Top story: Spy worked closely with Paul Manafort
Hello, Warren Murray here, let’s shine some morning light on the news.
A US Senate intelligence committee report lays out a stunning web of contacts between Donald Trump, his top election aides and Russian government officials in the months leading up to the 2016 election. It says a Russian national who worked with Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was a career spy. The nearly 1,000-page bipartisan report identifies Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer from the GRU, which poisoned the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK. Kilimnik worked for over a decade in Ukraine with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager who is these days a convicted felon.
The report cites evidence – some of it redacted – linking Kilimnik to the GRU’s hacking and dumping of Democratic party emails. The Republican-controlled Senate panel said Kilimnik and Manafort used burner phones, encrypted chats and frequently changed email accounts, and messaged via a shared email draft. The striking revelations make it harder for the president and his supporters to go into the election repeating the claim that the Trump-Russia investigation was a “witch-hunt” or “hoax”.
Democrats pick Biden – Overnight, Joe Biden has formally received the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. Biden said: “It means the world to me and my family … I’ll see you on Thursday,” which is when he is due to give his acceptance speech. A few hours ago Jill Biden, the nominee’s wife, gave an impassioned speech in his support.
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both offered their endorsements of Biden. Clinton said of Trump: “If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man. Denying, distracting, and demeaning works great if you’re trying to entertain and inflame. But in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a speech symbolically nominating Bernie Sanders who as runner-up to Biden also received delegates to the convention.
> Mali’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, has resigned and dissolved the national assembly on state television after he and the prime minister were arrested by mutinous soldiers in what the European Union described as an attempted coup.
> Ten dissident republican suspects have been arrested in Northern Ireland as part of an island-wide police operation against the New IRA. Properties were raided in Derry, East Tyrone and Belfast by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, while in the republic Garda officers raided properties in Cork, Kerry, Dublin and Laois.
> Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is facing accusations he is trying to cover up an ethics scandal by sending parliament away until late September. Trudeau’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, quit on Monday – both men face accusations of an improper financial relationship with an international development organisation.
> Self-driving cars could be allowed on British motorways from next year. Manufacturers are expected to roll out the next generation of collision-avoidance and lane-keeping technology in new car models in 2021.
Coronavirus latest – The head of the World Bank has called for a more ambitious debt relief plan for poor countries after warning that the Covid-19 recession is turning into a depression in the most challenged parts of the globe. David Malpass said World Bank figures due out next month would show an extra 100 million people pushed into poverty by the crisis. In the UK, Labour is calling on the government to “avoid more chaos of its own making” as 230,000 people face possible eviction when the ban in England and Wales is lifted this weekend. That’s how many adult private renters in England have fallen into rent arrears since the start of the pandemic – among them Zion Walsh, 41, whose partner, Melvin Gwanzura, a teacher, died from Covid in April aged 43. Meanwhile Oldham in Greater Manchester is 48 hours away from potentially being ordered into a “catastrophic” and “premature” local lockdown by Westminster, its council leader has warned. The town has the highest coronavirus infection rate in England, though figures due to be released today show the number of new cases is declining. The latest developments as ever at our live blog – global cases of Covid-19 have surpassed the 22 million mark, while Australia’s PM has said he wants to make coronavirus vaccination mandatory.
Age no escape from inequality – Ethnic inequalities are “deeply entrenched” among the over-50s in England with older black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people falling behind white peers on income and home ownership, new research has shown. BAME people are more likely to retire later, have a lower weekly income, and are far less likely to own their own home, analysis by the Centre for Ageing Better, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and University College London (UCL) reveals. People from ethnic minority backgrounds aged 50-70 are more likely to be in the poorest 20% of the population in England, and live on an average of £100 less per week compared to white peers. Black people in their 50s and 60s are more likely to be working, with their white peers three times more likely to have retired, suggesting a disparity in the access to pension savings and assets.
Backing for honey remedy – Honey may be better than other treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats, Oxford university researchers have said. They combed through studies that compared honey and preparations containing it, against antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants and painkillers. Honey seemed more effective than usual care for improving symptoms, especially the frequency and severity of coughing, they found. The authors say more research is needed but honey might be considered by doctors as a way to safely treat upper respiratory tract symptoms. “Upper respiratory tract infections are the most frequent reason for antibiotic prescription. Since the majority of URTIs are viral, antibiotic prescription is both ineffective and inappropriate.”
Today in Focus podcast: The A-levels fiasco
When schools in England closed in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it meant students could no longer take their final exams. Instead, computer modelling was used to assign grades. But when results were unveiled, there was shock and anger at what looked like clear injustices.
Lunchtime read: ‘Two years lost to climate inaction’
Two years on from Greta Thunberg’s first solo school strike for the climate, she says the world has wasted the time by failing to take the necessary action on the crisis. Tomorrow, on the anniversary of the strike that sparked a global movement, she and other leading school strikers are due to meet Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany and current president of the European council.
They will demand a halt to all fossil fuel investments and subsidies and the establishment of annual, binding carbon budgets based on the best science. Today the group writes: “Over these past two years, the world has emitted more than 80 gigatonnes of CO2. We have seen continuous natural disasters taking place across the globe: wildfires, heatwaves, flooding, hurricanes, storms, thawing of permafrost and collapsing of glaciers and whole ecosystems. Many lives and livelihoods have been lost. And this is only the very beginning.”
Thomas Tuchel said he felt pressure before Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-0 victory over RB Leipzig but admitted his pride after guiding them to their first Champions League final. Ronaldo Koeman will be the next coach of Barcelona, the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed at the end of another dramatic day at the Camp Nou. Ed Smith, England’s national selector, believes Adil Rashid still wants to play Test cricket and insists his status as a white-ball-only player at Yorkshire would not be a barrier to a possible recall this winter. The British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa may not take place next year if supporters are not allowed to attend because of Covid-19 restrictions. The prospect of Charley Hull ending her wait for a major title this weekend at Royal Troon has diminished after the 24-year-old admitted her indifference towards links golf. And Damian Lillard had 34 points and the Portland Trail Blazers spoiled LeBron James’s first playoff appearance for the Los Angeles Lakers with a 100-93 victory in Game 1 of the teams’ playoff series.
Stocks have been mixed in Asia. The Nikkei 225 edged higher after Japan reported exports fell 19% in July from a year earlier – an improvement over a 26.2% drop in June. The Shanghai Composite fell while the S&P/ASX 500 in Australia rose. Markets in Hong Kong were closed due to a tropical storm. Overnight Wall Street clawed back the last of its coronavirus losses with the S&P 500 closing at an all-time high on Tuesday, gaining 0.2% to 3,389.78. This morning the pound is worth $1.323 and €1.109 while the FTSE is poised to open about 20 points higher.
Not a lot of love for the education secretary today despite the relief spread by his A-levels reversal. “You’re Gavin a laugh” taunts the Metro, which runs the strapline “Omnishambles Britain” like it’s an ongoing series. The Mail dubs Gavin Williamson “The man who won’t take the blame”. “PM backs embattled Williamson as blame game begins” says the i, while the Guardian has “Confidence in Williamson drains away as schools prepare to reopen”.
The Telegraph has an unappetising photo of Tories Jacob Rees-Mogg and Richard Drax appearing to struggle even to eat an ice-cream competently. Its splash is “Universities demand extra cash to teach more students”. The Times has “Students in limbo after A-level row” – it adds that “Thousands must delay university courses for a year”.
The Express would steer our attention away from that – it has “Bloodbath – 300,000 jobs face axe on high street”. The FT flirts with hyperbole: “US stocks defy virus crisis after 50% rebound brings record high”. The Mirror continues the Harry Dunn campaign: “End this torture” – as his mother calls for the crash driver to “return to Britain to face justice”.
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