Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 21 Feb 2020

1

Backpacker murder: Millane’s mother faces killer

The mother of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane confronted her daughter’s killer by video link to a New Zealand courtroom yesterday. Gillian Millane told the 28-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that her daughter had died “terrified and alone”. The killer has been jailed for life for strangling the 21-year-old during a Tinder date in Auckland in December 2018.

2

Coronavirus: cruise ship Britons’ flight delayed

The evacuation of 74 British citizens trapped on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan as a result of the coronavirus has been delayed by a day. British ministers had said the passengers - who have been stuck on the ship off the coast Yokohama for more than two weeks - would be flown home this evening. But the British embassy in Japan has now announced that the “logistically complicated” flight will leave on Saturday.

3

Floods: thousands of new homes not insured

Tens of thousands of families who own new homes in flood-prone areas are facing “crippling” costs to repair damage caused by recent storms, because they are not eligible for compensation under the government-backed Flood Re insurance scheme, a centre-right think tank is warning. Research by Bright Blue found that 70,000 homes had been built on land at the highest risk of flooding in England since 2009 - but properties constructed after that date are not covered by the government scheme, launched in 2015. 

4

Ukraine: buses carrying Wuhan evacuees attacked

Protesters in Ukraine last night attacked buses carrying evacuees from the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in China. The unrest came after 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreign nationals were flown from the city of Wuhan to Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, where they are to be held in quarantine, although none have symptoms of the infection. President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukrainians not to forget that “we are all human”. 

5

House coal and wet wood to be banned by 2023

The UK government is to start phasing out the sale of household coal and “wet” wood for domestic fires and stoves from next year, with a total ban in place by 2023. The fuels produce particle pollutants known as PM2.5 that can penetrate deep into lungs and the blood and cause serious health problems. Smokeless solid fuels and kiln-dried wood sales will still be allowed.

6

Hugh Jackman sends message of support to bullied boy

Celebrities including actor Hugh Jackman have sent personal messages of support to a nine-year-old Australian boy with dwarfism whose mother posted a video online showing her son crying after being bullied. Yarraka Bayles, from Brisbane, says son Quaden is “suicidal” over the abuse. Jackman told the boy he was “stronger than you know, mate”.

7

Trump attacks Oscar-winning film Parasite

Donald Trump last night criticised the Oscar awards for handing this year’s Best Picture gong to South Korean film Parasite. Addressing a rally in Colorado, the US president said: “How bad were the Academy Awards this year? The winner is a movie from South Korea, what the hell was that all about?”

8

Jurgen Klopp letter to young Man Utd fan goes viral

A letter sent by Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp in response to a ten-year-old Manchester United fan who had asked him to lose a few games has gone viral. Schoolboy Daragh Curley, from Co. Donegal, had sent a letter to Klopp pleading for the Reds to throw in the towel in order to boost United’s chances. In his response, Klopp praises Curley’s passion but says he cannot let down his own club’s fans.

9

Sammy Davis Jr ‘hugged Nixon over tax bill’

A decades-old mystery about why singer Sammy Davis Jr was photographed hugging Richard Nixon at a Republican youth rally in 1972 appears to have been solved. The black entertainer’s support for a US president widely seen as racist has puzzled many. Now, British theatre director Clarke Peters, who has been investigating Davis’s past for a forthcoming musical on the late US star, claims to have the answer: Nixon may have offered him tax relief.

10

Briefing: the world’s most secretive financial systems

The UK has climbed the world ranking of tax havens and is nearing the top 10 most secretive financial systems.

The Tax Justice Network (TJN) said the UK had become a more desirable place for businesses and super-rich individuals to hide their finances from the law, raising serious concerns about Britain’s post-Brexit strategy.

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