First Thing: US is ignoring Russia’s security concerns, says Putin


Show caption Vladimir Putin and the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, meet in Moscow on Tuesday. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images First Thing First Thing: US is ignoring Russia’s security concerns, says Putin In his first public comments on crisis since December, Putin says west is using Ukraine as ‘tool to hinder Russia’. Plus far-right Republicans, and a backlash against sex positivity

Paul Owen @paultowen Wed 2 Feb 2022 11.21 GMT Share on Facebook

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Good morning.

Vladimir Putin has accused the US of ignoring Russia’s security proposals in his first public comments on the growing crisis over Ukraine since December.

During a press conference at the Kremlin on Tuesday, the Russian president told journalists he was unsatisfied with the US response to Moscow’s demands that Nato remove troops and infrastructure from eastern Europe and agree never to accept Ukraine into the alliance.

“It’s already clear … that Russia’s principal concerns were ignored,” Putin said after talks with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

Putin also said the west was using Ukraine as a “tool to hinder Russia” and hypothesised that Ukraine’s entrance into Nato could lead to a conflict over Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

What happens next? Putin said he was ready to continue negotiations with the west, which has said it is ready for dialogue but views Moscow’s demands as a non-starter.

But … Russia has also continued deploying thousands of troops and offensive weapons to the Ukrainian border, appearing to threaten a strike if the Kremlin does not get its way. Joe Biden has said that he believes Putin has not decided whether or not to launch an attack but that he expects that he will “move in”.

Fury over early release of Chicago officer convicted of Black teenager’s murder

Protesters engage with Chicago police after the video of Laquan McDonald being shot was released in 2014. Photograph: ZUMA Wire/Rex Shutterstock

The early release from prison of a white Chicago police officer who was sentenced to six years and nine months for the murder of a Black teenager in 2014 has sparked anger among relatives, community organizers and politicians who are questioning the decision to shave three years off his sentence for “good behavior”.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted in 2018 of the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, after video showed Van Dyke shooting the teenager 16 times.

Van Dyke is to be released on 3 February, almost three years ahead of schedule. He will remain on parole for at least two years.

McDonald’s grandmother, Tracie Hunter, called Van Dyke’s punishment a “slap on the wrist” , according to the Chicago Tribune.

Local activists have led several protests over the past week, including a rally outside Illinois governor JB Pritzker’s home last Friday. A number of other actions are planned for Thursday, when Van Dyke will be released.

Republicans to field more than 100 far-right candidates this year

More than 100 far-right candidates are running for political office across the country as Republicans this year, according to the Anti-Defamation League (L), a non-profit that monitors hate groups.

Aside from those expressing extremist rhetoric and far-right views, the L has found at least a dozen of the candidates had explicit connections to “white supremacists, anti-government extremists and members of the far-right Proud Boys”. This includes primary challengers running on the right of some sitting Republicans.

The wave of far-right candidates includes sitting legislators such as the Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers , who has admitted to being a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia with 11 members under federal indictment for seditious conspiracy.

Other militia groups have candidates running or already in local office. The Washington Three Percent militia claims members in dozens of elected offices throughout the Pacific north-west, the Washington Post found, “including a mayor, a county commissioner and at least five school board seats”.

In other news …

Whoopi Goldberg: suspension. Photograph: MediaPunch/Rex/Shutterstock

Don’t miss this: Why Generation Z is turning its back on sex-positive feminism

Not anti-sex … asexual activist Yasmin Benoit speaks at the Prague Pride festival in 2019.

Photograph: CTK/Alamy

The idea that nobody should be judged for their sexual desires lies at the heart of so-called “sex-positive feminism”, writes Gaby Hinsliff. From the gleeful exhibitionism of Love Island contestants to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s exuberant sex-positive anthem Wet Ass Pussy, the idea that enjoying sex is nothing to be ashamed of – in theory at least, if not always in practice – has filtered into young women’s everyday lives. But if sex-positive feminism champions women pursuing their own desires without feeling judged, it also demands that they refrain from judging the way other people have sex – at least between consenting adults. Now, some are questioning who this free-for-all really serves and how consent is defined, in a society where women are still heavily conditioned to please men.

Climate check: Extreme heat in oceans ‘passed point of no return’ in 2014

Pedalos on the banks of the Marmara Sea covered with sea snot. As the climate crisis heats the seas, plankton are on the move, with potentially profound consequences for ocean life and humans. Photograph: Yasin Akgül/AFP/Getty Images

Extreme heat in the world’s oceans passed the “point of no return” in 2014 and has become the new normal, according to research.

Scientists analysed sea surface temperatures over the last 150 years, which have risen because of global heating. They found that extreme temperatures occurring 2% of the time a century ago have occurred at least 50% of the time across the global ocean since 2014.

In some hotspots, extreme temperatures occur 90% of the time, severely affecting wildlife. More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is absorbed by the ocean, which plays a critical role in maintaining a stable climate.

Last Thing: Idaho library has wait list for story eight-year-old hid on a shelf

Dillon Helbig sneaked his handwritten book into the stories section of his local library, which named him its best young novelist.

Photograph: Isabelle Plasschaert/Alamy

When eight-year-old Dillon Helbig finished writing his book, The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis, in mid-December, he wanted everyone to read it. So during a visit with his grandmother to the Lake Hazel branch of the Ada Community Library in Boise, Idaho, Dillon quietly deposited his book, signed “by Dillon His Self”, on to a nearby shelf. Manager Alex Hartman and his colleagues discovered Dillon’s book in the “stories” section and read it, including to Hartman’s six-year-old son. “Dillon’s book definitely fit all the criteria that we would look for to include a book in our collection,” Hartman said. And so, with Dillon’s permission, the library stickered and catalogued the book and placed it with its holdings of graphic novels for adults, teens and kids.

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