Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 22 Jan 2020


Jeff Bezos: phone ‘hacked’ by Saudi prince

The mobile phone of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos was hacked with a WhatsApp message sent from a number belonging to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, The Guardian claims. The newspaper says the message from Mohammed bin Salman to Bezos, the world’s richest man, contained malware that allowed the Saudis to intercept messages. Riyadh has dismissed the claim as “absurd”.


China: ‘virus may mutate and spread’

Health authorities in China are warning that a new strain of coronavirus which originated in the central city of Wuhan could mutate and spread further through the country’s human population. The alert comes as the US confirmed the first case of the virus on its territory, in a man who returned to Seattle from China last week. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the Sars-like virus has claimed nine lives so far.


US senators spar as Trump impeachment trial begins

The trial of US President Donald Trump for allegedly abusing his powers by putting pressure on Ukraine to help discredit political rival Joe Biden began in the Senate yesterday. The first day of the hearing saw “nearly 13 hours of rancorous debate”, says the BBC. Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrat senators to call new witnesses and evidence.


UK told to pause tech firm tax launch

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has asked the UK to “hold fire” on a planned 2% tax on big tech firms including search engines and social media that was scheduled to come into effect in April. The Paris-based intergovernmental body says an internationally co-ordinated approach to the issue is needed to avoid a “cacophony” of different taxes.


Trump at Davos: reject climate ‘prophets of doom’

Donald Trump gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday in which he called on attendees to dismiss environmental “prophets of doom” and “predictions of the apocalypse”. The speech is being viewed as a thinly veiled attack on Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who was in the audience.


Utah court rules against topless woman

A court in Utah has ruled against a woman whose stepchildren saw her topless after she and her husband both removed their shirts to avoid getting dust on their clothes while doing DIY in their home. Tilli Buchanan was appealing against a charge of “lewdness” brought after the children’s mother complained to police. Buchanan’s husband has not faced any charge.


Kate Middleton launches survey to help under-fives

The Duchess of Cambridge has launched a national survey that is intended to improve the lot of children aged under five in the UK. The NSPCC said the questionnaire, conducted by Ipsos Mori for Kate’s Royal Foundation, would “provide fascinating insight” into people’s thinking on what influences development and what period of childhood is most important for children’s happiness. The five-question online survey aims to “spark a national conversation”, Kensington Palace added.


Oldest asteroid crater found in Australia

Australian scientists have found the world’s oldest known asteroid crater – and believe it may have ended an ice age that took place before complex life had evolved. The 2.229-billion-year old Yarrabubba crater in Western Australia was discovered in 1979 but has only now been dated.


Hilarity at restored painting’s ‘humanoid’ lamb

A celebrated Renaissance painting in Belgium has been stripped of paint added by a later artist to reveal what the Smithsonian magazine describes as an “alarmingly humanoid” lamb of God. The Ghent Altarpiece, painted in 1432 by brothers Jan and Hubert and restored at a cost of millions, has now become a focus of amusement online. 


Briefing: what is wokeness?

The actor Laurence Fox has drawn plaudits and criticism for his attack on “woke” culture.

Commentators have piled into the debate, with Tim Dawson congratulating Fox on “terrorising the Wokerati”, and The Sun’s Leo McKinstry branding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle “the oppressive King and Queen of Woke”. But what exactly does the term mean?

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