Sunday, October 2, 2022

First thing: Mar-a-Lago a magnet for spies, officials warn | news

Good morning.

Mar-a-Lago – the Palm Beach resort and residence where Donald Trump reportedly stored nuclear secrets among a trove of highly classified documents for 18 months since leaving the White House – is a magnet for foreign spies, former intelligence officials have said.

The Washington Post reported that a document describing an unspecified foreign government’s defences, including its nuclear capabilities, was one of the many highly secret papers Trump took away from the White House when he left office in January 2021.

There were also documents marked SAP, for Special-Access Programmes, which are often about US intelligence operations and have severely restricted circulation, even among administration officials with top security clearance.

Potentially most disturbing of all, there were papers stamped HCS, Humint Control Systems, involving human intelligence gathered from agents in enemy countries, whose lives would be in danger if their identities were compromised.

  • When will Trump be prosecuted? The granting of Trump’s request for a “special master” gives the justice department no good options. The need to prosecute Trump as soon as possible after this November’s midterm elections points to avoiding the delay an appeal could cause, and just moving forward with the special master’s document review.

Suspect arrested over Canada mass stabbing dies from self-inflicted injuries

police cars
Police found a knife in the truck, which officers had rammed off the road into a ditch. Photograph: Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

The fugitive wanted for a mass stabbing in Canada that killed 10 people and injured 18 has died in hospital after his arrest, police have confirmed, with sources saying his death was the result of self-inflicted wounds.

Myles Sanderson went into “medical distress” after his arrest and was taken to hospital, where he died, the Royal Canadian Mounted police assistant commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said in a press conference on Wednesday night. Police found a knife in the truck, which officers had rammed off the road into a ditch before arresting Sanderson, but Blackmore would not comment on the cause of his death.

Sources familiar with the situation earlier confirmed that Sanderson had died shortly after being taken into custody, as a result of self-inflicted injuries. Police sources gave similar accounts to the Canadian media outlet Global News and Associated Press.

With Sanderson dead, police may never understand what motivated him in the mass stabbing, Blackmore said.

  • Who were the victims? They were named as: Thomas Burns, 23, Carol Burns, 46, Gregory Burns, 28, Lydia Gloria Burns, 61, Bonnie Burns, 48, Earl Burns, 66, Lana Head, 49, Christian Head, 54, Robert Sanderson, 49 and Wesley Petterson, 78.

  • What do we know about them? All were residents of James Smith Cree Nation, an Indigenous community, apart from Petterson, who lived in Weldon in northern Saskatchewan. Police said some of the victims appeared to have been targeted, while others seemed random.

‘Telling that fuller story’: Michelle and Barack on their White House portraits

The former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during the unveiling of their official White House portraits.
The former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend the unveiling of their official White House portraits. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Even after all these years, Michelle Obama admitted she still feels a bit odd and awkward inside the White House, writes David Smith. “Growing up on Euclid Avenue [on Chicago’s south side],” the former first lady reflected, “I never could have imagined that any of this would be part of my story.”

Yet from yesterday her face will adorn the walls of America’s most famous address for as long as it stands and presidents still call it home. In their first visit as a couple to the White House since leaving office in 2017, the Obamas unveiled their official portraits at a ceremony in the East Room.

Large, formal portraits of presidents and first ladies adorn walls, hallways and rooms throughout the White House. Customarily, a former president returns for the unveiling during the tenure of his successor. But the Obamas, who have remained popular since leaving power, did not have their ceremony while Donald Trump was in office.

The unveiling revived a bipartisan tradition last held a decade ago but this being the Obamas, no portrait is a mere punchline nor just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art. It is also a metaphor for America and who tells its story. To hear them speaking was a reminder that while the current president, Joe Biden, speaks in prose, the Obamas speak in poetry.

  • What did Michelle say? “Because as Barack said, if the two of us can end up on the walls of the most famous address in the world, then, again, it is so important for every young kid who is doubting themselves to believe that they can too. That is what this country is about.”

In other news…

steve bannon
Steve Bannon is expected to face charges that he siphoned off $1m in personal expenses from public donations to build a US-Mexico border wall. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
  • The top former Trump strategist Steve Bannon is expected to surrender to New York authorities today to face state fraud charges over his role in a fundraising effort to privately underwrite the construction of the US-Mexico border wall, according to sources familiar with the matter.

  • Two women have been condemned to death in Iran because of their links to the LGBTQ+ community, human rights groups have reported. Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24, were found guilty on 1 September but the details of their sentences only emerged this week.

  • The Biden administration has sent Liz Truss a message on her second day in office warning against “efforts to undo the Northern Ireland protocol”. It came from the White House briefing room, where a spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, was asked about the new British prime minister.

  • A local official has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a Las Vegas reporter, Jeff German, was found dead, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Robert Telles, Clark county’s public administrator, had been the focus of several investigative stories by German.

Don’t miss this: From Sober Mom Squads to anti-anxiety workbooks, do new AA alternatives work?

Illustration shows woman having dropped glass of wine, looking out at a landscape with a giant laptop emitting light, and a circle of people in chairs
New ways to stop drinking have flourished during the pandemic, catering to women who feel marginalized from the abstinence program. Illustration: Rita Liu/The Guardian

A Sober Girls Guide is one of a cohort of online sobriety groups that became popular as more people grappled with drinking problems early in the pandemic, and the groups appear to be here to stay. They have less rigid standards than AA, which has dominated alcohol recovery groups since its was founded in 1935. Many organizations were founded by and center on women, whose alcohol consumption and binge drinking – even before the pandemic, in which alcohol abuse statistics soared – was catching up to men’s. Women, however, were less likely to seek treatment for substance abuse.

… or this: Supreme court fears spur LGBTQ ‘shotgun’ weddings

Male couple with US and rainbow flags
In 2015, the supreme court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry nationwide without regard to their state’s laws. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

When the supreme court overturned Roe v Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion that the court had “a duty to ‘correct the error’ established” in multiple landmark civil rights and privacy cases, including 2015’s Obergefell v Hodges, which enshrined marriage equality . Other conservative justices wrote that Obergefell was not on the chopping block, but many people have found that hard to trust. Some LGBT couples are not waiting to find out.

Climate check: The Southern Ocean absorbs more heat than any other and the effects will be felt for generations

Icebergs among the ice floe in the Southern Ocean
‘Southern Ocean heat uptake accounts for almost all the planet’s ocean warming, which will only increase if we can’t stop emitting carbon dioxide.’ Photograph: Cultura Creative Ltd/Alamy

Over the past 50 years, the oceans have been working in overdrive to slow global warming, absorbing about 40% of our carbon dioxide emissions, and more than 90% of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere. But, Maurice Huguenin, Matthew England and Ryan Holmes write for the Conversation their research published today in Nature Communications, has found some oceans work harder than others. They found the Southern Ocean has dominated the global absorption of heat. In fact, Southern Ocean heat uptake accounts for almost all the planet’s ocean warming, controlling the rate of climate breakdown.

Last Thing: Vineyards await Saint-Émilion wine rankings after 10-year row over 2012 results

A woman working in a vineyard of Saint Emilion, southwestern France.
A woman working in a vineyard in Saint-Émilion, south-western France. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Winemakers in the historic vineyards of Saint-Émilion in France are hoping that prestigious wine rankings unveiled today will put an end to more than a decade of court cases, legal wrangling and controversy. The sedate area of ​​Saint-Émilion, with its Romanesque architecture and collection of vineyards classified as a world heritage site, has been at the center of a long-running row over its famous rankings, which are decided every 10 years and have been compared to the Michelin Guide’s influence on the restaurant trade.

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