Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 14 Aug 2020

1

Private schools benefit most from A-level results scheme

Anger is growing among schools, colleges and students, after nearly 40% of A-level grades awarded yesterday were lower than teachers' predictions. The Guardian says pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds have been worst hit by the standardisation process used to award A-level grades in England this year, while pupils at private schools benefited the most.

2

Trump advances ‘birther’ theory about Kamala Harris

Donald Trump has suggested that Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris is ineligible for the post, stoking another “birther” theory after he spent years claiming that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya instead of Hawaii. “They're saying that she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country,” Trump told a rally last night. A right-wing law professor has claimed that Harris, who was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, may not be eligible if her parents were on student visas at the time of their daughter’s birth.

3

Irish PM says Boris has ‘genuine desire’ for EU trade deal

After a meeting with Boris Johnson in Belfast, the Irish prime minister has said he is confident that a post-Brexit trade deal can be struck between the EU and UK. Micheal Martin said Johnson wanted to avoid worsening the economic shock of Covid-19 and had “a genuine view that a comprehensive free-trade agreement was in the best interest of all concerned”.

4

Allegations of ‘widespread torture’ in Belarus

Several people who were arrested during protests in Belarus this week say that the country’s security forces beat, tortured and humiliated them while in custody. Thousands of people were arrested during unrest in the former Soviet republic since its disputed presidential election on Sunday. Amnesty International said the accounts of many of those arrested suggested “widespread torture”.

5

France, Malta and Netherlands added to quarantine list

Hundreds of thousands more British tourists have had their holiday plans thrown into chaos after France, Malta and the Netherlands were added to the UK’s quarantine list. People arriving in the UK from those countries from tomorrow will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the measure was necessary to keep coronavirus infections down. France said the decision would lead to “reciprocal measures” against the UK. 

6

Cracks appear in historic deal between Israel and the UAE

Israel and the United Arab Emirates yesterday agreed to establish full diplomatic ties - the first between Israel and a Gulf state. However, the two parties were at odds soon after the agreement was announced, with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu saying there was “no change” to his plans to annex parts of the Palestinian territories, while the UAE insisted that the deal “immediately stops annexation”.

7

Hundreds positive for Covid at M&S sandwich factory

Nearly 300 employees have tested positive for Covid-19 at a Northampton factory that makes sandwiches for Marks & Spencer. The Greencore factory, which employs around 2,100 people, said some of its staff are now self-isolating. Lucy Wightman, director of public health at Northamptonshire County Council, said employees have been asked to “act now” after the number of confirmed cases in the town increased.

8

New fines introduced as Boris Johnson relaxes lockdown

Lockdown rules are being eased further in England as more beauty treatments, small wedding receptions and live indoor performances are allowed to resume from Saturday. Boris Johnson says soft play centres, casinos and bowling alleys will also be allowed to re-open. In a tightening of social distancing regulations, fines for refusing to wear a mask could reach a maximum of £3,200 and illegal rave organisers face a £10,000 penalty.

9

Dispute between Fortnite and Apple to go to court

The company behind the online game Fortnite has launched a lawsuit against Apple and Google after the tech giants dropped it from their app stores. Epic Games had said it was introducing a direct payment plan, which bypasses Apple and Google and their 30% cut from in-app purchases. In response, the two companies announced they would eject Fortnite for breaching their app store guidelines.

10

Woolly rhino species ‘wiped out by climate change’

New research has suggested that the woolly rhino was made extinct by climate change rather than human hunting. The cause of the demise of the creature, which roamed northern Eurasia until about 14,000 years ago, has long been debated. Professor Love Dalen, from the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Sweden, said the new report “hammers home the fact that rapid climate warming can have devastating impacts on species survival”.

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