Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 September 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
US lifts travel ban ahead of Johnson visit
Boris Johnson has admitted that progress on a post-Brexit trade deal was unlikely ahead of his visit to the White House today because Joe Biden has “a lot of fish to fry”. Johnson has welcomed the president’s decision to lift the US travel ban ahead of the summit. However, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said that “first and foremost both sides will want Tuesday's big meeting to go smoothly,” with “no gaffes, no misunderstandings, no embarrassments”.
Warning of ‘very, very difficult’ winter
Downing Street has been warned that hundreds of thousands of Britons face a “very, very difficult” winter thanks to rising household costs. Former cabinet minister Damian Green said there could be “very, very difficult times ahead for hundreds of thousands of people in this country,” while Labour said many households would be crippled by the “triple whammy” of energy price rises, the NI rise and universal credit cut.
Trudeau projected to win third term
Several Canadian news outlets were projecting that Justin Trudeau is on track to win a third term as Canada’s prime minister. In a projected outcome similar to that of the 2019 election, Trudeau appeared set for another minority government, forcing him to co-operate with smaller left-of-centre parties. He called the snap election barely two years into his minority government, hoping he could capitalise on his handling of the Covid pandemic to win a majority.
Offenders to have records wiped clean
Thousands of drug dealers, burglars and conmen are to have their criminal records wiped clean under government plans to help them find work. As part of the Ministry of Justice’s rehabilitation reforms, offenders who have served jail sentences of more than four years will no longer have to tell employers about their past crimes. Victims’ campaigners said it was wrong to conceal serious previous convictions from employers.
Afghan interpreter email addresses revealed
A Tory MP has condemned a “deeply shameful” data breach involving the email addresses of dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for British forces. More than 250 people - many of whom are in hiding - were mistakenly copied into an email from the Ministry of Defence. Their email addresses could be seen by all recipients, as well as people’s names and associated profile pictures in some cases. Former defence minister Johnny Mercer said many of the interpreters would be “moving house again tonight”.
Doctor admits he broke abortion law
A US doctor who said he had performed an abortion in defiance of Texas’s new law has been sued. Former attorneys in Arkansas and Illinois filed lawsuits against Dr Alan Braid, who became the first Texas abortion provider to publicly reveal he violated the law when he wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post. The Guardian says the move “sets up a potential test of the legality of the extreme, near-total ban on the procedure”.
Hotel Rwanda man jailed on terror charges
Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, has been convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali. He was found guilty of being part of a terror group, MRCD-FLN. Along with 20 other people, he was accused of acts of terrorism. He had previously gained prominence for saving hundreds of Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
Major heroin bust at Indian port
Nearly three tonnes of heroin from Afghanistan have been seized from a western Indian port. Two Indians were arrested after the heroin, which had a street value of $2.7bn (£2bn), was found in two containers marked as carrying talc, at a port in the western state of Gujarat. Heroin production has soared in Afghanistan in recent years, helping fund the Taliban, which returned to power in August.
Work-from-home rules boosted
Employees will be able to request the right to work at home from their first day on the job under reforms to be unveiled this week. The Times said that ministers are set to confirm laws to protect flexible working that were first proposed before the pandemic. Currently, employees cannot request a hybrid working arrangement until six months into a job.
Markets down on China property crisis
Asian markets were down today on concerns over Chinese property group Evergrande and the impact on the nation’s financial system. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index was almost 2% lower, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dipped by 0.3%. The Dow Jones index in the US and several European markets also finished lower yesterday. Evergrande - one of China's biggest property developers - is struggling to meet interest payments on more than $300bn of debts.