Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 September 2021

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

1. PM in ‘ruthless’ reshuffle

Boris Johnson is today expected to continue to rebuild his ministerial team after yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle. The BBC said the prime minister is likely rejig his junior and middle-ranking ministers over the coming days. He yesterday fired Gavin Williamson as education secretary and Robert Buckland as justice secretary, as well as replacing Dominic Raab with new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Rabb is now justice secretary, while former vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi got the nod to replace Williamson in the Department for Education. The Guardian suggested that the “ruthless” reshuffle has “laid the groundwork for the next general election”.

Boris Johnson’s reshuffle: who’s in and who’s out?

2. UK, US and Australia launch pact

The UK, US and Australia have announced a security pact to share advanced defence technologies in an effort to counter the rising influence of China. The Aukus partnership, announced last night, will enable Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time and will also cover artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and cyber. The BBC said “it is no secret that Britain, the US and Australia share concerns about China’s military build up in the Indo-Pacific”.

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China’s fight for the Pacific

3. Bank under pressure as inflation rises

The Bank of England is facing calls to wind in its emergency stimulus measures after inflation surged to the highest level for almost a decade. Prices rose by 3.2% last month in their fastest annual increase since 2012 and the sharpest month-on-month rise since 1997. Andrew Sentance, a former member of the rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee, said the bank should seek to end quantitative easing and then plan a gradual rise in interest rates.

The scourge of high inflation

4. Life expectancy lowest for a decade

Life expectancy in England has fallen to its lowest level since 2011. Public Health England (PHE) said excess deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic caused life expectancy to fall by 1.3 years for men, to 78.7, and 0.9 years for women to 82.7. As well as pointing to the pandemic, PHE said there had been an “unprecedented” rise in deaths caused by alcohol use, up 20% last year compared to 2019.

2020 sees largest annual increase in deaths since WW2

5. NYC crime family arrested

Ten members of New York City crime family have been arrested, including the 87-year-old boss. Prosecutors allege the men threatened violence, pressured workers and pocketed phoney “pension” payments in a two-decade plot to seize control of a city construction union and its lucrative employee health insurance program. The Telegraph said the scheme had “all the major trappings of Mafia-type shakedowns seen in TV shows like The Sopranos and movies”.

6. Workers ‘won’t return to offices full-time’

A survey for the BBC has found that most people do not believe workers will return to the office full-time after the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the 1,684 people polled, 70% predicted that workers would “never return to offices at the same rate”, while the majority of workers also said that they would prefer to work from home either full-time or part-time. Bosses, meanwhile, said that workers staying at home would adversely affect both creativity and collaboration.

Cash bonuses, yoga and ‘canine clauses’: how the City is luring back its workers

7. Man jailed over child abuse videos

A 36-year-old man behind the world’s biggest source of child abuse imagery has been jailed for 27 years. Eric Eoin Marques created and ran computer servers on the dark web that enabled users to anonymously access millions of illegal images and videos, many depicting the rape and torture of infants and toddlers. US District Judge Theodore Chuang told him: “This crime was truly despicable.”

What is the dark web?

8. Protests in El Salvador against Bitcoin

Thousands have taken to the streets in El Salvador to demonstrate against the introduction of Bitcoin as its legal tender. Some set fire to a brand-new Bitcoin ATM machines, with protesters saying they fear the cryptocurrency will bring instability and inflation to the impoverished Latin American country. President Nayib Bukele has insisted that Bitcoin will help Salvadorans working abroad to send money back home.

Bitcoin explained: what is it and how can you buy one?

9. Indie stores on the march

Independent retailers and food outlets are enjoying their first rise in numbers in four years. A net total of 804 locally run convenience stores, barbers, bakers, cafes and fast-food restaurants opened in the first half of 2021, according to the Local Data Company. A spokesperson said the rise was the result of shoppers becoming “increasingly concerned with the provenance of products, sustainability and supporting local businesses”.

UK’s ten best - and worst - places for shopping

10. Civilian crew sent into space

SpaceX has launched the first all-civilian crew into orbit as part of the Inspiration4 mission. The four-person crew lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, just after 8pm local time. The capsule will spend three days in space before returning to Earth and landing in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. The Independent said the mission “marks a major milestone towards the burgeoning space tourism industry”, which has drawn in companies including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Space tourism: how far has the industry come?

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