US briefing: John Bolton fired, Florida's HIV crisis and West Bank row

Tim Walker
Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/AP

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

President says he ‘disagreed strongly’ with hawkish Bolton

Donald Trump has fired his national security adviser, John Bolton, saying he “disagreed strongly” with his hawkish attitude to foreign affairs. The two men also appeared to disagree on whether he jumped or was pushed, with Bolton claiming he had offered to resign before the president announced his dismissal. Trump is expected to name a new national security adviser – his fourth in less than three years – next week.

  • Personality clash. The bellicose Bolton might have buried the achievements of the Obama administration, but he was never going to give Trump the diplomatic wins he’d like to brandish on the campaign trail, writes Julian Borger.

  • Foreign policy. Bolton’s dismissal will very likely lead to a change of emphasis in foreign policy, says Patrick Wintour, with the president’s anti-interventionist instincts and preference for personal diplomacy potentially coming to the fore.

How Rick Scott’s Florida refused $70m to tackle HIV crisis

The Republican senator Rick Scott, who was the governor of Florida from 2011 to 2019. Photograph: Chris Tilley/Reuters

Florida’s HIV crisis reached a severity almost without equal in the US under Rick Scott, the state’s governor from 2011 to 2019. Now, a Guardian investigation has revealed his administration effectively blocked $70m in federal funds to fight the epidemic. From 2015 to 2017, Florida sent back $54m for combating HIV to the US government after health chiefs failed to secure legislative permission to spend it. And in 2015, Scott’s administration blocked grants worth a total of $16m for two counties with unusually high HIV rates.

  • HIV rates. HIV diagnoses were declining in Florida until 2013, only to increase by nearly 11% through 2017. Of the 10 states that account for 65% of new HIV cases nationally, Florida was the only one to experience an increase between 2010 and 2017.

  • Budget authority. Now a Republican senator, Scott made it a bedrock principle of his governorship to refuse federal dollars. In a statement, a Scott spokeswoman said “the state could only spend the money that it had the budget authority to spend”.

Trump-backed Republican wins North Carolina special election

Republican Dan Bishop celebrates after securing the congressional seat for North Carolina’s 9th district. Photograph: Brian Blanco/Getty Images

A Trump-endorsed Republican has won a fiercely contested congressional special election in North Carolina, a race seen as a bellwether for the president’s 2020 re-election hopes. The conservative state senator Dan Bishop had been running almost neck and neck with the Democrat Dan McCready, a former Marine and Harvard graduate, in the state’s traditionally Republican 9th district. But Bishop declared victory late on Tuesday after securing 50.8% of the vote to McCready’s 48.8%.

  • Bathroom bill. Bishop was previously best known for co-sponsoring North Carolina’s “bathroom bill”, which forced transgender people to use bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates in state buildings. The law was subsequently repealed after a national outcry.

Arab leaders decry Netanyahu’s West Bank annexation plan

Benjamin Netanyahu, who is running again for re-election, said he would annex more of the West Bank. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Arab foreign ministers convened in Cairo late on Tuesday for an emergency meeting to denounce Benjamin Netanyahu’s new plan to annex further swaths of the Palestinian West Bank if he is re-elected next week. The Israeli prime minister, who is battling to build a governing coalition in the country’s elections on 17 September, held a live press conference on Tuesday to unveil the plan that, if implemented, would effectively sink Palestinian hopes for statehood.

  • Trump links. Netanyahu, who has touted his close links to the current White House, said the annexation would be carried out “in maximum coordination with Trump”.

  • Peace process. The Arab League said Netanyahu’s proposal would “[undermine] the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations”.

Cheat sheet

Must-reads

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story. Photograph: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Behind the story that launched the #MeToo movement

Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor are the New York Times reporters who first broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment, unleashing the #MeToo movement. Their new book goes behind the scenes of their exposé which, as Kantor tells Adrian Horton, led to a “display of mass accountability without precedent”.

Bahamian refugees’ Florida welcome undercut by politics

More than 1,400 weary and vulnerable Bahamian refugees stepped off a cruise ship in Florida at the weekend, after fleeing the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. But the warm welcome they received from locals was coloured by comments from the president, as Richard Luscombe reports.

A new view of the Beatles’ breakup

The received wisdom is that the Beatles recorded Abbey Road knowing it was their final album, and that John Lennon was behind the group’s eventual breakup. But a 50-year-old audio tape of conversations between the Fab Four appears to give the lie to that narrative, their biographer Mark Lewisohn tells Richard Williams.

When cooks won’t take food allergies seriously

Ben Feltwell is allergic to eggs. So when a chef claimed his pastry didn’t contain any, it led to four hours of vomiting. On a camping trip, a sceptical companion slipped an egg into Feltwell’s curry, with similar results. Sirin Kale asks why so many people refuse to take severe food allergies seriously.

Opinion

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s blockbuster sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, presents a vivid portrait of feminist resistance, says Natasha Walter. But we should beware of simplifying its complex portrayal of women.

Feminist fiction is not just about making our political world clearer and simpler. It is not just about providing us with reassurance that we are on the side of the good. We see that complexity time and again in Atwood’s fiction, even if the popular conception of Gilead, especially the way it has been disseminated through political protest and the television series, has often flattened it out for us.

Sport

The NFL star and New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of raping a woman who formerly worked as his physical trainer, according to a federal lawsuit.

The California assembly has passed a bill permitting the state’s student athletes to hire agents and make money from the use of their name, image or likeness, setting up a probable legal showdown with the US governing body for college sports, the NCAA.

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