Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 Feb 2021

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

1. Senate acquits Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been acquitted in his second impeachment trial for his role in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol after the US Senate fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him. The new president, Joe Biden, said: “This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile.” CNN describes the verdict as “an acquittal but not an embrace”.

2. CRG demands end to lockdown

Tory backbenchers are demanding that all coronavirus legal restrictions are permanently lifted by the end of April. The Covid Recovery Group (CRG), which opposed the third lockdown, has written to Boris Johnson to say there will be no justification for Covid laws once the nine priority groups have been vaccinated. However, the prime minister announced yesterday that he plans a “cautious” reopening.

3. Earthquake strikes in Japan

An earthquake has struck off the coast of Japan, injuring more than 100 people. Experts say the 7.3 magnitude earthquake was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 quake that sparked the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. Kenji Satake, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s earthquake research institute, said: “It’s not surprising to have an aftershock of this scale 10 years later.”

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4. Starmer under pressure on Brexit

Keir Starmer is coming under growing pressure from within his own party to hold Boris Johnson to account over the disastrous effects of his Brexit deal on UK businesses. Despite hauliers reporting huge falls in trade volumes to the EU and half of 470 UK exporters telling the British Chambers of Commerce in a survey that they are experiencing serious problems, the Labour leader has remained silent on the issue.

5. Universal Covid jab ‘within a year’

Scientists say that a universal vaccine, that would work on all Covid-19 variants by targeting the core of the virus instead of just the spike protein, could be available in as little as a year. The University of Nottingham is developing a "universal” Covid-19 jab that it hopes would end the need to repeatedly tweak existing jabs as the virus mutates.

6. Belfast tunnel could get go-ahead

An undersea tunnel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland could get the green light within weeks, reports the Sunday Telegraph. The tunnel, which would create the first fixed link between all four nations of the United Kingdom, would be designed to help unblock trade that has been hit by Brexit tensions. It would be the same length as the tunnel to France.

7. Draghi sworn in as Italy’s PM

The former head of the European Central Bank has been sworn-in as Italy's next prime minister. Mario Draghi has assembled a unity government of the main political parties, after the previous administration collapsed last month. The BBC says the new government’s main priority will be to work out how to spend over €200bn (£175bn) of EU recovery funds to rebuild from the pandemic.

8. Paxman calls for voting tests

Former Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman has suggested that people should have to pass a series of tests to be allowed to vote. “We should stop all sorts of people from voting,” he said on his podcast. “I’d have literacy, numeracy and consideration of civics,” proposes the veteran broadcaster. However, he conceded that “you’d get a lot of unlettered people burning down polling stations, I suppose”.

9. Brentford to stop taking knee

Brentford FC has announced that its players will no longer take a knee before games because they feel the gesture against discrimination no longer has the required impact. In a statement, the Championship side’s squad said racism was “the opposite of what we stand for”. The gesture was inspired by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who decided on the silent protest against racial oppression by kneeling during the national anthem.

10. Remains from Napoleon era buried

The bodies of 120 French and Russian soldiers who died during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow have been laid to rest in western Russia. The remains, which were discovered two years ago by a team of French and Russian archaeologists, were buried in freezing conditions at a monastery in the town of Vyazma. Napoleon’s retreat in 1812 marked the end of his invasion of Russia.

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