US briefing: India election, Trump’s bank records and an extinction crisis | US news

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Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Hindu BJP cements power in world’s biggest democracy

The Indian prime minister, the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, has defied the dour economic climate and retained power with what looks set to be a landslide election victory in the world’s biggest democracy. Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) had been expected to win enough seats to form a coalition government, but early poll results suggest the party could in fact secure overall victory with at least 290 seats in the Indian parliament’s 545-seat lower house.

  • Secular opposition. Modi’s BJP has been in power since 2014, when it defeated the secular Congress party – now the main opposition – which had defined India’s politics for most of the seven decades since independence.

Judge won’t block subpoena for Trump’s financial records


‘I don’t do cover-ups’: Trump lashes out over Pelosi accusation – video

The House intelligence and financial services committees are a step closer to examining Donald Trump’s finances, after a federal judge in New York declined to block a congressional subpoena seeking the president’s banking records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Trump had filed a lawsuit against the April subpoenas – which also sought the banking records of his older children – claiming they were designed to “harass” him and “cause him political damage”.

  • Walkout stunt. Trump staged a walkout several minutes into a White House meeting with Democrats on Wednesday and then held a snap press conference, saying he would refuse to work with Democrats unless they stopped investigating him.

American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh to be freed

Lindh is led away after being captured among al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan in December 2001.



Lindh is led away after being captured among al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan in December 2001. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

John Walker Lindh, the American who was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 after fighting alongside the Taliban, is to be released early from a US federal prison despite concerns that he may still pose a security risk. Lindh, now 38, has served 17 years of his 20-year sentence for terrorism-related crimes, and is among dozens of prisoners who were arrested in the aftermath of 9/11 and are now approaching release.

  • Extremist views. The US government believed Lindh still held extremist views as recently as 2016, according to leaked documents published by Foreign Policy.

  • Isis family? A US family detained at a Syrian camp for suspected Isis members have been repatriated to the US, in a move that could have major implications for other non-Syrians still in legal limbo over their suspected links to Islamic State.

Larger animals face extinction as human activity shrinks nature

Golden eagles are among the more than 1,000 larger species under threat of imminent extinction.



Golden eagles are among the more than 1,000 larger species under threat of imminent extinction. Photograph: Peter Cairns/RSPB

More than 1,000 larger species of mammals and birds, including rhinos and eagles, will likely go extinct in the next century, according to a new study that predicts humanity’s ongoing destruction of wildlife will shrink the average body size of animals by a quarter. These mass extinctions could in turn impact human society, bringing about a collapse in the ecosystems we rely on for food and clean water.

Crib sheet

Must-reads

Some shampoo contains coal tar, a known carcinogen.



Some shampoo contains coal tar, a known carcinogen. Photograph: Shioguchi/Getty Images

Are chemicals in beauty products making us ill?

The Guardian’s Toxic America series continues today, as Lauren Zannolli investigates potentially harmful chemicals in common women’s beauty products. Meanwhile Tom Dart asks why businesses in Colorado are suing the military over the use of a chemical that has tainted water supplies and is being called “Agent Orange 2.0”.

What happened when I met my Islamophobic troll

In 2017, Hussein Kesvani started getting regular messages from an anonymous Twitter troll, telling him that Islam was “Satanic”, “barbaric” and “evil”. Kesvani struck up a correspondence – and then he asked to meet his tormentor face-to-face.

Woke-washing: the brands cashing in on the culture wars

From Kendall Jenner’s misbegotten Pepsi ad to Marks & Spencer’s “LGBT” sandwich, brands are increasingly crafting their messaging around current affairs. Of course they’re driven by the profit motive, says Owen Jones. But can advertising also have an ethical dimension?

After Maria: a short film about Puerto Rico’s long recovery

The new Netflix short documentary After Maria takes a small-scale look at the daily instability of life for the Puerto Rican refugees who fled to the US mainland following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Adrian Horton talks to the filmmakers.

Opinion

Republicans and their allies have long promoted the myth that climate change is a hoax. Now, writes Jimmy Tobias, they’re using the same playbook to sow doubt about the wildlife extinction crisis that threatens as many as one million species.


There they were, shamelessly using the same methods to distract from the growing biodiversity crisis that continues to undermine environmental and economic stability both at home and abroad.

Sport

A soccer World Cup expansion plan proposed by the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, which would have seen the 2022 tournament in Qatar grow to 48 teams and some matches played in neighbouring countries, has collapsed under the weight of regional politics, as David Conn reports.

Canada has produced a trio of prospective young tennis champions in Denis Shapovalov, Bianca Andreescu and Félix Auger-Aliassime. How did a winter-sport nation with a sparse, spread-out population of 37m produce three French Open seeds all at once? Stephanie Myles investigates.

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