The highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 is galloping across America and accounts for 83% of all sequenced cases in the US, a top federal health official said on Tuesday.
“This is a dramatic increase, up from 50% [in] the week of 4 July,” Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in Senate testimony.
Walensky also said Covid fatalities had risen by nearly 48% over the past week to an average of 239 a day.
A cluster of midwestern and southern states have emerged as the new hotspots for Covid-19. With less than half of the US population fully vaccinated, infection rates in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are among the highest – with vaccination rates among the lowest.
The national vaccination campaign has slowed down significantly, with the US administering 521,000 doses daily, a 85% decrease from a peak in April, when 3.38m doses were put into arms every day.
Emmanuel Macron one of 14 world leaders identified in Pegasus project data
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is one of more than a dozen world leaders whose mobile numbers were found in a leaked database for clients of NSO Group, the Israeli spyware firm, the Guardian’s Pegasus project can reveal.
The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, are also listed in the data, which includes diplomats, military chiefs and senior politicians from 34 countries. The appearance of a number on the leaked list does not mean it was subject to an attempted or successful hack, but the list is believed to be indicative of individuals who were regarded as persons of interest by government clients of NSO.
Emmanuel Macron appears to have been selected as a person of interest by Morocco in 2019. An Élysée official said: “If this is proven, it is clearly very serious. All light will be shed on these media revelations.”
Cyril Ramaphosa appears to have been selected by Rwanda in 2019.
Saad Hariri, who resigned as prime minister of Lebanon last week, appears to have been selected by the UAE in 2018 and 2019.
NSO said Macron was not a “target” of any of its customers, meaning the company denies he was selected for surveillance using Pegasus, its spyware. The company added that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether that number was selected for surveillance using Pegasus. But the list is believed to be indicative of individuals identified as persons of interest by government clients of NSO.
Capitol attack committee chair vows to investigate Trump
Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chair of the new House select committee to scrutinize the Capitol attack, says he will investigate Donald Trump as part of his inquiry into the events of 6 January – a day he sees as the greatest test to the US since the civil war, my colleague Hugo Lowell writes.
Thompson told the Guardian he was prepared to depose members of Congress and senior Trump administration officials who might have participated in the insurrection that left five dead and nearly 140 injured. “Nothing is off limits,” he said.
The investigation will focus on the facts and circumstances surrounding the Capitol attack, and the first hearing scheduled for 27 July will feature current and former US Capitol police and DC Metro police officers.
In other news …
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, clashed with Rand Paul, a Republican senator for Kentucky and longtime opponent of mask-wearing on Tuesday, with Fauci eventually telling Paul: “If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.”
Siberia is being hit by extraordinary and unprecedented forest fires, which have already burned through 1.5m hectares (3.7m acres) of land in north-east Siberia and have released choking smog across Russia’s Yakutia region, where officials have described this summer’s weather as the driest in the past 150 years.
Jeff Bezos’s 11-minute trip onboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space on Tuesday has triggered a debate about just why the New Shepard rocket has such a distinctive shape: a mushroom-like crew capsule that flares out over a long shaft, with a rounded, bulbous top.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ended one of the greatest NBA finals ever with 50 points and a championship Milwaukee waited 50 years to win again, with the Bucks beating the Phoenix Suns as 65,000 fans cheered them on the Deer District precinct outside the stadium.
Stat of the day: Eating processed meat raises the risk of heart disease by a fifth
Bacon is bad for us, it has been found again, as the largest ever analysis of research into the impact of meat consumption on cardiac health concluded that consuming processed meat raises the risk of heart disease by a fifth. Eating just 50g of processed meat, including bacon, ham and sausages, increased the risk of heart disease by 18%, while there was no link found between heart disease and eating poultry, such as chicken and turkey.
Don’t miss: renting frocks could be sustainable indeed, fashion leaders insist
The fashion rental industry has challenged the findings of a recent high-profile report that suggested renting clothes was “less green than throwing them away”, due to the environmental impacts of transportation and dry cleaning. “We believe that rental needs scrutiny to make it as ‘green’ as possible, but we’re worried that encouraging people to throw clothes away doesn’t help the industry, let alone the planet,” said one sustainable fashion boss.
Climate Check: why men cause more climate emissions than women
Men’s spending on goods causes 16% more climate-heating emissions than women’s, although both sexes spend very similar amounts, a Swedish study has found. The biggest difference was men’s spending on petrol and diesel for their cars, with researchers saying this emissions gap should be recognised in action to tackle the climate crisis.
Last Thing: Prince Harry’s truth will rock Buckingham Palace
It won’t be the first royal memoir, but there’s no doubt that the British royal establishment is clutching its pearls right now. Whatever Prince Harry’s book will bring to light, if Oprah’s interview with the Sussexes is anything to go by, Buckingham Palace will be in for a shock.
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