Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 12 August 2023

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

1. Fury over migrant barge

The Home Office has confirmed that all 39 migrants have been removed from the Bibby Stockholm barge after Legionella bacteria were found in the on-board water system. The barge is part of the government’s migration policy intended to cut the cost of housing asylum seekers but the Home Office has been branded as incompetent after the migrants were moved back to hotels. Tory MPs are furious over the situation, said The Telegraph, with one MP calling it an “embarrassment”.

2. Grim milestone in Hawaii

Wildfires in Hawaii have reached a “grim milestone” as the death toll rose to 67, said the BBC. Hundreds more people have been reported missing so the toll may still rise significantly. Over 3,000 homes could need to be replaced, said the Honolulu State Advertiser, and it is likely to be “many months — in some cases years — for residents whose homes were destroyed to rebuild and repopulate the devastated area”. Residents have described “destruction like they’ve not ever seen in their lives”, said the BBC.

3. Students face beds battle

Students will start the term in hotels or on bunk beds as universities refuse to guarantee accommodation or only offer them rooms in different cities, said The Times. Students face a “battle” for housing because many universities are promising to provide accommodation only to students who made them their first-choice institution. Bristol University is offering accommodation as far away as Wales, and Exeter University has five applicants for every bed at its most popular location. According to experts, the poorest students are likely to be worst affected.

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4. Police probed over custody claim

Greater Manchester Police’s treatment of women and girls in custody will be investigated after a woman claimed she was drugged and raped in a cell. An inquiry, commissioned by mayor Andy Burnham, will explore the use of strip searches, the removal and replacement of clothing and intimate searches. The development comes after Zayna Iman told The Independent that she had been drugged and sexually assaulted while being held in custody in February 2021.

5. Climate change ‘a pandemic’

The world will face major disruption to food supplies well before temperatures pass the 1.5C target, warned the president of the UN’s desertification conference. “Climate change is a pandemic that we need to fight quickly. See how fast the degradation of the climate is going – I think it’s going even faster than we predicted”, said Alain-Richard Donwahi, a former Ivory Coast defence minister. In a rallying cry, he called on private sector investors to be innovative and take advantage of opportunities for making a profit.

6. Gambling targets fantasy football

The gambling industry is targeting players of Fantasy Premier League, found the BBC. Betting firms are increasingly sponsoring websites that are associated with the popular game, which is open to children. Reporters discovered gambling ads and promotions on some of the biggest podcasts and social media feeds related to the game. Carolyn Harris MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm, described the findings as “deeply concerning”.

7. Trump allowed to share evidence

A judge has warned Donald Trump against making “inflammatory” statements that could taint the jury pool ahead of his trial for conspiring to overturn the result of the 2020 White House election. But, in a blow to the special counsel who had expressed concern the former US president might reveal secret material and intimidate witnesses, Judge Tanya Chuktan ruled that Trump can publicly share some of the non-sensitive evidence which prosecutors disclose to his legal team.

8. Hackers access Foreign Office data

Hackers from Russia and China gained access to the Foreign Office’s internal systems in a major security breach that was kept secret from the public, said the inews site. The cyber attackers gained access to emails, internal messages, and online meetings revealing the day-to-day activities of the sensitive department. It is feared that this may have put diplomats based in hostile environments at risk, or potentially damaged relationships with important strategic allies by revealing private communications with other nations.

9. Festival claims damages from UK band

The organisers of the Malaysian festival that was cancelled after a kiss between two male members of The 1975 is seeking $2.7m in damages from the band, its lawyer has said. The Good Vibes music festival was cancelled after the British group’s singer, Matt Healy, kissed bassist Ross MacDonald during their 21 July performance. The festival was then cancelled. David Dinesh Mathew, lawyer for event organiser FSA, said Healy’s representative signed a pre-show written assurance that the band would “adhere to all local guidelines and regulations” in their set. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia.

10. Italy could host tech cage fight

The cage fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg could now take place in Italy, said a government representative. Italy’s culture minister said that he had spoken to Musk about hosting the planned showdown as a charity event. “They have agreed on an epic location,” he said. “Everything in camera frame will be ancient Rome, so nothing modern at all.” The billionaire CEOs of Tesla and Meta have been “goading each other into the fight” since June, said the BBC.

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