US briefing: Trudeau quarantined, Iran mass graves and Chelsea Manning

Tim Walker
Photograph: Justin Tang/AP

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

Anger grows at US administration’s Covid-19 testing failures

The coronavirus has reached the corridors of world power, with the Canadian leader, Justin Trudeau, in self-isolation after his wife Sophie tested positive, and the first case of Covid-19 at UN headquarters in New York. Donald Trump, however, has no plans to be tested for the virus, despite direct contact with at least one person later diagnosed with the disease. Anger continues to build over the administration’s bungled response. This US president, writes Julian Borger, is the worst possible man for the moment.

Satellite images showing mass graves in the Iranian city of Qom suggest the epidemic there has grown worse than authorities admit, while a nurse in Italy has likened the fight against the virus there to a “world war”. Here are some data visualisations to help understand the crisis, and a roundup of the latest developments worldwide.

US launches retaliatory airstrikes against militia in Iraq

The body of Gunnery Sgt Diego Pongo is returned to the US after he was killed by a rocket attack near Baghdad. Photograph: Steve Ruark/AP

US forces have launched retaliatory airstrikes on what the Pentagon described as five weapons storage sites run by Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia thought to have been responsible for a rocket attack that killed two American and one British soldier near Baghdad earlier this week. The US defense secretary, Mark Esper, told reporters on Thursday: “You don’t get to shoot at our bases and kill and wound Americans and get away with it.”

  • Tit-for-tat. The attacks come two months after a similar escalation of hostilities threatened all-out conflict between the US and Iran. This time, however, both sides are more preoccupied tackling domestic outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Judge orders Chelsea Manning released after suicide attempt

Chelsea Manning outside a courthouse Virginia last year. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

A federal judge has ordered Chelsea Manning be released from jail in Virginia, days after the former US army analyst attempted to take her own life. Manning has been held since May 2019 after refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks, to whom she leaked hundreds of thousands of documents in 2010. But Judge Anthony J Trenga wrote that “the grand jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose.”

  • Previous sentence. Manning previously served six years in custody for her part in the 2010 leak. President Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence shortly before the end of his time in office.

Cheat sheet


Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place 2. Photograph: Jonny Cournoyer/AP

Emily Blunt: A Quiet Place 2 and a world ‘untethered by fear’

The new sequel to A Quiet Place, the harrowing self-isolation horror from 2017, is about “human beings and how they’re affected by a crisis,” its star Emily Blunt tells Aaron Hicklin. Ironic, then, that its release has been delayed by just such a crisis.

The Sanders fans who will never vote for Biden

Some of Bernie Sanders’ most diehard supporters say it’s Bernie or bust: they will only vote in November if they can vote for the progressive Vermont senator. Their numbers remain unclear, but their influence is undeniable. Ankita Rao reports.

The rise of the pop-star scripted documentary

Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga are just some of the major musical stars who, in recent years, have collaborated in and co-created documentaries about their own lives. But the best films are still the ones that show them in more spontaneous, unguarded moments, says Simran Hans.

I was kidnapped and taken to the desert

When she was 15, Nadine Guerrera was snatched from her home in Connecticut by strange men, and taken against her will to a desert in Utah. It turned out she had been sent on an extreme wilderness programme for difficult children – paid for by her own parents.


China has been criticised for its lack of transparency about the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the Trump administration is following suit. The president’s rhetoric will make this pandemic worse, says H Holden Thorp, the editor-in-chief of Science.


Sporting competitions all over the globe are shutting up shop in the face of the pandemic, from March Madness to the Australian F1 Grand Prix. England’s Premier League looks likely to do the same after Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta and players from Chelsea and Leicester City in self-isolation.

Carlos Cordeiro has quit as the president of the US Soccer Federation, days after the organization filed legal papers claiming the national team’s female players were less skilled than their male counterparts. He will be replaced by Cindy Parlow Cone, the federation’s first female president.

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