Fiona Hill, who was a Russian specialist at the White House national security council from 2017 to 2019, told the Guardian that Putin was “playing to the rifts in the United States”. The strategy was to increase political discord in an attempt to embolden calls for an end to US support for Ukraine.
“It’s playing to all those people who want Ukraine to surrender and capitulate to avoid a massive nuclear exchange and world war three, a kind of nuclear Armageddon,” she said.
Why is Yevgeny Prigozhin in the news? The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has said Moscow’s military chiefs are refusing to supply the group with munitions and are seeking to destroy it, accusing them of “treason”, in an escalation of the war of words between senior Russian officials and the private army boss.
Biden unveils Trump-style plan to deter asylum seekers at Mexico border
The US could bar tens of thousands of people arriving at the US-Mexico border from claiming asylum under a proposal announced yesterday, in what would be the most wide-ranging attempt yet by the Biden administration to deter unauthorized crossings.
Under the new rules, the US would generally deny asylum to people who show up at the US southern border without first seeking protection in a country they passed through, mirroring an attempt by the Trump administration that never took effect because it was blocked in court.
The measure, while stopping short of a total ban, imposes severe limitations on asylum for people of any nationality except Mexicans, who do not have to travel through a third country to reach the US.
The proposed rule establishes “a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility” for anyone who passes through another country to reach the US border with Mexico without first seeking protection there, according to a notice in the Federal Register. Exceptions will be made for people with an “acute medical emergency”, “imminent and extreme threat” of violent crimes such as murder, rape or kidnapping, being a victim of human trafficking or “other extremely compelling circumstances”. Children traveling alone will also be exempt, according to the rule.
What do campaigners plan to do? The measure is almost certain to face legal challenges; Donald Trump pursued a similar ban in 2019 but a federal appeals court prevented it from taking effect. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) vowed to fight the Biden rule in court, likening it to the Trump restriction, which was described as a “transit ban” by activists.
In other news …
Enjoying satisfying relationships with partners, family, friends and colleagues, and exercising at least once every month, could boost your physical and mental health in old age, two studies suggest. Even taking up exercise in your 60s is better than doing nothing at all, the research says.
Federal environmental regulators on Tuesday took control of the clean-up from the derailment of the train carrying huge quantities of toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this month, and ordered the railroad company Norfolk Southern to foot the bill.
Seattle has become the first city in the US to ban caste-based discrimination, after council members voted yesterday to add the provision to the city’s anti-bias laws. Calls to outlaw discrimination based on caste have been growing louder but the move is also contentious and has seen some opposition.
The North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun has said that relying on external aid to cope with food shortages would be the same as taking “poisoned candy”, amid a national crisis and a reported increase in deaths from starvation.
Stat of the day: 6,542 guns seized from people about to board planes at 262 airports in 2022
Two decades after 9/11, thousands of passengers who are otherwise conditioned to remove their shoes, bag their liquids and all too often surrender their dignity at security screenings somehow manage to forget they are carrying an object that is the very reason they are being searched in the first place.
Last year, the US Transport Security Administration (TSA) seized 6,542 guns from people about to board planes at 262 airports – a sixfold increase since 2010. Almost nine in 10 of the weapons were loaded. While most people claimed to forget they even had a gun, others thought that because they had been issued a permit to carry a gun they could carry it anywhere, anytime, Jeffrey Price, an aviation security expert said.
Social media is now what markets and shopping centres once were – the place people go to spend their cash – full of “must-haves” such as heated eyelash curlers and “miracle” pink cleaning pastes. And when something goes viral online, it sells in real life. Influencers reportedly sold $3.6bnof goods in 2022, with the $700 Dyson Airwrap hair styler among the top sellers. But a backlash against overconsumption is spreading fast. If influencing is trying to convince people on social media to buy certain products, then de-influencing is, very broadly, the opposite. Is this the beginning of the end for our rampant, destructive consumer culture – or just influencing by another name?
Climate check: Republicans in the US ‘battery belt’ embrace Biden’s climate spending
Georgia, a state once known for its peaches and peanuts, is rapidly becoming a crucible of clean energy technology in the US, leading a pack of Republican-led states enjoying a boom in renewables investment that has been accelerated by Biden’s climate agenda. Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August, billions of dollars of clean energy investment has been announced for solar, electric vehicle and battery manufacturing in Georgia, pushing it to the forefront of a swath of southern states that are becoming a so-called battery belt in the economic transition away from fossil fuels. Republican-led states have claimed the lion’s share of renewable energy and electric vehicle activity, even though they did not vote for the climate spending.
Last Thing: spy balloon, UFO or Dragon Ball? Japan baffled by iron sphere washed up on beach
Police and residents in a Japanese coastal town have been left baffled by a large iron ball that has washed up on a local beach, with authorities admitting they have no idea what it is – only that it is not about to explode. The sphere, measuring about 1.5 metres in diameter, has been at the centre of fevered speculation since it washed up on Enshu Beach in the city of Hamamatsu on the country’s Pacific coast, according to local media reports. Fears that it could be a stray mine were dismissed after experts used X-ray technology to examine the object’s interior and found that it was hollow. Police began inspecting the ball, which is orangey-brown with what appear to be darker patches of rust, after a local woman spotted it metres from the shore, Asahi TV reported.
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