Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 March 2022

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

1

Ukraine war ‘over by May’

The war in Ukraine could be over by early May, according to an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff. Oleksiy Arestovich said the exact timing “would depend on how much resources the Kremlin was willing to commit to the campaign”, Reuters reported. “Almost all” of Russia’s military offensives in Ukraine “remain stalled” after making little progress over the weekend, a senior US defence official said during a press briefing on Monday. The military convoy to the north did not make much progress towards Kyiv over the weekend and Ukraine continues to defend Mariupol.

2

Protest interrupts Russian TV news

A woman holding an anti-war sign ran onto the set of a Russian evening news programme on state-controlled media last night. Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One, burst onto the set of the live broadcast, shouting: “Stop the war. No to war.” Her sign, clearly visible behind the presenter, read “no war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here”. Ovsyannikova’s protest could be “seen and heard for several seconds before the channel switched to a recorded segment”, said The Guardian.

3

Short notice for low paid workers

Half of all low-paid workers in the UK are given less than a week’s notice of their shifts, according to a Living Wage Foundation study. A poll of 2,000 adults found that a fifth of workers have had their shifts cancelled unexpectedly and most are not compensated at their full rate of pay. People earning below the voluntary real Living Wage were more likely to be affected by such insecurity. “It costs to be poor, but this research shows it’s even more costly to be both poor and in insecure work,” said a spokesperson.

4

Covid travel rules scrapped

All remaining Covid travel measures, including the need to fill out a passenger locator form and take a post-arrival test, will end this week, the transport secretary has announced. The move means holidaymakers will be able to enter the UK without any restrictions for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The Guardian said the development comes as “Britain’s Covid situation deteriorate[s] further”. In the past week, 444,201 positive cases have been recorded – an increase of 48.1%. The number of patients admitted to hospital has also risen sharply.

5

Court denies Assange appeal

The Supreme Court has refused to allow Julian Assange his latest appeal against extradition to the US. The court said his application did not raise “an arguable point of law”, constituting a major blow to Assange’s hopes to avoid extradition, reported the BBC. The Wikileaks founder, 50, is wanted in the US over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011. His lawyers said Assange, who is currently jailed in London’s Belmarsh Prison, has not ruled out launching a final appeal.

6

Mental health referrals at new high

The number of referrals for specialist NHS mental health care reached a record high in England by the end of 2021. There were 4.3m referrals for conditions such as anxiety and depression that year, with just under a quarter (1.025m) for children or adolescents. The Royal College of Psychiatrists said the pandemic led to unprecedented demand and subsequent backlogs, with services still struggling to keep up.

7

Civilians burned to death in Ethiopia

The government in Ethiopia said it would act after a video appeared on social media showing armed men, some in military uniforms, burning civilians to death. The Ethiopia Government Communication Service said “a horrific and inhumane act was recently committed” in the northwestern Benishangul-Gumuz region, but did not say who was responsible. CNN said the region, which is home to several ethnic groups, has seen frequent violence for more than a year, with hundreds of civilians killed.

8

Abramovich ‘belonged to crime group’

Roman Abramovich is suspected of belonging to an organised crime group that cheated the Russian government out of £2b, reported The Times. The Chelsea owner made billions after buying an oil company from the Russian government in a rigged auction in 1995. He paid around $250m (£190m) for Sibneft, before selling it back to the Russian government for $13b in 2005. His lawyers told the BBC there was no basis for alleging that he had amassed his wealth through criminality. The oligarch was spotted on Monday at an airport in Israel before a jet linked to him landed in Moscow.

9

Mansion protest ends with arrests

A pro-Ukraine protest at a London mansion linked to Vladimir Putin ally Oleg Deripaska ended with eight arrests on Monday. Activists occupied the balcony of 5 Belgrave Square just after midnight on Sunday and stayed most of the following day, despite police efforts to remove them. A spokesperson for the billionaire owner said he was “appalled at the negligence of Britain’s justice system”. The squatters call themselves the London Mahknovists, after Nestor Makhno, who led an anarchist force that attempted to form a stateless society in Ukraine.

10

Snacks high in sugar and salt

A new study has found that 70% of snacks sold as part of lunchtime meal deals in UK high street shops and supermarkets contain dangerously large amounts of salt, sugar or saturated fat. The campaign group Action on Salt said a packet of lemon and coriander green olives sold in the Co-op contains 2.02g of salt – the same as in five portions of salted peanuts and a third of an adult’s daily maximum salt intake. “Unbeknown to many consumers, meal combos and snacks are often exceedingly high in salt,” said a spokesperson.

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