Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 17 Aug 2020

1. GCSE results could be delayed as exam crisis deepens

Boris Johnson has been urged to intervene after a study found that A-level grades awarded in sixth form colleges this summer fell below the average of the last three years in England. The Sixth Form Colleges Association said this proves that students in larger institutions have been failed by this year’s system. The ongoing row has led to pressure on the government to delay this week’s GCSE results.

Exam chaos: how universities will decide who gets a place

2. Pelosi recalls congressmen amid postal votes row

Nancy Pelosi is recalling the US House of Representatives from its summer recess in a bid to protect the US Postal Service from efforts to block funding and suppress mail-in voting in November’s election. The Speaker has accused Donald Trump of a “campaign to sabotage the election” after the US Postal Service warned that millions of mail ballots may not arrive in time to be counted in the election.

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3. Fears for the homeless as eviction ban nears end

MPs have warned that there could be “a new wave of homelessness” in England when a moratorium on evictions ends later this month. The government insists it will “continue to provide appropriate support” to those affected when the ban, introduced in March, is lifted. But MPs are asking ministers to guarantee council funds to house rough sleepers for a year.

4. Putin may step in as Belarus protests continue

Moscow says it is ready to intervene in Belarus after 200,000 protesters defied a brutal crackdown to demand the resignation of the former Soviet republic’s leader. Vladimir Putin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that the Kremlin is prepared to invoke a joint defence treaty with Belarus amid angry claims that last Sunday’s elections were rigged. Police have carried out mass arrests and beatings.

What’s going on in Belarus?

5. Black police chief slams Dawn Butler episode

The police decision to stop the Labour MP Dawn Butler was rooted in systemic racism, according to the leader of black police officers. Inspector Andrew George, the new interim president of the National Black Police Association, said: “I would ask why a vehicle being registered in Yorkshire and driving in a global hub like London is enough, by itself, to warrant checking the owner details.”

Instant Opinion: ‘I still don't know why I was stopped’

6. Ardern delays election as NZ faces new Covid cases

New Zealand’s prime minister has postponed the country's general election due to a cluster of new coronavirus cases. The vote, due to take place on 19 September, will now be held on 17 October instead. Jacinda Ardern said that the new date would allow parties “to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under”. The country's largest city has gone back into lockdown.

How New Zealand is tackling fresh coronavirus outbreak

7. Morrisons trials paper bags ahead of plastic ban

Morrisons plans to scrap plastic bags for life because it found that shoppers use them once and then bin them. The supermarket chain will begin a trial offering paper bags in eight stores today. If the scheme is extended across all 494 stores it would take 90m plastic bags a year out of circulation - the equivalent of 3,510 tons. Chief executive David Potts said: “We believe customers are ready to stop using plastic carrier bags.”

Plastic bag usage in supermarkets down 90%

8. Cummings asked to prove he is telling ‘whole truth’

Dominic Cummings has been asked to release mobile phone and vehicle tracking data to prove that he did not make a second trip to Durham during the lockdown. Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor for north-west England, is leading a campaign for a full investigation into Cummings’ movements. He said the government adviser, “who has regularly spoken about the importance of data”, should prove that he is “telling the whole truth”.

Dominic Cummings under pressure to explain second Durham trip as public lose trust

9. Domestic violence surged during coronavirus lockdown

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased domestic violence against women, new research has found. BBC’s Panorama programme discovered that two-thirds of women in abusive relationships have suffered more violence from their partners during the crisis, with three-quarters of victims saying the lockdown has made it harder for them to escape their abusers.

Coronavirus and women’s bodies: the new rules

10. Night Manager star to portray Diana in The Crown

The Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki will play Diana, Princess of Wales, in the final two seasons of the hit Netflix series The Crown. Debicki, who has previously starred in The Night Manager, joins Jonathan Pryce and Imelda Staunton for the final two seasons of the regal drama, which will cover the 1990s and early 2000s. The fourth season is due for release this autumn.

Tom Hiddleston rules out second series of The Night Manager

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