First Thing: Donald Trump plotted fake electors scheme, panel set to show – The Guardian US

Good morning.

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is expected to show at its fourth hearing today that Donald Trump and top advisers coordinated the scheme to send fake slates of electors as part of an effort to return him to the White House.

The panel is also expected to examine Trump’s campaign to put pressure on top officials in seven crucial battleground states to corruptly reverse his defeat to Joe Biden in the weeks and months after the 2020 election.

At the afternoon hearing, the select committee is expected to focus heavily on the fake electors scheme, which has played a large part in its nearly year-long investigation into Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the election at the state level.

The panel will show how the fake electors scheme – which may have been illegal – was the underlying basis for Trump’s unlawful strategy to have his vice-president, Mike Pence, refuse to certify Biden’s win in certain states and grant him a second term.

  • What happened with the fake electors? After the authorized Democratic electors met at statehouses to formally name Biden as president, in seven battleground states, illegitimate Republican electors arrived too. The Trump electors were turned away but they signed fake election certificates that declared they were the “duly elected and qualified” electors certifying Trump as the winner.

  • What has this got to do with what happened on January 6? The scheme was conceived in an effort to create “dueling” slates of electors that Pence could use to pretend the election was in doubt and refuse to formalize Biden’s win at the congressional certification on January 6.

Texas school shooting: heavily armed police with ballistic shields were there ‘within 19 minutes’

Flowers and tributes left at Robb elementary school on 17 June in Uvalde, Texas.
Flowers and tributes left at Robb elementary school on 17 June in Uvalde, Texas. Photograph: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Police officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield were at the site of the Robb elementary school mass shooting in Texas within 19 minutes, earlier than previously known, according to a timeline in documents reviewed by local media.

The information revealed by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV is to be presented to a public Texas senate hearing in Austin on Tuesday.

Concerns have been raised about how police handled the 24 May shooting in Uvalde in which 19 children and two teachers were shot dead by a gunman. Officers did not confront the gunman for more than an hour, even as anguished parents outside the school urged officers to go in.

According to the outlets, which did not indicate the source of the documents, investigators said the latest information indicated officers had more than enough firepower and protection to take down the gunman long before they finally did.

  • Delays in the law enforcement response have been the focus of the federal, state and local investigation of the massacre and its aftermath. Questions about the law enforcement response began days after the massacre. On 2 June, the state senator Roland Gutierrez said there was a “system failure”.

Ukrainian missiles hit Black Sea gas platforms, say Russian officials

The three offshore platforms, the Boyko towers, had previously been seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014.
The three offshore platforms, the Boyko towers, had previously been seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Russian officials have said Ukraine launched missile strikes against three gas rigs in the Black Sea south of Odesa, in an apparent escalation of Kyiv’s attempts to weaken Russia’s maritime dominance.

Seven people were missing and three injured after the strikes, according to the head of occupied Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, who said a “rescue operation with the participation of patrol ships and aviation” was under way.

The three offshore platforms, the Boyko towers, were seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv believes they are used for military reconnaissance and to help assert control of a larger portion of the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, The Nobel peace prize that the Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov was auctioning off to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees has sold for $103.5m (£84.5m), shattering the record for a Nobel.

“I was hoping that there was going to be an enormous amount of solidarity,” Muratov said after the sale. “But I was not expecting this to be such a huge amount.”

In other news …

A worker gathers cotton yarn at a textile manufacturing plant, as seen during a government organized trip for foreign journalists, in Aksu in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.
A worker gathers cotton yarn at a textile plant in Xinjiang. Photograph: Mark Schiefelbein/AP
  • The fashion industry has been told it must wean itself off cotton from China’s Xinjiang region, as a new law comes into force giving US border authorities greater powers to seize goods linked to forced labour in China. About 20% of the world’s cotton comes from China, and 84% of that comes from Xinjiang.

  • Unidentified operatives have been using the fitness tracking app Strava to spy on members of the Israeli military, tracking their movements across secret bases around the country and potentially observing them as they travel the world on official business.

  • Taiwan has accused China of bullying after organisers of the World Cup in Qatar listed the nationality of Taiwanese visitors applying for an identification card as “Chinese Taipei”. China’s foreign ministry expressed its “appreciation” to the Qatari government while Taipei expressed its anger about the references.

  • The confluence of two holidays, Father’s Day and Juneteenth, and a season of “revenge travel” continued to heap pressure on the already stretched airline industry as 4,200 additional US flights were delayed and 900 canceled, pushing the total number of flights interrupted since Thursday to 19,000.

Stat of the day: Russian emails appear to show ‘network’ holding $4.5bn assets linked to Putin

Vladimir Putin has been accused of secretly accumulating vast wealth through proxies.
Vladimir Putin has been accused of secretly accumulating vast wealth through proxies. Photograph: Mikhail Tereshchenko/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images

Palaces, yachts and vineyards reportedly provided to Vladimir Putin by friends and oligarchs can now be linked to what appears to be an informal network holding assets worth more than $4.5bn (£3.7bn). A digital paper trail appears to suggest that an array of holiday homes and other assets reportedly used by the Russian president, which, according to available records, belong to or have been owned by separate individuals, companies and charities, are linked through a common email domain name,

Don’t miss this: Are we responsible for the things we do wrong?

Context is crucial, but does that really mean we can leave free will out of the picture?
Context is crucial, but does that really mean we can leave free will out of the picture? Illustration: Elia Barbieri/The Guardian

The question of whether we are responsible for the harm we cause goes to the heart of who we think we are, and how we believe society should run, writes Farrah Jarral, Taking a binary approach, whichever path one chooses can lead to difficulties very quickly. On the one hand, if we are solely responsible for the things we do wrong, some genuinely malevolent parties get off scot-free. On the other, if we locate responsibility entirely outside the individual, we relegate ourselves to sentient flotsam buffeted by currents beyond our control.

… Or this: Juneteenth celebrations over time – in pictures

Juneteenth History Lead 3
As Black people migrated across the country, they carried Juneteenth with them. Composite: 919039361464473/-

The abolitionist Frederick Douglass asked in a famous speech in 1852: “What to the American slave is your fourth of July?” For formerly enslaved persons, Juneteenth, celebrated in the US today, was their freedom story. Today, it’s commemorated by their descendants and an entire nation. Last year, Joe Biden signed a law designating 19 June (Juneteenth, for short) as a federal holiday. Here’s a look at the celebrations over time.

Climate check: Truthful climate reporting shifts viewpoints, but only briefly, study finds

Protesters lead a March for Science in New York City in April.
Protesters lead a March for Science in New York City in April. Photograph: Bryan R Smith/AFP/Getty Images

People’s views of the climate crisis can be influenced by the media, according to new research. But accurate scientific reporting has limited impact on people who already have a fixed political viewpoint, particularly if they are opposed to climate action. Researchers who ran an experiment in the US found that people’s views of climate science really were shifted by reading reporting that accurately reflected scientific findings and were more willing to back policies that would tackle the problem. But the effect quickly faded.

Last Thing: ‘Fluffy’ crab that wears a sponge as a hat discovered in Western Australia

A newly discovered species of crab found off Western Australia’s south coast. Sponge crab (Lamarckdromia beagle)
A newly discovered ‘fluffy’ species of sponge crab found off Western Australia’s south coast. Photograph: Colin McLay/Courtesy of the WA Museum.

A “fluffy” crab discovered off the coast of Western Australia has been named after the ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world. The new species, Lamarckdromia beagle, belongs to the Dromiidae family, commonly known as sponge crabs. Crustaceans in this family fashion and use sea sponges and ascidians – animals including sea squirts – for protection. They trim the creatures using their claws and wear them like hats.

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