Tributes paid to Sinéad O’Connor who has died at 56 | First Thing

11 months ago 35

Good morning.

Sinéad O’Connor has died at the age of 56, prompting grief and tributes for a singer who enchanted and at times shocked the world.

O’Connor’s family issued a brief statement yesterday evening announcing the death of an artist and activist who remained in the spotlight – often against her wishes – after topping the charts in 1990 with the single Nothing Compares 2 U.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” the statement said. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

It comes 18 months after her 17-year-old son Shane died after leaving a hospital while on suicide watch. O’Connor had three other children.

The news of her death stunned the music industry and her native Ireland. The taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, expressed sorrow. “Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare. Condolences to her family, her friends and all who loved her music,” he said.

  • What tributes have been paid to her? Micheál Martin, the Irish deputy prime minister, said Ireland had lost one of its greatest music icons. “Our hearts goes out to her children, her family, friends and all who knew and loved her.” Colm O’Gorman, the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said few artists had made such a social and cultural impact. “What a loss. Heartfelt condolences to her children, her family and all who loved her.”

  • What has Morrissey said? The former Smiths frontman has written a vociferous tribute to O’Connor, decrying the media and music industry for a lack of support for her. Praising her “proud vulnerability”, he wrote on his website: “There is a certain music industry hatred for singers who don’t ‘fit in’ (this I know only too well), and they are never praised until death – when, finally, they can’t answer back […] You praise her now ONLY because it is too late. You hadn’t the guts to support her when she was alive and she was looking for you.”

Lindsey Horan celebrates her goal
The United States’ Lindsey Horan celebrates her goal during the second half of Thursday’s group-stage match with the Netherlands. Photograph: Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images

Thursday’s meeting between the United States and the Netherlands was billed as the decisive match of Group E at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, but clarity will have to wait a few more days. The USA and the Netherlands played out a draw in Wellington, New Zealand, in a first half dictated by the Dutch before Rose Lavelle entered the game and the Americans found their rhythm.

Jill Roord opened the scoring for the Netherlands in the 17th minute with a low strike from 17 yards that went through the USA midfielder Lindsey Horan’s legs and into the far side netting. Lieke Martens broke through the USA midfield, evading a challenge from Andi Sullivan before hitting a ball wide to Victoria Pelova, who had two cracks at finding an open teammate. It was the first goal the USA had conceded in the group stage since the opening match of the 2015 World Cup and the first time they had trailed at a World Cup since the 2011 quarter-final.

From there, the Dutch controlled the half in possession, frequently hitting big, diagonal balls to Pelova, who had space on the right side as the USA defense collapsed. The Americans, meanwhile, struggled to string together passes in the final third, frequently settling for individual duels as the Dutch defense wobbled but did not break.

Lavelle’s entry into the match to start the second half – and the Netherlands’ half-time substitution at center-back to take off the injured Stefanie van der Gragt – changed the match. The breakthrough for the US came in the 62nd minute when Lavelle delivered a left-footed, in-swinging corner kick to the head of Horan for the equalizer.

  • Can USA still win the group? The 1-1 draw means the group winner will probably be decided by goal difference in the final matches, assuming the Netherlands and USA both win their final matches. The USA will face Portugal and the Netherlands will play Vietnam in simultaneous matches on Tuesday. The Americans currently sit atop Group E with a superior goal difference.

Mitch McConnell abruptly stops mid-sentence during press conference

Mitch McConnell at Wednesday's press conference
Mitch McConnell freezes during remarks to reporters and is helped by colleagues. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, briefly left his own press conference on Wednesday after stopping his remarks mid-sentence and staring off into space for several seconds.

McConnell approached the podium for his weekly press conference and began speaking about the annual defense bill on the floor, which he said was proceeding with “good bipartisan cooperation”. But he then appeared to lose his train of thought, trailing off with a drawn-out “uh”.

He then appeared to freeze and stared aheard for about 20 seconds before his colleagues in the Republican leadership, who were standing behind him and could not see his face, took his elbows and asked if he wanted to go back to his office.

He did not answer, but slowly walked back to his office with an aide and Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a former orthopedic surgeon, who is the No 3 Republican in the Senate. McConnell later returned to the press conference and answered questions from the press.

  • Why did he stop talking? Asked about what happened, McConnell said he was “fine”. He did not elaborate but an aide said he had felt light-headed and stepped away for a moment. The aide requested anonymity to speak about the senator’s health.

  • Is this the first time there has been a problem? No. McConnell, 81, was out of the Senate for almost six weeks earlier this year after falling and hitting his head. His office said he had a concussion and a fractured rib. His speech has recently sounded more halting, prompting questions among some of his colleagues about his health.

In other news …

Niger coup announcement
Niger colonel announces military coup on national TV. Photograph: ORTN - Télé Sahel/AFP/Getty Images
  • Soldiers in Niger say they have removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power, after armed troops earlier blockaded the presidential palace in Niamey, the capital in one of the world’s most unstable nations. A group of soldiers announced the coup on national TV a few hours after the president had been detained.

  • A Colorado family whose partially mummified remains were discovered at a remote campsite were trying to live off the grid and escape civilization, family said. Authorities have identified the bodies as those of sisters Christine Vance, 41, and Rebecca Vance, 42, and Rebecca’s 14-year-old son.

  • Emmanuel Macron has denounced “new imperialism” in the Pacific during a landmark visit to the region, warning of a threat to the sovereignty of smaller states. The French president sought to underscore France’s importance in a region in which China and the US are competing for influence.

  • Moldova has ordered 45 Russian diplomats and embassy staff to leave, sharply reducing the number of officials that Russia can have in its capital, Chișinău, citing years of “hostile actions” by Moscow. Russia will have until 15 August to cut its embassy personnel from more than 80 to 25, the foreign ministry said.

Stat of the day: Netflix lists AI job worth $900,000 amid twin Hollywood strikes

Actors and writers picket outside Netflix in LA
The machine-learning job is not the only new AI position sought by Netflix. Photograph: Stewart Cook/Shutterstock

As actors and writers strike over fair compensation and protections from the encroachment of artificial intelligence, Netflix has listed a position for a machine learning product manager that will compensate somewhere between $300,000 and $900,000 a year. According to the Screen Actors Guild (Sag-Aftra), 87% of the guild’s actors make less than $26,000 a year. The use of AI in the production of film and television – either to write scripts, generate actors’ likenesses or cut corners in paying creative work – has been a major point of contention in negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and Sag and the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Writers have been striking since May; the actors joined earlier this month. The first joint strike since 1960 threatens to bring Hollywood to a complete standstill.

Don’t miss this: ‘Wait, am I the fool here?’ – why our fears of being scammed are corrosive and damaging

A pickpocket at work in New Yorok circa 1940
A pickpocket at work in New York circa 1940. Photograph: Hulton Getty

In 2007, three experimental psychologists, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, coined the word “sugrophobia”, which would translate to something like a “fear of sucking”. The researchers – Kathleen Vohs, Roy Baumeister and Jason Chin – were looking to name the familiar and specific dread that people experience when they get the inkling that they’re “being a sucker” – that someone is taking advantage of them, partly thanks to their own decisions. I have been thinking about the psychology of being a sucker for 15 years, writes Tess Wilkinson-Ryan. When I describe my interest in the subject, people often infer that I study scams. But sugrophobia is more than just a fear of being caught in a con, and the fear of feeling like a sucker is much more commonplace. Is our tendency to expect the worst of people preventing us from supporting those who really need help?

Climate check: We are watching the brutal reality of what climate scientists told us would happen. How will we respond?

A runner at sunrise in Tempe, Arizona
A runner at sunrise in Tempe, Arizona. Photograph: Matt York/AP

How to respond to the avalanche of record-breaking extreme weather and temperatures terrorising the planet? For many scientists it is a moment of genuine despair, but also a time to resist climate doomism, writes Adam Morton. Here’s some of what we know. Mediterranean Europe and northern Africa are burning. Wildfires in at least nine countries, particularly Greece, Algeria and Italy, are killing people and wrecking lives, livelihoods and nature. They follow historic blazes in Canada a few weeks ago. There have been bad fires before, of course, but these have been exacerbated by the heat. Around the globe, the average temperature for most days in July has been hotter than any previous day that we know of. A logical response to all this would be to acknowledge it is an unfolding emergency, and act accordingly. The good news from scientists is that rapid action can still make a significant difference and limit future damage.

Last Thing: Isles of Scilly remains are iron age female warrior, scientists say

Capstones at the Bryher burial site
Capstones at the Bryher burial site, which was discovered in 1999. Photograph: Isles of Scilly Museum Association/PA

Scientists have solved the mystery of a 2,000-year-old grave on the Isles of Scilly, raising intriguing questions about warfare in iron age Britain. For decades archaeologists have puzzled over whether the stone-lined burial chamber, which was discovered in 1999 on Bryher, contained the remains of a man or a woman. Excavations revealed a sword in a copper alloy scabbard and a shield alongside the remains of the sole individual, objects commonly associated with men. But a brooch and a bronze mirror, adorned with what appears to be a sun disc motif and usually associated with women, were also found. The grave is unique in iron age western Europe for containing a mirror and a sword.

A scientific study led by Historic England has determined that the remains are that of a woman, a discovery that could shed light on the role of female warriors during a period in which violence between communities is thought to have been a fact of life.

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