Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 December 2022

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

1. Electricity supplies tighten

National Grid has warned that electricity supplies will be tight on Friday and Sunday amid low wind levels and a cold snap sweeping the UK. The nation’s grid operator is prepared to alert households to cut their electricity usage in the coming days, said The Telegraph, and it may need to use “enhanced actions” to shore-up supplies, including a new scheme under which households can sign up to be paid to use less electricity to avoid blackouts. Another option being considered is the running of extra-coal fired plants.

Is the UK facing a winter of blackouts?

2. Women targeted in Iran

Security forces in Iran are targeting women at protests with shotgun fire to their faces, breasts and genitals, said medics. Doctors and nurses said they noticed that women often presented with different wounds to men, who usually had shotgun pellets in their legs, buttocks and backs. A physician from the central Isfahan province said he believed the authorities were targeting men and women in different ways “because they wanted to destroy the beauty of these women”.

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Iran’s morality police and the hijab law

3. Harry and Meghan ‘upset royals’

The Royal Family are “deeply upset” by claims made by Prince Harry, reported the Daily Express, after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new Netflix series began. “If you watched the trailers and thought Harry & Meghan was “going to be explosive, prepare to be disappointed”, said the BBC’s culture editor, Katie Razzall but a royal source told The Times that future episodes of the show “could be poison”. Meanwhile, Tory MP Bob Seely said he is planning to bring forward legislation in an attempt to strip the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of their royal titles.

Harry & Meghan: a right royal case of sabotage?

4. Concern over bank rules

The government is set to announce a major overhaul of financial regulation. Ministers are expected to relax rules on banks introduced after the financial crisis in 2008 when some banks faced collapse. The plans are being described as a second Big Bang - a “reference to the deregulation of financial services by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1986”, said the BBC, but we “risk forgetting the lessons of the financial crisis when excessive risk taking ended in billions in bailouts and a decade of stagnating productivity”.

Should the UK relax bank ring-fencing rules?

5. Parents try to reshape kids’ heads

“Anxious” parents in Singapore are forcing their young children to wear helmets and sleep with their mouths taped shut in order to mould their heads into a “desirable” shape, said The Telegraph. It is believed that the trend of “correction helmets” originated in China. Parents fear that the proper shape for a baby’s head is round and worry that their children will grow up with less attractive “flat heads”. Doctors have warned that the practices are dangerous.

6. Labour draws line on NHS pay

Labour said it would be “willing to talk” about a higher offer for NHS staff amid increased levels of industrial action, reported The Times. The shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, said there was a case for a higher rise than currently offered because inflation had increased and because the health service was losing staff because of low pay. In comments that “draw a dividing line between Labour and the government”, Streeting said “when we are losing staff not just from social care but from the NHS” the government “should be sensitive to that and be willing to talk”.

How does UK’s ‘Christmas of discontent’ compare with the rest of Europe?

7. Cleverly calls for action on rights

The foreign secretary said British diplomats have been “commentators” rather than putting pressure on human rights abusers. Writing for the Guardian, James Cleverly said: “I hope you will not hear me utter the well-worn phrases: ‘I am concerned by…’, or ‘I am gravely concerned by …’ or, worst of all, ‘I am deeply concerned by…,’ without also saying what I am doing.” The UK is poised to sanction individuals in 11 countries, including Iran, Mali and Nicaragua.

8. Post bosses have staff ‘by the balls’

Postal workers at Royal Mail have begun a wave of strikes in a row over pay and conditions. One striking Royal Mail worker told Sky News he feared up to 25,000 staff could be sacked and new working conditions imposed on those left after the core Christmas season has finished. “They’ve got us by the balls,” he said. Members of the CWU union are due to strike on 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 December.

Who is going on strike this winter – and when

9. Dunn mother criticises killer

The mother of the British teenager Harry Dunn said it was “despicable” that his killer failed to appear in court. Charlotte Charles said it was “job done, promise complete” now that Anne Sacoolas was sentenced. Sacoolas, a US citizen who was driving on the wrong side of the road when her car struck the young motorcyclist in 2019, received an eight-month suspended sentence and was disqualified from driving for 12 months. The judge praised Dunn’s parents and family for their “dignified persistence”.

Could Anne Sacoolas face jail over Harry Dunn’s death?

10. Williams defends Qatar gig

Robbie Williams has defended his concert in Qatar following criticism of his decision to perform in the country. Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, he said: “If we’re not condoning human rights abuses anywhere, then it would be the shortest tour the world has ever known: I wouldn’t even be able to perform in my own kitchen.” The Times said the pop star “risked dragging England’s footballers into controversy” by recruiting Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire to promote the concert.

Qatar’s white elephant World Cup

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