Unpaid, unelected, unknowable? The mystery of presidential first ladies

The author of new play Two Ladies explains how a photograph of Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron inspired her to consider the meaning and resonance of their proximity to power It is 14 July 2017. Donald Trump is guest of honour at the annual Bastille Day celebrations in Paris a double whammy that year, marking the centenary of Americas entry into the first world war. Emmanuel Macron and the French like some bizarre courtship ritual, simultaneously friendly and mildly aggressive. But as they primped and preened and smirked and backslapped, my eyes were drawn not to the men but to the two women standing, somewhat awkwardly, either side of them trying to smile. The wives. Brigitte Macron, the former schoolteacher …

Blast hits Kabul after briefing on US-Taliban deal to withdraw 5,000 troops

Insurgent group claims responsibility for explosion that killed at least 16 as US and Taliban agree deal in principle The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital, just hours after a US envoy briefed the Afghan government on an agreement in principle with the insurgent group that would see 5,000 US troops leave the country within five months. Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahmi said at least five civilians were killed and around 50 wounded, but said the toll could still rise because a number of homes were destroyed. Later an official told Associated Press that the toll had risen to 16, with 119 injured. He confirmed that the target of the blast was the Green …

Mike Pence backs Boris Johnson over Brexit in awkward Dublin visit

US vice-president urges taoiseach and EU to negotiate with UK in good faith The US vice-president and the taoiseach have clashed over Brexit, with Mike Pence urging Leo Varadkar and the EU to work with Boris Johnson to protect the United Kingdoms sovereignty and limit trade chaos. Pence also asked Varadkar to support the US in its quest for a new trade deal with the EU. Pence made the intervention in the Brexit crisis during a two-day visit to Ireland, where his grandfather was born. In an uncomfortable press conference following a meeting in Dublin, he indicated his full support for Johnson over Brexit. Let me be clear: the US supports the UK decision to leave the EU in Brexit, …

Floridians not fazed as Hurricane Dorians path keeps state guessing

As the category 5 storm makes its predicted sweep off the east coast, many will wait it out indoors like they do every year while others will relish the conditions It is the peak of hurricane season in Florida, the days and weeks in which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) might at any time alert Floridians to a weather system spinning our way. And so, this week, the name Dorian arrived on our lips. TV stations pulled out the red blender blade logo reserved for hurricanes, the slalom runs of predicted paths splayed across maps of the western Atlantic. Anxiety levels rose with each National Hurricane Center (NHC) update: 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 11pm, over and over …

The Koch brothers tried to build a plutocracy in the name of freedom | Nathan Robinson

The Kochs have always believed that rich people had the right to rule over everyone else, democracy be damned It is the hope of every rich megalomaniac that they will leave a legacy. David Koch, who died last week aged 79, left a significant legacy indeed. In fact, along with his brother Charles, he can probably claim to have used every means at their disposal to subvert democracy. They funded academic posts, thinktanks, lobbying groups, fake grassroots operations, and political campaigns. They used their tremendous wealth to push a radically far-right economic vision in which government protections and welfare programs would essentially cease to exist. They may even have been profited handsomely from fossil fuels, and had a strong hand …

Los Angeles deputy made up ‘shooting’ which prompted huge police response

Officials say Angel Reinosa cut bullet holes in his shirt and claimed he had been shot by someone in a nearby building A Los Angeles county deputy lied when he said he was shot in the shoulder while standing in a sheriffs station parking lot last week and will face a criminal investigation, authorities said. The reported sniper assault was fabricated by deputy Angel Reinosa, assistant sheriff Robin Limon said at a news conference on Saturday. Reinosa, 21, made a frantic radio call on Wednesday, claiming he had been shot by someone in a nearby building as he walked to his car outside the Lancaster station. The call prompted a huge police response. Deputies set up a perimeter and Swat …

‘It’s devastating’. End of GM in Ohio town as Trump fails to bring back midwest jobs

Closing of Chevrolet plant is latest blow in a slow, painful decline in Lordstown an area that has suffered more than most from the outsourcing of jobs overseas For years, the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, employed 8,000 workers in the Mahoning valley. In a rust belt region that has become synonymous with industrial decline, following the closure of its once mighty steel mills in the 1970s, the presence of the Chevrolet factory in Lordstown, and its well-paid manufacturing jobs, was particularly important. Then, late last year, pledge to bring back auto jobs to the region. Today the plant, which looms behind a Welcome to Lordstown sign at the entry to the village, stands as a testament to the …

Bear falls on California patrol car, causing crash and fire

Animal fled the scene after smashing hood and windshield, causing vehicle to roll onto its side and burst into flames They probably dont train people for this at the sheriffs academy. A patrol car was struck by a falling bear in northern California last weekend, causing the vehicle to crash and explode. Authorities said a Humboldt county sheriffs deputy was driving on State Route 96 on 3 August, answering a report of a drug overdose in the community of Orleans, when the bear fell or jumped onto the car, apparently from a steep embankment. The bear smashed the hood and windshield. The patrol car hit an embankment, rolled onto its side and burst into flames. The deputy managed to escape …

R Kelly charged with prostitution and solicitation involving girl under 18

Kelly gets two felony charges for 2001 incident, in which R&B singer allegedly offered girl $200 to take off her clothes and dance Minnesota authorities charged the singer R Kelly on Monday with two counts of prostitution and solicitation involving a girl under 18 in 2001. The Hennepin county attorney, Mike Freeman, said Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is accused of soliciting the girl after meeting her at a concert in Minneapolis. Kelly was not performing at the time, but was doing promotional work. Freeman said the girl was trying to get an autograph from Kelly, and that the R&B performer gave her his signature and a phone number. When the girl called the number, she was …

Woman says she was permanently disfigured by Portland police at protest

Michelle Fawcett filed lawsuit after receiving severe chemical burns when police fired flash bang rounds at a crowd last August A Portland woman is suing the citys government for $250,000, and claiming she was permanently disfigured by ordnance fired by the Portland police bureau (PPB) at a protest a year ago. The ACLU of Oregon and law firm Tonkon Torp filed the suit in Multnomah county court on behalf of Michelle Fawcett, 53. Fawcett received severe chemical burns and other injuries on 4 August 2018 after police fired flash bang rounds at a crowd of protesters, and she was struck on the arm by one of the rounds. Flash bangs are intended to be non-lethal and create a loud, explosive …

Talk to us: how would you change the internet if you could?

The internet is full of annoyances designed to make you click here, watch this, and keep scrolling for more. How could it be better? Auto-play video ads. Aggressive pop-ups. Invisible ad trackers. The internet of 2019 is full of annoyances and introduced a bill that would regulate social media sites by banning certain features that he argues are designed to encourage new survey by Pew Research. Tech industry insiders all tend to agree that regulation is coming; the real question is what that regulation will look like. Which leads us to the question: what do we want it to look like? If you were going to write a law to regulate the internet, what would you ban? What would you …

Is this fascism? No. Could it become fascism? Yes | Andrew Gawthorpe

Trumps persistent hold on his base shows the power to be had in reinventing anti-American values as patriotic Amid the global rise of rightwing populism, fascist has become a common indeed over-used epithet. The F-word is convenient for critics of the new wave of populism, seeking as it does to tie their opponents to historical movements which nearly all of mainstream society regards as deplorable. But the word is convenient for the right too, allowing them to wave away their critics as overwrought and deranged while avoiding serious discussion of the substance of their policies and rhetoric. Even the Trumpified Republican party is not a fascist movement and Trump is certainly no Hitler. Full-blown fascism usually emerges under the pressure …

How some of the world’s rarest fish dodged a California earthquake

There are fewer than 200 Devils Hole pupfish on Earth, so its a good thing they employed some survival tactics Devils Hole pupfish among the rarest fish on earth know a thing or two about earthquake safety. After all, they managed to ride out a huge wave triggered by the recent tremors in California. Found only inside an inconceivably deep, sweltering geothermal pool called Devils Hole near Death Valley, and numbering fewer than 200, Devils Hole pupfish are endangered, but not helpless. As the 7.1-magnitude Ridgecrest earthquake puppies at play, Devils Hole pupfish are not unused to earthquakes. Possibly because of its depth divers have ventured more than 400ft down and not been able to see a bottom Devils Hole …

How will the US-UK relationship evolve with Boris Johnson in No 10?

Donald Trump is a fan of the incoming PM but it is unclear if there will be any real convergence on policy Boris Johnson has already been dubbed holding hands in the White House, but that relationship soured as soon as she Brexitwasnt enough, a new Johnson government must immediately take steps to make sure he doesnt begin his time in No 10 with a slide into war. The situation in the gulf is complex, fast-moving and hugely dangerous. Johnson did not cover himself in glory as foreign secretary, especially over Iran. It will be his task to prove he has learned. Managing parliament and Tory MPs Johnson will start as PM with a working Commons majority of four, thanks …

‘Like pitching in a rainforest’: MLB fans and players struggle in brutal heatwave

Even for a sport that promotes high heat, Saturday was a scorcher across the major leagues as high temperatures gripped large parts of North America At Wrigley Field, mist machines tried to cool the crowd. At Yankee Stadium, only one player took batting practice on the field. In Cleveland, rules were relaxed on what fans could bring into the park. Even for a sport that promotes high heat, Saturday was a scorcher across the majors. The National Weather Service said it was part of a dangerous heat wave gripping much of the country. Hours before Baltimore played Boston at sweltering Camden Yards, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde pulled aside starting catcher Chance Sisco and issued a stiff directive. I told Chance, …

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony postponed by one week

Testimony comes a week later than planned, under an agreement that gives lawmakers more time to question him The special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before Congress about the findings of the Russia investigation on 24 July, one week later than his appearance was originally planned, under an agreement that gives lawmakers more time to question him. Mueller had been scheduledto report on the inquiry into Russian election meddling and ties between Russia and the campaign of Donald Trump on 17 July. But lawmakers in both parties complained that the short length of the hearings would not allow enough time for all members to ask questions. Under the new arrangement, Mueller will testify for an extended period of time, three …