First Thing: alarm at nominations for election deniers | US news

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Arizona Republicans are on the verge of nominating two of the US’s most prominent election deniers for governor and secretary of state, the latest in a series of primary contests with serious consequences for American democracy.

Kari Lake, a former news anchor, and Mark Finchem, a state lawmaker, are running for governor and secretary of state respectively. Both have built their campaigns around the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Both are frontrunners in their races and, if elected, would take over roles with considerable power over how elections are run and certified in a key battleground state.

The Arizona primary on Tuesday is the latest in a series of contests where candidates who have questioned the election results stand a strong chance of winning the GOP nomination for statewide office. It is a trend that is deeply alarming, experts say, and could pave the way for Republicans to reject the result of a future election.

  • What do the experts say? “It’s a dangerous time for elections because you have a couple of people who are relying on people to vote for them but then will turn around and say the election system is rigged, despite the lack of any evidence as such. There’s no talk of policy or anything. It’s all looking backward to 2020,” said Barrett Marson, a Republican consultant in the state.

Grain ship leaves Ukraine port for first time since Russian blockade

Media cover as the bulk carrier Razoni starts its way from the port in Odesa, Ukraine, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure, the ship under Sierra Leone’s flag is carrying 26 thousand tons of Ukrainian corn to Lebanon. The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain set off from the port of Odesa on Monday under an internationally brokered deal and is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected, before being allowed to proceed. (AP Photo/Michael Shtekel)
Journalists cover the departure of the bulk carrier Razoni from the port of Odesa. Photograph: Michael Shtekel/AP

A ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the port of Odesa on Monday morning destined for Lebanon, the first departure since the start of the Russian invasion, according to Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry.

The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni, carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn, finally set sail after weeks of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, led by Turkey and the United Nations. Russia has been blockading Ukraine’s ports since February, stoking a worldwide grain shortage that has caused the UN to warn of a looming hunger catastrophe.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said: Ukraine, together with our partners, has taken another step today in preventing world hunger.” Kubrakov stressed that Ukraine had done “everything” to restore the ports and said the lifting of the blockade would give Ukraine’s economy $1bn in foreign exchange revenue.

Turkey’s defense ministry said more ships would follow.

  • Why is this so important? Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain producers. The blockade has caused a worldwide grain shortage and price rises, which pushed some countries that are reliant on grain imports, mainly in the Middle East and Africa, towards famine.

Slow response to monkeypox exposes ‘tired, overworked’ US health agencies

People wait in line to receive the monkeypox vaccine at a centre in Bushwick, Brooklyn
People wait in line to receive the monkeypox vaccine at a centre in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

A “slow and bureaucratic” response that has led to monkeypox spreading rapidly across the US – with more than 1,000 cases in New York City alone – reveals just how badly battered local health agencies have been since the pandemic, advocates have said.

Once a rare African virus, monkeypox has taken hold across the ragged patchwork of city, county, state and federal agencies that make up the US public health infrastructure.

David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said: “Unfortunately, delayed actions mean monkeypox has spread within the gay community and among other men who have sex with men.

“This outbreak has grown to be a public health crisis in America. We are still in a very chaotic situation at the state and local level with an organized response.”

  • What’s behind the chaos? Many observers point to how Covid-19 reshaped the landscape for public health officials. Once considered neutral arbiters of information, many health officials were politically attacked following mask and vaccination policies.

  • What else is contributing to the delays? The situation was not helped as resources that had once been devoted to programmes, including tracking communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, and running routine vaccination clinics, were suddenly diverted to Covid.

In other news …

Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura in Star Trek
Nichelle Nichols broke ground for black women by playing Nyota Uhura in Star Trek. Photograph: CBS/Getty Images
  • Nichelle Nichols, who played the communications officer Lt Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series and helped create a new era for television in the 1960s, has died at the age of 89. The US president, Joe Biden, paid tribute to Nichols, saying she “shattered stereotypes”.

  • A wildfire in California grew to the largest the state has seen so far this year, as fire crews brace for hot, windy conditions. The McKinney fire was burning out of control in Klamath national forest, near California’s border with Oregon, with expected thunderstorms a big concern.

  • The Taliban’s prohibition of girls studying at high schools will become a de facto ban on university degrees for women if it stays in place, a Taliban spokesperson and university officials have said. Girls will not have the documents needed to enrol in higher education or the academic capacity after nearly a year out of school.

  • Ecstasy. Records tumbled, emotions raged and hearts burst with pride as England, thanks to a first international goal from Chloe Kelly, defeated eight-time champions Germany to secure a first major trophy for the Lionesses and England’s first since 1966.

Don’t miss this: got the ick? When a sudden pang of disgust ruins your romance

Cake from April’s Baker and on Instagram @aprilsbakerlondon
‘Once someone gives you the ick, all desire is killed. You only want to get away.’ Photograph: Kellie French/The Observer

This is the summer of the ick. An ick is a point at which your initial attraction to a person flips into a feeling of disgust. The causes are many and various, but once someone gives you the ick, all desire is killed. You only want to get away. You cannot ignore an ick, despite your better judgment. It is an unconscious gut reaction, picking up on a cellular incompatibility, by which I don’t mean they have an Android phone. Rhik Samadder documents the history of the “ick” – a romantic gut reaction – and what to do when it strikes. Plus, Philippa Perry explains its psychological meaning.

… or this: when Beyoncé dropped the same ableist slur as Lizzo on her new album, my heart sank

Beyoncé’s struggles do not ‘excuse her use of ableist language’, writes Hannah Diviney. Photograph: Carlijn Jacobs Silver

“Six weeks ago, I called out American singer, Lizzo, on Twitter for her use of an ableist slur (“spaz”) in a new song,” writes Hannah Diviney. “That tweet of mine – which explained how the slur was connected to my disability, cerebral palsy went viral, landing on the front page of global news outlets including the BBC and the New York Times. Lizzo herself even took notice, changing the lyric and giving us all a masterclass in how to be a true and effective ally. Now Beyoncé has gone and done exactly the same thing. My heart sank.”

Climate check: total breakdown cannot be stopped, says expert

A visual impression of global warming
We must accept how bad things are to head off catastrophe, says a leading UK scientist. Photograph: Ian Logan/Getty Images

There is now no chance of us avoiding a perilous, all-pervasive climate breakdown, says Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London. We have passed the point of no return and can expect a future in which lethal heatwaves and temperatures in excess of 50C (120F) are common in the tropics. “A child born in 2020 will face a far more hostile world that its grandparents did,” McGuire insists.

Last Thing: desert island resort in Maldives seeks barefoot bookseller

Kunfunadhoo Island in the Maldives
Passionate about literature, creative and happy to stay shoeless? Kunfunadhoo has the perfect job. Photograph: Alamy

White sands, blue skies … and lots of books. Applications have opened for what might just be the best job in the world: running a bookshop on an island in the Maldives. Passionate lovers of books – who are also adventurous, outgoing, creative and do not mind spending all day barefoot – are sought for the year-long contract, which starts in October and involves moving to live on the remote island of Kunfunadhoo in the Indian Ocean. The bookselling takes place barefoot, because no shoes are allowed to be worn on the island.

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