US briefing: Epstein guards, Stacey Abrams and CEO-employee pay gap

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Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Trump demands ‘full investigation’ into former friend’s death

Two jail guards assigned to watch Jeffrey Epstein at the time of his apparent suicide have been placed on leave as it emerged they had not followed procedure requiring them to check on individual inmates every 30 minutes on the night the billionaire sex offender was found hanged in his cell. Guards on the unit are suspected of falsifying log entries to suggest they were making the checks. The warden of the Manhattan jail has also been temporarily reassigned.

  • Conspiracy theorist-in-chief. Donald Trump said on Monday he had demanded “a full investigation” into the death of his former friend, days after the president retweeted a conspiracy theory that the Clintons were somehow involved in killing Epstein.

  • Caribbean raid. The FBI raided Epstein’s private Caribbean island on Monday morning, an indication that the investigation into the financier’s alleged sex trafficking will continue despite his death.

Hong Kong protesters apologise for violence at airport

Hong Kong: airport protests descend into violence – video report

Flights in and out of Hong Kong airport have resumed after a second day of pro-democracy protests at the international travel hub, which on Tuesday descended into violent clashes with police. One protest group apologised to those caught up in the chaos in a statement posted online, saying: “After months of prolonged resistance, we are frightened, angry and exhausted. Some of us have become easily agitated and overreacted last night.”

  • China threats. Footage has emerged of Chinese armoured vehicles massing at the Hong Kong border, the latest in a series of ominous signals from Beijing, which has described the pro-democracy protests as a “colour revolution”.

Stacey Abrams says she won’t run for president in 2020

Stacey Abrams speaks at a rally in Georgia

Stacey Abrams speaks at a rally in Georgia during her gubernatorial run last year. Photograph: Stephen B Morton/AP

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who almost beat the odds to win the state’s gubernatorial race last November, will not be running for president in 2020. Instead, in a speech in Las Vegas, the former state lawmaker and rising Democratic star announced she would focus her energies on combating voter suppression with a new initiative called Fair Fight 2020. “There are only two things stopping us in 2020: making sure people have a reason to vote and that they have the right to vote,” she said.

  • Fox News ad. The Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro has purchased ad time on Fox News to air an ad in which he directly addresses the president, accusing him of fomenting the racial tensions that led to the recent mass shooting in El Paso.

Top US bosses earn 278 times more than employees

Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater, says the US income gap is becoming a “national emergency”. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

The chief executives of America’s 350 leading companies took home an average $17.2m last year, 278 times the salary of their average worker. A new survey by the Economics Policy Institute found the average pay of a top US CEO has grown by 1,007.5% in the past four decades, while a typical worker’s grew by just 11.9%. The trend is so dramatic even CEOs are sounding the alarm. Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund, warned this year that the US wealth gap was becoming a “national emergency”.

  • Labour market. Byron Auguste says the US labour market is broken, and to fix it we need an “Opportunity Marketplace”: new rules and tools “to empower Americans without college degrees to earn more, in better jobs, and to gain new skills at much lower financial risk”.

Crib sheet


Iceland’s Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Iceland’s Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Photograph: Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

Saying goodbye to Iceland’s dying glaciers

Andri Snær Magnason’s grandparents mapped Iceland’s glaciers as founding partners of the country’s glacial research society, at a time when the mighty ice flows were believed to be eternal. Now, Magnason has written the official eulogy for the Ok glacier – the first of many to die.

Point Comfort: the place where American slavery began

In late August 1619, a ship carrying 20 African captives landed at Point Comfort in what was then the English colony of Virginia, where they were taken into servitude in nearby homes and plantations. David Smith looks back, 400 years after the beginning of American slavery.

El Paso: ‘No one gives a fuck until someone dies’

Activists in El Paso were aware of the threat from white supremacy long before a gunman drove across Texas to kill 22 people at a Walmart in the city a week ago. “Now everybody knows what they’ve been trying to warn them of all along,” they tell Vivian Ho.

The fashion line that tricks surveillance cameras

Hacker turned fashion designer Kate Rose has unveiled a new line of “anti-surveillance garments”, with a pattern of what looks to to an automatic license plate reader like a collection of license plates – but reads to the human eye as a key extract from the US constitution. Alex Hern reports on the emergence of “adversarial fashion”.


Seven hundred immigrant workers were rounded up at poultry packinghouses in Mississippi last week, the latest high-profile raid by Ice agents implementing Trump’s hardline policies. If stoking fear is the administration’s objective, it is working, says Art Cullen.

That’s America today, from Mississippi to Iowa in rural communities living off food processing wages. We exist in a state of anxiety.


The NCAA has quickly dropped the so-called “Rich Paul rule,” which required agents for student athletes to hold college degrees. The rule and its swift reversal suggest the organisation’s stranglehold on college basketball is weakening, writes Etan Thomas.

Chelsea will face Liverpool in the Uefa Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday night, in Frank Lampard’s toughest test since taking the helm at Stamford Bridge. The game is notable for another reason: a team of female officials will oversee it, led by the French referee Stéphanie Frappart.

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