Top story: New military arm a waste, says veteran astronaut
Hello, it’s Warren Murray getting you off the launchpad.
The Trump administration has announced plans for a new, separate US “space force” as a sixth military service by 2020. Mike Pence, the vice-president, said the development was needed to ensure America’s dominance in space against the threat from China and Russia.
The retired astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, who flew four shuttle missions, called the space force a “dumb idea” that would duplicate work already done by the air force. “There is a threat out there, but it’s being handled by the US Air Force today. It doesn’t make sense to build a whole other level of bureaucracy,” he told MSNBC. Trump supporters have been invited to come up with a space force logo.
While Trump took time to cheer on Pence’s speech – “Space Force all the way!” the president tweeted – he has been tellingly silent about new US sanctions against Russia. Simon Tisdall jests that Trump must be a victim of “Putin derangement syndrome” where he won’t hear or utter a bad word against his opposite number. But our foreign affairs commentator also writes: “Trump’s unexplained, initial silence over sanctions, coupled with 19 months of playing patsy, have intensified what may be the biggest question in US politics: what has Putin got on Trump?”
‘Stakes couldn’t be higher’ – The Confederation of British Industry has urged Theresa May to drop her “blunt target” on immigration numbers and introduce new freedom of movement rules for EU workers after Brexit. The CBI has produced a report – Open and Controlled, A New Approach to Migration – that it says was based on consultation with employers and trade associations representing 124,000 firms. It calls for keeping doors open for migrant workers in all sectors including agriculture, hospitality, construction, the NHS and the creative industries; and an easing of the policy for non-EU workers to reduce red tape and ensure a supply of labour. “The stakes couldn’t be higher,” says the report. “Get it wrong, and the UK risks having too few people to run the NHS, pick fruit or deliver products to stores around the country. This would hurt us all – from the money in our pockets to our access to public services.”
Low interest here to stay – Interest rates for the next 20 years will remain “significantly” below the 5% average in the 10 years leading up to the financial crisis, the departing Bank of England policymaker Ian McCafferty has predicted. After last week’s 0.25% rate hike, numerous high street lenders raised mortgage rates by the full amount – but only the tiny Beverley building society promised to give savers the full 0.25% hike. On further interest rate rises, McCafferty, who sat on the monetary policy committee, foresaw “another couple in the next 18 months or two years”. Labour shortages would lead to an acceleration in wage growth to close to 4% next year and despite the “potentially huge risks” from Brexit, the Bank would need to respond to evidence that a shortage of skilled workers was spreading into unskilled sectors as well.
Boris complaints fill Tory letterbox – The Conservative party’s disciplinary structures are grinding into action over Boris Johnson’s insulting of women who wear burqas. Party sources say dozens of complaints have been received. An independent investigator will rule on whether the complaints are sufficiently serious for full examination which could lead to suspension from the party or other punishments. The Tories’ code of conduct says MPs and other holders of public office should not “bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others” and should “foster respect and tolerance”. Johnson is on holiday but Conor Burns, his former parliamentary private secretary, delivered some Boris-speak in his absence: “When we have reached the stage when you cannot express an opinion it is a rum do in the party of freedom.”
Grain of salt – You are bound to see coverage today of a contentious study that suggests cutting your intake of salt may not be that important. The study published in the Lancet suggests moderate intake of sodium, as well as potassium, benefits the heart. Experts, though, have criticised the authors for including ill participants in their research and not testing people’s salt levels properly. Professor Tom Sanders of King’s College London said reduced salt intake in the UK over the past 30 years had been accompanied by a fall in blood pressure. “Japan used to have a very high prevalence of high blood pressure and high rates of stroke, and took action to cut salt intake in the 1970s and now has much lower rates,” he said.
More health news – In this case, about a healthy relationship: between you, your partner and your phone. People who constantly monitor emails at home are harming both their own mental health and their closest relationships, researchers have warned. In a survey, other-halves complained that the behaviour pushed their patience to the limit. “If we drop what we’re doing with our families to check our phones it sends out a message that they’re not as important,” says William Becker, a Virginia Tech academic who studies workforce emotions. “If we don’t address this people will start to burn out, leave organisations and have a lot more relationship problems.” Worryingly, it could be sending you blind too: separate research has uncovered how blue light from the screens of phones, tablet and laptops generates poisonous molecules insides the eye that kill the cells responsible for vision.
Americans now – Melania Trump’s parents have attained US citizenship via the “chain” migration process that the president dislikes. Viktor and Amalija Knavs took the citizenship oath at a ceremony in New York City where they were guarded by Homeland Security officers.
The Slovenian immigrants, a former car dealer and textile factory worker, had been living in the US as permanent residents after Melania Trump sponsored their green cards. Donald Trump wants to limit immigrants like his wife to sponsoring only their spouses and underage children to join them in the US – not their parents, adult children or siblings.
Lunchtime read: ‘My death is not my own’
“In 2011, at the age of 51, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. After 10 or maybe 15 years, the doctor said, I would start needing help. But it was also possible that I would grow old with Parkinson’s. ‘It won’t kill you,’ he said. It will end crappily though, I thought.”
Henk Blanken knows Parkinson’s disease might one day take him past the point at which he wants to carry on. Dutch law says it is legal for a doctor to help him die when the time comes. But the way the law operates means that if dementia sets in before he is ready to go, there is no guarantee he will get the death he wants.
Everton produced a remarkable end to the transfer window as they made three significant additions to Marco Silva’s squad in Yerry Mina, Bernard and André Gomes. But it was a perturbing day for José Mourinho, who was not able to follow through with some of his targets because of misgivings about the players he identified held by club officials higher up at Manchester United.
Gary Woodland was the surprise US PGA Championship leader by one shot at Bellerive, sitting ahead of Rickie Fowler after Tiger Woods staged a fightback following a poor start to the opening round. Danny Cipriani is hoping a summer surfing trip to Malibu will help him to retain his place in the England side through to the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year. Ed Smith is looking to create a pool of England Test players who can offer a range of options both home and away as he offered a more detailed explanation of the decision to drop Dawid Malan. The European Swimming Championships concluded with Olympic champion Adam Peaty collecting his fourth gold in the 4x100m medley relay. And Katarina Johnson-Thompson went toe to toe with the best female athlete on the planet during a compelling first day of the heptathlon – and ended it on the front foot and gunning for European Championship gold.
Tesla is likely to face investigation after Elon Musk suggested by tweet that he had the funds to take the company private. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US regulator is making inquiries into whether Musk broke stock market rules by announcing plans he could not follow through with, or by trying to manipulate the stock price. The FTSE100 is due to open flat this morning while the pound is languishing at $1.283 and €1.127, not helped by the prospect of low rates for the next 20 years.
The Guardian’s lead story today is “Johnson facing investigation as burqa row divides Tory party” with a picture story about Ben Stokes taking the witness stand. That Johnson story also leads coverage in the Telegraph: “Tory bid to ‘kneecap’ Boris over burkas”. The i has “PM goes in for the kill”. The Mail says letters from its readers are filled with “quiet fury” about the treatment of Johnson, while its splash is: “Is there any point ringing your GP anymore?”
The Mirror’s splash is “Salt back on the table”, the Times has “Banks are refusing to raise rates for savers, the Sun leads with news that Ant will not be returning to host I’m a celebrity with “Ant decked”; and the Express goes with “Now EU fears no-deal Brexit”. Finally, the FT’s splash: “Diplomatic rift with Washington plunges Turkish lira to fresh low”.
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