Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
No. 10 anxious over ‘paper trail’
Downing Street is concerned that the involvement of a Tory donor in funding Boris Johnson’s flat redecoration has left a “damaging paper trail” at Conservative Party headquarters, The Times reports. The Electoral Commission yesterday launched an inquiry into the spending that has the potential to “imperil Johnson’s premiership”, The Guardian says. Labour has called on the PM to appoint a fully independent figure to oversee ministers’ conduct, including his own.
Biden unveils historic spending
Joe Biden has announced sweeping plans for jobs, education and social care in his first speech to a joint session of Congress. The president pitched proposals involving some $4 trillion (£2.9tn) in spending to boost the US economy post-Covid. The president “spoke directly to working- and middle-class Americans” when he promised that his ambitious economic and infrastructure plans amounted to a “blue-collar blueprint to build America”, CNN reports.
Rudy Giuliani’s properties raided
FBI agents have carried out searches at the home and office of Rudy Giuliani as part of a probe into the former Donald Trump advisers’ dealings with Ukraine. Prior to the 2020 presidential election, Giuliani spearheaded a bid to find incriminating information about Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Several electronic devices belonging to the 76-year-old were seized in the raid. His lawyer said he denies breaking any laws.
Elections in India despite surge
State elections in India have gone ahead despite Covid deaths reaching a record high. There were long queues outside polling booths in West Bengal, heightening fears that the area could be the next epicentre of the pandemic. India reported 379,257 new infections on Thursday, again breaking the record for the highest single-day total. Hospitals have been overwhelmed, with oxygen in critically short supply and crematoriums operating non-stop.
Van Tam: public must ‘hold the line’
It would be “incredibly safe” for two fully vaccinated people to meet indoors, however, ministers are not allowing it because they want to ease restrictions for everyone at once, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has said. The deputy chief medical officer for England continued that the government is “extremely close” to allowing people to meet inside their homes, but added that the public must “hold the line for just a teeny bit longer”.
Apple profits double during pandemic
Apple’s profits have doubled thanks to a surge in iPhone sales centred in China. The technology giant has seen sales of its phones, apps and other devices rise throughout the pandemic, with boss Tim Cook saying its results reflected “optimism” about the days ahead. Profits hit $23.6bn (£16.9bn), up from $11.3bn (£8bn) across the same period last year. Apple’s figures across multiple sectors are “exceptional”, the BBC says.
DUP says Foster exit a ‘mess’
A senior DUP source has said that removing Arlene Foster is a “total mess” and could lead to a Northern Ireland Assembly election later this year, the BBC reports. The first minister agreed to step down after around 80% of the party’s Stormont and Westminster ranks backed a change of leadership. In a statement, she described her period as leader of the DUP and first minister of Northern Ireland as “the privilege of my life”.
Ryan Giggs appears in court
Ryan Giggs “headbutted” his girlfriend and isolated her from friends and family, a court has been told. Wearing a mask and a black suit, the Wales international football manager yesterday pleaded not guilty to assaulting Kate Greville and subjecting her to controlling or coercive behaviour. The 47-year-old also denied a third charge of common assault against Greville’s sister, Emma. Giggs was bailed to appear at Manchester Crown Court on 26 May.
Pandemic hits mental health
People who saw sudden and massive drops in household income during the pandemic recorded the sharpest increases in mental illness, according to a new study. The National Centre for Social Research found that previously comfortable people forced to become dependent on universal credit and self-employment grants experienced the most spectacular decline in emotional wellbeing. The report found that the pandemic “took people who had been for decades living on a comfortable income into a totally different world overnight”.
Glacier melting pace doubles
The melting of glaciers has nearly doubled in pace over the past two decades and contributes more to sea-level rise than either the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, according to a new study. A group of international scientists blamed human-driven global heating as they revealed that between 2000 and 2019, glaciers lost 267 gigatonnes of ice per year, equivalent to 21% of sea-level rise.