First Thing: DoJ investigators dig into Trump’s role in

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The US attorney general, Merrick Garland, said he would “pursue justice without fear or favor” in his decision on whether to charge Donald Trump with crimes related to the Capitol attack and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, as news reports indicate the justice department’s investigation is heating up.

The department is conducting a criminal investigation into the events surrounding and preceding the January 6 insurrection, an effort that Garland – speaking to NBC’s Lester Holt yesterday – called “the most wide-ranging investigation in its history”.

News reports suggested the inquiry is homing in on Trump’s role. The Washington Post reported – citing sources who spoke on condition of anonymity – that investigators had specifically questioned witnesses about Trump’s involvement in schemes to overturn the vote. The New York Times also reported that federal investigators had directly questioned witnesses about Trump’s efforts, signaling an escalation.

Meanwhile, Trump returned to Washington yesterday with a plea for police to be given “the respect that they deserve”.

  • Can the House January 6 committee make a criminal referral? It can, but whether it should, or will, and whether it has presented sufficient evidence to do so, is a matter of extensive debate around the US and on the committee itself.

Yosemite visitors undeterred by raging forest fires

Visitors take photos and selfies at Yosemite’s Tunnel View vista despite thick smoke from the Washburn fire all but obscuring Half Dome, on 11 July. Photograph: Tracy Barbutes/Reuters

Yosemite national park’s dramatic vistas were shrouded by a thick grey haze this week as smoke from the fiercely burning Oak fire hung over its granite peaks. Along the road winding toward the valley, skeletal trees told the story of the Washburn fire that tore through weeks earlier.

The blazes – the two largest to ignite in California so far this year – have besieged Yosemite during one of its busiest months, causing entrance closures and cancellations, and cloaking the landmark in hazardous air.

But many visitors, some of whom had traveled to see the sights from across the US and around the world, were determined not to let the conditions slow them down. On Monday afternoon, as the air quality index (AQI) pushed past 250, a level categorised as very unhealthy, cars zigzagged through the park carrying bikes and inner tubes, ready for the day.

Under a fiery orange glow, visitors could be seen picnicking, trekking, and floating in the river despite the strong scorched scent that filled the air as ash danced in the breeze.

  • Is the fire under control? Firefighters battling an explosive blaze near Yosemite significantly slowed the spread of the flames, but thousands of residents from mountain communities remained under evacuation

Grueling heatwave sears Pacific north-west as Portland could top 102F

A water delivery during a heatwave in Portland, Oregon, last year
A water delivery during a heatwave in Portland, Oregon, last year. Photograph: Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Reuters

Portland is facing another grueling heatwave with temperatures in the normally temperate Pacific north-west city expected to climb as high as 102F on Tuesday.

The Oregon city is one of the least air-conditioned in the US and officials have declared an emergency in response to the severe heat, opening cooling centers in public buildings, including emergency overnight shelters, and installing misting stations in parks.

Much of the region is facing extreme heat this week, with parts of Oregon and Washington state under excessive heat warnings. In Seattle, temperatures set a new all-time high for a 26 July day of 94F (34.4C), breaking the previous record of 92F (33.3C) from 2018, according to the National Weather Service.

Elsewhere in Washington state, record temperatures were also registered in Bellingham and in the capital, Olympia, which experienced 90F (32.2C) and 97F (36.1C) respectively.

  • Is there evidence that the heatwaves are caused by climate change? A detailed scientific analysis found that last summer’s heatwave, which killed about 900 people in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, would have been nearly impossible without human-caused climate change.

In other news …

Apartment blocks in Beijing
Apartment blocks in Beijing. The rating agency S&P thinks home sales could fall as much as 33% this year. Photograph: Wu Hao/EPA
  • Property sales in China could fall by one-third this year, spelling more trouble for the country’s housing sector as people lose faith in the market and pressure increases on struggling developers to complete presold apartments. Experts at the rating agency S&P have concluded that the fall in sales will be twice as bad as they had originally forecast for this year.

  • The EU has agreed a plan to ration gas this winter in an attempt to avoid an energy crisis generated by Russian cuts to supply. All except Hungary backed a voluntary 15% reduction in gas usage over the winter, a target that could become mandatory if the Kremlin orders a complete shutdown of gas to Europe.

  • The jacket worn by Buzz Aldrin on his first mission to the moon has become the most valuable American space artefact ever sold at auction, fetching $2.77m (£2.3m). It was sold by Sotheby’s yesterday as part of the most valuable single sale of space exploration items ever staged, which achieved a total of $8.2m.

Stat of the day: More than 1,000 monkeypox cases confirmed in New York City

Tareco Timothy receives a monkeypox vaccination at the Northwell Health immediate care center in New York
Tareco Timothy receives a monkeypox vaccination at the Northwell Health immediate care center in New York. Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters

There are now more than 1,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in New York City, which continues to be a hotspot for the virus, health officials have said. New York reached 1,040 cases as of Monday, accounting for about a quarter of all confirmed cases in the US. The US leads the world in confirmed cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). There were 3,846 confirmed cases in the US and 18,095 globally, the CDC said.

Don’t miss this: Mena Suvari on surviving sexual abuse, acting and American Beauty

Mena Suvari
Mena Suvari: ‘What was communicated to me was that I was an adult, therefore I can act like an adult.’ Photograph: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

Mena Suvari’s shocking memoir tells how shame and denial prevented her from telling anyone she was raped when she was 12, which led to another abusive relationship – with an older man – and years of drug addiction. She tells Emine Saner that modelling and acting gave her a way to express her feelings, but also taught her that the only thing that mattered was the way she looked, and that if she looked “sexy”, that was even better. At her first modelling shoot, she says, “everyone was raving about how I looked 18. But I was 12”. Her voice rises in anger.

Climate check: More human remains found at Lake Mead as water levels shrink

A formerly sunken boat sits on cracked earth hundreds of feet from the shoreline of Lake Mead
A formerly sunken boat sits on cracked earth hundreds of feet from the shoreline of Lake Mead. Photograph: John Locher/AP

More human remains have been found as the shoreline of Lake Mead recedes in the face of a drought gripping the western United States. The National Park Service said the unidentified remains were spotted at Swim Beach in the Lake Mead national recreation area late on Monday afternoon. As the lake’s surface area has shrunk, various grim discoveries have been made at the popular recreation spot formed by the building of the Hoover Dam between Nevada and Arizona.

Last Thing: Artist asks $6,000 for McDonald’s burger ingredient

Matthew Griffin’s Pickle, 2022, an artwork exhibited in Auckland that comes from a McDonald’s cheeseburger
Matthew Griffin’s Pickle, 2022, an artwork exhibited in Auckland that comes from a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Photograph: Courtesy of the Matthew Griffin and Fine Arts, Sydney.

A US$6,250 artwork consisting of a single slice of pickle plucked from a McDonald’s cheeseburger and flung on to the ceiling of an Auckland art gallery is a deliberately “provocative gesture” designed to question what has value, the artist’s gallery says. The work, titled Pickle, belongs to the Sydney-based Australian artist Matthew Griffin. Some fans are relishing in the work, calling it “genius” and “brilliant”; others have called it “moronic”.

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