Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 August 2022

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

1. Rushdie may lose an eye

Salman Rushdie’s agent said the author is now on a ventilator and unable to speak. “The news is not good,” said Andrew Wylie after Rushdie was stabbed at an event in New York state, adding that the author may lose an eye. Police detained a suspect named as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey. The author’s writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s. In 1998, Iran said it no longer supported the fatwa against Rushdie but the threats on his life continued.

2. Putin ally threatens ‘new Chernobyl’

A close ally of Vladimir Putin has warned European nations that their nuclear power stations are vulnerable to “accidents”. Following reports that Russia has shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, Dmitry Medvedev, a former president of Russia and deputy chairman of the security council, said “Kyiv scumbags and their Western patrons seem to be ready for the new Chernobyl.” The Telegraph said his remark was a “veiled threat”.

3. Trump warrant unsealed

An FBI search warrant has revealed that Donald Trump is under criminal investigation for potential violations of the Espionage Act and additional statutes relating to obstruction of justice and destroying federal government records. The FBI is seeking evidence about whether the mishandling of classified documents by the former president, including some marked top secret, amounted to a violation of three criminal statutes. The Justice Department recovered 11 sets of classified documents from his Florida home during a search earlier this week.

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4. Petrol prices fall again

The average price of petrol across the UK has dipped below 175p a litre for the first time in more than two months. According to data from a consumer agency, the average cost of petrol at the pump fell to 174.79p a litre on Thursday and diesel prices to 185.40p a litre, representing a fall of 16.7p in petrol, a saving of about £9.08 a tank, and 13.7p for diesel, from the peak reached last month. Motoring groups said that supermarkets should do more to pass on falling wholesale costs to consumers.

5. Starmer denies going missing

Sir Keir Starmer has denied that Labour had been absent from the cost of living debate, insisting his party had been “all over this for the best part of a year”. In an interview at an Edinburgh Fringe event, the Labour leader defended his recent holiday and insisted that his party was leading on the crisis. “This business that we haven’t been leading on this is pretty nonsense, actually,” he said. Meanwhile, The Telegraph calculated that that Labour’s latest energy policy would save families just £84 a year.

6. Man kills 11 in Montenegro

Twelve people including the gunman were killed in a mass shooting in Montenegro, after a man opened fire following a family dispute. According to officials, a gunman shot dead three members of the same family before shooting at passers-by. The 34-year-old gunman also wounded six people, including a police officer, during the shooting in the Medovina neighbourhood. The Montenegrin prime minister, Dritan Abazović, wrote on his Telegram channel that it was “an unprecedented tragedy”.

7. Crop fears as drought is declared

A drought has been officially declared as low-water levels and tinder-dry conditions continue across the UK. Eight parts of England, including Devon, Kent, East Anglia and Lincolnshire are affected by the declaration, which is expected to trigger stricter controls on water use. Meanwhile, experts have warned of widespread crop failures across England. Around 50% of the potato crop is expected to fail as it cannot be irrigated, and even crops that are usually drought-tolerant, such as maize, have been failing.

8. Disruption as train drivers walk out

Rail passengers face widespread disruption this weekend as train drivers begin strike action. Aslef members at nine train companies are walking out for 24 hours, crippling large parts of the network and leaving some areas of the country with no services. Unions are calling for pay increases in line with the rising cost of living but rail bosses said they can only fund a pay rise through reform. Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said there was a “big possibility” of further walkouts.

9. Councillors working from home

Councils have been allowing more than half of their office staff to work from home, revealed The Telegraph. Some 28 councils said that more than 50% of employees worked from home in April and at two local authorities just one in 10 of employees were based in the office earlier this year. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Minister for Government Efficiency, said: “Councils must stop wasting money on poor working practices and shake themselves out of lockdown.”

10. New China virus ‘jumped from shrews’

Scientists say that tighter surveillance is needed for a new virus detected in eastern China that shows how easily viruses can travel unnoticed from animals to humans. The Langya henipavirushas, which has infected nearly three dozen farmers and other residents, may have spread directly or indirectly to people from shrews. “We are hugely underestimating the number of these zoonotic cases in the world, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” emerging virus expert Leo Poon, of the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health told CNN.

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