Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 29 Aug 2020

1

Leaked document reveals worst case Covid scenario

A “reasonable worst case scenario” of 85,000 deaths across the UK this winter due to Covid-19 is set out in a government report. The leaked document says this is a “scenario, not a prediction” and the data is subject to “significant uncertainty”. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told The Times that England could face nationwide restrictions and very extensive local lockdowns in a second wave of coronavirus.

2

Merkel hints that Brexit talks could go down to the wire

Angela Merkel says Brexit talks will go down to the wire as she said they would keep her staff occupied until the end of 2020. The German Chancellor said she expects the Brexit trade talks to keep her team “busy until the end of the year,” adding that “the crucial weeks are now approaching to clarify the future relationship” between the EU and the UK.

3

Japan in shock after PM Shinzo Abe stands down

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has resigned due to ill health. Abe, who became Japan's longest-serving PM on Monday, has suffered from ulcerative colitis for years and said his health had declined around the middle of last month. Sky News says his “shock” resignation may complicate efforts to get the country ready for the postponed 2020 Olympics, scheduled to take place in Tokyo next summer.

4

Rowling returns award to group that described her as transphobic

JK Rowling has returned a human rights award given to her by the family of Robert Kennedy after they described her as transphobic. Kerry Kennedy, the late senator’s daughter and president of the humanitarian organisation set up in his name, had earlier written of her “profound disappointment” that Rowling “has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and non-binary people”.

5

US military will not step in if election result disputed

America's most senior general has told members of Congress that the military will not help settle any disputes if the result of the White House election is contested. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said “the Constitution and laws of the US and the states establish procedures for resolving disputes over the outcome of elections ... I do not see the US military as part of this process”.

6

Elon Musk says he has implanted chips into pigs' heads

A company co-founded by Elon Musk has implanted new wireless technology into the brains of pigs with the aim of helping people with severe neurological conditions. The billionaire described the controversial, coin-sized implant as “a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires”. He insisted that the three pigs were “healthy, happy and indistinguishable from a normal pig”. 

7

Tributes as Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman dies

Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic franchise, has died of cancer at the age of 43. His family said he was a “true fighter” and director Jordan Peele described his death as “a crushing blow”. Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said she was “heartbroken”.

8

Is Waitrose about to tie-up deal with Amazon?

There is speculation that Waitrose could team-up with Amazon after the grocer closed a deal to sell online groceries through Deliveroo. Around half a million Waitrose customers will be able to get groceries delivered in as little as 30 minutes through the trial partnership, which will initially run for 12 weeks. Amazon owns a major stake in Deliveroo.

9

Rail firms may offer three-day season tickets to passengers

Commuters will be offered three-day season tickets under plans being considered by ministers. As Boris Johnson prepares to launch a major push to get people back into the office, rail firms believe the part-time tickets are the only way to entice home workers back on to trains to give them the flexibility of going to their workplace for a few days a week.

10

Trump says NBA protests will ‘destroy basketball’

Donald Trump says protests by the National Basketball Association will destroy the sport. “I think what they’re doing to the NBA in particular is gonna destroy basketball,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One after star players such as Lebron James refused to take the court for playoff games in protest at the Kenosha police shooting. The US president also warned that the NFL football season could suffer.

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