Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 October 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Putin promises Europe gas
Vladimir Putin has promised that Moscow is ready to boost natural gas shipments to Europe as the continent grapples with soaring energy prices. Russia is the largest gas supplier to the EU, and the president insisted the nation was “flawlessly” fulfilling its contracts with European customers”, adding that Russia is “ready to even increase” sales. Russia’s European storage facilities currently have less gas than usual, contributing to the widespread turmoil over prices.
Five dead in bow and arrow attack
Police in Norway have charged a man after five people were shot dead and two others injured in a series of bow and arrow attacks in Kongsberg. The suspect, who is in his 30s, lived in the town and investigators believe he acted alone. Officers are investigating whether it was an act of terrorism. Prime Minister Erna Solberg described the incident as “horrifying”.
US and Israel mull Iran ‘plan B’
The US and Israel have warned that they are exploring a “plan B” for dealing with Iran if the regime does not resume negotiations to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the window for Iran to return to the agreement is “fast approaching”. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid added that “time is running short”, warning “we are prepared to turn to other options”.
Rates rise to halt house prices
A rise in interest rates could bring house price increases to a halt and spark turmoil in government finances around the world, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and UBS. After studying 25 major cities around the world, UBS found that increases to interest rates would “rapidly dampen frothy global property markets”, said The Telegraph. In a separate report, the IMF said a rise in interest rates “would put pressure on financing conditions”.
GPs told to increase face-to-face slots
Family doctors are being told to see more patients face-to-face as ministers unveil a £250m winter rescue package. The BBC said the emergency funding is being handed to GPs on the understanding that they “recruit extra locum staff” with a focus on providing “more same-day appointments”. But Dr Richard Vautrey of the British Medical Association said the pandemic had shown that phone and video consultations are “entirely appropriate and appreciated” by many.
Lateral flow tests more accurate than thought
University College London researchers have found lateral flow tests (LFTs) are very good at detecting people who are most likely to spread Covid and that positive results can be trusted. LFTs have been regarded as being significantly less accurate than PCR tests, which are analysed in a lab. But lead study author Professor Irene Petersen said people who get a positive result “should trust them and stay at home”.
Patel backs immunity for Border Force
Priti Patel wants to grant Border Force officers immunity from prosecution if migrants die during new “turnback” operations on the Channel. It is currently an offence in UK law to violate international maritime legal obligations to rescue a person in distress at sea. However, provisions in the Nationality and Borders Bill will give officials immunity from any criminal or civil consequences during the controversial operations.
Bird species head for extinction
One in five of Europe’s bird species are heading towards extinction, according to the continent’s latest “red list” report. The common swift, common snipe and rook are among the species heading for the history books, researchers found. Anna Staneva, interim head of conservation at BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, said: “The results are alarming but we are not surprised.” A species is considered regionally extinct if it has not been observed in Europe over a minimum period of five years.
Rolling Stones shelve Brown Sugar
The Rolling Stones have dropped the song Brown Sugar from their upcoming US tour. The BBC said the decision “follows unease with the depictions of black women and references to slavery” in the 1970s hit. Critics said the track contains “some of the most stunningly crude and offensive lyrics that have ever been written” and that it is “gross, sexist and stunningly offensive towards black women”. Guitarist Keith Richard has previously said that critics did not “understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery”.
Israel could host 2030 World Cup
FIFA has hinted that Israel could co-host the World Cup in 2030, according to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. A statement from the prime minister’s office said he met FIFA President Gianni Infantino in Jerusalem, during which the football chief “raised the idea that Israel would host the World Cup in 2030, together with other countries in the region, led by the United Arab Emirates”. The prospect has already caused controversy, with boycotters of Israel strongly opposed to it hosting the football tournament.