First Thing: Joe Biden and Donald Trump agree to two debates

<span>Joe Biden said Wednesday that Donald Trump lost two debates to him in 2020 ‘and since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate’.</span><span>Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP</span>
Joe Biden said Wednesday that Donald Trump lost two debates to him in 2020 ‘and since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate’.Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Good morning,

Joe Biden and Donald Trump will debate each other on 27 June and 10 September, it has been agreed, after the Biden re-election campaign proposed two TV debates, bucking a tradition of three.

CNN said it would host the first debate in the battleground state of Georgia, and ABC will host the second in a location to be announced. Trump proposed a third date but the Biden campaign rejected the offer. In 2020, Trump pulled out of the second debate as he refused to appear remotely, as the Commission on Presidential Debates had decided.

  • Fighting talk. Biden said in a video shared on social media: “Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020, and since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal. I’ll even do it twice.”

  • Two’s company, three’s a crowd. The independent candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr accused Biden and Trump of “colluding to lock America into a head-to-head matchup that 70% say they do not want. They are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I would win.”

  • Vote Biden, says Sanders. “Biden is not running against God,” Bernie Sanders writes. “He is running against Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in American history, whose second term, if he is re-elected, will be worse than his first. And, on his worst day, Biden is a thousand times better than Trump.”

Magician David Copperfield accused of sexual misconduct

On Wednesday a Guardian US investigation revealed that the celebrated American magician David Copperfield has been accused by 16 women of engaging in sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior over a span of four decades – from the late 1980s to 2014. The allegations against him include that he drugged three women before he had sexual relations with them, which they felt they were unable to consent to.

More than half of the allegations are from women who said they were under 18 at the time of the incidents. Some of the women interviewed by the Guardian US said they were as young as 15, although Copperfield may not have known their ages.

  • Inside the story. The Guardian is examining these allegations as part of a series of stories that has drawn on interviews with more than 100 people and analysis of court and police records obtained through freedom of information act requests.

  • The defence. When asked about the claims, Copperfield’s lawyers denied all the allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behavior. They said he had “never, ever acted inappropriately with anyone, let alone anyone underage”.

Biden should have pardoned Trump, Mitt Romney says

The former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said Joe Biden should have pardoned Donald Trump on all federal charges as soon as they were announced.

“Had I been President Biden,” Romney said, “when the justice department brought out indictments, I would have immediately pardoned him. I’d have pardoned President Trump.”

  • Trump’s rap sheet. Despite facing 88 criminal charges, Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Biden could only pardon the federal charges.

  • On Stormy Daniels. Romney told MSNBC: “I think the American people have recognised that President Trump did have an inappropriate affair with someone who was a porn star. I think they realise that.”

Putin in China on mission to deepen partnership with Xi

In his first foreign visit since being sworn in for another six years of power, Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for the second time in less than a year on a state visit. Putin said he was “happy to be in China among our friends”.

“It was the unprecedentedly high level of the strategic partnership between our countries that determined my choice of China as the first state that I would visit after officially taking office as president of the Russian Federation,” Putin told the Xinhua state news agency.

In televised remarks, Xi Jinping noted that the two had met more than 40 times. He said the China-Russia relationship had “not come easily” and was “worth cherishing and safeguarding by both sides”.

  • The “no limits” strategic partnership. Putin’s visit comes after Russia launched some of its most significant incursions into Ukraine since invading in 2022. His visit will celebrate 75 years since the Soviet Union recognised the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

In other news …

  • The prime minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, a veteran populist, underwent hours of surgery after an assassination attempt in which he sustained “serious polytrauma after several shots”. It is suspected that the attacker had a political motivation.

  • Ukraine’s troops withdrew from several areas of the country’s north-east in the midst of mounting pressure from a new Russian offensive. The president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, underscored the seriousness of the retreat when he postponed all foreign trips.

  • The Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, has demanded that Benjamin Netanyahu present a plan for the “day after” the war in Gaza ends, blowing wide open a longstanding split in Israel’s war cabinet. Gallant said he rejected any suggestion of Israeli military or civil governance remaining in the territory.

Stat of the day: US inflation at 3.4% in April

Inflation across the US eased slightly last month. The closely watched consumer price index (CPI) rose at an annual rate of 3.4% in April, down from an annual pace of 3.5% the previous month. The White House released a low-key statement after the figures were released. “Fighting inflation and lowering costs is my top economic priority,” Joe Biden said. “I know many families are struggling, and that even though we’ve made progress we have a lot more to do.”

Don’t miss this: ‘It’s going gangbusters!’ How Britain fell in love with bubble tea

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, the Covent Garden branch of Gong cha is doing a roaring trade, writes Hilary Osborne. Staff behind the counter are busy preparing drinks for a string of customers, all ordering from an electronic pad in the corner. One leaves with a purple concoction flavoured with the root vegetable taro; another sips on a milky tea laced with brown sugar “pearls”. A third grabs a bright drink tasting of passion fruit and adorned with floating coconut jelly.

It’s a scene being played out more and more as bubble tea shops pop up around the UK.

… or this: Palestinian lorry drivers recount settlers’ attack on Gaza aid convoy

Palestinian lorry drivers delivering aid to Gaza have described “barbaric” scenes after their vehicles were blocked and vandalised by Israeli settlers, preventing humanitarian supplies from reaching the territory, where much of the population faces imminent starvation. Drivers and contractors who were targeted on Monday in the occupied West Bank said Israeli soldiers escorting the convoy did nothing to stop the attack.

Climate check: The 1.5C global heating target was always a dream, but its demise doesn’t signal doom for climate action

Missing a target doesn’t mean that the sense of emergency should fade, writes the environmental campaigner Bill McKibben. What it must do is stop politicians dithering – and fast. “So now we’ve gone past the 1.5C mark for at least a year, and as the recent Guardian survey of climate scientists makes clear, almost none of them think we will stay below that number long term,” McKibben says.

“All of which is to say, the target was very useful, and at the same time we’re not going to meet it. But the odds have always been we wouldn’t; striving to do so was like trying to slam on the brakes.”

Last Thing: My first time at a sound bath: ‘As the music becomes louder, my first thought is, “Danger, danger”’

The Sydney gym at which Jennifer Wong arrived describes a sound bath as a practice that “offers you space to nap without guilt”. Despite already being one to nap with a clear conscience, she turned up for a 45-minute session on a Monday night, keen to experience a gentle yoga session with vibrations from crystal singing bowls. “The first note rings loud and clear and begins to thrum and warp; it’s the sound on the radio when you turn the dial between stations,” she writes.

“It’s punctuated by several glockenspiel-like staccato notes making their way up the scale like an intro to a public service announcement. It’s much louder than I expect. I feel the vibrations intensely on my chest, as if someone is pushing down on it, and my ears ring. As the music becomes louder, my first thought is: ‘Danger, danger.’ Soon, however, I adjust to the volume and force of the vibrations and am surprised at how many sensations and visions enter my mind.”

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