US briefing: impeachment battle, Syria crisis and California power | US news

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Wednesday’s top story: White House refuses to cooperate with inquiry, threatening constitutional crisis. Plus, How Bong Joon-ho returned home to make his masterpiece. Subscribe now to receive the morning briefing by email.
Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.
Trump says he blocked Sondland testimony to Congress Donald Trump has said he prevented the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, from testifying to the congressional impeachment hearings about dealings between his administration and Ukraine, describing the proceedings as a “kangaroo court”, in what Democrats say represents a confession to obstructing the inquiry. The state department is also withholding Sondland’s communications amid a White House-led stonewalling of the inquiry, a risky strategy that threatens to spark a constitutional crisis.
Impeachment poll. A new Washington Post poll has found a clear majority of Americans now support the impeachment inquiry, with support for the proceedings even increasing by 21% among Republicans.
Rule of law. America is in a dangerous moment, with the secretary of state and attorney general both loyally pursuing the president’s personal agenda. Trump is at war with the rule of law , and it won’t end well, says Rebecca Solnit.
Turkey says Trump has handed over Isis fight in Syria Play Video US ending support for Kurds in Syria will lead to genocide, says protester – video
The Turkish government claims Trump has handed leadership of the military campaign against Isis to its forces, giving the green light to an invasion of north-eastern Syria that it said would begin “shortly”. Amid a fierce backlash in Washington, the president appeared to be backtracking on his plan on Tuesday, but the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces claimed the Turkish military was already shelling one of its posts close to the border, at a location from which US troops had reportedly withdrawn the previous day.
Kurdish fears. As protesters in Washington warned of an impending “genocide” , Kurds in north-eastern Syria said on Tuesday that they feared a Turkish invasion – but held out hope that the US would revise its withdrawal plan.
California utility to cut power to 800,000 homes over fire risk
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Firefighters battling flames in Paradise, California, last November, as the town was engulfed by the devastating Camp fire. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Pacific Gas and Electric, the California utility whose power lines have sparked several deadly fires in the past two years, has announced it will shut off power this week to more than 800,000 customers across 34 counties in northern and central California, in an effort to prevent new wildfires. The Edison utility in southern California has also warned that more than 106,000 of its customers in eight counties could face power cuts as part of the largest preventive outage in the history of the state.
New normal. California energy customers will have to get used to planned power outages in future, just as they become accustomed to the increasingly fierce winds and dry air that are perfect conditions for wildfires, as Vivian Ho reports.
Black Puerto Ricans accuse police of racial profiling
Facebook Twitter Pinterest A protester confronts riot police during demonstrations in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, in July. Photograph: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images
For all its political and economic problems, Puerto Rico has long been seen as a multicultural melting pot without any explicit racial divisions. But now activists and legal advocates are claiming the island’s police force is guilty of racially profiling black and predominantly low-income communities. “The police are the same as in the United States,” one young protester tells Natasha S Alford. “The only difference is that here they don’t kill us.”
Los Angeles. Police in Los Angeles stop and search black and Latino drivers at significantly higher rates than white people, even though white people are more likely to be carrying drugs and weapons, according to a new report by the LA Times.
Cheat sheet Returning from hospital to his home in Vermont on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders said he planned to “change the nature” of his presidential campaign after suffering a heart attack last week, admitting he had been “dumb” to stage up to four rallies a day.
The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver , says the league will not apologise for a tweet by the Houston general manager, Daryl Morey, in support of the Hong Kong protests, despite China’s state TV station cancelling the broadcast of two preseason games.
The pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is recalling its popular heartburn medicine Zantac – also sold generically as ranitidine – days after the FDA found “unacceptable” levels of a probable cancer-causing impurity in the drug.
The UN children’s agency, Unicef , has announced it will accept and disburse donations through the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and ether, in a bid to increase its financial transparency a...