Good morning, this is Eleanor Ainge Roy bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 27 July.
Donald Trump has said he will not allow transgender people to serve in the US military, reversing a policy put in place by Barack Obama a year ago. In a series of tweets the US president explained his decision: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” Backlash to Trump’s decision was immediate and transcended party lines. Arizona senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate armed services committee, said: “Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military – regardless of their gender identity.” There are roughly 1.4 million active-duty US service members. A 2016 study by the Rand Corporation estimated there are up to 6,630 trans people on active duty and up to 4,160 in the select reserve.
Australia is launching a $411m biosecurity operation to eradicate deadly red fire ants. The blitz aims to destory the venomous South American species that threatens agriculture, wildlife, tourism and Australia’s outdoor lifestyle. Without a major push, which is being spearheaded by an unlikely alliance of environmentalists and farmers, experts say outbreaks will spread and lead to an uncontrolled population that would have a bigger impact than rabbits, cane toads, foxes, camels and feral cats combined. First detected in Australia in 2001, but probably brought in years earlier, the ants are thought to have caused dozens of deaths in the United States, where they have become established and cost the economy $7bn a year. The ants are extremely aggressive, attacking en masse and inflicting an itching and burning sting that can last an hour. In rare…