Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 October 2021

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

1. Queen spent night in hospital

The Queen is back at Windsor Castle after spending Wednesday night in hospital, Buckingham Palace has revealed. A spokesperson said the 95-year-old monarch returned from a private hospital in central London at lunchtime on Thursday and is “in good spirits”. It was the first time the Queen has stayed in hospital since 2013. She had cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday following medical advice.

2. Booster wait could be cut

The wait for the Covid vaccine booster could be cut to five months, immediately opening up third jabs to millions more people. After the PM said the programme should move “as fast as possible”, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation reportedly backed the acceleration, which would mean most over-65s could be vaccinated by early November and all over-70s now. A clinical study published yesterday showed that a third dose of Pfizer “offers near-total protection”, The Times reported.

Which Covid-19 vaccine works best as a booster?

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3. Baldwin shoots woman on set

A woman has died and a man has been injured after Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm on a film set, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed. The shooting happened on the set of the movie Rust. The woman who died has been named as Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography. Joel Souza, the film’s director, was injured and is now being treated in hospital. According to reports, Baldwin was seen outside the sheriff’s office in tears.

4. Amess suspect ‘inspired by Syria’

The suspect in the killing of David Amess MP had been planning terrorist acts for more than two years, a court heard on Thursday. Prosecutors claimed that Ali Harbi Ali visited the Houses of Parliament, an MP’s home and another constituency surgery as part of his scouting for a potential target. It is understood prosecutors will allege that Ali, a British man of Somali descent, may have targeted Amess because of his record of voting on Syrian airstrikes.

The knotty problem of MPs’ security

5. Vote paves way for Bannon prosecution

The US House of Representatives has voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, paving the way for a potential prosecution. The former Trump adviser had defied a summons from a congressional panel investigating the 6 January riot at the US Capitol. Although the vote largely fell along party lines, nine Republicans in the chamber voted to hold him in contempt. Bannon could face a year in jail if convicted.

Will Bannon face jail time for contempt?

6. GPs to vote on strike

GPs are threatening industrial action in protest at the government’s attempts to force them to see any patient who wants a face-to-face appointment. The British Medical Association’s GPs committee voted unanimously to reject the plan by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, which included “naming and shaming” surgeries that see too few patients in person. The committee also decided that members would be balloted on industrial action, saying it had been “left with no alternative but to take this action”.

Where have all the doctors and nurses gone?

7. Biden says US would defend Taiwan

Joe Biden said the US would come to the defence of Taiwan if the island were attacked by China. “Yes, we have a commitment to that,” he responded when asked in a CNN town hall about defending Taiwan. The Telegraph said the US president’s statement was at odds with the long-held policy known as “strategic ambiguity”, under which Washington helps build Taiwan's defences but does not “explicitly promise” to come to the island’s aid.

What would happen if China attempted to invade Taiwan

8. Kuenssberg ‘to move to Today’

Laura Kuenssberg is reportedly in talks to step down as BBC political editor and become a presenter on the Today programme. The Guardian said Kuenssberg’s six-year tenure as BBC political editor has coincided with a “febrile period of politics” including the Brexit referendum and two general elections, which has brought “unprecedented scrutiny” of how the BBC’s political journalism shapes the national news agenda.

9. Syria executes wildfire arsonists

Syria has executed 24 people for igniting the wildfires that left three people dead and scorched thousands of acres of forests last year. The Syrian Ministry of Justice said the perpetrators admitted that they had set fire to several locations in the three regions. Eleven other people convicted of setting the fires were given life sentences of hard labour. Amnesty International has previously exposed a campaign of mass hangings in Syrian jails.

10. Global heating enters the dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary has added an entry for “global heating” amid concerns that “global warming” does not express the gravity of climate change. The dictionary said that although global warming was still the more frequently used term, global heating was used about 15 times more often in the first half of last year. It says the word is “often used in preference to global warming to convey more emphatically the seriousness of climate change”.

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