Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 16 Nov 2020


Boris Johnson self-isolating after Covid contact

The prime minister is in self-isolation in Downing Street after meeting an MP who later tested positive for Covid-19. Boris Johnson said he was “pinged” by NHS Test and Trace yesterday but remains well. He tweeted: “I have no symptoms, but am following the rules and will be working from No. 10 as I continue to lead the government’s pandemic response.”


Trump campaign drops part of Pennsylvania lawsuit

Donald Trump’s lawyers have withdrawn a crucial element of their lawsuit seeking to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden won. The campaign will no longer claim that 682,479 mail-in and absentee ballots were illegally processed without its representatives watching but continues to allege that Democratic voters were treated more favourably than Republican voters.


SpaceX launches ‘taxi flight’ to International Space Station

SpaceX has launched four astronauts to the International Space Station on the first fully-fledged taxi flight for Nasa by a private company. Three of the four astronauts are Americans and one is Japanese. Nasa has said it is now entering a new era in which routine astronaut journeys to low-Earth orbit are being conducted by commercial providers.


Road tolls considered for Britain’s roads

Rishi Sunak may charge motorists for using roads as he seeks to offset a £40bn tax shortfall created by the switch to electric cars. The Treasury has drawn up a new national road-pricing scheme proposing the move as the government prepares to announce this week that a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be brought forward to 2030.


Statin side-effects ‘may be down to placebo effect’

Side-effects attributed to statins could be down to a “nocebo effect” in which someone expects to experience negative symptoms after taking a drug, according to a study. Researchers found that negative expectations can play a part in the experience. Statins are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the UK, but up to a fifth of people stop taking them because of side-effects, such as fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain and nausea.


Brexit negotiator says ‘significant differences’ remain in Brussels

The UK’s chief negotiator has warned he “may not succeed” in securing a Brexit trade deal, as he insisted that he will not be deviating from Boris Johnson’s “red lines” despite the departure of Dominic Cummings. After arriving unexpectedly in Brussels, David Frost said there had been “some progress in a positive direction” but admitted there were still “significant” differences.


Police break up baptism service for flouting rules

A baptism service in London was broken up by police for breaching lockdown restrictions. Officers halted the indoor service at The Angel Church in Clerkenwell, which was attended by some 30 people. After talks with police, the church’s pastor agreed to hold “a brief socially-distanced outdoor gathering in the church courtyard”. Under current rules, places of worship are allowed to remain open for individual prayer but communal services are banned. 


Tributes as Des O'Connor dies after decades in spotlight

Des O'Connor has died at the age of 88, his agent has confirmed. The comedian, singer and TV host died on Saturday following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire. Connor presented his prime-time television shows for more than 45 years. His former presenting partner, Melanie Sykes, said O'Connor “had the softest hands of anyone I ever met and the kindest of hearts”.


Obama speaks of ‘great hope’ from next generation

Barack Obama says the US faces a huge task in reversing a culture of “crazy conspiracy theories” that have worsened divides in the country. Speaking to the BBC, the former president said: “It'll take more than one election to reverse those trends.” However he said he sees “great hope” in the “sophisticated” attitudes of the next generation.


Playing video games may enhance mental wellbeing

Researchers say there is a link between playing video games and having a positive sense of wellbeing. Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, said. “Play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health — and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players.” He added that the study showed that gaming was “certainly not bad for you”.


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