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US President Joe Biden has said the world is facing the biggest threat of nuclear “Armageddon” since the days of President Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in New York, his ‘off camera’ comments were overheard by journalists from the White House pool.

It comes as Russian officials warned of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering huge military setbacks in the invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow accuses Zelenskyy of calling for world war – latest updates

Describing Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Biden said he had “got to know the guy pretty well”.

“He’s not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is you might say significantly underperforming.”

And he made clear his concerns that if such weapons were deployed it would quickly escalate into world nuclear conflict.

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“First time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going,” he said.

During the 1962 crisis, the United States under President John Kennedy and the Soviet Union under Nikita Kruschev came close to using nuclear weapons over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Mr Biden said he and US officials were searching for a diplomatic off-ramp.

“I’m trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp?” he said. “Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position that he does not only lose face but lose significant power within Russia?

“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis.”

He added: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.

“I didn’t realise how much serious damage the previous administration did to our foreign policy.”

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What is a tactical nuclear weapon?

US officials have warned for the last few months about the prospect of Russia using weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine after numerous strategic setbacks on the battlefield.

Mr Putin has repeatedly alluded to using his country’s vast nuclear arsenal.

Last month, when he announced plans to conscript Russian men to serve in Ukraine, he said: “I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction … and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal.”

With a lingering stare at the camera, he added: “It’s not a bluff.”

On Thursday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Mr Putin understood the “world will never forgive” a Russian nuclear strike.

“He understands that after the use of nuclear weapons he would be unable anymore to preserve, so to speak, his life, and I’m confident of that,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

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Tornadoes leave trail of death and destruction across parts of US

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Tornadoes leave trail of death and destruction across parts of US

Powerful storms have killed at least 15 people and left a trail of destruction in their wake as they swept across parts of the central United States.

A tornado tore through a rural area in northern Texas, near the Oklahoma border, on Saturday night, killing at least seven people.

Cooke County sheriff Ray Sappington said two children, aged two and five, were among the victims, with numerous injuries also reported.

He said some of the many trailer homes in the area were “completely gone”, while others suffered massive damage from the storm which left a quarter of a mile-wide path of destruction for three to four miles.

“It’s just a trail of debris left,” he said. “The devastation is pretty severe.”

Storms also killed two people and destroyed houses in Oklahoma, where guests at an outdoor wedding were injured, while at least five people were killed in Arkansas, including a 26-year-old woman.

Elsewhere, a man was killed in Louisville, Kentucky, when a tree fell on him on Sunday.

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The small community of Valley View, a town in Cooke County, where barely 800 people live, was among the hardest hit.

Kevin Dorantes, 20, said he came across a father and son trapped under the debris and friends and neighbours worked to get them out.

“They were conscious but severely injured,” he said. “The father’s leg was snapped.”

He said they managed to carry the father on a mattress to a truck and he and his son were driven to a nearby ambulance.

Juana Landeros salvages a Guadalupe Virgin statue from her destroyed home. Pic: AP
Image:
Juana Landeros salvages a Guadalupe Virgin statue from her destroyed home. Pic: AP

Hugo Parra collects belongings from his vehicle. Pic: AP
Image:
Hugo Parra collects belongings from his vehicle. Pic: AP

Hugo Parra said he sheltered with around 40 to 50 people in the bathroom of a truck stop near Valley View as the storm sheared the roof and walls off the building, mangling metal beams and leaving battered cars in the car park.

“The best way to describe this is the wind tried to rip us out of the bathrooms,” he said.

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The full scale of the devastation began to come clear on Sunday morning as aerial footage showed dozens of damaged homes, many without roofs and others reduced to rubble, as residents woke up to overturned cars and collapsed garages.

Hundreds of thousands of customers were without power across a large part of the country, including in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas on Sunday, according to poweroutages.us.

In Indiana, bad weather delayed the start of the famous Indy 500 car race.

More severe weather is expected across parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, with the National Weather Service warning of damaging winds, large hail and more tornadoes in the affected areas.

April and May have been a busy month for tornadoes, especially in the Midwest, with Iowa hit hard last week, when a deadly twister devastated Greenfield.

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Grayson Murray: PGA Tour golfer who died aged 30 took his own life, parents say

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Grayson Murray: PGA Tour golfer who died aged 30 took his own life, parents say

PGA Tour golfer Grayson Murray who died aged 30 took his own life, his parents have said, as they urged people to be “kind to one another”.

The American player, a two-time tour winner, withdrew from a competition in Texas with two holes remaining of his second round on Friday citing an illness, a day before he died.

In their statement, Eric and Terry Murray said “life wasn’t always easy” for their son and “although he took his own life, we know he rests peacefully now”.

The couple said that losing him was a “nightmare” and they have “so many questions that have no answers… but one”.

“Was Grayson loved? The answer is yes. By us, his brother Cameron, his sister Erica, all of his extended family, by his friends, by his fellow players and – it seems – by many of you who are reading this. He was loved and he will be missed.”

The pair thanked the PGA Tour and “the entire world of golf for the outpouring of support”.

They ended their statement by saying: “Please honour Grayson by being kind to one another. If that becomes his legacy, we could ask for nothing else.”

Murray pulled out of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday and his death on Saturday was announced by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who said Murray’s parents had asked for the event to continue.

‘I wanted to give up on life at times’

Murray spoke in January about his battles with anxiety and depression and revealed he had sought treatment in the past few years for alcohol abuse but had been sober for several months.

Following his tour victory at the start of this year in Hawaii, he explained how much the win meant to him after what he had been through, saying: “It’s not easy… I wanted to give up a lot of times, give up on myself, give up on the game of golf, give up on life at times, and you just persevere.

“When you get tired of fighting, let someone else fight for you and that’s what happened.”

Grayson Murray after winning the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Grayson Murray after winning the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. Pic: Reuters

Golfers pay tribute to Murray

World number one Scottie Scheffler led the tributes to him. The American golfer said: “Obviously, the news hasn’t really sunk in quite yet, but I’m thinking about his family and praying hard for all of them.

“I can’t imagine how difficult of a time this is. I got to know Grayson a bit better over the last six months or so. There’s not really a way to put into words how sad and tragic it is, but I’m thinking about his family.”

Murray’s long-time caddie Jay Green hailed him as “the absolute best”.

“Not only was he an incredible, thoughtful and generous boss, he was an even better friend,” he said in a statement.

“He truly would do anything for anyone. He has the best family and my heart goes out to them. We will all miss him deeply.”

Grayson Murray at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky on 15 May. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Murray at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky on 15 May. Pic: Reuters

English golfer Luke Donald wrote on X: “Truly devastating news that Grayson Murray has passed away. He asked me for some advice on how to play Augusta a few months ago, last week I saw him at the PGA Championship, life truly is precious. My condolences and prayers to his whole family that they may find some peace.”

Donald’s fellow countryman Justin Rose wrote: “I had the opportunity to spend a few rounds of golf alongside Grayson in recent weeks at Hilton Head, Quail Hollow and Valhalla.

“I will always remember that and use it to remind myself that you never know what challenges people have going on in their lives and how they may be internalising things. RIP Grayson and love and strength to your family and friends.”

Grayson Murray playing at a PGA event at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky on 16 May. Pic: AP
Image:
Murray playing at a PGA event at Valhalla Golf Club on 16 May. Pic: AP

PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan said: “Over the last several years I spent a lot of time with him because I wanted to understand what we could do, in his opinion, to help everybody else out here.

“I’m devastated by Grayson’s loss. The conversations I had with him, particularly the last year, I learned an awful lot from him. He was very open and transparent with me.”

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Murray won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January after sinking a 40ft birdie putt to beat Byeong Hun An and Keegan Bradley in a playoff.

It marked his first tour victory since clinching his maiden PGA Tour title during his 2017 rookie campaign, when he won the Barbasol Championship in Alabama aged 24.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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Donald Trump booed at Libertarian Party convention

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Donald Trump booed at Libertarian Party convention

Donald Trump was booed during an address at the Libertarian Party National Convention on Saturday.

Libertarians have been largely critical of Mr Trump, whose invitation to speak at the party event in Washington caused mass division.

There was some show of support, as he asked for the party’s endorsement, with chants of “USA! USA”, but the former president was booed at several points during his speech.

It was a highly unusual spectacle, as Trump events are heavily staged – which usually guarantees support from his loyal fans.

Mr Trump tried to get the Libertarians on side by describing President Joe Biden as a “tyrant” and the “worst president in the history of the United States”, but he was instead met with cries of: “That’s you.”

Someone in the audience shouted: “Lock him up!” while another said: “Donald Trump is a threat to democracy!”

Cries were also heard of “You had your shot!”, “F*** you” and “You already had four years, you a******”.

Someone carrying a banner that said “No wannabe dictators!” was also dragged away by security.

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A 'no wannabe dictators' banner at the Libertarian convention. Pic: Reuters
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A ‘no wannabe dictators’ banner at the Libertarian convention. Pic: Reuters

The former president tried to endear party members to him by joking about his four criminal indictments, saying: “If I wasn’t a Libertarian before, I sure as hell am a Libertarian now.”

But with more boos from the audience, he hit back: “You don’t want to win” and claimed that the party wants to “keep getting your 3% every four years”.

In the 2016 election, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson won 3% of the vote, but in 2020, nominee Jo Jorgensen only secured around 1%.

Mr Trump managed to secure a cheer when he promised to reduce the life sentence of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the illegal drug sales website Silk Road, who is widely championed by Libertarians, and who themselves prioritise individual freedoms and reduced government.

'Free Ross' signs raised as Donald Trump addresses Libertarians in Washington. Pic: Reuters
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‘Free Ross’ signs raised as Donald Trump addresses Libertarians in Washington. Pic: Reuters

‘I would rather eat my own foot’

The event was a chance for Mr Trump to recruit supporters of independent candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr, who made his own speech at the convention.

But speaking to NBC News, Libertarian Caryn Ann Harlos said of a possible Trump endorsement: “I would rather eat my own foot out of a bear trap.”

Libertarians, who broke out into their signature “End the Fed” chant, to abolish the Federal Reserve, will pick their nomination for the White House on Sunday.

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Mr Biden and Mr Trump will face off again in November in a repeat of the 2020 presidential election – with polling showing most Americans are not in favour of a repeat of that contest.

This could lead to an increase in support for independent or fringe candidates outside the Democrats or Republicans, according to some forecasters.

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