First Thing: how the right racialized the Ohio train disaster | US news

Good morning.

Three weeks into the Ohio train disaster, a new set of headlines has started to billow up from rightwing outlets and commentators. Now the tragedy of East Palestine has morphed into a racialized lament for the “forgotten” people abandoned by the uncaring “woke” Biden administration.

Leading the charge, as is so often the case with such white-America nativist fear-mongering, is the Fox News star Tucker Carlson. “East Palestine is overwhelmingly white, and it’s politically conservative,” he said recently. “That shouldn’t be relevant, but it very much is.”

Carlson went on to describe East Palestine as a “poor benighted town whose people are forgotten, and in the view of the people who lead this country, forgettable”. He highlighted the indisputable suffering of local residents who were forced to evacuate a two-mile area and since they have returned home remain fearful about the quality of the air and water.

The idea that the rail disaster should be viewed through a racial lens has spread like a toxin from Fox News, through rightwing news sites and social media, into the political realm. JD Vance, the first-term Republican US senator from Ohio, picked up the clarion call of the “forgotten” Americans, calling the residents of East Palestine, pointedly, “our voters”.

Screen Actors Guild awards 2023: Everything Everywhere All at Once breaks record for wins

The 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild AwardsPin
Everything Everywhere All at Once picked up four major categories, while The White Lotus and Abbott Elementary won big for television. Photograph: Michael Buckner/Variety/Getty Images

Everything Everywhere All at Once reigned supreme at this year’s Screen Actors Guild awards, winning four major awards and breaking the record for most wins for a single film.

The multiverse fantasy film picked up the night’s biggest award for ensemble in a motion picture, female actor for Michelle Yeoh and both supporting actor awards, for Jamie Lee Curtis and Ke Huy Quan. With four wins, Everything Everywhere All at Once has broken the record for most SAG awards by any single film ever; just four films have won three since the awards began in 1995.

“I think if I speak, my heart will explode,” Yeoh said at the start of her emotional speech. She said she was up against “titans”, referring to competition from Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Viola Davis. “This is not just for me, this is for every girl who looks like me,” she said. “Thank you for giving me a seat at the table.”

In a tearful acceptance speech, Quan spoke about being the first Asian man to win an individual award in any film category in the history of the SAG awards. He said the moment no longer belonged to him, but to everyone who “asked for change”.

  • What else won big? The cast of HBO’s The White Lotus dominated in the television categories, winning for ensemble in a drama series, while Jennifer Coolidge won outstanding female actor in a drama series.

War crimes dominate agenda at UN in Geneva while charity boss urges help for Ukraine’s orphans

Ukraine children foe 27 Feb 2023 featurePin
Children in Ukraine with whom the group Kidsave has worked. Photograph: Courtesy of Kidsave

The UN human rights council is set to meet today in a united call to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and extend its investigation into war crimes in the conflict.

Days after the United Nations general assembly in New York voted overwhelmingly to demand Russia immediately withdraw from Ukraine, the war is expected to dominate the opening of the top UN rights body’s main annual session in Geneva.

Meanwhile, officials estimate there were more than 105,000 children across 700 orphanages, boarding schools and other institutions in Ukraine when the war there started – that’s more than 1% of the nation’s underage population and Europe’s highest rate of youth institutionalization.

The resident of Los Angeles-based nonprofit Kidsave, Randi Thompson is calling on Americans to ponder another way of helping Ukraine: aiding efforts to place Ukrainian children orphaned by the Russian invasion in new families within their country.

  • What is happening with Sweden and Finland’s bid to join Nato? The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said on Monday that talks with Sweden and Finland regarding their Nato membership bids would resume on 9 March, after a delay in January in the wake of a Qur’an-burning protest.

  • What else is happening? Here’s what we know on day 369 of the invasion.

In other news …

Balloon recovered from the seaPin
While there’s bipartisan agreement on the need to better compete with China following the suspected spy balloon incident, there isn’t agreement on how to do so. Photograph: Us Navy/Reuters
  • A resolution condemning China for the balloon incident passed the House in an unanimous vote of 419 to 0, as Democrats and Republicans find rare bipartisan cause but experts fear this moment of agreement in Washington could escalate tensions with Beijing and increase the risk of conflict.

  • The virus that drove the Covid-19 pandemic most likely emerged from a laboratory leak but not as part of a weapons program, according to an updated and classified 2021 US energy department study provided to the White House and senior American lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

  • Three people have been charged over the gruesome murder of Hong Kong woman Abby Choi, as police reveal they found more body parts after searching a house and cemetery yesterday. Choi’s ex-husband, Alex Kwong Kong-chi, his father and his brother were formally charged with murder yesterday.

  • Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs have met in Jordan for the first such high-level talks in years aimed at defusing tensions in the volatile region ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which it is feared could act as the catalyst for a wider escalation. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials have expressed “readiness” to work to stop violence.

  • The first Black woman to have been hired by the US Secret Service, Zandra Flemister, has died at the age of 71, leaving behind as her legacy a rich political career, her fight with Alzheimer’s, and a lawsuit that details the widespread racism and discrimination she suffered during her tenure.

Stat of the day: California man sets world record after visiting Disneyland for 2,995 days

Reitz outside Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before the park shut due to Covid-19.Pin
Reitz outside Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before the park shut due to Covid-19. Photograph: Jeff Gritchen/AP

There are “Disney adults” – who are obsessed with the animation giant’s products despite being grownups – and then there’s Jeff Reitz. His fascination with Disney drove him to visit the company’s world-famous theme park in Anaheim, California, daily for eight years, three months and 13 days. As a result, the 50-year-old from nearby Huntington Beach has earned himself an entry in the Guinness book of world records for having made the most consecutive visits to Disneyland ever, officials announced last week. Reitz “was actually shocked” when Guinness called him and informed him of the record he had set, he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Saturday. “It was just wild how all this happened.”

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Don’t miss this: New York’s new drug problem – what to do with a billion-dollar weed mountain?

Marijuana products on display at the Weed World store in New York city.Pin
Marijuana products on display at the Weed World store in New York city. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

With the aroma and sales of cannabis seemingly everywhere, New York’s mayor, Eric Adams, is committed to redoubling efforts to crack down on unlicensed distributors, raiding dozens of stores, confiscating product and issuing fines. In one instance, a converted school bus selling marijuana near Rockaway Beach ferry was seized. There is big money at stake.

New York has licensed far more farms than dispensaries, creating a glut of unsold product. At Hudson Cannabis, Melany Dobson has 2,700lb of harvest bud stacked to the roof in storage containers awaiting certification from one of five state testing labs. At the market value of $300 a pound wholesale, her stash value is $800,000.

… or this: Why have young men fallen out of love with romantic relationships?

Serene man relaxing in bedroomPin
‘Rather than focusing on young men being single, the real problem is the fact that men don’t have friends.’ Photograph: YakobchukOlena/Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Sex, numerous studies show, is going out of fashion. Young people aren’t shagging much any more, a phenomenon that has been widely blamed on technology and online porn. And it’s not just sexual activity that’s declining – young men in the US appear to have fallen out of love with romantic relationships. A recent Pew Research study has found that 63% of men under 30 describe themselves as single, compared with 34% of women in the same age bracket. Cue a lot of dramatic headlines,” writes Arwa Mahdawi. “While we may never solve the mystery behind the relationship gap, there’s been a lot of handwringing about these numbers, mainly from conservative circles who take it as evidence that feminism and the modern world (particularly porn) has emasculated young men.”

France’s Perrine Laffont competes in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.Pin
France’s Perrine Laffont competes in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. It was the first winter Games to rely almost entirely on artificial snow. Photograph: Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

Winter sports are being sponsored by high-carbon companies despite their pollution helping to melt the snow the sports require to exist, according to a new report. The report found that more than 100 events, organisations and athletes were sponsored by fossil fuel companies, carmakers and airlines. The sponsorships were like “winter sport nailing the lid on its own coffin”, said one Olympic champion. The report, by campaign group Badvertising and thinktank New Weather Sweden, found 83 sponsorship deals from car manufacturers. The largest governing body in winter sports, the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS), is itself sponsored by Audi.

Last Thing: Medieval medicine – the return to maggots and leeches to treat ailments

‘Between 2007 and 2019, the number of NHS patients treated with maggots increased by 47%. Meanwhile, a farm in Wales supplies 60,000 leeches every year.’ Illustration: Barry Falls

The rise in global antibiotic resistance means huge sums are being invested in groundbreaking treatments. But some scientists are turning back the clock in the hunt for effective alternatives. For several long months in the 1990s, Ronald Sherman travelled all over southern California catching flies. Sherman was curious about a potential new – and also very old – way to clean wounds. At medical school, he’d written a paper on the history of maggot therapy, tracing how the creepy crawlies helped heal soldiers in the Napoleonic wars, the American civil war and the first world war. Now Sherman wanted to test maggots in a modern setting. The problem? No one farmed and sold the species of flies that the doctor needed – so he went out and caught them himself.

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