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Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.
Kurds warn Turkish offensive will bring ‘chaos once again’
Several of Donald Trump’s most loyal Republican allies have turned on him over his decision to pull US troops out of north-eastern Syria. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said the withdrawal would benefit Russia and Iran, while Senator Lindsey Graham – usually an outspoken defender of the president – warned abandoning the Kurds in the region to allow a Turkish military offensive would be “a stain on America’s honour”.
War zone. Turkish forces are already massing near the border with north-eastern Syria as US troops withdraw. A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the area would soon “turn into a war zone”.
Civilian suffering. Trump’s rash decision opens the way for a vicious struggle between the Kurds and Turkey’s military, says Simon Tisdall, who warns of war crimes and fresh civilian suffering ahead.
Federal judge orders up eight years of Trump tax returns
A federal court judge in New York has described Trump’s claim to immunity while in office as “repugnant”, opening the way for Manhattan’s district attorney to subpoena eight years of the president’s tax returns from his accountants, Mazars USA. The records remain unseen pending an appeal, but the ruling only adds to Trump’s woes as the impeachment inquiry escalates. Trump is the first US president in nearly 40 years not to release his tax returns, despite promising to do so during the 2016 campaign.
Hate group. The rightwing “national security organization” Act for America, described by civil rights advocates as an Islamophobic hate group, has scrapped plans for a $1,500-a-head gala dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Florida ex-prisoners sue over GOP attempt to block voting rights
A group of former prisoners in Florida are suing over Republican legislation that they say restricts their recently restored voting rights. Amendment 4, approved by Floridians at the ballot box in 2018, gave 1.4 million previously incarcerated felons in Florida the right to vote, potentially shifting the state’s delicate balance of power to the Democrats. The GOP-led legislature then introduced a bill requiring ex-prisoners to pay every court fee and fine they might have faced during and after conviction, before being permitted to vote.
Unconstitutional obstacle. Melba Pearson, the legal director of the ACLU Florida chapter, said the legislation meant “the ability to vote becomes based on your pocketbook, how much money you have”, adding: “That’s, quite frankly, wrong.”
California wildfire survivors set to lose housing funds
Two years after wildfires tore through California wine country, killing 44 people and destroying thousands of homes and buildings, the survivors are set to lose the insurance coverage that funded their temporary housing costs as they rebuilt. California law requires insurance companies to provide such coverage for up to 24 months, but in the town of Santa Rosa, for example, the reconstruction started after the devastation of the Tubbs fire is just 20% complete.
Extinction Rebellion activists staged mass protests over the climate crisis in London, New York and Sydney on Monday, but have been dismissed by the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, as “uncooperative crusties”.
Johnson has appealed to the US to waive diplomatic immunity for Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat, who fled the UK after being accused of killing a 19-year-old motorcyclist in a traffic collision.
The FBI has said 79-year-old Samuel Little is now considered the most prolific serial killer in US history, after he confessed last year to more than 90 murders between 1970 and 2005. Little was jailed for three murders in California in 2012.
New York City is inviting proposals for a “self-filtering” swimming pool in Manhattan’s East River, which would allow New Yorkers to swim safely in the city after decades during which its waterways were off-limits due to pollution.
Cancer town: Japanese chemical bosses refuse meeting
Lydia Gerard and Robert Taylor travelled 7,000 miles from Louisiana to the Tokyo HQ of the Japanese chemicals company Denka to present evidence that toxic emissions from its plant were to blame for their town’s high cancer rates. But, as Justin McCurry reports, Denka’s representatives refused to meet them.
Why Botox thefts are on the rise
In a new column, Strange Sins, Rene Chun plans to seek out offbeat crimes committed by unusual suspects. For the first in the series, she reports on a spate of break-ins at Botox clinics, where thieves have made off with cosmetic products worth thousands of dollars.
Is it anti-feminist to fake an orgasm?
Research suggests straight women who hold hostile views about feminism, or who feel uncomfortable saying the word “clitoris”, are more likely to fake an orgasm. Poppy Noor asked five women whether they fake it, and why.
Online, no one knows you’re poor
Shauna James Ahern is a James Beard award-winning food writer, but she never mentioned her financial struggles on her blog. In this essay from her new book, Enough, she explains why working for $15 an hour at a local grocery store turned out to be the best job she ever had.
Traditionally, it is the right that has focused on filling the courts with judges, who rule on conservative lines and perpetuate Republican power. But the previously passive left is waking up to the importance of the judiciary, says Moira Donegan.
The protesters see [Justice Brett] Kavanaugh as only the most egregious symptom of a court system that is gravely diseased. Their action speaks to a growing liberal agitation around the judiciary, led by feminists, that is poised to change the politics of the courts.
Zion Williamson, the most anticipated NBA rookie in years, scored 17 points – including a series of dunks – in his first pre-season appearance for the Pelicans, helping the New Orleans team to a 133-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Manchester United are in the bottom half of the Premier League table after their worst start to a season for more than 30 years. But while coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær must take some of the blame, the club’s problems aren’t limited to the dugout, says Paul Wilson.
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