US briefing: Trump condemned and Instagram murder

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

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

Trump returns fire at ‘squad’ as House censures racist tweets

The House of Representatives has passed a resolution condemning Donald Trump’s tweets, in which he told several congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they “came from”, as racist. The 240-187 vote on Tuesday split mostly along party lines, though four Republicans joined Democrats in approving the resolution. Rather than show remorse, Trump escalated his attacks, accusing the so-called “squad” of “spewing …vile, hateful and disgusting things.” Yet his remarks appear to have struck a nerve with many Americans, who recognised in them their own experiences of racism.

  • Kellyanne Conway. The president’s cheerleader caused controversy on Tuesday, when she asked a reporter who pressed her on Trump’s tweets: “What’s your ethnicity?”

  • Scared of the squad? Joshua Leifer argues that the real reason Trump has started attacking the squad is that he’s terrified – of their politics, and of their popularity.

Administration still deporting Venezuelans amid crisis

The Ascencio family, from Venezuela, were returned by US authorities to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, last week. Photograph: Salvador Gonzalez/AP

Donald Trump says Venezuela is in the grip of a “nightmare of poverty, hunger and death”, yet his administration is continuing to deport Venezuelan asylum seekers by refusing to grant them temporary protected status. The crisis will likely displace more than 8 million Venezuelans by the end of 2020. The UN accuses the Maduro regime of killing thousands of people. Yet the acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services director, Ken Cuccinelli, said on Tuesday that the US was continuing “to monitor the situation”.

Instagram under fire over images of murdered teenager

A vigil in memory of 17-year-old Bianca Devins in Utica, New York. Photograph: Greg Mason/AP

Police have said they are speaking to Instagram and several other social media platforms, including Discord and 4chan, to determine how and why images of a murdered teenager’s body came to be shared widely online. Bianca Devins, a 17-year-old from Utica, New York, was murdered on Sunday by Brandon Clark, 21, whom she had met via the photo-sharing app.

  • Graphic post. Clark posted a photo of Devin’s bloodied body with the caption “I’m sorry, Bianca” to Instagram, where it remained for several hours before the company removed his account for violating its terms of service.

Retired justice John Paul Stevens dies

Stevens in 2014. Photograph: Uncredited/AP

John Paul Stevens, the Republican-nominated justice who unexpectedly became a champion of liberal values on the US supreme court, has died at home in Florida aged 99. Appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975, Stevens spent almost 35 years on the court, more than twice the average tenure, and retired in 2010, shortly after his 90th birthday.

  • Liberal decisions. During his time as a justice, Stevens helped to limit the death penalty, expand gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. Last year, he came out against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation after sexual assault allegations against the Trump judicial nominee.

Crib sheet

  • Dr Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood, has been forced out of her leadership role after just eight months, saying she had “philosophical differences” with the organisation over its future direction.

  • Mark Esper, Trump’s nominee to become US defense secretary, has told a Senate confirmation hearing that the US is not seeking war with Iran and needs instead to “get back on the diplomatic channel”.

  • Sudan’s military rulers have signed an agreement to share power with civilian leaders until elections are held in three years’ time, potentially ending months of political crisis and violent repression in the country.

  • Police in Tennessee have warned residents not to flush methamphetamine down the toilet, in case alligators ingest the drug in the sewage system and turn into “hyped up” and aggressive “meth-gators”.


Buzz Aldrin photographed by Neil Armstrong on the moon, July 20, 1969. Photograph: NASA/Reuters

Can the images of the moon landings ever be surpassed?

The photograph of Buzz Aldrin on the moon, taken by Neil Armstrong, is a revolutionary artistic masterpiece, writes Jonathan Jones. The images of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in July 1969 – the climax of a love affair between Nasa’s astronauts and photography – altered human consciousness forever.

The importance of women’s nature-writing

From Henry David Thoreau onwards, the landscape of nature-writing has been dominated by men. But for Megan Mayhew Berman, camping alone in the Adirondacks, it is the work of female writers such as Dr Anne LaBastille that offers a true view of the wilderness.

What to do when you find a dinosaur skeleton

In 2006, a rancher known as the Dino Cowboy dug up a remarkable fossil in the Montana badlands: a ceratopsian and a theropod – both over 20ft – preserved mid-fight. But 13 years later, only a handful of people have seen the “duelling dinosaurs”. Philip Pantuso asks why.

China tries out Trump-style Twitter diplomacy

Twitter may be banned in China, but the country’s representatives abroad have started to make use of the platform to confront Beijing’s critics. And they appear to have taken a leaf out of Trump’s style book, as Lily Kuo reports.


The billionaire investor Peter Thiel claims Google’s workforce has been infiltrated by Chinese government agents. The attempt to stoke racist paranoia about Asian-Americans in tech is merely a modern incarnation of the “Yellow Peril” scare of the late 19th century, says Frank H Wu.

The open hostility to Chinese people, as distinct from the Chinese government, violates norms integral to America itself. On the face of these utterances is the identification of a community, named by ancestry, as a problem.


The South Korean women’s water polo team celebrated with tears of joy after scoring their first goal in the world aquatics championships at home in Gwangju on Tuesday, just a month after the team was formed. Nevertheless, they lost their first two games by an aggregate score of 94-1.

Europe’s soccer clubs have been busy during the transfer window. Niall McVeigh looks at the biggest moves in La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

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