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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Nicola Slawson

First Thing: Republicans feud over Trump in first 2024 primary debate

The Republican presidential candidates gather on stage at the debate
The Republican presidential candidates gather on stage at the debate. Photograph: Kamil Krzaczyński/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

Republican presidential candidates clashed over Donald Trump’s legal woes during the first primary debate of the 2024 campaign season, underscoring the former president’s absence from the event and casting a spotlight on his potential vulnerabilities in a general election rematch against Joe Biden.

Nearly an hour into the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Fox News hosts Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier asked the eight candidates on stage whether they would still support Trump as the Republican presidential nominee if he were convicted of the charges he faces. Six candidates – North Dakota’s governor, Doug Burgum, the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, the former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the former vice-president Mike Pence, the entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and the South Carolina senator Tim Scott – indicated they would still support Trump. Only two candidates – the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and the former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson – said they would not.

Christie, a vocal critic of Trump, called on the fellow debate participants to “stop normalizing this conduct”.

  • How far ahead is Trump in the polls? A CBS News/YouGov survey compiled last week found Trump holds his largest polling lead to date, with the support of 62% of likely Republican primary voters. The survey showed Trump beating his next closest competitor, DeSantis, by 46 points, with every other candidate in single digits.

  • What did Trump say in his interview with Tucker Carlson? In a rambling interview, speckled with discussion of conspiracy theories from whether the billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was murdered in his jail cell to the role of federal agencies limiting the amount of water in washing machines, Trump took aim at critics on all sides in his traditional derisory fashion. He also warned of a threat of conflict in the US after saying he expected Democrats to steal the 2024 election from him and he was concerned “the left” would try to kill him.

Biden points finger at Putin as Prigozhin’s reported death seen as a warning to ‘elites’

Flowers and Wagner patches surround a burning candle
Flowers and Wagner patches laid in front of the Wagner offices in St Petersburg, Russia. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Joe Biden has strongly suggested Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the apparent death of Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash. Ukrainian officials interpreted the incident as a warning to Russian “elites” and flowers were laid in tribute to the Wagner chief outside the organisation’s St Petersburg headquarters.

“I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised,” the US president said after a briefing following the crash of Prigozhin’s private jet between Moscow and St Petersburg. “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind. But I don’t know enough to know the answer.”

Rosaviatsia, the Russian aviation authority, said Prigozhin and the senior Wagner commander Dmitry Utkin were among 10 people travelling on an Embraer business jet that crashed on Wednesday evening. The cause was not immediately clear, but Prigozhin’s longstanding feud with the military and the armed uprising he led in June would give the Russian state ample motive for revenge.

The Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said the crash – exactly two months after Wagner forces marched on Moscow – was “a signal from Putin to Russia’s elites ahead of the 2024 elections. ‘Beware! Disloyalty equals death’.”

  • What has the Kremlin said? It has not yet commented. Rosaviatsia, the Russian aviation authority, said Prigozhin and Utkin were among 10 people onboard. Putin made no mention of the incident during a speech in Moscow to mark the 80th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Kursk during the second world war. He instead hailed “all our soldiers who are fighting bravely and resolutely” in Ukraine.

Women with ME tend to have more symptoms than men, study suggests

Stethoscope on a laptop keyboard
Scientists are still working to understand the causes of ME/CFS, although there is some evidence that infections can trigger the condition. Photograph: Brian Jackson/Alamy

Women with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) tend to have more symptoms than men and are more likely to develop increasingly severe symptoms over time, according to initial results from a major study.

It is already known that women are at higher risk of CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), and the latest study, called DecodeME, provides new insights into how their experience differs from men. The study found women who had ME/CFS for more than 10 years were more likely to experience increasingly severe symptoms as they aged.

The study lead, Prof Chris Ponting from the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Genetics and Cancer, said: “ME/CFS is a devastating disease affecting a UK population the size of Derby. We discovered that the disease is worse for women, in older people, and many years after their ME/CFS started.”

ME/CFS is estimated to affect more than 250,000 people in the UK, of all ages and from all social and economic backgrounds. A key feature, called post-exertional malaise, is a dramatic worsening of symptoms after minor physical effort. Other symptoms include pain, brain fog and extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest.

  • What causes ME/CFS? Scientists are still working to understand the causes, although there is some evidence that infections can trigger the condition, while a recent study suggested a protein may disrupt cells’ ability to generate energy. There is currently no diagnostic test or cure and doctors continue to be divided on the best way to help patients recover or manage symptoms.

In other news …

A person wearing a face mask at Southern Cross station in Melbourne, Australia
Evidence also indicates that higher-quality respirator masks such as N95 masks were more effective than surgical-type masks. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP
  • Measures taken during the Covid pandemic such as social distancing and wearing face masks “unequivocally” reduced the spread of infections, a report has found. Experts looked at the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) – not drugs or vaccines – when applied in packages.

  • Japan has begun discharging more than 1m tonnes of tainted water into the Pacific Ocean from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in a move that has prompted China to announce an immediate blanket ban on all seafood imports from Japan and sparked anger in nearby fishing communities.

  • The UK has been accused of “seeking to block the international court of justice (ICJ) from addressing important international humanitarian law matters” in a submission to the world court on the legality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

  • Spain’s football federation president, Luis Rubiales, was at the centre of new misogyny allegations yesterday as he faced growing calls to be sacked for kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the country’s World Cup victory. The general director of the Futbolistas ON players’ union, Tamara Ramos, has now alleged that Rubiales made obscene comments to her.

Don’t miss this: relighting the Fyre – will anyone risk the follow-up to the worst festival ever?

Billy McFarland
Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre festival in the Bahamas, leaves federal court in 2018 after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges in New York. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP

Think of the worst idea of your life. Think of a time when you messed up so comprehensively, so spectacularly, that you alienated friends, angered strangers and permanently cratered your entire reputation, writes Stuart Heritage. It might have felt bad at the time. Maybe you never even fully recovered. But, please, console yourself with this: whatever that idea was, at least it wasn’t as bad as staging a sequel to the Fyre festival. Billy McFarland might have spent time in jail owing to the sheer amount of criminal negligence that went into the Fyre festival, but that hasn’t stopped him from announcing Fyre festival 2. The big problem here is that who on earth would want to pay good money to attend a Fyre festival, knowing that the brand is best associated with Korean jamboree-level disaster?

Climate check: record heatwave persists in US as 130 million under alerts in 22 states

Beachgoers crowd Montrose beach in Chicago on Sunday
Beachgoers crowd Montrose beach in Chicago on Sunday. The city is expected to set or equal records, with a forecast high of 99F. Photograph: Kiichiro Sato/AP

A record-breaking heatwave continued to spread across the central US on Wednesday, placing about 130 million people under heat alerts in 22 states, and prompting warnings from weather experts of potentially deadly conditions. Temperatures above 100F (37.7C) stretched south to states on the Gulf coast, the National Weather Service (NWS) warned in a morning advisory, with “brutal humidity levels” pushing the heat index as high as 120F (48.8C) in some areas. School officials in numerous states, including Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma, closed classrooms or were sending students home early in response to the heatwave, which has caused record temperatures this week in cities from Texas to Louisiana.

Last Thing: US teen goes fishing – and catches farmer’s lost wallet with $2,000 inside

US dollar notes
‘I thought I had a big fish, and I set the hook really hard,’ Connor Halsa told WDAY. Photograph: Mykola Tys/SOPA Images/Rex/Shutterstock

A 14-year-old angler failed to land a big fish on a recent trip to a lake in Minnesota but did manage to hook a wallet with $2,000 cash inside that had been lost by a farmer a year earlier. Connor Halsa felt his rod snag on something while fishing on Lake of the Woods. “I thought I had a big fish, and I set the hook really hard,” Connor told WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. But when the boy’s cousin brought Halsa’s catch out of the water in a net it was instead a billfold stuffed with soggy cash and – crucially – a business card with a man’s name on it. The name on the card was Jim Denney, a farmer from Iowa who had lost the wallet while fishing a year earlier. He was stunned to get a call returning the lost cash. “I have the billfold in my hands, and it is still hard to believe,” Denney told WDAY. Denny drove to Halsa’s home to get the money and the boy refused a cut of it as a reward – but he did accept the offer of a new cooler.

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