First Thing: G7 summit kicks off as British PM says transatlantic relationship ‘indestructible’

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: William Dax/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: William Dax/Getty Images

Good morning.

Boris Johnson hailed the UK’s “indestructible relationship” with the US as the G7 summit officially kicked off on Friday.

The British prime minister is known not to be a fan of the phrase “special relationship” – which he believes makes the UK look weak – but in an interview after meeting Joe Biden in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, on Thursday he tried to underline the nations’ closeness, despite the president’s concerns over Northern Ireland.

“Look, I don’t mind the phrase ‘special relationship’ because it is special,” Johnson told the BBC. “But you know, it encompasses a reality which is that the UK and the US have a real congruence of views on some stuff that really matters to the world.”

Asked how he would describe the two countries’ connection, the prime minister said: “You can call it the ‘deep and meaningful relationship’, whatever you want, the ‘indestructible relationship’. It’s a relationship that has endured for a very long time, and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world.”

  • The rest of the G7 leaders were due to arrive on Friday. In the first formal session they are expected to discuss the pandemic recovery and later meet the Queen at the Eden Project.

  • On Thursday night, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, told Johnson “nothing is negotiable” over the Northern Ireland protocol, as the summit risked being overshadowed by the bitter standoff over Brexit.

  • G7 leaders face a make-or-break moment for the climate crisis, writes environment correspondent Fiona Harvey.

  • Why is Biden so invested in defending the Good Friday agreement? World affairs editor Julian Borger explains.

  • Plus, G7 protest signs in Cornwall.

Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie Johnson, with Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, in Carbis Bay, Cornwall
Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie Johnson, met Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, on Thursday. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Nancy Pelosi rebukes Ilhan Omar for Israel, Hamas and Taliban tweet

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has criticized Ilhan Omar, pictured.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has criticized Ilhan Omar, pictured. Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has criticized Ilhan Omar after the Minnesota congresswoman said she was a victim of “harassment and silencing” by members of her party following a comment she made about the US, Israel, Afghanistan and Hamas on Twitter.

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” Omar wrote in the tweet that caused controversy. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban. I asked Secretary Blinken where people are supposed to go for justice.”

In response, Pelosi issued a statement with the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, and other Democrats, in which she rebuked Omar for “drawing false equivalence”.

  • Among those who came to her defence were the Progressive Caucus and “Squad” members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush, who said: “Enough with the anti-Blackness and Islamophobia”.

The rightwing firm that posed as a leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats

The Guardian has revealed that a digital marketing firm closely linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA was behind multiple Facebook ads for Green party candidates during the 2018 midterms in an apparent bid to split the Democratic vote in close races.

The ads, which used socialist memes and rhetoric, appeared to be from a group called America Progress Now (APN). But in fact the advertiser was the conservative marketing firm Rally Forge.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that Facebook was aware of their true identity and the ads’ deceptive nature, writes the technology reporter Julia Carrie Wong, but decided they did not violate the platform’s policies.

  • What is Rally Forge? Founded and run by Arizona Republican Jake Hoffman, the rightwing political marketing firm ran a $350,000 pro-Trump Super Pac in 2016 and have been Turning Point USA’s highest compensated independent contractor since 2017. In November, Hoffman was elected to serve in the Arizona state legislature.

  • Meanwhile, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, has said the bureau sees the 6 January Capitol attack as an act of “domestic terrorism” in a grilling before Congress on Thursday, and suggested there were still “serious charges” to come in the criminal investigation.

The largest reservoir in the US has fallen to a historic low amid a severe drought across the American west

A growing high-water mark, known as a &#x002018;bathtub ring&#x002019;
A growing high-water mark, known as a ‘bathtub ring’, is forming on the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Bridget Bennett/AFP/Getty Images

Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir by volume, has dropped to its lowest level since the 1930s amid a severe drought.

The reservoir – which was formed on the Colorado River along the Arizona-Nevada border during the construction of the Hoover dam – provides water across the south-west. Currently at 36% capacity, levels are expected to fall even lower.

  • The huge drop has led to plans for the federal government’s first water shortage declaration, likely to be issued in August.

  • About 75% of the American west is in “severe” drought, reports the US Drought Monitor.

  • Meanwhile, in California, 17 million baby Chinook salmon are being transported by road from the hatchery to the sea. Amid low water levels and high temperatures, the endangered salmon will travel in a fleet of trucks to help them reach the next stage of life.

California Fish and Wildlife staff moving juvenile chinook salmon
California Fish and Wildlife staff moving juvenile chinook salmon. Photograph: Nina Riggio/Reuters

In other news …

  • Synchronous fireflies light up US national parks as they search for a mate in a “one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon”. For two weeks in late spring, near dusk, the fireflies at the Great Smoky Mountains national park put on a “magical” display, flashing in unison.

  • US inflation has climbed to the highest rate since 2008 as the world’s largest economy rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic. The consumer prices index rose at an annual rate of 5% in May – up from 4.2% in April.

  • The release of one of the mafia’s most notorious killers – believed to have murdered more than 100 people – has provoked a row in Italy. Giovanni Brusca, nicknamed u scannacristiani (the people-slayer), was released after 25 years in prison last week as a result of a controversial law.

  • US labor department officials have announced a temporary emergency standard to protect healthcare workers, warning they face “grave danger” amid the Covid pandemic. More than a year since the start of the pandemic, the new rules require employers to remove those with Covid-19 from the workplace, tell workers of any workplace exposure and bolster requirements to report employee deaths and hospitalizations.

Stat of the day: China owns 85% of the Colombo international container terminal in Sri Lanka

The south Asian country, which recently suffered what is believed to be its worst maritime disaster, is negotiating with Japan and India over control of the port’s east and west container terminals. Amid high levels of debt, it is not surprising that the port gave permission for the Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl, which subsequently caught fire, to repair a dangerous chemical leak in May, writes Sandali Handagama.

Don’t miss this: Bill Clinton says he ‘always wanted to be a writer, but doubted my ability to do it’

The author and former president also reveals he finds comfort in thrillers and takes inspiration from William Styron, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou.

… or this: I’m my high school’s first Black male valedictorian. I won’t be the last

Read Ahmed Muhammad’s moving valedictory speech after becoming the first Black male valedictorian in the 106-year history of Oakland Technical high school in California. He graduated at the top of his class with a 4.73 grade point average and offers from 11 top universities. A video of his speech went viral.

Last Thing: what happened when a careful Skoda driver binge-watched every Fast & Furious film

Tim Jonze
Tim Jonze, who binge-watched the first eight Fast and Furious movies. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Ahead of the release of the latest instalment, F9, Skoda driver Tim Jonze watched all eight films in 24 hours. The result? A liquefied brain and exhaustion. “Watching the entire franchise hasn’t made my life any more fast or furious. If anything, I feel more knackered than before,” he writes.

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