First Thing: Trump to surrender after hush-money indictment | US news

Good morning.

Donald Trump is to appear in a Manhattan courtroom today in an extraordinary scene that marks the first time in American history that a former US president has faced criminal charges.

The 45th president of the United States and the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination will enter the lower Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday as a defendant, surrounded by Secret Service agents. Upon his arrival, Trump will be arraigned, fingerprinted and possibly photographed. Though defendants charged with felonies are typically handcuffed, one of Trump’s lawyers has indicated that he does not expect that to occur.

The specific crimes Trump has been charged with remain under seal, days after a Manhattan grand jury indicted the former president for his role in paying hush money to an adult film star. The former president is expected to enter a plea of not guilty. After the unprecedented proceedings, Trump plans to return to Mar-A-Lago, his Florida estate where the campaign has scheduled a primetime news conference.

In social media posts, Trump has cast himself as a “completely innocent person” and denounced the indictment as part of a broader conspiracy designed by Democrats to damage his political prospects. Prosecutors say the case against Trump has nothing to do with politics.

  • Trump is being arraigned. What does that mean and what happens next? Trump will appear in court this afternoon. The arraignment is scheduled for 2.15pm ET at a courthouse in lower Manhattan, which has been heavily secured amid concerns about potential unrest or violence in response to the indictment. It remains unclear what charges he is facing as the indictment is under seal but we are likely to find out today.

  • How will Trump surrender to authorities? Some of the decisions over how to formally arrest a former president appear to be pending. Tacopina has said he does not expect officers to put Trump in handcuffs but the former president is likely to be fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken once he surrenders.

Russia to bolster its defences on its border with Finland, after the latter was formally accepted into Nato

A Finnish border guard near the border crossing at Pelkola, Imatra, in November 2022.Pin
A Finnish border guard near the border crossing at Pelkola, Imatra, in November 2022. Photograph: Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP/Getty Images

Russia has said it will bolster its defences near its 808-mile border with Finland after the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, announced that the Nordic country would formally join the transatlantic defence alliance on Tuesday.

The Finnish flag will be raised for first time at Nato headquarters today. The accession marks the end of an accelerated process that began last May, when Finland and neighbouring Sweden abandoned decades of military nonalignment to seek security as Nato members after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday, Turkey became the last of the alliance’s 30 member states to ratify Finland’s application, but Turkey and Hungary continue to hold up Sweden’s bid. Stockholm said last week it was not sure it would join in time for the Nato summit in July.

“Tomorrow we will welcome Finland as the 31st member of Nato, making Finland safer and our alliance stronger,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Monday. “We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at Nato headquarters.”

  • Why does Finland’s accession into Nato matter? Finland’s Nato membership will double the length of the alliance’s border with Russia, with which Finland shares a border. It has also happened extraordinarily fast – completing the ratification in well under a year makes this the fastest membership process in the alliance’s recent history.

Chinese balloon gathered intelligence from sensitive US military sites – report

US navy sailors recover a high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina on 5 February.Pin
US navy sailors recover a high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina on 5 February. Photograph: Petty Officer First-Class Tyler TH/US navy/AFP/Getty

A Chinese spy balloon gathered intelligence as it flew over sensitive military sites in the US, despite efforts by the White House to thwart its espionage mission, reports suggest.

China succeeded in flying the massive balloon over military bases on multiple occasions and sent the information back to Beijing in real time, NBC News reported on Monday, citing two current senior US officials and one former high-level administrator. The balloon, which was the size of three school buses, was occasionally flown in a figure-eight formation over at least some of those sensitive sites before it was shot down in early February.

“The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images,” NBC’s report cited the officials as saying.

The White House official John Kirby told reporters on Monday that he could not confirm NBC’s report but said the US limited the balloon’s “ability to be able to collect anything additive”.

  • Was the data sent to China in real-time? The Pentagon said experts were still analyzing debris collected from the balloon after it was shot down on 4 February. “I could not confirm that there was real-time transmission from the balloon back to (China) at this time,” said the Pentagon spokesperson, Sabrina Singh, adding: “That’s something we’re analyzing right now.”

In other news …

A tornado forms in Moscow, Kansas, on 21 May 2020Pin
A tornado forms in Moscow, Kansas, on 21 May 2020. Some scientists say tornadoes are shifting eastwards because of global heating. Photograph: Victor Gensini/AP
  • A spate of devastating tornadoes that have recently ripped through parts of the eastern and southern US states could portend the sort of damage that will become more commonplace due to changes wrought by global heating, scientists have warned.

  • Nasa has named the first woman and the first African American ever assigned as astronauts to a lunar mission, introducing them as part of the four-member team chosen to fly as early as next year on what would be the first crewed voyage around the moon in more than 50 years.

  • One person was killed and dozens injured after a passenger train carrying about 60 people derailed in the Netherlands, Dutch emergency services said. The train left the tracks after colliding with construction equipment early today, at Voorschoten, about five miles north of The Hague.

  • Tesla will pay about $3.2m to a Black former employee after a federal jury in San Francisco ruled the electric-vehicle maker failed to prevent severe racial harassment at its flagship assembly plant in California. The amount is far less than the $15m that the plaintiff, Owen Diaz, rejected last year in opting for a new trial.

Stat of the day: One in six people worldwide affected by infertility, WHO reports

IVF procedurePin
Dr Pascale Allotey, the director of sexual and reproductive health and research at the WHO, said solutions such as in-vitro fertilization (pictured) were ‘all too often a medical poverty trap’. Photograph: Mike Kiev/Alamy

One in six people worldwide are affected by infertility, according to a report that lays bare the scale of the problem. About 17.5% of the global adult population – roughly one in six – will experience infertility at some point in their lifetime, the World Health Organization says. The figures are its first estimates of infertility prevalence in more than a decade. The rates suggest infertility is a serious health challenge in every community, country and region of the world.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said: “The report reveals an important truth – infertility does not discriminate. The sheer proportion of people affected shows the need to widen access to fertility care and ensure this issue is no longer sidelined in health research and policy, so that safe, effective and affordable ways to attain parenthood are available for those who seek it.”

Don’t miss this: ‘It’s a weapon to hunt people!’ Why so many Americans hate – and love – the AR-15

A family mourns the six victims of the Covenant school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, last month.Pin
A family mourns the six victims of the Covenant school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, last month. Photograph: Mickey Bernal/Rex/Shutterstock

Semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 have become the weapon of choice for mass shooters. In high-profile incidents in Colorado Springs, Uvalde, Buffalo, Midland, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Parkland, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino, Newtown and more, bullets fired from AR-style weapons have killed again and again. Most recently, on 27 March, a shooter with two “assault-type” weapons killed three children and three adults at a school in Nashville, Tennessee.

The mass shooting in Nashville has reignited a consistent and familiar debate in American life over AR-15s and other firearms. The crisis of gun deaths in the US is a complex quagmire of politics, cultural identity and violence that goes far beyond the horrific headlines of mass shootings. AR-15s have been banned before – yet countless gun owners are determined it will never happen again.

Climate check: The perfect storm – the US city where rising sea levels and racism collide

An American flag flies over the historic buildings of King Street in Charleston, South Carolina.Pin
An American flag flies over the historic buildings of King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Photograph: Hal Bergman/Getty Images

Predictions about how much water is coming vary greatly. Some scientists say we should be planning on 3ft of rise by 2050, 6ft by 2070 and 10ft by 2100. Someday, not too long from now, the stories of many current coastal and riverside cities across the US will include sudden plot twists as well as new beginnings, as edges that had seemed solid liquefy and become indistinguishable from the seas around them. That brings us to Charleston, South Carolina. Its geography is that of a small New York City. Charleston also has a history of racial immorality, often ignored by its contemporary boosters. Cross-currents of denialism, boosterism, broken governance systems and deep-seated racism will meet with rapidly accelerating sea level rise, writes Susan Crawford.

Last Thing: Twitter changes logo to Dogecoin cryptocurrency image in apparent late April Fools’ Day gag

Elon Musk’s new Twitter logoPin
The Twitter logo bird was unexpectedly changed to a shiba inu dog from the ‘doge’ meme, sending the Dogecoin cryptocurrency to a quarterly high. Photograph: Taidgh Barron/Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock

Twitter changed its iconic blue bird logo on Monday to mimic the logo of a popular cryptocurrency – an image of a dog that featured in viral memes – in what appears to be a late April Fools’ Day gag from the company’s owner, Elon Musk. On Monday US time, users noted that the logo on Twitter’s homepage and loading screen had been replaced with the shiba inu image associated with the Dogecoin memecoin cryptocurrency. The official Dogecoin account tweeted “Very currency. Wow. Much Coin. How Money. So Crypto” in response. Musk has not explained the reason for the change but it came days after he petitioned in a US court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by Dogecoin investors for $258bn over an alleged pyramid scheme.

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