US briefing: Grammys, insect extinction and new shutdown threat | US news

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Cardi B and Childish Gambino make Grammy history

A year after the Recording Academy president, Neil Portnow, said female artists needed to “step up” to be recognised, women took home several of the major prizes at the 61st annual Grammy awards on Sunday. Kacey Musgraves won the night’s biggest award, album of the year, for her “cosmic country” LP, Golden Hour, while Cardi B became the first solo woman to win best rap album, and British import Dua Lipa was named best new artist. Childish Gambino also made history with This Is America, the first rap song to win both song of the year and record of the year. Here’s the full list of winners.

  • Speaking engagement. Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the awards, speaking alongside Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and the host, Alicia Keys,.

  • Bafta winners. Meanwhile at the Baftas, The Favourite won seven awards including best actress for Olivia Colman, but Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma won best film and best director, cementing its status as the Oscar front-runner.

Wife of Putin spokesman faces questions over US tax affairs

Tatiana Navka with her husband, the Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Tatiana Navka with her husband, the Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Photograph: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

The Russian ice dancer Tatiana Navka, a former Olympic champion and the wife of Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, is facing questions about her US tax arrangements after an investigation by the Guardian found she may have failed to declare her true income to US regulators and not disclosed foreign bank accounts. Ms Navka lived and trained in the US for more than a decade, accumulating a property portfolio worth at least $10m, including a loft apartment in Donald Trump’s “Trump Parc” complex in Manhattan.

  • No comment. Navka declined to answer specific questions from the Guardian about her US tax affairs, saying she he had no confidence in its objectivity. She added: “Your assertions contain a whole series of untrue and inaccurate details.”

Second government shutdown looms as wall talks stall

Union members and federal workers protest the partial government shutdown in Washington in January.

Union members and federal workers protest the partial government shutdown in Washington in January. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

The prospect of another government shutdown grew more likely over the weekend, as bipartisan negotiators in Washington struggled again to reach a deal over funding for Donald Trump’s border wall. Time is running out for Republican and Democratic leaders on the negotiating panel, who have to come to an agreement on border security on Monday, if Congress is to pass legislation and send it to the president’s desk in time to hit the deadline of 15 February, after which federal agencies will again be forced to close.

Insects could vanish in a century, causing natural catastrophe

Intensive agriculture is the main driver of insect decline.

Intensive agriculture is the main driver of insect decline. Photograph: Butterfly/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

The world’s insect populations are declining at a rate of extinction eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles, according to a global scientific review that warns insects could vanish altogether within a century – threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found, while the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5% a year.

Crib sheet


The crowd at the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington last March.

The crowd at the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington last March. Photograph: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

Why Parkland activists won’t give up

It’s almost a year since the survivors of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas high school led the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, and gun control has again slipped from the front pages. But the Parkland activists are continuing the quiet, unglamorous work of grassroots organising, writes Lois Beckett.

Brigitte Nielsen on giving birth at 54

After more than a decade of failed IVF treatment, the actor and model Brigitte Nielsen gave birth last year aged 54. She tells Amy Nicholson about late motherhood, her long career and her five marriages, including to Sylvester Stallone.

How ‘slum golf’ stormed the streets of Mumbai

When a group of young Indian caddies were told they couldn’t play at the Mumbai golf club where they worked for the wealthy members, they took the game to the rest of the city, turning streets into fairways and potholes into bunkers. Hema Ramaprasad discovers slum golf.

Overwhelmed by work commitments? Try microscheduling

Notifications, conversations and other distractions are slowing us all down at work, contributing to what productivity coaches call “overwhelm”. Some successful people respond by “microscheduling” their days, down to hours and even minutes, as Dale Berning Sawa reports.


To conservatives, socialism means getting something for doing nothing, which, says Robert Reich, pretty much describes the $21bn saved by the banks thanks to Republican tax cuts. Trump is offering socialism for the rich, and harsh capitalism for everyone else.

Trump perfected the art of using bankruptcy to shield himself from the consequences of bad decisions – socialism for the rich at its worst. Now, all over America, executives who run their companies into the ground are getting gold-plated exit packages while their workers get pink slips.


Anthony Martial scored a terrific solo goal during Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Fulham on Saturday, further proof of José Mourinho’s poor judgment at the club, where the young French forward barely got a look-in under Mourinho’s regime. That’s one of 10 talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action.

The Alliance of American Football (AAF) has had an entertaining start to the NFL’s off-season. But America’s sporting landscape is strewn with the wreckage of failed football leagues, so will the AAF be any different, asks Tom Dart.

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