Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 12 Sep 2020
England ‘on knife-edge’ as R number soars
Cases of Covid-19 in England are doubling every seven to eight days, new data has revealed. The R number is as high as 1.7 as the pace of infections returns to levels not seen since May. Former UK government chief scientific adviser Sir David King says England is on a “knife-edge” as Birmingham became the biggest local authority to announce a tightening of lockdown measures.
Boris in plea to Tory MPs as opposition grows to Brexit plan
Boris Johnson has urged Tory MPs to back his plan to override part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. During a Zoom call the PM told his MPs the party must not return to “miserable squabbling” over Europe. Meanwhile, one Tory MP has proposed an amendment to the legislation, while the European Parliament has threatened to sink any UK-EU trade deal if the bill becomes UK law.
Trump announces agreement between Bahrain and Israel
Bahrain is to establish diplomatic relations with Israel and will join the United Arab Emirates in signing an agreement at the White House next week. “Even great warriors get tired of fighting, and they’re tired of fighting,” the US president told reporters in the Oval Office. However, The Guardian says that neither Gulf monarchy has ever been at war with Israel, and both had already established extensive informal ties.
Leak shows Sir Philip Green exploited furlough rules
Sir Philip Green is under fire once again as leaked documents show that his retail empire is exploiting furlough rules to cut pay while taking tens of millions in government handouts. The Arcadia Group has made 300 staff redundant at its head office and used a loophole in government rules to pay them at reduced rates during their notice period.
Dozens feared dead after gold mine collapses in Congo
At least 50 people died when a gold mine collapsed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to an NGO. The cave-in occurred on the Detroit mine site following heavy rains, said Emiliane Itongwa, president of the Initiative of Support and Social Supervision of Women. “Several miners were in the shaft, which was covered and no one could get out. We are talking about 50 young people,” Itongwa said.
Netflix under pressure to drop French film Cuties
Netflix is facing a backlash in America over its decision to broadcast a French film that conservative campaigners claim sexualises young girls. More than 600,000 people have signed a petition calling for viewers to cancel their subscriptions over Cuties. However, The Times says the row was inflamed by the streaming service’s choice of poster rather than the content of the film.
Fears that Oregon fires will cause a ‘mass fatality event’
Dozens are missing in Oregon as two large fires threaten to merge and hundreds of thousands are ordered to evacuate. Governor Kate Brown has urged householders to stay out of the fire zones despite reports of looting, while Oregon's emergency management director Andrew Phelps said they were braced for a “mass fatality event”.
Highways England set to cut motorway speed limit
The motorway speed limit is to be cut to 60mph on parts of the network to reduce emissions. The Times reports that Highways England plans to lower the 70mph limit in four locations by the end of September to improve roadside air quality. Traffic on motorways has risen by almost a quarter over the past 20 years, twice the increase for all roads.
Oxford draws up anti-party charter to ease relations
Oxford University has compiled an “anti-party charter” for students to sign ahead of the new academic year. The Student Responsibility Agreement states that students should not organise or attend parties or large gatherings either in College accommodation or in privately rented homes. The document aims to avoid ‘town vs gown’ tensions between the student community and locals.
‘Democratic socialist’ wins Who Wants To Be A Millionaire jackpot
A history teacher has become the first Who Wants to be a Millionaire winner in 14 years. Donald Fear, 57, went the full distance on the ITV quiz show. He describes himself as “a bit of a democratic socialist” and says he plans to give at least 70% of his winnings to members of his family and spend the rest on a “comfortable retirement”.