First Thing: the US is a Covid ‘leader’, but not in the way Trump thinks

First Thing: the US is a Covid ‘leader’, but not in the way Trump thinks
Good morning.

The number of recorded coronavirus cases in the US is approaching 3 million, with 130,000 deaths, and daily case rates higher than anywhere else in the world. The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, claimed on Monday that “the world is looking at us as a leader in Covid-19.” And it is – but not in the way she means.


White House says US is ‘a leader’ in fighting coronavirus, despite rising infections – video

The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, also came out on Monday to defend Donald Trump’s misleading claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless”, while ruling out the possibility of a nationwide mandate to wear face masks in public.

As Europe begins to reopen its borders to international visitors, America’s flawed response to the pandemic means it is still on the continent’s travel banned list. This humiliation should force Americans to see global travel the way others do, argues Tamara J Walker.



We now find ourselves in the uncomfortable position more familiar to the Syrian, Nigerian and Iranian citizens who are routinely, unilaterally denied entry to the US and other countries, no matter their individual actions, belief systems or political persuasions.

  • Melbourne is to return to lockdown for the next six weeks amid an escalating Covid-19 outbreak in the Australian city.

  • South Africa has surpassed 200,000 coronavirus cases, making it the worst-hit country in Africa, and the 15th worst-affected in the world overall.

Now Melania’s ex-aide is publishing an ‘explosive’ memoir

The list of tell-all memoirs from within the Trump White House is getting even longer, following reports that a former aide to Melania Trump plans to publish an “explosive” book about her 15-year friendship with the first lady. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff spent a year in the East Wing before exiting under a cloud in 2018, saying she had been “thrown under the bus” amid claims the Trump inaugural committee misspent millions of dollars in donations.

Wolkoff’s book, Melania and Me, will be released by an imprint of Simon & Schuster, the publisher behind John Bolton’s recent book, as well as the forthcoming family memoir by Trump’s niece Mary, which is set to appear early due to the “extraordinary interest” in its contents. Another Simon & Schuster imprint published Donald Trump’s own most recent tome, Crippled America, in 2015.

Mexico’s president is gambling on a meeting with Trump

The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will arrive in Washington on Tuesday for his first foreign trip since taking power in December 2018, meeting with Trump to toast the beginning of a new free-trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada. But Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, has decided to steer clear, and Amlo’s critics say he risks being drawn into America’s domestic political disputes. Tom Phillips reports.

Gun violence claimed 160 lives over Fourth of July weekend

An estimated 160 people died and 500 were wounded as a long weekend of gun violence played out in cities across the US from Friday to Sunday. As Joanna Walters reports, the victims included a six-year-old in Philadelphia, an eight-year-old in Atlanta and a seven-year-old in Chicago, where a total of 17 people were fatally shot during one of the city’s bloodiest holiday weekends in memory.

Some local leaders pointed to systemic racism or under-investment in communities as being at the root of the violence, but researchers in California also posited a potential link to the surge in gun-buying during the coronavirus pandemic: Americans bought more than 2.1m more guns than usual between March and May.

  • Phoenix police shot dead a man sitting in a parked car on Saturday, sparking fresh protests against a police department known as one of the deadliest in the US.

In other news…

  • Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationship will be laid bare in a British courtroom this week, as the libel trial begins over a 2018 article in the Sun newspaper that described Depp as a “wife beater”. Depp strenuously denies he was violent towards Heard during the couple’s marriage.

  • TikTok is to pull its app from Hong Kong’s app stores as social media firms respond to the controversial new national security laws imposed by Beijing on the supposedly semi-autonomous territory.

  • Russia is cracking down on marmot hunting near its borders with China and Mongolia, after the countries reported several suspected cases of bubonic plague, thought to be linked to the hunting and eating of the large rodents.

Great reads

Gina Prince-Bythewood: ‘There’s no crying in directing’

Gina Prince-Bythewood made her reputation with her 2000 debut, Love & Basketball, which made her a role model for black female film-makers including Ava DuVernay. In her new movie, The Old Guard, she takes her perspective to the superhero genre, she tells Ellen E Jones.

Why I don’t have a child

As the Guardian’s childfree series continues, Sari Botton says watching her mother struggle with parenthood put her off being a mother herself, while AH Reaume writes about why a brain injury would make motherhood impossible. And four more women explain their decision not to have kids.

Explaining Facebook’s biggest corporate boycott

More than 300 firms have pledged not to advertise on Facebook for the month of July, thanks to the campaign Stop Hate for Profit. One of the organisers tells Kari Paul about the goals for the biggest corporate boycott in the social network’s history.

Opinion: Trans and feminist activists ought to be allies

As gender diversity has become a regular topic of public debate, trans and feminist activists have been set on a path of mutual antagonism. They ought to be allies, not enemies, says Kim Humphery.



My own daughters, both young feminists themselves, unreservedly see trans as ally, not enemy. The reasons for this are not hard to fathom. After all, a fundamental tenet of feminism is to end forms of oppression; and the same rule must apply for a trans and gender-diverse minority.

Last Thing: Britain’s baggy rave summer of 1990

Thirty years ago this summer, Britain bathed in the sound of indie rave from bands such as the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and Primal Scream. Those who can remember it tell Joe Muggs about the explosion of pills, thrills and endless possibilities.

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