There are moments when dull is good. This was one of them.
It was clearly a big and important meeting – the first face-to-face encounter between Joe Biden as US president and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
And with relations back nearing Cold War levels (they had both conceded as much) a tête-à-tête was needed.
Given the state of things and the context of the unpredictable diplomacy of Donald Trump, the possibility of a diplomatic incident was there.
Indeed when news filtered out that there had just been two sessions, not the three that were planned, and that the meetings had ended ahead of schedule, we wondered: Was this a sign that talks had broken down?
We were hastily called into the first of the two news conferences – the Russian one.
Mr Putin’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in the room, a sign that his boss would soon follow. Did he look downbeat, angry? I couldn’t tell.
But then President Putin took to the podium.
Within moments he had announced the nations’ respective ambassadors would be reinstalled in their host capitals.
This represents the beginning at least of the resumption of the mechanics of diplomacy. An achievement.
Then came further positive language.
Mr Putin’s “overall assessment” was that there was “no hostility”.
“On the contrary, our meeting took place in a constructive spirit. Both sides expressed intention to understand each other,” Mr Putin said.
On cyber security, he said: “We agreed on consultations in this respect.”
They may just be words but they are valuable in a relationship so strained.
The Russian president revealed the two leaders talked about their families. “It shows his qualities and moral values,” the translator quoted Mr Putin as saying.
There were clearly more tense exchanges in their meetings. Mr Biden had, the Russian president revealed, brought up human rights and the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Here, Mr Putin deflected, with a spot of ‘whataboutism’, drawing comparisons with the jailed protesters from the January storming of the US Capitol in Washington DC and the enduring existence of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
President Biden watched all this on screens from another corner of the park on the shores of Lake Geneva before taking to his own podium.
And again, the language was positive.
It wasn’t, Mr Biden said, a “kumbaya moment”. No hugging or anything but “when was the last time two heads of state talked for two hours?”
There is, he said “no substitute for face-to-face dialogue. We share a responsibility between two strong and powerful countries. I told him I am not against Russia or anyone else. I’m for the American people”.
He said he had delivered three key points. First, practical measures to advance mutual interests, second, the importance of communication, and third, the ability to lay out US values.
The “tone was good”. The talks were “positive”. There “wasn’t any strident action taken… Where we disagreed we stated it”. Nothing was done in a “hyperbolic way”.
But neither leader was remotely effusive. After all, their world views are profoundly different and there was never any expectation that would change with this meeting.
It was about creating a more stable, predictable relationship where they can at least understand and control their disagreements as well as the fallout.
“This is not about trust. This is about self interest and verification of self interest,” Mr Biden said.
They had always played down this meeting as just the first stage of rebuilding dialogue.
And it was precisely that. There was no Trump-style drama, no diplomatic moments.
A little dull then, but that’s no bad thing for a relationship which can be so perilous.
Darryl George: Family sues state governor after student suspended over dreadlocks
The family of a black student who was suspended from school in a row over his hairstyle has filed a lawsuit against the state’s governor and attorney general.
Darryl George, 17, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, has been expelled since 31 August because school officials said his dreadlocks fall below his eyebrows and ear lobes, violating the district’s dress code.
His mother Darresha George has denied this and said his hair is neatly tied and twisted in dreadlocks on top of his head.
The lawsuit accuses Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton of failing to enforce the CROWN Act, a new state law outlawing racial discrimination based on hairstyles.
The lawsuit claims the pair, in their official duties, failed to protect Darryl’s constitutional rights against discrimination and violated his freedom of speech and expression.
Darryl George “should be permitted to wear his hair in the manner in which he wears it because the so-called neutral grooming policy has no close association with learning or safety and when applied, disproportionately impacts Black males,” according to the lawsuit.
Second complaint in hair row
On Tuesday, his mother previously filed a formal complaint against the Texas Education agency and said Darryl was harassed and mistreated by officials because of his hair.
They claim during his suspension he was forced to sit for eight hours on a stool and was denied the free hot lunch he was eligible to receive.
The agency is investigating the complaint.
Florida: Alligator killed after being discovered holding human remains in mouth
An alligator was spotted with human remains in its mouth by a passer-by in Florida.
The 13-foot reptile was spotted by Jamarcus Bullard in a canal in Largo, about 20 miles west of Tampa.
He said he saw the the alligator and a corpse in the water on Friday afternoon.
“I threw a rock at the gator just to see if it was really a gator and like it pulled the body, like it was holding on to the lower part of the torso, and pulled it under the water,” he told a TV affiliate of NBC News, Sky News’ US partner network.
Bullard said he started recording on his phone and contacted the authorities.
A video he shared with the news station showed an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission measuring the reptile.
The 13-foot, 8.5-inch male alligator was removed from the water and was “humanely killed,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, adding that the remains of an adult had also been recovered.
No details about the deceased have yet been released and an investigation is under way.
The medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
The discovery has left some locals nervous with Jennifer Dean telling WFLA that her children frequently walk by the canal.
Bullard also said he walks near the water to and from work and will be more careful now.
US death row inmate Anthony Sanchez executed for rape and murder of Juli Busken after being caught by his DNA
A man has been executed in the US for the rape and murder of a dance student which went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene was matched to him while he was in prison for burglary.
Anthony Sanchez, 44, protested his innocence as he was strapped down in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
He was declared dead 11 minutes after the lethal drugs started to be administered.
While Sanchez maintained he had nothing to do with the 1996 killing of 21-year-old Juli Busken, he took the unusual step of opting not to present a clemency application to the state’s pardon and parole board, which many viewed as the last chance to spare his life.
Ahead of his execution, Sanchez criticised his former lawyers and thanked his supporters, including his spiritual adviser who was in the chamber with him.
He said: “I’m innocent.
“I didn’t kill nobody.”
At one point during the procedure, a member of the execution team entered the chamber and reattached an oxygen monitor that prison officials said had malfunctioned.
Shortly before he was put to death, the US Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution submitted by his new lawyer, who had said he needed more time to go through the case evidence.
Juli Busken’s family ‘has found closure and peace’
Ms Busken had just completed her last term at the University of Oklahoma when she was abducted on 20 December 1996, from the car park of her apartment complex.
Her body was found later near a lake on the outskirts of Oklahoma City.
She had been bound, raped and shot in the head.
Busken had performed as a ballerina in several dance performances during her time at the university and a scholarship was set up in her name at the College of Fine Arts.
Years later, Sanchez was in jail for burglary when DNA from the victim’s clothing was matched to him.
He was convicted and sentenced to die in 2006.
None of Ms Busken’s family attended Thursday’s execution, but state attorney general Gentner Drummond said he had spoken to them several times in recent months.
He said: “Juli was murdered 26 years, nine months and one day ago. The family has found closure and peace.”
Sanchez had long maintained his innocence.
In an interview earlier this year from death row. “That is fabricated DNA.
“That is false DNA. That is not my DNA. I’ve been saying that since day one.”
He said he had declined to seek clemency because even when the five-member pardon and parole board takes the rare step of recommending it, governor Kevin Stitt was unlikely to grant it.
Sanchez said: “I’ve sat in my cell and I’ve watched inmate after inmate after inmate get clemency and get denied clemency. Either way, it doesn’t go well for the inmates.”
Mr Drummond maintained the DNA evidence unequivocally linked Sanchez to Ms Busken’s killing.
He said the odds of randomly selecting an individual with the same genetic profile were one in 94 trillion.
‘Brutal rapist and murderer’
“There is no conceivable doubt that Anthony Sanchez is a brutal rapist and murderer who is deserving of the state’s harshest punishment,” Mr Drummond said in a recent statement.
A private investigator hired by an anti-death penalty group argued the DNA evidence may have been contaminated.
But former Cleveland county district attorney Tim Kuykendall, who was the county’s top prosecutor when Sanchez was tried, has said while the DNA evidence was the most compelling at trial, there was other evidence linking him to the killing, including ballistic evidence and a shoe print found at the crime scene.
Mr Kuykendall said recently: “I know from spending a lot of time on that case, there is not one piece of evidence that pointed to anyone other than Anthony Sanchez.
“I don’t care if a hundred people or a thousand people confess to killing Juli Busken.”
Sanchez is the third inmate put to death in Oklahoma this year and the tenth since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 2021 ending a six-year moratorium introduced over concerns about its execution methods.
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