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First Thing: federal workers must be vaccinated or regularly tested | US news

Good morning.

Joe Biden announced yesterday that all civilian federal workers must show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 or face regular testing and physical distancing, masking and travel restrictions.

In a new push for vaccinations amid the spread of the Delta variant, he called on local governments to go as far as to offer $100 to those getting vaccinated as a way to incentivize vaccination. Small and medium-sized businesses would be reimbursed for offering their employees paid leave to get their family members vaccinated, Biden said.

“With incentives and mandates, we will make a huge difference and save a lot of lives,” Biden said.

  • The rule would affect about 2.18 million civilian employees across the country, including in states where vaccine scepticism runs high.

  • About 90 million eligible Americans had not received a vaccine, Biden said.

Republicans have already begun pushing back against some of health measures, with the Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, tweeting: “The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science.” The Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called him a “moron”.

  • Congressional aides and visitors to the House side of the Capitol will face arrest if they are not wearing masks, the head of the US Capitol police has announced.

  • Republicans forced a vote to adjourn the chamber in protest against the mask mandate. It was defeated along mostly party lines, resulting in angry confrontations between members in the corridors.

US nurses are striking over working conditions

Nurses during a strike over safe staffing issues at Montefiore hospital in New Rochelle, New York, in December. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP

After 18 months of putting their lives on the line during the pandemic, nurses across the US are picketing over severe understaffing issues, pay cuts and inadequate equipment.

US economy returns to pre-pandemic level but misses growth forecast

Joe Biden arrives to speak about manufacturing after touring the Mack truck factory in Macungie, Pennsylvania
Joe Biden arrives to speak about manufacturing after touring the Mack truck factory in Macungie, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Despite growing at a weaker rate than expected in the second quarter, the US economy has returned to its pre-pandemic level, with the gross domestic product increasing at a 6.5% annualized rate in the three months to the end of June.

Fears of a slowing economy persist, however – the economy remains about 2% below where it would have been without Covid-19, and experts believe the global industrial boom is showing signs of a slowdown.

Sunisa Lee wins Olympic women’s gymnastics all-around

Sunisa Lee poses with her gold medal
Sunisa Lee poses with her gold medal. Photograph: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After Simone Biles’s withdrawal from the all-around competition in Tokyo, Sunisa Lee stepped up as the first ever Hmong American to compete in the Olympics and take home gold.

Lee said Biles and her teammates gave her key advice and were instrumental in helping her win the competition.

In other news …

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is one of several activists arrested in Washington DC in a civil disobedience action for voting rights
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is one of several activists arrested in Washington DC in a civil disobedience action for voting rights. Photograph: Allison Bailey/Rex/Shutterstock
  • Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic representative of Texas, was arrested at a protest for voting rights in Washington DC yesterday. She is the third Black lawmaker to be arrested during voting rights protests.

  • A Colorado police officer was arrested for beating and choking an unarmed man, an incident that was captured on his body camera.

  • Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for releasing Black Widow, her standalone Marvel film, on Disney+ at the same time as it is in cinemas.

  • Israel will offer a Pfizer Covid booster shot to people over 60, making it the first country to offer a third dose of a western vaccine to its citizens on a wide scale.

  • A Russian rocket mishap briefly nudged the International Space Station out of place. The troubled Nauka laboratory module had accidentally fired off its rockets while docking with the space station.

Stat of the day: one in five flight attendants have gotten into a physical altercation this year with a passenger

According to a survey by the Association of Flight Attendants, the most common cause behind these physical altercations is passengers refusing to follow the federal requirement that they wear face masks during flights.

Don’t miss: remembering the life of the Indigenous Amazonian who survived tremendous odds

Karapiru Awá Guajá, one of the last of the hunter-gatherer nomadic Awá of the Brazilian Amazon, survived a massacre and lived for 10 years alone in the forest, eating honey and small birds, sleeping in the boughs of copaiba trees and being as invisible as possible. He died last month of Covid-19.

Climate check: a month of extremes

Climate crisis: what one month of extreme weather looks like – video
Climate crisis: what one month of extreme weather looks like – video

Extreme weather has ravaged regions around the world this past month, from the extreme heatwave in the US Pacific north-west to flooding in Germany to landslides in India. Here’s a Guardian video to recap what one month of extreme weather looked like.

Want more environmental stories delivered to your inbox? Sign up to our Green Light newsletter to get the good, bad and essential news on the climate every week.

Last Thing: a nude start

After divorce and the death of his son, 64-year-old Terry Aston had retreated into himself. Then he decided to strip himself bare and pose for an art class. On his busiest days now, he receives up to three bookings.

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

“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.

But those days are long over – and the conservative movement’s nationwide anti-vaccination effort proves it. Political parties are large; there are plenty of responsible Republican voters, and a handful of responsible Republican politicians. But the conservative movement no longer argues that individuals are better than the government at promoting the greater good. Instead, the movement encourages its members to make objectively selfish, harmful choices, then uses the tools of government to shield them from accountability when they do.

Republicans have become the party of personal irresponsibility.

In most cases, it’s difficult to say with certainty that a given choice is “responsible.” But getting a Covid vaccine is not one of those cases. Getting vaccinated costs individual Americans essentially nothing – the vaccine is free, widely available, and proven safe and effective.

The costs to society from Americans not getting vaccinated, however, are enormous. A larger unvaccinated population means more deadly infections among the unvaccinated and immunocompromised; it means more taxpayer dollars spent on hospitalizations, and higher health insurance premiums for everybody; it means far less certainty for small businesses desperate for the pandemic to be over so they can re-open for good.

Many people have gotten the vaccine out of self-interest: they’d rather not get Covid. But even for those unconcerned by the health risks of contracting the disease, the vaccine presents a straightforward choice: take an action that benefits one’s community, or reject the idea – expressed so frequently by Reagan – that supporting one’s community is something individuals ought to do? As far as personal responsibility goes, it’s the perfect test.

Which is why it’s shocking that the conservative movement has gone to such great lengths to ensure its supporters fail that test. Fox News has hosted a parade of discredited anti-vaxxers. At both the state and local level, Republican lawmakers have invited conspiracy theorists to testify before their committees, amplifying their messages. Even Mitch McConnell, who to his credit has personally encouraged constituents to get their Covid shots, has refused to publicly condemn the misinformation rampant in conservative media or speak out against his fellow Republican lawmakers, like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, who encouraged Americans to “Just say no” to the vaccine.

The conservative movement hasn’t just adopted pro-choice rhetoric when it comes to vaccines. It’s gone further, encouraging people to make the choice that is clearly harmful to society at large. It’s debatable whether those who remain unvaccinated because of misinformation are to blame for trusting the wrong sources. But it’s undeniable that the right-wing media and lawmakers peddling misinformation are acting recklessly – and that the entire country is worse off as a result.

Republican politicians are also using the tools of government to undermine accountability, or even transparency, when it comes to vaccinations. Texas passed legislation forbidding businesses in the state from requiring proof of vaccination. Montana prohibited employers, including medical facilities, from requiring vaccination as a condition of employment. Under pressure from Republican legislators, Tennessee’s health department suspended outreach to children about not just the Covid vaccine but all childhood vaccinations.

In this new, topsy-turvy definition of individual liberty, some Americans are free to put their neighbors at risk, while other Americans are barred by the government from trying to keep their own employees, customers, and even children safe. Deciding whether to get the vaccine or remain unvaccinated is technically still a choice – but the Republican party is doing everything it can to make choosing the latter easier than choosing the former.

America is now reaping what the Republican Party sowed. Covid cases are soaring and deaths are up, leaving the CDC with no choice but to recommend reimposing mask mandates in much of the country – mostly to protect the unvaccinated from the potential consequences of their actions. The vaccine is the clearest example yet that the conservative movement is actively promoting, and celebrating, selfish choices.

But vaccines aren’t the only example of the party of personal irresponsibility at work. Republican lawmakers have either remained silent about or defended Donald Trump’s history of tax cheating, and recently rejected increasing IRS enforcement, ensuring that other wealthy Americans are more likely to get away with not paying taxes, too. The Republican Party once promoted “responsible gun ownership” – now, Republicans in Texas and Tennessee have passed laws allowing concealed-carry handguns without permits or training. Missouri’s Republican governor promised to pardon Mark McCloskey, an attorney who threatened peaceful Black Lives Matter marchers with a firearm, if he were convicted of a crime. McCloskey has since parlayed his dangerous display of recklessness into conservative celebrity and a Senate run.

Perhaps most alarmingly, a culture of irresponsibility and unaccountability has taken root among Republican elected officials. Our democratic process gives politicians enormous leeway to make choices that harm democracy: they can pass voter suppression laws; remain in office amid a prostitution scandal; or attempt to cover up an armed anti-government insurrection. But just because officials can do all these things doesn’t mean they should. And it is far from guaranteed that American democracy will survive if they do.

Republicans, particularly Washington Republicans, like to tell themselves that they remain the party of Ronald Reagan – of small government, lower regulation, and faith in the individual. But it’s time for voters and politicians alike to acknowledge the new reality of American politics: the disagreement between the parties is no longer over how best to promote the general welfare; it’s over whether promoting the general welfare is worth doing at all. The Republican Party’s fall from goodness, its devolution from a party that extolled personal responsibility and accountability to a party that extols reckless disregard for one’s fellow Americans, is one of the most important trends shaping the country.

And as we’re too often reminded these days, reversing that trend is a matter of life and death.

  • David Litt is an American political speechwriter and New York Times bestselling author of Thanks Obama, and Democracy In One Book Or Less. He edits How Democracy Lives, a newsletter on democracy reform

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Think winning Olympic gold is tough? Try doing it while coping with racism | Simone Biles

This week, Simone Biles unexpectedly withdrew from the team and individual all-around gymnastics events at the Tokyo Olympics. The 24-year-old told reporters she wanted to focus on her mental health after experiencing the “twisties” – a condition in which a gymnast loses his or her spatial awareness during a move – in practice. It is no surprise that Biles is under overwhelming stress. With speculation that the four-time Olympic champion has plans to retire after Tokyo, pressure to walk away on a triumphant note would have left any athlete anxious.

But unlike most other athletes gearing up for the Olympics, Biles is held to impossible expectations. That is not only because she is the greatest in her sport, but also because she is a Black woman dominating an industry that has neglected and discriminated against athletes of her kind. A woman like Biles was never meant to be the greatest gymnast of all time, and because of that, she is held to higher standards and became a role model to the next generation of Black gymnasts and Black women. That is an incredible burden, even for someone who is not stepping onto the biggest stage in sports.

“She has put her hat on to be the mentor and protector of her former gymnastic athletes, but also of the new team,” says Eden Ghebresellassie, a former creative strategy lead at ESPN. Ghebresellassie’s role focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and social and sustainable impact in the sports industry, providing her with inside knowledge of the systems that control athletes.

“If your employees, and in this case, athletes, feel safe – whether it’s safe when it comes to their mental health, their race, or being a woman – they will thrive in their work,” Ghebresellassie explains.

Just a month before Biles’s Olympic withdrawal, Naomi Osaka pulled out of Wimbledon. The decision came after the 23-year-old exited the French Open due to social anxiety, particularly around press conferences. Osaka has always been vocal about topics like anxiety and race, yet the public didn’t let her off easily. Immediately after her withdrawal, Osaka faced criticism about her decision to prioritize her mental health.

A case of the twisties and discomfort with interviews aren’t the only factors that caused Biles and Osaka to step away. Public scrutiny, pressure and racism also played their part. While white athletes too are subjected to strenuous workouts, long practices, and press scrutiny, their Black counterparts must deal with added stressors. When England soccer players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed penalties in their team’s shootout loss in the Euro 2020 final, defeat wasn’t the only thing they needed to deal with; they were also bombarded with racist messages on social media. A mural of Rashford was defaced with an obscene drawing and expletives shortly after the loss.

Not that winning protects Black athletes from racism: a moment of celebration is often soured by abuse. There is no greater example than Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time and also a leading target of racism from the media, fans and social media. In 2001, Serena and her sister Venus Williams were booed and called the N-word during the final of Indian Wells in California. Then in 2015, moments after she won the French Open, hateful comments on Twitter comparing her to a gorilla went viral.

“There is a big intertwined storytelling that comes from the fans or the media, that hits the player,” Ghebresellassie says. “I think at a certain point, that hate and that anger fuels a player to kind of prove people wrong, but then ultimately it gets to them. We’ve seen Serena break down on the court, and if you compare her to other white tennis players, they’re viewed as passionate and secure about themselves, and that’s why they were defending their game. But when it comes to Serena, she’s just the angry Black woman.”

The heightened level of stress that Black athletes endure hurts them at moments. when a clear mind is needed, such as the Olympics or the final of a Grand Slam. But racism isn’t only an issue for the best of the best, like Biles and Williams.

Even at the US collegiate level, Black athletes are subjected to racism and discrimination. “There’s definitely an unlevel playing field. I’ve seen instances where things that a Black athlete does are seen as negative versus when other athletes do it,” says Mike Watkins, a 31-year-old athletic trainer.

Watkins recalls the difference in how two outstanding athletes were treated for breaking rules such as getting drunk on nights out. “There was one Black athlete and one white athlete, and they were getting into the same trouble, yet things were kind of lightly glazed over with the white athlete,” he says. “Even how other athletic trainers would talk about [the white athlete] would be different versus Black athletes.”

When Black athletes came in for injury treatment, Watkins says, they were viewed by training staff as lazy or trying to get out of playing time, a dangerous belief to hold when caring for someone’s health. He says such discrimination even made some Black athletes hide their injuries. Watkins says he often had to push them to admit they were in pain. “Two of my Black athletes, when I worked with gymnastics, felt more comfortable and felt like they were only listened to by medical staff because I was there,” he says. “But if a white athlete had concerns, all things needed to stop to make sure nothing was wrong with them. There’s definitely a double standard.”

Watkins has been in the athletic and mental training industry for 10 years and previously worked as a trainer in college gymnastics.

His firsthand understanding of the injuries that can occur from one misstep in gymnastics is why he believes Biles made the right decision to step down.

“I saw people on Facebook saying she only pulled out because she knew she was losing,” Watkins says. “And it’s actually far from that. If she would have continued going, she would have absolutely hurt herself more.”

Similar to Osaka, who has the weight of her sport on her shoulders and her community looking at her to lead, Biles stepped down because of mental exhaustion and not receiving the same grace white athletes are offered.

“Maybe not even looking at them as an athlete, but seeing them as a human is what people should try to do,” Watkins says. “Because I’ve worked in such high athletic levels, seeing a highly elite athlete is very normalized for me. I don’t look at them as some spectacular human being. I look at them as just a regular person and understand their struggles, just like anyone else would.”

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Alise Willoughby’s hopes for BMX racing gold dashed on crash-filled day | Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

It was “gut-wrenching”, Alise Willoughby said. And knee-scraping, as the gaping hole in her clothes attested.

The two-time BMX racing world champion and silver medallist at Rio 2016 knew she had the talent to win gold here, provided her fortunes held on steep-banked bends and bone-rattling bumps that undulate like a sine curve from hell while seven rivals hustle and jostle, and often touch, and sometimes crash.

But luck betrayed her twice in Friday’s semi-finals, with crashes soon after the start of her first race, and, especially cruelly, near the climax of her third.

As she’d dreamt it, Willoughby would barrel furiously down the home straight in first place, undersized wheels whirring like a jet turbine in a blur of speed and power, proving what she believes in her heart: that she is the world’s best.

Instead, after picking herself up from the ground, head in hands, she got back on her bike and, gingerly and ruefully, pedalled slowly to the finish. Since she is 30, perhaps crossing the line also marked the end of her Olympic career.

Willoughby collided with Saya Sakakibara of Australia, who came off worse. The distraught 21-year-old was taken off on a stretcher with a suspected concussion before being cleared by medical staff. “I was coming in fast and we clipped bars a little bit up the lip and it kind of knocks everybody a bit sideways,” Willoughby said.

She is muscular with turbocharged speed out of the gate, but only 5ft 2in. “I’m not the biggest and a lot of these girls are a lot taller, you kind of slip under there and sometimes you catch bars a little bit,” she said.

The sport is inherently dangerous: Willoughby’s lengthy injury resume includes a broken fibula and tibia, ankle and knee ligament damage and hand surgeries. Add in the risk-taking when medals are at stake and the potential for serious injury at the Olympics is obvious. A Dutch rider even slammed into an official during a training run in Tokyo.

Sakakibara’s brother, Kai, was a contender to make the Australian team but a crash while racing left him with a traumatic brain injury last year. He was in a coma for two months and in hospital for eight months.

Sae Hatakeyama of Japan crashed and broke her collarbone in the quarter-finals in Tokyo on Thursday. A few minutes before the scheduled start of Willoughby’s third run, Connor Fields, the men’s champion in Rio, appeared to clip another’s wheels and tumbled over his handlebars as two racers landed on top of him and scudded up the slope.

Paramedics rushed to his aid and after several minutes of treatment, Fields was taken off on a stretcher, placed in an ambulance and driven to hospital, where he was reported to be conscious and awaiting a detailed evaluation of his injuries.

As he was carried off the course the giant video screen displayed a Q by his name: despite the crash he had qualified for the final by virtue of two fast early runs. But there was no chance that the 28-year-old Texan would be able to defend his title.

Rain had delayed the start of the session, as officials worked to soak up puddles with brushes, pat the surface with sponges and wield handheld blowers to dry up water and whoosh it off the track. One used a wheeled line marker to re-paint the white stripes on the edges. Probably not too hard if you’re on the flat grass at the All England Club; more of a challenge as you try not to slip off vertiginous dips and climbs. Olympic races start with a charge down an 8m high, 35-degree hill, riders completing the 400m course in about 40-45 seconds.

Connor Fields at the start of the men’s semi-final. Photograph: François Nel/Getty Images

Willoughby doubted the weather was a factor in the crashes. “Riding in the rain’s never fun but the track held up great,” she said. “I don’t think it’s the weather. You’re putting eight of the world’s best head-to-head and it’s close racing.”

Nicknamed “The Beast”, she grew up in St Cloud, Minnesota, where her father runs a BMX track, and now trains in the more temperate climes of San Diego. A three-time Olympian, she began riding aged six and started winning professional titles at 15. BMX was introduced to the Olympics in Beijing but she was below the minimum age of 19 and unable to compete.

Her 29-year-old husband, Sam Willoughby, first saw her when he was a kid in Adelaide watching her races on VHS tapes. A silver medallist for Australia at London in 2012, he became her coach after he broke his neck in a training accident in California in 2016. His bike flipped and he landed on his head. The injury left him paralysed and needing a wheelchair.

Racing at this level demands skill, courage and fatalism. “I don’t think you can ride with any hesitation out there, that’s where things go wrong,” Willoughby said. “You can trip and fall down walking on the street and have something bad happen. It’s a calculated risk.”

Bethany Shriever took the women’s gold for Great Britain. Her compatriot, Kye Whyte, grabbed silver in the men’s race. “It’s BMX, there’s a crash probably every time and it could be you,” he said.

“I told my brother, nothing is stopping me, I’m prepared to crash. This is a contact sport, it’s like being scared in boxing – you will lose,” he added. “I say to myself, ‘I’m ready for war’.”

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Obama planning star-studded 60th birthday bash on Martha’s Vineyard | Barack Obama

Looks like former president Barack Obama is gearing up to throw the (outdoor) bash of the summer.

The 44th president is reportedly pulling out all the stops when it comes to his upcoming birthday. Obama, who turns 60 on Wednesday, will be inviting dozens of friends to celebrate with him this weekend on his estate on Martha’s Vineyard. The guest list includes Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney, according to the Hill.

Obama and family bought the house, which sits on nearly 30 acres, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in 2019 for $11.75m, according to the Vineyard Gazette.

The Obamas are no strangers to star-studded birthday parties. Five years ago, the president’s 55th birthday party at the White House included guests such as Magic Johnson, Stevie Wonder, Ellen DeGeneres and Paul McCartney.

The White House formally announced the event the day of the party, according to the New York Times.

“The guest list includes a large number of family members and friends to mark the occasion. The private event will be paid for with the family’s personal funds,” said a statement.

On this latest bash, a source told the Hill, “It’s going to be big.”

In recent months, Obama has been busy expanding his influence in the world of entertainment. Last week it was announced that he and Bruce Springsteen will be releasing a book based on a podcast they made with Spotify. The book, like the podcast, will be titled Renegades: Born in the USA.

Obama also heads a production company with his wife, Michelle, which has been preparing a slate of projects in partnership with Netflix.

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One in five flight attendants endured a ‘physical incident’ as union demands action | US news

Nearly one in five flight attendants say they have gotten into a “physical incident” this year with a passenger, and their union is calling for criminal prosecution of people who act up on planes.

A union survey supports what airlines and federal officials have been saying: there has been a surge in unruly passengers this year, who sometimes become violent.

The most common trigger is passengers who refuse to follow the federal requirement that they wear face masks during flights, according to the survey by the Association of Flight Attendants. Alcohol is the next largest factor, with flight delays also playing a role, according to the union.

The union said nearly 5,000 flight attendants responded to its survey from 25 June through 14 July and 85% said they have dealt at least once this year with an unruly passenger. The union said 17% “reported experiencing a physical incident”.

Some said they were cursed or yelled at, and some said they were followed through the airport and harassed after the flight ended, said the union, which represents flight attendants at United, Alaska, Spirit and several smaller carriers.

Airlines have banned a few thousand people for the duration of the mask rule, and the Federal Aviation Administration has announced proposed fines against dozens of people. But union president Sara Nelson said more passengers should face criminal prosecution.

“When people are facing jail time for acting out on a plane, we suddenly see some sobering up, and we need some sobering up,” said Sara Nelson, the union’s president.

A few cases have led to criminal charges, and crews sometimes ask police to meet the plane when it lands. In May, a 28-year-old woman was arrested on felony charges in San Diego after a video showed a young female passenger punching a Southwest flight attendant in the face. Such cases are usually filed by local prosecutors – the FAA lacks authority to pursue criminal charges.

The FAA said this week that airlines have reported more than 3,600 cases of unruly passengers this year – figures were not kept for prior years. Nearly three-fourths involved disputes over masks. The agency has announced dozens of proposed fines, the largest being $52,500 for a man who tried to open the cockpit door and then struck a flight attendant on a Delta Air Lines flight in December.

The FAA said it is investigating 600 other cases this year – nearly double the number of investigations started in 2019 and 2020 combined. In January, FAA administrator Stephen Dickson announced a “zero-tolerance policy” in which passengers can face immediate enforcement action instead of warnings.

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Detroit Pistons tab Cade Cunningham with No 1 overall pick in NBA draft | NBA

Cade Cunningham sure looked like the No 1 overall draft pick all year at Oklahoma State with his fluid game, scoring ability and passing – all in a 6ft 8in frame.

So it was no surprise the Detroit Pistons would grab the freshman All-American with the top pick as they did to open the draft Thursday night in New York. And it was the start of multiple teams spending high picks on playmakers with size, including Florida State forward Scottie Barnes and Australian teenager Josh Giddey climbing a bit higher than expected as top-six picks.

It comes at a time when the game has evolved to a more position-free flow, making players like Cunningham, Barnes and Giddey more valuable than ever with their ability to roam all over the court.

Cunningham had been widely expected to be the first name called in New York, though Pistons general manager Troy Weaver wouldn’t reveal plans earlier this week and said the team would look at every scenario, including trades. In the end, Detroit stuck with the 19-year-old mentioned as a potential top pick before ever stepping foot on the Oklahoma State campus.

The point guard from Arlington, Texas, lived up to expectations to become a first-team Associated Press All-American. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists with a game that allowed him to hit from 3-point range, score off the dribble or find teammates out of traps.

“It’s still pretty surreal to me,” Cunningham said. “I know how much responsibility comes with being the No 1 pick. I know how much responsibility a city will put on the guy that they take No 1. I’m more than excited to take on those tasks and try to deliver to the city of Detroit.”

Josh Giddey was taken with the No 6 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. Photograph: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Barnes had risen mock drafts in recent weeks but offered the first surprise of the night by going to Toronto with the No 4 pick ahead of Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs. Barnes is a long-armed 6-8 forward who ran the Seminoles’ offense and has the capability to be an elite defender with his length and ability to chase smaller ball handlers on the perimeter.

That’s why Barnes said he felt he could “fit right in doing different things” with the Raptors.

“A lot of what we like is his versatility,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “He’ll rebound it, he can guard, he can switch and guard multiple positions and he’s big enough to guard bigs down inside. He’s big enough to rebound with bigs. And we like to get out and go with the guys who are grabbing the rebound a lot.”

Two picks later, Oklahoma City grabbed Giddey, who was considered a potential lottery pick as a 6-8 floor leader known for his passing touch. He had played in Australia’s National Basketball League with an all-around game (10.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.2 assists) and has been part of the NBA Academy program designed to develop elite international prospects.

“It was really something I wanted to be a part of and kind of start from the bottom and move our way up in the league,” Giddey said about the Thunder’s rebuilding efforts. “It’s a great young team and I can’t wait to get down there and get started.”

It started with Cunningham, who attended the draft wearing a dark suit, shirt and tie with sparkles on his collars and cuffs. When the pick was announced, Cunningham kissed two-year-old daughter Riley, sitting on his lap, then hugged family members and took the stage alongside NBA commissioner Adam Silver to don a blue Pistons hat.

Houston followed at No 2 by grabbing preps-to-pros teenager Jalen Green, who bypassed college basketball to play in the G League. The 6ft 6in Green averaged 17.9 points on 46% shooting 15 games, showing off high-flying dunks, a willingness to attack the rim and a promising shooting touch.

Next up was Southern California freshman big man Evan Mobley, who went to Cleveland at No 3. The seven-footer has potential as a mobile big man with length and the versatility to switch on switches. Suggs and G League forward Jonathan Kuminga were the other players considered to be in the draft’s top tier, with Suggs going fifth to Orlando and Kuminga seventh to Golden State.

Michigan forward Franz Wagner (to Orlando), point guard Davion Mitchell (Sacramento) of NCAA champion Baylor and Stanford forward Ziaire Williams (New Orleans) rounded out the top 10. And by the midway point, Gonzaga (Suggs and forward Corey Kispert) and Tennessee (guards Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer) were the only two schools to produce multiple first-round picks.

There also was a tribute to Kentucky freshman guard Terrence Clarke, who was killed in an April car accident after declaring for the draft. Silver announced Clarke as an honorary draft pick at the end of the lottery selections, bringing Clarke’s mother, sister and brother to the stage.

First-round draft selections

1 Detroit, Cade Cunningham, g, Oklahoma State.
2 Houston, Jalen Green, g, NBA G League Ignite.
3 Cleveland, Evan Mobley, c, USC.
4 Toronto, Scottie Barnes, f, Florida State.
5 Orlando, Jalen Suggs, g, Gonzaga.
6 Oklahoma City, Josh Giddey, g, Adelaide (Australia).
7 Golden State (from Minnesota), Johnathan Kuminga, f, NBA G League Ignite.
8 Orlando (from Chicago), Franz Wagner, g/f, Michigan.
9 Sacramento, Davion Mitchell, g, Baylor.
10 a-New Orleans, Ziaire Williams, f, Stanford.
11 Charlotte, James Bouknight, g, UConn.
12 San Antonio, Joshua Primo, g, Alabama.
13 Indiana, Chris Duarte, g, Oregon.
14 Golden State, Moses Moody, g, Arkansas.
15 Washington, Corey Kispert, f, Gonzaga.
16 b-Oklahoma City (from Boston), Alperen Sengun, c, Besiktas (Turkey).
17 a-Memphis, Trey Murphy, g, Virginia.
18 Oklahoma City (from Miami), Tre Mann, g, Florida.
19 c-New York, Kai Jones, f, Texas.
20 Atlanta, Jalen Johnson, g/f, Duke.
21 d-New York (from Dallas), Keon Johnson, g, Tennessee.
22 e,g-LA Lakers, Isaiah Jackson, f, Kentucky.
23 Houston (from Portland), Usman Garuba, f, Real Madrid (Spain).
24 Houston (from Milwaukee), Josh Christopher, g, Arizona State.
25 d-LA Clippers, Quentin Grimes, g, Houston.
26.Denver, Nah’Shon Hyland, g, VCU.
27 Brooklyn, Cameron Thomas, g, LSU.
28 Philadelphia, Jaden Springer, g, Tennessee.
29 f-Phoenix, Day’Ron Sharpe, c, North Carolina.
30 Utah, Santi Aldama, g, Loyola (Md.).

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Russell Westbrook set to join LeBron James in blockbuster trade to LA Lakers | Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are acquiring All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards for three players and the rights to first-round pick Isaiah Jackson.

According to two people with knowledge of the deal, the Lakers are trading Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell to Washington for Westbrook, who is a Los Angeles native and helped lead UCLA to a pair of Final Four appearances. The Lakers had the 22nd overall pick in Thursday’s draft and selected Jackson, a 6ft 1111 forward from Kentucky.

The people spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be officially announced until 6 August, when the salary cap becomes official and teams can also begin making moves for the upcoming season. The Lakers will also receive second-round picks from the Wizards in 2024 and 2028.

This is the second time in three years that the Lakers have made a significant offseason trade. They acquired Anthony Davis from New Orleans in 2019 for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks.

Westbrook is the league’s career leader in triple-doubles with 184 and gives the Lakers another playmaker to pair with All-Stars LeBron James and Davis. Los Angeles won the NBA title in 2020 but struggled during the second half of this season when James and Davis were both out of the lineup due to injuries.

The Lakers fell to the seventh seed in the Western Conference and beat Golden State in the play-in game to make the playoffs before they were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in six games. Davis missed 30 regular-season games due to leg injuries and then the final two and a half games against Phoenix with knee and groin ailments. James was out for 26 games in the regular season with a high right ankle sprain.

Dennis Schroder played the point last season, and averaged 15.4 points, but he turned down an extension during the regular season to test free agency.

The 32-year old Westbrook was drafted by Oklahoma City in 2008 and spent his first 11 seasons with the Thunder. He was traded to Houston in 2019 and then dealt to Washington last season.

In his lone season with the Wizards, he averaged a triple-double (22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists) for the fourth time in his 13-year career. He had 38 triple-doubles in 65 regular-season games as Washington made the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

While the Lakers get their point guard, the Wizards get three solid contributors. Kuzma, a 26-year-old forward, has 146 regular-season starts over four seasons and averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds last season. Harrell, a 27-year-old center who will be going into his seventh season, averaged 18.7 points and 33.1 minutes per game in 68 starts in 2018-19, which was the season before Davis joined the Lakers.

Caldwell-Pope, a 28-year-old guard, gives the Wizards a perimeter shooter. He converted on 41.3% of his three-point attempts last season.

Jackson averaged 8.6 points and 6.6 rebounds for Kentucky in his lone collegiate season. Most scouts consider him to be an excellent defender because of his skills near the basket.

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Gyasi Zardes’ late strike lifts US over Qatar into record 12th Gold Cup final | Gold Cup 2021

Gyasi Zardes scored in the 86th minute and the United States beat Qatar 1-0 on Thursday night to reach the final of the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Zardes, one of the few first-line US players on a mostly junior varsity roster at the tournament, replaced Daryl Dike in the 63rd minute and combined with two other second-half subs, Nicholas Gioacchini and Eryk Williamson.

Gioacchini picked up a Qatari clearance attempt and fed Williamson, who returned the ball. Gioacchini passed to Zardes, and he scored his 14th goal and second of the tournament.

The 20th-ranked US matched its record with 13 consecutive home wins and advanced to Sunday night’s final in Las Vegas against defending champion Mexico or Canada. No 11 Mexico and 70th-ranked Canada played at Houston later Thursday.

Concacaf filled out the field for the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, with 2022 World Cup host Qatar as an invited guest.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner made three big first-half saves for the US.

Qatar had a chance to go ahead in the 61st minute but Hassan Al-Haydos sent a penalty kick over the crossbar following a foul by James Sands. Al-Haydos took a stutter step and tried to fool goalkeeper Matt Turner with a panenka, a soft shot down the middle.

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Zack Steffem, Josh Sargent and other US regulars missed the Gold Cup for vacation followed by preseason with their European clubs.

US coach Gregg Berhalter made a rare decision to start the same lineup in consecutive games.

The match was played at Q2 Stadium, which opened last month and will host the Americans’ World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on 7 October.

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Sheila Jackson Lee is third Black lawmaker to be arrested during voting rights protests | US voting rights

Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic representative of Texas, was arrested in Washington DC on Thursday while protesting lawmakers’ delay in passing legislation to protect voting rights, becoming the third member of the Congressional Black Caucus to be arrested for civil disobedience in recent weeks.

Jackson Lee was arrested while participating in a demonstration outside the Hart Senate office building.

“Any action that is a peaceful action of civil disobedience is worthy and more, to push all of us to do better,” Jackson said of her arrest in a video later posted to Twitter.

“Once again we see a Black woman at the forefront of defending our civil rights and leading the fight to save our fragile democracy,” said Odus Evbagharu, chair of the Harris county Democratic party, in a statement. “Congresswoman Lee understands we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our nation, where our sacred right to vote is under grave threat. She recognizes that we all must take action to protect this right.”

Representatives Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Hank Johnson of Georgia were also arrested this month for participating in voting rights demonstrations.

Jackson Lee’s arrest came after a House committee hearing with Democratic lawmakers from Texas, who recently staged a high profile walkout from the state legislature in order to prevent Republicans from passing restrictive new voting laws.

Texas is already one of the hardest places to vote in the US. Democrat in the state say the proposed laws would make it even harder and further disenfranchise Black and minority voters, by imposing ID requirements on mail-in ballots and banning 24-hour and drive-through voting.

Democrats are working on a revised voting rights bill, after Republicans blocked consideration of a more sweeping proposal last month. The proposed For the People Act failed in an evenly-split Senate along party lines.

Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia who voted to open debate on the For the People Act despite qualms about some provisions, has offered a scaled-back framework for voting rights legislation. Aspects of his proposal are likely to be incorporated into the Democrats’ revision.

But with Republicans opposed to most of the reforms Democrats want to see, it’s unclear how lawmakers will pass federal voting rights protection while the filibuster – the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority requirement – stands. Voting rights activists have urged Democrats to kill the filibuster and pass legislation quickly as Republicans around the country work to pass voting restrictions.