Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 19 August 2022

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

1. Truss called for GP visit charges

Liz Truss called for patients to be charged to see their GP and for doctors’ pay to be cut by 10% in 2009. In a pamphlet she co-authored with six other people when she was deputy director of the Reform thinktank, Truss also called for the universal child benefit to be scrapped. In response to the unearthing of the document, the Tory leadership hopeful’s campaign team said: “Co-authoring a document does not mean that someone supports every proposal put forward.” However, Labour said “her desperate attempts to distance herself from her own views now will fool no one”.

Liz Truss: can ‘last true Tory’ become prime minister?

2. Water bosses under fire

Annual bonuses paid to water company executives rose by 20% last year, despite most of the firms failing to meet sewage pollution targets. As foul water was being pumped for 2.7m hours into England’s rivers and swimming spots, executives received an average of £100,000 in one-off payments on top of their salaries. Metro said the bosses were “feeling flush” after they received a combined total of £24.8m last year - including £14.7m in bonuses and incentives.

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Is it dangerous to swim off Britain’s beaches?

3. North Korea rejects offer from South

North Korea has dismissed South Korea’s proposal of financial support in exchange for denuclearisation, declaring that the offer suggested President Yoon Suk-yeol is “really simple,” according to state media. Kim Yo Jong, a top official and the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, denounced Yoon’s offer as “pipedream-like”. In a speech, Yoon said his government would implement a major food programme, offer help for power generation and boost farming, in exchange for denuclearisation.

Will North Korea denuclearise?

4. Lockdown ‘killing more than Covid’

The Telegraph claimed that the effects of lockdown may now be killing more people than Covid. After excess deaths data from the Office for National Statistics showed that around 1,000 more people than usual are dying each week from conditions other than the virus, the Department of Health has reportedly ordered an investigation amid concern that the deaths are linked to delays to treatment for conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Dr Charles Levinson, of Doctorcall, a private GP service, said “delays in seeking and receiving healthcare are no doubt the driving force”.

Could more people die from lockdown than from coronavirus?

5. Israel raids Palestinian aid groups

Israeli troops have raided offices of Palestinian human rights and aid organisations. The soldiers occupied the offices in the West Bank at dawn, grabbing paperwork and welding shut front doors. Although Israeli authorities allege the groups are a front for a militant faction, the claim is rejected by the groups themselves and has been dismissed by European donor countries. Israel has also designated six Palestinian rights organisations as terrorist groups. However, pointed out the BBC, Israel has offered no evidence for the claim.

Why Israel labelled Amnesty International ‘anti-Semitic’ over ‘apartheid’ report

6. P&O boasts of bumper profits

The owner of P&O Ferries has been criticised for posting record-breaking profits just months after sacking 800 of its UK-based workers without notice. DP World, which is based in Dubai, has increased first-half revenues by 60% to $7.9bn (£6.6bn) and profits have risen by more than 50% to a record $721m. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, accused DP World of making “eye-watering profits … off the backs of P&O illegally sacking hundreds of dedicated staff”.

‘Rocking the boat’: the disgrace of P&O Ferries

7. Care homes seek foreign workers

Thousands of foreign workers will be hired to “bail out” Britain’s care homes this winter, said The Times. Steve Barclay, the health secretary, plans an “overseas hiring spree,” said the paper, with NHS managers sent to countries such as India and the Philippines to recruit thousands of nurses. The government also wants to make it easier for regulators to check overseas qualifications so that staff can start work quickly. There are more than 160,000 vacancies in the sector, which is struggling after austerity cuts to local authorities.

8. ‘Death of cash’ nears

Just one in every 20 transactions will be made using cash by 2031, said banks. UK Finance, the banking trade body, said that in 2010 56% of all payments were made using cash, whereas that figure fell to 15% last year. There were 23.1m people in Britain who paid in cash only once a month or not at all but there are still 1.1m people who use cash as their primary form of payment. The Telegraph said the “death of cash is near”.

The pros and cons of ditching cash

9. Portillo joins GB News amid shake-up

Michael Portillo will join GB News as the network secured millions in fresh funding. The former Tory defence secretary, 69, is to leave Rupert Murdoch’s Times Radio to anchor political coverage for the right-wing television channel. The announcement comes as GB News said it had secured £60m of investment as part of an ownership shake-up. The i news site said that “after a rocky start to broadcasting little over a year ago,” with its flagship presenter Andrew Neil walking out on the channel after just four weeks on air, GB News has enjoyed ratings success in recent months.

Will GB News survive the launch of TalkTV?

10. Three charged over gangster killing

Three men have been charged over the prison killing of Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. The 89-year-old was discovered unresponsive in October 2018 at a maximum-security facility in West Virginia. The Justice Department said Fotios Geas, 55, Paul J DeCologero, 48 and Sean McKinnon, 36, were all charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Bulger was serving two life sentences for 11 murders. His criminal reign inspired Jack Nicholson’s character in the Martin Scorsese film The Departed.

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