Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 August 2021

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

1

‘No more lockdowns’ say scientists

Government scientific advisers say lockdowns are unlikely to be needed again, as figures showed a clear fall in Covid cases. The Times says “even normally cautious scientists” responded after data from the Office for National Statistics, considered the gold standard for infection rates, confirmed the first clear drop outside of lockdown. Professor Neil Ferguson said the epidemic was “going to transition quite quickly in a few months to be more something we live with and manage through vaccination”.

2

Man stabs 10 people on Tokyo train

A man injured 10 people when he attacked fellow passengers with a knife on a Tokyo commuter train. The suspect allegedly told police he became angry when he saw women who “looked happy” and wanted to kill them. The suspect was caught after he walked into a convenience store and told staff that he was “the suspect in the incident reported by news media”. The BBC says one victim, a female student, is seriously injured.

3

PM refuses to isolate despite contact

Boris Johnson under fire after it emerged he decided not to isolate despite a member of his team testing positive for Covid on the trip. Speaking to The Guardian, a senior government source said the prime minister and official were “side-by-side” on several occasions during a trip and even travelled together on an RAF Voyager. Labour said: “Senior Conservatives are really taking the public for fools. This is yet another example of one rule for them and another for everyone else.”

4

9/11 families give Biden ultimatum

Relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks have called on Joe Biden to stay away from memorial events unless he declassifies files about the attacks. Nearly 1,800 people signed a letter calling on the US president to release documents that they believe implicate officials from Saudi Arabia. “We cannot in good faith, and with veneration to those lost, sick, and injured, welcome the president to our hallowed grounds until he fulfils his commitment,” says the letter from family members, first responders and survivors.

5

Police tasered a child of 10

Children as young as 10 and an 87-year-old pensioner have been tasered by police as use of the weapons soared over the last three years. Police chiefs have defended using the devices on youths, saying they commit “a lot of violent crime” but campaigners have called for the UK to ban the use of Tasers on under-18s. Police forces also revealed they had tasered dogs including Staffordshire bull terriers, a rottweiler, an American bulldog, a husky, a German Shepherd-type breed and a Pitbull-type.

6

Archbishop criticises ‘patronising elite’

The Archbishop of York says the London “metropolitan elite” treats people who are proud to be English as “backwardly xenophobic”. Writing for The Telegraph, The Most Rev Stephen Cottrell says of patriots that “their heartfelt cry to be heard is often disregarded, wilfully misunderstood or patronised as being backwardly xenophobic”. He calls for “an expansive vision of what it means to be English as part of the United Kingdom”. 

7

Nicaragua bans opposition party

The leading opposition party in Nicaragua has been disqualified from the country’s elections. The electoral council said the president of the Citizens Alliance for Liberty Party holds dual US and Nicaraguan citizenship in violation of the law. However, critics say President Daniel Ortega is working to silence the opposition. For months, his government has been detaining political adversaries, including presidential hopefuls.

8

China claims US started Covid

China is “doubling down” on a theory that Covid was leaked from a US Army lab, reports CNN. This week, Beijing has mobilised its diplomats and vast propaganda apparatus to call for a World Health Organization investigation into the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Beijing rejects the idea the virus was leaked from a lab in Wuhan, insisting that Washington is attempting to politicise its origins.

9

Shed shortage hits Britain

Britain’s garden shops are suffering a shed shortage. After the Covid pandemic previously caused shortages of hand sanitiser, flour and toilet rolls, suppliers are struggling to keep up with overwhelming demand for timber from people bored during lockdowns and wanting to do up their gardens. A record 2.6m cubic metres of timber was imported into the UK in the first four months of this year – 50% more than in the same period of 2020.

10

Barristers fear ban on crude jokes

Barristers fear that new disciplinary rules will mean they get a year’s suspension for rude jokes. The Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service is suggesting a suspension of at least 12 months for sexual misconduct but representatives of two of the historic inns of court, Inner Temple and Gray’s, say: “This could include . . . telling a crude joke, wolf-whistling, sending a message of a sexual nature on social media or consensual sexual activity with a partner in a public place.”

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