Jeff Bezos has accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of blackmail, in a blogpost alleging that American Media Inc (AMI) threatened to publish intimate personal photographs unless he stated publicly that its coverage of his impending divorce was not politically motivated. Shortly after Bezos and his wife, Mackenzie, announced their split, the tabloid published text messages revealing his relationship with the former TV anchor Lauren Sánchez. The Amazon CEO claims his ownership of the Washington Post made him an enemy of Donald Trump and his allies, including the AMI chief, David Pecker.
- Trump-Russia twist. Bezos’s blackmail claims against Pecker and the National Enquirer tie in with a bizarre strand of the Trump-Russia investigation, as Ben Jacobs explains.
Rosenstein reluctant to write Comey memo, claims new book
The deputy US attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, was “glassy-eyed” and visibly upset at being ordered to write the infamous memo that justified Trump’s firing of the FBI director James Comey in May 2017, according to a new book by Comey’s former deputy, Andrew McCabe. In his forthcoming memoir, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, McCabe also accuses Trump of running his administration like a mob boss and unleashing a “strain of insanity” in US public life.
- Lightning rod. McCabe was himself fired from the FBI last March, and has been attacked by Trump on various occasions before and since – not least because his wife, Jill McCabe, ran for the Virginia state Senate as a Democrat in 2015.
Republican Senate leader swept up in Virginia racism scandal
The political crisis in Virginia has grown after the leader of the state’s Republican senate majority, Tommy Norment, was caught up in the racism scandal that already threatens to end the careers of the Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, and his attorney general, Mark Herring. It emerged on Thursday that Norment edited the 1968 Virginia Military Institute yearbook, which contained racist slurs and, yes, photos of people wearing blackface.
- Assault allegations. Virginia’s lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, another Democrat, has meanwhile denied an accusation of sexual assault, claiming he is the victim of a strategically timed political smear.
Toronto serial killer to face sentencing for eight murders
The families and friends of serial killer Bruce McArthur’s victims have been recalling their loved ones in court in Toronto this week, with the 67-year-old former landscape gardener facing sentencing on Friday after pleading guilty to the murders of eight men. Most of the victims were from south Asian and Middle Eastern communities, but police have denied accusations that racial bias hindered the case.
- Police interviewed McArthur in 2013 and in 2016 amid rumours of a potential serial killer targeting Toronto’s Gay Village, but failed to identify him as a suspect. He was finally arrested in January 2018.
- The Thai king’s sister, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, has put herself forward as a shock prime ministerial candidatein the country’s upcoming elections, running against the head ofThailand’s military junta.
- Relations between France and Italy are at an historic low after Paris recalled its ambassador to Rome in response to criticism of Emmanuel Macron by Italy’s far-right deputy prime ministers, who have also courted leaders of the French gilets jaunes movement.
- The US supreme court chief justice John Roberts has sided with the court’s four liberals in a 5-4 vote to prevent Louisiana enforcing new restrictions on abortion clinics.
- After extensive research under carefully controlled lab conditions, British and German scientists have concluded that beer combined with wine will give drinkers just as bad a hangover, regardless of the order in which they are consumed.
The enduring appeal of The Warriors
Even in the bad old days of 1979, the vision of a New York riven by gang conflict in The Warriors was an overblown fantasy. But four decades after its original release, writes Charles Bramesco, Walter Hill’s crime classic remains “the all-encompassing Big Apple movie”.
‘I climbed 61 mountains in a year’
Two years ago, on a long-haul flight, Emma Svensson watched the film Everest, the true story of a fatal blizzard on the world’s highest mountain. For some reason, it inspired her to start climbing herself, so she scaled the highest peak in every country in Europe.
The battle for the future of Stonehenge
Stonehenge, perhaps the most recognisable ancient site in England, sits at the congested crossroads of two major trunk roads. As Charlotte Higgins reports, the monument is part of a decades-long planning battle over traffic management.
The fate of Confederate monuments after Charlottesville
In the wake of the fatal far-right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, there was extensive coverage of the removal of Confederate statues and memorialsacross the south. The media may have moved on, says Jason Wilson, but the grassroots activists have not.
The US is preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan after 18 years of conflict, having achieved precisely none of the objectives laid out by George W Bush in 2001. This is not an honourable retreat, writes Simon Tisdall, it is a capitulation.
The implications, once the Americans have gone, are ominous. A rapid descent into civil war, involving government forces, jihadist groups and rival warlords, in a rerun of not-forgotten 1990s anarchy, is a strong possibility.
The body recovered from a plane that crashed in the English Channel on 21 January has been formally identified as that of the Argentinian footballerEmiliano Sala, who had been en route to Wales from Nantes after signing with Cardiff City FC.
Kevin Durant told reporters to “grow up” at a contentious post-game press conference following the Golden State Warriors’ win over San Antonio on Thursday. Durant appeared tired of speculation that he might be moving to the New York Knicks as the NBA free agency deadline approaches.