‘Our green is brown’: the eco-friendly Saleh golf club avoiding the water hazard | Access to water

On the outskirts of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, there is an unusual golf club with no greenery.

Golf Club Naba Gninbolbo was constructed and conceived in 1975 by the village chief (better known as the “naaba” in the More language) of Balkuy along with a German friend. The two decided to convert farmland into a golf course, which started with nine holes and later expanded to 18.

“Our green is brown,” says Abdoul Tapsoba, who is the son of the founder and director of the club. Tapsoba is proud that the course is approved by the French golf federation.

Cows, sheep, and goats wander through the golf course and during the rainy season, they are responsible for eating the grass. Photograph: Ouagadougou golf club

“We use between 200 and 300 litres of water a day to keep the club running smoothly,” says Salif Samaké, the president of the Burkinabé golf federation. “Burkina is a Sahelian country, water is a scarce commodity, we cannot afford a club with grass. We want to play golf, but in our reality.”

Golf courses are famously incredibly hungry for water. In 2013, for example, a review of US golf courses found that they were using 1.44% of all America’s irrigation water. They also have a reputation for heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, in order to keep those greens weed- and insect-free.

And in recent years many have called attention to the problem around their land use, including the argument that their footprint per player is higher than any other sport, which seems concerning when land, particularly in urban settings, is at such a premium.

The greens at US courses such as Augusta, where the Masters is played, require millions of litres of water every day. Photograph: Matt Slocum/AP

In 2016, the architect Russell Curtis calculated there was enough space on London’s publicly owned golf courses to house 300,000 people. He also looked at the discrepancy in user numbers of these green spaces and worked out that an 18-hole course could accommodate 72 players at any one time, allowing a maximum of 216 players on a typical summer’s day. On that basis, if the 166 hectares (410 acres) of Regent’s Park were to become a golf course, it could be used by 314 people a day; the park averaged almost 22,000 a day in 2014, according to the Royal Parks.

In the past decade and a half, the industry has made more noise about its environmental impact, with courses announcing plans to become eco-friendly, to the extent that Golf World now publishes an annual Green 100, highlighting the greenest courses in Europe. The scale of the initiatives varies, from courses that make their own bread or have moved over to LED lights, to courses that have sheep maintain the grass, or have invested in solar panels or created large water and wild areas.

But Naba Gninbolbo has found its own way. In Burkina Faso only 47% of the population has access to clean drinking water close to home, according to the NGO WaterAid West Africa. There is rain, about 700mm to 800mm of rain a year, but the infrastructure for storage is poor, which means that women and children spend part of their day going to the nearest well to fill 20-litre water cans and then returning home with about 200 litres thanks to the pousse-pousse, a metal structure with two wheels.

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The greens at the golf course are not lawns, but are made instead from a mixture of sand and used motor oil, which prevents the sand from being blown away by the wind, making it more compact. The wildlife is all welcome. Cows, sheep and goats wander through the course as if it is their home, and during the rainy season (from June to September), they are responsible for eating the grass. They belong to a small fula village (an ethnic group historically known for their nomadic lifestyle and close relationship with cattle) that has become integrated into the golf club circuit.

‘We play with the earth, the dust, with the nature we have,’ says Salif Samaké. Photograph: Ouagadougou golf club

The club has about 60 players, most of them Burkinabé, but it also employs a large number of local young people as caddies, such as Gilbert Kaboré, also born in Balkuy, who began caddying when he was six. “I came with my older brothers, I saw them play and work, I ran ahead of the patron to fetch the balls that went into the woods,” he says. Now he teaches foreigners living in Ouagadougou and beginners to make their first moves in this sport, which Kaboré learned by observing.

“The club is situated on a hill, we have views of the city and coexist with the animals that sleep on the greens at night,” says Samaké, adding: “We play with the earth, the dust, with the nature we have, we haven’t cut down a single tree.”

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At least 1,000 Damien Hirst artworks were painted years later than claimed | Damien Hirst

At least 1,000 paintings that the artist Damien Hirst said were “made in 2016” were created several years later, the Guardian can reveal.

Hirst produced 10,000 of the paintings, each comprising colourful hand-painted dots on A4 paper, as part of a project called The Currency that was born from the idea of creating a form of money from art.

The year 2016 was inscribed on the works beside the artist’s signature. Hirst and the authorised seller of the paintings repeatedly said the physical works were created in 2016.

When they went on sale in 2021, in a high-profile event at which buyers were given the option of acquiring a permanent digital record of the paintings in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), Hirst said it was “the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far”.

The initial sale brought in about $18m. At the time, Hirst said of the project: “It comprises of 10,000 NFTs, each corresponding to a unique physical artwork made in 2016.”

The paintings were sold via a single authorised seller, Heni, run by Hirst’s business manager. It said at the time that the works were “created by hand in 2016”.

Gallery staff at the preview showing of The Currency collection. Photograph: Stephen Chung/Alamy

However, five sources familiar with the creation of the works, including some of the painters who put the dots to paper, told the Guardian many of them were mass-produced in 2018 and 2019.

Their accounts suggest at least 1,000 – and possibly several thousand – paintings in The Currency series were made during the two-year period. They were produced by dozens of painters hired at Hirst’s company Science Ltd at two studios, in Gloucestershire and London, in what one source described as a “Henry Ford production line”.

Each painting was marked with a microdot, an embossed stamp of authenticity and a pencil-written title, date and signature on the back. Dates attributed to artworks are widely understood to refer to the year they were completed.

Contacted for comment, lawyers for Hirst and Science did not dispute that at least 1,000 of the paintings the artist said were dated 2016 were painted several years later. They did not respond to questions about why Hirst had explicitly said the physical artworks had been “made in 2016”.

However, they denied Hirst had been deliberately misleading, arguing that it was his “usual practice” to date physical works in a conceptual art project with the date of the project’s conception, which in the case of The Currency was 2016.

A painting with the year 2016 on the back. A hologram watermark is also visible and part of the artist’s signature. Photograph: Guy Bell/Alamy

Hirst and Science used a similar argument in March, after the Guardian revealed that several well-known formaldehyde sculptures made by pickling animals were dated by his company to the 1990s, even though they were made in 2017.

At that time, Hirst’s lawyers said he sometimes used different approaches when dating works, adding: “Artists are perfectly entitled to be (and often are) inconsistent in their dating of works.”

Several of the backdated formaldehydes had been exhibited with 1990s dates in galleries in Hong Kong, New York, Munich, London and Oxford. One, a 4-metre (13ft) tiger shark, was sold to Las Vegas billionaires for about $8m.

The Currency paintings, in contrast, were intended for the mass market when they went on sale in 2021. Sold for $2,000 each, they gave ordinary buyers an opportunity to acquire a genuine Hirst artwork or an NFT equivalent.

‘What if I made these and treated it like money?’

According to sources familiar with the production of The Currency series, dozens of artists were hired to assist with the factory-style production of the paintings in 2018 and 2019. Some worked eight-hour days for several months, wearing cumbersome masks to protect from the paint fumes.

Their workstations were long tables, spread across Hirst’s studios, with scores of pages laid out along them. Every sheet of paper was adorned with a hologram, watermark of Hirst’s head and a microdot. Artists moved carefully around each painting, adding a colourful dot to each page in turn.

“It was very, very tedious,” one artist recalled. Another said: “There were loads of sheets on these tables, and they were quite low so you had to constantly bend down to do the spots. After a while some people were getting repetitive strain injuries.”

Lawyers for Hirst and Science said they always adhered to relevant health and safety rules and practices.

In the workshops, paintings were worked on throughout the week and left to dry over the weekend, sources said. Special drying racks were bought to speed up the process. The Guardian has seen footage, apparently filmed in or after 2019, in which hundreds of the artworks are laid out on tables as artists paint dots on to them, before they are stacked carefully on drying racks.

A staff member at the preview of ‘The Currency’ by Damien Hirst, a work comprising 10,000 similar but unique large banknote-style paintings which Hirst as imagined could be used as a form of handmade currency in either a digital (NFT, non-fungible token) or physical form. Photograph: Stephen Chung/Alamy

Hirst and Science did not respond when asked precisely how many of the 10,000 paintings were made after 2016.

It was difficult for the five sources, who witnessed the production process at different times in 2018 and 2019, to give an exact number of the total paintings produced in that period. However, their accounts suggest more than 1,000 were made then – the actual figure may have been several times larger.

Precisely why Hirst needed more paintings is unclear. One plausible explanation is that he needed to create 10,000 individual pieces to sustain a sale involving NFTs, which at the time were viewed as a potentially lucrative novelty in the art market.

Hirst conceived of The Currency paintings, which are reminiscent of his much larger spot paintings, in 2016. He has described starting with just a few hundred. “And then when I Iooked at them I thought they are kind of unique but they all look the same; they are handmade so they look like a print but they are not a print,” he said. “And then I thought, ‘What if I made these and then treated it like money?’”

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Joe Hage, the artist’s longtime manager and founder of the Heni sales platform, told Bloomberg it was not until two years later, in 2018, that Hirst became aware of NFTs. “And so, he started planning an NFT project,” Hage said.

NFTs, which allow artists to sell digital artworks using blockchain technology, at the time threatened to upend the art market. In the previous year there had been the launch of CryptoPunks, in which computer-generated images of cartoon character heads, linked to blockchain-enabled tokens, were sold to buyers. The collection included 10,000 different NFTs, which were trading for huge sums.

Andrea Baronchelli, a professor leading on cryptocurrenices and NFTs at the Alan Turing Institute in London, said after CryptoPunks the issuing of 10,000 artworks became a standard copied by other future art projects. Jon Sharples, an art and intellectual property lawyer at Howard Kennedy, agreed that 10,000 was at the time “the magic number for an NFT art project”.

A painting from The Currency series at Newport Street Gallery in south-east London. Photograph: Guy Bell/Alamy

In remarks in 2021, Hirst appeared to suggest 10,000 paintings was, for some reason, the optimal number for the project. After making a few hundred, he said, he realised he needed more. “I thought what if I made more than 500, what if I made, like, 1,000 or 5,000? So I made 5,000, and then we looked at it and we realised that 5,000 wasn’t enough, we have to make 10,000 in order to have enough to move around in that way.”

When all the works went on sale in July 2021, the sole vendor was Heni. It, too, repeatedly referred to the physical creation of all the paintings as 2016. “The physical artworks were created by hand in 2016 using enamel paint on handmade paper,” Heni promotional materials stated. “Each artwork is numbered, titled, stamped and signed by the artist on the back.”

Contacted for comment about those comments, Heni’s lawyers said: “All artistic decisions are made by the artist. Our client follows his approach and logic.” Heni’s law firm, Joseph Hage Aaronson, also represents Hirst and Science. Hage is a partner in the firm.

Responding to questions on behalf of Hirst and Science, its lawyers rejected any suggestion that the artist’s dating practices were commercially driven. They said Hirst considered it “right” that physical artworks in a conceptual project should be dated with the year of conception, “which is not necessarily the date when any particular object in the project was physically made”.

However, that was not the approach Hirst adopted with two of the 10,000 paintings, images of which are available online. When the Guardian examined all 10,000 images, it discovered that while 9,998 were dated 2016, there were, curiously, two exceptions: a painting entitled 4778. It’s so heavenly, dated 2018, and another called 1321. I kept going up, which was given a 2021 date.

Hirst’s lawyers said these two paintings were anomalies that had been “erroneously misdated following later changes of the naming and titling of the works”.

Hirst’s paintings go up in flames in ceremonial burning

By July 2021, Hirst had amassed enough of the A4 paintings to sustain what would turn into one of the most talked-about art events of the year.

The artist’s works, which can fetch millions, are viewed as the preserve of the global financial elite. The Currency sale allowed ordinary art enthusiasts the chance to acquire an authentic Hirst painting – or its NFT equivalent.

But buyers could not have both. In an unusual twist, the physical paintings would be destroyed if buyers opted for the digital version in the form of an NFT.

Hirst burning paintings from The Currency collection. The event was livestreamed in October 2022. Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/Alamy

In total, buyers chose to retain the physical versions of 5,149 paintings. Hirst kept 1,000 of the works, although he opted to retain the NFT versions. So too did the buyers of almost 4,000 A4 paintings who chose a blockchain-based token in the knowledge that its physical incarnation would be incinerated.

And so in October 2022, in one of the art spectacles of the year, Hirst and his team burned almost half The Currency paintings at his Newport Street Gallery in London.

Surrounded by cameras, he undertook a ceremonial destruction of some of the works. Holding up paintings for the cameras, he announced their titles before tossing them into a glass, wood-burning furnace. “I actually like it more than I thought I would,” he joked to an assistant.

It was a theatrical moment, provoking yet more debate about the Turner prize-winning artist and the questions he was asking about the nature of art. Yet at its core, The Currency project reaffirmed the authenticity of art. It was premised on the idea that unique pieces – whether in physical form or a blockchain token – were as immutable as money itself.

As Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, remarked in a video to promote Hirst’s project: “In the end, money is based on trust … and at the heart of this [art project] is also a sense of trust – trust in the underlying art.”

Thousands of buyers of The Currency works may now question whether they can trust the 2016 date inscribed on the back of their A4 multicoloured Hirst painting, which the artist said was part of a collection “made in 2016”.

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Ivanka Trump looks like the comeback kid – and we should all be afraid | Arwa Mahdawi

Forget polls or statistical modelling – if you want to know what is going to happen in the US elections, may I suggest consulting the Ivank-a-Meter™? Much complex analysis has gone into the development of my proprietary prediction tool, but the premise is this: the closer Ivanka Trump is to her father, the closer Donald Trump is to the White House.

Both Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, always seem to know which way the wind is blowing: the pair made out like bandits when they were unelected members of the Trump administration. Then, when it felt like the grift may be up, the Saudis gave Kushner billions to invest. Over the last couple of years, Jared has been managing those billions while Ivanka has been walking her extremely white dog, Winter, on the beach and going surfing. Both of them seem to have made sure that there are frequent quotes in the press from “people familiar with their thinking”, insisting that the pair don’t want anything to do with politics ever again.

While “Javanka” kept their distance from the former president during Trump’s lows, there are signs Ivanka might be thinking of coming out of political retirement. Last summer, just as Trump started doing well in the polls, Ivanka started being spotted with Dad again. Now that a second Trump term is a serious possibility, an Ivanka comeback is being more prominently teased. A few weeks ago, the media outlet Puck reported that Ivanka is “warming to the idea of trying to be helpful again … She’s not like ‘Hell no’ any more.” Last week, an anonymous “friend of Ivanka” told Business Insider that the former first daughter has softened her stance on avoiding politics for ever. While a spokesperson for the couple told Puck these rumours were nonsense, it does feel as though Ivanka is testing the political waters.

And while it’s certainly not a done deal that the US will see a President Trump again, if we do then you can expect the reign to be long. Trump recently floated the idea of a third term if he wins in November, and it is rumoured that Ivanka has harboured dreams of being the first female president. All of which to say: the Ivank-a-Meter is flashing red.

Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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Screams, chaos, blood on the floor: passengers describe terrifying turbulence on flight SQ321 | Singapore

It had been an uneventful journey from Heathrow. After 10 hours in the sky, flight SQ321 from London to Singapore was just a few hours from its destination, above the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar, when the aircraft dropped. Passengers said it happened in an instant, with little time to respond to warnings to fasten their seatbelts. The plane descended by 6,000ft (1,800 metres) in just three minutes. Passengers who were not strapped in were launched into the ceiling and across the aisles as the aircraft hit a patch of severe turbulence.

Flight attendants had been serving breakfast at the time. Coffee and cups of water were thrown into the air, people’s phones, shoes and cushions were flung around.

“So many injured people. Head lacerations, bleeding ears. A lady was screaming in pain with a bad back. I couldn’t help her – just got her water,” one passenger, Andrew Davies from London, wrote on social media. There had been very little warning, he said. “The seatbelt sign came on, I put on my seatbelt straight away then the plane just dropped.”

Photographs of the inside of the cabin showed oxygen masks and panels hanging from the ceiling, and the floor covered in food and drinks, with luggage scattered. Patches of blood stained the cabin carpets. One passenger told Reuters overhead plastic panels had been broken by the impact of people’s heads slamming into them.

‘Going completely horizontal’: passengers on Singapore Airlines flight hit by turbulence – video

Jerry, 68, a Briton travelling to Australia for his son’s wedding, told the BBC there was no warning before the plane dropped. “I’d just been to the loo, came back, sat down, a bit of turbulence and suddenly the plane plunged. I don’t know how far, but it was a long way,” he said. He and his wife both hit their heads on the ceiling.

“Some poor people walking around ended up doing somersaults. It was terrible. And then suddenly it stopped and it was calm again.

“The staff did their best to tend to the injured people – there are a lot of them. And some of the staff were injured themselves so did a sterling job,” said Jerry.

The interior of Singapore Airline flight SQ321 after it hit severe turbulence. Photograph: Obtained by Reuters/Reuters

Singapore Airlines said the flight had encountered “sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy basin at 37,000 feet” about 10 hours after departure. The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the aircraft. It landed in Bangkok at 3.45pm local time on Tuesday.

A 73-year-old man, named as Geoffrey Kitchen, from Thornbury, Gloucestershire, died in the incident. The retired insurance professional was travelling with his wife to Singapore on their way to a holiday in Australia. According to Thai authorities, he had a heart condition and probably had a heart attack. A total of 71 people, including six with severe injuries, were taken to hospital. Many had head injuries, according to Thai officials.

“Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it,” Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight, told Reuters.

After landing in Bangkok, medical teams rushed on to the plane, carrying the most severely injured away on stretchers. The Boeing 777 had been carrying 211 passengers – mostly from Australia, Britain, New Zealand or Singapore – and 18 crew members. Of the 71 people taken for treatment at Samitivej Srinakarin hospital, 26 had minor injuries, 39 moderate injuries and six were severely injured.

Teandra Tukhunen, who was among those being treated at the hospital, and whose left arm was in a sling, told Sky News UK she had been asleep when the turbulence hit.

“I woke up because of the turbulence, and then when they put on the seatbelt sign, pretty much immediately, straight after that I was flung to the roof, before I even had time to put my seatbelt on unfortunately,” Tukhunen, a 30-year-old from Melbourne, said.

Ambulance vehicles transport passengers injured on a flight from London to Singapore on Tuesday. Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

“Because it was just so quick they had no warning whatsoever,” she said. “It was just so quick, over in just a couple of seconds and then you’re just shocked.”

She thanked the pilot, who she felt had “saved our lives”, saying: “We’re alive, so that’s all that matters in the end.”

Davies too described airline staff as “stoic”, despite some being injured themselves. “One of the Singapore Airlines crew said it was by far the worst in her 30 years of flying,” he wrote. “Lesson is – wear a seatbelt at all time. Anyone who is injured, was not wearing a seatbelt.”

On Wednesday morning, 131 passengers and 12 crew members arrived in Singapore on a relief flight. Singapore Airlines said it is fully cooperating with authorities. Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau said it is investigating the incident, and will be deploying investigators to Bangkok.

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Flooding and travel disruption likely with heavy rain across UK | UK weather

Heavy rain could bring flooding and travel disruption across much of the UK on Wednesday and Thursday with an amber warning issued for part of the country.

The Met Office has issued the warning for parts of north Wales and north-west England, including Liverpool and Manchester, for 24 hours from noon on Wednesday.

The warning for the region says flooding and disruption are likely, with rain becoming heavy and persistent.

A yellow warning for rain is in place for the north of England, the Midlands and north and mid-Wales until 6am on Thursday, with the southern edges of the affected area extended to run roughly from around Norwich to Bath.

A yellow rain warning comes into place at noon on Wednesday for Scotland, covering the south and east of the country, which runs until 6pm on Thursday.

A further yellow warning for thunderstorms has been added for much of the south coast of England from 8am to 7pm on Wednesday.

The Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “Some areas are really going to see a lot of heavy, persistent rain through a big chunk of Wednesday. It is going to be a pretty wet picture as we go through the rest of the week for many places.

“There is some uncertainty as to exactly where we are going to see the heaviest rain and where is most likely to be impacted.”

The forecast says heavy and, in places, prolonged rainfall is expected from an area of low pressure arriving from the east, which has brought downpours to parts of central Europe.

Many places could see 30-40mm of rain, while a few areas may receive 60-80mm as heavy rain moves northwards throughout Wednesday. The Met Office said there was a small chance a few upland areas could have up to 150mm.

In addition to the thunderstorm warning, which also includes scattered showers and the threat of spray on the roads and sudden flooding, there may be heavy, thundery showers in the south of England that could bring 30-40mm within three hours.

A Met Office spokesperson said: “The precise track of the low pressure that would determine where the rainfall comes is still uncertain and is something we are keeping an eye on.

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“We would encourage people to keep an eye on the forecast over the next couple of days to see how that evolves.”

The chief meteorologist, Andy Page, said areas exposed to the strengthening northerly winds were most likely to have the highest rainfall.

Northern areas are expected to remain cloudy and wet on Thursday but drier further south with brighter conditions becoming more widespread by the end of the week.

Bank Holiday Monday is expected to be dry and fine for much of the country, feeling warm in the sunshine, although there remains the threat of showers ahead of more settled conditions.

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New Zealand man filmed trying to ‘body slam’ an orca in actions described as ‘idiotic’ | New Zealand

The actions of a New Zealand man filmed jumping off a boat in what appears to be an attempt to “body slam” an orca have been described as “shocking” and “idiotic” by the country’s Department of Conservation.

In a video shared to Instagram in February, a man can be seen jumping off the edge of a boat into the sea off the coast of Devonport in Auckland, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to touch or “body slam” the orca, the department said. He leaps into the water very close to a male orca, as a calf swims nearby, while someone on board the boat films it. Others can be heard laughing and swearing in the background.

As he swims back towards the boat he yells “I touched it” and asks “did you get that?” He then attempts to touch the orca again.

Hayden Loper, a principal investigator at the department, said the 50-year-old man showed reckless disregard for his own safety and that of the orca. “The video speaks for itself, it is shocking and absolutely idiotic behaviour,” he said.

The department received a tip-off about the video from a couple of concerned people who had seen the footage on social media. Working with police, the department identified the man and handed him a $600 infringement fine.

“It’s a very clear breach of the Marine Mammals Protection Act. Orca are classified as whales under conservation legislation and it is illegal to swim with, or disturb or harass any marine mammal,” he said.

Loper said often people breach the act by accident, for example taking a jetski too close to a marine mammal, but in this case, “it [was] a real blatant example of stupidity”.

“For him to jump into the water deliberately and swim up to the orca [and] to make sure that it was filmed … it defies belief.”

Social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to protecting marine life. On the one hand, it can help alert the department to incidents, but it can also act as a catalyst for poor behaviour.

“It was a deliberate attempt to get likes and views on social media. What’s also really disappointing is not just the actions of the individual but those in the boat – it is almost a bit of a pack mentality and they are encouraging this behaviour.”

New Zealand orca can be found throughout the country’s coastline, but with a population of just 150-200 they are deemed “nationally critical” and face a high risk of extinction.

The orca appeared to escape injury, but Hannah Hendriks, the department’s marine technical adviser, said jumping into water on top of any dolphin or small whale could easily damage their sensitive fins.

A person jumping into the water could startle the animal, she said, and cause it to collide with a propeller or keel.

“Interacting with pods can disturb their natural behaviours like resting, feeding, and socialising, which can have long-term impacts on survival and breeding success, while repeated disturbance may lead to animals avoiding an area,” she said.

“In particular, disturbance of a pod with a calf presents a risk of separation of the calf from the rest of the pod – if the calf is still reliant on its mum for milk, this can end up with the calf starving, stranding, and ultimately dying.”

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Ukraine war briefing: Worse than Bakhmut but now we have shells, say Kharkiv defenders | Ukraine

  • Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the Kharkiv region near Vovchansk say the situation is “hotter” than it was around fallen Bakhmut, but now they have the shells to fight back. “It’s 24/7, their infantry keeps coming, we keep fighting their attacks. At least we are trying to. Whenever possible, we take them down,” Pavlo, a gunner of Ukraine’s 92nd Separate Assault brigade operating a howitzer, told Reuters. “We were positioned in the Bakhmut area before, now we have been transferred here. It’s much ‘hotter’ here. We didn’t have shells there. Here, at least we have shells, they started delivering them. We have something to work with, to fight.”

  • The Ukrainian military says it has destroyed the last Russian warship armed with cruise missiles stationed at the Crimean peninsula. “According to updated information, the Ukrainian defence forces hit a Russian project 22800 Tsiklon missile ship in Sevastopol, on the night of May 19,” the military said. Reuters was not able to independently verify the statements. There was no immediate comment from the Russian side. Russia’s defence ministry on Sunday said Ukrainian forces had attacked Crimea with Atacms missiles.

  • Russian drones struck energy sites early on Wednesday and knocked out power to some parts of Ukraine’s northern Sumy region, regional officials said. The Sumy regional authority said the drones hit targets in the cities of Shostka and Konotop, north-east of Kyiv and near the Russian border. Emergency services were working to restore electricity. Officials have warned of a possible Russian push into Sumy.

  • Ukrainian troops are achieving “tangible” results against Russian forces in the Kharkiv region but the frontline situation near the cities of Pokrovsk, Kramatorsk and Kurakhove remains “extremely difficult”, said Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. More than 14,000 people have been displaced in recent days from the Kharkiv region, the World Health Organization has said. “Nearly 189,000 more still reside within 25km of the border with the Russian Federation, facing significant risks due to the ongoing fighting,” said Jarno Habicht, the WHO’s representative in Ukraine.

  • EU countries have formally adopted a plan to fund Ukraine’s defence using profits from $300bn in Russian central bank assets frozen in the EU. Under the agreement, 90% of the proceeds will go into an EU-run fund for military aid for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, with the other 10% going to support the Ukrainians in other ways. The EU expects the assets to yield about €15bn-€20bn in profits by 2027. Ukraine is expected to receive the first tranche in July, EU diplomats have said.

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, thanked the EU for the decision but reiterated Ukraine’s goal of seizing the assets themselves, not just the interest. The US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, is meanwhile pushing fellow G7 nations this week to agree a plan to use Russian assets frozen abroad to back a larger loan to help Ukraine. Yellen has said it could be worth up to $50bn to Ukraine.

  • Russian forces have started military drills near Ukraine simulating the use of tactical nuclear weapons, Pjotr Sauer reports. Vladimir Putin ordered the drills after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, floated the possibility of sending European troops into Ukraine, and the UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, said Ukraine had the right to use weapons supplied by Britain to target sites in Russia.

  • The former commander of Russia’s 58th army, Ivan Popov, was arrested on suspicion of “large scale fraud”, state-run Tass news agency reported. Popov, military call sign “Spartacus”, commanded Russian units in southern Ukraine. He criticised his superiors about the deaths of Russian soldiers.

  • More than 3,000 Ukrainian inmates have applied to join the military under a new law. “We predicted this before the adoption of this law,” said Olena Vysotska, deputy minister of justice, adding that more had expressed interest and 20,000 had been identified as eligible. Only prisoners with less than three years to serve can apply. Prisoners not eligible include those found guilty of sexual violence, killing two or more people, serious corruption and former high-ranking officials.

  • Tens of thousands of Russians who fled to Turkey after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have moved on to other countries, squeezed by residency issues and soaring costs, Reuters has reported. This month, the number of Russians with Turkish resident permits fell to 96,000, down by more than a third from 154,000 at the end of 2022, official data showed. Many who left Turkey headed to Serbia and Montenegro, Reuters said.

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    Trump prosecutor Fani Willis wins Georgia primary election | Fani Willis

    Fani Willis, the Fulton county district attorney overseeing Georgia’s expansive criminal case against Donald Trump and his allies for attempting to overturn the 2020 election, has won her Democratic primary bid for re-election with nearly 90% of the vote.

    Willis and Judge Scott McAfee who won his primary election on Tuesday – are central figures in the prosecution against the former president and associates in his orbit accused of conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

    Willis will now face Republican lawyer Courtney Kramer in November. With her high name recognition, the advantages of incumbency and a hefty fundraising haul, Willis’s victory in the primary was not terribly surprising.

    The most prominent – and sweeping – charge handed down in an indictment by a grand jury in August 2023 alleged Trump and 18 co-defendants violated Georgia’s racketeering law in a criminal conspiracy to unlawfully change the results of the election.

    Trump allies, including the attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, were also charged with forgery in connection with their efforts to send false pro-Trump electors to represent swing states that had in fact elected Joe Biden.

    Willis’s role in pursuing the most comprehensive prosecution against Trump has drawn her intense scrutiny. In March, the prosecutor who Willis hired to lead the case, Nathan Wade, resigned after revelations about a romantic relationship between him and Willis threatened to derail the prosecution.

    Last week, the Georgia court of appeals agreed to consider an appeal from Trump’s defense seeking to toss Willis from the case amid the allegations of unethical conduct.

    Amid the prosecution, Willis has also faced a barrage of threats and harassment. In May, a California resident was charged with threatening to injure Willis for her role in prosecuting Trump and his allies.

    The Associated Press contributed reporting

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    UN suspends Rafah aid distribution and warns US pier may fail | Israel-Gaza war

    The United Nations has suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity.

    It also said no aid trucks have entered the territory in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the US for sea deliveries, and warned that the $320m (£250m) project may fail unless Israel starts providing the conditions humanitarian groups need to operate safely.

    Several hundred thousand people remain in Rafah after the Israeli military launched an intensified assault there on 6 May, but relief agencies say food aid deliveries have been reduced to a trickle.

    Abeer Etefa, a spokesperson for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), warned that “humanitarian operations in Gaza are near collapse”. She said that if food and other supplies do not resume entering Gaza “in massive quantities, famine-like conditions will spread”.

    The main agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, announced the suspension of distribution in Rafah in a post on X, without elaborating beyond citing the lack of supplies. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the Unrwa distribution centre and the WFP’s warehouses in Rafah were “inaccessible due to ongoing military operations.”

    When asked about the ramification of the suspension of distribution, Dujarric replied: “People don’t eat.”

    Etefa said the WFP had also stopped distribution in Rafah after exhausting its stocks. It continues passing out hot meals in central Gaza and “limited distributions” of reduced food parcels in central Gaza, but “food parcel stocks will run out within days”, she said.

    The United States has depicted the floating pier it erected on the Gaza coast as a potential route for accelerated deliveries. The first 10 trucks rolled off a ship on to the pier on Friday and were taken to a WFP warehouse. But a delivery on Saturday of 11 trucks was stopped by crowds of Palestinians who took supplies, and only five trucks made it to the warehouse. No further deliveries came from the pier on Sunday or Monday, Etefa said.

    She said the problem of people taking supplies from convoys will continue without a consistent flow of aid to assure people “this is not a one-off event.”

    “The responsibility of ensuring aid reaches those in need does not end at the crossings and other points of entry into Gaza – it extends throughout Gaza itself,” she said.

    The UN agency is now re-evaluating logistics and security measures and looking for alternate routes within Gaza, said Etefa. The WFP is working with the US Agency for International Development to coordinate delivery of food from the new US route.

    The warning came as Israel seeks to contain the fallout from a request by the chief prosecutor of the world’s top war crimes court for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders.

    The UN says about 1.1 million people in Gaza – nearly half the population – face catastrophic levels of hunger and that the territory is on the brink of famine.

    The crisis in humanitarian supplies has worsened in the two weeks since Israel launched an incursion into Rafah on 6 May, vowing to root out Hamas fighters. Troops seized the Rafah crossing into Egypt, which has been closed since. As of 10 May, only about three dozen trucks made it into Gaza via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel because fighting makes it difficult for aid workers to reach it, the UN says.

    Israeli officials say they place no restrictions on the amount of aid going through the crossings. Small numbers of aid trucks continue to enter northern Gaza from Israel, but aid groups say they represent just a fraction of the supplies needed.

    At the same time, fighting has escalated in northern Gaza as Israeli troops conduct operations against Hamas fighters, who the military says regrouped in areas already targeted in offensives months ago.

    One of the main hospitals still operating in the north, Kamal Adwan, was forced to evacuate after it was “targeted” by Israeli troops, the Gaza Health Ministry said. About 150 staff and dozens of patients fled the facility, including intensive care patients and infants in incubators “under fire from shelling”, it said. The Israeli military did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

    The nearby Awda hospital has been surrounded by troops the past three days, and an artillery shell hit its fifth floor, the hospital administration said in a statement Tuesday. A day earlier, the international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said Awda had run out of drinking water.

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    Matthew Perry: Los Angeles police launch investigation into actor’s death | Matthew Perry

    Half a year after the death of Matthew Perry from acute effects of anesthetic ketamine, the Los Angeles police department (LAPD) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have launched a joint criminal investigation looking into how the Friends star got the prescription medication, law enforcement sources confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

    Perry died at the age of 54 on 28 October 2023 in a hot tub at his Pacific Palisades home. Trace amounts of ketamine, which is sometimes used to treat depression, were found in his stomach, according to the Los Angeles medical examiner.

    However, an autopsy found levels of ketamine in his blood similar to levels used during general anesthesia. “At the high levels of ketamine found in his postmortem blood specimens, the main lethal effects would be from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression,” the autopsy report stated.

    The autopsy also identified drowning, coronary artery disease and buprenorphine – a drug used to treat opioid addiction, about which Perry discussed openly in interviews and his 2022 memoir – as contributing factors in his death. It was ruled an accident, with no evidence of foul play.

    The LAPD and DEA, however, are now looking into how the actor came to possess high levels of ketamine, in his system and in general. TMZ was the first to report the investigation, which is primarily concerned with who provided the drug, and under what circumstances.

    According to the medical examiner, Perry was undergoing ketamine infusion therapy for anxiety and depression in the days before his death. His last known infusion was a week and a half prior, meaning the ketamine found in his system in the autopsy was not from the procedure.

    In his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry discussed his long history with substance abuse, beginning at the age of 14 and intensifying with the huge spotlight while on Friends, which ran on NBC from 1994 until 2004. At one point, he wrote, he was consuming up to five dozen pills a day. He was 19 months sober at the time of his death, according to the medical examiner, who noted that he had no other drugs in his system and that no drugs or drug paraphernalia were found at his house.

    The medical examiner also noted that the beloved actor, who once had a two-packs-a-day cigarette habit, suffered from diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a group of diseases that can cause airflow blockage and breathing issues.

    This is not the first time the federal agents have got involved in a drug-related celebrity death. Following the fatal accidental overdose of Mac Miller in 2018, police arrested and charged Ryan Michael Reavis for selling the rapper counterfeit, fentanyl-laced pills. He was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison in April 2022.

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