Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 October 2021

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

1

PM accused of ‘heartless’ cut

Boris Johnson has come under fire as the government withdraws the £20 supplement to universal credit. The Daily Mirror attacked the “heartless” PM for echoing “cruel spectre of Margaret Thatcher” with his insistence that there is “no alternative” but to withdraw the uplift, which was brought in to help people on low incomes during the pandemic. Nearly six million households rely on universal credit. One claimant told Sky News “people are going to die” because of the government’s move.

2

Facebook ‘stokes division’

A former Facebook worker has told US lawmakers that the company’s sites and apps “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy”. At a hearing on Capitol Hill, Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old former product manager, said the company’s bosses “know how to make Facebook and Instagram safer,” but won’t make the necessary changes because they have “put their astronomical profits before people”.

3

Kabul embassy driver beaten

A former employee of the British embassy in Afghanistan has been badly beaten at his home by five armed men. The driver, one of about 150 employees who applied to be evacuated in May, was at home with his family in a village on the outskirts of Kabul when masked men came to his house and attacked him, hitting him with their Kalashnikovs. The assault has been linked to his 11 years working with UK diplomats in Afghanistan.

4

Covid tests may be filmed for proof

Returning holidaymakers may be required to film themselves taking a coronavirus test under plans being considered by the government. As ministers prepare to scrap the requirement for vaccinated travellers to take a PCR test two days after their return, replacing them with lateral flow tests, Health Secretary Sajid Javid is reportedly concerned that relying on people to declare their results could encourage lying.

5

Taiwan warns of China invasion

Taiwan’s defence minister has said China will be capable of mounting a full-scale invasion of the island by 2025. Describing current tensions as the worst in 40 years, Chiu Kuo-cheng said Beijing “has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration”. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s legislature is reviewing a £6.3bn special defence budget bill.

6

US executes man despite plea

A man from Missouri has been executed for murder despite pleas for clemency by campaigners who said he had an intellectual disability. Ernest Johnson received a lethal injection after the US Supreme Court refused to consider a stay of execution earlier in the day. A petition from Johnson’s lawyers, which was submitted to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, argued that the 61-year-old had “presented overwhelming evidence” of his intellectual disability. He killed three convenience store workers in a 1994 robbery.

7

Windrush activists ‘turned away’

Campaigners for the rights of Windrush-era immigrants to the UK have claimed they were refused access to the Conservative party conference on Tuesday, leaving them “humiliated and disgusted”. Despite paying for full accreditation, Julia Davidson and Anthony Brown said they both faced difficulties getting in to the conference centre in Manchester. During the Windrush scandal, Commonwealth nationals living in the UK were wrongly threatened with deportation and deprived of medical care because they lacked official documentation.

8

Nurse claims discrimination over cross

A tribunal has been told than an NHS nurse was forced out of her job for wearing a “dangerous” crucifix necklace that bosses claimed “could harbour infectious particles”. Mary Onuoha, 61, a theatre practitioner at Croydon University Hospital, claims she was “harassed”, “singled out” and “persecuted” for her religion, after being ordered to remove her small gold cross. Guidance set by the Department for Health and Social Care states that necklaces and hoop earrings present “possible hazards” in healthcare settings.

9

‘Empty nest’ parents turn to drink

Almost a third of parents are drinking more to ease the transition when their children leave the home for university, according to a survey. Censuswide found that a similar proportion of ‘empty nest’ parents are considering buying a pet, or allowing an existing one to sleep on their bed. A third have also been cleaning more. Some 93% said being closer to their children through the pandemic had made the situation worse.

10

Amazon store ‘uninspiring’

Amazon’s first non-food store in the UK has been described as “muddled and uninspiring” by retail expert Natalie Berg. The shop, in the Bluewater shopping mall near Dartford, will sell around 2,000 of the web giant’s most popular and best-rated products. The store is called Amazon 4-star because every item has been given more than four stars by customers. “This is not about shifting more product,” Berg said. “It’s about baiting shoppers into Amazon's ecosystem.”

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