Tuesday briefing: Teargas for protesters before Trump poses at church

Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Top story: Governors berated to use National Guard

Good morning, I’m Warren Murray and here are the top stories to start your Tuesday.

Extraordinary scenes have unfolded in Washington after Donald Trump declared there would be a military crackdown on protests stemming from the George Floyd killing. Crowds were cleared from around the White House with teargas, rubber bullets and flash-grenades so that Trump could make an excursion on foot from the White House to the damaged “Church of the Presidents” and pose for photos while waving a Bible around. Afterwards Trump was effectively accused of desecrating the Bible and St John’s Episcopal Church by its leaders, while Kamala Harris, the Democratic senator for California, wrote: “Donald Trump just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op.”

Speaking in the Rose Garden earlier, the president threatened to override state governors and send in the military if they failed to use the National Guard to quell protests. Doing so would be an unprecedented and highly contentious use of rarely invoked powers intended to quell “insurrection”.

A county medical examiner has classified George Floyd’s death as a homicide, saying his heart stopped as police restrained him and compressed his neck. The cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression. Under “other significant conditions”, it said Floyd had heart disease and hypertension, and listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use. A private autopsy for Floyd’s family concluded the cause of death was asphyxiation.

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Coronavirus latest – Gordon Brown has blasted the G20 group of nations for allowing a potential “death sentence for the world’s poorest people” by failing to mobilise $2.5tn (£1.98tn) of aid to see struggling nations through the pandemic. The former Labour PM said 225 past and present world leaders, academics and civil society leaders had written to demand the next meeting of the G20 be brought forward from late November. Brown said “disgraceful” inactivity by the G20 meant allocations from the IMF and the World Bank to poorer countries would remain a fraction of what they have said is required.

South Korea is testing a new tracing system requiring visitors at entertainment venues, restaurants and churches to check in using a QR code. Meanwhile Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, has called for people to “live with the virus”. The White House coronavirus taskforce member Dr Anthony Fauci says he has not spoken to Donald Trump for two weeks. There are fears over the potential spread of the virus at demonstrations about the death of George Floyd. The World Health Organization has praised the “immense” and “generous” contribution of the United States to global health in a push to salvage relations after Trump said he was severing ties. The WHO also said it should have enough information in 24 hours to decide whether to continue its suspension of trials of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

Emily Maitlis returned to presenting Newsnight on Monday for the first time since the controversy over her comments about Dominic Cummings breaking lockdown. Follow our global live blog for more updates and here is a quick run through some key ponts.

There’s more in our Coronavirus Extra section further down … and here’s where you can find all our coverage of the outbreak – from breaking news to factchecks and advice.

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Cummings faces sacking case – Government lawyers have tried and failed to remove the name of Dominic Cummings from a sex discrimination claim being pursued by Sajid Javid’s former media adviser, the Guardian can disclose. Sonia Khan, who worked for the then chancellor, was marched by armed police from Downing Street after a row with Cummings over alleged contact with individuals close to Philip Hammond, the former chancellor. Khan denied any inappropriate contact. The latest disclosure will be seen as an attempt by the government to protect Cummings from further controversy. He continues to face demands for his resignation after the Guardian and Mirror revealed he drove from London to Durham during the coronavirus outbreak. In the Khan case, Cummings could be made personally liable for damages. The case is down for hearing by a tribunal in December.

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Catch of the day – European Union and British negotiators will face each other screen-to-screen as the latest round of Brexit talks get under way today. During this four-day round, the most time has been allocated to one of the toughest matters: fishing rights. The industry is only 0.12% of K economic output but has become one of the most intractable issues of the Brexit talks, for reasons that boil down to history, geography and politics. Securing greater British control of fisheries was a big promise of the 2016 Brexit campaign and repeated by Boris Johnson ahead of his 2019 election victory. From Brussels, Jennifer Rankin explains what’s on the hook in these talks.

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Rainforest razed – The amount of pristine tropical rainforest lost across the globe increased in 2019 as the equivalent of a football pitch disappeared every six seconds, a satellite-based analysis has found. Nearly 12m hectares of tree cover was lost across the tropics, including nearly 4m hectares of dense, old rainforest that held significant stores of carbon and had been home to a vast array of wildlife, according to data from the University of Maryland. The heaviest reduction continues to be in Brazil, which accounted for more than a third of tropical forest lost, while the rate of loss stepped up the most in Bolivia. Beyond the tropics Australia’s bushfires of 2019 led to a sixfold increase in tree cover loss across the continent compared with the previous year.

Coronavirus Extra

Is a second wave inevitable? Ian Sample talks to Prof Carl Heneghan about the uncertainties in predicting future outbreaks of Covid-19 and what we can do to prevent them.

After months of staying inside it’s natural to feel nervous about leaving the safety of our homes – even if we desperately want to. One writer who is no stranger to self-isolating explains what to expect.

Historic England has revealed 200 new images that have been added to its archive to form the Picturing Lockdown Collection.

It represents the first time the public have been asked to submit photographs for the archive since the second world war.

Alongside Afghanistan, Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio is still endemic. And in April almost 40 million children missed their polio immunisation due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the country already struggling against a resurgence in polio cases, officials are worried.

Today in Focus podcast: Is easing out of lockdown safe?

Health officials and even government scientists have warned against the easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England, saying it could lead to a surge in infections. David Hunter, professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Oxford, looks at the risks.

Lunchtime read: Power of the crowd

Even before the pandemic, mass gatherings were under threat from draconian laws and corporate seizure of public space. Yet history shows that the crowd always finds a way to return, writes Dan Hancox.

Aerial view of a crowd at a mosque


Two leading jockeys walked away from high-speed falls as the first day of racing in Britain since mid-March was marred by a fatal injury to a horse. The Manchester United teammates Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba have both posted powerful anti-racism messages on social media, as outcry continues to build over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The chairman of Kick It Out has urged every Premier League footballer to take a knee when the season resumes, adding that the Football Association should not punish players who use their platforms to call for social change. A number of Formula One drivers have come forward to condemn racism after Lewis Hamilton strongly criticised the silence from his sport. And Joe Root has reunited with Peter Moores, the former England head coach, as he tunes up for July’s proposed Test series against West Indies.


Shares have been mostly higher in Asia, lifted by moves to reopen many regional economies from shutdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic. Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul but fell in Shanghai and Sydney. Jakarta’s main index jumped 2% and Singapore’s was up 1.2% as authorities were winding down some pandemic precautions. The gains also tracked a modest advance on Wall Street overnight. The pound is worth $1.248 and €1.21 while the FTSE is trending around a quarter of a per cent higher ahead of the open.

The papers

Front page pictures seem like an odd combination of dystopia and hope today as youngsters are shown skipping back to school – to be greeted by staff dressed in Hazmat-lite who scan them with non-contact thermometers. The Mirror calls it “Small steps into a new normal”. The i says there will be “Summer camps to stop children falling behind”. The Times carries a warning to the PM: “Safe return of all primary pupils ‘will be impossible’”.

The Guardian’s lead story is “Critics round on No 10 over ‘ridiculous’ quarantine”. Under proposals, arrivals to the UK would be able to break their 14-day self-isolation to shop for food, medicine or to meet a legal obligation – and police powers to carry out spot checks appear flimsy. The Telegraph has “Quarantine plan under review as MPs revolt” – we’ve also covered how travel and hospitality companies think it will cripple their return to business.

The Metro reports on “Track trace fraud alert”, saying con artists are posing as contact tracers on the phone. “ONE metre is enough!” declares the Mail – a questionable interpretation of the actual finding, which is that the risk of infection doubles if physical distance is halved from two metres. The Express has got the vuvuzela out for Matt Hancock again: “We’re winning battle against Covid-19”. The FT’s lead story seems a little out of character, though admittedly this does qualify as a business story: “Top Facebook staff revolt over Zuckerberg’s stance on Trump”. The Sun has “Posh paid £1m NOT to sing” – it’s not about a crowdfunding campaign, but her share of earnings arising from last year’s reunion gig.

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