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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Vivian Ho

First Thing: Kevin McCarthy ousted as House speaker

Kevin McCarthy with mouth open
Kevin McCarthy answering questions at the Capitol after being ousted as House speaker on Tuesday. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Good morning.

Kevin McCarthy was removed on Tuesday from his role as US House speaker, ousted by hard-right members of his own Republican party less than a year after his election. The infighting between Republicans in effect puts a halt to all business in the House of Representatives until the House, with its narrow Republican majority, elects a new speaker.

  • The ousting was set in motion by Matt Gaetz, a hard-right Florida Republican who followed through on the threat he made with other far-right members to remove McCarthy if he relied on Democratic votes to pass any spending legislation – as he did over the weekend to narrowly avert a government shutdown.

  • The vote for removal was a tense political moment that occurred in the same way the speaker is elected – in an alphabetical roll-call vote conducted by the clerk with all the members in the chamber – with moments of high drama.

  • McCarthy’s ousting marks the first time in US history that a speaker of the House has been removed from office. The Guardian’s David Smith writes that it was a tragedy foretold going back to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, after McCarthy declared Donald Trump responsible for the insurrection and then went grovelling at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate for forgiveness.

  • The House’s temporary new speaker is the North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry, the chair of the financial services committee who voted against removing McCarthy.

  • A leading contender for House speaker is Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican once reported to have called himself “David Duke without the baggage”. Duke, 73, is a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and an avowed white supremacist.

  • McCarthy’s removal adds further uncertainty to the outlook for US aid to Ukraine, after support for Kyiv was excluded from the recent US government funding bill, leaving Joe Biden to rely on the Republican speaker for a separate deal.

In other news …

Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, Jeferson da Silva Lima and Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, defendants in the murder of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips
Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, Jeferson da Silva Lima and Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, defendants in the murder of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips Composite: Supplied
  • The alleged murderers of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira will face trial by jury, a federal judge ruled in Brazil. Three fishers are accused of murdering the British journalist and the Brazilian Indigenous expert who were ambushed near the entrance of the Javari valley in the western Amazon in June 2022.

  • The former union leader and Democratic strategist Laphonza Butler was sworn into the Senate on Tuesday, replacing the California senator Dianne Feinstein, who died last week.

  • Scorching summer temperatures caused the number of deaths along one of the busiest migrant routes into the US to more than double in the 2023 fiscal year that ended on Sunday. More than 100 of the 148 recorded deaths in the patrol’s El Paso sector were between May and September, when temperatures were at or above 100F (37.7C) for 44 consecutive days.

  • Fulton county prosecutors in Georgia have approached several defendants about plea agreements in the sprawling criminal racketeering case dealing with Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

  • The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial has issued a gag order after the former president made comments about the judge’s clerk.

Stat of the day: asbestos kills an estimated 12,000-15,000 Americans every year

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington, where one asbestos victim, Peter Bergrud, worked for decades. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

Asbestos use has decreased dramatically, but the US has not implemented a full ban. In 1991, an appeals court overturned a final rule enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989 to ban most asbestos-containing products – an EPA-proposed ban of its use in April last year that has yet to be finalized. As workers and their families across the US continue fall victim to asbestos, they are also becoming victims of a corporate tactic known as the “Texas two-step”, where large firms seek to get out of paying compensation to people such as them.

Don’t miss this: escaping the conspiracy theory rabbit hole

Trump supporters with US flag and flag saying ‘Trump is my president’ in Capitol
Trump supporters , including a member of the QAnon conspiracy group, Jake Angeli, invading the Capitol on January 6 2021. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A 2020 poll found that 17% of Americans believed that a group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child abuse ring are “trying to control our politics and media” – a belief pushed by the QAnon movement from the fringes into the mainstream. Brent Lee was part of that 17%. For 15 years, he believed that secret societies were running politics, banks, religious institutions and the entertainment industry, and that “Illuminati overlords” were controlling global events. He believed that Stanley Kubrick staged and directed the filming of the moon landing, and that 9/11 was an inside job. “I cringe at all this now,” he said.

Since pulling himself out of the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, Lee is trying to help other conspiracy theorists to question their worldview.

… or this: “They didn’t believe my life”

Faysa Idle with towerblocks in background
Faysa Idle has written a groundbreaking book about her experiences growing up around Sweden’s gang wars in Stockholm. Photograph: none

Meet, Faysa Idle, a 25-year-old poet who grew up in the Stockholm suburb of Tensta. As the sister of a leading Swedish gang member, the Sweden she knew felt like a war zone. “In my head, I felt like I didn’t live in Sweden, I lived in Iraq or something,” Idle says.

Now, as Sweden comes to terms with the deadliest month of shootings since records began in 2016, Idle is speaking out about the violence and how it is destroying families and communities, and in particular the lives of women.

Climate check: the climate researcher who refuses to fly

Aerial view of Toruar Island
Toruar Island in the Saposa Islands region. Photograph: Kalolaine Fainu/The Guardian

Dr Gianluca Grimalda, a climate researcher and environmental campaigner, refuses to fly on principle. But last week, his employer, Germany’s Kiel Institute for World Economy, told him that if he was not at his desk on Monday, after finishing fieldwork on Bougainville in Solomon Islands archipelago, he would no longer have a job to return to. Grimalda says he intends to make the 14,000-mile (22,000km) return trip to Europe by cargo ship, ferries, trains and coaches – a journey he estimates will take two months, which will, he estimates, save 3.6 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Last Thing: why is country music still so resistant to diversity?

Maren Morris with mic under blue lighting
Maren Morris performing during CMT Crossroads in Nashville, Tennessee, on 31 August. Photograph: Catherine Powell/Getty Images for CMT

In 2022, female country artists received just 11% of all airplay, while women of color and LGBTQ+ artists earned less than 1% of all airplay last year. Black country singers and journalists are being racially slurred by fans, and openly LGBTQ+ performers are having to back out of performances. “When an industry greenlights a song and video like [Try That In A Small Town] it sends a clear message to artists, fans and the industry,” said says Dr Jada Watson, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. “There’s [some] really dangerous, violent gatekeeping going on … that allows the industry to maintain white supremacy, but also emboldens fans to act.”

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