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Much of the US will come to a standstill at 10am eastern time on Thursday for the most widely anticipated congressional hearing in years. Fired FBI director James Comey will be grilled on claims that President Donald Trump asked him to end a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia. In a written statement, released ahead of the session, Mr Comey said the US president demanded loyalty of him and asked that he drop the probe into Mr Flynn.

Mr Comey has been warning about Russia for years, and Americans will be watching for more revelations about Mr Trump in what has become a must-see event for millions around the country. Many companies have cancelled meetings on Thursday morning and bars in Washington are broadcasting the testimony. One is planning to give out a free round of shots if Mr Trump tweets during the session. The hearing has serious implications for the US president. Here are six things to watch out for during the testimony. (FT, New Yorker, NYT, WaPo)

In the news

The UK votes
Britons are heading back to the polls for the third major election in two years. A record number of people have registered to vote, pointing to a sharp increase in young voters. Here’s how the UK election became a dogfight after seeming like a sure thing for Theresa May’s Conservatives. But while her lead has dipped, it may be stronger than polls suggest.

Iran-Saudi tensions
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have accused Saudi Arabia of involvement in Wednesday’s double terror attack in Tehran. The violence, in which 13 people were killed, was claimed by Isis — the group’s first attack in the Islamic Republic. In a statement, the Guards said “the fact Isis claimed responsibility proves that they [Saudi Arabia] were involved in the brutal attack”. (FT)

‘First of our kind’ found in Morocco
The discovery of fossils near Marrakesh pushes the evolution of modern humans back by 100,000 years. These people had “basically the face you could meet on the train in New York”, said one of the scientists reporting the find. (FT, Time)

Uber exec obtained records of Indian rape victim
A top Uber executive obtained medical records of a woman who had been raped during a ride in India and allegedly shared them with CEO Travis Kalanick, according to a report. The employee is no longer with the company but FT Alphaville is blunt: “It’s time to face facts. Uber does not have an image problem, it has a chief executive problem.” (Recode, FT)

Bank of Amazon
The company is expanding its lending to small businesses in the US, the UK and Japan. The move is a sign of a broad shift of power away from the big bricks-and-mortar banks, which have pulled back from small-business lending under tougher post-crisis rules on capital. (FT)

The day ahead

ECB meets
Policymakers at the European Central Bank are meeting to decide whether the economic recovery in the eurozone is strong enough to manage without so much monetary stimulus. (FT)

What we’re reading

The myth of internet freedom
Philip Stephens on how the anarchic promise of an internet under the benign oversight of entrepreneurs, innovators and well-meaning geeks has morphed into control by a handful of global corporations avoiding “the responsibilities demanded of everyone else”. (FT)

The world’s biggest refugee settlement
In just eight months a patch of land in northern Uganda has filled with more than 1m people fleeing war in South Sudan. In contrast to other governments around the world, the Ugandan state has welcomed the refugees partly out of a sense of pan-Africanism and partly because it is a way of gaining both international money and recognition. (FT)

My friend the white supremacist troll
What do you do when a fellow secondary school student turns into an influential rightwing extremist? A liberal journalist describes his horror at — and attempt to understand — the views of an old classmate. (Atlantic)

Lonely at work
It’s lonely at the bottom, as well as the top. Loneliness in the workplace is becoming recognised as a problem that affects business, taking its toll on productivity and often driving away workers. A growing body of research is coming up with ways of combating the problem. (FT)

Half a century of darkness
Fifty years after the Six-Day War, the Arab world has yet to recover from its comprehensive defeat by Israel. And the intellectualism that once lit up the region has been all but extinguished. Hisham Melhem’s comprehensive analysis explains why. (Foreign Policy)

Video of the day

Lessons from the UK campaign
The FT’s political columnist Janan Ganesh and editor Lionel Barber discuss a campaign that turned out to be quite different from what people expected. (FT)

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