Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 August 2021

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

1. Jabs to be offered to 16-year-olds

Covid vaccines will be offered to all 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK, according to the BBC. About 1.4 million teenagers will be included in the new rollout but it is not known when the jabs will start. Currently, vaccines are only offered to those over-12s who have underlying conditions or live with others at high risk. Last week, Ireland joined the US, France, Germany and other western countries in vaccinating all over-12s.

When will children get a coronavirus vaccine?

2. Iran denies ship hijack

A Panama-flagged ship has been hijacked by armed men in the Gulf of Oman and ordered to sail to Iran, according to reports. Although it is not clear who has seized the bitumen tanker MV Asphalt Princess, The Telegraph says “Iranian-backed forces were suspected”. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards dismissed the reports as a pretext for “hostile action” against Tehran, adding: “Iran’s armed forces and all branches of the Islamic Resistance in the Middle East have nothing to do with the incident in the Gulf of Oman”.

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3. PM ‘missing in action’ on climate change

Boris Johnson is “missing in action” ahead of vital UN climate talks, Keir Starmer has claimed. The UK will host the COP26 summit in Glasgow this autumn, where countries must set out plans for drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for this decade, to avoid catastrophic and irreversible changes to the climate. “We cannot afford to miss this moment, but I fear we will,” writes the Labour leader in The Guardian.

What is COP26 and what are its aims?

4. Biden calls on Cuomo to quit

Joe Biden has called on the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, to resign after an independent inquiry found that he had harassed several women. Cuomo could now be impeached and is also facing a separate criminal probe. CNN says the inquiry’s findings, that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including state employees and a New York state trooper, came after a months-long investigation that interviewed 179 people and reviewed more than 74,000 documents.

5. Travel sector ‘in last chance saloon’

The CBI has warned that the international travel sector is in the “last chance saloon” and could lose its lucrative summer takings altogether unless rules are relaxed immediately. The sector has warned of tens of thousands of job losses if the system is not simplified this week, in time to give holidaymakers the chance for a summer getaway. Either way, says the CBI, further economic support for the sector will be needed until passenger numbers recover.

Who is to blame for the ‘amber watch-list’ U-turn?

6. Minister’s home attacked in Afghanistan

Four people have been killed after militants attacked the home of the Afghan defence minister. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi was not at home on Tuesday as gunmen detonated a car bomb. His family was safely evacuated and the attackers killed. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters appeared to be on the brink of overrunning the key Afghan provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, as all but one district of the city fell under the control of the hardline Islamists.

7. Young more likely to be scammed

People aged between 21 and 30 are the most likely to have reported being conned in recent months, according to a new survey. Although pensioners are widely perceived as an easy target for scammers seeking to steal their savings, the study by Barclays found that over-70s were the victim in only 4.1% of cases they had recorded. Con artists are also targeting people aged 11 to 20, with this group representing 10% of total purchase scam victims.

8. Officer stabbed outside Pentagon

A police officer died after being stabbed outside the Pentagon yesterday morning. The attack happened at a bus stop on the Pentagon complex, prompting a lockdown of the building during which no one was allowed outside. The suspected attacker was shot by law enforcement officers and died at the scene.

9. Codeine deaths hit record high

Deaths resulting from an overdose of codeine have soared by almost 25% to a record high, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Some 212 people died of drug poisoning after taking the painkiller in 2020, up from 167 in 2019. Ian Hamilton, a senior lecturer in addiction and mental health, said: “Codeine can cause confusion so it can be difficult to remember how much of it you have taken. Some will have accidentally taken more of the drug than they realised and overdosed as a consequence.”

10. Ashley to hand empire to son-in-law

Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley is planning to step down as chief executive of his retail empire and hand over day-to-day control to his prospective son-in-law. The 56-year-old is expected to assume the role of deputy chairman of Frasers Group and could announce the move this week. However, according to sources quoted in The Telegraph, the “famously mercurial retailer” could yet change his plans.

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