Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 10 March 2022

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

1

Hospital attack ‘a war crime’

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described Russia’s attack on a children’s hospital and maternity ward in the southern city of Mariupol as a “war crime”. In an address posted on Telegram, the president said yesterday’s air strikes were “the ultimate evidence that genocide of Ukrainians is happening”. The White House condemned the “barbaric” attack and Boris Johnson tweeted that “there are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless”. Foreign ministers from Russia and Ukraine are meeting in Turkey today for the first high-level talks between the neighbouring countries since the war broke out.

2

Russia ‘may use chemical attack’

Moscow could be planning a chemical or biological weapon attack in Ukraine, according to the White House. Press secretary Jen Psaki said Russia’s claims about US biological weapon labs and chemical weapon development in Ukraine were false and an “obvious ploy” to try to justify fresh attacks, reported the BBC. “We should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine,” she added. The Guardian said Vladimir Putin “used the same false justification for brutal bombings in Syria” and pointed out parallels between the two conflicts. 

3

Oil falls after UAE statement

Oil prices have plunged after the United Arab Emirates said it supported pumping more oil into the Ukraine-impacted market. Following weeks of soaring prices, Brent crude fell by more than 17% after the statement by the UAE, a member of the powerful oil cartel Opec, said the BBC. There are reports that Iraq will also support increased supply. Sky News said a slip in the oil price could ease the outlook for motorists, at least for the next few months.

4

Cancer verdict within 28 days

Patients with suspected cancer should get a diagnosis or an all-clear within 28 days under NHS plans which could be introduced this autumn. Health secretary Sajid Javid said the changes would “save more lives”. But The Daily Telegraph noted that plans for patients to see a specialist within two weeks after an urgent referral from a GP will be scrapped. The latest data shows that the number of patients who are waiting more than two months to start treatment after an urgent referral “has reached a high not seen since the end of the first lockdown”.

5

Drainage issue caused rail crash

Investigators have concluded that a drainage system wrongly built by Carillion and unchecked by Network Rail led to the Stonehaven train crash, said The Guardian. Three people died in August 2020 when the passenger train from Aberdeen to Glasgow derailed at Carmont, near Stonehaven, after heavy rainfall. It was the worst fatal event on the UK railways in 18 years. Lawyers for relatives of victims of the crash told The Scotsman that the report “clearly shows rail management had prior knowledge of several known risks – they were told to improve, yet still failed to act”.

6

Supermarkets ban disposable BBQs

Waitrose and Aldi have announced they will stop selling disposable BBQs because of their impact on the environment. National parks, including the New Forest, have banned disposable barbecues because of the risk of wildfires. The Guardian said the devices usually contain single-use plastic and unsuitably sourced charcoal, which can contribute to deforestation. “We welcome any step that helps people act more responsibly while enjoying the countryside,” said Amanda Craig, director of people and nature at Natural England.

7

Trump plane makes emergency stop

A plane carrying Donald Trump was forced to make an emergency landing on Saturday night after suffering an engine failure over the Gulf of Mexico, Politico reported. The Dassault Falcon 900 had been taking the former US president back to his luxury Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, from a New Orleans hotel where he had addressed Republican party donors. Other passengers on board included secret service agents, support staff and advisers. A source told Reuters that the plane belonged to a donor who loaned it to Trump for the evening.

8

Cameron tells Sunak to cut taxes

David Cameron has forecast a “very tough year” and suggested that the government cuts taxes instead of raising them. Speaking to LBC, the former PM warned that there will be a “huge squeeze” on living standards for ordinary Brits. He also defended a £160,000 donation made to the Conservative Party by the wife of a former Russian minister in return for a tennis match in 2014. “There was absolutely no conversation about Russia, about finance, about Putin or anything else,” Cameron told LBC’s Andrew Marr.

9

Ministers ‘not worried’ by Covid surge

Ministers are not “overly worried” about rising Covid cases and hospital admissions, reported The Times. There were 67,159 Covid cases reported on Tuesday, with the rolling average now up to 49,437 – 49% higher than on 1 March. Admissions to hospitals in England now average 1,165 a day, up 23% since the end of February. A Whitehall source said that within the government “there are a couple of theories [for the rise], but we haven’t settled on one”. Boosters for the over-75s and immunosuppressed are due to begin on 21 March, with a wider booster campaign under consideration for later in the year. 

10

Newbie wins South Korea vote

Yoon Suk Yeol is set to become South Korea’s next president after Lee Jae-myung, from the ruling Democratic Party, conceded defeat. In a result described as “nail-biting” by CNN, the conservative opposition leader won 48.56% of the votes, ahead of Lee’s 47.83%. Incumbent Moon Jae-in was not allowed to run for a second term as the presidency is a single term of five years in South Korea. Yoon is a newcomer to politics, having spent the last 27 years of his career as a prosecutor.

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