Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 May 2022

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

1

Sunak to unveil emergency aid

UK households are expected to have hundreds of pounds knocked off their energy bills this winter as part of a multibillion-pound package to help people cope with soaring living costs. Rishi Sunak is set to announce an increase to the £200 discount unveiled earlier this year and will scrap plans to make the scheme repayable, said The Telegraph. Some reports suggest that he could also announce an increase to the warm home discount scheme for low-income households. These measures will be “partly funded by a windfall tax on energy companies”, said the FT. 

2

PM refuses to step down

Boris Johnson has refused to resign in the wake of the Sue Gray report and insisted he was oblivious to a culture of excessive drinking and partying in Downing Street during lockdown. The PM admitted that Gray’s findings were “bitter and painful”, but added that he needed “to keep moving forward”. Yesterday, Labour leader Keir Starmer called on Conservative MPs to remove Johnson, saying it was time for him “to pack his bags”. Julian Sturdy, the Conservative MP for York Outer since 2010, said it was “in the public interest for the prime minister to resign”.

3

Moss denies Depp was violent

The supermodel Kate Moss has testified that Johnny Depp never abused her, contradicting a claim made by the actor’s ex-wife. Amber Heard had said that she heard rumours that Depp once pushed Moss down a flight of stairs. Appearing via video link, Moss denied that her ex-boyfriend had ever “pushed me, kicked me or threw me down any stairs”. Depp said that Heard had turned the story “into a very ugly incident, all in her mind”. The actor is suing Heard for $50m (£40m) for an opinion article she wrote in which she said she was an abuse victim, said the BBC. 

4

Monkeypox ‘in UK since March’

Government scientists believe monkeypox may have been circulating in the UK since the middle of March, reported the i news site. The UK Health Security Agency has updated its definition of probable cases of the virus to “include people with an unexplained rash, plus one or more classic monkeypox symptoms, that developed as far back as 15 March”, said the paper. There have now been 77 cases announced in England, one in Scotland and none in Wales or Northern Ireland.

5

Gunman shared plans on Facebook

The gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas primary school shared his plans on Facebook about 30 minutes before reaching the building, said the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, at a press conference on Wednesday. A spokesperson for Meta, formerly known as Facebook, said they were “private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred”, contrary to Abbott’s assertion the gunman made the posts publicly. According to CNN, the teenager, identified as Salvador Ramos, messaged a girl saying: “Ima go shoot up a elementary school [right now].”

6

Westminster abuse ‘treated as gossip’

Conservative Party staffers have said that serious sexual abuse, harassment and bullying accusations made against MPs are treated as “mere gossip” in Westminster. In a letter seen by The Guardian, the group of staff working for Tory MPs said “a culture of gossip and rumour has enabled the toleration and acceptance of abuse for too long”. They spoke out in response to a series of recent incidents which have included a Conservative MP being arrested on suspicion of rape, a second being jailed for sexually assaulting a teenager and another being investigated over claims of sexual harassment.

7

HIV pill may help memory loss

Scientists believe that memory loss in older age could be restored using maraviroc, an existing HIV drug, reported The Telegraph. Researchers at the University of California have discovered a gene that erases some memories and found that switching it off boosts recall. Maraviroc is already available to “silence” the gene’s effect, said the paper. “Our next step will be to organise a clinical trial to test maraviroc’s influence on early memory loss with the goal of early intervention,” said Alcino Silva, a professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at UCLA.

8

Kashmiri separatist jailed for life

A court in India has sentenced a Kashmiri separatist leader to life imprisonment after convicting him of funding terrorism, said the BBC. Yasin Malik was found guilty of participating in and funding terrorist acts and involvement in criminal conspiracy. The Times of India said the court rejected Malik’s contention that he had adhered to the “Gandhian principle of non-violence” since giving up armed militancy in 1994. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Muslim-majority Kashmir since an armed revolt against rule by India in 1989.

9

Truss: Putin ‘must not be appeased’

Liz Truss is to insist that Vladimir Putin must be defeated rather than appeased in a speech to Bosnia and Herzegovina armed forces in Sarajevo. The foreign secretary will also demand more weapons for Kyiv and additional sanctions against Moscow. “Russia’s aggression cannot be appeased. It must be met with strength,” she is expected to say. “We must not allow a prolonged and increasingly painful conflict to develop in Ukraine.” Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a “vocal partner of the UK’s in the western Balkans in calling out Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine”, said Sky News.

10

Covid smell molecule identified

Scientists have identified the “trigger molecule” that modifies some people’s sense of smell when they catch Covid-19, reported the journal Communications Medicine. The researchers have identified a highly potent odour molecule that appears to be a trigger for the issue, known as parosmia. Around 18% of adults in the UK are thought to have been affected by a smell disruption, which can make pleasant aromas smell like burning rubbish or sewage, said The Guardian.

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