Top story: ‘We need to interview him’ say senators
Good morning – it’s Warren Murray bringing you today’s Briefing.
US senators have seized on Donald Trump Jr’s admission that he hoped for some dirt on Hillary Clinton when he met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign. Members of the intelligence committee say it is their biggest lead yet in establishing links between Trump’s circle and Russia’s efforts to damage Clinton in the election. There has been a report overnight that the president’s oldest child was told by an intermediary – Rob Goldstone, a British publicist and former tabloid journalist – that he would be given damaging information on the Democratic candidate as part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign.
Taking a leaf out of his father’s book, Trump Jr has within a short space of time given a shifting account of the meeting with anti-sanctions lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. At first Trump Jr said it was to do with Americans adopting Russian babies; later, when further evidence emerged, he admitted she had claimed to hold compromising information about Clinton, though it proved to be nothing “meaningful”.
Trump Jr says he is happy to cooperate with the senators, arguing the meeting went nowhere. But that is irrelevant, writes Richard Wolffe: it is still damningly clear that “Junior” had “both malicious intent and a desire to collude with Kremlin-connected Russian nationals, whether or not this particular collusion moved forward. Trump Jr was sending a clear signal to Putin’s allies and operatives that he was open for business.”
Mark Warner, a senior Democratic senator, said: “This is the first time that the public has seen clear evidence of senior-level members of the Trump campaign meeting with Russians” in a bid to damage Clinton. Susan Collins, a Republican on the committee, said “our intelligence committee needs to interview him and others who attended the meeting” – they include Jared Kushner and the Trump campaign’s then-chairman, Paul Manafort.
‘Should not have happened’ – Police say they are treating the Grenfell Tower fire as the possible manslaughter of around 80 people. The fact that temperatures reached 1,000C during the blaze means the remains of some victims may never be recovered, according to Scotland Yard. All identifiable bodies have been removed – 32 deaths have been confirmed – but police have had to call in forensic archaeologists and anthropologists to try and identify other remains.
Grenfell Tower fire: police say about 80 people died
“The intensity means some people may not be identified,” said DCI Andy Chalmers. “People who were unable to escape moved around in the tower, trying to flee the fire, in many cases fleeing upwards, and drawing together.” Companies involved in refurbishing the block were co-operating with the investigation so far, Chalmers said.
Pay cap no longer fits – Theresa May has been accused of insulting teachers by offering them a 1% pay rise when unions say their salaries have fallen 15% below inflation since 2010. May is sticking to the public sector pay cap so far, but is under pressure to review the policy in the autumn budget after the disastrous election result. As she attempts to reboot her prime ministership, May is to set out new protections for those in the “gig economy” by classifying them “dependent contractors” to make it harder for companies to claim they are self-employed. The aim is to ensure they receive holiday pay, sick pay and the minimum wage.
May’s tenuous hold on power, meanwhile, will probably be unaffected by having to suspend a Conservative MP who used the N-word at a public gathering. Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, has been condemned across politics after the utterance while speaking at the East India Club about Brexit. She later apologised for the language, which May described as having “absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society”. Morris is likely to continue voting with the Tories.
Grounds for optimism – With the usual caveat about jumping to conclusions (or in this case, into the coffee pot), three cups of java a day might be good for you. The risk of death from a range of conditions including heart disease, stroke and liver disease was found to be 18% lower among people who drank that much coffee. The benefit fell to 12% for those who had just one cup a day. It did not appear to matter whether the coffee was decaffeinated. The results come from two large studies – one involving 185,000 people, the other more than 450,000. They both followed participants for 16 years. Experts warn coffee is not an antidote for other unhealthy behaviours, and factors such as lifestyle might be at play – but at least, in moderation, “drinking coffee certainly does you no harm”.
Hopping mad – Craft brewers have called for greater clarity as large multinational corporations buy up independent beermakers so they can get in on the trend for ales that are perceived as boutique, more flavoursome and made with artisan care. After Carlsberg took over the London Fields brewery, the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba) is launching a kitemark that will be awarded only to small brewers who stick to its standards and stay truly independent of any global beer company. “Consumers deserve to know that what they are buying is a genuine craft-brewed beer as research clearly shows that most beer drinkers believe craft beer to be produced by relatively small, independent brewers,” said Mike Benner, chief executive of Siba, which is unveiling the Assured Independent British Craft Brewer seal.
Cures that just popped up – Penicillin, Valium, and the world’s most famous pill Viagra: all discovered by accident, often when medicine or science was on the trail of something else. The “blue pill” for erectile dysfunction was originally intended to treat heart problems; while a whole class of stomach cancer was able to be wiped out after a researcher downed a pint of bacterial potion to prove a hunch. Even these days the serendipitous discoveries continue, as a study in the Lancet reports that a meningitis vaccine may protect against an untreatable strain of gonorrhoea.
Lunchtime read: How economics became a religion
You won’t suddenly understand all of economics if you read this – but you will get an idea, if current circumstances are not enough, of why any claims to infallibility should be treated with extreme scepticism.
Trinity Church on Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. Photograph: Alamy
John Rapley writes tellingly about how rather than being wielded as a tool to serve society, economics has been practised like a religion and used to shape the conduct of our lives. Instead of proceeding as a science where progress is built on theories tested against the evidence, the competing theologies of economics rise, fall, and sometimes rise again with political fashion. After the crash of 2008, most of us have watched our living standards decline – and it is not surprising our faith in the high priests of economics has dissipated.
Johanna Konta was serene, Andy Murray rather spiky, but Britain has representatives in both the Wimbledon men’s and women’s quarter-finals for the first time since 1973 after a Monday that lived up to its manic billing in SW19. But some fans on the famous grassed terrace formerly known as Henman Hill were left fuming as the big screen showing Konta’s match against Caroline Garcia switched to pictures of Murray warming up when Britain’s top female player was at a crucial point.
Wayne Rooney has revealed he is looking forward to the Merseyside derby more than going back to Old Trafford as he rekindles his Everton love affair and tries to win back his England place. And Moeen Ali, despite his 10 wickets in the first Test against South Africa, is still considered by England coach Trevor Bayliss to be a batsman who bowls a little – and that’s just the way he likes it, writes Vic Marks.
Asian shares and the US dollar have edged higher as investors await clues from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen on interest rates and winding down stimulus measures. The dollar index tracking six rival currencies added 0.1% to 96.094 ahead of Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.
The pound has been trading down against the dollar at $1.287, while buying €1.13 on the continent.
Today’s Daily Mail says the judge in the Charlie Gard case has declared he will ignore Donald Trump and the Vatican in determining whether the critically ill baby can be taken to the US for treatment.
Guardian front page, 11 July 2017.
The Times splashes with “Free schools plan under threat from budget raid”, saying the education secretary needs the money to meet election promises of a £4bn funding boost. The Guardian leads with “May under fire as teacher pay rise held at 1%”. The Telegraph says May is being warned that the “pay cap threatens schools” – teachers are leaving their jobs as their wages fall behind those of other professions.
The Mirror goes with “Tory MP’s N-word shame”. The Express says the world’s largest study of coffee’s effects on health has found three cups a day might help ward off cancer, heart disease and stroke. The Sun wants you to know about the secret birthday party for Harper Beckham hosted by Sarah Ferguson at Buckingham Palace. A small pointer for news that the “strivers’ tax” – a highly contentious National Insurance rise for the self-employed – has been officially killed off is tucked under the Sun’s masthead.
Finally the FT reports that pharmaceutical companies are going to court to try and overturn an NHS embargo on paying for expensive new medications.