Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 September 2021

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

1

Russia ‘inflating gas prices to harm UK’

Moscow has been accused of increasing gas prices to try and undermine Britain and the EU’s economic recovery from the Covid pandemic. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy corporation, is facing an investigation into a spike in the cost of natural gas. The Times said acute food shortages are feared after high gas prices forced most of Britain’s commercial production of carbon dioxide to shut down.

2

US admits Kabul strike killed civilians

The US has admitted that a drone strike in Kabul killed 10 innocent people. A US Central Command investigation found that an aid worker and nine members of his family, including seven children, died in the strike, which came days before Washington’s military withdrawal. A child of just two years old was among those killed in one of the US military’s final acts in Afghanistan, before it ended its 20-year operation in the country.

3

Gavin Williamson ‘to be knighted’

Former education secretary Gavin Williamson is being tipped for a knighthood following his departure from the Cabinet. Sources have told The Telegraph that the MP for South Staffordshire is expected to feature in the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s next honours list. The Independent said the move would “anger schools, parents and unions who called for his resignation”.

4

Travel companies expecting surge

A spike in holiday bookings is expected after the government announced that international travel rules were being simplified in England. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps scrapped the amber list and said that fully vaccinated people will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list areas. Travel companies said they had already seen an uptick in bookings and are expecting this weekend to be the busiest of the year.

5

Taliban ‘exclude girls from schools’

The Taliban have “effectively banned girls from secondary education” by ordering high schools to re-open only for boys, reported The Guardian. Girls were not mentioned in the announcement, which means boys will be back at their desks next week after a one-month hiatus, while girls will stay at home. The directive would make Afghanistan the only country on earth to bar half its population from getting a secondary education.

6

France recalls ambassadors over pact

The French government has said it is recalling its ambassadors in the US and Australia in protest at a security deal which also includes the UK. Paris said the “exceptional decision” was justified by the situation’s “exceptional gravity”. The announcement of the alliance, known as Aukus, angered France because it scuppered a multibillion-dollar deal it had signed with Australia.

7

UN warns of climate disaster

The planet is heading toward warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to a report on global emissions targets by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The move would leave temperatures far above what scientists say the world should be targeting. Experts said that the planet needs to slash 45% of its emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.

8

‘Mad cow’ on Somerset farm

A single case of BSE – or ‘mad cow disease’ - has been confirmed on a farm in Somerset. The Animal and Plant Health Agency said the infected animal was dead and had been removed from the farm. It insisted there was “no risk to food safety”. A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said: “There are strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE.”

9

BBC offers damages over Bashir claims

Tiggy Legge-Bourke has been offered “significant” damages by the BBC for smears spread by Martin Bashir, reported The Telegraph. It has been claimed that the BBC reporter told Diana that the nanny to Prince William and Prince Harry was having an affair with Prince Charles. Bashir also allegedly produced a fake receipt showing payment for an abortion he claimed the nanny had undertaken. Bashir denies the claims.

10

Durst convicted of murder

The millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst has been convicted of killing his best friend Susan Berman. Durst was found guilty of killing Berman in 2000 to stop her talking to police about his wife’s disappearance. Durst is the subject of HBO crime documentary The Jinx and in the final part he is heard muttering to himself: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

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