Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Funeral to praise Philip’s ‘loyalty’
Prince Philip’s “unwavering loyalty” to the Queen and his “courage, fortitude and faith” will be praised at his funeral in Windsor today. There is a limit of 30 mourners at St George’s Chapel, under Covid rules. The Duke of Edinburgh’s association with the Royal Navy and love of the sea will be a focus of the ceremony but no sermon will be given, in line with his wishes.
Jab offered to pregnant women
Pregnant women in the UK have been given the go-ahead to receive a Covid vaccine. After a study in the US showed about 90,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated safely, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said all pregnant women would be offered the Pfizer or Moderna jab based on their age and clinical risk group.
Cameron in tax haven ‘hypocrisy’
David Cameron has been accused of “deep hypocrisy” after it was revealed that he is on the board of a tech company based in the “world’s worst tax haven”. Afiniti, a software business based in Hamilton, Bermuda, has implemented a structure that could allow profits to be transferred offshore to take advantage of lower tax rates. The former PM once described such tax reduction strategies as “morally wrong” and “not fair on hardworking people”.
Moscow responds to US sanctions
Russia has sanctioned eight senior US administration officials, including FBI director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. The move came 24 hours after President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Moscow and warned against a “cycle of escalation”. The White House says the US sanctions were imposed response to cyber-attacks allegedly from Moscow, including last year’s “SolarWinds” hack.
Castro era to end in Cuba
The Castro family’s six decades in power is coming to an end after Raúl Castro announced that he is resigning as Cuban Communist Party leader. The 89-year-old told a party congress that he is handing over the leadership to a younger generation “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit”. The BBC says “the reality is that, at least in the short term, little will change”.
Church minister protest passports
More than 1,200 church ministers have written to Boris Johnson asking him not to introduce Covid vaccine passports. In an open letter, Anglican and Catholic ministers warned such certificates could create a “surveillance state” and describe them as an “unethical form of coercion”. The papers would allow people to prove they have been vaccinated, had a negative test or had immunity from a confirmed infection in the previous six months.
Roger Stone sued over tax
Trump ally Roger Stone is being sued by the US Department of Justice, which accuses him of owing around $2m in unpaid federal income taxes. The civil lawsuit, filed in federal court in Florida, states that Stone and his wife, Nydia, used a commercial entity to “shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2m in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties”.
Peaky Blinders star dies
Helen McCrory, who starred in Peaky Blinders and the Harry Potter films, has died after a “heroic battle with cancer”, her husband Damian Lewis has announced. Peaky Blinders co-star Cillian Murphy described McCrory, who was 52, as a “gifted actor” and a “brilliant woman”. The Harry Potter Twitter account said the actress was “a wonderful actor and a very dear friend”.
Biden says shootings are ‘embarrassing’
Joe Biden says mass shootings are a “national embarrassment” that must end. “Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation,” said the US president, a day after eight people were killed in an attack at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Biden also urged Congress to ban military-style assault weapons.
FTSE reaches pandemic era high
The FTSE 100 has passed 7,000 points for the first time in 14 months in a £532bn comeback from pandemic lows. The index closed 0.5% or 36.03 points higher at 7019.53 as trillions of dollars in stimulus and the growing momentum behind vaccine roll-outs triggered a share “melt-up” and traders bet on a rapid worldwide bounceback. The Daily Telegraph says there is “surging optimism over the global economy”.