Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 10 Sep 2020

1

Experts question Boris Johnson’s mass testing plan

Experts have raised doubts about Boris Johnson’s “moonshot” plan for mass coronavirus testing in the UK. The prime minister believes a mass testing programme is “our only hope for avoiding a second national lockdown before a vaccine”, according to leaked documents laying out plans for “Operation Moonshot”. But scientists claim the technology for testing at such a rapid pace “does not, as yet, exist”.

2

Donald Trump ‘intentionally misled public over Covid-19’

Donald Trump knew Covid-19 was deadlier than the flu before it hit the country but deliberately played down the crisis, a new book has claimed. In March, days after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Watergate journalist Bob Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic.”

3

‘No chance’ of US trade deal if Irish peace threatened

Nancy Pelosi has warned that there will be “absolutely no chance” of a US trade deal if Boris Johnson “imperils” the Good Friday Agreement. The warning comes after the prime minister announced plans to row back on elements of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. “The Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress,” Pelosi said.

4

Confidence in housing market hits four-year high

Confidence in the housing market has reached a four-year high, according to surveyors and estate agents. A combination of cuts to stamp duty and increased demand for homes with gardens since the pandemic has seen widespread price increases. Marc von Grundherr, director of the London estate agent Benham and Reeves, said the UK housing market “continues to gather pace”.

5

Climate assembly backs taxes for frequent flyers

People who fly the most should be taxed more, according to recommendations from UK’s first citizens’ assembly on climate change. Some 80% of participants in the group said they agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal. Assembly members also said they would like to see the airline industry invest in greenhouse gas removals, with 75% backing or strongly backing the policy.

6

Iran brings fresh charges against Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Tehran’s decision to bring fresh charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is “indefensible and unacceptable”, Downing Street has said. The British-Iranian dual national was jailed for five years in 2016 on charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime, an allegation she denies. The fresh charge is “a new stage in an long-running political game”, her husband Richard claimed.

7

‘Panic’ in Biden camp as Trump pulls level in Florida

Joe Biden has ordered an advertising spree to try to win over Latino voters in Florida after a poll showed President Trump pulling level in the battleground state. The Democrat had been comfortably ahead in the sunshine state, but there are now “signs of panic in the Biden campaign” over his chances, The Times reports. His lead in state polls has slipped from 8.4 points late last month to 0.8 points.

8

Manchester bomber visited extremist before attack

The Manchester Arena bomber had contact with a known extremist in the months before his attack, the inquiry has heard. Manchester Magistrates Court was told that Salman Abedi visited convicted terrorist Abdalraouf Abdallah in prison in January 2017, four months before the attack. John Greaney QC said Abedi’s relationship with Abdallah was “one of significance in the period up to the bombing”.

9

‘Substantial chance’ that officials poisoned Navalny, US says

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said there is a “substantial chance” that the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was ordered by senior officials in Moscow. After Nato and Germany said there is “proof beyond doubt” that he was attacked with a Novichok nerve agent, Pompeo said the US was evaluating how it would respond. Donald Trump has so far not condemned Moscow.

10

World wildlife in ‘catastrophic decline’

Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to conservation group WWF. Tanya Steele, chief executive of the animal charity, said wildlife is “in freefall” as we burn forests, over-fish seas and destroy wild areas. She added that the “catastrophic decline” shows no sign of slowing, with the coronavirus pandemic showing how closely nature and humans are intertwined.

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