Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 December 2021

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

1

Jabs ‘show we love our neighbours’

Getting a Covid vaccination is “a wonderful thing” people can do for their families this Christmas, Boris Johnson has said. In his seasonal message, the prime minister said that receiving the jab was putting into practice the idea “that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves”. The NHS said people in England will be able to get a Covid booster on Christmas Day and Boxing Day as part of efforts to target the Omicron variant.

2

Brit missing after Taliban arrest

A British national has gone missing in Afghanistan after being arrested by the Taliban. Grant Bailey was detained during a security crackdown in Kabul on Saturday. The reason for the arrest of the man, who is in his 50s, was not clear. He is believed to have returned to the country in September, shortly after the Taliban took over. The Foreign Office said: “We are aware of the detention of a British national in Afghanistan and have been in touch with their family to support them.”

3

Banker set to chair NHS England

The government is seeking to recruit a former banker to chair NHS England in a bid to make it more “accountable” over funding. The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that the former TSB chair, Richard Meddings, is the government’s preferred candidate for the role. The Telegraph said that ministers wanted Meddings to provide an “outside eye” to make the NHS accountable for its additional funding.

4

Selfridges sells to Thai giant

The family owners of Selfridges have sold out to a Thai retailer and an Austrian property company for an estimated £4bn. The agreement heralds the return of the luxury department store’s former boss, Vittorio Radice. Founded in 1908 by US retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, the company now employs about 10,000 people and owns 25 stores worldwide. It is best known for its flagship department store on London’s Oxford Street.

5

Call for six months of Tube strikes

Union chiefs are calling on overnight Tube workers to walk out every weekend between January and June in a dispute over staff rotas on the Victoria and Central lines. The RMT union said the new proposals will eliminate 200 jobs. London Underground said the rotas offer drivers greater flexibility. If the six-month strike plan went ahead, it would be the longest action ever taken by the union. Mick Lynch, the general secretary, said: “If London Underground and the mayor thought this fight for progressive and family-friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.”

6

US officer found guilty

A former US police officer who killed a man when she mistakenly fired her gun instead of her Taser has been found guilty of manslaughter. Kimberly Potter was convicted over the death of Daunte Wright, a black 20-year-old motorist, during a traffic stop in April in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis. She was found guilty of first degree and second degree manslaughter by a jury in the same courtroom in which Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd earlier this year.

7

‘Unabomber’ moved to hospital

The so-called Unabomber has been transferred from prison to a federal medical centre in North Carolina, according to the US prisons service. Ted Kaczynski, 79, is serving eight life sentences after pleading guilty in 1998 to sending letter bombs that killed three people and wounded 23 others between 1978 and 1995. A federal spokesperson said: “For safety and security reasons, we do not discuss the specific conditions of an inmate’s confinement, to include medical information or reasons for transfer/redesignation.”

8

More Tiananmen monuments removed

Two more Hong Kong universities have removed monuments commemorating the Tiananmen massacre of 1989. A day after Hong Kong University removed a statue marking the event, the Chinese University of Hong Kong tore down a statue called the Goddess of Democracy and Lingnan University removed a relief sculpture depicting the protests. The BBC said the monuments’ removal comes as Beijing “has increasingly been cracking down on political dissent in Hong Kong”.

9

Threaten strikes, Guardiola tells players

Pep Guardiola has told top-flight footballers that they should threaten to go on strike if their concerns over player welfare are to be taken seriously. The Manchester City boss accused the Premier League, fellow managers and broadcasters of putting money before the interests of players. With the players set to play more matches in the second half of the season, Guardiola said talk of a strike would shock the authorities into reducing the number of fixtures in the calendar.

10

‘Pin-sharp’ Didion dies at 87

Tributes have been paid to the writer Joan Didion, who has died from complications from Parkinson’s disease at her home in New York. She was 87 years old. The Guardian said the “eminent journalist, author and anthropologist of contemporary American politics and culture” was a “singularly clear, precise voice across a multitude of subjects for more than 60 years”. The Times praised her “pin-sharp prose”, describing the trenchant writer as akin to “JD Salinger robbed of his ill nature; or Mark Twain without a smile; or Hemingway denied a gun licence”.

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