Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 April 2021

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

1

Water cannon deployed in Belfast

Police used water cannon to disperse people throwing petrol bombs, fireworks and rocks last night during riots “on a scale not seen in Northern Ireland in years”, says the BBC. Violence broke out on both sides of a boundary between loyalist and nationalist areas in west Belfast. More than 50 police officers have now been injured during seven successive nights of unrest. The White House said yesterday it was “concerned by the violence”.

2

Holidays could restart in May

Travel restrictions to dozens of holiday destinations will be relaxed in time for the summer holidays, according to reports. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is expected to confirm a “traffic light” system to allow foreign travel to restart as soon as next month. However, the BBC says the government cannot yet confirm whether foreign holidays will be allowed to resume on 17 May, the earliest date allowed by the end-of-lockdown roadmap.

3

Sunak ‘pushed’ Cameron firm

Text messages reveal that Rishi Sunak told David Cameron he had “pushed” Treasury officials to help the finance firm Greensill participate in a multimillion-pound coronavirus support scheme. A letter, also released as part of yesterday’s freedom of information request, showed that Cameron lobbied two other Treasury ministers on behalf of Greensill, a supply chain finance company.

4

Floyd ‘died from oxygen starvation’

George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen during his arrest, according to a doctor at the trial of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin. The defence had seized on a toxicology report which stated that Floyd had the painkiller fentanyl and the drug methamphetamine in his system. However, Dr Martin Tobin said fentanyl did not cause Floyd’s death and insisted that even a “healthy person...would have died” from the manhandling. 

5

Brits still trust Oxford jab

Most British people trust the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine despite concerns about blood clots, according to a poll in The Times. The study by YouGov found 75% of people considered the Oxford vaccine safe - down by only two percentage points since March. Healthy under-30s have been advised to have alternative vaccines after regulators said there was a “strong possibility” that the Oxford vaccine had caused fatal clots.

6

Sharp decline in garden birds

Eighty per cent of Britain’s most popular bird species are facing decline, according to the RSPB. The charity’s latest wildlife survey found that 16 of the top 20 populations have shrunk since last year. The house sparrow remains the most frequently spotted garden bird and blue tits were the second most common. Loss of habitat and food are cited as the main factors in the decline.

7

BMI ‘causes eating disorders’

The government’s official definition of a healthy weight triggers eating disorders and has become a justification for body shaming, MPs said yesterday. Body mass index (BMI) forms part of a “dangerous” obesity strategy that is contributing to a rise in body image anxiety and should be scrapped, according to the committee. The MPs want it replaced by a “weight neutral” approach.

8

Black people more likely to go missing

Campaigners are demanding answers after it was revealed that black people are four times more likely to be reported missing in England and Wales. According to the National Crime Agency, black people accounted for 14% of missing people in England and Wales between 2019 and 2020, more than four times their relative population, which is 3%. “Black and ethnic minorities parents feel that their sons’ lives aren’t valued the same,” said a campaigner.

9

Debenhams to re-open temporarily

Debenhams will reopen 97 of its stores next week for a closing-down sale to clear stock before they shut their doors for good in May. The chain collapsed in December with 118 stores closing and 12,000 jobs lost when its administrators announced it had begun the liquidation process. Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, a joint administrator, said last year that “all reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams”.

10

Filipino man dies after Covid punishment

A man in the Philippines has died after being forced to do 300 squats for breaking Covid curfews. Darren Manaog Penaredondo, 28, had left home his during lockdown to buy water. He was stopped by police and told to do 300 “pumping exercises”. His family said he later “started to convulse” and then died. Officials have previously locked five youths inside a dog cage and forced people to sit in the midday sun as punishments for breaching curfew.

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