Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 19 Aug 2020

1

Joe Biden anointed as Democrats’ presidential candidate

The US Democratic party has formally elected Joe Biden as its nominee at its virtual convention, months after the other major candidates pulled out. Two Democratic former US presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, endorsed Biden, as did the Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Biden is making his third White House bid, having formerly run in 1988 and 2008. He leads Donald Trump in the polls by a sizable margin.

2

Global daily coronavirus fatalities nearing April peak

Experts have warned of a “wake-up call” as global daily deaths from Covid-19 approach levels last seen four months ago. On April 19, the seven-day average of fatalities hit a record of 7,465 worldwide. It then fell in successive weeks, but according to analysis of data from the European Centre for Disease Control and Our World in Data, the seven-day average on August 18 had climbed back to 6,152.

3

Atlantic ocean plastic vastly exceeds estimates

Ten times more plastic than expected has been found in the Atlantic ocean, according to a new study reported in The Guardian. It found between 12 and 21 million tonnes of microscopic particles derived from three of the most common types of plastic, in about 5% of the ocean. “The amount of plastic has been massively underestimated,” said Katsiaryna Pabortsava of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre.

4

Under-fire Johnson to resist calls for autumn reshuffle

Boris Johnson will make only minor changes to his cabinet despite calls for an autumn reshuffle, The Daily Telegraph reports this morning. The news comes amid a growing Conservative backlash and fears that coronavirus mishaps have left the government being “laughed at,” according to a source. A Tory veteran has accused the PM, currently on holiday in Scotland, of a “lack of grip”.

5

Mali president resigns following reports of coup

Mali’s president has announced his immediate resignation in a statement broadcast soon after he was detained by soldiers. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said the country's national assembly and government would be dissolved. Earlier, troops had also arrested Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in what appeared to be a coup, according to the chairman of the African Union. The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

6

Trudeau prorogues parliament as financial scandal worsens

Justin Trudeau has been accused of attempting to cover up a scandal by proroguing parliament. The Canadian prime minister has asked the governor general to end the current parliamentary session amid committee investigations into the WE Charity affair, in which Trudeau and former finance minister Bill Morneau are accused of an improper financial relationship with the international development organisation.

7

Calls for action as depression doubles during UK lockdown

The number of adults in Britain with depression has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, official data has revealed. Almost one in five (19.2%) people experienced depression in June, nearly double the 9.7% with symptoms in the nine months to March, according to the Office for National Statistics. The news has prompted calls for a national plan to avert a “looming mental health crisis”.

8

Angela Merkel set to extend furlough scheme to 24 months

Germany is expected to extend its pandemic furlough scheme to 24 months after Angela Merkel’s spokesperson said she was “positively” inclined towards the suggestion to extend the support. The UK furlough scheme is scheduled to end in October after the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said winding it down was “one of the most difficult decisions” he had had to make.

9

Wall Street enters bull market after reaching record high

Wall Street defied the economic gloom as the S&P 500 hit a record high last night. The index, which closed 7.79 points or 0.23% higher at 3,389.78, has surged by about 55% since March thanks to intervention by the US government and the Federal Reserve central bank. Wall Street’s most closely followed index is now officially considered to be in bull-market territory.

10

Experts say honey is more effective than antibiotics

Honey may outperform conventional treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats, researchers have said. Scientists from the University of Oxford said GPs can recommend honey as a suitable alternative to antibiotics, which are often prescribed for such infections. “Honey is more effective and less harmful than usual care alternatives and avoids causing harm through antimicrobial resistance,” they said.

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