First Thing: Fox and friends face billion-dollar US lawsuits

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Sarah Yenesel/EPA</span>
Photograph: Sarah Yenesel/EPA

Good morning.

In the months after the 2020 US presidential election, rightwing TV news in America was a wild west, an apparently lawless free-for-all where conspiracy theories about voting machines, ballot-stuffed suitcases and dead Venezuelan leaders were repeated to viewers around the clock.

There seemed to be little consequence for peddling the most outrageous ideas on primetime.

But now, unfortunately for Fox News, One America News Network (OAN) and Newsmax, it turns out that this brave new world was not free from legal jurisdiction – with the three networks now facing billion-dollar lawsuits as a result of their baseless accusations.

In June, Dominion Voting Systems, which provided voting machines to 28 states, was given the go-ahead to sue Fox Corp, the parent company of Fox News, in a case that could draw Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan into the spotlight.

  • What does Dominion say Fox Corp did? In the $1.6bn lawsuit, Dominion accuses Fox Corp, and the Murdochs specifically, of allowing Fox News to amplify false claims that the voting company had rigged the election for Joe Biden.

  • Should Fox News be worried? Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a legal expert, thinks Dominion has a good case. “What’s particularly bad for Fox is [that] Dominion asked them to stop and correct the record in real time, and Fox persisted in spreading misrepresentations about the voting machine company,” she said.

Abortion providers fear violence after Roe overturned

People protest in Los Angeles after the supreme court decision on abortion
People protest in Los Angeles after the supreme court decision on abortion. Photograph: Étienne Laurent/EPA

Boulder, Colorado, has for decades made its abortion providers feel welcome. The city council passed one of the country’s first laws regulating how close demonstrators could get to patients seeking reproductive care, and residents took to the streets in protest when it became clear that the supreme court was ready to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, as it did last month.

“Boulder is probably the most pro-choice community in the country,” said Warren Hern, the director of Boulder abortion clinic. “But there are people in the community who want me dead.”

From targeted killings of doctors to vandalism of clinics and intimidation of staff, danger is a daily reality for abortion providers in the US. With states now empowered to ban the procedure after the supreme court overturned federal abortion rights, reproductive health experts fear a new wave of violence.

“Anti-abortion violence is more common when you have these moments of uncertainty and upheaval, and that’s what we have now,” said Mary Ziegler, a legal historian at Florida State University College of Law who studies abortion.

Leaders gather to work out ‘Marshall plan’ to rebuild Ukraine

A woman walks next to a building damaged by a missile strike in Sloviansk, Ukraine
A woman walks next to a building damaged by a missile strike in Sloviansk, Ukraine. Photograph: Andriy Andriyenko/AP

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organisations and the private sector will gather in Switzerland on Monday to hash out a “Marshall plan” to rebuild war-ravaged Ukraine.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who will take part virtually, earlier warned that the work ahead in just the areas that have been liberated was “really colossal”.

“And we will have to free over 2,000 villages and towns in the east and south of Ukraine,” he said.

It is estimated more than 120,000 homes in Ukraine have been destroyed during the Russian invasion, creating the need for billions in income to restore the country economically and make it a Europe-faced economy.

Lingering concerns about widespread corruption in Ukraine mean far-reaching reforms remain in focus and will be a condition for any recovery plan.

  • How much of Ukraine has been damaged? It is estimated that at least 45m sq meters of housing, 256 enterprises, 656 medical institutions and 1,177 educational institutions have been damaged, destroyed or seized, while Ukraine’s economy has already lost up to $600bn.

  • How much will it cost to rebuild Ukraine? It is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) has estimated the damage done so far to buildings and infrastructure at nearly $104bn.

  • What else is happening? Here’s what we know on day 131 of the invasion.

In other news …

Marine Corps veterans at the funeral procession for Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams
Marine Corps veterans at the funeral procession for Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams. Photograph: Sholten Singer/AP
  • The last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from the second world war will lie in state at the US Capitol, the West Virginia senator Joe Manchin announced at a memorial on Sunday where Hershel W “Woody” Williams was remembered for his courage, humility and selflessness.

  • Danish police believe a shooting at a shopping mall in Copenhagen that left three people dead and four others seriously wounded was not terror-related. They said on Monday that the gunman acted alone and appeared to have selected his victims at random.

  • A Hong Kong legislator who appeared in a group photo with Xi Jinping during his visit to the territory has said he has tested positive for Covid, as Macau kicks off a new round of citywide coronavirus testing. In his first trip outside mainland China since the pandemic began, the Chinese president met only people who had undergone quarantine.

  • The search for survivors of a glacier collapse in which at least six people have died has resumed in Italy’s Dolomites region. Authorities believe as many as 15 people may still be missing after a large chunk of glacier broke loose on Sunday afternoon and caused ice and rock to fall on hikers.

Stat of the day: US consumer prices increased 8.6% from May 2021 to May 2022, the biggest increase since 1981

McDonald’s workers and labor activists protest to demand the company pays at least $15 an hour
McDonald’s workers and labor activists protest to demand the company pays at least $15 an hour. Photograph: John Raoux/AP

Inflation is hitting Americans hard. US consumer prices increased 8.6% from May 2021 to May 2022, the biggest increase since 1981, outpacing overall annual wage growth at 5.2% in May 2022. Food prices have increased more than 10% over the year. A gallon of gas is more than 50% more expensive than a year ago. The median monthly rent in the US hit an all-time high of $2,002 a month in May 2022. Workers at big chains are struggling to make ends meet as prices increase but their wages do not.

Don’t miss this: stuffed into a shoebox, seized by the FBI: the amazing fates of Hollywood’s greatest dresses

Marilyn Monroe poses over the updraft of a New York subway grate while filming The Seven Year Itch
The dress Marilyn Monroe wore over an air vent in The Seven Year Itch fetched $4.6m. Photograph: Matty Zimmerman/AP

Kim Kardashian is no stranger to a fleeting moment becoming a viral news story. But her recent appearance at the Met Gala wearing the dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday to President John Kennedy in 1962 proved particularly divisive. Whatever your feelings about Galagate, the furore does make you wonder about the fate of other coveted – and increasingly valuable – garments from Hollywood history. What happened to those other magnificent outfits – and why did no one realise their eye-popping value?

Climate check: grunion run has fascinated scientists, but their future is threatened by the climate crisis

On certain nights on a quiet California beach, thousands of small, silvery fish gather in the moonlight to perform a unique mating ritual. Known as the “grunion run”, the spectacle is one of the lesser known natural wonders of the US west coast. Grunion are a rare fish species that come ashore to spawn. The grunion run has fascinated scientists and local people for decades. But its future could be imperiled by the climate crisis – including warmer land and water temperatures and increasingly acidic oceans – as well as human activities such as fishing.

Last Thing: newly identified water lily species is world’s largest

Giant waterlilies at Kew Gardens in London
Giant waterlilies at Kew Gardens in London. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

A giant waterlily grown at Kew Gardens has been named as new to science, in the first discovery of its type in more than a century. Scientists at the south-west London garden suspected for decades there could be a third species of giant waterlily and worked with researchers in its native home in Bolivia to see if their thesis was correct. With leaves growing up to 3 meters in the wild, it is also the largest giant waterlily on the planet. The striking lily has flowers that turn from white to pink, and bears spiny petioles.

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