First Thing: Personal attacks dominate Republican presidential debate

<span>Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

The fourth Republican presidential debate opened and closed with deeply personal clashes as the four candidates on stage pressed their case to be the viable alternative to Donald Trump, the far-and-away frontrunner who again declined to participate.

Smouldering rivalries burst into the open early in last night’s debate, with Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, turning on Nikki Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and former UN ambassador with whom he is in an increasingly combative scrap for second place.

The entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy jumped into the fray, teaming with DeSantis to attack Haley, accusing her of being captured by corporate interests and “more fascist” than Joe Biden.

“I love all the attention, fellas, thank you for that,” said Haley, whose candidacy has gained momentum in recent weeks. Of the criticism of her corporate donors, she said: “They’re just jealous.”

  • Where was Trump? The former president, whom Chris Christie, a former governor of New Jersey, derided as a “dictator” and a “bully” who “doesn’t have the guts to show up” to the debate, spent the evening at a fundraiser in Florida. Trump, who faces 91 federal charges in four cases, several of which are related to his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost, has sought to portray himself as the inevitable nominee who does not need to take part in debates.

Gaza aid system at ‘severe risk of collapse’, says UN secretary general

Israeli forces and Hamas are fighting house-to-house battles along the length of the Gaza Strip, with devastating consequences for the civilian population amid a complete collapse in humanitarian relief.

As the war intensified yesterday, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, invoked a rarely used clause in the UN charter to raise the issue on his own initiative before the security council, warning the conflict “may aggravate existing threats to international peace and security”.

“We are facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system,” Guterres wrote in a letter to the council. “The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region.”

He added: “Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.”

  • How has Israel responded? Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, has reacted angrily, saying the secretary general invoked article 99 to pressure Israel, accusing the UN chief of “a new moral low” and “bias against Israel.”

Senate Republicans block funding bill that included aid for Ukraine and Israel

The Senate has blocked a supplemental funding bill that included financial aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as well as provisions aimed at bolstering border security. The vote, which fell mostly along party lines, increases the likelihood that Congress will fail to approve more funding for Ukraine before the end of the year, even as the White House has warned that Kyiv is desperately in need of more aid.

The vote was 49 to 51, as every Senate Republican opposed advancing the legislation. Sixty votes were needed to take up the bill. Republicans in both chambers of Congress had demanded stricter border regulations in exchange for their support, and said the bill failed to meet their requirements.

The vote came a day after Senate Democrats formally unveiled the $111bn supplemental security bill, reflecting the funding request that Biden issued in October to provide assistance to US allies abroad.

  • What has Biden said about the bill? Before the vote he said: “Who is prepared to walk away from holding Putin accountable for this behaviour? Who among us is really prepared to do that? I’m not prepared to walk away, and I don’t think the American people are either.”

In other news …

  • Abortion providers have experienced a record increase in out-of-state patients since Roe v Wade was overturned last year, according to newly released data from the Guttmacher Institute. The report showed that one in five patients crossed state lines to obtain an abortion in 2023, compared with one in 10 patients in 2020.

  • Three people were killed in a shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus yesterday, according to police officials, who confirmed that the suspect was also dead. A fourth victim was critically wounded in the attack, which took place at approximately 11.45am local time.

  • Profiteering played a significant role in boosting inflation during 2022, according to a report that called for a global corporation tax. Excessive profits were even larger in the US, where many important sections of the economy are dominated by a few powerful companies.

  • Facebook’s parent company has begun introducing end-to-end encryption across Messenger and Facebook, Meta announced today. The company’s vice-president for Messenger, Loredana Crisan, said the encryption was built on the Signal protocol and Meta’s own Labyrinth protocol.

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Stat of the day: $700m pledged to loss and damage fund at Cop28 covers less than 0.2% needed

Wealthy countries most responsible for the climate emergency have so far pledged a combined total of just over $700m (£556m) to the loss and damage fund – the equivalent of less than 0.2% of the irreversible economic and non-economic losses developing countries are facing from global heating every year. In a historic move, the loss and damage fund was agreed at the opening plenary of the first day the Cop28 summit in Dubai – a hard-won victory by developing countries that they hoped would indicate a commitment by the developed, polluting nations to finally provide financial support for some of the destruction already under way.

Don’t miss this: 20 frugal tips to keep Christmas overspend at bay

It may be too late to save for the festive season, but it is still possible to ignore the marketing hype and reduce spending, which will be better for the planet and your pocket. “There are ways that you can embrace all of the joy, warmth and connection of Christmas without creating a really difficult financial situation for yourself,” says Clare Seal, the author of Five Steps to Financial Wellbeing and creator of the Instagram account @myfrugalyear. One way that Seal does this is by avoiding social media accounts that offer too much temptation. “Christmas used to be about which family had the best lights on their house,” she says. “But now we can see inside people’s homes on social media and we have got a really distorted perception of how much stuff people are buying because influencers are quite often gifted lots of stuff.”

Climate check: ‘It’s kind of gross but we can do it’ – how a community learned to go zero waste

When Alexandre Garcin dreamed up Zero-Waste Roubaix, it wasn’t sustainability he wanted to tackle, but the litter problem that plagued his city. In the middle of his campaign to become a city councillor, Garcin’s brainwave was simple: rather than cleaning up more and more trash off the city’s streets, why not produce less garbage in the first place? After he had won, Garcin sent out leaflets looking for 100 volunteers to participate in a free, year-long pilot programme that would teach them how to live waste-free – or, at least with less waste than usual.

The benefits, proponents argue, could be huge. Cutting waste could boost biodiversity and improve food systems. One estimate reckons that a comprehensive strategy that includes better material sorting, more recycling and source reduction could reduce waste-sector greenhouse emissions by 84% globally.

Last Thing: ‘We never drop below 30 toilet rolls’ – the Britons stockpiling for a crisis

The UK deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden, this week said people should stock up on battery-powered radios, torches, candles and first aid kits in case of power cuts or digital communications going down. One person who did not need telling was Kathryn, a firm believer in the 19th-century adage that we are only ever nine meals from anarchy.

“[Preparation for Y2K] was mainly candles and biscuits, because I didn’t really take it very seriously,” she said. “But it did mean that I was already halfway there when I realised I needed a substantial, genuine Brexit stash, which then morphed into a Covid stash, which in turn became a cost of living store, then an ‘Are we going to run out of electricity?’ store when the Ukraine war kicked off, and is now a general, all-encompassing everyday/WW3 stash.”

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