Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 September 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Ministers may defy vaccine advisers
Ministers could defy the advice of their official vaccine advisers and press ahead with Covid jabs for all 12-to-15-year-olds, reported The Guardian. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said yesterday that the net health benefit in vaccinating the age group was too small but ministers will seek extra evidence that may help overturn the group’s verdict. A source has told the BBC the government believes there is a “strong case” for vaccinating healthy children aged 12-15.
Fate of anti-Taliban region ‘in the balance’
The future of Afghanistan’s final holdout against Taliban control hangs in the balance as heavy fighting continues. Although Taliban sources told Reuters that they had seized the area, the resistance fighters they are battling denied this. The traditional anti-Taliban stronghold is home to somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people, and is hidden behind mountain peaks. One rebel said: “We will not surrender, we are standing for Afghanistan.”
Shortages ‘to plague economy for years’
Industry leaders said the economy will suffer from by labour shortages and supply chain disruption for years to come as businesses struggle to recover from the pandemic. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation said that a shake-up of the job market means there will not be enough workers in some industries for an extended period. A spokesman said “there is good evidence to suggest that the market will remain tight for some years to come, even if the current crisis passes”.
Biden to declassify 9/11 files
Joe Biden has announced the declassification of files from the investigation into the 9/11 attack, following intense pressure from Congress and victims’ families currently suing Saudi Arabia. In an executive order, he stated that “as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the American people deserve to have a fuller picture of what their government knows about those attacks”. Victims’ families have long demanded the US release the findings of Operation Encore, an FBI investigation into possible Saudi complicity.
Stop killing weeds, says gardener
Gardeners should stop trying to kill weeds and instead regard them as plants “in the wrong place”, an environment minister has said. Rebecca Pow, the Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, also urged gardeners to cut the grass for only four weeks to bring all UK carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. Speaking to The Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast, she said: “We have to open our minds to a different thought process on what weeds are.”
Neil expected to quit GB News
Andrew Neil will quit GB News due to a “bitter rift” with its senior management and board, reported The Telegraph. Insiders expect him to resign without returning to its airwaves, dealing a blow to the channel as bosses battle to build an audience. Sources say relations between Neil and chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos suffered a complete breakdown over the direction of the company.
US states try to emulate abortion ban
Republican leaders in up to six US states are scrambling to follow the lead of Texas in adopting an extreme abortion ban. Abortion rights advocates are bracing to resist initiatives from Florida to North Dakota. The legislation bans abortion past six weeks of a pregnancy, including for victims of incest or rape, and giving any private citizen the option to sue someone providing an abortion or anyone even believed to be peripherally assisting someone to get an abortion.
Unregistered schools ‘haven for abuse’
The Times reported that hundreds of unregistered schools “fly beneath the radar of the education authorities,” which campaigners say makes them a “haven” for physical and sexual abuse. New data shows that 386 schools have been inspected on suspicion of being an unregulated school by Ofsted, the education watchdog, since a specialist task force was set up in 2016. With each year since 2018, roughly 40 more illegal sites are identified and inspected.
‘QAnon Shaman’ accepts Capitol deal
The so-called QAnon Shaman has accepted a plea deal in federal court for his involvement in the US Capitol riots. Jacob Anthony Chansley, one of thousands of Trump supporters who attempted to storm the US Congress, pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstruction in an official proceeding. The BBC said he was the “de facto face of the siege, pictured amid the unrest in horns and a bearskin headdress, with the American flag painted on his face”.
‘Little blast of summer’ next week
Temperatures are forecast to soar in parts of the UK next week bringing an extra blast of summer. The south-east is expected to enjoy the hottest weather, with the mercury rising to 28C thanks to warm air sweeping in from the Mediterranean. Alex Burkill, a Met Office forecaster, said: “It looks like there will be a little blast of summer weather.” He added that: “we haven’t seen the last of the hot and sunny weather for the moment”.