Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 September 2022

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

1. Kwarteng defends tax cuts

Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted that sweeping tax cuts aimed at boosting economic growth are fair for everyone despite highest earners gaining the most. The tax cuts, worth more than £55,000 annually to someone earning £1m a year, were described by some Labour MPs as a “class war,” while The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the plans were a “big gamble”. However, The Telegraph’s Allister Heath said it was “the best Budget I have ever heard a British Chancellor deliver, by a massive margin”.

2. Omicron ‘could be final variant’

Omicron could be “the last Covid-19 variant we have to battle,” said The Times. Scientists say that because the Omicron variant has now lasted much longer than any of those that came before, the coronavirus may be settling down. “I think there’s a plausible case that we won’t be stuck on a new variant treadmill forever,” said Jeffrey Barrett, former head of the Covid-19 Genomics initiative. He added that the variant’s relative stability could make it easier to vaccinate against, and also mean there are fewer waves in future.

3. Donors fund Trump’s legal battles

Donors and the Republican party have paid millions in dollars of Donald Trump’s legal fees as the former president’s legal misfortunes continue. Federal Election Commission filings show millions of dollars spent fighting charges have come from Trump’s Save America political action committee, which takes donations from supporters across the US. Earlier this week, Trump and three of his children were hit with a fraud lawsuit, which alleges they lied about the value of property “by billions”.

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4. Soldiers ‘collect referendum votes’

Ukrainians said that armed soldiers are going door-to-door in occupied parts of the country to gather votes for referendums on joining Russia. “You have to answer verbally and the soldier marks the answer on the sheet and keeps it,” a woman in Enerhodar told the BBC. Although the evidence is “anecdotal,” the presence of armed men conducting the vote “contradicts Moscow’s insistence that this is a free or fair process,” said the broadcaster. However, Russian state media insisted that the door-to-door voting is for “security”.

5. Braverman tells cops to drop ‘gestures’

The home secretary has told police forces to focus on “common-sense policing” rather than “symbolic gestures”. In a letter sent to police chiefs last night, Suella Braverman told them to reverse the perception that officers care more about social justice issues than tackling crime. Polling last month by More In Common, a social network, found a majority of people agreed that “the police are more interested in being woke than solving crimes”.

6. Italy could elect ‘fascist’

Italy’s political parties have brought their campaigns to a close ahead of elections on Sunday that could deliver the most right-wing government since the war. Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy are widely tipped to win the race, which would be a result of rich historic significance. In 1922, Benito Mussolini’s Black Shirts “marched on Rome, the start of 20 years of Fascist rule,” said Sky News, “now, Italy could for the first time elect a prime minister whose party is rooted in neo-Fascism”.

7. ‘Incredible’ Mantel dies

Dame Hilary Mantel, the only British author to win the Booker prize twice, has died at the age of 70. Mantel won the award for Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, which recreated the Tudor court of Henry VIII. Paying tribute to Mantel, her publisher, Harper Collins, said she had left behind an “incredible literary legacy”. Her agent, Bill Hamilton, said “her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time”.

8. Man pleads guilty to cannibalism

A US man accused of killing, dismembering, and eating parts of another man has pleaded guilty to charges of open murder and mutilation of a body. Mark David Latunski, 52, of Michigan, entered his plea at the 35th District Court. His victim, Kevin Bacon, was stabbed, his body hung from his ankles, his throat cut, and parts of him were eaten. Open murder contains both first and second-degree murder. A hearing next month will determine whether Latunski will be convicted of first or second-degree murder or manslaughter.

9. Bosses suspicious about WFH

A study from Microsoft found that eight in 10 bosses think their staff do less when they work at home. Although 87% of employees in the UK said that they were productive when they worked from home, some 80% of managers said it was “challenging” to believe that they really were productive. Jared Spataro, chief corporate vice-president of modern work at Microsoft, said that there was “a lot of tension in the system” as workplace culture evolved after the Covid pandemic.

10. Tearful Federer waves goodbye

Roger Federer wept as he stepped down from professional tennis after teaming up with fellow great Rafael Nadal on an emotional night at the Laver Cup. The 41-year-old Swiss received a lengthy ovation after walking off court for the final time as he retired as a professional. After match point, he said: “I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time … the match was great. I couldn’t be happier. It’s been wonderful.” Having won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, Federer is widely considered the best player in tennis history.

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