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Sunday, June 26, 2022

First Thing: Ukrainians prepare for resistance as Russia moves in |

Good morning.

If Russian forces try to take new territory in Ukraine, they will face an army that is far smaller and less well equipped than their own but hardened by eight years of fighting, writes Emma Graham-Harrison in Kyiv.

Nearly a decade of war has also left Ukraine with nearly half a million combat-experienced veterans, many now preparing to fight again, officially or unofficially.

“The Russian army has better weapons and technical equipment than us, so we may lose battles or campaigns. But they can never win the country if the Ukrainian people are motivated,” said Serhiy Kryvonos, a retired special forces general and former deputy secretary of the national security and defence council.

The likelihood of a larger war in the near future dramatically increased yesterday when Vladimir Putin said Russia would support the territorial claims of its proxy states in east Ukraine, in what Joe Biden denounced as an attempt to carve out “a big chunk” of the country.

National guard troops to be deployed in DC as trucker convoy protests loom

 US Army National Guard Soldier takes a phone call as he stands next to high-water rescue trucks
The District of Columbia government and the US Capitol police are requesting the national guard assistance. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty

The Pentagon is expected to approve the deployment of 700 to 800 unarmed national guard troops to Washington DC, a US official said yesterday, in the face of trucker convoys that are planning protests against pandemic restrictions beginning next week.

The District of Columbia government and the US Capitol police are requesting the national guard assistance. The troops would be used largely to help control traffic and were expected to come from the district’s national guard and three states, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss aid not yet formally approved.

Modelled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names such as the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund – all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. Some are scheduled to arrive in time for Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on 1 March, although others may arrive afterward.

  • It remains to be seen if any of the US convoys would seek to actively shut down Washington’s streets, the way their Canadian counterparts did in Ottawa. Some convoy organisers have spoken of plans to briefly roll through the city, then focus on shutting down the Beltway, which encircles the capital.

Rudy Giuliani poised to cooperate with 6 January committee

Rudy Giuliani gestures as Trump supporters gather by the White House
Giuliani has indicated he will produce documents and answer questions about Trump’s schemes to return himself to office on 6 January. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

Donald Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani is expected to cooperate with the House select committee investigating 6 January, and reveal his contacts with Republican members of Congress involved in the former president’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The move by Giuliani to appear before the panel – in a cooperation deal that could be agreed within weeks, according to two sources briefed on negotiations – could mark a breakthrough moment for the inquiry as it seeks to interview key members of Trump’s inner circle.

Even though Trump’s allies and Republican members of Congress already known to have been involved in such efforts have refused to help the panel, Giuliani is now in a position to inform House investigators about any possible culpability.

  • What could he reveal? The former president’s attorney is prepared to reveal his contacts and the roles played by Republican members of Congress to have then vice-president Mike Pence stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.

  • What else? He is also prepared to divulge details about Trump’s pressure campaign on Pence to adopt the scheme, and the effort to have legislatures certify slates of electors for Trump in states actually won by Biden.

In other news …

Amazon delivery vans are seen at the Amazon Delivery Station in California.
Amazon delivery vans line up at a delivery station in California. Photograph: Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock
  • A North Carolina motorcyclist is suing Amazon for $100m after his collision with a delivery driver resulted in the amputation of his left leg, claiming the company’s pressure on its employees rendered the driver distracted and caused the crash. The lawsuit claims Amazon’s “Flex app” creates “foreseeable risk”.

  • The three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of federal hate crimes yesterday, for violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting him because he was Black. The jury reached its decision after several hours on the charges against Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan.

  • Four people have died in the crash of a contractor’s helicopter on the Hawaii island of Kauai, the US navy said yesterday. The Pacific missile range facility said the aircraft crashed on the north side of the installation shortly after 10am. There were no survivors. The names of those killed were not yet available.

  • Japanese women have outperformed men in medical school entrance exams for the first time since universities admitted they had deliberately failed female applicants to inflate the number of male doctors. The schools said they had deliberately failed female candidates due to concerns that women were more likely to quit their medical careers to start families.

Stat of the day: Wildfires likely to increase by a third by 2050, warns UN

Dixie Fire, California’s largest active fire burns at night in Taylorsville
Previously unaffected countries are likely to see uncontrollable blazes, says the study, which calls for a shift to spending on prevention. Photograph: David Swanson/Reuters

Wildfires that have devastated California, Australia and Siberia will become 50% more common by the end of the century, according to a report that warns of uncontrollable blazes ravaging previously unaffected parts of the planet. The escalating climate crisis and land-use change are driving a global increase in extreme wildfires, with a 14% increase predicted by 2030 and a 30% increase by 2050, according to a UN report involving more than 50 international researchers.

Don’t miss this: David Mamet on free speech, gender politics and rigged elections

David Mamet discusses the writing life and his novel Chicago at a Los Angeles event.
‘Sex is never at no cost. And it is specifically not at no cost to women.’ Photograph: Zuma Press, Inc/Alamy

Sex and sexual politics have long featured in David Mamet’s work. He has an immense, omnivorous oeuvre, from Hollywood hits to Broadway smashes as well as novels, children’s stories, essays, articles and cartoons, writes Arifa Akbar. His liberal-baiting plays have even caused punch-ups in the aisles and he hasn’t finished yet. As The Woods – his incendiary take on sexual politics – returns, the writer cuts loose, discussing how well Donald Trump did as president, as well as the art of writing and the death of free speech.

Climate check: Oil and gas facilities could profit from plugging methane leaks, IEA says

A flare burns natural gas at an oilwell in Watford City, N.D.
Governments have been underreporting their emissions of methane to a dramatic extent. Photograph: Matthew Brown/AP

Plugging methane from leaky oil and gas facilities would be free of cost almost everywhere in the world, and in many cases would produce a significant profit, at today’s soaring gas prices, the International Energy Agency has found, suggesting that governments have few excuses for not taking action to curb emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas. Last year, leaks from fossil fuel operations amounted to as much gas as Europe burns for power in a year. If that methane had been captured and used, the current gas crisis could have been largely avoided, the IEA said.

Last Thing: Bull survives being swept 80km down-river, over a waterfall and almost out to sea

Hereford bull in a field
A Hereford bull in a field. Photograph: Deb Drury/Getty/iStockphoto

A young bull that was swept into a surging river during flooding on New Zealand’s west coast has miraculously survived, turning up unharmed a week later, 80km (50 miles) downstream, snuffling about in a blackberry bush. The bull’s owner said he would have to get a special welcome home party – most likely a paddock full of grass. The pressure is also building to give his celebrity bull a name, but what exactly was “still under discussion”.

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