Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 4 Feb 2020

1

Petrol and diesel vehicle ban brought forward to 2035

A ban on selling new petrol or diesel cars will start in 2035, five years earlier than previously planned, Boris Johnson will announce today. Latest figures show that sales of fully electric cars more than doubled last year – but there are concerns that uptake has still been too slow to meet targets.

2

Technology troubles delay Iowa caucus

The result of the first vote in the race to pick a US Democratic candidate to face President Donald Trump has been delayed by technological difficulties. The party has reported “inconsistencies” in the count in Iowa but has promised to release the result later today. Senator Bernie Sanders says internal campaign data shows that he is heading for victory in the state, but the BBC says the glitch will launch “1,000 conspiracy theories”. 

3

Coronavirus: first death reported in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has reported its first death from the coronavirus - only the second outside China - as the death toll from the outbreak rises to at least 425. The Hong Kong victim, a 39-year-old man, is reported to have also had a long-term illness. A Briton evacuated from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak, fell ill on a flight back to the UK on Sunday and was taken directly to hospital for tests.

4

Jehovah’s Witnesses sued over historic abuse

At least 20 former Jehovah’s Witnesses are suing the religious group over alleged historic sexual abuse. The organisation has a policy of only punishing abuse if there is a second witness in addition to the abused person, or if the abuser confesses - but insists police are always told if a child is in danger. However, the former members say the organisation is “vicariously liable” for the abuse they allegedly suffered, with some claiming that the group leaders were negligent.

5

Journalists walk out of No. 10 briefing

Journalists invited to a briefing at 10 Downing Street yesterday walked out in an uncharacteristic display of solidarity after Boris Johnson’s press office banned some reporters from attending. Among those who were invited but refused to stay were the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, ITV’s Robert Peston and journalists from the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, The Guardian and the Financial Times.

6

Government’s AI adviser calls for tougher regulation of social media

The UK should regulate internet platforms such as Facebook and Google over their use of online targeting algorithms, the government’s advisory group on data ethics has said. In a newly published report, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) is also calling for social media companies to be forced to hand over data to academics researching public interest subjects.

7

First RAF ‘submarine hunter’ goes into service

The first of a new fleet of RAF surveillance planes known as submarine hunters is due to arrive at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland today. The US-built P-8A Poseidon, to be named Pride of Moray, is one of nine bought by the UK at a total cost of £3bn. They will replace Nimrod patrol aircraft scrapped by the RAF almost ten years ago.

8

Former Kenya leader Daniel arap Moi dies at 95

Kenya’s longest-ever serving leader Daniel arap Moi has died in a Nairobi hospital at the age of 95. During his decades-long rule, from 1978 to 2002, Moi legalised single-party rule after an attempted coup in 1982 “transformed” him from a democrat to a “tough autocrat”, The Guardian reports. President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered a period of national mourning until a state funeral is held.

9

Truth about Dickens’ burial revealed

Newly discovered documents have revealed why burial instructions left by Charles Dickens were ignored following his death in 1870. The author wanted to be buried quietly near his home in Kent but was instead laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. Now, scholar Leon Litvack has unearthed letters that show Dickens’s friend and biographer, John Forster, and the abbey’s then dean, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, engineered the burial in Poets’ Corner “to satisfy their personal aims” - namely, a dramatic ending to the biography and the chance to conduct the famous writer’s funeral. 

10

Briefing: what Brexit means for animals

British wildlife is at greater risk after Brexit because of gaps in environmental protection regulations, a new report has found.

The UK faces losing regulations that prevent hedgerows being cut during nesting season and bans the use of pesticides in certain areas, says the study commissioned by a number of wildlife charities.

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