Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 November 2021

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

1

Sage chief quits with Covid warning

A leading member of the government’s pandemic advisory group has stepped down, warning that the situation in the UK is “concerning”. Jeremy Farrar, who sat on the independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and is also director of the Wellcome Trust, had pushed for more mask wearing, use of ventilation and greater Covid-19 testing to tackle rising infections. In a statement, he warned that the crisis is “a long way from over”, adding: “I stepped down as a participant of Sage knowing ministers had been provided with most of the key science advice needed over the winter months.”

2

Wildfires ‘caused by climate change’

A new study has found that the heatwaves and wildfires that caused devastation in Europe this summer would not have happened without global warming. Researchers found that for almost all of the past 150 years, the expected frequency of a European summer as hot as 2021 was no higher than once every 10,000 years. But since the 1990s, as carbon emissions continued to soar, the expected frequency has reached once every three years. Nikos Christidis, who led the analysis on behalf of the Met Office, said: “These kinds of results are no longer surprising. Climate change is already making our weather extremes more severe.”

3

Missing Australian girl found

A four-year-old girl has been found “alive and well” after disappearing from a campsite in Western Australia more than two weeks ago. A team from Western Australia Police broke into a locked house in Carnarvon around 1am on Wednesday morning where they found Cleo Smith. A man is in custody in relation with her disappearance, while Cleo has been reunited with her parents.

4

Train ‘skidded past red signal’

A rail crash in Salisbury on Monday was “almost certainly” caused by a train skidding past a red signal light, investigators have said. The Times reported that “initial evidence” indicated that the driver of the South Western Railway train bound for Honiton, Devon applied the brakes before “wheelslide” prevented its halt. It then struck the side of a Great Western Railway service, derailing both trains at the entrance to Fisherton Tunnel.

5

Breast cancer risk for young women

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at younger ages are at higher risk of having it spread to other parts of the body, a new study has found. The major review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that those diagnosed before the age of 35 appeared to be at higher risk, as did those whose tumours were larger at diagnosis. Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease, with 2.3m people diagnosed every year.

6

PM attacked over unmasked photo

Boris Johnson is facing criticism after he was pictured without a face covering while sitting near 95-year-old broadcaster David Attenborough at Cop26. After widespread anger among opposition MPs and on social media, the prime minister was asked on CNN why he did not wear a mask to protect the “national treasure”. He replied: “It’s up to people to take a judgment whether they’re at a reasonable distance from someone... that’s the approach we take.”

7

Bereaved mother calls for Met action

The mother of two murdered sisters whose corpses were photographed by serving police officers and shared on WhatsApp has said the Metropolitan Police must “get the rot out”. After Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were found stabbed to death in Fryent Country Park in Wembley, PC Deniz Jaffer and PC Jamie Lewis took “inappropriate” and “unauthorised” photographs of the bodies. Mina Smallman, the girl’s mother, said officers need to know they “are not above the law” and “are not going to be protected”.

8

Treasury presses firms on carbon

New Treasury rules will mean most big companies and financial institutions will be required to explain how they intend to hit climate change targets. By 2023, they will have to set out detailed public plans for how they will move to a low-carbon future, in line with the nation’s 2050 net-zero target. However, campaigners have pointed out that net-zero commitments will not be mandatory.

9

Second black mayor of NY elected

Former police officer Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York City, after the Democrat defeated Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels. Adams was on course for victory with a lead of 66% to 29% after more than half of projected votes were counted. He becomes only the second black person to be elected New York City mayor, after Democrat David Dinkins who led the city from 1990 to 1993.

10

Rape scandal hits British university

A leading British university for elite sports is embroiled in an abuse scandal after a female student claimed she was raped by a group of four international athletes. Oxford Brookes University expelled three of the four students, however, one was allowed to return. It then emerged that one of the four, at the time of his admission, was under investigation in the US following two allegations of rape by a female student at an American establishment. A spokesperson for the university said the “allegations were thoroughly investigated in accordance with the university’s processes, appropriate liaison with the police took place and our internal conduct procedures were completed”.

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