First Thing: Putin warns Ukraine allies against intervention | US news

Good morning.

Vladimir Putin has threatened allies of Ukraine that if any country were to intervene in the war, it would be hit with “lightning-fast” retaliation.

The Russian president’s remarks to lawmakers in St Petersburg came as the UK called for Moscow to be so weakened militarily that Putin could no longer threaten European security.

“If someone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from the outside, and create strategic threats for Russia that are unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast,” Putin said. He said Moscow had “all the tools for this”, saying he “wanted everyone to know” Russia would “use them if necessary”.

Minneapolis police engaged in pattern of racial discrimination, inquiry finds

  black lives matter poster
The report said police department data ‘demonstrates significant racial disparities with respect to officers’ use of force, traffic stops, searches, citations and arrests’. Photograph: Ben Brewer / Reuters

The Minneapolis police department engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination for at least a decade, a state inquiry launched after George Floyd’s murder found.

After an almost two-year investigation, the report by the Minnesota department of human rights found a trend of:

  • Stopping and arresting Black people at a higher rate.

  • Using force more often on people of color.

  • A culture where racist language is tolerated.

The report said that the agency and the city would negotiate a court-enforceable agreement – known as a consent decree – to deal with problems it identified. Rebecca Lucero, the human rights commissioner, said the agreement would remain in force for “as long as it takes to do it right”.

  • Who will be involved in the consent decree? It will include input from residents, officers and city staff among others.

  • What other immediate changes did the report suggest? Stronger accountability of officers’ conduct, improving training and better communication with the public about critical incidents such as officer-involved shootings.

Proud Boys member pleads guilty for role in US Capitol attack

Trump supporters storming the Capitol
Louis Enrique Colon was charged in February 2021 along with four other members of the Kansas City metro chapter of the Proud Boys group. Photograph: Samuel Corum / Getty Images

A member of the far-right Proud Boys group has pleaded guilty to obstructing police officers during the January 6 Capitol attack.

Louis Enrique Colon, from Missouri, admitted to crossing police barricades during the riot and climbing a wall. After entering the Capitol building, he used his hands and a chair to obstruct police who were trying to lower retractable doors to stop the rioters.

Colon, 45, was charged in February 2021, with four others in the Kansas City Proud Boys chapter. He is the first defendant in that case to plead guilty.

  • What sentence does he face? A statutory maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000. He is likely to get a reduced sentence for cooperation.

  • It comes two weeks after a Proud Boys leader, Charles Donohoe, pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding and assaulting and impeding police officers.

In other news…

Two people hugging
Protesters calling for action against Purdue Pharma in Boston on 25 January 2019. Photograph: Boston Globe / Getty Images
  • The consulting firm McKinsey has denied illegally hiding work for the drugmaker Purdue Pharma while it advised the Food and Drug Administration. A report found consultants working with the pharmaceutical company, which kickstarted the opioid epidemic, while simultaneously advising the FDA on drug safety. McKinsey’s global managing partner said the firm was protecting client confidentiality and denied a conflict of interest, saying it was not advising on regulation.

  • New York’s highest court has ruled against the state’s new congressional district maps, which were broadly viewed as pro-Democrat. The party had hoped redrawing New York district boundaries would lessen expected losses in redistricted Republican-voting states.

  • A pile of about 150 skulls found by Mexican police near the Guatemalan border are from sacrificial victims killed between AD900 and 1200, a decade-long analysis has determined. Police in 2012 thought they were looking at a crime scene.

Stat of the day: Global measles cases surged by 80% in a year

A child with measles is treated in Kabul.
A child with measles is treated in Kabul. More than 130 children have died from the measles in Afghanistan since the beginning of this year. Photograph: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Global measles cases have soared by nearly 80% this year amid disruption caused by the pandemic, the UN has said. Covid-19 has disrupted vaccination drives for other diseases around the world. More than 17,300 measles cases were reported in January and February, compared with about 9,600 during the same period last year.

Do not miss this: Why is the US rolling back LGBTQ + rights?

Poster saying 'Don't say Gay!'
Florida’s ‘do not say gay’ bill bans discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools between kindergarten and third grade. Illustration: Esme Blegvad / The Guardian

Just a few years ago, it seemed to some that the US was consistently marching towards greater legislative rights and societal inclusion for LGBTQ + people, from marriage equality in 2015 to the 2020 supreme court ruling that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protected gay, lesbian and transgender workers. Fast forward to the present day and LGBTQ + Americans are once again under attack, with a slew of anti-LGBTQ + rhetoric and legislation. Peter-Astrid Kane charts how this happened.

Climate check: ‘Relentless’ destruction of rainforest continuing despite Cop26 pledge

People of the Mura tribe in a deforested area in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil, 2019
People of the Mura tribe in a deforested area of ​​the Amazon rainforest, Brazil. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Destruction of pristine rainforests continued at a “relentless” pace in 2021, with 11.1m hectares (27.4m acres) of tree cover lost in the tropics last year, including 3.75m hectares of primary forest that is key to reducing global heating and biodiversity loss . The figures have triggered concerns governments will not meet a Cop26 agreement to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.

Last Thing: KFC launches a $250 handbag for holding its Twister Wraps

The Wrapuette is being sold as a limited edition via KFC's online shop with all proceeds going to the KFC Foundation.
The Wrapuette is being sold as a limited edition through KFC’s online shop, with proceeds going to the KFC Foundation. Photograph: KFC

No, really – KFC has designed a handbag for the British market, retailing at £ 198 ($ 248) and shaped to be carry one of its Twister Wraps. The chicken chain claims there is a waiting list for the “Wrapuette”.

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