Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 April 2022
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
UK to send migrants to Rwanda
Some asylum seekers will be flown 4,500 miles to Rwanda to have their applications processed under plans to be announced by Priti Patel today. Boris Johnson will deliver a speech in Kent to coincide with the announcement. The prime minister is expected to say: “The British people voted several times to control our borders, not to close them, but to control them.” Labour has said the plan is “unworkable, unethical and extortionate”, while the Refugee Council criticised it as “cruel”. It is modelled on Australian offshore processing centres on the islands of Nauru and Manus in Papua New Guinea.
Lord quits over Partygate
A Conservative peer has resigned as justice minister over parties held on Downing Street during lockdown. In a letter to Boris Johnson, Lord David Wolfson criticised the “official response” to “repeated rule-breaking”. Wolfson, who has been a justice minister since December 2020, is the first person to quit the government since reports of lockdown parties emerged. The prime minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were both fined this week for attending a birthday party in the cabinet room on Downing Street in June 2020.
Russian warship damaged
Moscow has said its flagship cruiser Moskva has been “seriously damaged” by an explosion. Russia’s defence ministry did not reveal the cause of the fire, however, Ukraine said the vessel was struck by their Neptune missiles. The warship gained notoriety at the start of Russia’s invasion when Ukrainian border troops defending Snake Island told its crew to “go f**k yourself”. Meanwhile, Moscow said more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines defending the besieged city of Mariupol have surrendered and the port has been captured.
WHO claims attention bias
The world does not give equal attention to emergencies affecting black and white people, the head of the World Health Organization has warned. Secretary General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said helping Ukraine is “very important”, while adding that Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria are not receiving the same degree of attention. “I don’t know if the world really gives equal attention to black and white lives,” he told a news conference. Last month, Tedros said there was “nowhere on Earth where the health of millions of people is more under threat” than Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
Sri Lanka to default on debt
Two of the world’s largest credit rating agencies have warned that Sri Lanka is on the verge of defaulting on its debts. S&P Global Ratings said that a default is now a “virtual certainty”, while Fitch Ratings lowered its assessment of the South Asian nation, warning “a sovereign default process has begun”. Sri Lanka said it will temporarily default on its foreign debts as it faces its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. It has been “beset by shortages of food and fuel”, Al Jazeera reported, “with schools forced to cancel exams for lack of paper”.
Meteors ‘could deliver life from other systems’
The US Space Command has confirmed that a space rock from another star system struck Earth in 2014. The Independent said the announcement “raises the possibility” of collecting fragments of the alien meteorite from the Pacific ocean where it exploded in a fireball. The new US Space Command memo appears to confirm the work of Harvard astronomers Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb. In 2019, the pair said interstellar meteors could “potentially deliver life from another planetary system”.
Jersey freezes Abramovich assets
Roman Abramovich has had more than £5.4bn of his assets frozen in Jersey. The Royal Court of Jersey announced that it had imposed a formal freezing order on “assets understood to be valued in excess of $7bn, which are suspected to be connected to Mr Abramovich and which are either located in Jersey or owned by Jersey incorporated entities”. The Russian oligarch has also had 12 luxury properties seized by the French government, including a near-£100m villa on the Riviera that was once the holiday home of King Edward VIII.
Brooklyn shooting suspect arrested
Police in New York City have arrested a man suspected of shooting 10 commuters at a Brooklyn subway station. Frank James, 62, is alleged to have donned a construction worker’s helmet, vest and a gas mask before hurling smoke grenades and opening fire. He gave himself up to the authorities, after being spotted at a McDonald’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The motive for the shooting is not yet known.
Rents rising at record rate
Private rents in Britain are rising at a record rate, according to industry figures. Rightmove found that rents had risen by 14% in a year in London and by more than 19% in hotspots such as Swansea and Manchester. The average advertised rent outside London is 10.8% higher than a year ago, leaving tenants grappling with “the most competitive rental market ever recorded”, said the property website. An estimated 11m people rent privately in England. The sector has doubled in size over the past 20 years.
Vegan diets may help dogs
A vegan diet may enable dogs to stay fit and cut their risk of ill health by as much as a third, an expert has claimed. Andrew Knight, a professor of animal welfare and ethics at the University of Winchester, said: “People are recognising in their own lifestyles that we have to look at things differently. And, actually, some people are starting to think about that for their dogs as well.” The Telegraph said that “vegan-friendly dog food diets” are becoming increasingly popular and are favoured by celebrities including Lewis Hamilton and Joaquin Phoenix.