Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 December 2022

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

1. Sussexes demand royal summit

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex want to “sit down with the royal family” for a meeting to address their “issues” after their Netflix series, which included complaints about the monarchy, reported The Sunday Times. Noting that a reconciliation meeting was arranged between Lady Susan Hussey, a former lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and Ngozi Fulani, the charity boss she offended, a source close to the Sussexes said: “Nothing like that was ever done when Harry and Meghan raised various concerns — no meeting, formal apology or taking responsibility or accountability.”

2. Putin ‘rallies troops for new attack’

Vladimir Putin has met his military chiefs as his forces launched another wave of missiles at Ukraine’s infrastructure. The Russian president spent most of Friday at the headquarters of the “special military operation”, amid speculation that he is planning an offensive, perhaps early next year. The commander of Ukraine’s military, Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said that Moscow was preparing around 200,000 troops. “I have no doubt they will have another go at Kyiv,” he said.

3. Sunak has ‘dragged Tories to the left’

The Conservative party is under threat from a rightwing insurgency, one of its biggest recent donors has warned. Peter Cruddas, who has given the party more than £3.5m, said that after a “drag to the left” under Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives were “no longer a centre-right party”. He told The Observer that he “will donate to the Conservative party, the true Conservative party, which is a centre-right party” but vowed that he “will not donate to any centre-left party”.

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4. Cocaine users to avoid prosecution

First-time users of cocaine and cannabis will avoid prosecution under plans being prepared by police chiefs. As part of the proposals being drawn up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing, people caught in possession of illegal drugs, including class A and B, for the first time would be offered the chance to undergo education or treatment programmes. Dr Adam Holland, the chairman of the Faculty of Public Health’s drugs special interest group, said the plans could be a “promising route to avoid criminalising people who use drugs”.

5. Spielberg ‘regrets Jaws impact’

Steven Spielberg has told the BBC he “truly regrets” the devastation of the shark population following his movie Jaws. Speaking to Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs the director said he fears sharks are “mad” at him for “the feeding frenzy of crazy sword fishermen that happened after 1975”. The number of large sharks fell by 50% along the eastern seaboard of North America in the years following the release of Jaws, and Spielberg said that is something “I truly and to this day regret”.

6. Cold and flu leapfrog Covid

New data showed that Britain is now losing more working days to flu, cough and cold-related infections than Covid-19. In the week to Nov 28, 1,043,965 working days were lost across the UK to “cough, cold and flu,” and during the same week, 863,222 days were lost to Covid. A surge in “super colds” is linked to the pandemic lockdowns and a loss in immunity, experts believe. A surge in respiratory infections is driving an increase in hospital admissions.

7. North Korea ‘rehearses for nuclear war’

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles, just days after Pyongyang announced a successful test of a solid-fuel motor for a new weapons system. The launches, reported by both South Korean and Japanese authorities, marked the 35th day this year that North Korea has conducted a missile test. Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert, told CNN that the pace of testing this year shows Pyongyang has emerged as a missile power. “They are rehearsing for nuclear war,” Panda said.

8. Sunak to take on Netflix

Rishi Sunak will give Ofcom the power to take on Netflix for the first time, reported The Telegraph. Ministers are planning a new law that would bring all streaming giants under the jurisdiction of the broadcasting regulator and hand it the power to impose fines of up to £250,000. The development comes after Netflix was accused of misleading viewers in Harry & Meghan, the six-part documentary series featuring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, noted the paper.

9. Archbishop calls for asylum compassion

The Archbishop of York has called for Britain to become more “compassionate” towards asylum seekers. Writing for The Telegraph, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell argued that “as a nation we need to find ways of taking a longer, more compassionate view”. In an article he acknowledged will be deemed a “predictable rant from another leftie”, he added that “the short term politics of election cycles don’t help us deal with long term issues”, such as asylum.

10. Mother dies after Brixton crush

A 33-year-old mother-of-two has died after being injured in a crush at a gig at London’s Brixton O2 Academy that left several others hurt. The Met Police said the concert was abandoned part-way through after a “large number of people” tried to force their way inside on Thursday. Rebecca Ikumelo from Newham, east London, died in hospital on Saturday morning. Her family said she was a nursing graduate known for “care and kindness”. Sky News said she was “well known for her TikTok posts about parenting an autistic child”.

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