How to break the Xi-Putin axis? Biden must engage with Beijing

Beijing is following Vladimir Putin’s aggressive playbook. The US can counter the march of the autocrats, but only if it stops feeding their paranoia

Is there a school for autocrats? As if by rote, authoritarian leaders around the world trot out remarkably similar justifications for their repressive actions, democratic deficits and policy failures. These typically include scary claims that their country is under attack by foreign forces and saboteurs or is the victim of a global conspiracy.

Perhaps they have all taken an online correspondence course for aspiring dictators. Tyrants R Us.

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Sunak heads to US to unveil latest news on Australian nuclear sub deal

Latest phase of Aukus scheme comes amid concerns about growing threat from China

Rishi Sunak will fly to San Diego on Sunday to unveil plans for supplying Australia with nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus scheme amid concerns about the growing threat from China.

A major announcement 18 months in the making is expected when the UK prime minister meets his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albanese, and US president Joe Biden.

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My Cyclone Diary: after the flood, the dread that replaces panic

In the second instalment in a series of diaries about Cyclone Gabrielle’s aftermath in New Zealand, Anna Rankin describes the fears, rumours and unexpected effects of a lack of internet in the town of Wairoa

It is difficult to record historical events that will in time determine policy decisions and economic outcomes, and the lives of those affected, while events are still unfolding. There are the quick impressions – men wrestling escaped bees on a roadside deep in flood waters, a flattened cornfield marked by the shape and force of the torrent, a mud-soiled child on a stoop, wide plains transformed into lakes, the eerie chime of a stuck train signal. Then there are the pecuniary matters – the financial loss of a corn yield – and the interviews with the afflicted.

Any large-scale traumatic event, be it a natural disaster or a war will often provoke reminders of previous traumatic episodes; instances that have remained abstract, placeless or locked within the mind. A flood might breach other instances of grief, loss, degradation, violence. It may be the interminable and sour stench of silt and sewage, children’s toys and clothing heaped in brown puddles, humble and cherished items stacked in ruins or the ceaseless clack of helicopters flying low through ashen skies that prompt the return of a painful memory; it could be the sight of broken walls, sagging houses, a wrecked car submerged in mud.

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Afghan girls may be blocked from taking GCSEs as families moved from London

‘Barbaric’ to take away exam chance after all teenage refugees have overcome, headteacher says

Two 16-year-old Afghan refugee girls will not be able to sit their GCSEs because the Home Office is moving them out of London weeks before their exams without guaranteed school places, their “heartbroken” headteacher has told the Observer.

Fulham Cross Girls School, an academy in London, enrolled 15 Afghan girls who were evacuated to the UK when the Taliban took power in 2021. They have been living in bridging accommodation in a hotel for a year and a half, but all the families were notified last week that they would be moved out of London at the end of March.

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‘Russia has lost its soft power’: how war in Ukraine destabilises old Soviet allies

Protests in Georgia last week were just the latest indication of how Putin’s disastrous invasion has damaged relations with former Eastern bloc nations

• Russia-Ukraine war – latest updates

As Georgian protesters marched on the country’s parliament against a new “foreign agents” law this week, they bore signs that said “No to Russian law!”, and others decrying the spirit of autocracy and imperialism that is now firmly associated with Moscow’s influence in the region.

By all appearances, the law they opposed was a local initiative to allow the ruling Georgian Dream party to crack down on civil society and win forthcoming elections. But that party’s perceived closeness to Moscow and the similarities to a notorious Russian law against “foreign agents” were a popular rallying cry for Georgians who joined the protests.

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