Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 Jan 2020

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am


England and Scotland back in lockdown

Boris Johnson has warned the coming weeks will be the “hardest yet” of the Covid-19 pandemic as he last night announced a third lockdown. The prime minister acted after modelling put the UK on course to exceed 100,000 Covid-related deaths before the end of the month without urgent action. People in all of England and most of Scotland must now stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons.


Trump and Biden campaign in Georgia

President Donald Trump and president-elect Joe Biden yesterday held rival rallies in Georgia, calling on voters to turn out for run-off elections today that will decide which party takes the Senate. Trump told Republicans “they’re not taking this White House”, claiming that “everyone loved” the phone call in which he was recorded asking Georgia’s election chief to help him “find enough votes” to win the state. 


New Covid strain ‘may resist vaccines’

Scientists in South Africa have warned that there is a “reasonable concern” that the country’s new Covid-19 variant might prove more resistant to the vaccines currently being rolled out in the UK. Professor Shabir Madhi, who has led trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, told the BBC the development makes the need for a global rollout of vaccines “even more critical”.


Chinese tycoon disappeared in October

Concern is growing over the whereabouts of Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma, who has not been heard from in months. Ma hasn’t made a public appearance or social media post since late October, a week before the stock market listing of his company Alibaba’s financial affiliate, Ant Group, was blocked by Chinese regulators. Soon before he disappeared, Ma criticised China’s state financial system and advocated reforms.


Assange to appeal for bail release

Julian Assange will launch a new appeal to be released from prison after a British judge yesterday ruled that he cannot be extradited to the US to face charges of espionage and hacking government computers. Assange will appear in court on Wednesday for a new bail application, when his team will present evidence to show that the WikiLeaks founder will not abscond if released from jail.


Female drivers join Moscow Metro

Trains on Moscow’s Metro subway system can now be driven by women, after a decades-long ban on female drivers was overturned. The first of a new generation of female drivers started work on Monday after Russia’s Ministry of Labour ordered that women be allowed to drive trains on the network. A ban on hiring new female drivers was introduced in the early 1980s.


South Korean birth rate sinks

There have been calls for action to revive South Korea’s falling fertility rate after the nation recorded more deaths than births in 2020. There were only 275,815 births, a record low, compared to 307,764 deaths, a 3.1% increase in fatalities compared to the previous year. This is the first time South Korea has reached the “population death cross”, the name given to the point at which the number of deaths surpasses births.


Proud Boys leader arrested

The head of the Proud Boys, an American far-right group, has been arrested after he was accused of burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from a historic black church in downtown Washington. Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was taken into custody after a warrant was issued for his arrest on suspicion of destruction of property, US police said.


SNP MP arrested over Covid trip

An MP has been arrested and charged after she travelled hundreds of miles across the UK despite testing positive for coronavirus. Margaret Ferrier, a member of parliament for the Scottish National Party (SNP), travelled between Glasgow and London twice while suffering with symptoms of the virus, the second time after she had been told she had Covid-19. The SNP suspended her back in September.


Is Trump headed for Scotland?

Donald Trump could be planning to visit Scotland during Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. Sources at an airport in Prestwick, near the Trump-owned Turnberry golf resort, say a US military plane is scheduled to arrive on 19 January, and that the aircraft - a Boeing 757 - had been used by the US president on past trips. President-elect Biden is due to be sworn-in as America’s 46th president on 20 January.


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