Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 March 2022

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

1

Johnson warns of nuclear disaster

Boris Johnson has warned that “radioactive clouds” could spread over Europe if the West does not act following Russia’s unprecedented assault on a nuclear power plant. The prime minister said: “We have to make clear to the Kremlin that a civilian nuclear disaster in Ukraine, another Chernobyl, is a disaster for Russia as well as for everybody.” He called for “some system of protecting those plants” and “some system of ensuring that radioactivity levels are monitored by international authorities”.

2

Nato ‘giving green light’ to Russia

Ukraine’s president has criticised Nato leaders over their refusal to implement a no-fly zone around the country. In an angry speech, Volodymyr Zelensky said the West’s refusal to intervene has given Moscow “a green light” to continue bombarding towns and villages. Earlier, Nato’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said that the introduction of a no-fly zone could lead to a “full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering”.

3

Sage steps down as Covid cases soar

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has been stood down in what The Telegraph described as a “clear sign” that the government believes the Covid crisis is over. Although Sage “stands ready if required”, it will no longer meet regularly. However, noted the Daily Mail, Britain’s daily Covid cases soared more than 40% in a week and hospitalisations are “creeping up”.

4

Ed Sheeran ‘is a magpie’

Ed Sheeran is a “magpie” who borrows ideas from other musicians and “throws” them into his songs, the High Court has been told. The singer-songwriter has been accused by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue of copying one of their songs for his hit Shape of You. The duo’s barrister told the court that Sheeran may acknowledge famous artists from whom he has borrowed, but said his clients were “not Shaggy, Coldplay, Rihanna or Jay-Z”. Sheeran has denied all allegations against him.

5

Tributes to Shane Warne

The cricket legend Shane Warne has died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 52. He was found unresponsive in his villa on the Thai island of Koh Samui on Friday, said his management company. Ian Botham wrote on Twitter: “I’ve lost a great friend on and off the playing field.” The BBC said Warne was “comfortably history’s best leg-spinner, arguably history’s best bowler and surpassed only by Sir Donald Bradman as Australia's greatest cricketer”.

6

Starmer says Tory co-chair must go

Sir Keir Starmer has called on the Tories to sack their co-chair for being “at the heart” of links between the party and Russian money. The Labour leader said Ben Elliot must go after revelations about his firm’s Russian business and the Tories accepting donations from wealthy Russians or companies linked to Moscow. Speaking during a visit to Birmingham, Starmer said “there is growing concern about the links between the Conservative party and Russian money” and Elliot is “at the heart of that”.

7

Another reporter killed in Mexico

A journalist killed in the Mexican state of Zacatecas was the seventh killed in the country so far this year. Juan Carlos Muñiz, a crime reporter, was killed on Friday, according to the state governor David Monreal. One of the websites Muñiz wrote for, the Miners’ Witness in English, said that “the cowardly murder of our friend and companion has caused shock among the majority of the public in Fresnillo and the state, as well as in journalistic circles”.

8

Mother attacks gambling ‘parasites’

Addiction to gambling contributed to the death of a young teacher, a coroner has ruled. Jack Ritchie, 24, took his own life in 2017 after his betting “spiralled out of control”, an inquest heard. The Sheffield teacher started using fixed-odds betting terminals when he was just 16 and as he developed a problem, the help available was “woefully inadequate,” said the coroner. His mother, Liz, said: “Jack was abused by parasites who inflict life-threatening illness for profit and then blame the victims.”

9

Suicide bombing kills dozens in Pakistan

A blast at a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar has killed at least 56 people and injured another 196. A suicide bomber had strapped a powerful explosive device to his body, packed with 5kg (12lbs) of explosives. The Guardian said Islamic State claimed the attack and threatened more violence against Pakistan’s Shia minority. In recent months, Pakistan has experienced a significant increase in violence.

10

Slugs are ‘misunderstood visitors’

Slugs and snails should no longer be called pests, a charity has said. The Royal Horticultural Society wants to rebrand the molluscs as “garden visitors” that are “misunderstood”. A spokesman said the species play a key role in ecosystems and only nine of the 44 known species in the UK are likely to be a threat to garden plants and produce. “Our gardens would be a duller and messier place without them,” he said.

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