US briefing: Trump pardons, Nevada debate and our 'unliveable planet'

Tim Walker
Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Trump claims to be America’s ‘chief law enforcement officer’

Donald Trump’s attack on the US judicial system continued on Tuesday, as he called for his former aide Roger Stone’s conviction to be “thrown out”, mused that he might sue those involved in Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry, and declaring himself, falsely, “the chief law enforcement officer of the United States”.

  • William Barr. The president’s so-far-loyal attorney general has reportedly told people close to him that he is considering quitting over Trump’s tweets about justice department cases.

  • Commuted sentences. The president has issued pardons for controversial figures including the former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

Bloomberg faces fresh controversy ahead of Nevada debate

Bloomberg has surged to second place in a national poll of the Democratic presidential candidates. Photograph: David J Phillip/AP

Mike Bloomberg’s poll surge, to second place nationally in the Democratic presidential race, has secured the billionaire former New York mayor a spot on the debate stage in Nevada on Wednesday evening. But it has also intensified scrutiny of his past remarks, including interviews in which he mocked trans rights and suggested many “black and Latino males … don’t know how to behave in the workplace”.

  • Lightning rods. Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas is a make-or-break moment for some of the remaining candidates, and both Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders, the leftwing frontrunner, are likely to face sustained attacks from their rivals.

Governments failing to provide ‘liveable planet’ for children

Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Globally, children face a future of ecological degradation, devastating climate change and exploitative marketing that governments in every nation are failing to protect them from, according to a new report commissioned by Unicef and the World Health Organization from 40 international child and adolescent health experts. “Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country,” the report states.

  • A climate change. Utah, one of the reddest states in the US, has unexpectedly embraced a long-term plan to reduce carbon emissions in a bid to protect its ski slopes and economy.

  • Bottled water. A new bill in the Washington senate could see the north-eastern state become the first in the US to restrict companies from bottling and selling its local water supplies.

Coronavirus cruise ship passengers released from quarantine

Passengers leave the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Yokohama. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who were kept in quarantine in Japan for two weeks after an outbreak of Covid-19 onboard, have begun leaving the ship after testing negative for the coronavirus. As the toll in mainland China passes 2,000, a second death has been recorded in Hong Kong. In Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, the film director Chang Kai and three of his family all died from the disease during self-quarantine.

  • ‘Sick man of Asia’. Beijing has revoked the credentials and ordered the expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters after the paper published a column on China’s response to the coronavirus, which described the country as “the real sick man of Asia”.

Cheat sheet

  • Seattle’s socialist city councillor, the former tech worker Kshama Sawant, has proposed a new tax on Amazon and other major Seattle businesses to fund affordable housing, months after she beat an Amazon-backed rival to claim a third term in office.

  • The Utah state senate has voted unanimously to decriminalise polygamy among consenting adults, reducing penalties for the traditional religious practice in a largely Mormon state – a practice currently punishable by up to five years in prison.

  • Boris Johnson has agreed a financial settlement with his wife, Marina Wheeler, making him the first British prime minister to get divorced while in office in modern times. Johnson lives at 10 Downing Street with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds.

  • Scientists have uncovered a Neanderthal skeleton buried in a cave in Iraq, which shows evidence that these cousins of the early humans buried their dead and conducted funerary rites with flowers.

Must-reads

Saffron Burrows: ‘Teenagers today are fantastically unafraid’

Saffron Burrows was an activist before she was an actor. Now starring in the second season of Netflix’s You, she tells Martha Hayes about her years as an anti-racist campaigner, the “revolutionary” #MeToo movement and the many “sexist” films she turned down.

Fast and the furriest: inside the world of dog agility

In the seven years since it was added to the program, the eminently televisable spectacle of barely controlled chaos known as dog agility has become one of the most popular events at the Westminster Dog Show. It’s not hard to see why, says Bryan Armen Graham.

A road trip with my dying mother

Sam Walker spent most of her adult life living thousands of miles from her mother, spending little quality time together. So when they found out she had terminal cancer, Sam rented a camper van – and the two of them set off together across Australia.

Why gender-free is the future of fragrance

The unisex fragrance was first popularised with the 1994 launch of CK One. A quarter-century later, as brands and retailers de-gender their fragrance offerings, the very idea of separate women’s and men’s perfumes looks to be on its way out, writes Funmi Fetto.

Opinion

If we believe something is right, we should be prepared to do it ourselves, says George Monbiot. Which is why he found himself in the Scottish Highlands, stalking and shooting a deer.

As a result of prior human intervention (exterminating their predators), refraining from killing deer means killing other wildlife. To respect the life of the deer is to disrespect the life of the capercaillie, the crossbill, the goshawk, the wildcat, the red squirrel and the pine marten. By leaving deer alone, we sacrifice other animals individually and en masse.

Sport

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has accused Atlético Madrid of trying to get his team’s influential winger Sadio Mané, sent off during the Spanish club’s 1-0 defeat of the title holders in their Champions League last-16 clash at the Estadio Metropolitano on Tuesday night.

Nascar driver Ryan Newman is awake and speaking at a Florida hospital following his horrific crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday, when his car hit a wall at almost 200mph, flipped several times and skidded to a halt in flames.

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