First Thing: US ‘incredibly concerned’ over Putin’s North Korea weapons pact

<span>Vladimir Putin speaking at a reception with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang this week.</span><span>Photograph: Vladimir Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Vladimir Putin speaking at a reception with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang this week.Photograph: Vladimir Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Russia could supply weapons to North Korea is “incredibly concerning”, a senior US official said, days after the Russian president and Kim Jong-un signed a defense pact that requires their countries to provide immediate military assistance if either is attacked.

Matthew Miller, a state department spokesperson, said the provision of Russian weapons to Pyongyang “would destabilize the Korean peninsula” and potentially “violate UN security council resolutions that Russia itself has supported”.

Relations between the two Koreas have deteriorated sharply recently, with the resumption of cold war-era psychological warfare. North Korea used balloons to drop huge quantities of rubbish in South Korea; activists said that in return they sent 20 balloons carrying 300,000 propaganda leaflets, 5,000 USB sticks with South Korean pop songs and TV dramas, and 3,000 US dollar bills into North Korea on Thursday night.

  • What is North Korea’s involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? The US and South Korea say there is evidence that Pyongyang has already provided significant numbers of ballistic missiles and artillery shells to Russia. North Korea has described the allegations as “absurd”.

IDF transfers powers in occupied West Bank to pro-settler civil servants

The Israeli military has quietly handed over significant legal powers in the occupied West Bank to pro-settler civil servants working for the far-right minister Bezalel Smotrich.

An order posted by the Israel Defense Forces on its website on 29 May transfers responsibility for dozens of bylaws at the Civil Administration – the Israeli body governing in the West Bank – from the military to officials led by Smotrich at the defense ministry.

​Israeli politicians have long sought to​ find ways to permanently annex the occupied West Bank​, which it captured in 1967 and where millions of Palestinians live.

Meanwhile, in the US, dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters arrested in April after occupying and barricading a building at Columbia University had all criminal charges dropped, Manhattan prosecutors said.

  • What do the new Israeli powers cover? Everything from building regulations to the administration of agriculture, forestry, parks and bathing locations. Lawyers have long warned that transferring them from military to political control would risk bringing Israel into conflict with its responsibilities under international law.

More than 1,000 hajj pilgrims confirmed dead in Mecca

The death toll from this year’s hajj has exceeded 1,000, with more than half of the victims being unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat in Saudi Arabia.

About 10 countries have reported 1,081 deaths during the pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims with the means must complete at least once.

Hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims may have participated in the main rites, which began last Friday. This group was more vulnerable, because without official permits they could not access air-conditioned spaces provided for the 1.8 million authorised pilgrims to cool down.

  • How hot did it get? The hajj, the timing of which is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar, fell during the oven-like Saudi summer again this year. At the Grand Mosque in Mecca this week, the national meteorological centre reported a high of 125F (51.8C).

In other news …

  • Ten soldiers have been found guilty at a court in Lima of crimes against humanity for rapes committed four decades ago during Peru’s civil war. The landmark verdict said the systematic use of rape by soldiers in the Manta y Vilca case qualified as a crime against humanity.

  • New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, signed two bills into law on Thursday aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of social media on children. The first would allow parents to stop algorithmic suggestions, and the second would limit the collection, use, sharing and selling of personal data of under-18s.

  • A Russian-American ballerina who lives and works in Los Angeles has gone on trial for treason over an alleged donation of $50 to a pro-Ukrainian charity. Ksenia Karelina, 32, was detained by police in Yekaterinburg in January while visiting family in Russia.

  • Spain’s socialist-led government has begun legal action to shut down a group promoting the legacy of Francisco Franco, the dictator who ruled the country for almost 40 years.

Stat of the day: Winklevoss twins donate $1m each to Trump as champion of cryptocurrency

The cryptocurrency tycoons Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have each donated $1m in bitcoin to Donald Trump’s campaign. They pledged to vote for the former president in November, claiming Joe Biden had “openly declared war against crypto”.

Don’t miss this: ‘I gave birth to my granddaughter’

“My daughter, Heidi, dreamed of being a mother. But watching Heidi’s grief after losing twins in the womb was awful. I felt helpless,” Kristi Schmidt tells Kate Graham. “Then a few weeks later Heidi told me: ‘Mom, the doctors think that IVF and surrogacy is the best next step.’ Finally, here was something I could do. ‘Please let me speak to your doctor about being your surrogate,’ I said. ‘What safer place for your baby than their grandmother’s womb?’”

Climate check: Millions of mosquitoes released in Hawaii to save rare bird from extinction

Millions of mosquitoes are being released from helicopters in Hawaii in a last-ditch attempt to save a rare bird from becoming extinct. The archipelago’s honeycreeper birds, or ‘i’iwi, are dying of malaria carried by mosquitoes first introduced by ships in the 1800s. Having evolved with no immunity, the birds can die after a single bite. The goal of the scheme is to introduce male mosquitoes with a naturally occurring bacterium that acts as birth control.

Last Thing: Northern hemisphere marks summer solstice

People in the northern hemisphere are celebrating the summer solstice. It marks the longest day and shortest night, and occurs when the northern hemisphere is angled most closely towards the sun. At dawn this morning, thousands of people greeted the sun with cheers as it rose over Stonehenge in the UK.

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