the stabbing when Luises’ body was discovered, the motives behind the sickening attack remain a mystery, according to prosecutors.
The 13-year-old girl posted a video to TikTok just hours before the body was found – where Luise was seen laughing with the accused friend.
Both girls were wearing face masks in the video which indicates the video was originally filmed during Covid.
The police have not been able to share much information on the case given the age of the girls involved but it has been reported that Luise was being bullied in school and that she and the two suspects had fallen out over a boy.
The 13-year-old’s dad was also reported to have helped search for missing Luise on March 11.
Due to German laws, the accused girls will not face a criminal trial as the age of criminal responsibility in the country is 14.
This has caused major backlash from other classmates and members of the public and has resulted in the girls being relocated from their family homes.
A civil court could decide that the suspects must pay compensation to Luise’s family if they are found to know that “they were doing something harmful”.
The girls would then be expected to start making repayments as soon as they have jobs.
These repayments could reportedly last as long as 30 years and would be taken straight from their salaries.
But following the news that the suspects will not face criminal trial, German politicians have reassured the public that the heinous crime will not go unpuished.
Germany’s justice minister Marco Buschmann told German media that the suspects should face charges despite their ages.
He said: “Such serious crimes cannot remain without consequences.
“Children are the age of 14 are not prosecuted. However, our legal system already has the means to react to serious acts of violence by children under the age of 14.”
Both families of the accused girls have also been told that their daughters may need brand new identities following the alleged murder.
Luise lived in a two-storey house with her grandparents, parents and two siblings before she was horrifically killed.
Her parents had raised the alarm after she visited a friend and didn’t returned home.
No weapon has been found as of yet, and the victim showed no signs of sexual assault.
AS she turned off her bathroom shower, Liz Kirkby stepped into a scene straight out of a horror film.
Standing before her was a man dressed in a nightie with underwear on his hear, who proceeded to throw the mum-of-three to the floor and brutally beat her.Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon were murdered by Bradley Robert Edwards Supreme Court of WAThe serial killer was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2020[/caption]
It wasn’t until nearly 30 years later that Liz would discover her attacker was the serial killer and rapist Bradley Robert Edwards.
He was the warped monster behind the Claremont Murders, the longest and most expensive murder case in Western Australia’s history, which spanned across more than 24 years.
Liz narrowly escaped Edwards when he broke into her house in Huntingdale, WA, but was still left with a fractured skull, swollen face and two black eyes.
In Night Stalker: Terror In A Small Town, airing on Channel 5 tonight, she recalls how the terrifying attack came eight years before Edwards’ first murder – but says she wasn’t taken seriously by police due to being a single mum.Prowler mystery Channel 5Liz Kirkby was brutally attacked by Edwards decades before[/caption]
In the late 1980s, an astonishing 26 incidents were reported to police about a person dubbed the ‘Huntingdale Prowler’.
They involved a man breaking into houses, stealing underwear and attacking women – all with a similar description to Liz’s attacker.
In the documentary, Liz recalls: “I was 24, 25, and I was divorced with three children, and being a single mother wasn’t that common in those days.
“I just bought a house in Huntingdale, of which I was really proud.”
In the days before the attack, Liz had arranged for a phone line to be installed in her house, but felt so uncomfortable with the engineer that she called up her dad.
“I couldn’t wait for him to go,” she says, before adding of her attacker: “That’s why I decided to myself that it was probably him, that’s how he found me.”Sarah Spiers disappeared in 1996 and her body was never found
Recalling her attack, she goes on to explain: “I just got home from work in the evening, I worked in a bottle shop. I let the cat out, because I had kittens, that’s why the door was opened. That’s how he got in.
“I was just going out of the shower and he was in my toilet. He had a woman’s nightie on and what I think were undies on his head.
“At first I thought it was a joke, when I saw him. I couldn’t see his full face; I could see his eyes, they went dark, clearly to match his soul.
“Then he pushed me against the wall and I had a fractured skull and I fell onto the floor and he was beating me.”
It was Liz’s children – and her fears for them – that gave her the strength to escape from the attacker.
She continues: “Oddly I thought he wanted the kids, I did think he’d have to kill me before he could get to the children.
“So that’s what probably protected me, it was that maternal instinct, protecting the children.
“I kneed him in the groin and he got off and ran out the backdoor and it wasn’t until I saw myself that I realised how bad it was.
“My face wasn’t recognisable because it was so swollen. And the bruises and the two black eyes. He was very brutal, very strong.”
Despite this, she claims police never put enough effort into finding the culprit.
She says: “I think if I lived somewhere in a better suburb, there perhaps would have been more resources put into looking for him.
“But certainly being a Huntingdale single mum, I don’t think there was an importance placed upon it that there should have been.
“And the police didn’t tell me at the time that I was one of many.”
She adds: “I didn’t know that until recently.”Murder trail Supreme Court of WAThe kimono that helped bring Edwards to justice[/caption] Suprem Court of WAScrapings from Ciara’s fingernails were also key evidence[/caption]
In January 1996, secretary Sarah Spiers, 17, went missing after a night out in Claremont, Perth.
Five months later, childcare worker Jane Rimmer, 23, disappeared from the same area, and was later found dead.
Then, eight months later, solicitor Ciara Glennon, 27, was found dead – also around the same busy area of Claremont.
Police searched for the culprit of these three crimes for years, in the most expensive and extensive case in Western Australia history.
But it wasn’t until 2016, thanks to the progress in DNA analysis, that they finally arrested Edwards, and linked him to the Huntingdale Prowler too.
Nail clippings which had been collected from the body of Ciara in 1997 were put through testing again in the 2010s, and matched the DNA linked to the Huntingdale Prowler.
In 2016, Edwards, now 54, was arrested for the murders of Sarah, Ciara and Jane.
He was living with his daughter, in her 20s, at a home in Kewdale and her screams of terror were heard around the neighbourhood as he was shoved into the police car.
His second wife had left him two years prior and he had been working as a senior electrical engineer for Telstra, and volunteering at athletics clubs.
Liz says: “Finding out the man who had assaulted me was Bradley Edwards had a profound effect on me emotionally and psychologically.
“You go through a lot of things. What if they’d have caught him back then? But we’ll never know.
“I’ve thought about it thousands of times. How can he go 30-odd years committing the most heinous crimes this country has ever seen and never get caught?”Justice at last EPAPolice at the Kewdale home of Bradley Robert Edwards in 2016[/caption] Facebook/KLACBradley Robert Edwards was a volunteer at athletic clubs in his local community[/caption]
The first of Edwards’ known attacks was all the way back in 1988, when he crept into the bedroom of his 18-year-old neighbour.
Wearing a nightie, stockings and silk kimono – which he left behind – he climbed on top of her as she slept, before fleeing the scene.
This kimono became central to the investigation into the Claremont Killings, as it was kept by police as evidence and re-examined years later.
In the 2010s, Edwards’ DNA was found in semen on the silk kimono, as well as under murdered Ciara’s fingernails.
The DNA also linked him to another incident the year before Sarah went missing.
A 17-year-old girl had reported how she’d been abducted from the street and thrown into the back of a van.
With a hood pulled over her face and her neck tied, she was dragged to a cemetery and sexually assaulted.
In 2020, Edwards was subject to a trial that lasted six months, and only had a judge with no jury.
He denied murdering the three women, and never gave evidence.
Justice Stephen Hall eventually found him guilty of murdering Ciara and Jane.
He said there wasn’t enough DNA evidence to find him guilty of the murder of Sarah, due to her body never being found, but said it was “likely” he did kill her too.
He sentenced him to at least 40 years before he has any chance of parole.
He called Edwards a “dangerous predator who sought out vulnerable young women and attacked them for your own gratification”.
Speaking of Jane and Ciara, he added: “They were both young women with family and friends who loved them. They had good jobs and lots to live for.
“By your actions you not only robbed them of their lives, but their hopes, their dreams and the dreams of others for them.”
Night Stalker: Terror In A Small Town, airs on Channel 5 tonight.Supreme Court of WAA Telstra-issued knife found in bushland in Wellard[/caption]
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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo unveiled tight new proposed restrictions on semiconductor manufacturers doing business in China.
The 79-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, raises questions about whether Fox News has sufficiently modernized its workplace culture since co-founder Roger Ailes was forced out in 2016.
Republicans in Congress launched an investigation of New York prosecutor Alvin Bragg as a grand jury mulled charges for Donald Trump's Stormy Daniels payoff.
Candida auris, a potentially deadly fungus that is resistant to drug therapy, is spreading rapidly across California and the U.S., the CDC said.
Crowds of former President Trump's supporters were sparse at protest rallies in New York and West Los Angeles.
Vladimir Putin is relishing Xi Jinping's visit and their shared hostility toward the U.S., but not all of Russia's and China's interests align.
Once solidly Republican, the West has become political bedrock for Democrats. No state has changed as emphatically in the last two decades as Colorado.
Crisis in Israel deepens over the new government's radical plans, which have alienated and dismayed Israelis and Jewish Americans alike.
There have been so many accusations brought against and investigations into Trump in recent years that it's hard to keep them all straight. Here's a guide to the latest developments out of New York City.
News Corp. tycoon Rupert Murdoch proposed to former police chaplain Ann Lesley Smith on Saint Patrick's Day in NYC. It will be his fifth marriage.
Three Florida men were convicted Monday in the 2018 murder of rapper XXXTentacion. They will receive mandatory life sentences.
The White House briefing room can be a dull place — except on days when it's not. Monday was one of those days as the 'Ted Lasso' cast took over.
Former President Trump has called for protests if he is indicted by a grand jury in New York. Police there and in L.A. say they are monitoring.
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The invasion changed the course of my life and my family's, writes Times TV critic Lorraine Ali. Twenty years on, its aftermath is still playing out.
As we observe the twentieth anniversary of the Iraq War, which claimed more than 4,600 American lives and countless Iraqis, we must make an honest assessment of the war. The war cost the U.S. trillions, upended Middle East stability, and ultimately benefited Iran’s aggressive and expansionist agenda by capturing much of the political and military institutions in Baghdad and Damascus. Despite its tremendous cost, the war weakened America’s geostrategic position and damaged our national credibility.
What can be learned from this calamity? As authors of the U.S. government’s definitive study on the Iraq War, two somewhat conflicting central points stand out. First, the war should never have occurred. Second, once the war began, it should not have been abandoned without leaving behind a stable Iraq, even if that meant staying for years.
Invading Iraq in 2003 was strategic folly and one of the worst foreign policy decisions in the history of the Republic. Tainted and inaccurate intelligence provided justification for disarming Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. Pretending that Iraq could be the hearth for democracy in the Middle East or that it was abetting Al Qaeda terrorists were similar delusions. But the decision to invade defied an even larger truth, one that was clear even before the war. Iraq provided a physical and practical buffer to Iran, a country that few disputed had an active weapons of mass destruction program in 2003 and which has consistently demonstrated the intent to use such a capability alongside its terrorist objectives.
Iran, which regularly calls for the destruction of the U.S. and actively supports our enemies, was the larger and clearer threat to our interests both then and now. Regime change in Iraq destroyed a status quo that, by extension, benefitted the U.S. In essence, Iraq’s geostrategic position in 2003 helped regional security by focusing Iran’s attention and resources next door. In addition to this geopolitical damage, the preemptive invasion, conducted without U.N. Security Council authorization and on the basis of dubious intelligence, squandered our international standing and goodwill, which was abundant in the wake of 9/11.
Read More: There Were Many Ways to Die in Baghdad
Once the invasion occurred and Iraq’s security forces evaporated those same considerations should have driven U.S. policy to restore the country’s stability, vis-à-vis Iran. The region represents a vital strategic interest for the U.S., as does blocking the expansion of Iranian influence. Unfortunately, the U.S. chose to ignore this reality and when politically expedient, withdrew from Iraq and hoped for the best. Beyond the error of the initial invasion, withdrawing was nearly as significant a strategic error, placing Iraq’s future into the hands of a corrupt and sectarian Prime Minister who was intent to establish Shia domination and Iranian alignment. While Iraq’s condition had improved significantly since 2003, sufficient signs existed in 2011 that progress was fragile. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s sectarianism and authoritarianism, toxic components that would lead to further destruction of Iraq, had been on full display and reported to Washington. Iraq, shattered by decades of war, sanctions, and corruption, needed longer to heal and needed American help to prevent an Iranian takeover.
Although we had decided that we were done with Iraq and all its associated challenges, Iraq wasn’t done with us. American strategic myopia enabled Maliki’s government to kill or disenfranchise Sunnis and financially isolate the Kurds, paving the way for the rise of ISIS and a return of U.S. forces. We are still in Iraq today, and still without a status of forces agreement that was used for political cover to end our military presence in 2011. But today’s Iraq looks very different. Iranian-backed militias, on the Iraqi payroll, now outnumber the Iraqi Army. The Ministry of Defense now includes officers and generals who are designated terrorists. Iranian aligned militias have captured state resources through political representation in Parliament and by controlling key posts in lucrative ministries. Iran’s influence now waxes in an uninterrupted arc from Tehran to the Mediterranean, traipsing across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
Retaining U.S. forces in Iraq would have been a difficult decision for a war weary America. But a residual force that was closely tied to key political objectives and aimed at reducing Iranian influence could have prevented the treacherous strategic situation we face today: Iraq as a broken and devastated nation, serving as a base and transit point for Iranian forces. Luckily, the U.S. retains some tools to steer Iraq to a more constructive and stable future. The U.S. can impose high economic costs on the Iraqi military and government to remove Iran-backed terrorists from its payroll, withhold U.S. banknote transfers that inexplicably continue despite their laundering by Iran, and remove sanctions waivers so Iraq can free itself from an artificial energy dependence on Iran. And perhaps most importantly, the U.S. must militarily deter Iran so that it retracts rather than expands its regional aggression. Only these measures are likely to reverse the tailspin of Iraq’s perilous future, a future that we set in motion twenty years ago.
Aniqa Mian, a 29-year-old Muslim American who grew up in a religious household in Los Angeles, won’t be fasting this Ramadan. She has conflicted feelings about the holy month for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims.
“Ramadan is one of the ways that my eating disorder was triggered and that feels like such a shameful thing to say as a Muslim,” says Mian, a Pakistani American, who struggled with anorexia for eight years and has been in recovery for about a year. “It feels like I am making fasting seem like a bad thing; because I fasted, now I have an eating disorder.” The reality is more complicated.
Ramadan’s typical fasting requirements are that Muslims abstain from food and drink—as well as sexual activity—from dawn to sunset. While the restrictions around diet can help many Muslims feel spiritually connected, they can also be addictive and harmful for those with a habit or history of eating disorders.
Mian, who lives in New York, is just one example of why a Muslim may not fast. Some choose not to because they aren’t very religious. Others may be pregnant or breastfeeding. They may be on their period. They may have diabetes or a heart condition. They may need to take medication for a physical or mental health condition throughout the day; Muslim Americans are twice as likely to have attempted suicide compared with other religious groups, according to a 2021 study published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Islam allows exemptions from fasting related to health and travel. Exceptions for travel are fairly expansive; even a domestic flight lasting a few hours counts. For temporary sickness or travel, individuals can make up the fasting days missed in the rest of the year. For more permanent illnesses, Muslims are exempt—particularly if a medical professional has said it would be detrimental to their health. But not fasting—even if an exemption exists—can be a decision wracked with guilt for observant Muslims, especially if they’re dealing with a chronic condition or a mental health issue. “You feel this guilt and shame that I’m not partaking in this thing that millions of people around the world are doing,” says Mian.Aniqa MianAniqa Mian (right) with her friend at a 2022 iftar gathering, in which Muslims open their fast, in New York A period of denial
For many struggling with fasting, there’s a period of denial or trying to make it work.
That includes Aleena Khan, a 24-year-old Indian-Pakistani-American living in Washington, D.C. She was diagnosed with a digestive health issue, similar to chronic acid reflux, and doctors advised her to eat smaller meals more frequently instead of infrequent large meals as well as sleep on a regular schedule. “That’s really the opposite of fasting,” Khan says. Initially, Khan tried to fast for half a day or every other day. But in 2020, her condition got “really bad.” She would throw up what she ate for the pre-dawn meal.
The thought of not fasting weighed heavily on Khan. In high school, Khan played soccer and even fasted on the field. The act of refraining from food and water helped ground her, she says. Without that aspect, “It’s harder—you feel less plugged into the spiritual aspect because you’re just kind of there,” she says. There’s also “judgment or shame that you’re not as good of a Muslim,” she adds.
Dr. Sarah Syed, a psychologist at the Khalil Center, which incorporates traditional Islamic spirituality into therapeutic practices, often finds herself providing religious reassurance to heavy, theological questions: “How do I know that I qualify for this mercy? When Allah said, ‘this is forgiven, how do I know that’s intended for me?’”she says her patients ask her.
Syed, who sees about 25-30 clients a week in the Chicago area, tries to help them understand that they are exempt from fasting requirements as an act of mercy. “That’s something that is really hard for a lot of people to wrap their head around.” If fasting will worsen a Muslim’s mental illness, then it’s better for you not to fast to avoid doing harm to yourself, according to the Islamic scholars that the Khalil Center consults. “We’re commanded not to harm ourselves,” Syed says.‘They can think outside the box a little bit’
That’s not to say all Muslims with any form of mental or physical health issue cannot fast. Experts agree that this should be decided with the help of a physician on a case-by-case basis.
“I’m not saying that every Muslim with anxiety and depression can’t fast, but it’s a spectrum,” says Dr. Rania Awaad, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University’s School of Medicine and director of the Muslim Mental Health and Islamic Psychology Lab, who is also trained as an Islamic scholar. “On the heavier end of the spectrum, if a person isn’t even getting out of bed or brushing their teeth, we can’t expect them to take on fasting.”
But Awaad worries that some doctors may shut down the prospect of fasting for patients without taking the time to understand the details of their case. “Sometimes doctors fear the unknown. They don’t know what they don’t know. And so they’re really worried about anything that they haven’t studied—and they haven’t studied fasting,” Awaad says. While it’s recommended that pregnant women don’t fast, for example, those in the earliest stages who are getting enough fluid and nutrition could potentially do it, Awaad argues. For Muslim patients with other needs, doctors could consider dosing medications at a time during which their patient can eat if it does not have adverse effects. “They can think outside the box a little bit,” Awaad says. “For some people, it’s still doable and they don’t have to feel like they’re kind of cut off from this community or have people judging them.”Javed Dar—Xinhua/Getty ImagesMuslims gather to offer Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India, May 3, 2022. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Loaded questions
Muslims who don’t fast are often on the receiving end of invasive questions from both Muslims and non-Muslims about why they aren’t fasting. It can be a loaded topic—prompting them to disclose sensitive details about their health or level of practice. “I don’t want some random aunty I haven’t met in 10 years to know my health history,” says Khan.
For Muneeb Baig, a 24-year-old Pakistani American in Yonkers, New York, who doesn’t fast because he is diabetic, these questions can be “weird or awkward.” Baig, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of nine, tried to fast when he was 13 but had to break it halfway through. “Either my blood sugar was too high from not eating or it was too low because it can fluctuate either way,” Baig says.
Sheba Khan, a 40-year-old Pakistani American in Long Island, New York, who doesn’t fast because she is in remission after facing Stage III lung cancer, says she doesn’t feel left out during Ramadan but she does get defensive if she can sense someone else’s judgment. For her, fasting had been “standard procedure” while growing up. “Last year, my mom asked me to try to fast; I fasted one day and I was in bed for three days,” Khan says. “I might try to do one fast again but last year was traumatic; God has given me a reason why I don’t have to do it.”
Muslims have five pillars to their faith, including fasting during Ramadan: Muslims must profess their faith (shahadah), pray five times a day (salat), pay charity (zakat), fast during Ramadan (sawm), and go on a religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca (hajj). Many of those who can’t fast look for alternative ways to connect with their spirituality. Sheba Khan started going into her children’s school to teach their classmates about Ramadan and started a small business for Ramadan and Eid decorations.
This year, Mian consulted her psychiatrist when choosing whether to fast. In addition to previously having struggled with anorexia, Mian is currently on medication for major depressive disorder. Her psychiatrist raised concerns about how fasting could trigger her eating disorder and her medication wouldn’t work if she were starving herself, and Mian decided not to fast.
Instead, Mian will go to night prayers every day. She wakes up early for fajr prayer and instead of eating the pre-dawn meal, she reads the Quran. She doesn’t eat dinner until iftar time, when others break their fast. She opens her meal with a date. “There’s ways that I can make it feel like it’s still Ramadan for myself,” she says.
But sometimes she still feels a sense of shame. “I should not have been fasting for years but I did because I was already starving myself. Every Ramadan, I was like—this is so easy. I don’t even have to try hard,” Mian says. “Fasting can mask an eating disorder in that no one questions why you’re not eating… It’s an easy way to keep it up.”
A part of Mian wonders why she doesn’t just try and eat a moderate amount of food and drink when she opens her fast. Then, she reminds herself that she is still recovering. “If I go back to even a slight bit of restricting, I will get back into the habit really quickly,” she says. “There’s a reason I’m not fasting and it’s a constant reminder: you’re taking care of yourself and that is good enough.”
With King Charles’ coronation just weeks away, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seem to be caught in a royal mess.
It’s been a tense few months since the couple aired some of the royal family’s dirty laundry in their Netflix docuseries and in Harry’s autobiography Spare, and lost national and global favor in the process, according to multiple polls. Naturally, much of the world is keen to see if the couple awkwardly reunites with their family for Charles’ historic event on May 6. But it looks like the couple will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess confirmed on March 5 they had been invited to the historic event via email, but they did not comment on whether they would be attending.
During the coronation, Charles will be crowned alongside Camilla, Queen Consort, at Westminster Abbey in front of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other British politicians, heads of state, and royals from around the globe. The weekend will also feature a concert with a currently sparse lineup on May 7, and Brits will observe May 8 as a public holiday.
While Harry and Meghan weigh up the pros and cons of attending, here are all the reasons that might sway their decision.Why Harry and Meghan should attend It makes professional sense for the couple and King Charles
The most obvious draw for Harry and Meghan to attend the coronation is because it sends a message to the world that they retain a sense of duty to the royal family and can be called on to respectfully participate in major events. Their royal connection is also what has led to most of their recent projects so it would also be a business savvy move. For King Charles, it sends a message of unity to the world.
Kinsey Schofield, a royal commentator from the U.S., describes this as a “win-win” reason to attend and for Charles to welcome them. “The King doesn’t have the stain of an absent child in the history books and Harry maintains that royal connection that has proven to be so lucrative for him in the states,” she tells TIME.They still have strong connections to some family members
Prince Harry has always had a close relationship with the York sisters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who featured in Harry’s Netflix documentary in December. The cameo showed Eugenie and Harry enjoying a bike ride. The duke is also close to his cousin Zara Tindall, who chose him to be the godfather to her youngest child Lena Elizabeth in 2019.
Read More: Here Are All the People Who Said No to Performing at King Charles’ Coronation
While the world watches a lot of royal drama play out it is important to remember that the couple still have relationships with other family members who may welcome them and want to be around them.The event is so historic that attention may be on other things
“The scale of interest in the coronation worldwide is such that they simply could not possibly overshadow such a huge event which has so much significance for Britain and the Commonwealth,” says Richard Fitzwilliams, a long-standing royal expert.
The last coronation—Queen Elizabeth II’s on June 2, 1953—was the first major world event to be broadcast internationally on television.
While there is interest in Harry and Meghan’s attendance, viewers will have a lot to keep up with on the day. The public’s attention will likely turn to other guests, quirky British traditions, and the luxurious pomp and circumstance of the event. As such, the couple should be able to play their small part in the same way they did during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last June that marked 70 years on the throne.Their children now have royal titles
The Sussex children—Archie and Lilibet-Diana—have been awarded their prince and princess titles that they became entitled to when their grandfather ascended the throne in September.
All three of the Prince of Wales’s children are expected to take part in the King’s coronation procession, which will exclusively feature working royals, the Times of London reported. But the Sussex children have yet to be invited to the coronation, according to the report, most likely because they are too young.
With Harry and Meghan’s children formally using their prince and princess titles as of March, it may be in the couple’s interest to attend the coronation and keep their royal connections alive for their children’s future.Why Harry and Meghan shouldn’t attend They could be iced out
While acknowledging that there are royal family members who have great relationships with Harry and Meghan, there are those who don’t. In Schofield’s estimation, the couple will be “iced out” by many if they do attend. “We will likely not see them engaging with the most prominent senior royals, especially the individuals that took hits in Spare,” she says.
“They would sit a few rows back, be spotted in the windows of the palace during the processions, and likely not invited to all of the celebratory events,” Schofield adds.
Harry is locked in a deep feud with his brother and heir apparent Prince William.
Fitzwilliams predicts a similar outcome, and expects that any conversation that does take place will be small talk. “No one in the royal family will trust them and say anything substantial to them for fear of it being leaked,” he says.
Read More: Monarchies Across Europe Have ‘Slimmed Down.’ Why Hasn’t the British Royal Family Done the Same?Critics may accuse them of hypocrisy
The couple’s Netflix series, and especially Harry’s memoir, leveled criticism at select members of the family, as well as the royal institution as a whole. The couple has repeatedly accused “The Firm” of racism that drove them away.
With this in mind, some may call the couple hypocritical for wanting any part in an establishment they have been major critics of. When asked about this, Schofield says it can be viewed two ways: “There are critics that will say [they are hypocritical], yes. However, the same critics might accuse him of being a coward if he doesn’t attend,” she says. “Harry is in a very difficult position.”It won’t be the time or place for reconciliation
There may be a temptation for Harry and Meghan to view the coronation as an opportunity to reconcile with members of the royal family, but the timing makes that difficult.
When asked in an ITV interview to promote his memoir in January, Harry said: “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then. But you know, the door is always open. The ball is in their court.” He added: “There is a lot to be discussed and I really hope that they are willing to sit down and talk about it.”
But the reality is that a coronation likely won’t be the time or place for these types of conversations because the family is focused on the pressure of hosting a major diplomatic event. “There will be no scheduled reconciliation as this event is not about them,” Schofield says. “King Charles has waited his entire life for this moment. He will want to avoid any and all drama.”
After Nicola Sturgeon’s shock resignation last month as head of the Scottish National Party and, by extension, as the First Minister of the Scottish government, both party and country are now in need of a new leader. The race to replace her has been whittled down to three candidates: Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf, finance secretary Kate Forbes, and former junior minister Ash Regan.
Although Sturgeon remained relatively popular throughout her eight-year tenure, the race to succeed her has exposed deep divisions within the nationalist party. This extends to matters as central to the SNP as Scottish independence and how best to achieve it, to more contentious matters such as Scotland’s efforts to make it easier for people to legally change their gender—reforms that were ultimately blocked by the British government in Westminster.
Perhaps the most important test facing whoever succeeds Sturgeon is how well, and how quickly, they can bring the party together. “It’s not been pleasant,” Ian Blackford, the SNP’s former Westminster leader, tells TIME of the campaign (the last leadership contest was held in 2004; Sturgeon ran unopposed for the post in 2014). As a party devoted above all to the cause of Scottish independence from the U.K., its membership has always consisted of an ideologically broad church. “Of course you’re going to get a degree of tension,” adds Blackford.
Forbes is the favorite of the wider Scottish electorate, according to recent polls, claiming an average of 30% of support compared to 20% for Yousaf and 10% for Regan. But it isn’t the Scottish electorate that will decide the outcome of this race. That choice falls to the SNP’s members, the size of which has seen a dramatic drop in recent years, from its peak of 125,000 in 2019 to just 72,000 today. Among this “selectorate” of voters, which skews older and more male than the general population, the picture is a bit murkier. There has been just one, limited poll of SNP members to date, which put Yousaf in the lead with 31% of the vote, well ahead of Forbes (25%) and Regan (11%).
The outcome of the contest will be announced on March 27.
John Curtice, a polling expert and professor of politics at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, says that among SNP voters—a much broader swath of the public than card-carrying SNP members—Forbes and Yousaf are seemingly neck and neck. “The honest truth at the end of the day is that none of us knows what is going to happen,” he adds.
Below, here’s everything you need to know about the candidates, and what their victory could mean for Scotland and the independence movement.Humza Yousaf: The continuity candidate
Sturgeon has not declared a preference in the race to succeed her, but if she did, it’s widely assumed it would be Yousaf. In addition to being the most experienced of the three candidates (he was first elected in 2011, at the time becoming Holyrood’s youngest parliamentarian), the 37-year-old Glaswegian has also secured the backing of most of the SNP leadership, including Sturgeon’s deputy John Swinney, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, and party grandees such as Blackford.
To his supporters, Yousaf is a sharp communicator and the candidate best placed to continue the SNP’s electoral trajectory, particularly when it comes to matters of social justice such as the gender recognition reforms. But his detractors say that his track record in government has been poor, noting in particular his tenure as health secretary at a time when the country’s health service is experiencing record hospital waiting times.
“He’s very much the continuity candidate,” says Nicola McEwen, a professor of territorial politics at the University of Edinburgh. “The downside of that for him is that he would be continuing with policy and government, but he’s not Nicola Sturgeon. The opposition don’t think he’s anything anywhere close to the gravitas and authority of Nicola Sturgeon.”
On this, Yousaf’s backers agree. “He’s very different from Nicola,” says Blackford, in terms of both personality and leadership style. Whereas Sturgeon was known for working with a tight-knit team, Yousaf is expected to operate a bigger tent with more delegation. “He’ll be a fresh face,” Blackford adds. “I think people are going to be surprised by what he will do.”
On perhaps the most salient issue—Scottish independence—Yousaf appears to be more of a gradualist. Having distanced himself from Sturgeon’s plan to treat the next election as a de facto referendum, he has instead pledged to work toward building a “consistent majority” for independence, support for which currently stands at 46%, according to recent polling. A prior referendum in 2014 under former SNP leader Alex Salmond saw 55% of voters reject independence.
As a son of South Asian immigrants from Pakistan and Kenya, Yousaf has already made history as Scotland’s first non-white and Muslim cabinet minister. His victory in this race would be no less historic, making him not only the first ethnic minority leader of Scotland but the first Muslim leader of a major U.K. party.Kate Forbes: The change candidate
When Sturgeon announced her resignation last month, Forbes was tipped as a leading contender to replace her. A rising star in the party, the 32-year-old former accountant and Gaelic-speaking Highlander was Scotland’s youngest-ever finance secretary. Should she succeed Sturgeon, she’ll become the country’s youngest-ever First Minister, too.
Early support for her campaign waned after revelations that Forbes, an evangelical Christian, would not have supported same-sex marriage had she been a parliamentarian when the vote was held in 2014. Her religious beliefs notwithstanding, Forbes has pledged to “protect the rights of everybody in Scotland, particularly minorities, to live and to love without fear or harassment in a pluralistic and tolerant society,” including by upholding the laws “that have been hard won.” What is less clear is whether she would advance them. On the gender recognition reforms, Forbes has said that she would not have voted for the legislation in its current form (as she was on maternity leave at the time, she didn’t cast a ballot either way).
Forbes has largely presented herself as the change candidate of the three contenders, arguing “continuity won’t cut it” and that the party needs a reset. In addition to focusing her leadership bid on the economy and eradicating poverty, Forbes has also called for a more gradual approach to Scottish independence, noting that she would prioritize convincing those opposed to leaving the U.K. through “gentle persuasion” before she sets any deadlines.
But Forbes and her fellow leadership contenders may find it difficult to change too much. The SNP government is in theory bound by the progressive manifesto it was elected on in 2021. “They will have a responsibility to be there and serve that manifesto,” McEwan says. That includes a commitment to secure independence, which all three candidates are at least agreed on, if not in process then at least in practice.
Perhaps the biggest challenge Forbes would face as First Minister is keeping her party together. If she were to win, “She would find herself in the situation of not having had the backing of most of her ministerial colleagues,” McEwen says. “That would be an added pressure.”Ash Regan: The rank outsider
Despite having been a government minister for four years before she resigned last year over her opposition to the Scottish government’s gender recognition reforms, Regan is the least-known of the three contenders.
Despite being considered a long-shot, the 49-year-old representative for Edinburgh Eastern insists that she is in the contest “to win it,” and has distinguished her campaign most notably through her bullish stance on independence. Rather than try to negotiate with Westminster to hold another referendum, Regan has argued instead for using a “voter empowerment mechanism,” which would treat all future elections as de facto referendums in all but name. Under her plan, any contest that results in a majority for pro-independence parties (including the former SNP leader Salmond’s Alba Party and the Greens) would be considered a mandate to trigger negotiations to leave the U.K. This proposal has been roundly criticized by many SNP lawmakers as unworkable.
Like Forbes, Regan has said that she would not seek to challenge Westminster over its vetoing of the gender recognition reforms, which she opposed on the grounds that it would have “negative implications for the safety and dignity of women and girls.” She has since advocated for appointing a citizens’ assembly on the matter.
“She is definitely seen as the least strong and the least experienced and the least effective of the three,” McEwen says. But support for Regan could still prove to be significant in the contest’s outcome. Under the party’s preferential voting system, SNP members will be instructed to rank their preferred candidates in order of one to three. If no candidate gets at least 50% of the vote outright, then the candidate with the lowest percentage will be eliminated and their second preference votes will be redistributed to the final two standing. The expectation is that her voters are more likely to support Forbes over Yousaf.
Rising out of Copenhagen’s harbor, visible only as a line of rocks peeking through the blue-gray waves, is one of Europe’s most controversial climate projects. Lynetteholm, a one square mile artificial island, is being built to shield the low-lying Danish capital from storm surges, which are intensifying as sea levels rise. Politicians approved the project in 2021, promising a world-leading bounty of benefits, from flood protection, to new housing, to cash for other city upgrades.
But ever since then, climate activists, scientists, and city residents have been on a mission to stop Lynetteholm. (It’s pronounced something like “Lunetta-holm.”) They say authorities are ignoring the damage Denmark’s largest ever construction project could do to the local environment, and the carbon pollution it will create. Now, a new front in that battle is opening up—thanks to some very specific geography.
Lynetteholm is being built in the Øresund, a relatively narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Baltic Sea, via the North Sea. Earlier this month, a group of independent scientists advising Denmark’s government warned that the island’s construction has already blocked one of three undersea trenches through which Atlantic salt water flows into the Baltic. Unless that is reversed and the project scaled back, the scientists say, Lynetteholm could end up desalinating the sea—which Denmark shares with eight other countries—with unknown ecological consequences. On Wednesday, the Danish Climate Movement, an association of campaign groups, filed for an injunction against Lynetteholm, asking a court to halt construction until the desalination concerns have been resolved.Lon Tweeten for TIME
Not everyone agrees that Lynetteholm poses such a threat. An earlier assessment carried out by the Danish Hydraulic Institute found that the effect on the Baltic would be minor. By&Havn, the publicly owned development company building Lynetteholm, says the matter has already been resolved to the satisfaction of Sweden, Denmark’s closest neighbor.
But climate activists hope the salinity issue could derail the project. If granted, the injunction would buy time for another lawsuit over Lynetteholm to work its way through the courts, says Frederik Sandby, the Danish Climate Movement’s general secretary. The group sued the Transport Ministry, which shares responsibility for Lynetteholm with Copenhagen’s city government, in 2021, arguing that the project was rushed through without properly accounting for its environmental impact or Denmark’s climate goals.A global island-building push
Lynetteholm is part of a global trend in land reclamation that is unnerving environmentalists. According to a study published in February by a group of international researchers, between 2000 and 2020 coastal cities filled in wetlands and shallow seas to create more than 625,000 acres of new land and ports around the world. That’s around 43 new Manhattans.
Land reclamation is increasingly touted as a climate solution. In the Maldives, the government is championing an island-building campaign to replace the land it is losing to fast-rising seas. In Nigeria, the finishing touches are now being made to Eko Atlantic, a 10 square-mile reclaimed neighborhood shielding Lagos from erosion. Former Lagos state governor, now Nigeria’s president-elect, boasts that the project “tamed the Atlantic Ocean.”
But scientists warn that such projects are speeding ahead without weighing the risks of meddling in fragile coastal ecosystems. People living near reclaimed land schemes have reported grave unintended consequences, not only for marine life—as is the fear in Copenhagen—but also for the livelihoods of fishermen, and patterns of coastal erosion, which can get worse at nearby places that are not protected by the new islands’ well-resourced engineers.
Critics claim it is profit, rather than climate concern, that is driving the current frenzy of island-building. While humans, including the Danes, have always raised land from the seas for settlement and defensive purposes, the February study identifies growing demand for “luxury” waterfront real estate as “the catalyst” for a new “urban transformation” unfolding on the world’s coasts. Lynetteholm is expected to get approval for the construction of 35,000 homes by 2070, and the island’s opponents say it was the opportunity to sell those high-value plots to developers that convinced politicians to back the island over less controversial flood measures. “The Lynetteholm project is bizarre yet typical of the current age in which [land reclamation projects are legitimized as climate solutions],” says Sarah Moser, an associate professor in the geography department at McGill University. “Massive real estate schemes get to claim hero status.”
The Lynetteholm case is a crucial junction for the land reclamation trend, says Sandby, the climate activist. “The world is at this moment of figuring out if artificial islands are sustainable or not.” Denmark and Copnhagen, he points out, are often held up as climate leaders because of their extremely ambitious emissions targets. “If we do these things, and it’s looked upon as beneficial, as part of the way Denmark builds sustainably, then that’s a huge mistake.”Preparing for a “massive rise” in floods
No one disputes that Copenhagen needs to do something to prepare for rising seas. The city sits on two fairly flat islands, one of them just a few feet above sea level, and is surrounded by water on three sides. The last really severe storm surge to affect Copenhagen was way back in 1872, when winds over the Baltic pushed a wall of water inland over the city, destroying thousands of homes. Such an event will become increasingly likely over the next few decades. Officials say the height of the average surge will quadruple to 1.3 feet by 2050, and a “massive rise” in the number of storm-triggered floods is expected around 2070. Before Lynetteholm, Copenhagen was planning a more traditional set of dikes in front of its harbor—the solution climate activists still prefer.
But Lynetteholm will work better than a dike, says Anne Skovbro, the CEO of developer By&Havn. Firstly, it’s adaptable. If sea levels rise faster than expected over the next few decades, the wide expanse of soil can easily be beefed up to sit taller. Second, it won’t disrupt Copenhagen’s view of the water. Third, it will use up waste. Some 80 million metric tons of debris generated by other construction sites in Copenhagen over the next thirty years will be poured into the already-built stone perimeter in the Øresund to create the island.By&HavnThe perimeter of Lynetteholm, a future artificial island, is seen at the entrance to Copenhagen’s harbor in January 2023.
And Lynetteholm should, if all goes well, be self-financing, with payments for construction waste disposal covering the cost of Copenhagen’s flood protection. So far, officials have only approved the island-building phase of the project. But it is widely expected to get authorization to build 35,000 homes by 2070, in which case the proceeds of land sales would also create cash for the government—helping to fund other infrastructure projects. “It’s the only solution for climate adaptation where the taxpayer doesn’t have to pay,” Skovbro says.What’s salt got to do with it?
But opposition has been unrelenting. Environmental lawyers have condemned the environmental impact report used by politicians in their decision-making process on the project. The document only factors in the island itself, not the homes, subway, and highway that may one day sit on top, but which have not yet been officially approved. One lawyer dubbed the report “a freehand drawing” for its lack of detail. Urban planners, meanwhile, say the planned highway, sold as a way to relieve congestion in the rest of the city, will induce more demand for cars, and therefore more traffic, in the long run.
Climate activists point to the project’s carbon footprint: between 2023 and 2055, Lynetteholm will generate 242,920 metric tons of CO2, per By&Havn’s predictions. To be fair, that’s only the amount generated by about 48,000 Danes—or 0.7% of the population—in a single year. But Sandby argues that the project is an unnecessary use of the world’s carbon budget, and doesn’t align with the urgency with which Denmark claims to view emissions reduction: “In the situation that we’re in with the climate crisis, we cannot afford to build in such a way.”
Over the last two years, residents have also staged several street protests over feared disruption to bike-centric Copenhagen by hundreds of heavy trucks carrying debris to the harbor each day. (By&Havn claims that there will be no increase in traffic, as Copenhagen’s construction debris is typically already transported to an existing depot in the harbor area.) Lynetteholm’s plans to dispose of contaminated waste released from the seafloor by construction have also fueled concern. Last year, amid public backlash, politicians were forced to convene an expert panel to advise the Transport Ministry on that issue.
That brings us to the latest dispute: the Kongedybet trench (‘The King’s Deep’, in English.) Stiig Markager, a member of the expert panel and a professor of marine ecosystems at Denmark’s Aarhus University, says the trench plays an important role in delivering salt into the Baltic sea. Because salt water is heavier than the Baltic’s brackish water, it flows south through the deep trench, while brackish water flows above it into the North Sea. Lynetteholm’s stone perimeter has now cut off that exchange. “The blockage could potentially have a significant impact on the environment in the Baltic Sea,” Markager says.
By&Havn says the desalination issue has already been looked at by two organizations, the Danish Hydraulic Institute, and Deltares, a Dutch research company, who agreed that it would likely reduce the amount of salt water flowing into the Baltic by 0.25% each year.
While that may not sound like much, Markager argues that those previous assessments were “very superficial,” modeling the blockage’s impact on the trench only in comparison to a single year, 2018; a “scientifically sound” model would need to consider flow patterns over decades at the very least. The compound effect, he says, would drastically reduce salinity in the Baltic over the next century. That would endanger fish and plants in the Baltic that have adapted to the sheltered sea’s unique semi-salty water, and fuel toxic algae blooms. A coalition of seventeen European conservation organizations raised similar concerns last year.
Markager says construction should be paused to further investigate what will happen to the Baltic. Or, he says, the peninsula could simply be scaled back by around a third, so that it wouldn’t block the trench.A rising tide of coastal conflict
Skovbro says Lynetteholm’s environmental critics are refusing to look at the positive sides of the project. Using the construction waste in Copenhagen will mean fewer trucks burning fuel to transfer it elsewhere in Copenhagen, for example, and By&Havn has established a partnership with Danish car manufacturers to help drive the creation of electric trucks big enough to transport the materials.
“The reality is that we need to protect Copenhagen from flooding, and a lot of the issues that people are worried about will be issues no matter how we do it,” she says. “We have quite a high level of environmental standards in general.” In that sense, she adds, the project could serve as an “example” to other land reclamation projects around the world.
That’s exactly what Sandby is afraid of. The Climate Movement wants to use its campaign against Lynettehold to set a precedent that will weigh on politicians mulling future carbon intensive infrastructure in Denmark, and governments considering artificial island projects around the world.
Whoever you agree with, the conflict on our coasts is likely just getting started. Skovbro points out that almost every part of Denmark, not to mention the rest of the world’s low-lying countries, will likely need to launch serious flood protection programs in the coming years. They will face similar dilemmas as Copenhagen. “We are just the first big project doing it here,” she says. “A lot of these projects will have challenges, because it is very difficult to balance all of this.”
Oh, bother. Winnie the Pooh has found himself in another sticky situation.
Just two days before a British horror flick starring a murderous version of the famous talking yellow bear was set to hit cinemas in Hong Kong, its distributor abruptly announced “with great regret” that the film’s scheduled release in the city as well as in the neighboring Chinese enclave of Macau had been “cancelled.”
VII Pillars Entertainment told Screen Daily that they were notified without explanation that 32 theaters across both territories would not go ahead with screenings of filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield’s Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey as previously planned. “We are pulling our hair, of course, very disappointed,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
One screening organizer, Moviematic, posted an Instagram story that said the release was called off due to “technical reasons”—a rationale Frake-Waterfield disputes. “They claim technical reasons, but there is no technical reason,” he told Reuters. “The film has showed in over 4,000 cinema screens worldwide. These 30+ screens in Hong Kong are the only ones with such issues.”
The cancellation has raised fresh concerns of increasing censorship in China’s so-called special administrative regions. “I assume #CCP and their #HongKong quislings worry that viewers might think it wasn’t a movie but a documentary about #XiJinping,” tweeted Benedict Rogers, the London-based founder of Hong Kong Watch, an organization monitoring human rights in the Chinese territory.Varuth Pongsapipatt—SOPA/LightRocket/Getty ImagesA protester holds a poster of Xi Jinping and a Pooh plush during a demonstration in Bangkok, where the Chinese leader was attending APEC in November 2022.
The cartoon bear had previously been blacklisted in mainland China after critics of President Xi Jinping frequently pointed out the character’s resemblance to the leader. The ruling Chinese Communist Party scrubbed pictures of Pooh off its restricted cyberspace in 2017, and the next year it blocked a Disney-produced live-action Pooh film.
Hong Kong, a former British colony that has touted greater Western-style freedoms under a “one country, two systems” policy since being ceded to China in 1997, has mostly enjoyed screening films with comparably less oversight until recently. After Beijing passed a controversial “national security law” in 2020 that covers even territories outside its jurisdiction, Hong Kong implemented censorship rules to comply with the policy, though the local government has claimed that it does not stifle free speech or freedom of expression.
Hong Kong’s censorship board denies that the Pooh slasher was suppressed. The city’s regulatory Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration told TIME that the film passed the local screening assessment and had already been issued the required certificate of approval to be released. “The arrangements of cinemas in Hong Kong on the screening of individual films with certificates of approval in their premises are the commercial decisions of the cinemas concerned,” it added.
Kenny Ng, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University’s Academy of Film, tells TIME that the pullout could be “self-censorship” due to the political climate rather than overt censorship imposed by authorities. “The act of withdrawing a licensed film from public exhibition may not be too surprising in the current situation or indeed has become a decent way of respecting the red line,” he said in an email. “Surely any reference, however vague and imaginative, to political leaders in films are taboos in cinema today.”
Would-be viewers may not be missing much, according to critics, who universally panned the film. Still, poor reviews haven’t stopped the movie from raking in big bucks at box offices in markets where it was released: since its debut in January, the low-budget Blood and Honey has earned more than $3.6 million worldwide.
China approved its first messenger RNA vaccine for Covid-19, clearing a shot from a local drugmaker that harnesses the powerful technology months after the world’s most-populous nation abandoned pandemic curbs.
The mRNA vaccine, developed by CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Ltd. and which targets the omicron variant, has been approved for emergency use, according to a statement from the company Wednesday to the Hong Kong stock exchange. Shares extended intraday gains to 7.7% before quickly paring most of that advance to trade 2.6% higher as of 1:15 pm in Hong Kong.
CSPC said the shot demonstrated an efficacy of between 70.2% and 85.3% up to four weeks following its use as a booster in a clinical trial involving 4,000 participants, though it’s not clear what the rates refer to. The company said the vaccine can be stored at 2C to 8C, but didn’t say for how long.
The approval comes years after mRNA vaccines became commonplace across the rest of the world, and over three months after China became the last country to abandon strict Covid measures, resulting in a massive infection wave that may have caused at least hundreds of thousands of deaths, according to expert estimates.
Read More: mRNA Technology Could Upend the Drug Industry
Low immunization rates for many high-risk elderly people and the waning protection of shots made with traditional inactivated technology potentially made China’s wave deadlier. Not having an mRNA vaccine was long considered a major lacuna for Beijing. The regulatory blessing for CSPC’s shot plugs that gap, while reinforcing the country’s reliance solely on homegrown vaccines to immunize its 1.4 billion population.
The Chinese government hasn’t approved the mRNA shot co-developed by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc., despite of a slew of data and applications filed by local partner Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. It instead depended on inactivated vaccines developed by local state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and the private firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd. for most of the pandemic.
The timing of the approval follows China’s post-Covid Zero case surge subsiding and many people have been granted a layer of natural immunity from their recent infection. The country’s abrupt pandemic pivot last year took many residents by surprise as officials had done little to boost inoculation rates, expand hospital capacity or secure adequate supplies of antivirals.
Instead, the virus was left to run rampant through a population with little previous exposure, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums. Officially, just tens of thousands of people have died from Covid since the pandemic pivot in early December but experts say that’s likely an underestimate given the scale of the outbreak. Researchers in Hong Kong estimated in mid-December that almost 1 million people in China could die from Covid.
–With assistance from Jinshan Hong and Abhishek Vishnoi.
The war in Ukraine has now entered its second year—but President Joe Biden has yet to articulate a credible strategy. It is therefore critical for conservatives to take stock and clearly chart out a path forward that can fill this vacuum, a vision rooted in conservative principles that heeds the lessons of history. In other words, a foreign policy that serves American interests, and thus is not a recipe for perpetual conflict.
In this context, it is vital to frame correctly what a conservative approach to U.S. foreign policy should be. This is to put the interests of Americans—their security, freedom, and prosperity—front and center. This does not mean disparaging the interests of others; to the contrary, it requires international collaboration. But it means forthrightly evaluating our foreign policy based on how it serves those concrete interests.
This approach cautions against two extremes. We cannot just pull back from the world and hope for the best. The world is too dangerous, and we cannot trust rapacious governments not to exploit our withdrawal. On the other hand, it is simply untenable for Americans to bear the vast majority of the burden among our allies in standing up to threatening states.
Serving Americans’ interests requires realism. Conservatives are proud of America and unabashed in their assertion of its values and interests. They are not self-flagellators. But true conservatives are also practically minded. If nothing else, conservatism understands that the world is a competitive and often dangerous place, tradeoffs exist, and meeting one’s responsibilities—whether as a nation, community, or family—requires sober planning, a clear and sober assessment of things, and effective implementation.
In this context, we need to be absolutely clear: Without question, the top external threat to America is China—by far. China is ten times the economic scale of Russia and leads the world in manufacturing. Beijing seeks first to dominate Asia, now the world’s largest market zone, and from that position control the global economy. This will enable it to inject itself into every part of American life—undermining our jobs, our freedoms, and ultimately our security. We cannot allow this to happen.
Read More: An Insider’s Perspective on China’s Strategy in Ukraine
China is making significant progress toward that goal. It is undertaking a historically unprecedented military buildup specifically designed to defeat the American military and to split apart our alliances in Asia that designed to prevent Beijing from dominating this critical region. And yet, despite a lot of fanfare and talk, our military position in Asia continues to deteriorate. As The Heritage Foundation has extensively documented, America’s armed forces (and the industrial base to support it) are too old, too unready, and too small to ensure we can defeat China in a war in the Western Pacific. This is an intolerable danger.
It’s through this lens that we need to view the Ukraine war. First, let’s be clear: Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an evil act. It is wrong to conduct a war of aggression to conquer another country. It is wrong to conduct atrocities. These are some of the reasons why it’s been the right thing for America and European nations to support Ukraine. It is also in our collective interest for the Russian military to be weakened and kept from NATO’s borders.
But we do not live in a vacuum. China is making progress toward its goal that, if achieved, would be the most dangerous to Americans. And we do not have unlimited resources. In a republic, the nation’s foreign policy should serve the citizens’ interests considering all the threats and needs the nation faces. To serve Americans’ interests, Congress must put the most consequential and grave national security threats first.
Yet we are not doing that. The fact is that our concentration on Ukraine has undermined our ability to address the worsening military situation in Asia, especially around Taiwan. Advocates for unconditional support of Ukraine say that these two objectives are not in tension. Yet this is simply not borne out by the facts. The U.S. has already sent tremendous quantities of military hardware that will take years to replenish to Ukraine and spent roughly $112 billion on aid, all while continuing to underinvest in the Pacific. This aid includes weapons, industrial base focus, and money that could have gone to the primary theater. This is the real world, one in which American largesse is not unlimited, not the one we might wish it to be. In this world, America must focus on China and deterring war over Taiwan.
Meanwhile the Biden Administration, while dramatically increasing domestic spending, has failed to invest the resources necessary to redress the worsening military balance in Asia. Now we are in a situation in which we cannot continue to spend and borrow as U.S. national debt climbs over $31 trillion. Former George W. Bush economics advisor Glenn Hubbard has argued, the U.S. is in a very difficult fiscal position; given the profligate spending of recent years, it can no longer afford to simply borrow to fund any needed defense increases.
This means that the economic tradeoffs are real—it is vital to face up to this because the Ukraine War seems unlikely to end any time soon. Russia will likely continue mobilizing its population for war, both in expanding its military and putting its economy on a war footing. The U.S., therefore, needs to focus its limited resources on the threat most dangerous to America: China.
Fortunately, though, this doesn’t require abandoning Ukraine. The solution is clear: for European countries, especially Germany, to step up and take the lead in their own conventional defense and in supporting Ukraine. Many treat this as far-fetched, but it isn’t. The European economies dwarf Russia in scale. If they put their minds to it, they can shoulder a greater burden of defending themselves and supporting Ukraine. And they have every reason to— as Ukraine is in their neighborhood. The U.S. should still help, but in a supporting role consistent with a genuine prioritization of Asia.
Yet the Biden Administration and many in Congress have done exactly the opposite: smother any hint of European assumption of responsibility by strutting around as “American leadership.” The results have been predictable. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has barely budged in its military buildup and provided only meager support to Kiev. This must change.
For the first time in modern history, the U.S. faces a peer superpower in China. We must act like it. However just and noble Ukraine’s cause is, continuing to focus on it at the expense of confronting and deterring China is not wise, moral, or conservative.
KYIV, Ukraine — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began a surprise visit to Ukraine early Tuesday, hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in neighboring Russia for a three-day visit. The dueling summits come as the longtime rivals are on diplomatic offensives.
Kishida will meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital.
He will “show respect to the courage and patience of the Ukrainian people who are standing up to defend their homeland under President Zelenskyy’s leadership, and show solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine as head of Japan and chairman of G-7,” during his visit to Ukraine, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in announcing his trip to Kyiv.
At the talks, Kishida will show his “absolute rejection of Russia’s one-sided change to the status quo by invasion and force, and to affirm his commitment to defend the rules-based international order,” the ministry’s statement said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warmly welcomed Xi to the Kremlin on a visit both nations describe as an opportunity to deepen their “no-limits friendship.”More from TIME
Read More: Xi Jinping’s Visit to Russia Isn’t Really About Bringing Peace to Ukraine
Japanese public television channel NTV showed Kishida riding a train from Poland heading to Kyiv. His surprise trip to Ukraine comes just hours after he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, and the week after a breakthrough summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yoel.
In New Delhi, Kishida called for developing and Global South countries to raise their voices to defend the rules-based international order and help stop Russia’s war.
Japan, which has territorial disputes over islands with both China and Russia, is particularly concerned about the close relationship between Beijing and Moscow, which have conducted joint military exercises near Japan’s coasts.
Kishida, who is to chair the Group of Seven summit in May, is the only G-7 leader who hasn’t visited Ukraine and was under pressure to do so at home. U.S. President Joe Biden took a similar route to visit Kyiv last month, just before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Due to limitations of Japan’s pacifist constitution, his trip was arranged secretly. Kishida is Japan’s first postwar leader to enter a war zone. Kishida, invited by Zelenskyy in January to visit Kyiv, was also asked before his trip to India about a rumor of his possible trip at the end of March, denied it and said nothing concrete has been decided.
Japan has joined the United States and European nations in sanctioning Russia over its invasion and providing humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine.
Japan was quick to react because it fears the possible impact of a war in East Asia, where China’s military has grown increasingly assertive and has escalated tensions around self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Beijing’s contacts with Russia will help to bring about peace. “President Putin said that Russia appreciates China’s consistent position of upholding fairness, objectivity and balance on major international issues,” he said. “Russia has carefully studied China’s position paper on the political settlement of the Ukrainian issue, and is open to peace talks.”
Read More: Why China, Russia’s Biggest Backer, Now Says It Wants to Broker Peace in Ukraine
Asked about Kishida’s trip to Kyiv, he added, “We hope Japan could do more things to deescalate the situation instead of the opposite.”
Kishida is expected to offer continuing support for Ukraine when he meets with Zelenskyy.
Television footage on NTV showed Kishida getting on a train from the Polish station of Przemysl near the border with Ukraine, with a number of officials.
Due to its pacifist principles, Japan’s support for Ukraine has also been limited to non-combative military equipment such as helmets, bulletproof vests and drones, and humanitarian supplies including generators.
Japan has contributed more than $7 billion to Ukraine, and accepted more than 2,000 displaced Ukrainians and helped them with housing assistance and support for jobs and education, a rare move in a country that is known for its strict immigration policy.
—AP reporter Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is putting out the word in advance that an expected unofficial stopover in the United States by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen would fall in line with recent precedent and should not be used as a pretext by Beijing to step up aggressive activity in the Taiwan Strait.
In recent weeks, senior U.S. officials in Washington and Beijing have underscored to their Chinese counterparts that transit visits through the United States during broader international travel by the Taiwanese president have been routine in recent years, according to a senior administration official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.
In such visits in recent years, Tsai has met with members of Congress and the Taiwanese diaspora and has been welcomed by the chairperson of the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S. government-run nonprofit that carries out unofficial relations with Taiwan.
Tsai transited through the United States six times between 2016 and 2019 before slowing international travel with the coronavirus pandemic. In reaction to those visits, China rhetorically lashed out against China and Taiwan.
The Biden administration is trying to avoid a replay of the heavy-handed response by China that came after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan last year.
Following Pelosi’s August visit, Beijing launched missiles over Taiwan, deployed warships across the median line of the Taiwan Strait and carried out military exercises near the island. Beijing also suspended climate talks with the U.S. and restricted military-to-military communication with the Pentagon.
Read More: Pelosi Leaves Taiwan With the Island—and World—in a More Precarious Position
Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step U.S. leaders say they don’t support. Pelosi was the highest-ranking elected American official to visit the island since Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. Under the “one China” policy, the U.S. recognizes Beijing as the government of China and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan but has maintained that Taipei is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. officials are increasingly worried about China’s long-stated goals of unifying Taiwan with the mainland and the possibility of war over Taiwan. The self-ruled island democracy is claimed by Beijing as part of its territory. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which has governed U.S. relations with the island, does not require the U.S. to step in militarily if China invades, but makes it American policy to ensure Taiwan has the resources to defend itself and to prevent any unilateral change of status by Beijing.
The difficult U.S.-China relationship has only become more complicated since Pelosi’s visit.
Last month, President Joe Biden ordered a Chinese spy balloon shot out of the sky after it traversed the continental United States. And the Biden administration in recent weeks has said that U.S. intelligence findings show that China is weighing sending arms to Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine, but it does not have evidence that suggests Beijing has decided to follow through on supplying Moscow.
Read More: Is China Providing Russia With Military Support? It’s Hard to Tell, and That’s the Point
The Biden administration postponed a planned visit to Beijing by Secretary of State Antony Blinken following the balloon controversy, but has signaled it would like to get such a visit back on track.
The White House on Monday also said officials are in talks with China about possible visits by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo focused on economic matters. Biden has also said he expects to soon hold a call with China’s Xi Jinping.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said “keeping those lines of communication open” is still valuable.
Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi met in Moscow on Monday, the first face-to-face meeting between the allies since before Russia launched its invasion more than a year ago.
Read More: Xi Jinping’s Visit to Russia Isn’t Really About Bringing Peace to Ukraine
The Taiwanese government earlier this month said that Tsai planned stops in New York and Southern California during an upcoming broader international trip but has yet to announce details about when she’ll travel.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, has said he would meet with Tsai when she is in the U.S. and has not ruled out the possibility of traveling to Taiwan in a show of support.
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