Thursday briefing: Syria decision time for May
Top story: Trump escalates war of words with Russia
Good morning. This is Martin Farrer. If youâre just getting up, or have been on the go for hours, the morning briefing is just for you.
Theresa May will discuss possible British military action against Syria with her cabinet today after summoning ministers for an emergency meeting. She has not ruled out committing Britain to joining the US and France in a show of force without consulting MPs, but says the weekend chemical attack on Douma âcannot go unchallengedâ. The standoff between the western allies and Russia worsened yesterday after the US president, Donald Trump, ramped up the rhetoric by tweeting that Russia should expect an American missile attack on Syria. âGet ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and âsmart!â â he said. Russia responded by saying it does not conduct diplomacy by Twitter.
Our diplomatic editor, Julian Borger, says that Trumpâs remarks are a dangerous development and âunlike anything seen from a US president in modern historyâ. In another possible escalation, Mike Pompeo, the CIA director set to become the next US secretary of state, will signal later today that years of soft US policy toward Russia are ânow overâ. In prepared remarks to the Senate, he will say the Trump administration considers Russia âa danger to our countryâ.
Back in Syria, our correspondent Martin Chulov reports that US intelligence operatives have been racing to smuggle corpses out of Douma in order to establish what kind of chemical agent was used along with chlorine in the attack which killed 45 people.
Brexit housing woe â" The fall in the housing market could hurt the wider economy and influence the Bank of England to hold off on increasing interest rates, according to the latest survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors . In its gloomiest assessment for five years, the estate agentsâ group says demand from buyers fell for the 12th month in a row and the national price balance was the lowest since 2013. One agent said âstamp duty and Brexitâ had killed fluidity in the London market, while another said the rental market was also suffering from a glut of properties.
âThanks but no thanksâ â" Yulia Skripal, the Russian woman targeted in a poison attack in Salisbury, has said she doesnât need any help from her countryâs embassy in the UK. Skripal, who was poisoned with her father, a former double agent, made the comments in a statement issued through the police as she continues to recover from the attack last month. She also asked her cousin, Viktoria, not to try to visit her after the woman indicated in the Russian media that she might travel to the UK. The political dimension of the case will take another step today when a summary of a report into the case by the international chemical weapons watchdog will be published.
Zuckerberg on the back foot â" US congressmen and women must have had the Capitol Hill equivalent of Alex Fergusonâs halftime hairdryer treatment after they dropped Tuesdayâs softly-softly approach and started asking Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg much more searching questions on the second day of his grilling in Washington. Although the billionaire founder remained evasive â" at one point claiming he didnât understand a straightforward question about his business model â" he was put on the spot about privacy and forced to admit that his personal information was among that farmed by Cambridge Analytica. He was also compared to the notorious FBI boss, J Edgar Hoover, who spent decades spying on American politicians, celebrities and ordinary citizens.
âStop the harassmentâ â" Susan Fowler, the former Uber software engineer whose blogpost about sexual harassment sparked a wider movement for gender equality, is using her accidental cachet to campaign against a practice known as âforced arbitrationâ. This allows companies to push employee complaints into secretive hearings about workplace disputes, silence victims and often protect serial offenders. In an interview with the Guardian, Fowler, whose fame extended to featuring on the cover of Time magazine, says: âThis would be the biggest thing you could do to stop the cycle of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.â
Miracle baby â" A remarkable story from China where a baby boy has been born four years after his parents died in a car crash. Shen Jie and Liu Xi were in the middle of IVF treatment wh en they were killed, leaving their parents to fight a long legal battle for the custody of the remaining embryos. They won and the boy, Tiantian, was born to a surrogate mother.
Lunchtime read: why the cold war offers a lesson for capitalism
Our economics editor, Larry Eliiott, has a tour dâhorizon this morning on the rightward shift in the post-cold war world and what it all means for the alignment of politics across the west. The centre leftâs decision to embrace the discipline of the global marketplace since 1990 has been âdisastrousâ, he writes, leading to an âintellectual vacuumâ when the global financial crisis struck. Voters have been left to cope with the harsh e ffects of austerity while the financiers who created the crisis continue as before. The cold war years showed that managed capitalism did a better job of providing people with hope and the things they want: a job, a pension, a home and a future. In the cold war years the mainstream parties made sure to provide these things, but no longer. The result is that they are turning to populism.
A late penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid prevented a remarkable comeback by Juventus in their Champions League quarter-final, the Spanish giants going through 4-3 on aggregate over their old rivals after almost blowing a 3-0 lead from the first leg. An equally fierce rivalry has seen Sunderland decide to have no cash turnstiles for their remaining home fixtures in order to prevent Newcastle fans filling the Stadium of Light to gloat at the old enemyâs expected relegation to League One. Catch up with the Commonwealth Games where heptathlon hope Katarina Johnson- Thompson is competing. Our live blog is here.
A cheap treatment for hepatitis C has proved to be just as effective as medicine costing 160 times more. In an exclusive story, our business reporter Julia Kollewe reveals that trials of the combined pill treatment worked in 97% of cases. It will cost $300 for a 12-week course compared with $48,000 for the branded drug Harvoni.
The pound is down slightly at $1.417 but up a smidgen at â¬1.147.
Thereâs no doubt about the main story today with most leading on the Syria crisis. The Telegraph has an extravagant display of Trumpâs missile tweet and the splash headline âTrump warns missiles are comingâ. The Times â" âMay prepares Britain to launch assault on Assadâ â" and the Mail â" âMayâs great gambleâ â" both focus on the domestic angle to the story.
The Guardian reports that the Met has run out of leads in the Stephen Lawrence case, but its main story is also the Middle East under the headline âTrump warns Russia to get ready for US missile strike on Syriaâ. The Express reckons weâre âOne tweet from warâ while the Mirror thinks weâre âOn Brinkâ.
The FT goes with âTesco seals comeback with profits topping Â£1bnâ.
For more news: www.theguardian.com
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