Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 May 2021

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

1

PM and scientists call for caution

Millions of people can now socialise indoors in limited numbers, hug loved ones and visit pubs and restaurants as lockdown rules ease in England, Wales and most of Scotland. The ban on foreign travel has also been lifted and replaced with new rules. However, Boris Johnson has called on people to adopt “a heavy dose of caution” - and a former government chief scientific adviser, a leading public health specialist and the union representing Britain’s doctors are urging the public to stick to meeting outdoors.

2

Gaza endures deadliest day

Palestinian officials in Gaza say Sunday was the deadliest day since the current fighting with Israel began, with more than 40 people were killed in Israeli air strikes. However, The Guardian says attacks early this morning rocked the city from north to south for ten minutes and were more intense, covered a broader area and lasted longer than the raids 24 hours earlier. Israel says more than 3,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza over the past week.

3

Cheney regrets voting for Trump

The prominent Republican Liz Cheney has said she regrets voting for Donald Trump in November and repeated her vow to prevent him from returning to the Oval Office in 2024. Speaking to ABC, she spoke of the possibility of Trump running for the next White House election and vowed: “I will do everything that I can to make sure he’s not the nominee.”

4

Vulnerable bet more during crisis

Online gambling increased six-fold among regular punters during the Covid pandemic, according to researchers at Bristol University, who also found that those with financial problems before the pandemic were more likely to gamble during lockdown. A spokesman said: “As with so many repercussions of the pandemic, inequalities have been exacerbated and particularly vulnerable groups were worse affected.”

5

MP says Palestinian activists ‘primitive’

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has been criticised for describing pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashing with police as “primitives”. Campaigners have called on the party to suspend him, accusing him of “hateful racism that stirs up division”. Meanwhile, four men have been arrested after a video appeared to show antisemitic abuse being shouted from a car in north London.

6

AT&T to join forces with Discovery

The US telecoms company AT&T is finalising a deal with Discovery that would create a $150bn (£106bn) streaming giant. AT&T already owns CNN, HBO and Warner Bros, after acquiring several brands in a $108.7bn purchase of Time Warner in 2018. An expert told the BBC that there is a “streaming arms race” and AT&T is “making an offensive strategic move to further bulk up its content in the battle versus Netflix, Disney, and Amazon”.

7

Infant killed in ‘gas blast’

The parents of a two-year-old boy who was killed in a suspected gas explosion have paid tribute to their “beautiful little angel”. George Arthur Hinds died when a blast tore through his home at around 2.40am on Sunday in Heysham, Lancashire. His parents, Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds, were hurt in the collapse but survived, along with two other people who were said to have suffered critical injuries.

8

House prices continue to soar

Property prices have risen by more than 10% in some regions during the pandemic, according to Rightmove. The property portal found that prices in London have risen by only 0.2%, but by 13% in Wales and 11.1% in northwest England. A spokesman said that “demand continues to massively exceed supply, especially in northern regions”. Nationally, the average listing now stands at £330,000.

9

Royals tell Brits to plant trees

People are being asked to plant trees across the country to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee. To celebrate her seven-decade reign, a unique UK-wide tree planting initiative called The Queen's Green Canopy is being launched today. Prince Charles said: “There is a reason for this profoundly symbolic act. Planting a tree is a statement of hope and faith in the future.”

10

Hundreds of bank branches close

The UK has lost 529 bank branches since the start of the pandemic, according to Which? magazine. The mass closures have come despite the Financial Conduct Authority urging lenders to delay shutting branches where possible, “particularly where this could impact vulnerable customers”. Scotland has faced 90 bank branch cuts since last spring, making it the worst affected region after London.

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