Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 August 2021

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

1

Six shot dead in Plymouth

Police in Plymouth have confirmed that six people died in a firearms incident last night in the Keyham area of the city. The local MP says a child is among those who died. Devon and Cornwall Police say that two women and two men were also found dead at the scene - along with a man who has been described as the suspect. Plymouth Sutton & Devonport MP Luke Pollard said the incident was “unspeakably awful”.

2

GCSEs show widening divide

This year’s GCSE results have revealed a widening gap between pupils at selective schools and those from other state schools. Record numbers of pupils celebrated high grades but GCSEs also followed the trend in this year’s A-levels, with pupils at private schools achieving the biggest increase in top grades. The relative underperformance of disadvantaged children was branded “unforgivable” by Labour leader Keir Starmer.

3

Israel extends booster shots

Israel will offer a third dose of coronavirus vaccine to everyone over 50 as cases of the Delta variant continue to rise. Although the proportion of fully vaccinated adults in Israel is among the highest in the world, there have been reports of the vaccine’s effects waning in people who received their first two doses more than six months ago. The number of people receiving hospital treatment has doubled over the past week to 680, including 400 serious cases.

4

Spears’ father cedes control

Britney Spears’ father has agreed to step down as her legal guardian after 13 years. The singer’s career has been in the hands of her conservators since concerns about her mental health emerged in 2008. Her father, Jamie Spears, has had control over her estate and other aspects of her life. A court filing, obtained by CNN, states that “he does not believe that a public battle with his daughter over his continuing service as her conservator would be in her best interests”.

5

NHS waiting list reaches record high

A record 5.45m people were on NHS waiting lists in June, the highest number since records began in August 2007. The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that the number could almost treble to 14m by next autumn. Some 5,727 people have been waiting more than two years for treatment - a 46% increase on the previous month.

6

UK troops sent to Afghanistan

About 600 British troops will be sent to Afghanistan to help UK nationals to leave the country, which is under Taliban attack. Military personnel will provide protection and help relocate British citizens, Afghan staff and interpreters after the Foreign Office advised all Britons to leave. The Taliban has captured a series of cities, most recently claiming the capture of Afghanistan’s second largest city, Kandahar. The insurgents began their advance after the US ended 20 years of military operations.

7

Hispanics power US population growth

The latest US census has found that the number of Americans who identify as white has fallen below 60% for the first time and that population growth is being powered by ethnic minorities. The total population grew by 7.4% over the last decade to reach 331 million. Just over half that growth was the result of a rise in the Hispanic population. The Asian-American population grew by 35% to 24 million.

8

One in 10 caught Covid in hospital

During the first wave of the pandemic, about one in ten Covid patients were infected with the virus while in hospital, researchers have found. The proportion rose to about one in six after the peak of Covid hospital admissions. However, they found that hospitals are now safer. “Things have changed for the better, enormously,” said Dr Christopher Green, a senior clinical lecturer and consultant physician in infectious diseases at the University of Birmingham.

9

Spread not related to metabolism

New research has found that middle-aged spread cannot be blamed on a waning metabolism. The study of 6,400 people from eight days old up to the age of 95 found that metabolism remains “rock solid” throughout middle age: it peaks at the age of one, is stable from 20 to 60 and then declines. “If you are experiencing mid-life spread you can no longer blame it on a declining metabolic rate,” said one of the researchers, Professor John Speakman of the University of Aberdeen.

10

Lord of the Rings series moved to UK

Amazon has moved production of its billion-dollar Lord of the Rings series from New Zealand to the UK. The unexpected move will cost the streaming giant tens of millions of dollars in incentives to shoot the television show in the same location as the franchise’s movies. The Guardian says the Tolkien estate had been keen for the series to be shot in the UK, the land that inspired JRR Tolkien’s original books.

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