The inaccessible and abandoned islands of New York – in pictures | Art and design

Photographer Phillip Buehler, who captured the death of the American mall in a 2022 photo series, has a new exhibition of pictures from the last 50 years that trace the often forgotten history of the islands surrounding Manhattan. No Man Is an Island: Poetry in the Ruins of the New York Archipelago is now on show until 23 June at the Front Room Gallery in New York.

  • Words and photographs by Phillip Buehler
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North Yorkshire town has UK’s highest concentration of ‘forever chemicals’ | PFAS

A small North Yorkshire town has been found to have the highest concentration of “forever chemicals” in the UK, it can be revealed.

The market town of Bentham, which is home to 3,000 people and set on the banks of the River Wenning, is also home to the Angus International Safety Group – locally known as Angus Fire – which, since the 1970s, has been producing firefighting foams containing PFAS at a factory near the town centre.

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and commonly known as forever chemicals owing to their persistence in the environment, are a family of about 10,000 chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of serious illnesses, including certain cancers. They are used in a huge range of consumer products, from frying pans to waterproof coats, but one of their most prolific uses is in firefighting foams.

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Angus Fire

The firm has not breached any rules in terms of the PFAS it has produced or tested at its Bentham site, and it stopped testing PFAS foams there in 2022 as the industry prepares for the banning of PFAS foams containing the known carcinogen PFOA in 2025.

However, data obtained by the Ends Report under a series of freedom of information requests and shared with the Guardian, has revealed for the first time that the highest known levels of PFAS contamination in the UK have been recorded in the groundwater on the firm’s Bentham site. Among these chemicals are PFOA and PFOS – forever chemicals with known human health impacts.

Angus Fire has also repeatedly breached its environmental permits, with one permit breached 20 times in the past 10 years. Last year, the firm was warned by the Environment Agency that its permit could be suspended after the regulator found unpermitted discharges of PFAS to the environment in Bentham.

Under its permit, the firm is required to test the soil and groundwater on the site. The results of this testing, obtained by the Ends Report, show that in 2008 the groundwater samples recorded a PFAS sum of 1,199,000 ng/l.

Dr Patrick Byrne, a reader in hydrology and environmental pollution at Liverpool John Moores University, said these were the “highest concentrations of total PFAS that I have ever come across in any environment in England”.

Byrne said it was “particularly concerning” that these samples were from groundwater, rather than raw effluent coming directly from the foam production.

Within this total sum of PFAS was 18,100 ng/l of PFOA and 36,100 ng/l of PFOS. PFOA is categorised as a class one carcinogen, and both substances are now banned.

To put these numbers in context, the government’s environmental quality standard for PFOS – which is intended to protect waters from the harmful effects of contaminants – is 0.65 ng/l – 55,538 times lower than that recorded on the Angus Fire site.

In 2010, groundwater sampling recorded 47,200 ng/l of total PFAS, and 63,400 ng/l was recorded in 2018.

On a separate occasion in 2018, two soil samples were found to have PFOS concentrations of 359,000 ng/kg and 124,000 ng/kg. Samples taken elsewhere for comparison had a PFOS concentration of 300 ng/kg.

These samples were all taken from near Angus Fire’s wastewater lagoons, which until 2020 received contaminated runoff from the PFAS firefighting testing.

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The lagoons are located just off a residential street, metres away from a row of terrace houses.

Residents said foams from the test site used to make their way on to this street. One woman, who lived on it from 1997 to 2016, said her children used to play in the foam.

As the public has become increasingly aware of the danger posed by PFAS chemicals, pressure has mounted on local and public authorities to take action to minimise any harm posed to people.

Water companies test for PFAS in public drinking supplies, but private water supplies are not governed in the same way, with local authorities in charge of regulating them.

In response to concerns raised by a member of the public about drinking water contamination in Lancaster, separate documents obtained for this investigation have revealed that in March last year, Lancaster city council, which neighbours North Yorkshire council, where Bentham is located, launched a “district-wide assessment” of all private drinking water supplies within its remit.

The council said it subsequently took water samples from two private supplies at residences in Tatham, Lancaster, but “did not find any PFAS at these locations”.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are currently reviewing Angus Fire’s environmental permit in relation to PFAS. We will continue to assess any risks associated with the historic presence of these chemicals, including potential contamination.”

An Angus Fire spokesperson said: “We no longer manufacture or test any PFAS-containing foam products at Bentham, or anywhere else in the world. The business is focused on developing environmentally-friendly products, including JetFoam, the world’s first ever fluorine-free firefighting foam capable of extinguishing aviation fuels.

“We have played a significant role in our local community in North Yorkshire for 100 years, and it’s hugely important for us to maintain our positive relationships with the people of Bentham, and to play a responsible role in village life. As Bentham’s biggest employer, we actively address all concerns related to local environmental impact and compliance. We are committed to continuous improvement in our operations, transparency, and working collaboratively with regulatory bodies to protect public health and the environment.”

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UK’s Environment Agency chief admits regulator buries freedom of information requests | Environment Agency

The head of the Environment Agency has admitted that freedom of information requests have been buried by the regulator because the truth about the environment in England is “embarrassing”.

Philip Duffy, the body’s chief executive, told an audience at the UK River Summit in Morden, south London, this week that his officials were “worried about revealing the true state of what is going on” with regards to the state of the environment.

The regulator holds information including about pollution, the state of England’s waterways, the meetings its bosses have with water company CEOs, and other data about the state of nature in the country.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, which oversees the law on the Freedom of Information Act, has warned the regulator that the public have a right to have their requests answered and that transparency should be taken seriously.

An ICO spokesperson said: “People have the legal right to promptly receive information they’re entitled to and we take action when they don’t. We’ve been clear that public sector leaders should take transparency seriously and see the benefits it brings, including scrutiny of processes and approaches that can then benefit from improvement.”

Under the act, public bodies legally have to answer information requests, and disclosure of information should be the default – in other words, information should be kept private only when there is a good reason, which is permitted by the act.

Duffy said: “I see these letters and these FOI requests and I’ve got great volumes of them, and I see local officers going through quite a contorted processes to not to answer when they know, often, the answer but it’s embarrassing.

“They do it because they are frightened. They are worried about revealing the true state of what’s going on, they’re worried about reaction from NGOs and others, and possibly from the government, about the facts of the situation. And they’re often working at a local level but in a very nationally charged political environment, which is very difficult for them.”

Duffy suggested nature charities were asking questions in a manner that made it harder for Environment Agency staff to respond: “I think the first step there is to understand how hard that is for many of my staff, when they’re faced with often very expert NGOs who are asking very good questions – the right questions ultimately – but [it’s about] how they lower that tone a bit, and manage it.”

Under the FOI Act all requests have to be treated equally, whether they are made by a member of the public, an NGO or a journalist.

Last year, the Environment Agency was served with an enforcement notice by the ICO because of evidence seen by the commissioner about its performance in relation to its statutory duties under the FOI Act.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Philip is completely committed to the highest standards of transparency, as he repeatedly stressed at the River Summit. He wants to make more EA data readily available, and we are already looking at how this can be achieved. He was referring to the concern that some staff working on water feel due to the current tone of the debate, which is often not constructive. This does not impact the process of releasing the information.”

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Ukraine war briefing: US-supplied glide bombs struggle against Russian jamming | Ukraine

  • Russian jamming has kept many of Ukraine’s relatively new long-range GLSDB bombs from hitting their intended targets, three people familiar with the problem have told Reuters. The Boeing and Saab-made ground-launched small diameter bomb has a 161km range. It launches with a rocket motor and then wings pop out to extend its range. But its guidance system has been targeted by Russian jamming that its makers are struggling to counteract.

  • South Korea and Japan on Friday announced sanctions on individuals, organisations and ships over the weapons trade between North Korea to Russia. The South Korean foreign ministry said ships were transporting military supplies from North Korea to Russia in a clear violation of UN security council resolutions. The US and South Korea have accused North Korea of transferring weapons to Russia to use against Ukraine. Both regimes have denied it, but UN investigators have told the security council that debris from North Korean bombs has been found in Ukraine.

  • Ukraine’s first group of F-16 pilots have finished their training in the US, according to Politico. The pilots would head to Europe for further training, Politico reported, citing operational security for the lack of further details. European allies of Ukraine have pledged dozens of the fighter jets.

  • Russian missiles killed at least seven civilians in Kharkiv on Thursday, officials said. At least 20 people were wounded as S-300 missiles struck, said the regional governor, Oleh Syniehubov. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called the attack “extremely cruel” and expressed renewed frustration at not getting enough air defence systems from western allies.

  • Russian missiles struck the town centre in Liubotyn, about 10km (6 miles) west of the city of Kharkiv, wounding eight civilians. In Derhachi, another nearby town, 13 people were wounded in another aerial strike, authorities said.

  • Russian troops have made incursions in the northern Sumy region where nearly 1,500 people, including 200 children, have been evacuated from the towns of Bilopillia and Vorozhba, according to the regional governor, Volodymyr Artiukh.

  • In the US, the House foreign affairs chairman, Michael McCaul, has told Joe Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, during a congressional hearing that the Biden administration needs to lift the ban on Ukraine’s military firing US-supplied weapons across the border into Russia, from where attacks on Ukraine are launched. “They cannot achieve victory with the restrictions you placed on them,” McCaul said.

  • The Texas congressman displayed a map of Russian artillery, rockets and missiles lining the Russian side of the border in a “sanctuary zone” that Ukraine is not allowed to hit with American heavy weaponry in self-defence. Blinken replied that the administration was not “enabling or endorsing attacks outside Ukraine … but Ukraine will have to make, and will make, its own decisions and I want to make sure it gets the equipment it needs to effectively defend itself”.

  • The head of the Russia-annexed Crimea peninsula said a Ukrainian missile attack killed two people near Simferopol, the main administrative centre. Ukrainian military bloggers and unofficial media reported a number of targets were hit throughout the peninsula. News outlet RBK-Ukraine reported, without citing a source, that targets could have included headquarters for the coastguard or intelligence centres. The Guardian has not been able to independently verify these reports.

  • Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday that Ukrainian rockets and drones attacked the Belgorod region. The regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said a woman was killed.

  • Poland and Greece have called for the EU to create an “air defence shield” against Russia. “Europe will be safe as long as the skies over it are safe,” Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, and his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, wrote in a letter to the EU chief, Ursula Von der Leyen, calling for “a comprehensive air defence system to protect our common EU airspace against all incoming threats”.

  • Russian authorities have arrested a general and high-ranking defence official, Vadim Shamarin, deputy head of Russia’s general staff, on corruption and “abuse of power” charges. The Kremlin denied it was carrying out a purge of top army officials, but some of Russia’s influential military bloggers welcomed the arrest of a general they hold responsible for battlefield failures in the two-year offensive in Ukraine. Critics and opposition figures have for years said Russia’s military is riddled with corruption, although when things are going well on the battlefield, military leaders rarely face any serious probe or retribution.

  • Ivan Popov, an ex-commander who was sacked after he criticised Russia’s military leaders for a high casualty rate in Ukraine, was arrested this week. US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War said: “The Kremlin is likely using the pattern of recent arrests of high-ranking officials on corruption charges in the Russian MoD to conceal the real reasons for Popov’s punishment almost 10 months after his conflict with the Russian military command and subsequent dismissal from his command position.”

  • Russia’s investigative committee also recently announced the arrest of Vladimir Verteletsky, a defence ministry official; a deputy defence minister, Timur Ivanov; and the head of the ministry’s personnel, Yuri Kuznetsov.

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    All We Imagine As Light review – dreamlike and gentle modern Mumbai tale is a triumph | Film

    There is a freshness and emotional clarity in Payal Kapadia’s Cannes competition selection, an enriching humanity and gentleness which coexist with fervent, languorous eroticism and finally something epiphanic in the later scenes and mysterious final moments. Kapadia’s storytelling has something of Satyajit Ray’s The Big City and Days and Nights of the Forest; it is so fluent and absorbing.

    All We Imagine As Light is the story of three nurses in modern-day Mumbai: Prabha (Kani Kusruti), Anu (Divya Prabha) and Parvaty (Chhaya Kadam). Each has come to the big city from smaller home towns. Prabha and the younger, flightier Anu are roommates and Anu (having only just moved in) is already asking the more sober and sensible Prabha to cover her share of the rent. She is also causing some scandal among the more gossipy elements of the hospital on account of her Muslim boyfriend, Shiaz (Hridu Haroon). Meanwhile, the older Parvaty, a widow, is being threatened with eviction because a property developer has bought her apartment building and her late husband did not leave her the documentation that would prove her resident’s right to remain, or at least to get compensation.

    The action of the drama is triggered when Prabha receives through the post a brand-new rice cooker, which the saucer-eyed Anu establishes has been manufactured in Germany. Both women realise it must have been sent by Prabha’s absentee husband, who went to Germany almost immediately after their wedding and then stopped getting in touch. Is her husband now reviving their relationship, or is he, as Prabha clearly suspects, now definitively ending it with this insulting payoff gift? Meanwhile, a doctor is showing a romantic interest in Prabha and doesn’t care that she is married. Should she cut her losses with the past and allow this new man to love her? Anu herself has to decide how committed she can be to Shiaz; a recent assignation in his parents’ house, for which she bought a burqa as a disguise, had to be called off at the last moment when they returned unexpectedly.

    A mood of romantic and emotional insecurity hangs over these women’s lives, made more nerve-janglingly unhappy and soap-operatic for unfolding in the big city where there are so many people but you are effectively alone. It is partly to escape Mumbai that Prabha and Anu agree to accompany Parvaty when she quits her job at the hospital and goes back to her home village on the coast. The other two help with the luggage, although Anu has reasons of her own for going on a pretext to this discreetly remote place.

    Away from the city, with all its rational, commercial worries, Prabha finds relief, and, when her professional skills are called upon in a crisis, she has a kind of revelation. It is partly a hallucinatory revelation, showing her what it means to have been separated from her husband for so long and also from her own happiness and future. But it also can be seen as a kind of fable, a literal miracle, which gives Prabha an insight into what her husband’s existence (and by implication her own) has actually been like all these years, and the nature of the darkness in which they have had to live. It is both dreamlike and like waking up from a dream. This is a glorious film.

    All We Imagine As Light screened at the Cannes film festival.

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    London-born boy who died aged 15 to become first millennial saint | Catholicism

    A London-born teenager who died of leukaemia aged 15 is to become the Catholic church’s first millennial saint.

    Carlo Acutis was a computer prodigy who helped to spread Roman Catholic teaching online before his death in 2006. On Thursday, Pope Francis decreed that a second posthumous miracle has been attributed to Acutis, qualifying the teenager for canonisation.

    Acutis was born in London in 1991 before moving to Milan with his Italian parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, as a child.

    Out of 912 people canonised by Pope Francis, the most recent birth date was previously 1926.

    Salzano previously told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that from the age of three her son would ask to visit churches they passed in Milan and would donate his pocket money to poor people in the city.

    He said Acutis would also offer to support classmates whose parents were going through divorces, would defend disabled peers when they were bullied and would take meals and sleeping bags to rough sleepers in Milan.

    Acutis taught himself to code while still at primary school, before using his skills to create websites for Catholic organisations, as well as one that documented miracles around the world.

    Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi said: “The Church in Assisi is in celebration. I plan to arrive in Assisi this evening to thank the Lord in a Eucharistic celebration. But as of now I join the faithful who are in the shrine for a prayer of praise.”

    In Catholicism people can pray to deceased people who they believe to be in heaven to request they speak to God on their behalf, such as asking for a person to recover from an illness or injury.

    If the person in question then appears to undergo an unexpected recovery it can be classed as a miracle by the Vatican. If two miracles are attributed to a deceased person and approved by the pope, then they qualify for sainthood.

    Acutis was put on the path towards sainthood after Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to him: a seven-year-old boy from Brazil recovered from a rare pancreatic disorder after coming into contact with one of Acutis’s T-shirts. A priest had also prayed to Acutis on behalf of the child.

    The Catholic church’s dedicated unit for looking into the validity of miracles, called the Medical Council of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, have now investigated claims that a Costa Rican woman enjoyed a miraculous recovery after a bicycle accident in Florence in 2022.

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    Valeria Valverde, 21, underwent an emergency craniotomy to reduce pressure on her brain and her family was told she was in a critical condition, it was reported.

    Her mother went to pray for her daughter’s recovery at the tomb of Acutis in the Umbrian town of Assisi six days later.

    The church said that on the same day, Valverde began to breathe without a ventilator and recovered the use of her upper limbs and her speech.

    She was discharged from intensive care 10 days later and scans showed that the contusion on her brain had disappeared, according to reports.

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    Building collapses at Mallorca beach killing at least four and injuring 27 | Spain

    At least four people have been killed and 27 injured after a building collapsed on a beachfront in Mallorca, emergency services said on Thursday.

    The two-storey building, the Medusa Beach Club, collapsed in Palma de Mallorca, according to reports.

    Several people are believed to be trapped after the incident, which happened at about 20.30 local time (19.30 BST).

    A spokesperson for a regional emergency response coordination centre said: “We have activated an emergency response as a result of the collapse of the ceiling of a two-storey building in Avenida Cartago in Playa de Palma, where people are trapped. Firefighters and local police are at the scene.”

    Local emergency services said psychologists have also been called to the scene.

    Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said he was monitoring the situation closely and his government would be ready to deploy “all the means and personnel that are necessary” to help emergency services at the scene.

    Marga Prohens, the president of the Balearic Islands, said she was shocked to hear of the building collapse.

    “All my affection and warmth to the families of the four people who lost their lives in this tragic incident and wishing the recovery of all the injured,” Prohens wrote on X.

    There has not been any information disclosed on whether the deceased or injured are restaurant workers or holidaymakers.

    The exact cause of the structural failure is currently unknown and is under investigation.

    The local mayor, Jaime Martínez, and deputy mayor, Javier Bonet, have arrived at the scene to coordinate rescue efforts and provide support to the affected families, the TSC website reported.

    Authorities are urging anyone with information related to the incident to come forward and assist in the investigation.

    Palma de Mallorca is a popular tourist resort and is the capital of the western Mediterranean island.

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    Louisiana expected to classify abortion pills as controlled and dangerous substances | Abortion

    Two abortion-inducing drugs could soon be reclassified as controlled and dangerous substances in Louisiana under a first-of-its-kind bill that received final legislative passage on Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by the governor.

    Supporters of the reclassification of mifepristone and misoprostol, commonly known as “abortion pills”, say it would protect expectant mothers from coerced abortions. Numerous doctors, meanwhile, have said it will make it harder for them to prescribe the medicines they use for other important reproductive healthcare needs, and could delay treatment.

    Louisiana currently has a near-total abortion ban in place, applying both to surgical and medical abortions. The GOP-dominated legislature’s push to reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol could possibly open the door for other Republican states with abortion bans that are seeking tighter restrictions on the drugs.

    Current Louisiana law already requires a prescription for both drugs and makes it a crime to use them to induce an abortion in most cases. The bill would make it harder to obtain the pills by placing them on the list of Schedule IV drugs under the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law.

    The classification would require doctors to have a specific license to prescribe the drugs, which would be stored in certain facilities that in some cases could end up being located far from rural clinics. Knowingly possessing the drugs without a valid prescription would carry a punishment including hefty fines and jail time.

    Supporters say people would be prevented from unlawfully using the pills, though language in the bill appears to carve out protections for pregnant people who obtain the drug without a prescription for their own consumption.

    More than 200 doctors in the state signed a letter to lawmakers warning that it could produce a “barrier to physicians’ ease of prescribing appropriate treatment” and cause unnecessary fear and confusion among both patients and doctors. The physicians warn that any delay to obtaining the drugs could lead to worsening outcomes in a state that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

    In addition to inducing abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol have other common uses, such as treating miscarriages, inducing labor and stopping hemorrhaging.

    Mifepristone was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2000 after federal regulators deemed it safe and effective for ending early pregnancies. It’s used in combination with misoprostol, which the FDA has separately approved to treat stomach ulcers.

    The drugs are not classified as controlled substances by the federal government because regulators do not view them as carrying a significant risk of misuse. The federal Controlled Substances Act restricts the use and distribution of prescription medications such as opioids, amphetamines, sleeping aids and other drugs that carry the risk of addiction and overdose.

    Abortion opponents and conservative Republicans both inside and outside the state have applauded the Louisiana bill. Conversely, the move has been strongly criticized by Democrats, including the vice-president, Kamala Harris, who in a social media post described it as “absolutely unconscionable”.

    Meanwhile, Louisiana’s Democratic party chairman Randal Gaines released a statement on Wednesday in which he called the bill “yet another example of [House Republicans’] pursuit to take away reproductive freedoms for women in Louisiana.

    “Thanks to Donald Trump, who proudly claims credit for ripping away women’s freedoms, women in Louisiana live in constant fear of losing even more rights … [this] action is a harrowing preview of how much worse things could get under governor Landry and the extreme GOP leadership,” he added.

    Now that Louisiana House Republicans have passed SB 276, legislation to criminalize possession of abortion medication, Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Randal Gaines today issued the following statement: pic.twitter.com/2toJZRVMbj

    — Louisiana Democrats (@LaDemos) May 22, 2024

    The US supreme court heard arguments in March on behalf of doctors who oppose abortion and want to restrict access to mifepristone. The justices did not appear ready to limit access to the drug, however.

    The Louisiana legislation now heads to the desk of conservative Republican governor Jeff Landry. The governor, who was backed by former president Donald Trump during last year’s gubernatorial election, has indicated his support for the measure, remarking in a recent post on X: “You know you’re doing something right when @KamalaHarris criticizes you.”

    Landry’s office did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

    A recent survey found that thousands of women in states with abortion bans or restrictions are receiving abortion pills in the mail from states that have laws protecting prescribers. The survey did not specify how many of those cases were in Louisiana.

    Louisiana’s near-total abortion ban applies both to medical and surgical abortions. The only exceptions to the ban are when there is substantial risk of death or impairment to the pregnant person if they continue the pregnancy or in the case of “medically futile” pregnancies, when the fetus has a fatal abnormality.

    In 2022, a Louisiana woman carrying an unviable, skull-less fetus was forced to travel 1,400 miles to New York for an abortion after her local hospital denied her the procedure. “Basically … I [would have] to carry my baby to bury my baby,” the woman, Nancy David, said at the time.

    Currently, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions.

    According to a study released in March, in the six months following the overturn of Roe v Wade, approximately 26,000 more Americans used abortion pills to induce at-home abortions than would have done had the supreme court not overturned the federal law in 2022.

    In 2023, medication abortions involving mifepristone, as well as misoprostol, accounted for more than 60% of all abortions across the US healthcare system, marking a 53% increase since 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

    The medication abortion counts do not include self-managed medication abortions carried out outside healthcare systems or abortion medication mailed to people in states with total abortion bans.

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    ‘I’m the king and I will destroy you!’: Argentinian president stages frenetic stadium appearance | Javier Milei

    Argentinians call him “the Madman”. This week he declared himself their monarch.

    “I’m the king of a lost world! I’m the king and I will destroy you!” Javier Milei bellowed into the microphone on Wednesday night as Argentina’s showman president took to the stage for his first stadium gig since his election last year.

    The concert, at a famed 8,000-capacity arena in Buenos Aires called Luna Park, drew hordes of adoring rightwing fans – the majority young men – who had come to see their rock-loving libertarian leader up close and wearing a knee-length leather jacket.

    “I did this because I wanted to sing,” proclaimed Milei, 53, who as a teenager was the frontman in a Rolling Stones cover band called Everest and is also said to be a fan of the opera composer Giuseppe Verdi.

    Loyalists lapped up Milei’s decision to perform on a stage previously graced by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Duran Duran, Liza Minnelli and a-ha – and where the football legend Diego Maradona memorably threw a lavish wedding reception in 1989.

    Sergio Gómez, an owner of a transport business who flew more than 700 miles to witness Milei’s “fiesta of freedom”, admitted the president’s radical economic policies had, without exception, “been directly detrimental to my personal activity”.

    “He has removed all the subsidies from public passenger transportation, prices have gone up and that has affected the people directly,” Gómez said. “But I am convinced we must finish the economic cleanup – we can’t keep living a lie,” he added, echoing the frustrations of the more than 14 million voters who brought Milei to power.

    Ana Eugenia Clemente, a 33-year-old Venezuelan actor, clutched Milei’s new book as she exalted Argentina’s entertainer-in-chief. “I feel a deep hatred for the evil left that damaged my country and feel Milei is a person who has come to save not only Argentina, but the world,” she enthused.

    Argentina’s opposition was less impressed, calling the jam session an attempt to distract from domestic woes exacerbated by Milei’s austerity drive and reforms that the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has described as “Thatcherism on steroids”.

    “With his show at Luna Park, Milei is covering up an enormous economic and social crisis, which his economic administration only aggravated,” said Itai Hagman, a lawmaker for the centre-left coalition Frente de Todos. “[There is] no prospect of short- or medium-term improvement; the idea of a quick recovery or a foreign investment boom is only in the mind of the president.”

    Javier Milei at his Luna Park rally. Photograph: Agustín Marcarian/Reuters

    The newspaper La Nación said Milei’s “utterly flamboyant event” had been unlike anything Argentina had witnessed before “above all in times of crisis and [economic] adjustment”.

    “It was a two-hour-long pagan mass celebrated by a president in ecstasy,” the newspaper said of the show, which was designed to promote Milei’s latest book, Capitalism, Socialism and the Neoclassical Trap.

    The rock concert – at which the president’s specially assembled band played tracks by the Argentinian hard rock band La Renga – will help cement Milei’s growing international reputation as what Time magazine this week called “the world’s most eccentric head of state”. It will also bolster his position as a leading member of the global hard right, alongside Donald Trump, the former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán. Playing on the drums alongside Argentina’s president was Bertie Benegas Lynch, a pro-Milei congressman whose T-shirt featured the yellow Gadsden rattlesnake – a symbol of Milei’s movement and the US far right – and the message: “Don’t tread on me!”

    During the show, Milei railed against the “damned communists” he blames for Argentina’s economic malaise and the “enemies who are trying to overturn this government because they want socialism and misery to continue” as well as the “murderous” pro-choice movement. “I eat the elites for breakfast!” Milei sang, slightly altering the lyrics of the La Renga track Panic Show.

    But critics say the distinctly un-presidential performance will do little to fix issues such as growing poverty and unemployment and one of the world’s highest inflation rates. Argentina is now suffering its most severe economic crisis in two decades – a situation Milei vowed to address after his election last November. But six months after he took office, three in five citizens are living in poverty and annual inflation has surged to almost 300% – ahead of Syria, Lebanon and Venezuela, although monthly inflation has slowed somewhat in recent months.

    Hours before Milei picked up the mic, the government’s statistics bureau announced that economic activity had fallen by a whopping 8.4% in March compared with the previous year. The informal dollar exchange rate, known as the “blue dollar”, hit an all-time high of 1,280 pesos. Last week, protests broke out in the northern province of Misiones as police officers and schoolteachers demanded pay raises to help them deal with rising inflation.

    Gustavo Córdoba, the director of the Zuban Córdoba political communication consultancy, said Milei’s “self-celebratory, tribal” show was an attempt to fire up his base at a time when many Argentinians were unconvinced by the president’s economic “revolution”.

    “The government … needs favorable economic results urgently,” Córdoba said. In the absence of those, “what it does is entertain”.

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    Norway sued over deep-sea mining plans | Deep-sea mining

    One of the world’s biggest environmental groups is suing the Norwegian government for opening up its seabed for deep-sea mining, claiming that Norway has failed to properly investigate the consequences of this move.

    WWF-Norway says the government’s decision has breached Norwegian law, goes against the counsel of its own advisers, and sets a “dangerous precedent”.

    “We believe the government is violating Norwegian law by now opening up for a new and potentially destructive industry without adequately assessing the consequences,” said Karoline Andaur, the CEO of WWF-Norway. “It will set a dangerous precedent if we allow the government to ignore its own rules, override all environmental advice, and manage our common natural resources blindly.”

    In January, Norway became the first country in the world to give the go-ahead to commercial deep-sea mining after parliamentary approval. This was despite warnings from scientists of “catastrophic” consequences for marine life, and growing opposition from the EU and the UK, which support a temporary ban on environmental grounds.

    The proposal, which relates to Norwegian waters in the sensitive Arctic region, will expose an area of 280,000 sq km – larger than Britain. Mining the deep sea involves the extraction of metals and minerals from the seabed and is being pursued because of their use in the transition to green energy, particularly electric car batteries.

    WWF-Norway said that the assessment by the Norwegian energy ministry, which underpins the government’s decision to go ahead with deep-sea mining, fails to meet the minimum requirements of the Seabed Minerals Act and has no legal basis.

    The Norwegian Environment Agency, which advises the government, has also said the impact assessment does not provide a sufficient scientific or legal basis for deep-sea mining.

    Commenting on the lawsuit, Astrid Bergmål, the secretary of state at the Ministry of Energy, said: “We believe that a thorough process has been carried out with broad involvement, and that the applicable requirements have been followed. I note that WWF wants to try the case in court, and they have the right to do so. At this time, we have no further comment on the lawsuit.”

    Last year, a Norwegian study said it had found a “substantial” amount of metals and minerals on its seabed.

    In February, the European parliament expressed concern over Norway’s decision to open areas of the Arctic for deep-sea mining and called on member states to support a moratorium, including at the International Seabed Authority. The authority is expected to meet later this year, to ratify rules on mining in international waters.

    So far, 25 countries, including France, Germany, Spain, Palau, Mexico and Sweden, have asked for a pause, moratorium or ban on mineral extraction of the seabed.

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