Romeo was saved from slaughter. He’s now the world’s tallest steer | US news

The American steer Romeo was just 10 days old when the owners of an animal sanctuary in Oregon saved him from being slaughtered.

And during the six years since married couple Misty and Robert Moore afforded him mercy, Romeo has grown into the tallest living animal of his kind. The once tiny Romeo now ingests 100lbs of hay, 15lbs of grain and an entire bathtub full of water daily to remain adequately fed and hydrated at a height of 6ft 4.5in (1.94 meters), the steer’s owners said in an interview published on the Guinness World Records site.

The organization verified Romeo as the world’s tallest living steer, seizing the title from his 6ft 1in (1.87 meter) tall predecessor Tommy of Cheshire, Massachusetts.

The Moores told the organization known for curating a database of more than 40,000 world records – including the one held by Romeo – that their unprecedentedly tall steer calls attention to the harsh realities of business at dairy farms.

Unable to produce milk because of their sex, “male calves like Romeo are often deemed as mere byproducts” and face a life marked by confinement in a veal crate as well as eventual processed meat slaughter, “their destinies predetermined by profit margins”, Misty of Welcome Home Animal Sanctuary in Creswell, Oregon, told Guinness.

“But fate had a different plan for Romeo.”

Misty recounted how she was at her sanctuary – which provides life-long care to vulnerable animals – when she received a call from someone who was interested in having Romeo rescued.

She said her team “could tell that he was longing for a fulfilled life”, so the sanctuary welcomed the steer “with open arms and boundless love”.

“It became our mission to grant him that life – a life filled with safety, compassion and unwavering affection,” Moore said.

The steer’s affinity for cuddles from humans inspired the Moores’ sanctuary to name him after one of the protagonists of the famous William Shakespeare love story Romeo and Juliet.

Under the Moores’ watch, Romeo has grown into the globe’s tallest steer, eating 100lbs of hay and 15lbs of grain daily – as well as drinking a bath tub fall of water to wash it all down. Photograph: Misty Moore / Guinness World Records

He quickly showed how “he delights in both expressing affection and receiving it”, Misty added. And he has also demonstrated smarts that some may not instinctually associate with bovines of his size, figuring out how to drink rainwater from a spout in his shelter at the sanctuary without getting wet.

Feeding him the eight-plus stone (112lbs) in hay and grain that Romeo needs daily – along with the dozens of gallons of water to wash it all down – strains the Moores’ finances to the point that they resort to fundraisers for some relief in that area.

It can also be challenging to find him the right veterinarian care because not every animal hospital has the right equipment for creatures that big. And eventually, Romeo may have to grapple with musculoskeletal and digestive problems, along with other health issues.

But for now, the fact that Romeo has lived beyond the 24 months that those of his ilk usually get gave him time to grow as tall as many professional basketball players – and the Moores the opportunity to submit him for Guinness World Record consideration.

Other activities to which Romeo has devoted himself are sunbathing, scratching himself against trees, exploring the sanctuary’s pasture and accompanying humans as they carry out repairs at his home facility.

“He knows his name, loves to play and sometimes attempts to jump in our arms with pure excitement,” Moore told Guinness World Records. “Romeo is a gentle giant overflowing with affection and playfulness.”

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Penguins in peril: why two bird charities are taking South Africa’s environment minister to court | South Africa

It’s 3.40pm on a Thursday and Penguin 999.000000007425712 has just returned to the Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay, South Africa, after a day of foraging. She glides elegantly through the turquoise waters before clambering comically up the rocks towards the nest where her partner is incubating two beige eggs. She doesn’t realise it, but a rudimentary knee-high fence has funnelled her towards a state-of-the-art weighbridge. When she left the colony at 6.45am this morning she weighed 2.7kg. Now, after a full day of hunting, she has gained only 285g.

Eleanor Weideman, a coastal seabird project manager for BirdLife South Africa, is concerned. “In a good year they come back with their stomachs bulging,” she says. Penguins can put on up to one-third of their body weight in a single day of foraging. “But there’s just no fish out there any more.”

Tomorrow, Penguin 999.000000007425712 and her partner will swap roles: she will stay on the nest and he will go out to forage for food. If all goes well, they will be able to raise two clutches of two eggs this season. But at the current rate they may have to abandon this nest and give up on breeding for the year.

A video taken from the perspective of a diving penguin
Bodycam footage captures a diving penguin’s perspective near Stony Point. Footage supplied by Alistair McInnes

The number of African penguins has declined by more than 99% in the past 120 years. At the current rate of decline (7.9% per year), the species – African’s only penguin – will be extinct in the wild by 2035.

Not only would this be an ecological disaster – penguins are an indicator species for the entire ecosystem – but it would also be devastating for the South African tourism industry. A 2018 study on the colony at Boulders Beach in Cape Town showed that it contributes 311m rand (£13m) a year to the local economy.

The weighbridge at Stony Point. Photograph: Nick Dall

Now, in an unprecedented attempt to stop this from happening, two NGOs – BirdLife South Africa and Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds – have taken South Africa’s minister of forestry, fisheries and the environment, Barbara Creecy, to court claiming she has failed to implement “biologically meaningful closures” to fishing around six penguin colonies which are home to 76% of the global African penguin population.

The decision to petition the courts came after the minister chose not to follow some of the key recommendations made by an international review panel she appointed.

Alistair McInnes, who heads up the Seabird Conservation Programme at BirdLife South Africa and is the author of the founding affidavit in the court papers, says that the desired fishing bans would apply only to commercial vessels using purse-seine nets to target small pelagic [open seas] species such as sardines and anchovies. Purse-seine nets are like giant drawstring bags that target entire shoals. African penguins are specialist feeders and predominantly eat these species – and South Africa’s sardine and anchovy stocks are at all-time lows.

Penguins are not the only ones who stand to benefit from such a ban. Cape cormorants (another endangered bird species) also feed predominantly on small pelagic fish. And small-scale handline fishers have welcomed the proposals, as many of the species they target feed on sardines and anchovies.

The panel of experts appointed by Creecy delivered a report in July 2023, stating that targeted fishing closures around penguin colonies “would be likely to benefit penguin conservation”.

While the minister took some of the report’s recommendations on board, she stuck with existing, but more limited, closures.

Penguin colonies affected by the fishing closure proposals

In the Stony Point colony, for example, the area closed to purse-seine fishing is three times smaller than it would be if the expert panel’s recommendations were followed – so it’s little wonder that Penguin 999.000000007425712 is having a hard time finding food. And it’s a similar situation in three other colonies where 50% or less of the penguins’ core foraging area is protected under existing rules.

Stony Point nature reserve is home to one of the largest breeding colonies of African penguins in the world. Photograph: Benny Marty/Alamy

The potential impact of extended fishing closures on the purse-seine industry is hard to quantify, but the body representing fishers says the court action is misguided. “Contrary to environmental NGOs’ statements in the media that the main driver is the purse-seine fishing industry, the impact of fishing [on penguin numbers] is small,” the South African pelagic fishing industry association said in an email to the Guardian. It said the “environmental NGOs” had delayed a “process that is tasked with establishing what are the main drivers causing the decline in penguin numbers”.

Creecy’s office did not respond to requests for comment and the “record of decision”, which the state attorney representing the minister filed in April gave little insight into why she followed some of the panel’s recommendations and did not apply others.

Fishing is not the only driver of population declines. “African penguins are probably the most studied seabird in Africa,” says McInnes. “Loads of research has been done into various threats to their survival.”

These include the climate crisis (extreme heat and heavy rain can both prove disastrous during nesting season); land predators (leopards, caracals and honey badgers have all broken into colonies); and the localised threat of noise pollution from “bunkering” (a ship-to-ship refuelling process) at the St Croix colony near Gqeberha.

Nevertheless, prey availability is an important determining factor for the survival of any specialist predatory species, McInnes says, not to mention their ability to reproduce. It is perhaps telling that the only penguin colony in South Africa with a relatively stable population – Boulders near Cape Town – is in an area where purse-seine fishing has been banned for decades.

A chick, left, and adult African penguin Photograph: Alamy

As McInnes, who has been studying the African penguin for more than a decade, says: “I haven’t met a penguin scientist who doesn’t believe that carefully demarcated closures are part of the solution.”

All Penguin 999.000000007425712 wants to know is where her next meal will come from.

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Country diary: A walled garden that lived, died and lives again | Heritage

Through a ruined doorway in the wall, behind the birdsong of Maytide, there is a fragile silence of broken things and the green light of woods coming closer. The ruins of Llanforda, just north of Oswestry, are the remains of an estate first built and planted in the 17th century. In 1640, it was described as having walks, pleasure gardens, and a wilderness and fountain to rival any grand garden in the county.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the garden and parkland was further developed in the grand manner of a Shropshire country house, but in 1940, Llanforda Hall was demolished. Local legend has it that an obsession for plants and gardening made the estate go bust.

Something of that all-consuming passion still haunts this place and is felt in the plants themselves. A once-manicured hornbeam hedge, now liberated, has thrown out arching boughs to form a tunnel. Ferns festoon piles of bricks. Once cordon and espalier pear trees lean against garden walls. Roots grapple with tumbled masonry. Silted fishponds flash white with water starwort flowers. Precious trees are besieged by sallow and laurel.

In the experiments with plantings (to compare what was possible to grow here in the Marches with London), the seeds of the garden’s own destruction were sown. Llandforda is what happens after the novel about the rise and fall of its creators has ended. The characters, the plot and its setting are scattered, and the place has absorbed what remains of the story. It is not just that this story is fragile; the language to tell it is weak.

Without those human dramas of ambition, privilege, love and death, the narrative is undone by more-than-human forces: weather, time and the ecological power of life. Words such as “abandoned” and “derelict” seem wrong now. The occupation has been replaced by the green genius of this place with a language of its own. It can be heard in the great oaks that have survived centuries; in the peacock butterfly that overwinters in the stones; in bluebells, nettles and wrens. Once familiar, now mythical, the view through the walled garden doorway shows where our obsessions end and magical life begins.

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Can ‘rock weathering’ help tackle the climate crisis and boost farming? | Greenhouse gas emissions

There is an urgent need for farming to curb its greenhouse gas emissions, with farmers also under pressure to be more sustainable. One suggestion could help with both problems: spreading crushed volcanic (basalt) rocks on fields to help capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It is a sustainable fertiliser; basalt is rich in minerals, so the rock powder increases soil fertility by feeding nutrients needed for plant growth. Trials at the universities of Newcastle and Sheffield have shown that crop yields are improved, without any ill-effects on the environment or the plants.

This process of capturing CO2 mimics a geological process called weathering. When it rains, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the falling rain, and when the rainwater reaches the ground it reacts with basalt rocks to form inert carbonates, which are eventually washed into the sea where the carbon stays permanently locked away on the seabed.

Many parts of the UK are rich in volcanic rocks, which can be easily ground up into powder and scattered over fields. But this is no magic bullet to solve the climate crisis, as drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are still needed.

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Charlie Colin, founding member of Train, dies aged 58 after slipping in shower | Music

Charlie Colin, bassist and founding member of the US pop-rock band Train, best known for their hits Drops of Jupiter and Meet Virginia, has died aged 58.

Colin’s sister Carolyn Stephens confirmed her brother’s death to the Associated Press on Wednesday. He died after slipping and falling in the shower while house sitting for a friend in Brussels, Belgium, the celebrity website reported.

Colin grew up in California and Virginia. He played in a group called Apostles after college with guitarist Jimmy Stafford and singer Rob Hotchkiss. The band eventually dissolved and Colin moved to Singapore for a year to write jingles.

Eventually all three moved to San Francisco where Train formed in the early 90s with singer Pat Monahan. Colin brought in drummer Scott Underwood to round out the group, according to an interview with Colin and Hotchkiss in Berklee’s alumni magazine.

As a founding member of Train, Colin played on the band’s first three records, 1998’s self-titled album, 2001’s Drops of Jupiter and 2003’s My Private Nation. The latter two releases peaked at No 6 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Meet Virginia, from Train’s debut album, broke the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 but it was their sophomore album, Drops of Jupiter, that confirmed the band’s success.

The eight-times platinum title track Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) – which features the Rolling Stones’ session pianist Chuck Leavell and Leonard Cohen’s string orchestrator Paul Buckmaster, and was written about the death of Monahan’s mother – hit No 5. It also earned two Grammys, for best rock song and best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalist(s).

Colin left Train in 2003 due to substance abuse. “Charlie is one incredible bass player, but he was in a lot of pain, and the way he was dealing with it was very painful for everyone else around him,” Monahan told NBC San Diego.

In 2015 he reunited with Hotchkiss to start a new band called Painbirds, alongside Tom Luce. In 2017 he formed another band, the Side Deal, with Sugar Ray’s Stan Frazier and the PawnShop Kings’ Joel and Scott Owen.

On Wednesday a tribute to Colin appeared on the official Facebook and X social media pages for the band Train. “When I met Charlie Colin, front left, I fell in love with him. He was THE sweetest guy and what a handsome chap,” it reads. “Let’s make a band that’s the only reasonable thing to do.

“His unique bass playing a beautiful guitar work helped get folks to notice us in SF and beyond. I’ll always have a warm place for him in my heart. I always tried to pull him closer but he had a vision of his own. You’re a legend, Charlie. Go charm the pants off those angels.”

Before his death, Colin documented his time in Brussels, writing “Officially my favorite city” in a March Instagram post.

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Farm owners in California mass shooting to pay workers $450,000 | California

The owners of two mushroom farms in northern California where a disgruntled employee shot and killed seven people last year will pay a total of more than $450,000 in back wages and damages to 62 employees.

In an announcement released on Monday following an extensive investigation, the US labor department said the payment is an element of administrative settlements reached by the department’s wage and hour division with California Terra Garden and Concord Farms.

The government’s announcement comes after the incident in which the accused gunman, 67-year old Chunli Zhao, opened fire on two farms in Half Moon Bay, a small community approximately 30 miles south of San Francisco, on 23 January 2023, killing seven workers and injuring another.

Speaking to investigators, Zhao said that prior to the shooting, he had had an argument with a supervisor who insisted he pay $100 in repairs following a forklift incident that Zhao said was not his fault. According to Zhao, a co-worker intentionally hit the forklift with a bulldozer, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Zhao, a Chinese citizen, has pleaded not guilty to multiple murder charges.

Zhao worked at Concord Farms previously and was later an employee at California Terra Garden.

The deadly shooting and the labor department’s investigation revealed the hazardous working conditions that many migrant farmworkers have been subjected to in San Mateo county.

“Our investigators found workers at California Terra Gardens and Concord Farms housed in sickening conditions, forced to sleep near garbage and with insects all around,” Alberto Raymond, the labor department’s wage and hour division assistant district director, said in a statement.

At California Terra Garden, investigators found that 39 workers were housed in cramped cargo containers, garages and dilapidated trailers, were forced to sleep on filthy mattresses and were exposed to insects and trash. According to the labor department, the farm’s owners, Xianmin Guan and his wife, Liming Zhu, illegally deducted money from workers’ pay for the substandard housing.

At Concord Farms, investigators found that its owner, Grace Tung, housed workers in moldy, makeshift rooms in a greenhouse infested with bugs. Tung also violated federal regulations by shortchanging workers who were not paid appropriate overtime, the labor department said.

As part of the settlements, California Terra Garden has agreed to pay totals of $84,074 directly to 39 workers to recoup the employers’ illegal housing deductions, and $42,494 in civil money penalties to resolve its housing, wage-disclosure and record-keeping violations.

Meanwhile, Concord Farms has agreed to pay a total of $370,107 in overtime wages and liquidated damages to 10 workers, as well as a total of $4,242 in late wages to 23 workers. It has also agreed to pay $29,049 in civil money penalties to address its various violations.

The civil penalties are in addition to the more than $450,000 in back wages and damages to be paid to the 62 employees from both farms.

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Another provocative flag flown at Samuel Alito residence, report says | US politics

Another type of provocative flag that was flown during the breach of the US Capitol by extremist supporters of Donald Trump on 6 January 2021 was reportedly flown outside a summer residence of US supreme court justice Samuel Alito – following a similar, prior incident outside his main residence.

Last summer, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which originates from the Revolutionary war and has in recent years become a symbol of far-right Christian extremism, was flown outside Alito’s summer home in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

According to photographs obtained by the outlet and interviews with multiple neighbors and passersby, the flag was flown last July and September. The newspaper reported that the flag was visible in a Google Street View image from late August. It remains unclear whether the flag was flown consistently throughout last summer.

The New York Times report comes just days after it reported that an upside-down American flag was flown outside Alito’s Virginia home just days after the January 6 Capitol riots.

The Appeal to Heaven flag, also commonly known as the Pine Tree flag, was spotted among other controversial flags waved in Washington on 6 January 2021 when rioters and insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol, encouraged by Trump, then the president, over the false belief that the 2020 election had been won by him and not the actual victor, Joe Biden.

The Capitol attack was aimed at stopping the official certification by Congress of Biden’s victory, which was delayed by the violence but finally happened in the early hours of the following morning.

The Pine Tree flag was originally used on warships commanded by George Washington during the Revolutionary war. It has since been adopted by Christian nationalists who advocate for an American government based on Christian teachings.

The first report of the Stars and Stripes being flown upside-down outside an Alito residence provoked outrage about the further politicization of the supreme court, but Alito simply said his wife had done it and it was displayed only briefly.

The Guardian contacted the supreme court for comment on the latest report but did not receive an immediate response.

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CDC warns of more US bird flu cases after second human infected by cows | Bird flu

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu – the second human case associated with an outbreak in US dairy cows, after a case emerged in Texas earlier this spring.

The new patient had mild eye symptoms and has recovered, US and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case on Wednesday afternoon. The worker had been in contact with cows presumed to be infected, and the risk to the public remains low, officials said.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested positive, “indicating an eye infection”, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement.

The first case happened in late March, when a farm worker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient also reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

The CDC said “similar additional human cases could be identified” given high levels of the virus in raw milk from infected cows, and the extent of the spread in dairy cows.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said it believes unpasteurized milk is the primary vector for transmitting the virus among cows, though officials do not know exactly how it spreads.

To limit transmission in cattle, the USDA in late April started requiring dairy cows to test negative before being shipped across state lines.

“It’s likely that there will be several cases that emanate from exposure to infected cows and their milk amongst farm workers,” said Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland.

“The key thing is to make sure that testing is wide enough to capture them,” he added.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species – including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises – in scores of countries. The detection in US livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That has not happened, although there has been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the US agriculture department.

Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan. Health officials there have declined to say how many people exposed to infected cattle have been tested or monitored.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what is known as type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, an incarcerated person in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose county, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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Stephen Colbert on Trump’s refusal to testify in trial: ‘Did he write himself a check for $130,000?’ | Late-night TV roundup

Late-night hosts recapped Donald Trump’s unfulfilled promises to testify at his criminal hush-money trial in New York.

Stephen Colbert

Testimony ended on Tuesday in the first criminal trial ever for a former president of the United States. “Now, it may not have been the Trump trial we all wanted, it may not be about his most hideous crimes, but damn it – at least he farted,” said Stephen Colbert on the Late Show. “They can never take that away from us.”

“Today was Trump’s chance to wake up and snort a line of gas station energy powder and get on that stand to prove that this is all a big Joe Biden witch-hunt,” Colbert continued, but it was confirmed on Tuesday that Trump would not testify in his own trial. “That is shocking – Trump is not talking? What happened? Did he write himself a check for $130,000?” Colbert joked.

The trial is not over yet; closing arguments will wrap next week, and the judge will give the jury instructions for their deliberation. Colbert imagined how it would play out: “Thank you for your instructions, your honor. We will return with a verdict after careful deliberation … yeah, he’s guilty.”

Outside the courthouse, the crowds have been much smaller than the police prepared for, according to the New York Times, and included amateur puppeteers, a DJ with a portable speaker and a self-proclaimed “most successful” sex capsule salesman in Idaho, Utah and Nevada. “Really makes you feel for the second-most successful sex capsule salesman in Idaho, Utah and Nevada,” Colbert joked.

Without grassroots support, Trump “has been forced to call in the Maga goons on his behalf”, Colbert added. So far 25 members of Congress have attended, including Matt Gaetz, the Florida representative “who was mostly there for the sex capsules”, he quipped.

Jimmy Kimmel

“Our former president and future convicted felon, who after saying who knows how many times he would absolutely testify, has opted not to testify – and the defense has rested their case,” Jimmy Kimmel summarized on Tuesday evening.

“Of course, no day with Donald Trump would be complete without a mention of the size of the crowd,” he added before a clip of Trump outside the courthouse, claiming that crowd size is “not a really big thing for us, we don’t really care that much”.

“Yeah, right”, Kimmel scoffed. “If there’s one thing we know about Donald Trump, it’s that he couldn’t care less about crowd size.”

Still, Trump claimed he had “a lot” of supporters outside the courthouse. “No, there aren’t,” said Kimmel. “I drove by there last week – I was in New York – and there’s no one. You have no supporters in your home town.

“The only supporters Trump has in New York is the army of ass-kissers who fly in from Washington every day to suckle his teats on camera,” he added.

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Kimmel also mocked a new Trump campaign video in which the words “unified reich” appear in grayscale beneath the fake headline: “TRUMP WINS!”

“Trump wants to bring the country together. The bad news, that country is Germany in 1933,” Kimmel said. Trump’s campaign claims that it wasn’t Trump’s team who made the video, and that Trump himself did not repost it. “It was one of the junior Nazis who works for him,” said Kimmel. “What else does this man need to do for people to see what he is? Grow the moustache?”

The Daily Show

Trump has been saying for months how much he wants to testify, and today he finally had the opportunity. The floor is yours, big guy!

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) May 22, 2024

Trump’s trial is near completion, and “just like Stormy Daniels said, it was over much more quickly than expected”, said guest host Michael Kosta on The Daily Show. And despite saying he was ready to testify under oath, Trump declined to testify in his defense.

“He’s like, ‘Let’s do it, swear me in on that shiny book that Mike Pence is always blah blah blah-ing about,’” Kosta recapped.

But “after talking such a big game, he’s not testifying?! So he’s doing the opposite of what he told us he was going to do over and over again? That’s not the Donald Trump I know,” Kosta deadpanned.

“It’s just so peculiar that outside the courtroom, with his legal pads of notes, he just talks and talks,” he continued. “But then if you ask him to walk just a few feet inside the courtroom and to swear to tell the truth under penalty of law, suddenly he’s afraid to speak? I mean, what’s the difference? Is it the fluorescent lighting? I mean, I hate to even come to this conclusion, but … is it possible that Donald Trump is full of shit?”

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Why is Rishi Sunak calling a general election now and what happens next? | General election 2024

When will the general election take place?

Rishi Sunak has called a UK general election for 4 July – a Thursday as is traditional. This is just inside the second half of the year, as he promised. However, the timing is not ideal for voters in some parts of the country, including Scotland and Northern Ireland, where school holidays will have already started and many people may be away.

Why is he calling it now?

The prime minister has been saying for some weeks that there was evidence that the economy was improving. In his speech outside No 10, Sunak said the government had “reached two major milestones” of reducing inflation and growing the economy faster than other G7 countries.

However, the opposition is likely to argue he is calling one now because the economy is stalling, and things are unlikely to look better for the Conservatives in the autumn – with small boat crossings expected to continue despite any deportation flights taking off to Rwanda, and very limited room for tax cuts.

What happens next?

Rishi Sunak has been granted permission from the king for the dissolution of parliament. The ability to call elections returned to royal prerogative after the period from 2011 to 2022 when MPs could vote on calling an early election outside a fixed five-year parliamentary term.

What happens to parliament?

There are usually several days after an election is called and parliament is dissolved, or prorogued before dissolution. Sunak said parliament would end on 30 May. Any last bits of legislation will have to be passed in the coming days, with bills that do not make it being abandoned as they cannot be carried over.

What happens to MPs?

After parliament is dissolved, MPs will return to their constituencies to begin campaigning: they will no longer be MPs but parliamentary candidates. However, government ministers still hold their posts and responsibilities. Government activity is restricted, though, during the campaign, so that public money is not spent on political purposes.

How long will the campaign be?

For the next six or so Sunak, Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, Richard Tice, the Reform leader, Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay, the Green party leaders, and others will tour the UK to make their case to be the UK’s next prime minister. They are likely to hold political rallies, climb aboard battlebuses, and give dozens of stump speeches.

When will the manifestos be launched?

The parties tend to publish their document setting out their policies about three to four weeks before polling day, to ensure they are fresh in voters’ minds.

Will there be TV debates?

Sunak and Starmer are expected to go head to head but they are likely to want to squeeze out the smaller parties and make it a two-way contest. In previous years, the Tories and Labour have sent deputies in their place when other parties are involved.

What happens on polling day?

The polls open at 7am and close at 10pm. At the close an exit poll is published, which tends to correctly predict the result. The results from each constituency start to emerge throughout the night. By morning, it is usually clear who the winner is, with the prime minister either resigning or staying in office.

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