First Thing: Moscow to deepen ties with China as west pledges more weapons

·6 min read
<span>Photograph: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

Russia’s foreign minister has said Moscow will focus on developing relations with China, though would consider offers from the west to re-establish ties.

Sergei Lavrov, in a question and answer session at an event in Moscow, said western countries had espoused “russophobia” since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Russia was working to replace goods imported from western countries, he said, and in future, would depend only on “reliable” countries not beholden to the west.

Meanwhile, 20 countries announced new security assistance packages and agreed to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine, including a harpoon launcher and missiles to protect its coast, the US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, told reporters on Monday.

Among the countries that announced packages are Italy, Denmark, Greece, Norway and Poland.

Invasion of Ukraine shows need for free and open Indo-Pacific, says Biden

Joe Biden at the Quad summit in Tokyo.
Joe Biden at the Quad summit in Tokyo. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The turmoil caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underlined the need for a free Indo-Pacific region, Joe Biden has said at a meeting with regional partners that Beijing has condemned as part of a US-led attempt to contain China.

Biden and the leaders of a loose alliance known as the Quad – India, Japan and Australia – reaffirmed their commitment to a “free and open” Indo-Pacific during talks in Tokyo on Tuesday. The comments came a day after the US president said Washington would be ready to intervene militarily to defend Taiwan, prompting China to accuse him of “playing with fire”.

Biden later appeared to attempt to play down his remarks, saying the US policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan remained unchanged, according to media reports.

Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with weapons for self-defence, but under a decades-long policy of strategic ambiguity, it has never explicitly committed itself to intervening militarily to protect the island in the event of a Chinese attack – a stance that Biden appeared to have contradicted.

  • Has there been any change to the US policy on Taiwan? Biden was asked this after a round of Quad talks. “No. The policy has not changed at all,” he said. “I stated that when I made my statement yesterday.”

The ‘straight, white, Christian, suburban mom’ taking on Republicans at their own game

Mallory McMorrow
Mallory McMorrow’s riposte to a hurtful slander by a colleague has been hailed as a midterms blueprint for Democrats. Photograph: AP

Mallory McMorrow remembers the sting of being slandered by a colleague for wanting to “groom” and “sexualize” young children. “I felt horrible,” she said. But instead of shrugging it off or trying to change the subject, as Democrats are often criticised for doing, the state senator from Michigan decided to fight back.

In just four minutes and 40 seconds, McMorrow delivered a fierce, impassioned floor speech at the state capitol that went viral on social media and earned a laudatory phone call from the US president, writes David Smith.

She also offered a blueprint for how Democrats can combat Republicans intent on making education a wedge issue. The New Yorker magazine described her as “a role model for the midterms”. The New York Times newspaper added: “If Democrats could bottle Mallory McMorrow … they would do it.”

It was quite an ovation for a 35-year-old serving her first term in office. McMorrow, who previously worked as a car designer and branding and design consultant, is among a generation galvanised by resistance to Donald Trump and his red meat populism.

  • What did she say in the speech? She said: “I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense.” You can watch the whole speech here.

In other news …

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
  • A Maryland man who draped himself in a far right-affiliated flag and sprayed a fire extinguisher at police during the deadly Capitol attack on 6 January has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison, according to federal court records. Matthew Ryan Miller, 23, pleaded guilty in February.

  • The defamation trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard entered its fifth and final week of testimony on Monday, with a witness for Heard testifying that Depp could not have lost the tip of his finger during a domestic fight in the way he had recounted.

  • California could face mandatory water restrictions if residents don’t use less on their own as the drought drags on and the hotter summer months approach, the state’s governor has said. Gavin Newsom threatened the possibly of statewide mandates in a meeting with representatives from major water agencies.

  • Airbnb is closing down its business inside China indefinitely, as the country’s zero-Covid policy, lockdowns and travel restrictions continue. This morning, Airbnb told its China-based users it would cease taking all bookings for accommodation and experiences in China from 30 July.

Don’t miss this: Have we been getting sleep all wrong?

We are regularly told the “ideal” night of sleep consists of eight uninterrupted hours. But this belief is wrong in so many ways, writes Russell Foster. Sleep is like shoe size. One size does not fit all, and these kinds of edicts cause confusion and anxiety for many. The truth is that how long we sleep, our preferred sleep times and how many times we wake during the night vary both between people and in the same person as they get older.

… or this: I went wild swimming in a chilly river and haven’t had a panic attack since

“I was at my wits’ end when I finally lowered myself into the River Wensum, in Norfolk, at the tail end of autumn 2019,” writes Tim Clare. “My quest to find a cure for my severe anxiety and decades’ worth of weekly – sometimes daily – panic attacks was going badly. I’d exhausted conventional treatments, so I decided to try something different. An anaesthetist, Mark Harper, had told me about research he had co-authored into cold outdoor swimming as a treatment for depression.”

Climate check: Deadly Indian heatwave made 30 times more likely by climate crisis

A snacks vendor sits under a shade and waits for customer on a hot summer afternoon in Jammu, India, May 19, 2022. Many parts of north west and central India continued to experience heat wave conditions. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
A vendor sits under a shade and waits for customers in Jammu, India, as temperatures reach 50C. Photograph: Channi Anand/AP

The heatwave scorching India and Pakistan has been made 30 times more likely by the climate crisis, according to scientists. Extreme temperatures and low rainfall since mid-March have caused widespread suffering, including deaths, crop losses, forest fires, and cuts to power and water supplies. The study is the latest to show the already severe impacts of global heating on millions of people, even though the global average temperature has risen only 1.2C above pre-industrial levels to date.

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