Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 2 Sep 2020
Distancing and tests as children return to school
One-way systems, plastic screens and staggered start times will be in place as millions of children start to return to school in England today. Almost six months after schools were closed by the government, teachers will set tests to assess how far children have fallen behind during lockdown. England’s schools minister Nick Gibb said: “Schools are doing everything they can to make sure that their pupils and their staff are safe.”
Trump denies he had mini strokes last November
Donald Trump has denied having a series of “mini strokes” following reports that Mike Pence, the US vice president, was put on standby last November. According to a forthcoming book, West Wing staffers were told to put Pence on notice “to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Mr Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anaesthetised”.
Record number of young people are on benefits
An unprecedented number of young people are claiming benefits because of the coronavirus pandemic, government data shows. The number of under-25s on Universal Credit nearly doubled during lockdown, rising by 250,000 to 538,000. Today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey will launch a £2bn employment scheme for school leavers in a “national effort” to restore the UK’s economy.
Charlie Hebdo revives controversial cartoons for trial
The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo is republishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad ahead of the trial of the alleged accomplices of gunmen who attacked its offices in January 2015. “We will never lie down. We will never give up,” the satirical publication’s director, Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, wrote in an editorial sitting alongside the cartoons in its latest edition, published today.
UK slides down the league table of global broadband speeds
British broadband speeds are among the slowest in Europe, plummeting 13 places in an annual study ranking the average broadband speeds of 221 countries. The UK was in 47th place, with a typical household taking more than twice as long to download a movie than the western European average. Among the countries leapfrogging the UK were Malta, Puerto Rico and Romania.
Sunak wants to use foreign aid ‘to fund British spies’
The Treasury wants to divert billions of pounds from foreign aid to fund improvements to Britain’s intelligence and defence capabilities, according to The Times. Rishi Sunak has reportedly told ministerial colleagues that increased spending on items such as enhanced cyberweapons and new drones will have to be drawn from the aid budget. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the aid budget was due to total £15.8 billion this year.
Khmer Rouge jailer Duch dies at the age of 77
Comrade Duch, the chief jailer of Khmer Rouge regime, who oversaw the mass murder of at least 14,000 Cambodians in prison, has died. Duch, who was 77, was the first Khmer Rouge figure to be held to account by a court for atrocities committed by the regime, which killed an estimated 1.7 million people in the 1970s.
First same-sex pairing set for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing
Olympic champion boxer Nicola Adams will be paired with a female professional dancer for this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, forming the programme’s first same-sex couple. An insider described the decision as “ground-breaking” and said: “It’s such an exciting step for us to be taking, and many feel it is well overdue.”
Campaigners call Johnson ‘heartless’ for refusing to meet bereaved
A support group for the relatives of people who died of Covid-19 have described Boris Johnson as “heartless” after he changed his mind about meeting them. When the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice wrote to Johnson five times to request a meeting, the PM said he would “of course” arrange a meeting. Days later, however, he wrote to the group to say he was “unable” to meet them.
Sturgeon tightens Glasgow lockdown after Covid cases rise
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has tightened lockdown rules in and around Glasgow following a rise of Covid-19 cases. Households will not be able to visit each other, care home visits will have to take place outdoors and only emergency hospital visits will be allowed. “These are decisions that have not been taken lightly,” Sturgeon said during the government's daily Covid-19 briefing.