Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 12 Feb 2020

1

Environmental damage ‘will cost £368bn a year’

Rising food prices, droughts, commodity shortages, extreme flooding and coastal erosion will cost the global economy £368bn a year by 2050 if current rates of environmental degredation continue, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has calculated. The UK will be the third-worst hit nation behind only the US and Japan, with a £16bn annual loss, according to a new report from the conservation charity.

2

Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary

The race to be the US Democratic Party’s candidate in this year’s presidential election saw the oldest candidate, Bernie Sanders, narrowing beating the youngest, Pete Buttigieg, to win the New Hampshire primary yesterday. Former front-runner Joe Biden finished a disappointing fifth.

3

Actor Jussie Smollett charged over ‘fake attack’

US actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with six counts of lying to Chicago police, a year after similar charges against the former Empire star relating to an alleged hoax attack were dropped. Prosecutors allege that the 37-year-old staged what appeared to be a homophobic and racist attack against himself in order to get publicity. Smollett denies the claim.

4

WHO dubs coronavirus ‘public enemy No.1’

The World Health Organization says the new strain of coronavirus that emerged in China is a “very grave threat” and should be considered “public enemy No.1”. However, the rate of infections and deaths from the virus, now called Covid-19, is believed to have slowed in recent days, prompting hopes that containment measures are working.

5

Westminster Council objects to Holocaust memorial

The UK government will decide later this year whether plans to build a Holocaust memorial and education centre in a park near the Houses of Parliament can go ahead, following an objection from Westminster City Council. The local authority’s planning committee has raised concerns about the “loss of valuable open, public green space in a very busy and popular location”.

6

Farmers claim tofu worse for planet than meat

The National Farmers Union yesterday hit back at meat-free eating by presenting arguments from a scientist who claims that tofu could have a higher environmental cost than beef, pork and chicken. Graham McAuliffe of the Rothamsted Institute argues that because the human body finds it harder to absorb proteins from plants, tofu production may cause more greenhouse gas emissions than most meats per unit of protein absorbed. However, he admits his findings are currently only a “proof of concept” and should be “interpreted with caution”.

7

British skier hospitalised after snowboarder attack

A British skier was airlifted to hospital with severe head injuries after being attacked by a snowboarder on an Austrian ski slope on Sunday, it has emerged. The boarder is said to have hit the unnamed 55-year-old with a ski pole several times after being rebuked for almost colliding with a group of skiers. Police have launched a hunt for the attacker, who fled the scene immediately after the incident.

8

UK’s 2021 census may be the last, says statistics chief

The UK’s national statistician has revealed that next year’s census could be the last ever undertaken. The national survey, sent to every household, has been carried out once a decade for some 200 years, but Professor Ian Diamond says he is examining cheaper alternatives in a bid to drive down spiralling costs.

9

Lindy Hop dancers to bring swing to VE Day celebrations

English Heritage is to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) by sending expert Lindy Hop dancers all over the country. The groups will head to all 48 of the ceremonial counties of England, with organisers promising “swingtime spirit”. US soldiers introduced the dance to the UK during the Second World War.

10

Briefing: why Peter and Autumn Phillips are parting ways

The Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn have confirmed they are divorcing after 12 years of marriage.

In a short statement, the couple said that the decision to separate was “the best course of action for their two children and ongoing friendship”.

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