Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 March 2022

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

1

Russia may be targeting aid shipments

Russian airstrikes have hit the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in the Yavoriv district, about 50km south-west of Lviv and about 25km from the border with Poland. The latest attack may be a deliberate attack on incoming western shipments of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. It comes after Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said that western shipments to Ukraine were “legitimate targets” for attack.

2

Covid surge again in China

China is facing its worst Covid outbreak for two years as cases doubled in 24 hours. Officials reported nearly 3,400 daily cases on Sunday, prompting lockdowns on virus hotspots. Although China has maintained a strict zero-Covid policy enforced by swift lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing when clusters have emerged, the latest flare-up, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant and a spike in asymptomatic cases, is challenging that approach, said The Observer.

3

Majority still want PM to quit

Most voters still want to see Boris Johnson resign, according to the latest Opinium poll for The Observer. Although there has been a drop in the proportion of voters who want the prime minister to stand aside, the new poll showed that 53% still wanted to see him go – down 10 points since January. Johnson has a net approval rating of -27, a 6-point improvement on the last poll a fortnight ago.

4

Saudis execute 81 in one day

Saudi Arabia said it executed 81 men yesterday - more than during the whole of last year. The state news agency, SPA, said the group - including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national - were convicted of “multiple heinous crimes”, including terrorism. However, rights organisations say many do not receive fair trials in the country. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world - fifth in a list compiled by Amnesty International. The other four were China, Iran, Egypt and Iraq.

5

Rail ticket offices to close

Rail bosses are in talks with the government about closing hundreds of ticket offices as part of the modernisation of the network. Transport unions said the closures will impact vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women, who need assistance at stations. Although rail chiefs said ticket office staff will be redeployed in “multifunctional” roles, sources told The Sunday Times that redundancies are likely.

6

Government offers £350 to take in refugees

UK householders who open their homes to refugees from Ukraine are to be given £350 a month under the government’s Homes for Ukraine plan. The scheme will initially allow people to sponsor named individuals or families to stay in their homes. It will then be opened up to charities, businesses and faith organisations to sponsor large groups. However, Labour said there are many unanswered questions, and accused the government of “dragging its feet” over the crisis.

7

Next jab must come faster

The scientist behind the Oxford Covid vaccine has urged the world to roll out a jab for the next pandemic virus in just 100 days. Speaking to Sky News, Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert said it took around 300 days from the identification of Covid-19 to the approval of the first vaccines but the response must be faster during a future pandemic. Professor Gilbert said: “We have learned a lot from Covid and we should now make sure we capitalise on that - see what worked well and what didn’t. We can go a lot faster.”

8

Rabbi investigated over Abramovich move

A rabbi who helped Roman Abramovich obtain his Portuguese citizenship has been told he cannot leave Portugal and must report to authorities when required. Daniel Litvak was detained as part of an investigation into the naturalisation process of several Jewish people. Abramovich was granted Portuguese citizenship under a law that offered naturalisation to descendants of Jews who were expelled from the Iberian peninsula 400 years ago. However, prosecutors said that there were suspicions of money laundering and falsification of documents in some cases.

9

Rape alarms set off at police station

Protesters have set off 1,000 rape alarms and hurled them at Charing Cross police station to mark the first anniversary of the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, which was broken up by police. Speaking outside the police station in London, Patsy Stevenson, whose arrest while being restrained by officers became the defining image of the vigil one year ago, said: “One year ago today, the police waited until sunset to brutalise us at Clapham Common. Today, we waited until sunset to detonate 1,000 rape alarms at Charing Cross station. F**k the police.”

10

‘Iranian’ rockets strike Erbil

Around a dozen rockets have hit Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Kurdish security forces said the ballistic missiles were fired from outside Iraq on Erbil, targeting the capital and the US consulate there. A US official told Reuters they were launched from Iran.  According to unconfirmed reports, the explosions happened near the US consulate, which is next to the airport. Omed Khoshnaw, the governor of Erbil, said it was not clear if the target was the US consulate or the airport.

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