First Thing: Gustavo Petro becomes Colombia’s first leftist president

Gun Rights

First Thing: Gustavo Petro becomes Colombia’s first leftist president

Former guerrilla fighter beat populist business tycoon Rodolfo Hernández in runoff yesterday. Plus, Kyiv residents take steps towards normality

Petro and supporters celebrate his election win

Good morning.

Colombia has elected a former guerrilla fighter as president, making him the South American country’s first leftist head of state.

Gustavo Petro beat Rodolfo Hernández, a gaffe-prone former mayor of Bucaramanga and business mogul, with 50.47% of the vote in a runoff election on Sunday and will take office in July amid a host of challenges, not least of which is the deepening discontent over inequality and rising costs of living. Hernández had 47.27% with almost all ballots counted, according to results released by election authorities.

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Petro’s election marks a tidal shift for Colombia and follows similar victories for the left in Peru, Chile and Honduras.

“Today is a party for the people,” tweeted the victorious candidate on Sunday night. “May so many sufferings be cushioned in the joy that today floods the heart of the homeland.”

  • What else did he say? During his victory speech, Petro issued a call for unity and extended an olive branch to some of his harshest critics, saying all members of the opposition will be welcomed “to discuss the problems of Colombia”.

  • What has the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said? He congratulated “the people of Colombia for making their voices heard in a free and fair” presidential election. “We look forward to working with President-elect Petro to further strengthen the US-Colombia relationship and move our nations toward a better future,” he added.

Liz Cheney’s condemnation of Trump’s lies wins over Democrats

Liz Cheney during a January 6 select committee hearing at the Capitol last week.

Liz Cheney voted for Donald Trump’s agenda 93% of the time during his presidency. The Wyoming congresswoman has an A rating from the National Rifle Association, and she has called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood over the group’s abortion services. She also comes from a Republican political dynasty, as her father, Dick Cheney, served as vice-president under George W Bush. In short, Cheney is no Democrat.

But as the Republican vice-chair of the January 6 select committee, Cheney has played a crucial role in presenting the case against Trump and his lies about the 2020 election, which culminated in the deadly attack on the Capitol, and that has won her a legion of strange bedfellow fans on the left.

Even Democrats who disagree with Cheney on almost every other policy have expressed admiration for her clear-eyed condemnation of Trump’s antidemocratic crusade.

  • What has she said to her colleagues who support Trump’s allies? “In our country, we don’t swear an oath to an individual, or a political party,” she said. “I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: there will come a day when Donald Trump is gone but your dishonor will remain.”

Kyiv residents take steps towards normality

Women drink at a bar in Kyiv, Ukraine

Walking in a small outdoor street market in a pretty Kyiv courtyard, one could be forgiven for forgetting for a brief moment that Ukraine is in the midst of a war that not long ago included some of its bloodiest fighting a few miles from the capital.

Almost four months after Moscow invaded, signs of normality have begun to return to Kyiv. Anti-tank roadblocks have been moved aside, while families stroll around the city’s many parks. Terraces have started filling up, with well-dressed locals drinking Aperol spritz.

Valeriy Shevchenko, the manager of a small gallery, says his art space has been slowly coming back to life.

“Kyiv was a ghost town but the gallery is finally filling up again,” he said. “We are simply tired of being scared. But, of course, no one is forgetting about the war.”

  • Is it still dangerous in Kyiv? Ukraine is very much still at war and there are many dangers including unexploded munitions. But the city has not been shelled for two weeks as Russia was forced to adjust its military goals dramatically. Most people now ignore the daily air raid sirens.

In other news …

Donald Trump speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Nashville, Tennessee, on 17 June.
  • Republicans exuded confidence this week at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Nashville, Tennessee, eager to regain power after a punishing few years during which they were shut out of the House of Representatives, Senate and White House.

  • France’s prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, is facing calls for her resignation after Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance lost its absolute majority in parliament in the legislative election at the weekend. Borne, who was appointed only a month ago, said the result posed “a risk for our country”.

  • Police investigating the murder of the British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous advocate Bruno Pereira have identified five more people connected with the killings, bringing to eight the number of suspects in a crime that has shocked Brazil.

  • A number of Republican-led states that are moving to ban abortion are, at the same time, extending health insurance benefits to new mothers, professing to support “women in crisis”. The bills do not counteract bans that would lead to higher risks for maternal mortality, say experts.

Don’t miss this: Unhoused in Phoenix’s perilous heat

David Spell, 50, on 10 June, as temperatures reached 112F, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Phoenix is accustomed to a desert climate but the heat season has expanded and the number of perilously hot days and nights is rising as a result of global heating. In this sweltering heat, keeping cool is the hardest thing for the rapidly rising unsheltered population. Since 2016, heat deaths have more than doubled in Maricopa county, which includes Phoenix, with unsheltered homeless people accounting for 40% of the death toll.

… or this: how Grindr finally recognized gay men who are not tops or bottoms

Grindr App and Rainbow flag

Every month, nearly 11 million gay men around the world go on the Grindr app to look for sex. Once there, they can scroll through an endless stream of guys, from handsome to homely, bear to twink. Yet when it comes to choosing positions for sex – a crucial criterion for most gay men – the possibilities have long been simply top and bottom. The only other choice available toggles between those roles: verse (versatile). Last month, however, that finally changed.

Climate check: why are the world’s heatwaves getting more intense?

Fiery image of the sun

In March, the south poles temperatures were so high that scientists at first thought there may have been some mistake. At the north pole, similarly unusual temperatures were also being recorded, astonishing for the time of year. To induce a heatwave at one pole may be regarded as a warning; heatwaves at both poles at once start to look a lot like a climate catastrophe. In May in Delhi, it hit 120F (49C). Last week in Madrid, 104F. In the US, record-breaking temperatures left multiple people dead.

Last Thing: the man who unwittingly became a meme

Josep Maria García

Soon after the Covid pandemic plunged Spain into confinement, Josep Maria García received a panicked call from his brother-in-law. “He told me not to worry but that I should Google the phrase ‘the worst person you know’,” said García. “I put it in and there I was, everywhere. I scrolled down and it was my face, my face, my face. I thought what is going on?” As he sifted through the internet he realised he had unwittingly become a global meme.

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