First Thing: America's new virus hotspots are also election battlegrounds

Tim Walker
Photograph: Cheney Orr/Reuters

Good morning. Arizona has joined several other states in rolling back its reopening, amid a surge in Covid-19 cases across the Sun Belt. On Monday, the Republican governor, Doug Ducey, ordered bars, movie theatres, gyms and water parks to be shut down for at least 30 days, after the state reported 3,858 new cases, its highest daily total to date.

Texas and Florida have also backtracked on reopening as the coronavirus spreads through their communities. All three states are considered crucial to Donald Trump’s chances of re-election, yet the president is apparently ignoring the pandemic to focus on economic recovery. Last week he held a rally in Phoenix, Arizona’s biggest city, where few people even wore face masks. He has also renewed his baseless attacks on mail-in voting, suggesting the fear of catching Covid-19 is no excuse to vote remotely.

The ‘Russian bounties’ intel was in Trump’s written briefing

Trump claimed on Sunday that he was never told about intelligence that Russia had offered bounties for attacks on US troops in Afghanistan, because the information was not considered “credible”. New reports suggest, however, that the president was indeed given the information, in February, as part of a daily written intelligence briefing – but that he may not have read it.

  • Reddit and Twitch have banned pro-Trump accounts and message boards in a bid to combat hate speech, leaving Facebook increasingly isolated in its reluctance to enforce content rules against the president’s troubling rhetoric.

  • Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Trump over his role in ordering the killing of its top general, Qassem Suleimani, in a drone strike in January.

Police used pepper spray to break up a peaceful vigil

Friends and family of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old massage therapist and musician who died in police custody in Aurora, Colorado, have told the Guardian he was loved by “everybody who met him”. Almost a year later, no officers have been charged over the death, and on Monday, Aurora police dressed in riot gear used pepper spray to break up a peaceful “violin vigil” for McClain.

McClain’s case has gained greater prominence amid the national protests over the death of George Floyd. On Monday, a judge in Minneapolis warned that he would move the trial of the police officers involved in Floyd’s killing out of the city if officials persisted in speaking publicly about the case.

Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), says it’s now time to turn the protest movement into policy:

Today’s nationwide protests have created an unprecedented alignment of people who look like America, all of us standing together for justice. We must use that people power to transform not only hearts and minds, but laws and leadership. The most direct and urgent route is through the vote.

In other news …

Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr in court in Sacramento. Photograph: Fred Greaves/Reuters
  • The man accused of being the Golden State Killer pleaded guilty on Monday in California. Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, said he was responsible for 13 murders stretching back to the 1970s, as well as dozens of sexual assaults for which he cannot now be prosecuted.

  • House Democrats have a new climate “action plan” to almost eliminate US emissions altogether by 2050. That ambitious-sounding goal is in line with what scientists say is needed to halt rising temperatures – and with the climate strategy outlined by the party’s presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

  • Beijing has passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong, which its opponents say will be used to crush dissent and allow China to tighten its political grip on the supposedly semi-autonomous territory.

  • Cape Cod has issued a shark warning ahead of the 4 July holiday, with local officials saying the region’s great white sharks are increasing in number every year, and venturing close enough to shore to threaten swimmers.

Great reads

How Khruangbin perfected the art of ‘Earth music’

The Texan trio Khruangbin’s blend of Thai, Tex-Mex and west African influences defies categorisation, but it has led to praise from Jay-Z and a collaboration with Leon Bridges. “When you see us play, it should look like we just fell on to this planet,” they tell Ammar Kalia.

When the water department turns off the taps

When Albert Pickett moved into his late mother’s Cleveland home, he lacked the cash to start repaying her stack of unpaid water bills. The water department turned off his taps and forced the house into foreclosure. Then a fire broke out. Nina Lakhani asked Pickett about being a victim of America’s water crisis.

About bloody time: period sex on screen

Sex and menstruation are both historically taboo on screen. But now some filmmakers – particularly women – have started depicting both at once. Such scenes, writes Hanna Flint, speak volumes “for the reality of the feminine sexual experience”.

Opinion: John Roberts has not become a liberal

Chief justice John Roberts sided with liberal judges in a major supreme court ruling on abortion this week. But liberals should not mistake Roberts for an ally, says Moira Donegan.

In siding with the liberals, Roberts rejected the most cynical and opportunistic of rightwing arguments, and signaled that conservatives will need to be more tactful and less brazen in their attempts to manipulate the court into delivering their policy ends.

Last Thing: Japan’s famous deer go back to healthier diet

One of Nara’s estimated 1,300 free-roaming deer. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

Before the pandemic, millions of tourists passed through the Japanese city of Nara to see its sights – and to feed its approximately 1,300 free-roaming deer their favourite senbei rice cracker snack. Now, local officials say the absence of visitors has done wonders for the animals’ health, forcing them to resort to a more traditional, and more healthy, diet of plants and nuts.

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