Why is Biden one of the most unpopular US presidents?

Good morning.

After winning more votes than any presidential candidate in US history, Joe Biden is now – just 12 months later – one of the country’s most unpopular presidents.

Much of his domestic agenda is stalled on Capitol Hill, impeded by members of his own party. The virus is once again raging out of control: daily infections of Covid-19 have soared to record levels, hospitalizing more Americans than at any previous point during the pandemic.

The administration’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers was blocked by the supreme court’s conservative super-majority. Inflation is at a nearly 40-year high. Diplomatic talks have so far failed to pull Russia back from the brink of war with Ukraine.

The puzzle of Biden’s unpopularity has many pieces, pollsters and political analysts say. “There’s an element of it that has nothing to do with Joe Biden,” Sarah Longwell, a prominent anti-Trump Republican strategist said. “It’s just a tough time.”

Aerial images prepared by the New Zealand defence force for the Tongan government have been leaked online and show some areas have had “catastrophic” devastation inflicted by the tsunami and volcanic eruption while others were relatively unscathed.

The 40 aerial pictures show some areas blanketed with ash, with damaged buildings, while others show parts of the country that appear unscathed.

They were taken by the New Zealand defence force during a reconnaissance flight on Monday and put together in a report for the Tongan government. The photos were then leaked online. The Guardian has confirmed the provenance of the photos.

After the reconnaissance flight, the New Zealand defence force shared a handful of photos with the media, most of them showing defence personnel at work, rather than shots of the islands. The 40 leaked images paint a much fuller picture of the damage to the country, and include annotations about the severity of damage.

The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is weighing whether to subpoena some of Donald Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill as it considers its options on how aggressively it should pursue testimony to move forward its inquiry into the January 6 insurrection.

The Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, and Republican members of Congress Jim Jordan and Scott Perry may have inside knowledge about Trump’s plan to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election and whether it was coordinated with the Capitol attack.

But the outright refusal of McCarthy and the other Republican lawmakers to testify voluntarily with the investigation has intensified discussions among the panel’s members and investigators about whether to force their cooperation.

The select committee is undecided on whether to take that near-unprecedented step.

The estate of the late pop singer Prince, including his catalogue of songs, has been valued at $156.4m (£114m), nearly double the figure arrived at by an earlier appraisal. The estate’s administrator, Comerica Bank, agreed on the figure with the Internal Revenue Service and the heirs to Prince’s estate. The singer died in 2016 without a will, and his estate will pass to three of his siblings as well as the publishing company Primary Wave, who in August 2021 bought rights to the Prince catalogue from another three heirs, two of them deceased.

For centuries the symptoms of menopause were documented, but women went through it with little intervention. It wasn’t until the advent of science as we know it that physicians (all male at the time, obviously) started more commonly “treating” its symptoms. Suffice it to say, the history of misogyny in medicine goes way, way back, all founded in the idea of women as inferior, and of menstrual blood as evil and poisonous.

ExxonMobil is attempting to use an unusual Texas law to target and intimidate its critics, claiming that lawsuits against the company over its long history of downplaying and denying the climate crisis violate the US constitution’s guarantees of free speech. The US’s largest oil firm is asking the Texas supreme court to allow it to use the law, known as rule 202, to pursue legal action against more than a dozen California municipal officials.

Marlon Bundo, the family pet rabbit of the former vice-president Mike Pence, has died, marking the end of an unlikely career as a prominent gay rights figure in the US. Political pets are a common theme in American politics but Bundo’s high media profile was unusual. Firstly, he featured in a series of children’s books written by the second family. Secondly, as a parody of Pence’s deep social conservatism, Bundo was also the main theme of a satirical book by the comedian John Oliver that chronicled his search for a same-sex bunny partner.

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