Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 March 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Media reject racism claim
The Society of Editors has denied the media is racist after Prince Harry said racism from within the tabloid press was a “large part” of why he and Meghan Markle left the UK. In the couple’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast on ITV last night, the Duke alleged that the tabloid media in the UK is “bigoted” and creates a “toxic environment”. The media freedom organisation criticised the couple for accusing the press of racism without “any supporting evidence”.
Report calls Xinjiang ‘genocide’
China’s actions in Xinjiang have violated every single provision in the United Nations’ Genocide Convention, according to an independent report by dozens of global experts. The report, published by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy think tank, alleges that the Chinese government “bears state responsibility for an on-going genocide against the Uyghur in breach of the (UN) Genocide Convention”. The report was put together by a host of global figures in human rights, war crimes and international law. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said allegations of a genocide “couldn’t be more preposterous”.
UK economy changed forever
The economy will never fully return to its pre-pandemic pattern even as life slowly returns to normal, according to the governor of the Bank of England. Andrew Bailey said that shifts in spending and working patterns seen over the past 12 months would prove permanent. He continued that the structural economic changes during the crisis will not end, but “my best guess is that we will see some persistence, not full persistence but not a full reversion to pre-Covid either”.
Taliban offered power-share
Joe Biden has offered the Taliban a return to power in Afghanistan as he seeks to bring the longest war in American history to an end. The White House is ready to offer the Islamic fundamentalists a power-sharing deal with the Afghan government if they agree to lay down their arms. The offer comes almost two decades after the US invasion that “routed the Taliban regime and triggered a bloody insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of people”, The Times says.
UK could have fourth wave
England’s deputy chief medical adviser has warned that it is too soon to rule out a fourth wave of Covid-19. Jenny Harries told the daily press briefing that under current levels of infection, “a new wave could easily take off again”. Her call for caution came as Boris Johnson admitted that with the re-opening of schools “there will be a risk of increased transmission” that could delay the end of lockdown. The UK yesterday reported less than 100 deaths for the second day in a row, the first time that has happened since 9 October.
Brazil’s Lula cleared in court
Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been cleared of corruption by a Supreme Court judge. Lula was freed in 2019 after 18 months in jail following a major bribery scandal involving politicians and business leaders. The development paves the way for the 75-year-old to make a run for the presidency in 2022. However, the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, has accused the Supreme Court judge of bias. The annulment was celebrated by leftist figures, including Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez who said the convictions were “issued with the sole purpose of persecution and eliminating him from politics”.
Call for action on conversions
Campaigners have warned that ministers are not moving quickly enough to ban LGBT+ “conversion therapy”. Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch insisted that the government is “committed” to “ending” the practice and takes the issue “very seriously”. But equality campaigners said targeted action is required. Conversion therapy refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation, “ranging from electric shock treatment to religious teaching and discussion”, the BBC reports.
Nightingales to close
The NHS has announced that the emergency Nightingale hospitals set up to cope with a surge of Covid-19 cases are to close from April. Seven Nightingale hospitals were built in England, beginning in April 2020 with the 4,000-bed facility at London’s ExCel centre. Birmingham, Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff, Exeter, Sunderland, Harrogate, Glasgow and Manchester also had their own temporary hospitals. The sites in London and Sunderland will stay open for vaccinations.
Loophole closed on sex abuse
Sports coaches and priests who have sex with 16- and 17-year-olds in their care are to face prosecution after the government closes a contentious legal loophole. A new law will prevent adults in positions of trust from engaging in sexual relationships with young people under 18. It will bring sports coaches and religious leaders into line with the legislation currently in place for teachers and doctors.
Ex-soldier killed fiancée
An inquest has heard that a former soldier, who was granted bail after threatening his fiancée with a gun, killed her in a frenzied attack just weeks later. Terence Papworth, who served in Afghanistan, used a vodka bottle and ornamental sword in the “sustained” attack on Amy-Leanne Stringfellow. Doncaster Coroner’s Court heard a post-mortem examination found 58 different injuries. Papworth was found dead in Leeds Prison in November.