First Thing: Teenagers arrested in UK over Texas synagogue siege

·7 min read
<span>Photograph: Ralph Lauer/EPA</span>
Photograph: Ralph Lauer/EPA

UK counter-terrorism police detain teenagers in Manchester and suspect named as Briton Malik Faisal Akram. Plus, Lego sued over Queer Eye toy jacket

Good morning.

Two teenagers have been arrested in Manchester, north-west England, after the FBI said an armed British man travelled to Texas and took four hostages at a synagogue in what President Joe Biden called “an act of terror”.

Last night, UK counter-terrorism police said the pair, whose ages and genders they did not immediately confirm, had been arrested in the south of the city as part of the investigation into the attack and remained in custody for questioning.

Earlier, Biden condemned a tense 11-hour hostage standoff at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville on Saturday evening, as the FBI named the armed assailant as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British national.

  • Did any of the hostages die? No. All four hostages survived the siege and were unharmed, according to local police.

  • What about Akram? He was pronounced dead after the FBI stormed the building.

  • Where is he from? UK security sources confirmed to the Guardian that the suspect had been a resident of Blackburn in Lancashire. This was later confirmed in a statement by Greater Manchester police.

Novak Djokovic deported for breach of Australia’s border rules

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, says Novak Djokovic was deported because he tried to breach entry rules at the border, even though the immigration minister did not dispute the tennis player’s belief he had a valid medical exemption.

The Serbian tennis star boarded an Emirates flight from Melbourne to Dubai last night, hours after the full federal court upheld the minister’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

Morrison said today the world men’s No 1 had failed to comply with “the rules”, that to enter Australia “you either have to be vaccinated or you have to have a valid medical exemption and show evidence of it”.

“It’s as simple as that,” the prime minister told 2GB radio. “This is about someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with the entry rules at our border. That’s what this is about.”

  • What has Djokovic said? In a statement yesterday, he said he was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling but respected it and would “cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country”.

Republicans drive to make Biden the bogeyman

It seemed that Biden would be bad for business in “make America great again” world. In theory, the US president, a white man with working-class roots and moderate policy positions, was a more elusive target for Donald Trump’s increasingly extreme support base than other prominent Democrats.

But after his first year in office, it transpires that Biden is not too boring to be a rightwing boogeyman after all.

“He’s our best salesperson,” said Ronald Solomon, a merchandiser who sells a $21.99 T-shirt depicting the president with an Adolf Hitler-style mustache and the slogan “Not My Dictator”. “Sales for Trump stuff and anti-Biden merchandise is the highest it’s been except for the three months leading up to the 2020 election.”

The demonization of Biden as a Hitler, Stalin or anti-white racist bears no relation to reality. But for many Republican voters it appears to stick, the product of relentless conservative media attacks, the president’s own missteps, and seething frustration during a seemingly neverending pandemic.

  • Is the Republican formula working? John Zogby, a pollster and author, said: “They have made significant inroads into demonizing him … But definitely in the second half of this first year, the almost-mantras of the Republican party have gained hold: he’s too old, he’s a socialist, and then this whole ‘Let’s go, Brandon’ thing.

In other news …

Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan lost taxpayer-funded police security when they stepped back from royal duties in 2020. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
  • The Duke of Sussex believes the UK is too dangerous for him and his family to visit without state protection, as it emerged he is taking legal action against the government to allow him to pay privately for police security while in Britain.

  • Depicting a rainswept Paris street, the fate of a Nazi-looted painting by the impressionist Camille Pissarro is now in the hands of the highest court in the US, in a case that has long pitted one of Madrid’s top art museums against the heirs of Jewish refugees.

  • Australia’s minister for the Pacific, Zed Seselja, says initial reports suggest no mass casualties in Tonga after the eruption of a volcano that triggered a tsunami, but Australian police have visited beaches with significant damage and “houses thrown around”.

  • Leaders in the US have struck a pessimistic tone about the Covid-19 pandemic in recent weeks amid rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Here experts explain whether getting Covid is inevitable and why, despite claims of “mildness”, the variant is highly dangerous.

Stat of the day: More than one in 10 fish oil supplements are rancid

Amber glow through bottle full of fish oil omega 3 and vitamin D supplement gel capsules.KF21HJ Amber glow through bottle full of fish oil omega 3 and vitamin D supplement gel capsules.
Some fish oils recorded levels 11 times higher than recommended limits. Photograph: Mstock/Alamy

More than one in 10 fish oil supplements tested from among 60 large retail brands are rancid, while nearly half are just under the recommended maximum limit, according to independent tests. Conducted over several years by Labdoor, which analyses vitamins and supplements based on criteria such as purity, label accuracy and nutritional value, the tests measured common US-branded fish oils, available globally, against international voluntary standards of rancidity.

Don’t miss this: one girl’s life growing up homeless in New York

Stop the transfers homeless rights protest, New York, USA - 29 Jul 2021Mandatory Credit: Photo by MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock (12237711d) Stop the Transfers Homeless Rights Protest at City Hall Stop the transfers homeless rights protest, New York, USA - 29 Jul 2021
A protest on homelessness in New York. Photograph: MediaPunch/Rex/Shutterstock

For nine years, the New York Times journalist Andrea Elliott followed the fortunes of one family living in poverty. In this extract from her new book, Invisible Child, we meet Dasani Coates in 2012, aged 11 and living in a shelter. She belongs to an invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children – the highest number ever recorded, in the most unequal metropolis in America. Almost half of New York’s 8.3 million residents are living near or below the poverty line.

… Or this: how to clear dangerous pollutants out of your home

Man opening the curtain in the morning
Pollutants in rooms can be reduced by simply opening a window. Photograph: Xijian/Getty

Perhaps because toxic chemical pollution isn’t that obvious, it is often overlooked. So while public awareness of single-use plastic waste has soared in recent years – all of those bottles, straws and carrier bags are tangible symptoms of our disposable mindset and overconsumption – there’s much more to the story. After tests revealed the levels of harmful chemicals in her blood, Anna Turns, an environmental writer, vowed to discover the best ways to keep her family safe.

Climate check: Global heating linked to early birth and damage to babies’ health

Climate protest
Reduced fertility was linked to air pollution from burning fossil fuels, even at low levels. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

The climate crisis is damaging the health of foetuses, babies and infants across the world, six studies have found. Scientists discovered increased heat was linked to fast weight gain in babies, which increases the risk of obesity in later life. Higher temperatures were also linked to premature birth, which can have lifelong health effects, and to increased hospital admissions of young children. Other studies found exposure to smoke from wildfires doubled the risk of a severe birth defects.

Last Thing: Lego sued over leather jacket worn by toy Antoni in Queer Eye set

An artist has accused Lego of recreating a leather jacket he made for Queer Eye cast-member Antoni Porowski without the artist’s permission, claiming that a toy jacket included in a Lego set based on the Netflix show is a “blatant copy” of his design. James Concannon, whose clothes have been regularly worn by Porowski on the popular show, filed a lawsuit against the Danish toy giant in a Connecticut district court last month.

Sign up

First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.

Get in touch

If you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters please email

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting