First Thing: Gavin Newsom easily survives recall election attempt – The Guardian

Good morning.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has prevailed in a recall election that had him battling for his political life. In a referendum on his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, voters resoundingly rejected the choice to replace him with a Trumpian Republican.

The Associated Press projected the results 45 minutes after polls closed on Tuesday night. Newsom’s most popular challenger was Larry Elder, a rightwing radio host who drew comparisons to the former president Donald Trump.

As a Democratic governor of a blue state, Newsom found himself in the peculiar position of having to defend his seat after the recall effort gained steam during the worst of the pandemic, fueled by frustrations over school and business closures.

Newsom initially dismissed the recall as a costly distraction – the election could cost the state $300m or more. But Democrats kicked into high gear in the late summer as polls indicated that apathetic and angry voters could unseat him.

  • How has Newsom reacted to the news? He said he was “humbled, grateful, but resolved” and that Californians had said “yes to science, we said yes to vaccines”.

  • What about Elder? He conceded defeat but has taken a page from Trump’s playbook and falsely implied the election was rigged.

Biden administration asks federal court to block enforcement of Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights campaigners rally at the Texas state capitol in Austin.
Abortion rights campaigners rally at the Texas state capitol in Austin. Photograph: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Biden administration has formally asked a federal judge to block enforcement of a new Texas law that in effect bans almost all abortions in the state under a novel legal design that opponents say is intended to hinder court challenge.

The US Department of Justice’s 45-page emergency motion seeks a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction while its lawsuit challenging the new law, which bans abortions from as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, as unconstitutional proceeds through the courts.

Meanwhile, despite the widespread outrage over legislation that all but outlaws abortion in the state, Texas’s largest corporate employers, including American Airlines, ExxonMobil and Dell Technologies – all of which are headquartered in the state – have not made any public statements about the law.

  • The case is being closely watched after the US supreme court decided on 1 September to let the ban remain in effect pending judicial review.

  • The high court did not address the constitutionality of the Texas statute. But it widely was seen as a sign that the court’s conservative majority was inclined to roll back the landmark Roe v Wade ruling in 1973.

Norm Macdonald, comedian and former SNL cast member, dies at 61

Norm Macdonald died after nine years after being diagnosed with cancer.
Norm Macdonald died after nine years after being diagnosed with cancer. Photograph: Peter Power/AP

Norm Macdonald, the Canadian standup and Saturday Night Live cast member known for his deadpan delivery, died of cancer Tuesday, aged 61.

The comedian had been living with cancer in private for nearly a decade, according to his longtime friend and producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was with him when he died. “He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra told Deadline. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him.”

Macdonald was renowned for his laconic, dry style, particularly in impressions of such figures as the actor Burt Reynolds, which became a touchstone for a generation of comics.

  • Tributes have poured in. Actor and fellow Canadian Seth Rogen tweeted: “We lost a comedy giant today. One of the all time greats.

  • Meanwhile, actor and comedian Jim Carrey said: “He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.”

  • “In every important way, in the world of standup, Norm was the best. An opinion shared by me and all peers,” David Letterman tweeted.

#DoNotTouchMyClothes: Afghan women’s social media protest against Taliban

Sara Wahedi, Peymana Assad, and Sana Safi posted images of themselves in colourful traditional Afghan clothing on social media
Sara Wahedi, Peymana Assad, and Sana Safi posted images of themselves in colourful traditional Afghan clothing on social media Photograph: Twitter

After street demonstrations across several cities in Afghanistan, Afghan women have now taken to social media to protest against the Taliban’s hardline policies towards them.

In an online campaign, Afghan women around the world have shared photos of themselves wearing traditional colourful outfits, using the hashtag #DoNotTouchMyClothes.

The protest is a response to a sit-down demonstration orchestrated by the Taliban at Kabul University, where about 300 women appeared in all-black garments covering their faces, hands and feet – the sort of dress previously never seen across Afghanistan until the Islamist group controlled the country between 1996 and 2001.

  • Who started the social media movement? Dr Bahar Jalali, an Afghan historian and gender studies expert, posted the first photo using the #DoNotTouchMyClothes hashtag.

  • Are the demonstrations in Kabul continuing? Yes. Women in the city have pledged to continue their protests despite warnings from the Taliban.

In other news …

A Missouri cave featuring 1,000-year-old artwork from the Osage Nation was sold at auction for US$2.2m.
A Missouri cave featuring 1,000-year-old artwork from the Osage Nation was sold at auction for US$2.2m. Photograph: Alan Cressler/AP
  • A Missouri cave containing Native American artwork from more than 1,000 years ago was sold at auction Tuesday, disappointing leaders of the Osage Nation who hoped to buy the land to “protect and preserve our most sacred site”.

  • Thousands of workers at CVS stores across California are demanding better pay, increased safety standards, healthcare improvements and more security for workers in new union contract negotiations. The demands come after the drug chain made record profits over the past 18 months.

  • An estimated 2.1 million Kenyans face starvation owing to a drought in half the country that is affecting harvests. The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said people living in 23 counties would be in “urgent need” of food aid.

  • Facebook has kept internal research secret for two years that suggests its Instagram app makes body image issues worse for teenage girls, according to a leak. “Thirty-two per cent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” said an internal presentation seen by the Wall Street Journal.

Stat of the day: 19% of older US adults reported using their savings during pandemic

Senior African-American woman with prescription bottle
Hispanic and black Americans had higher rates of economic difficulties compared with white Americans. Photograph: kali9/Getty Images

Older Americans are more likely to have experienced pandemic-related economic difficulties compared with their peers in other wealthy countries, according to a poll from the Commonwealth Fund. In a survey of people aged 65 or older in 11 of the world’s wealthiest countries, 19% of US citizens reported using up all or most of their savings or losing sources of income during the Covid crisis – the highest proportion of any country. It is nearly seven times higher than in Germany, where 3% of older people reported economic difficulties.

Don’t miss this: Will he or won’t he? Why Trump’s tease over 2024 suits him just fine

Donald Trump at a rally in Cullman, Alabama, in late August.
Donald Trump at a rally in Cullman, Alabama, in late August. Photograph: Marvin Gentry/Reuters

Donald Trump is due to hold a rally in Iowa next month, fueling speculation that, despite his first term ending in defeat and disgrace, the 75-year-old intends to exact revenge by recapturing the White House from Joe Biden. No one knows if this is true – quite possibly not even Trump himself. But the tease over 2024 suits Trump just fine on multiple levels. It keeps him relevant as the dominant figure in the Republican party. It keeps cash flowing from donors still devoted to his cause. And it flatters an ego that has always craved celebrity and being at the centre of attention.

Climate check: generational conflict over climate crisis is a myth, UK study finds

Older environmental activists protest about climate change in London.
Older environmental activists protest about climate change in London. Photograph: RichardBaker/Alamy Stock Photo

A fake generational war over the climate crisis has distorted public thinking and political strategy, when in fact older generations are just as worried about the issue as younger people, according to research. In fact, the study found older people were actually more likely than the young to feel that acting in environmentally conscious ways would make a difference, with twice as many baby boomers as members of generation Z having boycotted a company in the last 12 months for environmental reasons. The fake conflict between generations over the climate crisis is “dangerous and destructive”, the lead researcher, Prof Bobby Duffy, said.

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Last thing: Why Facebook feeds can be swamped late night by pictures of spooky dolls

It’s simplistic to just call it a spooky doll meme page. The premise of Spooky Doll Hour might be simple, but the ‘why’ of it all is more complicated.
It’s simplistic to just call it a spooky doll meme page. The premise of Spooky Doll Hour might be simple, but the ‘why’ of it all is more complicated. Photograph: Marc F Henning/Alamy

Finding dolls creepy has a long and storied past, from the actual phobia of dolls (pediophobia) to the generally accepted theory that dolls are often unsettling due to the “uncanny valley” effect. There are museums devoted to collecting grotesque little mannequins. There are movie franchises about bad dolls that will kill you and your family. And for the past couple of years one writer has been in a private Facebook group called Spooky Doll Hour – and somehow the dolls are the least weird thing about it.

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