Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 August 2021

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

1

Rockets fired at Kabul airport

Several rockets were fired at Kabul’s airport on this morning, according to witnesses and security sources. A US official told Reuters as many as five rockets had been fired at the airport but were intercepted by US anti-missile system. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has offered the Taliban diplomatic recognition if they prevent attacks being launched from Afghanistan.

2

Hurricane hits New Orleans

The US city of New Orleans lost power as Hurricane Ida battered Louisiana. Described as an “extremely dangerous” category four storm, Ida struck hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier. Joe Biden has declared a “major disaster” after 150mph winds tore through some parts of New Orleans. Ida gathered strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico during the weekend.

3

North Korea ‘restarting reactor’

The UN said North Korea appears to have restarted its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has had no access to North Korea since Pyongyang expelled its inspectors in 2009. The country then pressed ahead with its nuclear weapons programme and soon resumed nuclear testing. The IAEA said: “Since early July 2021, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor.”

4

Call for curfew on new drivers

Campaigners have urged ministers to cut the urban speed limit and put a curfew on novice drivers to reduce the “horrific” toll of road crashes. A coalition of road safety groups wants the government to ban new drivers from the roads at night to “end the carnage” caused by speeding and bad driving. They are calling on the government to adopt a long-term goal of “zero deaths and serious injuries” on UK roads, with an initial target of a 50% cut by 2030.

5

NZ reports Pfizer-linked death

New Zealand has reported its first death linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. An independent vaccine safety monitoring board said a woman’s death was “probably” due to myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle, a rare side effect of the jab. Noting the side effect,the European Medicines Agency said it was more common in younger men but insisted that the benefits of vaccines continue to far outweigh any risks.

6

Bolsonaro fears death

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said he sees only three outcomes for his future: death, prison or winning the 2022 presidential elections. “I have three alternatives for my future: being arrested, killed or victory,” he said on Saturday. “I'm certain that the first alternative, being arrested, won't happen. No man on Earth scares me. I'm conscious that I'm doing the right thing,” added the politician, who was stabbed in the stomach during a campaign rally in 2018.

7

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry dies

Tributes have been paid to the legendary Jamaican singer and music producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, who has died at the age of 85. Perry, who was born in rural Jamaica in 1936, died in hospital in Lucea, north-west Jamaica. The nation’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, said Perry was “unforgettable” and praised his “sterling contribution” to music. The BBC said: “if Bob Marley was the face and voice of reggae, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was its soul”.

8

Salt substitute could prevent strokes

Researchers found that replacing salt with a standard substitute could prevent thousands of strokes and heart attacks in the UK each year. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggested that the risk of stroke was cut by as much as 14% in adults with a history of high blood pressure. Salt substitutes containing less sodium and added potassium are already available in supermarkets, and taste like normal salt.

9

Britain trailing Europe on travel

Britain is lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to reopening international travel. While international flight levels here are running at around one-third of their 2019 levels, flights in the eurozone are back to half of their pre-Covid numbers. The Telegraph said this has raised fears that the country is missing out on a significant part of the economic rebound despite its early lead in vaccines.

10

‘Me Too’ moment for JFK

John F Kennedy is “facing a ‘Me Too moment,’” reported The Times. Diana de Vegh said she had a four-year affair with Kennedy, while he rose from Massachusetts senator to commander-in-chief. Summing up the experience for Airmile News, she said: “Young woman, great man. Predictable outcome: heartbreak for her, no consequences for him.” She told the New York Post “The whole idea of conferred specialness — ‘You go to bed with me, I’ll make you special’ — we’ve seen a lot of that with Harvey Weinstein.”

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