Tuesday briefing: Trump gets way in court

Warren Murray
·8 min read
<span>Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Top story: Coney Barrett swings supreme court to right

Hello, I’m Warren Murray, a new day has dawned with new stories to gaze upon.

The majority of senators have voted to confirm Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. US lawmakers voted almost entirely along party lines with a sole Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, joining the Democrats to vote against Barrett’s confirmation.

Barrett, 48, secures a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the nation’s highest court. Long term, her appointment could have a major impact on a range of policies governing abortion rights, immigration and LGBTQ rights. Immediately, she is expected to rule on a number of cases on whose votes will count, and how they will be counted in the election. Soon after election day she could be a deciding vote in an ongoing legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act – which the Trump administration is seeking to dismantle.

Coney Barrett has refused to say whether she accepts humans are causing climate change, calling it a “contentious matter of public debate” despite the scientific evidence. Her take on the constitution is that of an “originalist” – in her own words, it means “I interpret the constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time. And it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”

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Starmer in crash with cyclist – Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has spoken with police after a collision between the car he was driving and a cyclist who was taken to hospital with an arm injury. Starmer is understood to have been driving through north-west London around midday on Sunday when the crash occurred in Kentish Town. He gave his details to the cyclist and a British transport police officer and waited for an ambulance to arrive, a spokesperson for Starmer said. The Metropolitan police said Starmer later attended a north London police station but was not arrested or interviewed under caution. “An investigation into the collision is ongoing by officers from the Roads and Transport Policing Command,” said the Met.

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‘Stigmatised and overlooked’ – Structural racism has led to the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on BAME communities, a review by Dame Doreen Lawrence has concluded. The report commissioned by Labour contradicts the government’s adviser on ethnicity, Dr Raghib Ali, who has dismissed such claims. Lawrence’s review found BAME people are overrepresented in public-facing jobs where they cannot work from home, more likely to live in overcrowded housing, and more at risk from the government’s alleged failure to facilitate Covid-secure workplaces. Lawrence writes in the report, entitled An Avoidable Crisis, that minority ethnic people have been “overexposed, under protected, stigmatised and overlooked … This has been generations in the making.” Meanwhile new mothers are having their babies put into care by courts during remote video and phone hearings from hospital, according to a report on justice during the pandemic. Parents are also having to join online proceedings from home – often without adequate technology or support – when life-changing decisions are made about their children. Head straight to our global live blog for the very latest coronavirus developments – more on northern lockdown anger and free school meals in the papers section further down.

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Grenfell director’s regret – A director at the landlord of Grenfell Tower has apologised for the “devastating” fire that killed 72 people after he described overseeing hundreds of thousands of pounds in cost savings relating to its combustible cladding. Peter Maddison from the Kensington and Chelsea tenants management organisation (TMO) was close to tears at the end of his testimony to the public inquiry. Counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC had asked Maddison about cost cuts achieved in the contractor Rydon’s tender when it swapped zinc cladding for the combustible aluminium composite panels that ended up spreading the fire. Maddison said he had assumed “that all materials proposed by the designers comply with building regs and the law … Knowing what I know now there is no way we would ever have clad that building in anything that was flammable.” The inquiry continues.

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Climate hopes at sea – A consortium of oil companies is preparing to pump Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions under the North Sea to help meet the government’s climate ambitions. The alliance will siphon off the carbon dioxide from factory flues under plans to sequester more than half the UK’s industrial emissions in the salt caverns of the seabed from 2026. They will pipe out to sea 17m tonnes of carbon dioxide every year from two carbon capture projects based in the Teesside and Humber industrial clusters; while another venture by the same companies will capture another 10m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the cluster. At the Humber a separate alliance involving National Grid hopes to capture at least 17m tonnes of CO2 from refineries, factories and the Drax coal-fired power plant.

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Wet moon rising? Scientists have gathered some of the most compelling evidence yet that there is water on the moon of potential use to future human missions. Evidence of water molecules altering the wavelength of sunlight bouncing off the moon’s surface was found by Nasa’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sofia), a modified Boeing 747 carrying a 2.7-metre reflecting telescope. The water was discovered at high latitudes towards the moon’s south pole. Scientists are working to determine whether it could one day be mined to make drinking water, oxygen for breathing and split into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel. Previously, moon water was thought to be locked as ice inside craters where the shade thrown by their steep sides keeps temperature down to -230C.

Today in Focus podcast: Taking black voters for granted?

The Guardian US reporter Kenya Evelyn grew up in Milwaukee, in the swing state of Wisconsin. She recently returned to see how this year’s pandemic, recession and Black Lives Matter protests are shifting the city’s politics – and after the Democratic convention in Wisconsin was cancelled, whether the party can expect black voters there to turn out in support.

Lunchtime read: ‘I’m a fool for love’

As Joni Mitchell releases a box set of her earliest recordings, in a rare interview she talks about life before fame, the correct way to sing her songs – and her long struggle to walk and talk again after an aneurysm.

Sport

Eddie Jones has reminded his players of the need to adhere to strict Covid protocols after England’s opening match of the autumn was called off because of two separate breaches by Barbarians players last week. Former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman will face questions on Tuesday over whether he gave a “testosterone top-up” to a rider, as well as medical data relating to a Tour de France winner, a tribunal has been told. Tottenham’s prolific away form eluded them in an evenly contested 1-1 encounter against bottom-three Burnley, though the ever-reliable Son Heung-min came to their rescue with an opportunist winner. Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has demanded the Premier League review its controversial pay-per-view policy. Tao Geoghegan Hart’s unexpected victory in the Giro d’Italia may well fast-track the 25-year-old to the forefront of the Ineos Grenadiers leadership rotation after the 2019 Tour de France winner, Egan Bernal, revealed he is battling a debilitating spinal condition.

Business

The e-payments arm of Jack Ma’s online business empire is set to float on the stock market for a world-record $35bn. Investors will be able to buy into Ant Group, which the Chinese entrepreneur built to service customers of his Alibaba shopping portal, in Hong Kong and Shanghai from today with public trading starting next week. Despite that massive IPO, stocks in Asia have suffered a choppy day although it’s expected the FTSE 100 will open flat this morning. The pound will buy you a slightly improved $1.304 and €1.104.

The papers

Only the Express, really, has eyes for anything other than anger in the north and free school meals, the two main issues that dog the government at the moment. Instead that paper deflects with “Milestone in hunt for Covid vaccine” after testing of the Oxford jab looked promising. The Guardian leads with “Northern Tory MPs demand ‘clear roadmap’ out of virus lockdown” while the Mail says “Boris hit by Red Wall MPs revolt”. In the Times: “Lockdown risks crippling north, MPs warn Johnson”.

The Telegraph splashes with “Immunity only lasts a few months, study finds” – the paper looks at the risk of overstating the definitiveness of that finding, if you go by our Guardian taken on it. The front of the Telegraph also has the ructious northern MPs and Victoria Derbyshire gets a picture for declaring she will break the rule of six at Christmas (the journalist has since apologised and said she will continue to follow the rules).

On school meals the Mirror hammers Boris Johnson, appropriating a picture of him helping serve up hot food and asking: “Can’t you feed nation’s hungry kids, too?” (arguably superfluous comma theirs, not ours). While the Metro shames the PM by showing how communities and businesses are going it alone to provide meals, whatever the government’s stance: “Britain steps up to the plates – massive turnout to help hungry kids over half-term hols”. Finally the FT leads with the fortunes of Jack Ma’s fortune: “Chinese fintech group Ant to raise more than $34bn in record listing”.

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