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First Thing: federal workers must be vaccinated or regularly tested

·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

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
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

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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