Coronavirus live news: WHO says Delta variant not more deadly as CDC warns over transmissibility

Kenya suspends all in-person meetings and gatherings; variant now dominant in Italy, authorities say

10.26pm BST

Walt Disney Company said vaccination will become mandatory for all its on-site salaried and non-union hourly employees in the US, Reuters reports.

The company said all newly hired employees will be required to be fully vaccinated before beginning their jobs.

10.19pm BST

The latest figures from Brazil have confirmed that another 963 people have died from Covid-19, bringing the death toll to 555,460.

Another 40,904 new infections have been confirmed, which means the country has registered more than 19.8 million cases since the pandemic began, according to health ministry data.

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‘The war has changed’: CDC paper warns Delta variant is far more transmissible

Rochelle Walensky says ‘extreme’ measures needed to counter threat of virus that can be spread even by vaccinated people

The Delta variant spreads much faster, is more likely to infect the vaccinated, and could potentially trigger more severe illness in the unvaccinated compared with all other known variants, according to an internal report compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The document, a slide presentation prepared by officials within the US’s health protection agency first obtained by the Washington Post, warned that the Delta variant is as infectious as chickenpox, and argues that government officials must “acknowledge the war has changed” given how dangerous the variant is.

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‘He didn’t have chance to get his jab’: grief for recent UK Covid victims

Families paying tribute to those who have died urge people to get vaccinated and continue precautions

After two months of rising Covid-19 cases in the UK, people have celebrated falling numbers in the past week. But the number of deaths from the virus rose to 131 on Tuesday, the highest since March. Behind those numbers are lives lost and grieving families urging people to get vaccinated and keep taking precautions.

Among those dealing with their grief is Paul Nuttall after the death of his 24-year-old son, Billy – affectionately called “sunbeam” by his dad for his ability to light up a room.

Billy, an Oxford history graduate who was doing a master’s in politics at Manchester, had his life shaken by Covid. He had isolated – barely leaving the house – for 18 months and because of this he gained weight, reaching 190kg (30st). He went to fitness classes with his dad but before they could really make a difference he caught Covid and died on 26 July.

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Annie Mac’s last Radio 1 show review – beloved DJ bows out with a beautiful tearjerker

After 17 years at the BBC – from embarrassing herself in front of Pete Tong to forgetting she interviewed Rihanna – Mac hangs up her headphones with an emotional plea to her many fans

Annie Mac has a terrible memory. It’s a trait the DJ has mentioned repeatedly in interviews – often blaming her profession’s sleepless lifestyle – and even based an entire podcast series around: Finding Annie was premised on her desire to dig up lost memories related to crucial aspects of her life, from childbirth to Irishness.

It’s also been a running joke on her final stretch of BBC Radio 1 shows. As the 43-year-old prepares to depart the station this week after 17 years of broadcasting, she has found herself with the strange task of summing up her own legacy – which is especially hard when you can’t recall great swathes of your career (including an interview with Rihanna). Luckily, the BBC archives act as a handy back-up memory. Mac starts her final broadcast by replaying her first ever link on her first ever show, 2004’s The Mash Up. Self-effacingly recounting her failure to find something with “symbolism and hidden meaning” to kick things off, the young Mac has instead resorted to a track by High Contrast notable only for sparking joy. This show, she concludes, is “all about things that make you jump up and down and say yeah!”

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Lula 2022? Brazil poised for sensational political comeback

With former president’s political rights restored, polls suggest he would thrash Jair Bolsonaro if he stands for election

Anazir Maria de Oliveira has a simple message for the man they call Lula.

“Comrade, I want you back,” said the 88-year-old union veteran and black activist as she celebrated the return of her “guru” to Brazil’s political fray.

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‘I never saw my guitar again’: readers on belongings they lost in a breakup

Long after two people have gone their separate ways, some partings still rankle. Readers reflect on the beloved items they left behind

Even though my breakup was amicable, I felt a lot of guilt – so when I moved out I said: “Keep it all.” But, in the years since, there have been a few items of kitchenware that I wish I’d held on to: a Le Creuset casserole dish, my favourite mug, a digital cooking thermometer, the plastic bowl attachment for my stick blender (the blender itself I retained at her insistence, but I forgot all the accessories that came with it). There never seemed like a good time to ask for any of it back – I hope she’s at least getting some use out of them. Anonymous, Australia

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‘Women have not been able hold these: Samoa’s first female PM gets down to the job

After months of political turmoil, following the country’s most contentious election, Fiama Naomi Mata’afa is ready to get to work

The prime minister’s office in Apia, the capital of Samoa, which overlooks the harbour, has just been vacated by the man who held the job for 22 years.

The bookshelves are still empty, but the room is filled with bunches of flowers, sent by well-wishers keen to congratulate the new incumbent.

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‘Look at how they treat us’: black Britons despair of police reform

As a new parliamentary report decries persistent racial injustice in UK policing, black Britons across London describe its impact on them

Esther Cudjoe Pontara doesn’t have much faith in the police. The 19-year-old, who lives in Streatham in south London, described nearly all her interactions with officers as negative.

“I’ve always had negative interactions with the police. [A few months ago] I was walking into school and we had a school police officer and I’d apparently given him a dirty look. He proceeded to come into my school, which was against the protocol, then he took me into a room and started saying these racist, misogynistic things, and making me feel uncomfortable,” she said. “People just have no faith in the system whatsoever.”

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My toxic mother wants contact with my child – how do I approach this?

You are right to be cautious, but your mother’s effect on your child will never be the same as it was on you, says Annalisa Barbieri

I am expecting a baby later this year. Despite living in a different country, my mother wants to be as involved as she can. I benefited hugely from my relationship with my grandparents and would love my child to have the same.

However, I have a lot of unresolved issues about the way my mother parented me, and the way she behaves today. She was dismissive of my depression and anxiety when I was growing up, and lacked empathy when I self-harmed. She would bring everything back to her, and was scathing of my attempts to treat myself to anything nice. I don’t know how to help build a positive relationship between my child and my mother, when I am mistrustful and wary of her behaviour.

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Bennifer is back, but don’t rush to contact your ex, say experts

J Lo and Ben Affleck did it, but experts urge restraint after lockdown prompts ‘rekindled romance’ dating trend

Relationship experts have warned against romanticising the idea of getting back with your ex-partner, after it was confirmed that one of the most famous celebrity couples of the early noughties – Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck – were indeed back together.

Last week, the actor and singer thrilled fans when they recreated a famous intimate image from J-Lo’s 2002 music video for Jenny from the Block to mark her 52nd birthday, 17 years after their break up.

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Labour has a plan for young people. But it will struggle for their attention | Andy Beckett

The party is addressing job insecurity. Yet its proposals aren’t sparking the controversy that an opposition party needs

Many things have disappeared from British politics since it became mostly about the pandemic. One of the most important has been the idea that the interests and grievances of people under 40 are worth a lot of attention from the main parties.

During the Jeremy Corbyn era younger voters enjoyed rare influence, reinvigorating Labour and frightening the Conservatives. Even when that period effectively ended at the 2019 election, Labour beat the Tories among voters aged 18 to 24 by an unprecedented 43 percentage points. The sea of young faces at Corbyn rallies looked like a mass awakening that would have consequences.

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Depleted and unwanted, HS2 hurtles on as Johnson’s £100bn vanity project | Simon Jenkins

It has cost the taxpayer billions without a mile of track being laid – and it won’t even go north of Crewe

Britain’s new high-speed railway will not – repeat: not – get to the north of England. It will go back and forth from London to the Midlands and its chief beneficiaries will be London commuters. All else is political spin.

This became certain last week as the government’s internal major projects authority declared phase two of the HS2 project, to Manchester and Leeds, effectively dead. While the already-started London-to-Birmingham stretch is still marked at “amber/red” for “successful delivery in doubt”, anything north of Crewe has been designated “unachievable”. Its multitudinous issues “do not appear to be manageable or resolvable”. This comes not from the arms-length National Infrastructure Commission or last winter’s Oakervee report, both agreeing that going beyond Birmingham should be “reviewed”. This was the verdict of an arm of the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

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A decade after Tottenham burned, social alienation means riots could happen again | David Lammy

Tory governments have ignored years of expert advice on family support, youth unemployment and police relations

  • David Lammy is the Labour MP for Tottenham

Every riot needs a spark. In 1985, I was a teenager when the Broadwater Farm riot took place just yards away from my home. It was lit by the death of Cynthia Jarrett, who suffered a stroke after police officers searched her home. Ten years ago, the riots that again began in Tottenham were ignited by the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by the police.

The destruction that followed in both cases was horrific, as peaceful protests were hijacked by violent criminals. In 1985, PC Keith Blakelock was killed. In 2011, eight police officers in Tottenham were hospitalised and more than £200m of damage was caused nationwide. I will never forget walking up Tottenham High Road on the Sunday morning after the night before and seeing bricks through broken windows, alongside burned-out cars and shopfronts, and parents standing on the street in their pyjamas comforting their children. In both cases, the peaceful majority of local residents could only watch as their shops, homes and businesses were senselessly turned into ashes by the flames of the mob.

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Our biggest enemy is no longer climate denial but climate delay | Ed Miliband

Nothing is more dangerous than the illusion of action – which is all that the British government is offering

Future generations will look back on the climate events of 2021 and say: “That was the year they ran out of excuses.”

Heatwaves and flooding here in the UK, temperatures topping 50C in Pakistan, hundreds killed by a heatwave in British Columbia, deadly floods in Germany and China. All within a single month. Add to that the recent dire warning from the Met Office that the age of extreme weather has just begun.

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We’re slowly discovering the murky side of elite sport – thanks to women speaking out | Gaby Hinsliff

The Tokyo Games have shone a light on bullying, abuse and sexualisation, which are too often ignored in the pursuit of glory

Nobody should have to go to work in their bra and knickers. So when the Norwegian women’s beach handball team were fined earlier this month for defiantly choosing to compete in shorts – rather than the buttock-revealingly skimpy bikini bottoms mandated by their sport’s governing body – it was the organisers of the European championships, not the squad, who ended up looking ridiculous. Why should female athletes have to be served up half-naked, for the benefit of leering audiences?

But the rebellious Norwegians, it turns out, were merely the tip of a much bigger iceberg. Now the Tokyo Olympics are witnessing what looks very much like the beginnings of a movement, as sportswomen increasingly speak out about their experiences of sexualisation and exploitation.

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Wales’ eerily beautiful slate quarries are getting the recognition they deserve | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

It’s right that these post-industrial landscapes, with their complex history, should have world heritage status

“The slate quarries are beautiful,” a friend told me, having returned from a holiday in Gwynedd, where I grew up. “They are not so beautiful when your ancestors died in them,” I said, half-joking just to see her face. The windows of my childhood home looked out at that landscape, the mountain a series of gradated ledges, like a staircase built for a giant. The workers were long gone, but I used to imagine them, hanging from thin bits of rope hundreds of feet in the air, risking their lives for a pittance, when I watched the rock climbers who flock to the area from all over the world.

Now, after a long local campaign led by bid leader Dafydd Wigley, the slate landscapes of north Wales have won world heritage status in recognition of 1,800 years of slate mining; the people, culture and language, and how the slate from these quarries, as is often said, used to roof the world. The skills of the workers, most of them Welsh-speaking, are now consigned only to museum demonstrations. I was quite small when I first watched a man split a slate with a chisel and mallet and saw the purplish sheet become thinner and thinner beneath his hands. In my father’s house there is a slate fan made by one of our ancestors as an apprentice. There was great pride in those skills, and there continues to be. World heritage status feels like a recognition of that.

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Republicans used to laud ‘personal responsibility’. Not with Covid | David Litt

The Republican party is encouraging Americans to make objectively selfish, harmful choices – then using the tools of government to shield them from accountability

“It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions,” declared Ronald Reagan at the 1968 Republican National Convention.

By the time he became president 12 years later, this idea – that individuals can be trusted to act wisely and should be held accountable when they don’t – was firmly entrenched in Republican rhetoric. Reagan even included “personal responsibility” in his list of America’s bedrock values, right up there with faith in God, honesty, and caring for others.

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During the pandemic, a new variant of capitalism has emerged | Larry Elliott

Spending is up. The world has been fighting a war against Covid, and in wartime the power of the state always increases

Over the past 18 months, the world has been amazed at how slippery an enemy Covid-19 has proved to be. The virus first detected in China at the end of 2019 has mutated on a regular basis. Vaccines need to evolve because the virus is changing to survive.

The shock to the global economy from the pandemic has been colossal, but things are now looking up – especially for advanced countries. Some are surprised by the pace of recovery, but they perhaps shouldn’t be, because alongside new variants of the virus there has been a new variant of global capitalism.

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The Guardian view on investigating 6 January: the truth about the storming of the Capitol

The attitude of Republican politicians to the committee shows exactly why it is needed

The investigation into the deadly insurrection of 6 January is not one but two processes. The first is an attempt to discover the truth about those events: not only what happened, but who, beyond the members of the mob, was responsible and in what ways. The second is the task of getting people to accept that truth – knowing that many will not.

Senior Republicans initially acknowledged the horror of the events and the culpability of Donald Trump, whose big lie of a stolen election triggered the assault upon the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader – who is said to have telephoned the president urging him to call the rioters off as they tried to break through his office window – said that Mr Trump bore responsibility. He and others called for a 9/11-style independent commission.

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The Guardian view on Wu-Tang Clan’s genius: to make and appreciate art | Editorial

The sale of the only copy of an album for $2m is a reminder that canny rappers understood the artistic value of the original and the authentic

When Martin Shkreli was convicted of fraud in 2017, the authorities ordered him to give up his assets, which included a Picasso, a share-trading account and the only existing copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a double album by the American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. This week an anonymous buyer purchased the record to clear the disgraced pharmaceutical executive’s remaining $2.2m debt to the US government and committed to Wu-Tang Clan’s stipulation that it not be released commercially until 2103.

The sale is a testament to both the artists and their art. The rap group – RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, U-God, Masta Killa and sometimes Cappadonna – emerged in the 1990s and challenged hip-hop’s aesthetic principles and its business model. With interests in martial arts, philosophy and mystical Islam, their wordplay set them apart. On their 1997 track Triumph, Inspectah Deck raps “I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses / Can’t define how I be dropping these mockeries”.

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Wild swimming isn’t a new fashion and is no threat to wildlife | Letters

Pat Simmons and Paul Williams on the pleasures of swimming in rivers, lakes and seas in harmony with nature

Wild swimming “the latest fashionable activity” (Letters, 26 July)? Hardly. Seventy years ago I learned to swim in the River Wey, in the company of other local kids (and a lot of water voles and a pair of nesting swans). Forty-five years ago we spent innumerable happy afternoons with our children swimming and splashing in the River Cherwell at Wolvercote – and there were other popular river bathing places in Oxford. Last week I took my granddaughter swimming in the River Chew. Wild swimming is certainly not a new fashion, though it has become riskier with the current levels of pollution in our rivers and lakes (not very beneficial for kingfishers, either).
Pat Simmons

• I’ve been swimming locally for five years. Most of the year I’m accompanied by seals, otters, geese, oystercatchers and a variety of other seabirds. In summer, the campervans roll in. Their owners don’t swim, but the wildlife disappears – so don’t blame the swimmers for disturbing wildlife.
Paul Williams
Argyll, Scotland

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The links between Welsh slate and slavery | Letter

Steve Cushion on the Pennant family, who used the profits made by enslaved workers in Jamaica to expand the Penrhyn slate quarry

Your article (Welsh slate landscape becomes UK’s newest world heritage site, 28 July) did not mention the origins of the finance that enabled the expansion of the slate quarries at the end of the 18th century. In 1781, Richard Pennant inherited the family’s estates in Jamaica and in north Wales. He owned four sugar plantations in Jamaica, worked by more than a thousand enslaved workers. The money Pennant generated from sugar and slavery in Jamaica was invested in building road, railway and port infrastructure, as well as expanding the slate industry in Wales, in particular his Penrhyn slate quarry.

Pennant became MP for Petersfield in 1761 and, in 1767, one of the two MPs for Liverpool, Britain’s major slave trading port. He was chairman of the West India Committee, an organisation of merchants and plantation owners that campaigned for the continuation of slavery. He frequently spoke in the Commons against abolition of the slave trade.

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Siya Kolisi claims referee in first Lions Test showed lack of respect

  • South Africa captain ‘didn’t feel he was given fair opportunity’
  • Springboks lash out at touring side ahead of second Test

The South Africa captain Siya Kolisi has made the remarkable claim that he was shown a lack of respect by the referee Nic Berry during last Saturday’s defeat by the British & Irish Lions as the Springboks lashed out at the touring side, accusing Warren Gatland of “destroying the dignity of the series”.

Doubling down on Rassie Erasmus’s outburst over perceived injustices from officials as the extraordinary war of words intensified before Saturday’s second Test, Kolisi agreed with his director of rugby that he was treated differently to the Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones. The Springboks assistant Mzwandile Stick then took a swipe at Gatland for making his anger known about the appointment of the South African TMO Marius Jonker last week. Earlier, Rugby Australia slammed Erasmus for an “unacceptable” attack on Berry, labelling his rant as “against the spirit and values of the game”.

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C’mon you Popchips: why the Hundred is so hard to digest | Matthew Engel

The cricket season was already a shambles with three different forms of the game. Now there are four

When I arrived in Cardiff to report on the new cricket competition, there was a problem with my media accreditation. Always me. A steward asked me to wait, adding that there were 200 people in the press box. “Blimey,” I said, “it really is popular.”

“No,” he replied. “I mean there are two people from The Hundred up there. One of them will sort things out.”

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Toto Wolff says Red Bull went ‘below the belt’ with attack on Lewis Hamilton

  • Mercedes and Red Bull spat builds before Hungarian GP
  • Max Verstappen quickest in Friday morning’s practice session

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen may want to do their talking on track at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix but their teams remain firmly entrenched in opposition as the verbal sallies continued to fly on Friday at the Hungaroring. After the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers clashed at the British Grand Prix, the tension of an already fiercely fought championship ratcheted up a level and neither teams nor drivers are clearly ready yet for a rapprochement.

On Thursday Red Bull’s request for a review into the drivers’ clash at Silverstone was rejected by the FIA stewards. The incident in which Verstappen was knocked out of the race in an 180mph crash after Hamilton clipped him attempting to pass at Copse left Red Bull furious, with their team principal, Christian Horner, accusing the world champion of dirty driving. The Dutch driver also blamed his Mercedes counterpart while Hamilton, although given a 10-second penalty for being predominantly at fault, bullishly insisted he would repeat the move again if given the chance.

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Arsenal sign £50m Ben White and want Bellerín and Xhaka to extend contracts

  • White is club’s third-most expensive signing of all time
  • Bellerín and Xhaka keen to move and have suitors

Arsenal have completed the signing of Ben White from Brighton in a £50m deal that makes him their third-most expensive arrival of all time, and will now turn their attention to persuading two senior players to stay at the Emirates.

White had been one of Mikel Arteta’s top summer targets and his ability to pass out from defence, as well as step into midfield, was seen as a key component in speeding up Arsenal’s game in possession. Although the 23-year-old centre-back effectively replaces David Luiz, he is more than a decade younger and appears yet to reach his ceiling. He will take the No 4 shirt and has signed a five-year contract.

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Liverpool give Alexander-Arnold new contract and in talks with Alisson

  • Right-back describes new deal to 2025 as ‘proud moment’
  • Advanced discussions with Alisson, who also wants to extend

Trent Alexander-Arnold has signed a contract extension to 2025 at Liverpool, who are in advanced talks with the goalkeeper Alisson over following suit.

Alexander-Arnold, who came through Liverpool’s academy, said he felt honoured to be offered a new deal and that agreeing to it was “a no-brainer”.

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The Fiver | It would be a brave punter who predicts the Scottish tide turning

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Fitba is back in earnest on Saturday and it’s always fascinating to see how teams have limbered up for the big kick-off. Full speed to Tynecastle, then, where Hearts return to the big time and face the Queen’s Celtic while riding the wave of back-to-back Skol Cup triumphs against Stirling Albion and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. So far, so normal. But what about the Queen’s Celtic? They’ve prepared in the fashion they know best: by tumbling out of Big Cup qualifiers against opponents who, historically, they would have expected to dismiss in relative comfort.

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UK cultural landmarks may lose world heritage status, says Unesco chief

Exclusive: chief of UN body warns ministers they must do more to protect Britain’s historic sites

UK cultural landmarks such as Stonehenge could be stripped of their coveted world heritage status unless the government curbs “ill-advised development” and protects historic sites for future generations, a Unesco chief has warned.

Dr Mechtild Rössler, the director of Unesco’s World Heritage Centre, urged ministers to “do everything” they could to conserve the UK’s treasures after Liverpool became only the third place in nearly 50 years to lose its revered title.

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