First Thing: pressure increases on Netanyahu over Israeli judiciary plans | US news

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Israel’s embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to address the nation about his far-right government’s proposal to overhaul the judiciary, after a decision to sack his defence minister for opposing the plans sparked mass protests across the country overnight.

Israeli media outlets reported on Monday morning that, in a televised address, the prime minister would announce a freeze to the bitterly contested legislation, which would limit the powers of the country’s supreme court. But shortly before he was due to speak at 10.30am (0330 ET), Israeli television said the statement would be delayed due to disarray in the governing coalition.

Israel’s largest trade union group launched a strike across a broad swath of sectors on Monday, joining a surging protest movement against the proposed changes.

Sunday night was one of the most dramatic in Israeli history, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the firing of the defence minister, Yoav Galant, who had made a public call to scrap the proposals.

  • Why are people against the changes? Critics say they will give politicians too much power over the judiciary by allowing a simple majority in the Knesset to overrule almost all of the court’s decisions, and give politicians a decisive say on appointments to the bench. It has also been pointed out the move could help Netanyahu evade prosecution in his corruption trial, in which he denies all charges.

  • What has Israel’s president said? President Isaac Herzog, writing on Twitter in the early hours of Monday morning, said: “For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on [Netanyahu] to stop the legislative process immediately.”

Mississippi tornado: Biden declares emergency after storm kills 26 in region

Search and recovery efforts continue after twister hit hardest in some of the most economically deprived areas of US’s poorest state.Pin
Search and recovery efforts continue after twister hit hardest in some of the most economically deprived areas of US’s poorest state. Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Joe Biden declared a federal emergency for swathes of Mississippi hit by a devastating tornado, as rescue workers continued to search for survivors on Sunday morning, with a death toll of at least 26 people caused by catastrophic storms in parts of the US’s deep south.

Twenty-five people were killed and dozens injured in Mississippi, throughout the state’s low-lying Delta region and around its north-east portion, with another man dying in the neighboring state of Alabama.

The fatalities were the most for a tornado in Mississippi in more than five decades as the twister hit hardest in some of the most economically deprived areas of America’s poorest state.

In the Delta town of Rolling Fork, with a population of about 2,000, entire neighborhoods were reduced to rubble. Video of the aftermath showed crushed cars, a toppled municipal water tower and bent trees shorn of their leaves.

  • Do we know anything about the victims? Stories are beginning to emerge. In Carroll county, fatalities included three members of the same family living in a mobile home park near the community of Summerfield. Danny Munford, 51, his wife, Helen Munford, 54, and their son JaDarrion Murphy, 14, died after winds picked up their mobile home and tore it apart, the local paper reports.

Trump says he’s not upset over possible indictment while attacking ‘fake’ case

Former President Donald Trump walks to the stage to begin his Make America Great Again Rally in Waco, Texas, Saturday.Pin
Donald Trump walks to the stage to begin his Make America Great Again Rally in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. Photograph: Sara Diggins/AP

Donald Trump said repeatedly on Saturday night he was not upset by expected criminal charges that might arise from the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into his role in paying hush money to the adult film star Stormy Daniels as he returned from a campaign rally in Waco, Texas.

But the manner of Trump’s responses to questions suggested worries about potential damage to his image, and he came across as someone angry that his good vibrations with his “Make America Great Again” base in Texas could be interrupted by the reality of a possible indictment as soon as this week.

Travelling back from his first rally as a 2024 presidential candidate, Trump claimed during a recorded interview with four reporters onboard his Trump Force One plane that he was unafraid about the investigation even as he criticised the case and attacked media reporting of it.

“I’m not frustrated by it. It’s a fake investigation. We did nothing wrong – I told you that,” the former president said before proceeding to lash out at the NBC News reporter on the plane who asked if he was frustrated. “This is fake news, and NBC is one of the worst. Don’t ask me any more questions.”

  • What else is happening? Trump ignited a week of political, media and law enforcement frenzy when he announced on his social media platform Truth Social that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday but his lawyer has admitted that the former president based his incendiary and unfounded remarks about his imminent arrest last week on mere speculation prompted by “rumours”.

In other news …

  • A jail in Washington DC has become the latest focal point of the US culture wars after a congressional delegation led by the Republican extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene visited defendants charged in 2021’s deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol and championed them as “political prisoners”.

  • The UK’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda would “completely erode” Britain’s standing on the world stage, the new head of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. The UK government’s deportation scheme was agreed with Rwanda nearly a year ago but has been held up by legal challenges since then.

  • A powerful explosion at a Pennsylvania chocolate factory known for making chocolate Easter bunnies killed a total of seven people, authorities said, as emergency workers retrieved the last of the bodies. The deadly blast obliterated the facility 60 miles north-west of Philadelphia.

  • John Fetterman is expected to return to office soon after spending the last five weeks in a hospital receiving treatment for mental depression, a spokesperson has said, though the staffer stopped short of offering an exact timeline.

Stat of the day: Elon Musk memo suggests Twitter worth less than half of what he paid for it

Elon MuskPin
Calculation based on leaked offer to staff that implies firm valued at $20bn, compared with $44bn he bought it for. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter is worth less than half of what Elon Musk paid for it six months ago, having lost more than $20bn in value, according to calculations based on a leaked memo from the billionaire. Musk suggested in a memo to the social media company’s staff that it is now valued at less than $20bn. This compares with the $44bn he paid for it in October 2022. The company’s steep devaluation follows Musk’s turbulent takeover. Several large advertisers have left the platform and a major source of funds for Musk’s purchase of the company, the investment firm Fidelity, has written down the value of its stake by 56%. Musk’s email also said that, before a spate of high-profile, acrimonious layoffs the company had been about four months from running out of money. Twitter’s headcount has been cut from about 7,500 to about 2,000 employees, according to figures Musk put forward in December.

Don’t miss this: ‘They trained us to be killers. What happens when we get home?’ – US veterans and families on the Iraq war

composite image of soldiersPin
At the Iraq war’s peak, 170,000 US troops were in the country. Composite: Getty images

At the peak of the Iraq war, there were an estimated 170,000 members of the US military in the country. To maintain that level of force required not only long-serving members of the military but also army and navy reserves and a nationwide recruitment drive. Twenty years after the war, veterans and their families discuss what they have experienced.

John Buffin, 58, Texas was a special operations military trainer in Texas and worked in Iraq as a personal protection officer for the US government from 2003-04. He had also served in the Gulf war in 1990 but he soon realised things were very different on his second visit. He says: “We don’t question orders, we just go and believe what we’re told. But we were sent to Iraq on false information. And in spring 2004, it all went to hell. Nobody could drive on the roads and people were shooting at us in the daytime. We all thought we were going to die. And we felt duped.”

… or this: Wash, blow dry and 1.5C please – hairdressers trained to talk about climate action

Paloma Rose Garcia who runs Paloma Salon in Paddington, Sydney with her clientsPin
Paloma Rose Garcia: ‘You’re letting someone touch your hair and so you have to like them. That trust allows them to start that conversation.’ Photograph: The Guardian

Inside this chic Sydney hair salon, the chat between stylists and clients could be much the same as in any other hairdressers around the world, writes Graham Readfearn. Some small talk. The ubiquitous and occasionally mundane chat about holidays and traffic. For regulars, the conversation can move to the deeply personal before you can say semi-tint or shag cut. In fact, there is only one easily missable clue in the front window that conversations inside Paloma might, when the occasion arises, be a bit different. A poster reads: “This salon chats about love, life & climate action.” Prof Lesley Hughes, one of two climate scientists who have helped run workshops to give hairdressers the tools for times when the conversation turns to the existential, said: “The weather is the hook. You can take a cue from that.”

Deep-sea mining robot Patania II is trialled in the Pacific OceanPatania II, a 25-tonne seabed mining robot, is lowered into the Pacific Ocean to begin a descent to the sea floor, in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean, April 2021. GSR/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDITPin
The deep-sea mining robot Patania II is lowered into the Pacific Ocean to begin a descent to the sea floor, in April 2021. Photograph: GSR/Reuters

An investigation by conservationists has found evidence that deep-seabed mining of rare minerals could cause “extensive and irreversible” damage to the planet. The report, to be published today by the international wildlife charity Fauna & Flora, adds to the growing controversy that surrounds proposals to sweep the ocean floor of rare minerals that include cobalt, manganese and nickel. Mining companies want to exploit these deposits – which are crucial to the alternative energy sector – because land supplies are running low, they say. However, oceanographers, biologists and other researchers have warned that these plans would cause widespread pollution, destroy global fish stocks and obliterate marine ecosystems.

Last Thing: Can Gwyneth Paltrow’s star and brand bounce back from recent misses?

Gwyneth Paltrow appears on the stand in a Utah court where she is accused of causing a ski accident.Pin
Gwyneth Paltrow appears on the stand in a Utah court, where she is accused of causing a ski accident. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/EPA

It has not been a great week for the actor and lifestyle tycoon Gwyneth Paltrow, once one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, who successfully founded a hugely lucrative wellness empire known as Goop. But in a plot twist that seems as unlikely as any denouement in the movies she once graced, Paltrow spent much of last week in the drab surroundings of a Park City, Utah, court room. She was there – in a town that plays host to the famous Sundance film festival – to fight a decidedly unglamorous battle against Terry Sanderson, a 76-year-old retired optometrist and military veteran. Sanderson claims Paltrow, 50, was “out of control” and recklessly crashed into him on a beginner’s slope at the nearby Deer Valley Resort leaving the retiree “facedown in the snow, unconscious”, with a concussion and four broken ribs. Cue – lawsuits.

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