Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 12 Dec 2020
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Supreme Court rejects bid to overturn election
The US Supreme Court has rejected an unprecedented attempt to throw out election results in four battleground states. The justices said the long-shot case, brought by Texas and backed by the President Donald Trump, did not have any legal standing. The ruling comes three days before the Electoral College will meet to cast votes for the winner of the November election.
Brexit trade talks to continue
Boris Johnson says it is “very, very likely” that Britain will face a no-deal Brexit, after Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel flatly rejected his appeal for direct talks. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said no deal was the most probable end to “difficult” negotiations. Those trade talks are due to resume in Brussels today, with 24 to go until a deadline imposed by the two sides.
Scientists urge caution over Christmas mingling
Scientists and other government advisers have warned against Christmas gatherings in the UK despite relaxed rules. The experts warned ministers were sending the wrong message by saying families must simply “follow the rules” with Christmas bubbles. Official data suggests Covid cases are rising in some parts of the UK, prompting fears of a third wave of the pandemic.
ICC calls for inquiry in war crimes in Nigeria
The International Criminal Court has called for a formal inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nigeria. Following a 10-year investigation into violence in the north-east involving Boko Haram militants, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the vast majority of crimes were by “non-state actors”, but argued that the Nigerian Security Forces should also be investigated.
Navy to protect fishing waters in case of no-deal
The Royal Navy Police will be permitted to arrest French and other EU fishermen who enter Britain’s waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Four armed vessels would have the power to halt, inspect and impound all EU fishing boats operating within the UK’s exclusive economic zone. The Guardian says their deployment evokes memories of the “cod wars” in the 1970s.
Ministers want to ban monkeys being kept as pets
The government may ban people in England from keeping monkeys and other primates as pets. As many as 5,000 monkeys are living outside licensed zoos in the UK. Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith says many of them experience “misery” due to a lack of space and stimulation. Marmosets are the most commonly held primates in the UK.
Iran executes reporter over ‘corruption on Earth’
Iran has executed a journalist over his role in nationwide economic protests in 2017. Just months after he returned from exile to Tehran under mysterious circumstances, Ruhollah Zam, 47, was hanged early on Saturday morning. In June, a court sentenced Zam to death, saying he had been convicted of “corruption on Earth”. His Telegram channel had spread embarrassing information about officials.
US authorises Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use
The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, in what it calls a “significant milestone” in the pandemic. However, the authorisation falls short of a full approval. “Today our nation has achieved a medical miracle,” said US president Donald Trump. “We have delivered a safe and effective vaccine in just nine months.”
Students to be recruited to mark GCSE papers
University students are being hired to mark some GCSE papers this summer, reports The Guardian. The UK’s largest provider of academic qualifications, AQA, has invited “postgraduates and undergraduates who have completed their first year of studies” to undergo assessments in January and February, as part of a new pilot scheme covering religious studies and economics.
Rapper Lil Wayne could face 10 years in prison
Hip-hop star Lil Wayne faces up to 10 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to illegal gun possession. The rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, had been charged with criminal possession of a firearm and ammunition as a prior felony offender. According to prosecutors, the gold-plated, .45-caliber handgun carried in a bag on a private flight was loaded.