Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 November 2021

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

1. Biden ‘angry’ over Rittenhouse verdict

Joe Biden has said he is “angry” after a teenager who shot dead two men during racial unrest in Wisconsin was cleared. The US president had earlier told reporters he supported the jury’s decision to clear Kyle Rittenhouse. About 200 protesters in Portland, Oregon, broke windows and threw objects at police on Friday night. The Guardian said the Rittenhouse case has “split the nation”, with many “pointing out the discrepancy between the law enforcement’s treatment of the armed white militia supporter and anti-racism protesters”.

2. Lockdown riots in Rotterdam

Police in Rotterdam have fired warning shots, injuring protesters, as unrest broke out over government plans to impose restrictions on unvaccinated people. Protesters threw rocks and fireworks at police and set cars ablaze. Hundreds of protesters had gathered to show their anger at government plans for a Covid vaccine pass, and a ban on fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Rotterdam’s mayor condemned the unrest as “an orgy of violence”.

3. Mental health deaths rise

The number of deaths of people being treated under the Mental Health Act in England has risen during the Covid crisis. Some 490 people died while detained under the act in the year to March 2021 - 324 of them for non-Covid reasons, said the Care Quality Commission. The average overall figure between 2012 and 2019 was 273. Mental health charity Mind said “we must make sure that services are fully staffed to be able to provide the help and care for some of the most vulnerable in our society”.

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4. Dacre pulls out from Ofcom search

Paul Dacre has withdrawn from the running to be the next chair of the media regulator, Ofcom, after concerns were raised about the transparency of the recruitment process. In a letter to The Times, the former editor of the Daily Mail said he was not going to re-apply for the role, after his initial application was rejected by a recruitment panel. Dacre said he would not proceed with an application again despite being urged to “by many senior members of the government”.

5. Taxpayers may pick up Greensill pieces

MPs have said that taxpayers may be liable for up to £335m after a government bank failed to scrutinise collapsed lender Greensill Capital. A Public Accounts Committee report on the British Business Bank’s Covid loan scheme said checks to approve the company were “woefully inadequate”. Greensill went on to lend £418m, 80% of which may have to be repaid by taxpayers if they default. The former prime minister, David Cameron, was an adviser to the lender, which collapsed in March.

6. Lobster boiling may be banned

Boiling lobsters alive could be banned thanks to a government-commissioned report that has found crustaceans have feelings. The study concluded there was “strong scientific evidence decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs are sentient”. The researchers, from the London School of Economics, found that decapod crustaceans have opioid receptors and respond to opioid painkillers in a similar way to vertebrates, strongly indicating that they feel pain.

7. Tories blamed for ‘vulgar racism’

The rejection of multiculturalism by successive Conservative governments has helped fuel “vulgar racism”, according to the lead author of a major report. Bhikhu Parekh, the former chair of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, criticised the government for failing to issue a strong statement attacking racism. “No firm lead has been given on race,” he said. “You need a clear policy on promoting equality, fighting discrimination and disadvantages. I don’t see any such policy.”

8. ‘Exasperated’ PM orders migrant review

Boris Johnson has ordered a cross-Whitehall review into the migrant crisis, reported The Times. The prime minister is said to be “exasperated” that there are still no viable policies to reduce the number of Channel crossings. French premier, Emmanuel Macron, said the British government tended to “waver between partnership and provocation” on the issue. Some 24,500 migrants have crossed in small boats this year, almost triple the number that arrived last year.

9. Hamilton wears rainbow helmet in Qatar

Lewis Hamilton has been praised for “an incredible act of allyship” after wearing a rainbow-coloured helmet in practice at the Qatar Grand Prix. The Formula One legend’s helmet bore the colours of the Progress Pride flag – a rainbow banner that recognises the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. Hamilton said earlier this week that Qatar is “one of the worst [countries] in this part of the world” on human rights issues.

10. Disgraced Tory claiming universal credit

The former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has admitted he is in a “very difficult and embarrassed position” of being on universal credit and unable to pay £35,000 following his sentence for sexually assaulting two women. Elphicke was released halfway through his sentence earlier this year, having been jailed for two years in September 2020. He was also ordered to pay £35,000 within a year towards the costs of the prosecution.

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