Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 July 2021

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

1

Falling cases may be ‘data glitch’

A government scientific adviser has said the fall in Covid-19 cases in the UK is “perplexing” and possibly “to do with schools breaking up”. Dr Christopher Jewell, a senior lecturer in epidemiology at Lancaster University, also suggested that people “may be less inclined to get tested if they have summer holidays booked”, adding that there may be disruptions in the sending out of tests or a “data glitch”. Downing Street has resisted declaring a turning point despite a huge drop in infections for the sixth day in a row, saying they believe the UK is “not out of the woods”.

2

North and South Korea restore hotline

North and South Korea have restored a communication hotline that was cut off by Pyongyang in June 2020 when relations soured after a failed summit between the two countries. According to the South’s presidential office, the leaders of both countries have agreed to rebuild trust and improve ties, with Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un exchanging multiple personal letters since April. However, The Guardian cautions that previous re-openings of the hotline “have not always gone to plan”.

3

Thieves to be tagged after jail

Burglars released from prison will be made to wear tags 24/7 to tackle reoffending, Boris Johnson will announce today. The prime minister will say that 19 police forces will be able to use the GPS tags to check the movements of thieves and muggers after they have been freed from prison. Nearly 80% of the 402,000 burglaries a year result in no suspect being identified, while more than half of those convicted of burglary and theft reoffend within a year.

4

US troops to end Iraq combat

Joe Biden has said US forces will end their combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year. There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq helping local forces counter what remains of the Islamic State. They are expected to remain in the country once their combat mission ends, but only to train and advise the Iraqi military. US combat troops first withdrew in 2011, however, they returned at the request of the Iraqi government three years later.

5

NHS under same pressure as in January

NHS leaders have warned the health service is under similar levels of pressure as at the height of the pandemic in January. NHS Providers said a combination of pressures in the NHS have resulted in hospitals being short of thousands of beds, with record demand in A&E departments. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has also risen to more than 5,000 in England for the first time since March. “The NHS can’t meet the pressures it faces without the right funding,” it said.

6

Britney asks accountant to take charge

Britney Spears has asked a Los Angeles judge to remove her father from her conservatorship. In a court filing, her lawyer Matthew Rosengart requested that accountant Jason Rubin be named the conservator of Spears’ estate, a position currently held by her father, Jamie Spears. Rosengart questioned whether Spears was “guilty of misfeasance” as he argued that removing him was in the pop star’s best interest.

7

Bezos offers to fund Nasa moon vehicle

Jeff Bezos has offered to cover $2bn (£1.4bn) of Nasa costs in order to be reconsidered for a key contract to build a Moon landing vehicle. In April, Nasa awarded SpaceX, owned by rival billionaire Elon Musk, a $2.9bn (£2bn) contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024, rejecting bids from Bezos’ Blue Origin. Bezos said: “Nasa veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle.”

8

Drinking can help heart disease

Drinking a small amount of alcohol each day can lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, angina or an early death if you are living with heart disease. The largest benefit, a 50% reduction in risk compared with non-drinkers, was seen in people with heart disease who drank an average of six grams of alcohol per day. One unit of alcohol in the UK is roughly eight grams. “This is not the general population – the study applies to people who have already had something happen that relates to cardiovascular health,” said Professor Emmanuela Gakidou, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

9

Child thrown to safety as mum hit by car

A mother has been hit by a car at a festival in North Wales after her daughter was thrown to safety. Jenna O’Neill, 32, said her two-year-old daughter was saved by her husband throwing her out of the way of the car. “My toddler only survived this incident because my husband threw her out of the way of the car as it careered down the road,” she said, speaking from hospital in Stoke.

10

Booker Prize longlist announced

The 2021 Booker Prize longlist has been unveiled, including novels by Sunjeev Sahota, Rachel Cusk and Patricia Lockwood. Kazuo Ishiguro, a 1989 Booker winner and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is also longlisted with his eighth novel Klara and the Sun. “For once, the judges have ignored experimental fiction and plumped for novels that are - shock, horror - a pleasure to read,” The Telegraph says.

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