First Thing: Donald Trump ‘wants to be handcuffed’ for court appearance
Donald Trump has told advisers that he wants to be handcuffed when he makes an appearance in court if he is indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying hush money to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, multiple sources close to the former president have said.
Trump has reasoned that since he would need to go to the courthouse and surrender himself to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot anyway, the sources said, he may as well turn everything into a “spectacle”.
Trump’s increasing insistence that he wants to be handcuffed behind his back for a perp walk appears to come from various motivations, including that he wants to project defiance in the face of what he sees as an unfair prosecution and that it would galvanize his base for his 2024 presidential campaign. But above all, people close to Trump said, he was deeply anxious that any special arrangements – such as making his first court appearance by video link or skulking into the courthouse – would make him look weak or like a loser.
Trump’s legal team has recoiled at the idea of him going in person and recommended that he allow them to quietly turn himself in next week and schedule a remote appearance, even citing guidance from his Secret Service detail about potential security concerns.
What has Trump said in response to security concerns? Trump told various allies over the weekend that he didn’t care if someone shot him – he would become “a martyr”. He later added that if he got shot, he would probably win the presidency in 2024, the sources said.
Decision on interest rate rise on knife-edge amid banking crisis fears
Central banks on both sides of the Atlantic are facing one of the toughest calls on interest rates in years, as concerns over the worst banking crisis since 2008 cast doubt on the need for further action to reduce sky-high inflation.
Financial markets expect the US Federal Reserve to raise its main rate by 0.25 percentage points on Wednesday, down from predictions just two weeks ago for the US’s central bank to increase borrowing costs by twice that amount.
City traders said a rate decision from the Bank of England on Thursday was also on a knife-edge, as concerns mounted over the health of the banking system after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and the Swiss government-brokered rescue of Credit Suisse.
Trading in financial markets suggests an almost 50-50 chance that the Bank of England leaves interest rates on hold, which would bring to a standstill one of the most aggressive assaults on inflation for decades after 10 successive rate increases since December 2021.
What do the experts say? “These events put central banks in an even tougher spot now,” said CJ Cowan, a portfolio manager at Quilter Investors. “Financial stability concerns have resurfaced but inflation still remains uncomfortably high and is showing signs that it won’t fall as far or as fast as hoped.”
Boris Johnson faces day of reckoning during Partygate committee hearing
Boris Johnson faces a battle for his political future as he tries to convince a cross-party committee of MPs that he only misled the House of Commons unintentionally over the Partygate scandal.
Ahead of a marathon evidence session with the privileges committee, the former UK prime minister claimed that his assurances to MPs that Covid rules had been followed had been made in “good faith”.
He is expected to argue that evidence gathered from No 10 officials, more of which is due to be published by the committee on Wednesday, “conclusively” shows that he did not deliberately mislead parliament.
However, the stakes for Johnson could not be higher. If the committee decides he “recklessly” misled MPs, he faces being suspended from parliament. A suspension of 10 sitting days or more triggers a recall petition that could lead to a byelection in his west London seat.
What does Johnson say? In a 52-page witness statement published yesterday, he wrote: “I accept that the House of Commons was misled by my statements that the rules and guidance had been followed completely at No 10. But when the statements were made, they were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time.”
In other news …
British military intelligence have said there is a possibility that the Russian assault on the town of Bakhmut is losing the limited momentum it had obtained. Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attempts to advance into the centre of the small eastern city of Bakhmut yesterday.
Vladimir Putin has welcomed China’s proposals for peace in Ukraine at a joint press conference with Xi Jinping in Moscow, a plan the west has warned would allow the Kremlin to “freeze” its territorial gains in the country. But the US cautioned against “any tactical move by Russia to freeze the war on its own terms”.
Donald Trump may be in legal trouble over his alleged weakness for vice, but his predicament is increasingly placing Ron DeSantis – his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination – in a political vise. A poll suggests Trump has tightened his grip on the primary race.
Beijing’s population has declined for the first time in almost two decades, population figures have revealed. In 2022 there were more deaths than births in the Chinese capital, resulting in a natural population growth of minus 0.05 per 1,000 people. It is the first time the population has gone backwards since 2003.
Don’t miss this: ‘I cried for a long time’ – Black hair stylist’s dream crushed by racist neighbor
Angel Pittman’s dream was to create a mobile hair salon. So the 21-year-old stylist bought less than an acre of unrestricted land in North Carolina for $10,000 in September and bought three school buses for $14,000 with money she had saved since she was 17, writes Rita Omokha. Pittman’s plan was to place the buses on the land, transform one into a living space and turn the other two into mobile salons. She could do hair on her property, set up shop in different locations, or do house calls. But things went wrong when Pittman visited the land after dropping the buses off, with her neighbor harassing her with racist comments. She then noticed her buses had been vandalized, the glass windows broken and racial slurs etched. Even though the man prominently displayed Confederate flags, swastikas and Ku Klux Klan signs all over his yard, the police did not take action.
… or this: She was one of Alabama’s last abortion doctors. Then they came for everything she had
Dr Leah Torres does not tell people what she does when she meets them, which makes it hard to make friends. She removes her name from every piece of trash before she puts it out for recycling, in case people walking past see her name and find out where she lives. If a package addressed to her arrives on her porch, she calls everyone she knows to identify who sent it before she opens it – it could be a bomb. She’s not paranoid. Torres is an abortion doctor in the state of Alabama, where abortion is now illegal except in life-threatening situations. She is one of the many doctors increasingly targeted by lawmakers, protesters, conservative news outlets and social media, even more so now that abortion is no longer legal in much of the US. Now she faces her most daunting challenge, writes Poppy Noor.
Climate check: Eight things the world must do to avoid the worst of the climate crisis
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published the “synthesis report” of its sixth assessment report (AR6) on Monday. Eight years in preparation, this mammoth report encompasses the entire range of human knowledge of the climate system, compiled by hundreds of scientists from thousands of academic papers, and published in four parts, in August 2021, February and April 2022, and March 2023. The report drew together the most important findings – but also highlighted some key measures that governments and countries must take immediately if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. They include restoring other degraded land and stopping it being turned to agriculture, stopping deforestation, changing agriculture, and changing the way we eat.
Last Thing: Sex on the beach – pressures of extreme polygamy may be driving southern elephant seals to early death
Extreme polygamy may be driving male southern elephant seals to early deaths, new research suggests. A study of 14,000 southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) at Macquarie Island in the south-western Pacific, has found that male survival rapidly decreased after eight years of age, dropping to around a 50% survival rate, while female survival remained constant at 80%. Sophia Volzke, the study’s first author and a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania, said the largest and fattest male seals had a reproductive advantage. The species exhibits “extreme polygyny”, in which a small proportion of the largest and most dominant males – known as beachmasters – control harems of breeding females. “One huge beachmaster can have a harem of up to 100 females,” Volzke said.
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