Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 October 2022

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

1. Putin oversees nuclear drill

Vladimir Putin has personally overseen annual drills by Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, ratcheting up tension in the region. The Kremlin said ballistic and cruise missiles were launched from the Arctic to Russia’s Far East. The exercises came amid a “series of escalatory comments from Moscow and Putin” suggesting the eight-month conflict in Ukraine could “turn nuclear”, said Al Jazeera. Putin has previously warned of his readiness to use “all means available” to fend off attacks on Russia’s territory.

Who are Russia’s allies in the Ukraine war?

2. Fresh humiliation for Philp

Rishi Sunak has demoted two allies of his predecessor Liz Truss as he completes the assembly of his team. Chris Philp, who was paymaster general, is now a Home Office minister, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been moved from transport secretary to be a minister in the Foreign Office. For Philp, it is the second demotion within weeks after he was previously switched from chief secretary to the Treasury to Cabinet Office minister and paymaster general after Truss’s tax-cutting mini-budget caused turmoil.

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Cabinet reshuffle: how do the Tory and Labour frontbenches match up?

3. ‘Hygiene poverty’ brings shame

People’s inability to afford basic products such as soap and deodorant is leaving many too ashamed to go to work, said a charity. A report from Hygiene Bank suggested 3.2m UK adults are affected by hygiene poverty - with 12% saying they have avoided facing colleagues as a result. “I think it just doesn’t occur to people in the same way that fuel and food poverty do,” said a spokesperson.

4. Natural gas prices go negative

Europe has “more natural gas than it knows what to do with” said CNN. EU gas storage facilities are close to full, tankers carrying liquefied natural gas are queuing at ports, unable to unload their loads, and prices are tumbling so fast that they briefly went negative. It is a “hugely surprising turn of events for Europe”, said the broadcaster, where households and businesses have been “clobbered by eye-watering rises” in the price of one of its most important energy sources in recent months.

UK to sign gas deal with Norway to avoid shortages

5. NHS staff balloted on strikes

Unison, the biggest health union, is balloting members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on strike action. The union is asking 350,000 NHS staff, including porters, nurses, paramedics and cleaners, to vote in favour of walking out in a dispute over pay. Commenting on the strike ballot, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Striking is the last thing dedicated health workers want to do. But with services in such a dire state, and staff struggling to deliver for patients with fewer colleagues than ever, many feel like the end of the road has been reached.” However in Scotland, Unison has suspended its strike ballot, and will now ask NHS staff if it should accept the offer of a £2,000 rise to workers’ wages.

Why the entire NHS system is ‘on its knees’ – and what should be done to fix it

6. Afro ban could be illegal

New guidance is warning schools not to penalise or exclude pupils for wearing their hair in natural afro styles, as well as braids, cornrows and plaits. The equality watchdog has said policies that ban certain hairstyles without allowing for exceptions on racial and religious grounds are likely to be unlawful. Campaigners have been calling for schools and workplaces to address hair-based discrimination, which includes “describing someone’s hair as exotic and banning particular hairstyles”, said the BBC.

7. Cleverly blasted for LGBTQ+ comment

Foreign secretary James Cleverly has urged LGBTQ+ football fans heading to the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, to be “respectful of the host nation” and “make some compromises”. The SNP’s Kirsten Oswald said Cleverly “seems to be advising people to not be gay”. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the government “must use its public voice to condemn the appalling human rights abuses carried out daily by the Qatari regime”. While the England fan group 3Lionspride said that Cleverly’s comments were an “extremely unhelpful intervention that shows a lack of understanding and context”.

What can and can’t women do in Qatar?

8. Germany to legalise cannabis

Germany’s government has drawn up a plan to legalise recreational cannabis use among adults. Under the plan, possession of up to 30g (1oz) for personal use would be permitted and licensed shops and pharmacies would be allowed to sell it. Malta is the only EU country that has legalised recreational cannabis use. In the Netherlands, the sale of small quantities of cannabis in “coffee shops” is tolerated.

Pros and cons of decriminalising cannabis

9. Meta loses $65bn in value

Meta’s shares plunged after the company announced mixed results in its third-quarter earnings report and billion-dollar losses in its “metaverse” project. As investors wiped more than $65bn from Meta’s market capitalisation, the Financial Times reported that Meta “faces a confluence of challenges”, including rising competition for Instagram from TikTok and difficulties in targeting and measuring advertising because of Apple’s privacy policy changes.

Nick Clegg, Meta and the OnlyFans allegations

10. New rules block Andrew from deputising

Prince Harry and Prince Andrew will “never deputise for King Charles”, according to The Times. Although legislation is planned to widen the number of royals who can stand in for the monarch, new rules are being drawn up to avoid Prince Andrew or Prince Harry being involved in affairs of state in the absence of the King and Queen. Adding the Earl of Wessex and the Princess Royal to the list is intended to ensure that neither Harry nor Andrew will deputise for the King.

How royal titles are given

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