Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 March 2021

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

1. Schools face rape investigation

Top British schools are facing a Whitehall investigation involving police chiefs, government officials and Ofsted over their handling of a “rape culture” among pupils. A senior police officer said thousands of current and former pupils had come forward as a result of a website “shining a light on peer-on-peer abuse within educational settings across the UK”. New government advice on sexual violence and sexual harassment between pupils is being drawn up.

2. US condemns Myanmar violence

The US Secretary of State says that Washington is “horrified” by last night’s violence in Myanmar. Dozens of people were killed by security forces during protests on the deadliest day since last month’s military takeover of the country. Antony Blinken said the killings show “that the junta will sacrifice the lives of the people to serve the few”. The EU delegation to Myanmar said Saturday would “stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour”.

3. Call for inquiry into Bristol policing

Questions are being asked about police treatment of a reporter at demonstrations in Bristol on Friday night. Daily Mirror journalist Matthew Dresch shared a video that appeared to show officers pushing him and hitting him with a baton as he shouted that he was a member of the press. Labour MP Nadia Whittome says “the case for an independent investigation into the policing of the Bristol protests is clear.”

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4. PM pressed on jab sharing

Charities are asking Boris Johnson to “swiftly clarify” how many Covid vaccine doses the UK is prepared to donate to poorer countries. Save the Children and the Wellcome Trust are among those calling on the prime minister to begin sharing vaccines through Covax. The government said it will share “the majority of any future surplus” vaccines “when these are available”. Afghanistan, Haiti, DR Congo, Ethiopia and Somalia are among those nations hoping to benefit.

5. Asda starts price war

Asda has begun a discounting push after the chain said it would invest £100m in discounts and advertising as the price wars between grocers heat up. The Sunday Telegraph says the billionaire Issa brothers are starting to “put their stamp on Britain’s number three supermarket”. Backed by private equity firm TDR, they are understood to want to focus on low prices to go head-to-head with the German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

6. Boris criticised for ‘days off’ remark

Boris Johnson is under attack for suggesting people have had enough “days off” at home during the pandemic and should “see their way round to making a passing stab at getting back into the office”. The Observer says the prime minister’s have comments caused alarm among scientists, and were branded by opposition MPs as “irresponsible”. Andy McDonald, the shadow employment rights and protections secretary, said “he is trying appease the libertarian wing of his party”.

7. Hotline for Amazon workers

A trade union is setting up a hotline for Amazon staff to complain about their treatment at work. Unite told the BBC it was time the web giant shared its “bonanza profits with the workers who help make them”. Amazon said it offered its staff “excellent” pay, benefits and career opportunities but a Unite spokeswoman said staff needed to speak about “the exploitation they suffer day after day as a consequence of Amazon's merciless drive for profit”.

8. Switch off for Earth Hour

Cities around the world switched off their lights on Saturday for Earth Hour. In London, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Shard skyscraper and neon signs of Piccadilly Circus were among the landmarks turning their bulbs off. This year’s event focused on the link between the destruction of nature and increasing outbreaks of diseases like Covid-19. Earth Hour is an annual global event organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

9. Stadium plan ‘set to fail’

The government’s plan to get sports fans back in stadiums and music fans at festivals this summer “has failure written all over it,” says former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio. After holding talks with Whitehall officials over plans to allow fans into Wembley and the World Snooker Championship, Dallaglio said the government is wrong to insist fans go to NHS testing centres for a Covid-19 test first, rather than use a home test like schoolchildren.

10. Modeller forecasts warm summer

A computer-modelled ultra-long-range weather forecaster has predicted that July and August will be warmer and drier than average across most of Britain. Brian Glaze’s website The Weather Outlook shows 14 straight days of sunshine from June 23, with temperatures reaching 22C on August 8. The Sunday Times says this is “good news” for Britons who may be prevented from holidaying abroad due to the pandemic.

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