Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 17 Oct 2020
Macron says Paris beheading was an ‘Islamist attack’
Emmanuel Macron has described the beheading of a teacher in a north-western suburb of Paris as an “Islamist terrorist attack”. The victim reportedly showed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils. The French president said the unnamed teacher was murdered because he “taught freedom of expression”. The attacker was shot dead by police.
Manchester leaders say they will meet Boris Johnson
Local authorities in Greater Manchester say they are ready to meet Boris Johnson to try to end the stalemate over bringing in the top level of Covid-19 measures for the region. The announcement came after the PM said that every day of delay would mean “more people will die”. New restrictions have come into force in England with more than half the population facing new curbs.
Moody's downgrades Britain's credit status
A leading ratings agency has downgraded Britain’s credit status, blaming Brexit uncertainty and a decline in economic strength due to the coronavirus pandemic. Moody’s lowered the UK’s sovereign debt rating by one notch to Aa3 from Aa2. However, it said it expected the overall debt burden to stabilise next year, leading it to drop the “negative outlook” attached to the rating to one of “stable”.
George Osborne urged to apply for BBC chairman post
George Osborne is being lined up as the next BBC chairman after the government increased the salary for the role, claims the Daily Telegraph. The former chancellor is being urged to stand for the role after ministers increased the chairman's pay to £160,000 a year for the part-time role to encourage a broader range of candidates. One source said ministers could lift the salary to as high as £280,000.
Teaching union backs a two-week half term
Teachers have backed a “circuit-breaker” lockdown and called for secondary schools and colleges to have an extended two-week half-term. The National Education Union said teachers understood the negative impact that closing schools for an extra week would have on children's education but added: “Taking action now can avoid more disruption later. The government must not just turn a blind eye and pretend all is going to be OK.”
Ministers to make it illegal to touch phone while driving
New legislation will make it illegal to pick up and use a mobile phone while driving. The Department for Transport wants to update laws so that phone calls and texts are not the only things banned for drivers using their device. From early next year the ban will extend to touching phones for any reason – such as to take photos, browse the internet or scroll through a music playlist.
‘Tree leprosy’ hits Italy's olive oil output hard
Italy’s olive oil output has dropped by a quarter this year, an agricultural lobby has revealed. The world’s second-largest exporter of olive oil has suffered poor weather and Xylella bacteria, which is known as “olive tree leprosy”. About a third of Italy’s oil for export goes to the United States, with Germany in second place with 13%.
Ex-wife of modelling boss praises ‘strength’ of his accusers
The supermodel Linda Evangelista has lauded the “courage and strength” shown by the women accusing her ex-husband, the model agency boss Gérald Marie, of rape. Speaking to The Guardian, Evangelista said: “During my relationship with Gérald Marie, I knew nothing of these sexual allegations against him, so I was unable to help these women.” She was married to Marie between 1987 and 1993.
Scientists predict one million tests by Christmas
Scientists say that Britain will be carrying out a million coronavirus tests a day by Christmas. The government has spent more than £500 million in the past fortnight on new laboratory-based testing machines. A senior scientist said: “It’s going pretty well. They have really scaled up their capabilities. By Christmas we’ll be at a million a day, I think. That seems perfectly possible.”
RSPCA wants to limit dog walkers to four mutts
The RSPCA has called for professional dog walkers to be regulated in the same way as kennels and breeders. “You will see people taking six to eight dogs,” said a spokesperson. “You have to question whether one individual can control that number of dogs, and also whether they can provide for [their] welfare needs.” The welfare charity is calling for a limit of four dogs per walker.