Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 18 Jul 2020

1

Johnson ‘making Covid-19 policy on wing and a prayer’

Boris Johnson’s claim that there will be a “significant return to normality” by Christmas has been attacked. The PM said live performances could restart in the coming months, with a lifting of restrictions on football matches in October. He also claimed it “may conceivably be possible to move away from social distancing” by November. Keir Starmer said the PM was making policy “on a wing and a prayer”.

2

Met police officer suspended as ‘neck video goes viral’

A police officer has been suspended after footage showed him applying pressure with his knee to a suspect’s neck area during an arrest in London. The Metropolitan police said the video – which shows the suspect handcuffed on the ground, shouting “get off my neck” - was “extremely disturbing” and that they had suspended one officer and removed another from operational duty.

3

Trump clashes with Dr Fauci on masks as coronavirus soars

Donald Trump has vowed not to order Americans to wear masks to contain the spread of coronavirus. The US president’s position comes after the country's top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, said it is “really important” that people wear masks. CNN says Covid-19 hospitalisations are “near out of control as cases surge” in the US, with morgues filling up in two states.

4

‘One-fifth’ of EU soy imports from illegal deforestation

Up to 20% of Brazil's soya exports to the EU may be “contaminated” by illegal deforestation, according to a study. “Bad apple” farms that clear forests to produce soya and beef destined for Europe have global environmental consequences, said researchers. The majority of soy produced globally is used to feed farmed animals.

5

Councils in England handed new coronavirus powers

Local authorities in England have been handed powers to close shops, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces to manage local outbreaks of Covid-19. The Local Government Association hopes the move will avoid stricter local lockdown measures becoming necessary. “Councils know their local communities best and know how to address each unique outbreak,” said a spokesman.

6

Judge says case can go ahead against Israeli spyware firm

A judge has ruled that an Israeli company whose spyware has been used to target reporters in India, politicians in Spain, and human rights campaigners in Morocco can face a lawsuit.  NSO Group was sued by WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, last year, after the messaging app accused the firm of sending malware to 1,400 of its users and targeting their mobile phones.

7

Princess Beatrice marries in private Windsor ceremony

Princess Beatrice has married property tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at a private ceremony in Windsor. Prince Andrew walked his daughter down the aisle at the ceremony. The Daily Mail says that the “clandestine nature of the hastily arranged nuptials” meant the Queen’s “beleaguered son was spared appearing in public” as pressure continues over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

8

Government to reassure tourists whose holidays were cancelled

Consumers waiting for cash refunds for holidays cancelled because of Covid-19 will be reassured that their money is safe if their tour operator goes bust. The government hopes that the statement will “boost consumer trust in the aviation and travel sector” and give holidaymakers the confidence to book overseas trips this summer, says The Times.

9

Ian Botham and other Brexit loyalists to get peerages

Boris Johnson is to reward Brexit loyalists, including Sir Ian Botham, with peerages. The prime minister will mark his first anniversary in the job by creating around 30 new peers. The list will include four former Labour MPs: Frank Field, Gisela Stuart, Ian Austin and John Woodcock, who supported Brexit or the proposed deal. Allies of the PM say he believes that Brexit talks could collapse within weeks.

10

Civil rights legend John Lewis dies at the age of 80

John Lewis, the civil rights legend and Democratic congressman, has died at the age of 80. Born in Alabama, Lewis was a founding member and chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He helped organised the March on Washington, when Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, said Lewis had fought “the good fight”.

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