Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 13 Aug 2020
Exam anger grows on A-level results day
A-level results are due today for hundreds of thousands of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The results have been estimated by teachers and adjusted by computer after exams were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is growing anger at the government over the issue, especially in schools where 50% of grades were revised down. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned of “major turbulence”.
Biden and Harris attack ‘whining’ Trump
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris have described Donald Trump as a “whining” and incompetent leader who has left the US “in tatters”. Biden said: “The choice we make this November is going to decide the future of America for a very, very long time.” The US president hit back, saying Harris had “dropped like a rock” in her own presidential bid.
UK's longest run of extreme temperature in 60 years
Britain has had its longest stretch of temperatures above 34C since the 1960s, after the milestone was reached for six consecutive days. The country has also endured a run of “tropical nights”, during which temperatures stay above 20C. However, thunderstorms are now forecast across the UK, with flooding, damage to buildings, travel disruption and power cuts expected.
Government reduces Covid-19 death toll by 5,000
The coronavirus death toll in England will be reduced by more than 5,000 following claims that one in ten fatalities should not have been included in the official figure. Thousands of people in England who may have recovered from the virus before they died were still counted in the headline number, even if they died of other causes. Keith Neal, an emeritus professor in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, said the change was “sensible”.
US sends stealth bombers to Indian Ocean amid Taiwan tension
Three American B-2 stealth bombers have arrived at the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia in response to growing concern about China’s intentions towards Taiwan. The bombers, which can penetrate enemy territory without alerting air-defence radars, arrived on the eve of Chinese live-firing naval exercises north of Taiwan. Beijing has also sent new weapons to the Himalayas in a 15-week stand-off with Indian troops.
Network Rail warned about extreme weather before crash
Network Rail was warned about its response to extreme weather events four weeks before yesterday’s deadly train derailment in Aberdeenshire. Three people died and six others were hospitalised after the service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street came off the tracks near Stonehaven. British Transport Police, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and inspectors from the Office of Rail and Road are investigating.
MPs demand clarity over Cummings' role in defence review
MPs are calling on Downing Street to clarify Dominic Cummings’ role in the defence and foreign policy review. The defence select committee says there is a lack of “clarity and transparency” and called on No. 10 to explain what role Cummings will play in the review, which is designed to set national security priorities for the next five years.
Freight may have caused new coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand
New Zealand is investigating whether its first coronavirus cases in 102 days were caused by imported freight. The country has reported 14 new Covid-19 cases a day after its biggest city, Auckland, went back into lockdown. “We can see the seriousness of the situation we are in,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “It’s being dealt with in an urgent but calm and methodical way.”
MP warns of ‘tsunami’ of job losses in cultural sector
Britain’s cultural sector is suffering a “tsunami” of job losses, according to Tracy Brabin, the shadow culture minister. Tate says half its employees in the retail and catering division are to lose their jobs, while dance company Sadler’s Wells said a quarter of its staff are facing redundancy. Tens of thousands of freelancers have been without income since March. Brabin said the job losses were “seismic”.
Insurers enjoy bumper profits as lockdown reduces claims
Car insurance companies are enjoying a jump in profits amid a fall in claims during the coronavirus pandemic. Admiral car insurer says it had a 31% increase in pre-tax profits for the first six months of the year because lockdown “resulted in significantly lower motor insurance claims frequency as customers stayed at home and fewer miles were driven”. Britain's biggest car insurer Direct Line has beaten half-year profit forecasts.