Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 6 Aug 2020

1. Beirut port officials under house arrest following blast

Several Beirut port officials are under house arrest pending an investigation into Tuesday’s explosion in which at least 135 people were killed and 4,000 injured. Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a port warehouse. Customs officer Badri Daher said his agency had called for the chemical to be removed, admitting “this did not happen”.

‘Crisis after crisis’: everything we know about the Lebanon chemical explosion

2. Social networks target Trump over Covid misinformation

Facebook and Twitter have punished Donald Trump and his campaign over his claim that children are “almost immune” from Covid-19. Facebook deleted a clip from an interview he gave to Fox News, citing “harmful Covid misinformation”, while Twitter said it had frozen a Trump campaign account until it removed a tweet of the same clip. US health officials insist children have no immunity to Covid-19.

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Coronavirus linked to rare inflammatory disease in children – here’s what we know

3. Amazon passes cost of new tax to small businesses

Amazon is under fire for “opting out” of paying increased taxes after passing on a new levy on tech giants to small businesses, The Times reports. After the 2% digital services tax was introduced to tackle online companies that pay too little UK tax, Amazon, which is valued at $1.5tr (£1.14tr), told UK businesses using its platform to sell products that it will increase its fees by 2%.

Could ‘Amazon tax’ save struggling high street retailers?

4. Service sector growth spurs hope of V-shaped recovery

The services sector reported its strongest growth for five years in July, reviving hopes of a “V-shaped” economic recovery. IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index rose from 47.1 in June to 56.5 in July, passing the crucial 50 mark that divides growth from contraction. However, businesses warned that overall output is still significantly down when compared with the months before the pandemic.

Explained: Bank of England predicts V-shaped economic recovery

5. Johnson to clear way for building developments

The prime minister plans to slash red tape and limit the power of local politicians to block building developments. In what The Times describes as the “biggest reform of the planning system for 70 years”, Boris Johnson hopes to trigger a construction boom that would quickly provide new homes, hospitals and schools. His senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, is a longstanding critic of the existing planning system.

Build, build, build: UK planning laws to get ‘radical shake-up’

6. Inquest told Caroline Flack killed herself over show trial fear

The broadcaster Caroline Flack repeatedly tried to take her life out of fear of a “show trial,” an inquest has been told. Poplar Coroner’s Court was told that the 40-year-old Love Island presenter attempted suicide three times after being charged with assaulting her boyfriend. She died following a fourth attempt, a day after learning that prosecutors had decided to pursue the case against her.

Caroline Flack: the repercussions for the media, CPS and Love Island

7. ‘Eerie’ streets as lockdown reimposed on Aberdeen

Lockdown restrictions have been reimposed in Aberdeen following the discovery of a Covid-19 cluster in the city. The streets of the Scottish city were “eerily quiet” during the first night of Scotland’s first local lockdown, with bars, cafes and restaurants told to shut down for at least seven days, the BBC reports. Additional police have also been sent to the city to increase patrols.

M25 quarantine: is a London coronavirus lockdown in the offing?

8. Cinemas attack Disney for releasing Mulan online

British cinemas have hit out at Disney’s decision to release the remake of its 1998 hit Mulan straight to its streaming platform. The UK Cinema Association said the move is “hugely disappointing”. Cinemas have been reopening their doors since July, but are struggling to tempt customers back through their doors after the coronavirus lockdown. Many new releases have been delayed or released online.

When will the world run out of new movies and TV shows?

9. Estate agents report surge of interest in country villages

Estate agents say there has been a surge in interest in moving to the country since the coronavirus outbreak. Rightmove reports that across the UK, enquiries about buying a home in a village jumped by 126% in June and July compared with the same period last year. A spokesperson said the trend was driven by “the lure of a new lifestyle, one that is quieter and has an abundance of beautiful countryside and more outdoor space”.

Is now a good time to buy or sell homes - and will there be a post-Covid city exodus?

10. Armed FBI agents search home of YouTube star Jake Paul

FBI agents have served a search warrant at a California mansion belonging to the YouTube star Jake Paul. A spokesperson said an armed swat team carried out the raid. Officials would not disclose the reason for the search, however, officers were seen collecting guns from the property. Paul is facing charges of looting in Arizona and recently held a party that allegedly broke public health orders.

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