First Thing: Trump ‘vows to escalate attacks’ on Manhattan prosecutor | US news

Good morning.

Donald Trump has told advisers and associates in recent days that he is prepared to escalate attacks against the Manhattan prosecutor who revived the criminal prosecution into hush money payments made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 now he has been indicted by a grand jury.

The former president vowed to people close to him that he wanted to go on the offensive and – in a private moment over the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida – said it was time to politically “rough ’em up” in remarks strewn with expletives.

Trump had already signaled he would go after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, weeks before a grand jury indicted the former president on Thursday, saying in posts on his social media platform, Truth Social, that the prosecution was purely political and accusing the prosecutor of being a psychopath.

But the latest charged language reflects Trump’s determination to double down on those attacks as he returns to his time-tested playbook of verbal brawling with prosecutors, especially when faced with legal trouble that he knows he cannot avoid, people close to him said.

  • What is the case actually about? The case centers on $130,000 that Trump paid to Daniels through his former lawyer Michael Cohen in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump later reimbursed Cohen with monthly $35,000 checks, which were recorded as legal expenses. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal tax evasion and campaign-finance violation charges.

  • Will Trump indictment make white evangelicals ditch ‘imperfect vessel’? No, said Robert Jones, the president and founder of Public Religion Research Institute, and author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. “The evidence from the public opinion data suggests that it will not make much difference,” Jones said.

Russian police arrest woman over bombing that killed pro-war blogger

Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed by a bomb blast at a cafe in St Petersburg.Pin
Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed by a bomb blast at a cafe in St Petersburg. Photograph: TELEGRAM/@Vladlentatarskybooks/AFP/Getty Images

Police in Russia have arrested a woman suspected of delivering a bomb that killed a prominent pro-war Russian military blogger in central St Petersburg yesterday.

Russian authorities say Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed in the blast as he was hosting a discussion with other pro-war commentators at a cafe on the banks of the Neva River in the historic heart of the city.

News reports in Russia said the bomb was hidden in a bust of the blogger given to him by the suspect as a gift moments before the explosion, which also wounded more than 30 people. Video on Russian media appeared to show Tatarsky, microphone in hand, being presented with a statue of a helmeted soldier. The video said the explosion happened minutes later.

Russian police said they had identified a woman called Darya Trepova as the suspect, adding that she was arrested in an apartment in St Petersburg after a search on Monday morning. Sources in the interior ministry told the RBK news outlet that the attack was “carefully planned in advance by several people”.

  • Who was Tatarsky? With more than 560,000 followers on Telegram, the 40-year-old was one of Russia’s most influential military bloggers. He became a trenchant critic of the defence ministry, blaming it for Russia’s inability to achieve military gains in Ukraine. He frequently travelled with Russian troops on the frontlines.

Sanna Marin suffers defeat in Finland election as SDP beaten into third place

Sanna Marin said ‘democracy has spoken’ as she conceded defeat in Finland election.Pin
Sanna Marin said ‘democracy has spoken’ as she conceded defeat in Finland election. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, has lost her battle to stay in power after her centre-left Social Democratic party (SDP) was narrowly beaten into third place in a cliffhanger election by its conservative and far-right rivals.

With all of the votes counted on Sunday, the rightwing National Coalition party (NCP) won 20.8%, with the populist, nation-first Finns party achieving 20.1%. Marin’s SDP took 19.9% on a voter turnout of 71.9%.

She congratulated the election winners during her concession speech, but hailed an improvement in both her party’s vote share and its projected number of MPs. “It’s a really good achievement, even though I didn’t finish first today,” Marin told supporters in Helsinki.

“Democracy has spoken, the Finnish people have cast their vote, and the celebration of democracy is always a wonderful thing,” she added. “We have good reason to be happy about this result.”

  • Who will be the next prime minister? In Finland, the largest party traditionally gets the first shot at forming a coalition to obtain a majority. While Marin’s four-year term as prime minister has come to a close, the SDP could yet form part of the next coalition. The NCP’s leader, Petteri Orpo, has said his party has not ruled out working with anyone. He is expected to start sounding out other leaders to begin trying to form a government, a process that is likely to take several weeks.

In other news …

The author Judy Blume speaks in New York in 2015 about her book In the Unlikely EventPin
Judy Blume, the author of 1970 book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, says growing intolerance must be challenged Photograph: Kathy Willens/AP
  • The author Judy Blume says a rise in intolerance in the US has led to a “much worse” epidemic of book banning than she experienced in the 1980s. The writer of children’s, young adult and adult fiction, whose frank depictions of adolescence and puberty have long caused controversy, said it was time to fight back against censorship.

  • Having just been discharged, the Pennsylvanian senator John Fetterman has said he is committed “to start making up [for] any lost time” after six weeks in hospital being treated for depression. He spoke frankly in an interview with CBS about the circumstances that convinced him to seek inpatient treatment.

  • The US plans to open an embassy in Vanuatu, the state department has confirmed, as Washington moves to increase its diplomatic presence in the Pacific to counter China’s growing influence. Washington, which has ties with the island nation, also plans embassies in Kiribati and Tonga.

  • Japan has added to its large and eclectic pool of vending machines with one that sells fresh bear meat – and which has proved an unlikely hit. The machine in the northern prefecture of Akita has attracted a steady stream of customers since it was installed at the end of last year.

Stat of the day: Oil price surges to $86 a barrel after surprise Opec+ production cut

A section of the Karbala oil refinery in Iraq on the day operations began at the plantPin
An oil refinery at Karbala, Iraq. Western governments are worried the decision by Opec+ to prop up prices could harm efforts to curb inflation. Photograph: Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/AFP/Getty Images

Oil prices have surged to $86 a barrel after the world’s largest producers announced a surprise cut in production, a move that is likely to prompt fresh tensions with the US as western governments try to get a grip on inflation. The Opec+ group of countries, which includes Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Russia and other large producers, said they would cut production by about 1m barrels a day, accounting for about 3.7% of global demand. That is on top of existing plans to continue a reduction of 2m barrels a day – originally agreed in November – until the end of 2023. The latest decision caused an immediate spike in Brent crude futures contracts for May, with the international benchmark for oil prices rising more than 7% to $86 a barrel on Monday morning. While Opec+ representatives said the move was intended to support market price stability, some analysts said members were angling for higher profits.

Don’t miss this: ‘Identify how you want to identify, and God bless you!’ – Michael Bublé on fans, faith and fitting in

Michael Buble, photographed at Hotel Cafe Royalin LondonPin
The Canadian crooner has sold 75m records, but says he’ll never be cool. Not that he’s fussed. He discusses loneliness, love and the joy of live shows. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian

When his eponymous major-label debut was released in 2003, Michael Bublé definitely was not seen as cool and it took him ages to become at all famous. It was fine to be a pop star, but critics made careful distinctions between people who wrote their own material, had it written for them, or jumped on existing classics, which was and maybe still viewed as a form of freeloading, writes Zoe Williams. So Bublé, who writes his own songs, too (though it may take him six months a pop, he’s had a long career and 27 or 28 hits now), was hard to categorise, and that was not cool either. “I used to feel quite lonely,” he says. “Not needy – it was just a very strange place to be within the business. I would show up on a red carpet and what was I? Was I a pop star? Was I a songwriter? Was I crooner? I never seemed to fit in with anyone. I would see all these acts that I admired and I never fit in. I still don’t fit in.”

The Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Pin
The Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP

A Harvard environmental law professor’s links to the fossil fuel industry have come under scrutiny after she was awarded a prestigious research grant to investigate corporate climate pledges. Prof Jody Freeman, the founding director of Harvard law school’s environmental and energy law program and former Obama-era White House adviser, is a paid board member of ConocoPhillips – a Fortune 500 multinational oil and gas company that was ranked the 13th most polluting in the world by a Guardian investigation in 2019. Freeman also co-chairs Harvard’s presidential committee on sustainability and was recently awarded funding by the university’s new Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability to lead research on corporate net zero targets.

Last Thing: ‘We knew she was #gwynnocent’ – how the Paltrow trial captivated the world

Gwyneth Paltrow and her attorney Steve Owens react as the verdict is read on Thursday.Pin
Gwyneth Paltrow and her attorney Steve Owens react as the verdict is read on Thursday. Photograph: Getty Images

For much of the last two weeks, an astonishing degree of media attention was focused on a small mountain town in Utah for a ski-vacation legal drama that played out against a civil court setting. Of course, the fight involved one of the biggest A-list celebrities in the world: the actor and wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow. In the end, Paltrow prevailed in the case but she also won in other ways. Ten days ago, she was acquiring negative headlines for sharing her diet of bone broth, coffee and intermittent fasting, plus an intrusive new ozone therapy treatment, on the The Art of Being Well podcast. But as the online magazine the Cut pointed out: “All it took was a few suffragette-chic courtroom outfits and meme-able moments for naysayers to change their tune.”

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