US briefing: China tariffs, Barr in contempt and Brazil’s environment

Thursdays top story: Trump accuses China of breaking deal as trade war intensifies. Plus, the border patrol serial killer and the women who stood up to him

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Good morning, Im Tim Walker with todays essential stories.

US prepares to increase duties on $200bn of Chinese goods

With a day to go before the the US and China enter a full-scale trade war, Donald Trump has accused Beijing of breaking a deal reached in trade talks between the two economic superpowers. As the US trade representatives office prepared to hike duties on $200bn (154bn) of Chinese goods from Friday, the president told supporters at a rally in Florida on Wednesday evening: They broke the deal. They cant do that, so theyll be paying.

House committee votes to hold Barr in contempt

Barr
Barr is sworn in to testify before the Senate judiciary committee earlier this month. He refused to appear before the Democrat-led House judiciary committee. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

The House judiciary committee has voted to hold the US attorney general, William Barr, in contempt of Congress over his refusal to hand over an unredacted version of the Mueller report. Also on Wednesday, the White House invoked executive privilege to block the committees request for the full report and its underlying evidence, leading the panels Democratic chairman, Jerrold Nadler, to declare: We are now in a constitutional crisis.

  • What next? The ramifications of the House judiciary committees vote remain unclear, and the full House must first approve the contempt resolution against Barr which it probably will under Democratic control. Similar cases in 2008 and 2012 resulted in lengthy legal battles that outlasted the incumbent administration.

  • Trump Jr. The Senate intelligence committee has reportedly subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr, a signal the panel is continuing its Russia investigation despite claims by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that it was case closed.

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Bolsonaro denounced by ex-ministers for environmental assault

Dead
Dead trees in a deforested section of Brazils Amazon rainforest. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A group of former Brazilian government ministers has denounced the president, Jair Bolsonaro, for smashing the countrys carefully crafted environmental protections, potentially transforming Brazil into an exterminator of the future. Their criticism comes on another day of troubling environmental news. One study has concluded people will use 1.9tn plastic and glass drinks containers in 2019, up from 1.6tn in 2015. Another found that only a third of the worlds great rivers still flow freely, unimpeded by manufactured dams.

  • Flooding threat. The UK governments environment agency has warned entire coastal towns may have to be abandoned to prepare for a potential global temperature rise of 4C.

  • Green party. In Canada, a silver lining: the countrys Green party believes the threat of climate change could at last propel them into serious contention at Octobers federal election.

Washington state Republican stokes fears of civil war

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Republican lawmaker stokes fear of civil war and amplifies conspiracy theories in podcast – audio

Matt Shea, a Republican state representative from Washington, has amplified far-right conspiracy theories, warned of the balkanisation of the US and stoked fears of another American civil war in his appearances on podcasts in recent years. Appearing as a guest on the podcast Prepper Recon in 2018, Shea said: Essentially we already live in two countries you have half that want to follow the Lord and righteousness and half that dont.

  • Soros theory. Shea also claimed leftwing groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter were working together with funding from the billionaire George Soros, whose name is frequently invoked amid antisemitic tropes in far-right conspiracy theories.

Crib sheet

Must-reads

Juan
Juan David Ortiz is accused of killing four women in September 2018. Illustration: Franziska Barczyk

A serial killer at the border

In September 2018, a serial killer in the border town of Laredo, Texas, went on a rampage, murdering four sex workers. Richard Cooke tells the story of those killings and of the group of women who confronted the alleged killer: a border patrol agent.

Amy Klobuchars midwest victory route

The Minnesota senator, Amy Klobuchar, is not a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But if she were to make it through the primary, says Tom McCarthy, her electoral success in a purple state could make her a plausible rival for Trump.

Why we must not let Europe break apart

Seven decades after the second world war, the European project credited with keeping conflict at bay is crumbling, writes Timothy Garton Ash. The pattern of disintegration may be familiar from history, he says, but this current version of Europe is still worth saving.

Silicon Valleys privacy wars

Apple, Google and Facebook have tried to stake a claim to the moral high ground of user privacy, some more plausibly than others. The firms are throwing shade at each others inadequate efforts in the process, as Julia Carrie Wong reports.

Opinion

Ever since he pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal last year, Trump has done all he can to goad Tehran. The chances of stumbling into a war are rising, writes Michael H Fuchs.

Bolton and Pompeo sometimes act like they are itching for a fight, and US actions over the last year have significantly raised the chances for a miscalculation that spirals into conflict.

Sport

Another English club, another miraculous European comeback. On Wednesday night it was Tottenhams turn to overcome their first-leg deficit, defeating Ajax 3-2 in Amsterdam to set up a Champions League final against Liverpool.

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The US womens soccer team are paid a quarter of what the men earn, despite being significantly more successful in competition. But Anya Alvarez says equal pay for womens sport is not the heart of the problem in fact, equal pay would inevitably follow from the more important goal: equal marketing.

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Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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