Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 February 2022

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

1

Ukraine attack ‘remains possible’

“You are not our enemy”, Joe Biden told Russian citizens during a televised speech from the White House on Tuesday. Although Vladimir Putin has confirmed a “partial” withdrawal of troops from near the border, the US president said Russian forces are still “very much in a threatening position” and that “an invasion remains distinctly possible”. He added that the human cost of an attack by Russia would be “immense”. Yesterday, Ukraine reported that its Defence Ministry and the interfaces of two banks had been hit by cyber-attacks.

2

Questions over Andrew future

There are “calls for clarity” over Prince Andrew’s future role in public life and how he will fund the “substantial donation” he is paying to Virginia Giuffre’s charity, following the news that he settled his US civil sexual assault case yesterday. The Duke of York settled for an undisclosed sum – reportedly in the region of £10m – and made no admission of guilt over claims by Giuffre that he sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was 17. Campaigners have asked whether the payment will come from the public or private purse.

3

Met ‘won’t admit to racism’

The Metropolitan Police is resisting calls for chief constables to declare that policing is institutionally racist, reported The Times. The Met is one of several police forces opposed to making the admission, which is intended to help repair broken relations with black and minority communities. Last summer, the National Police Chiefs Council appointed Abimbola Johnson, a black barrister, to chair an independent board scrutinising its action plan on race. Johnson has said that any plan should acknowledge there is institutional racism, added the paper.

4

Statin side effects ‘overestimated’

Statins have fewer side effects than previously thought, new research published today in the European Heart Journal suggests. The drugs, which are taken by millions in Britain to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, should continue to be prescribed to combat high cholesterol because the side effects reported by patients may be “overestimated and overdiagnosed”, the study found. Previous studies have estimated that the prevalence of statin intolerance may be as high as 50%, but data drawn from more than four million people suggested it is likely to be below 10%.

5

Amnesty accuses Tigrayan fighters

Amnesty International said fighters affiliated with the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have committed atrocities including gang rape and assault in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. The report said TPLF fighters “deliberately killed dozens of people, gang-raped dozens of women and girls – some as young as 14 – and looted private and public property in two areas of northern Ethiopia’s Amhara region”. Conflict in the Tigray region erupted in November 2020 and spread to nearby Amhara and Afar in July 2021.

6

Calls for electric car regulator

The car industry in the UK has called for a watchdog to supervise electric car charging prices and the availability of charge points, the BBC reported. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has warned that the growth in electric vehicle sales is outstripping the rollout of charging points and a regulator is urgently required. Between 2011 and 2021 the number of charge points in the UK rose from 1,500 to more than 48,000, but the number of electric cars on the road is rising at a much faster rate.

7

Storm Dudley ‘a danger to life’

Forecasters have warned that winds of up to 90mph brought by Storm Dudley today could pose a danger to life. The Met Office has issued an amber warning for “very strong and disruptive” winds that have a “good chance” of causing power cuts and disturbance to regular transport services, as well as injuries “likely from large waves”. The warning includes regions north of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire and south of Perthshire in Scotland.

8

Wimbledon ‘will let Djokovic play’

Wimbledon is expected to allow Novak Djokovic to defend his title despite his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid. Although the Serbian tennis star declared yesterday that he would rather sacrifice his title than get jabbed, Tim Henman, the former British number one and a member of the All England Club’s board, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he did not expect any ban to be imposed. However, Djokovic “is certainly jeopardising his chances of being the greatest male player of all time”, Henman added.

9

PJ O’Rourke dies at 74

PJ O’Rourke, the renowned journalist and satirist, has died aged 74 after suffering from lung cancer. “I’m afraid it’s true. Our panellist and my dear friend PJ O’Rourke has passed away,” tweeted Peter Sagal, host of the NPR show O’Rourke appeared on. The Times said O’Rourke “played the part of a conservative curmudgeon to a largely liberal audience” on the panel show, while the Daily Telegraph said he was known for his “counterculture ‘Gonzo’ journalism”.

10

High levels of sugar found in wine

A new study has found that two glasses of wine could be enough to reach the recommended daily sugar limit for adults. An analysis of more than 30 bottles of wine from popular UK brands by the UK’s Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) found that some bottles contained up to 59g of sugar – more than in a glazed doughnut. None of the bottles featured nutritional information on their labels, which is currently not required by law for wines. Professor Ian Gilmore, chair of the AHA, described this rule as “absurd”.

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