First Thing: Biden slams Trump’s ‘almost criminal’ coronavirus response

Democratic rival said Trump had ‘cost lives’ by misleading the public over the threat. Plus, 500,000 evacuated in Oregon after wildfires spread

Joe Biden in mask speaking to reporters

Joe Biden told CNN the president had ‘walked away’ from the crisis, and ‘didn’t do a damn thing’.
Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

Good morning,

Joe Biden condemned Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “almost criminal” yesterday, as the US neared 200,000 deaths. His latest attack came in response to revelations from the Watergate journalist Bob Woodward that the president knew the virus was “deadly stuff” in February but deliberately downplayed it – a move Biden said had “cost lives”.

Yesterday, more explosive reports surfaced from Woodward, who said that the president’s allies had tried to reign in Trump’s “over-the-top” and “childish” foreign policy. So fearful was the former defence secretary James Mattis over Trump’s incensing of North Korea that he slept in his clothes and installed a flashing light and bell in his bathroom, in case a nuclear missile was launched when he was in the shower.

  • Woodward himself has come under fire for deciding not to disclose Trump’s knowledge of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic earlier. Woodward argued he needed to verify and contextualise the information.

  • Conservative groups are training thousands of volunteers to monitor elections in key battleground states, amid the expansion of mail-in ballots, which they fear will lead to voter fraud.

Trump has been blocked from excluding undocumented immigrants from the census

Protesters, one holding sign reading "Every person counts"

There were protests against the proposal to add a citizenship question in the 2020 census. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The president acted unlawfully in July when he attempted to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census totals, which are used to determine how many seats in Congress each state is entitled to, a court ruled yesterday. The law, seen as an attempt to give greater political power to white Americans, was appealed by civil rights and immigration groups, two dozen states and several cities. While they will mark a major victory, the ruling is likely to be appealed in the supreme court.

Ten percent of Oregon’s population has been evacuated amid a growing wildfire crisis

Charred swing set and burnt-out car

Fifteen people have died in the wildfires to date, including a one-year-old boy who died while his family were trying to flee the blazes in Washington state. Photograph: Kathryn Elsesser/AFP/Getty Images

More than 500,000 people were forced to flee from Oregon yesterday, as a result of fire conditions not seen for three decades in the state. More than 900,000 acres have burned in the state in recent days, almost double the amount that burns in a typical year. Earlier this week, three prisons were evacuated in the state, leaving thousands of inmates sleeping on the floor and emergency beds in one overcrowded prison. The scientist Peter Gleick argues the fires should provide our climate crisis wake-up call.

  • Social media rumours are spreading that activists were the source of the wildfires in Oregon, claiming without evidence that they were lit by either the far-right group the Proud Boys or the leftist activists known as antifa. Officials have urged people to stop sharing disinformation.

  • The fires could spark a financial crisis through their impact on economic factors including mortgage values and tourism, an advisory panel to a US markets regulator has found.

NFL fans booed during a moment of silence against inequality

NFL players standing in silence

Around 16,000 fans were allowed into the stadium for the opener of the NFL season. Photograph: Charlie Riedel/AP

Kansas’s Arrowhead Stadium erupted into jeers and boos last night as players expressed solidarity in the fight against inequality, marking a grim start to the NFL season. Players from Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans linked arms and stood in silence, in an act the league said was a “a moment of silence dedicated to the ongoing fight for equality in our country”, but the move sparked a vocal backlash among fans.

  • An art museum has pulled a controversial jewellery line that commemorated black victims of police brutality … for a few hundred dollars. The museum said profits from the items, which included a $240 necklace named The Breonna (for Breonna Taylor) and a $480 necklace called The Elijah (for Elijah McClain), would go to charity, but it was widely accused of co-opting black trauma.

In other news…

  • NGOs have accused police of blocking access to hospitals for migrants who were injured in the fire at a refugee camp on Lesbos, while locals stopped construction vehicles reaching the camp to help it rebuild. Thousands of people have been made homeless by the fire, and mass evacuations have sparked fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

  • A large fire broke out at the port in Beirut, just weeks after the massive explosion that rocked the city in August and injured thousands. The cause of the fire is not yet clear, but officials said it was at a warehouse where oil and tyres were were kept.

  • Citigroup has become the first major Wall Street bank to appoint a female chief executive, after announcing Jane Fraser will take over leadership.

  • One of Paris’s biggest museums refused entry to a woman in a low-cut dress, sparking accusations of discrimination and sexism. The Musée d’Orsay, which hosts some of the world’s most famous nude paintings, has since apologised.

Great reads

Jimmy Carter was backed by the Rolling Stones and Nile Rogers, and was financially supported by gigs from the Allman Brothers.

Jimmy Carter was backed by the Rolling Stones and Nile Rogers, and was financially supported by gigs from the Allman Brothers. Photograph: Mark Wilson/AP

Rock to the top: How music took Jimmy Carter to the White House

While Jimmy Carter wasn’t exactly rock’n’roll, his presidential success might have been. From the stars who endorsed him to the gospel music which inspired him, Jim Farber looks at the role of music in Carter’s path to the White House.

‘I’ve had hiccups for 12 years’

After a heavy night of drugs and alcohol in 2008, Danielle McCracken woke up with hiccups, which haven’t stopped since. She discusses life with constant hiccups, from dating to studying, and how she’s coping today.

Opinion: Disparaging comments about US soldiers might finally stick to Trump

Little seems to affect Donald Trump, but given national reverence of the military, Trump’s alleged insults against the American war dead might just cut through the noise, writes Emma Brockes. With the first lady making a rare intervention, and ardent supporters on social media taking pause, might this finally stick to Trump?

If the “loser” remarks landed differently this time, it is thanks, in part, to a dynamic that Trump himself has set up with his supporters. It’s a curious fact about his denials that they appeal to his base precisely because they are so wildly implausible.

Last Thing: Games of Thrones author denied ‘castle’ at his compound

The planned project included a roof deck and an elevator tower.

The planned project included a roof deck and an elevator tower. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The Game of Thrones author, George RR Martin, won’t be getting his own royal seat, after officials in Sante Fe ruled he was not allowed to build a build a seven-sided, castle-style library at his compound. More than 40 neighbours had complained about the planned development, which was intended to exceed the building height in his area. “It is a medieval castle, and I don’t understand how we could possibly approve it in this style,” said Frank Katz, a Sante Fe review board member.

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