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US briefing: Trump’s antisemitic trope, mass shootings and Venezuela – The Guardian

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

Trump turns to antisemitic trope in attack on Omar and Tlaib

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Donald Trump has accused Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats of showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” apparently suggesting Jewish Americans have dual loyalty to the US and Israel – a perception widely considered antisemitic. The president’s remarks came as part of a fresh attack on the Muslim congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, critics of the Israeli government, which recently barred them from visiting the West Bank.

  • Greenland spat. Trump has cancelled a planned trip to Denmark after the Danish prime minister described the US president’s widely ridiculed desire to purchase Greenland as “absurd”.

Police have thwarted six attacks since El Paso and Dayton

Mourners lay flowers at a memorial for victims of the 4 August mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.



Mourners lay flowers at a memorial for victims of the 4 August mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

A little over two weeks since the country was shaken by the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, law enforcement officials say they have already foiled six more separate mass shootings or white supremacist attacks across the US. Four of the foiled plots appeared to involve men espousing far-right views, with online posts targeting LGBTQ people, Jewish people, African Americans, Latinos and Muslims. And four of the six suspects were white men in their 20s, with all but one thought to be armed.

Maduro admits months of secret US-Venezuela talks

Supporters of Maduro’s government protest against the Trump administration’s economic sanctions in Caracas.



Supporters of Maduro’s government protest against the Trump administration’s economic sanctions in Caracas. Photograph: Ariana Cubillos/AP

Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro, has confirmed his regime has been holding secret talks with the Trump White House for several months amid his country’s continuing economic, political and humanitarian meltdown, which has been exacerbated by US sanctions. The admission came after reports in the US media that Diosdado Cabello, the head of Venezuela’s pro-Maduro assembly, had been engaged in “secret communications” with Trump officials.

  • Internal strife? Despite rumours of infighting at the heart of his regime – and its battle for survival against the opposition movement led by Juan Guaidó – Maduro insisted the talks had occurred with his “express and direct permission”.

Ethics questions over interior secretary’s gas project role

David Bernhardt is promoting a fossil fuel project backed by his former lobbying firm, emails suggest.



David Bernhardt is promoting a fossil fuel project backed by his former lobbying firm, emails suggest. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

The US interior secretary, David Bernhardt, may have violated the Trump administration’s own ethics guidelines by promoting a fossil fuel project backed by his former employer, the lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Emails obtained by the Guardian suggest Bernhardt met in March with officials from Colorado and discussed a fracking pipeline proposed by the Canadian energy giant Pembina, which would pass through interior department land.

  • Draining the swamp? The Trump administration’s ethics rules, supposedly designed to “drain the swamp”, say officials must recuse themselves from issues involving a former client for at least two years after they join the administration.

Crib sheet

Must-reads

The number of inmates in Mississippi is growing, and prison violence is worse than ever.



The number of inmates in Mississippi is growing, and prison violence is worse than ever. Illustration: Eliza Snow/Guardian Design/Francisco Navas

Growing violence and gang rule at a Mississippi prison

Last year Trump hailed Mississippi for reforms it had put in place to reduce the prison population, by providing job training and rehabilitation. But the reality is starkly different, finds Jerry Mitchell of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting: the number of inmates is growing, and violence and gangs are on the rise.

The comfort TV era: why everyone is watching sitcom reruns
We live in an age of prestige television, with an endless selection of lavishly produced shows from Mindhunter to The Crown. So why are so many people using Netflix to watch Friends on a loop instead? Richard Godwin explores the popularity of “non-event TV”.

Youngstown, Ohio becomes a city without a newspaper

For 150 years, the Vindicator newspaper of Youngstown, Ohio, has battled powerful foes from the Ku Klux Klan to the mafia. But it has at last lost its fight with wider economic forces, announcing it is to close at the end of August. That will leave Youngstown as the largest city in the US without a major newspaper, as Adam Gabbatt reports.

Do you know how much time you spend on your phone?

Adrienne Matei spends an average of two hours and 20 minutes per day on her phone, which seemed OK for someone who writes about the internet. Until, that is, she calculated it was more than a month per year. She asks the experts how we can reclaim our screen time.

Opinion

A recent study suggests 45% of Americans wear the same pair of underpants for two days or more. But this wasn’t peer-reviewed scientific research, it was a survey by an underwear company. If the old undies stink, then so do the statistics, says Arwa Mahdawi.


I can tell you from my own experience in the ad industry that agencies are full of people desperately designing surveys and cutting data until they generate a juicy statistic for a client. I call these types of stats “advertistics”.

Sport

Hammer thrower Gwen Berry and fencer Race Imboden have each been given a 12-month probation for protesting on the medals stand at the Pan American Games. But in letters of reprimand to the athletes, the US Olympic Committee signaled it would not be so lenient to others considering similar protests at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

MLS is the only North American sports league to have banned its supporters from making political statements at matches. But its struggle to stifle Antifa, the militant anti-fascist group, suggests enforcing the ban is not so easy, writes Graham Ruthven.

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