Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 March 2022

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

1

Zelenskyy offers ‘olive branch’

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has offered what The Times described as the “first tentative olive branch to Russia” by saying that his country needs to accept that the “door of Nato” is closed. Ukraine’s refusal to rule out joining Nato has been one of Vladimir Putin’s pretexts for going to war and therefore Zelenskyy’s statement could be perceived as an offer of compromise, said the paper. A 35-hour curfew came into force in Kyiv last night after Russian air strikes and shelling killed multiple people in the capital. “Today is a difficult and dangerous moment,” said mayor Vitali Klitschko as he announced the curfew.

2

PM criticised for Saudi trip

Boris Johnson will meet leaders in Saudi Arabia today as he tries to push for more production to offset the loss of Russian oil. The Saudi government executed 81 individuals on terrorism and related charges on Sunday and the PM has faced criticism for going on the trip given the country’s human rights record. But Johnson said that if the West was going to “avoid being blackmailed” by Vladimir Putin, it needed to move away from Russian oil and gas. Keir Starmer accused the PM of “going cap in hand from dictator to dictator”.

3

Putin ‘stashed millions’ in city

The UK’s new “kleptocracy” unit is set to investigate Vladimir Putin amid suspicions that he has stashed millions of pounds of his personal wealth in London. The Daily Telegraph reported that the Russian president will face an inquiry by the National Crime Agency and intelligence services, who will attempt to identify the assets he owns. Putin is accused of accumulating colossal wealth, having allegedly received kickbacks on deals approved by the Kremlin involving moguls friendly to the regime.

4

Move to reduce ‘frankenchickens’

Chicken sold in supermarkets may be healthier and come from birds that have had better lives under ministerial plans to reduce the use of fast-growing “frankenchickens”, said The Times. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said poultry farmers will be given financial incentives to switch to slower-growing breeds and allow more space in barns. An investigation by the paper published in 2019 found that birds developed by genetic selection to gain in size very quickly were collapsing under their own weight and spending their final days in pain.

5

Black girl strip-searched by police

Racism has been cited as a factor in a police strip search of 15-year-old girl at a London school. The black schoolgirl was strip-searched by police after she was wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis, said the BBC. The “traumatic” search by Metropolitan Police officers took place without another adult present, an official investigation has found. Scotland Yard said the officers’ actions were “regrettable” and the incident “should never have happened”.

6

9/11 suspect could avoid execution

The alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks could escape the death penalty as part of a plea deal being negotiated with US prosecutors. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has been held in Guantanamo Bay since 2006 over his alleged role in the 2001 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people. In the latest of what The Daily Telegraph described as “legal and logistical hurdles”, lawyers for Mohammed and four other suspects have requested certain assurances in exchange for their guilty pleas, starting with the removal of the death penalty.

7

Russian TV protester fined £214

A Russian state media journalist who protested the invasion of Ukraine during a live TV news broadcast on Monday has been found guilty of organising an unauthorised public event. A district court in Moscow said Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One, had been found guilty of the “administrative offense” and had been fined 30,000 rubles (£214). The Kremlin had described Ovsyannikova’s actions as “hooliganism”, a criminal offence in Russia. It is not clear whether or not she will face separate charges relating to her live TV protest.

8

Heathrow drops face mask rule

Heathrow Airport has dropped its requirement that passengers wear face coverings at its terminals, railway stations and office buildings, although it is continuing to recommend that they do. Passengers are still required to wear face masks on flights if the country they are travelling to requires it. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are set to make mask-wearing optional for passengers and crew on certain flights from 16 March, said CNN.

9

Brexit festival is ‘recipe for failure’

The “festival of Brexit” is an irresponsible use of £120m of public money and is shrouded in confusion even as it begins, MPs have said. The controversial Unboxed festival is a “recipe for failure” and a “prime example” of a large-scale project with aims that are “vague and ripe for misinterpretation”, said a report by the House of Commons’ culture, media and sport committee. The Times said the festival’s ten projects include a “tour de moon”, a series of grow-your-own-food events and an art installation on a disused oilrig off Weston-super-Mare.

10

Murdered girl identified after 62 years

DNA testing has helped identify a murdered girl known for decades as “Little Miss Nobody” nearly 62 years after her burned remains were found in the Arizona desert. Four-year-old Sharon Lee Gallegos, of New Mexico, was abducted from her grandmother’s yard in 1960, just over a week before her partially-burned body was discovered. Her killers have never been caught.

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