Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 21 Aug 2020

1. Biden says Trump has ‘cloaked America in darkness’

Joe Biden has formally accepted the Democratic nomination for the US presidency. In a speech delivered at his party’s online convention last night, the former vice-president said Donald Trump had unleashed “too much anger, too much fear, too much division” and had “cloaked America in darkness for much too long”. Biden’s “impassioned speech was the capstone of a political career spanning nearly half a century”, says the BBC.

2020 US election: what kind of president would Joe Biden make?

2. Concern as Covid-19 cases rise despite fall in testing

Covid-19 cases were up by more than a quarter last week, despite a slight drop in the number of tests carried out. NHS data shows there were 6,616 new positive tests in England from 6 to 12 August, up 27% on the previous week despite a 2% fall in the number of people tested. Paul Hunter, a professor at the Norwich School of Medicine, said this “suggests that the incidence of Covid-19 in the community is beginning to rise again.”

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Coronavirus: could Britain afford a second lockdown to avoid a second wave?

3. Putin critic still fighting for his life

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny remains in a serious condition in a Siberian hospital after drinking tea that his allies believe was laced with poison. Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was “deeply concerned” about the reported poisoning. The case would be the latest in a long series of poisonings and suspected poisonings of people who have fallen out with the Kremlin.

Has Alexei Navalny fallen foul of a ‘Putin poisoning’?

4. Lockerbie appeal returns to court in Scotland

The appeal against the Lockerbie bomber’s conviction will be back in court today as the family of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi pursue a posthumous appeal against the conviction. Megrahi, who died in 2012, was the only person convicted for the bombing which in 1988 killed 270 people - 11 of them in the ground in Lockerbie. Today’s hearing will take place by video conference.

Was Lockerbie conviction a miscarriage of justice?

5. Steve Bannon charged with fraud over Mexican wall funds

Steve Bannon, the former adviser to Donald Trump, has pleaded not guilty after being arrested and charged with fraud over a fundraising campaign to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. The US Department of Justice said Bannon and three others defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with the “We Build the Wall” campaign, which raised $25m (£19m).

6. Quarantine lifted on Portugal but imposed on Croatia

UK tourists will no longer need to quarantine after holidaying in Portugal. The Portuguese government has welcomed the changes as “useful for all those who travel between Portugal and the United Kingdom”. However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people will need to self-isolate for 14 days on returning from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago.

Could airport coronavirus testing reduce quarantines?

7. Winds of up to 70mph expected after Storm Ellen

Emergency services have issued a warning as gusts of up to 70mph are expected to hit coastal areas on Friday. Although Britain avoided the worst of Storm Ellen’s impact earlier this week, the Met Office is warning of another low pressure system bringing powerful winds that could cause disruption to travel and power supplies. The Environment Agency has issued 42 flood alerts and 19 flood warnings.

8. Public appeal as baby found dead on Bradford street

The body of a newborn baby has been found in Bradford wrapped in a beach towel. West Yorkshire police have released a picture of the towel, which depicts a purple and yellow map of the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Sara Hollins, head of midwifery for Bradford, said in a statement: “Our main priority is to find the mum of the baby.”

9. Ministers ask universities to prioritise poorer students

Middle-class children may be forced to take a gap year after ministers told universities to favour poorer children, reports The Times. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, has told vice-chancellors: “Where possible, try to prioritise those from disadvantaged backgrounds for admission this year.” The government’s U-turn on A-level results last week has led to popular universities being oversubscribed.

Exam U-turn: behind the algorithm that triggered A-level grades mayhem

10. Helicopter pilot dies as California wildfires grow

Thousands have been forced out of their homes as wildfires continue to tear through California. The Guardian reports that one grouping of fires - the LNU Lightning Complex north of San Francisco - grew rapidly overnight, doubling in size to about 131,000 acres and burning through more than 100 homes and buildings. Earlier, the pilot of a fire-fighting helicopter died when his aircraft crashed.

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