First Thing: Austrian chancellor to meet Putin in Russia | US news

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Austria’s chancellor is to meet Vladimir Putin on Monday, the Russian president’s first face-to-face meeting with an EU leader since ordering the invasion of Ukraine, amid warnings of a fresh offensive and shelling in the east.

Karl Nehammer said the meeting would take place in Moscow and that Austria had a “clear position on the Russian war of aggression”, calling for humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire and full investigation of war crimes.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser in Washington, has warned that the appointment of a new general in command of Russia’s military campaign is likely to usher in a fresh round of “crimes and brutality” against civilians. Alexandr Dvornikov, 60, came to prominence at the head of Russian troops in Syria in 2015-16, when there was particularly brutal bombardment of rebel-held areas, including civilian populations, in Aleppo.

  • What might Russia do next? The UK Ministry of Defence warned on Monday morning that Russian forces may resort to using phosphorous weapons in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies. It cited the previous use of the munitions by Russian soldiers in Donetsk.

  • What else is happening? Here’s what we know on day 47 of the invasion.

Liz Cheney disputes report January 6 panel split over Trump criminal referral

Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming.
Liz Cheney. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

A key Republican on the House January 6 committee disputed a report that said the panel was split over whether to refer Donald Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal charges regarding his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, leading to the Capitol attack.

“There’s not really a dispute on the committee,” the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney told CNN’s State of the Union.

The New York Times said otherwise on Sunday, in a report headlined: “January 6 panel has evidence for criminal referral of Trump, but splits on sending.”

“The debate centers on whether making a referral – a largely symbolic act – would backfire by politically tainting the justice department’s expanding investigation into the January 6 assault and what led up to it,” the paper said.

Citing “members and aides”, the Times said such sources were reluctant to support a referral because it would create the impression Democrats had asked the attorney general, Merrick Garland, to investigate Trump.

  • What did Cheney say? “We have not made a decision about referrals on the committee … [but] it’s actually clear that what President Trump was dealing with, what a number of people around him were doing, that they knew it was awful. That they did it anyway.”

France faces bruising runoff after Macron and Le Pen top first-round vote

Emmanuel Macron
Projected results in the first part of the presidential race put Macron (pictured) on 27.6% and his far-right rival, Le Pen, on 23.4%. Photograph: Alfonso Jimenez/Rex/Shutterstock

France faces a brutal two-week campaign over the country’s future, as the centrist incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, faces the far-right Marine Le Pen for the presidency, positioning himself as a pro-European “progressive” against what he calls her anti-Muslim, nationalist programme and “complacency” about Putin.

Macron topped Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election with 27.6% of the vote, ahead of Le Pen’s 23.4%, according to initial projected results by Ipsos for France Télévisions.

He scored higher than his result in the first round five years ago, and clearly gained support in the final hours of the campaign after his harsh warnings to voters to hold back the far right and protect France’s place on the international diplomatic stage during the war in Ukraine. But Le Pen’s score was also higher than five years ago.

  • Why is Le Pen doing better this time? She had steadily gained support after campaigning hard on the cost of living crisis and inflation, which had become voters’ biggest concerns.

  • What has Macron said? He told reporters: “When the far-right, in all its forms, represents that much in France, you can’t consider things are going well, so you must go out and convince people with a lot of humility, and respect for those who weren’t on our side in this first round.”

In other news …

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump during a rally in Commerce, Georgia last month.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump during a rally in Commerce, Georgia, last month. Photograph: Alyssa Pointer/Reuters
  • A federal judge has indicated that an attempt to stop the far-right Republican congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene running for re-election will be allowed to proceed. The challenge from a group of Georgia voters says Greene should be disqualified because she supported insurrectionists on 6 January 2021.

  • After dozens of botched, evidently painful lethal injections in recent years, prisoners in at least 10 states have been making a surreal argument: they would prefer the firing squad. As more “technological” methods have proved grisly, some states are considering shooting prisoners instead.

  • Elon Musk has performed a U-turn on joining Twitter’s board despite becoming the social media company’s largest shareholder with a 9.2% stake. He was due to become a board member on Saturday but Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, said on Monday morning that Musk had declined the offer.

  • The British chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has written to the prime minister to ask for an investigation into his own affairs after days of criticism over his wife’s “non-dom” tax status. Sunak has also been criticised over his decision to keep a US green card conferring permanent residency months while chancellor.

Don’t miss this: What happens when a group of Fox News viewers watch CNN for a month?

An elderly person watching TV
A study that paid viewers of the rightwing cable network to switch shed light on the media’s influence on people’s views. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

In an unusual and labor intensive project, two political scientists paid a group of regular Fox News viewers to instead watch CNN for a month. At the end of the period, the researchers found surprising results; some of the Fox News watchers had changed their minds on a range of key issues, including the US response to coronavirus and Democrats’ attitude to police. The findings suggest political perspectives can be changed – but also reveals the influence partisan media has on viewers’ ideology, writes, Adam Gabbatt.

… or this: Jack White on the White Stripes, bar brawls and fame

Jack White
Jack White … ‘Seven Nation Army might be the biggest multicultural hit of all time.’ Photograph: Paige Sara

As one half of the White Stripes, the Detroit musician conquered the world. His supercharged garage rock duo was a global phenomenon, and he has barely paused since. He fronted the Raconteurs and played drums in the Dead Weather, worked with the country singer Loretta Lynn and has been a producer and video-maker, while his eclectic Third Man operation takes in everything from a record label and record shops to a publishing imprint. After a busy lockdown, he is back with two new solo albums.

Climate check: Putin’s war shows autocracies and fossil fuels go hand in hand. Here’s how to tackle both

An oil pump covered in money
‘Autocrats are often directly the result of fossil fuel.’ Composite: Rita Liu/The Guardian/Getty Images

The world of money is at least as unbalanced and unfair as the world of political power – but in ways that may make it a little easier for climate advocates to make progress. Putin’s grotesque war might be where some of these strands come together. It highlights the ways that fossil fuel builds autocracy, and the power that control of scarce supplies gives to autocrats. But we’ve got years, not decades, to get the climate crisis under some kind of control. We won’t get more moments like this.

Last Thing: Connecticut mechanic finds art worth millions in dumpster at abandoned barn

Francis Hines attends the SLAG Gallery opening on 12 June 2008 in New York City.
Francis Hines attends the SLAG Gallery opening on 12 June 2008 in New York City. Photograph: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Paintings and other artwork found in an abandoned barn in Connecticut turned out to be worth millions of dollars. Notified by a contractor, Jared Whipple, a mechanic from Waterbury, retrieved the dirt-covered pieces from a dumpster that contained materials from a barn in Watertown. Whipple later found out the works were by Francis Hines, an abstract expressionist who died in 2016 at 96 and had stored his work in the barn, Hearst Connecticut Media Group reported.

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2022-04-11 20:06:53