Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 September 2021

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

1. PM ‘risking 7,000 daily hospitalisations’

Up to 7,000 people a day could be hospitalised with Covid in England next month unless the government urgently implements a “basket of measures”, scientific advisers have warned Boris Johnson. After the PM said he hoped increasing vaccinations meant a “Plan B” of fresh restrictions could be avoided, the Sage committee said a “relatively light set of measures” ushered in early enough could curb infections.

2. North Korea fires ‘ballistic missile’

North Korea fired an unidentified projectile towards the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Agreeing that an object was fired, the Japanese Coast Guard said it may have been a ballistic missile, which would contravene UN resolutions designed to curb the North’s nuclear activities. The development comes just days after North Korea tested a long-range cruise missile capable of hitting much of Japan.

3. Newsom prevails in California

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has prevailed in a rare recall election that could have ended his political career. Although election officials have 30 days to count all the ballots, the Associated Press projected the results about 45 minutes after polls closed, signalling that voters have rejected the change to replace Newsom with his most popular challenger, the rightwing radio host Larry Elder. Republicans launched the election over Newsom’s handling of the pandemic.

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4. Taliban leaders in ‘major row’

A “major row” broke out at the presidential palace between leaders of the Taliban over the make-up of the group’s new government in Afghanistan, senior Taliban officials told the BBC. The news comes after two senior Taliban leaders went missing from public view, leading some Afghans to question whether the group’s supreme leader and new deputy prime minister are alive.

5. PM criticised for Saudi prisons joke

Boris Johnson is under fire for a quip that the UK could become “the Saudi Arabia of penal policy” under Priti Patel. The remark, made during a speech behind closed doors at a Conservative party fundraiser event on 10 September, has been condemned as “disgusting” and a “new low” by opposition politicians. The Guardian said that Saudi Arabia is one of the most punitive regimes in the world.

6. Anger over Faroe dolphin slaughter

Local and global anger has erupted over what was believed to be a record slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands after 1,400 were killed in one day. The pod of white-sided dolphins was driven into the largest fjord in the North Atlantic territory. The BBC reported that the dolphins were then herded into shallow waters, where they were killed with knives. The carcases were pulled ashore and distributed to locals for consumption.

7. Tower Bridge floods under heavy rain

Bucketing rain left Tower Bridge and some London Tube lines flooded yesterday as forecasters issued dismal warnings about heavy downpours across England. Footage on social media showed cars ploughing through floodwater on Tower Bridge and commuters wading through ankle-deep water to leave Victoria Station. One Londoner tweeted: “Having cycled 18 miles in the rain, am pretty sure the last time London had adequate drains was when the Romans were here.”

8. Gove told to ‘save Xmas’

The prime minister has charged Michael Gove with “fixing” Britain’s food supply chains. The appointment comes after industry bosses warned that consumers should prepare for permanent shortages in supermarkets because of a lack of lorry drivers and food-processing workers, which disrupts “just-in-time” supply chains. Announcing Gove’s role to rapidly increase the number of HGV drivers and work with food suppliers, Boris Johnson joked that he “doesn’t want to have to cancel Christmas again”.

9. 1p coins back in production

One penny coins were back in production last year, data from Royal Mint shows. After none were minted for general circulation in the previous two years, some 88m new 1p coins were minted in 2020. However, the BBC reported that no new £2 coins have been minted for four consecutive years, and no new 2p coins have been produced for three years.

10. Cummings criticises Home Office on drugs

Dominic Cummings has criticised the government again, this time taking the Home Office to task for failing to tackle the problem of students ordering prescription drugs on the dark web. The former No 10 adviser wrote on Twitter that students at Oxford and Cambridge had told him they have drugs delivered to their pigeonholes. He argued that a “serious regime” would “immediately close” this route.

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