Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 May 2021

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

1

Israel-Hamas violence escalates

Hamas militants have fired dozens more rockets at Israel as Israeli air strikes continue to pound Gaza. Since Monday, the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of air strikes on the Palestinian held territory, killing at least 67 people. Two high-rise buildings containing flats were targeted. Israel has vowed to continue the military operation in Gaza until it achieves “complete quiet”. The escalating violence has prompted the UN to warn of a “full-scale war”.

2

Covid inquiry ‘too late’

Bereaved families and experts have turned their fire on Boris Johnson after he delayed the public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic until spring 2022. The start date was branded “simply too late” by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice. Labour’s Lord Falconer added that the government’s timing would mean the inquiry would not conclude before the next general election, expected in 2023.

3

GPs use virtual appointments

GPs have been told to promote the use of virtual appointments for patients in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Fresh guidance from the NHS instructs family doctors to deploy a system of “total triage”, meaning that anyone hoping to see their doctor must first have a discussion online or by telephone. It estimates that about a third of all patients’ requests can be dealt with using online messaging.

4

No. 10 downplays strain fears

Downing Street sources have played down the possibility that the end of lockdown could be delayed after a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies committee said a delay was “possible”. Scientists are concerned about the rapid spread of the “double mutant” India strain in the UK. Boris Johnson has also warned that the country continues to “face the persistent threat of new variants”.

5

Cop caught in message hack

A police officer who stole drug money for an organised crime group has been convicted with the help of intelligence hacked by detectives from an encrypted messaging service. PC Kashif Mahmood stopped cars he knew to be carrying hundreds of thousands of pounds in drug money on the orders of an international drug syndicate. He was caught when Encrochat, a messaging network favoured by gangsters, was hacked. He awaits sentencing.

6

China imprisoning Muslim clerics

China has imprisoned or detained at least 630 imams and other Muslim religious figures since 2014, according to new research by a Uighur rights group. The study by the Uighur Human Rights Project also found evidence that 18 clerics had died in detention or shortly after. Detained clerics face charges including “propagating extremism” and “inciting separatism”. The rights group tracked the fates of 1,046 Muslim clerics - the vast majority of them Uighurs.

7

Musk suspends bitcoin payments

Elon Musk has announced that Tesla has suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin due to concerns over climate change. “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk wrote on Twitter. The cryptocurrency fell by more than 10% after the announcement, while Tesla shares also dipped.

8

Karadzic to be moved to UK

The Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic is being transferred to a UK prison where he will get extra security to protect him against revenge attacks by Muslim inmates. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, announced yesterday that Britain had agreed with the Hague that Karadzic, 75, will serve the rest of his life sentence for genocide and crimes against humanity in England. Karadzic was the president of Republika Srpska during the Bosnian War when 5,434 people, the majority Muslim, were killed during the Seige of Sarajevo.

9

Woman killed in Greece break-in

The husband of a British woman who was strangled in front of her baby during a burglary in Greece has said he “begged” intruders not to harm his family. Charalambos Anagnostopoulos, 32, was asleep alongside his wife Caroline Crouch, 20, when the break-in began in Glyka Nera, near Athens. Crouch was tied up and strangled by the burglars, who also killed the family’s dog.

10

Māori ejected from parliament

The co-leader of New Zealand’s Māori Party has been removed from parliament for the second time this year after performing a ceremonial dance. Rawiri Waititi interjected while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was discussing indigenous rights. After he accused the opposition party of “racist propaganda and rhetoric” his microphone was turned off. He then began the traditional Māori haka and was asked to leave.

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