Fridays top story: Storm spares Puerto Rico as Florida declares state of emergency. Plus, how economics play out among prison inmates

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Good morning and a happy Labor Day weekend. Im Tim Walker with todays essential stories. The briefing will be back on Tuesday.

Fears Dorian will hit Florida as category 4 hurricane

Florida has declared a state of emergency after weather experts warned the states entire east coast could be under threat from Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to make landfall as a category 3 or 4 hurricane early on Monday. The storm did only limited damage as it passed through the northern Caribbean on Wednesday, sparing Puerto Rico but setting course for the US mainland.

  • Stockpiling advice. Floridas governor, Ron DeSantis, urged residents to stockpile a weeks worth of food and emergency supplies. Georgia has also declared a state of emergency in 12 coastal counties.

  • Trump plans. Donald Trump has cancelled a planned trip to Poland to commemorate the second world war this weekend to monitor the storm in Florida, and has sent the vice-president, Mike Pence, to Europe in his stead.

Life of asylum seeker on hunger strike at risk, says doctor

A vigil to protest against the treatment of immigrants in detention centres in El Paso last month. Photograph: Luke Montavon/AFP/Getty Images

An Indian asylum seeker, who has gone on hunger strike while detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) in El Paso, is receiving abysmal treatment that puts his life at risk, a doctor has warned in an affidavit filed this week. Ice began force-feeding Ajay Kumar two weeks ago; Dr Parveen Parmar, the chief of global emergency medicine at the University of Southern California, said the 33-year-old is receiving the worst medical care I have seen in my 10 years of practice.

  • Force feeding. Kumar is one of three Indian men being force-fed while on hunger strike at the detention centre in El Paso, an act that medical and human rights groups have decried as inhuman and degrading.

  • Family reunited. A cognitively disabled Salvadorian migrant who arrived in El Paso with a cousin but was sent to Mexico alone by immigration authorities has been reunited with his family in Virginia after five months.

Comey violated FBI policies by sharing Trump memos

Comey and Trump disagreed, unsurprisingly, on whether the report had exonerated the former FBI director. Photograph: ABC News/Getty Images

The former FBI director James Comey violated justice department policies by sharing memos on his personal interactions with Trump, a report by a department watchdog has found. Comeys memos included notes on sensitive conversations with the president, which helped to spark the Mueller investigation. Comey took the report as an exoneration, tweeting that an apology from those who defamed him would be nice. Trump saw it differently, saying Comey was disgraced and excoriated.

Pro-democracy figures arrested in Hong Kong crackdown

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Arrests of high-profile Hong Kong activists a bid to spread white terror video

Three leading pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong have been arrested as part of a crackdown on protesters amid the citys most serious political crisis in decades. Joshua Wong, a former student leader during the umbrella movement of 2014, was forcefully pushed into a private minivan while walking to a subway station early on Friday morning, fellow activists said. Agnes Chow, another top member of the group Demosist, and Andy Chan, the head of a now banned pro-independence party, were also arrested. Wong and Chow have been released.

  • Prescient interview. Wong was still in prison when the current protests began, but in an interview he predicted the crackdown that led to his re-arrest, writes Tania Branigan.

  • Leaderless movement. Chow and Wong were arrested on suspicion of inciting others to participate in an unauthorised assembly. But, to the frustration of authorities, todays protest movement is leaderless, as Ilaria Maria Sala reports.

Crib sheet

  • Lawmakers in the California senate are considering a bill that could enact the worlds most progressive protections for workers in the gig economy, fundamentally altering the employment rights of Uber drivers and others in the state.

  • The fires raging across the Brazilian Amazon have reached protected indigenous reserves, raising concerns that loggers and land grabbers may have targeted areas occupied by isolated and vulnerable indigenous tribes such as the Aw.

  • A major new study has squashed the notion of a single gay gene that leads to homosexuality, finding instead that homosexual behaviour is influenced by a multitude of genetic variants, as well as non-genetic factors.

  • An Alabama man who was sentenced to life in prison for stealing $50.75 from a bakery in 1983 is to be freed after 36 years behind bars. Alvin Kennard, then 22, was given the unusually harsh sentence under Alabamas three strikes law.


Judy Garland became a cautionary tale for the child stars of later decades. Composite: Shutterstock/Rex/AllStar

Can Hollywood take care of its child stars?

A new movie depicts the final days of Judy Garland, the child star who became a cautionary tale for young performers of later decades. Danny Leigh asks whether her story or those that came after has done anything fundamentally to change an industry that feeds on the young.

How the prison economy works

For his new book about extreme economies, Richard Davies visited Angola maximum-security jail in Louisiana, Americas largest prison. He expected to find a simple bartering structure, but was instead introduced to a complex and modern system of hidden trade that offers an important lesson about the way economies work.

White supremacists swatted my home to silence me

Ijeoma Oluo is the author of So You Want to Talk About Race. As a result of her writing, she was targeted for harassment and abuse by white supremacist trolls, which culminated in her house being swatted and her teenage son seized by armed police. Im not going to disappear, she writes. No matter what comes my way.

Posters for films that never happened

The designer Fernando Reza has created a striking series of posters for potential cinema classics that never made it past pre-production, from Tim Burtons Superman sequel starring Nicolas Cage, to Quentin Tarantinos much-discussed but never-made The Vega Brothers.


From 2010 to 2017 almost 500,000 Americans filed flood insurance claims, more than double the number during Reagans presidency. The climate crisis is already here, says Elizabeth Rush, and only collective action can properly address it.

As I have watched the US inundated, again and again, by record-breaking storms, another equally powerful phenomenon has begun to unfold. Across the country, community-led flood-survivor groups are popping up.


The US Open is succumbing to Cocomania, after Coco Gauff set up a third-round clash with the defending champion, Naomi Osaka, by beating Hungarys Tmea Babos 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Thursday night. At 15, Gauff is the youngest player to make it past the second round at Flushing Meadows since Anna Kournikova in 1996.

Tottenham have lost 15 league games in 2019, including last weeks against Newcastle. They must improve if theyre to overcome Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday. Thats one of 10 things to look out for this weekend in the Premier League.

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