Top story: Set of reports criticise Covid-19 response
Hello, I’m Warren Murray and the day is just beginning but there is already much to know.
A series of official reports have piled criticism on the government response to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile the Guardian has established that the £10bn test-and-trace system is failing to contact thousands of people in areas with the highest infection rates in England.
MPs on the cross-party public accounts committee say there was an “astonishing” failure by government to plan for the economic impact of a possible flu-like pandemic, concluding that government schemes were drawn up “on the hoof” in mid-March by Rishi Sunak’s Treasury, weeks after the first UK case was detected. A separate Westminster committee has described a “vacuum” in ministerial-level communication between the central and Scottish governments that led to mixed messaging and public confusion about coronavirus policy in different parts of the UK. Johnson heads to Scotland today saying he wants to shore up the union.
Another parliamentary report into the impact of Covid-19 on sport has called on government to extend emergency funding to prevent a collapse in the sector. The digital, culture, media and sport select committee was critical of the government’s response to the pandemic so far and said “urgency” was needed to protect leisure facilities for the public and the continuance of elite sport. It also advocated a “reset” of governance in professional football and called for action to improve black, Asian and minority ethnic representation in sport. The same committee says the government’s response to the impact on the culture sector has been too slow, too vague, and has jeopardised its future, while responses like its £1.57bn support package and five-step roadmap for reopening could have saved jobs and cultural institutions from closure if they had been released sooner and with more clarity. Further coronavirus developments can be found at our live blog – and in our latest global roundup, South Korea’s economy has recorded its worst performance in more than 20 years amid plummeting exports – while Australia has announced its worst deficit since the second world war.
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Trump city surge – Donald Trump has announced a “surge” of hundreds of law enforcement officers into Democratic-run cities including Chicago, saying they had become “plagued by violent crime”. The move renews fears of an expanding state security apparatus threatening the rights of peaceful demonstrators. The president has linked street violence with protests against racial injustice but experts say the rise in crime is more complex considering the pandemic and economic slump.
The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted: “We will continue to defend our constitutional rights from Trump’s lawlessness – in Portland, Chicago, and wherever else necessary.” Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, wrote: “Under no circumstances will I allow Donald Trump’s troops to come to Chicago and terrorise our residents.” The justice department says Chicago is experiencing a significant increase in violent crime, with murders currently up 51% over 2019, while Albuquerque is on pace to break 2019’s record for murders in the city.
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Corbyn blasts antisemitism payouts – Labour’s decision to pay a six-figure libel settlement to ex-staffers over the party’s antisemitism furore has plunged the party back into civil war, with Jeremy Corbyn publicly condemning Keir Starmer’s decision to settle the case. Labour has apologised “unreservedly” to seven former employees and to the BBC Panorama journalist John Ware, admitting it defamed them. The case is understood to have cost Labour around £600,000, with around £180,000 in damages agreed for the eight individuals. Corbyn said the decision “risks giving credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations about action taken to tackle antisemitism in the Labour party in recent years”. Ware confirmed to the Guardian that he was “consulting his lawyers” after Corbyn’s comments.
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Consulates caught up in US-China row – A Chinese researcher charged with lying to the FBI about her affiliation with the People’s Liberation Army has taken refuge in China’s San Francisco consulate, according to court documents. Another researcher is in custody – both were at Stanford University. At the same time the US has ordered the closure of China’s Houston consulate on grounds of involvement in theft of “American intellectual property and private information”. Fire services were called after smoke was seen rising from the Houston compound. US officials said staff, who were given 72 hours to leave the country, were burning documents. Chinese state media suggested the possibility of closing US consulates in retaliation, posting a poll asking users to choose between missions in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Guangzhou and others.
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Seafood shop gives up secrets – Police doing a routine inspection of a frozen seafood shop in Alicante, Spain, have netted 13 Roman amphoras and an 18th-century metal anchor, which were said to have been found by the owner’s son on fishing trips and used to decorate the premises.
The items were confiscated, examined and ultimately given to the Santa Pola Museum of the Sea. The force said the the shop-owner and his son were facing proceedings on suspicion of offences against historic heritage laws.
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‘Micro-pancreas’ hope for diabetics – An Israeli company claiming to have created a tiny micro-pancreas that can “cure” diabetes has said it is submitting a request for human trials in the UK. The innovation is based on a biological scaffold adapted from pig lung tissue that holds beta cells, which release insulin based on the patient’s blood sugar levels. It aims to free patients of the need for insulin injections and blood sugar monitoring, and is designed for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who need insulin.
Today in Focus podcast: Racism in British schools
When a teenage activist sent a callout on social media for examples of racism within schools, he was deluged with responses. Aditya Chakrabortty began to investigate.
Lunchtime read: Tories on 12 months of Johnson
MPs of the Conservative party canvassed by our politics team are divided over whether a good-time PM is up to tasks like Brexit and the economic fallout from coronavirus.
The Guardian’s political editor, Heather Stewart, reviews seven key moments from Boris Johnson’s prime ministership.
Frank Lampard backed Chelsea to handle the pressure of trying to qualify for the Champions League on the final day of the season, after Liverpool marked lifting the Premier League trophy with a thrilling 5-3 victory at Anfield. Mason Greenwood’s 17th goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with West Ham means Manchester United need only a point against Leicester on Sunday to seal a top-four place and Champions League qualification. Slaven Bilic said his burning desire to manage in the Championship was vindicated after steering West Bromwich Albion into the Premier League on an extraordinary final day of drama. Professional sports organisations have been urged to tighten their cybersecurity after it was revealed hackers attempted to sabotage a Premier League transfer deal.
No positive coronavirus results have been returned from the second week of testing in the Women’s Super League and Championship, the Football Association has confirmed. Team GB should focus on “more than just medals” as a barometer of success in the wake of the gymnastics abuse scandal and the global pandemic, believes its chef de mission for the Tokyo Olympics. The Six Nations will be completed in the final two weeks of October before the autumn international series is played over four weeks if a recommendation by World Rugby’s executive committee is accepted by its council on 30 July. And Mookie Betts and the LA Dodgers have struck baseball’s first big-money deal since the coronavirus pandemic decimated the sport’s economics, worth $365m over 12 years.
Tesla reported a profit for the fourth straight quarter on Wednesday, surpassing a key milestone. It reported net income of $110m for the second quarter with a net profit of $104m, which it attributed to “fundamental operational improvement”. Revenue was down 4.9% from a year ago to $6.04bn for the quarter but still beat estimates of $5.15bn. Tesla shares rose 5% on the profitability news, which could qualify it for inclusion in the S&P 500 index, potentially increasing its access to institutional investors.
Shares have been mixed in the Asia-Pacific region. Benchmarks rose in Hong Kong, Sydney and Shanghai but fell in Seoul and Taiwan. The pound is worth $1.273 and €1.100 at time of writing while the FTSE is flat.
“Kim: be kind to Kanye, he’s ill” – the sincere plea from Kim Kardashian West about her husband’s bipolar disorder, and how the family can do little to help, leads the Metro today. Some other fronts point to coverage of that story on their inside pages. The i leads on “UK plans for winter quadruple whammy” – that comprising coronavirus, Brexit disruption, flu and floods. “UK hands £71m aid to China” says an incredulous Mail.
“Customers must wear masks in takeaways” – a community service announcement from the Telegraph; while the Mirror says “We won’t shop you”, because the Association of Convenience Stores says it will rely on people complying voluntarily with face-covering requirements.
The Guardian splashes with “Revealed: ‘world-beating’ tracing system failing to alert thousands” – the picture slot goes to Liverpool fans’ joy. “Ministers bankrolled by donors linked to Russia” – the Times covers the fallout from the intelligence committee report (some of whose members reportedly shared in the donations). The Express has “Boris battles to keep Britain united”, which feels a bit random. In the FT: “Downing St was warned of risk in spending £500m to buy OneWeb” – here is what that’s about.
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