Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 February 2022

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

1

Kyiv hit by fresh airstrikes

Battles are being fought close to the capital of Kyiv as Ukraine’s army tries to repel a full-scale Russian invasion, reported the BBC this morning. The Ukrainian president has stated that multiple missile strikes were launched on the city from 4am local time, targeting both military and civilian sites. Russian forces are now about 20 miles from Kyiv, with officials warning that the capital could fall quickly. Russia launched a three-pronged invasion from the north, east and south on Thursday morning, appearing to target the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson.

2

Fuel could cost £3,000 a year

Experts have warned that households could face energy bills of more than £3,000 per year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused wholesale gas prices to rocket to the highest levels for two months. Vladimir Putin pushed the price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, to $105 a barrel, its highest level since 2014, and government insiders expect that western sanctions on Russia will raise prices further. Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that the invasion would have “global economic consequences”.

3

Trump rival lays out vision

The man expected to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 delivered a “high-octane speech” to conservative activists at a conference in Florida on Thursday, reported The Times. Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida since 2018, raged against “wokeism”, Covid restrictions and Joe Biden. Unlike other speakers at the conference, he didn’t mention Trump by name. Other Republicans thought to be in the running include senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota.

4

Covid jabs ‘good value for money’

Around 4.7m Covid vaccine doses, including 1.9m AstraZeneca shots, were wasted in England by the end of October 2021, a government report has revealed. The National Audit Office (NAO), which scrutinises spending of public money, said the wastage – comprising 4% of the total number of jabs – was far lower than predicted. The report found that the vaccination rollout saved 128,000 lives, inoculated more people than expected and was good value for money at £8.3bn. The Royal College of GPs said the NHS had “pulled out all the stops” to protect people from Covid.

5

Abramovich escapes sanctions

Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov have avoided British sanctions as Boris Johnson froze hundreds of British-based Russian assets in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, reported The Daily Telegraph. Despite calls for Abramovich to lose his ownership of Chelsea, both Premier League billionaires were left out of the measures announced by the government. A leaked document acquired by The Times showed Abramovich had been named as a person of interest by the UK government in 2019 because of his links to the Russian state and his “public association with corrupt activity and practices”.

6

Pakistan man guilty of beheading

A man in Pakistan has been found guilty of murdering the daughter of a distinguished diplomat. Noor Muqaddam, 27, was beaten, raped and beheaded by Zahir Jaffer, the son of one of Pakistan’s richest families, after she refused his offer of marriage. The killing shook the nation last year and underlined the widespread violence facing Pakistani women, campaigners said. The BBC noted that hundreds of women are killed in the country each year and thousands suffer violence, with many cases going unreported. 

7

Dangerous floods forecast in Australia

Sydney has suffered its wettest summer in three decades and the most humid season in ten years, with life-threatening weather expected in New South Wales and Queensland. Heavy rain and flooding has already led to two deaths in Queensland and one in New South Wales, said The Guardian. A meteorologist has predicted that some areas from Byron Bay to Fraser Island could receive more than 300mm of rainfall over the next few days. “This is a dangerous setup as very heavy rainfall falls over already saturated soils,” they told the paper.

8

‘Shocking’ foie gras video released

Animal rights groups have published footage of ducks in France being force-fed in a bid to persuade Boris Johnson not to drop plans to ban foie gras imports, reported the BBC. After it emerged that the government’s plan to ban the import of fur and foie gras was likely to be abandoned, activists released a covert video which they said shows “sickening” mistreatment and the violation of several French welfare laws. Foie gras manufacturers use a process known as “gavage” to force-feed ducks or geese, causing their livers to swell.

9

‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passed

Florida’s House of Representatives has passed a bill that bans the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary school classrooms. Governor Ron DeSantis had previously signalled support for the legislation and is expected to sign it into law. Activists and parents have warned the bill – dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics – could stigmatise and isolate LGBTQ+  youth. The White House said the bill is “designed to attack” LGBTQ+ youngsters, with Joe Biden describing it as “hateful”.

10

Cops guilty in Floyd case

A jury has convicted three former Minneapolis police officers of violating George Floyd’s civil rights. The jurors decided that Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao showed deliberate indifference to his medical needs as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd for more than nine minutes on 25 May 2020, ultimately killing him. Although violating a person’s civil rights is punishable by a life sentence or the death penalty, CNN said federal sentencing guidelines suggest the officers could receive a lesser sentence.

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