Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 August 2023

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

1. Trump mugshot released

A mugshot of Donald Trump has been released after he surrendered in Georgia on charges of plotting to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. The former US president, whose booking number was P01135809, had to pay a bail bond of $200,000 (£160,000) to be released from the Atlanta jail while he awaits trial. He has described the case as a “travesty of justice”. Getting his mugshot taken was “not a comfortable feeling — especially when you’ve done nothing wrong,” he told Fox News Digital.

Trump and Tucker Carlson: ridiculing Biden’s health and revelling in criminal charges

2. MPs’ payments doubled

Payments for MPs who lose their seats or step aside at the next election will be doubled. At the last election, MPs who lost their seats were paid for two months but the body that sets the rules for MPs’ expenses said the time period should be increased to four months. Eligibility for the payments has also been expanded to include those who voluntarily stand down at the election. The decision means the taxpayer will be “stung for millions more in farewell payments”, said The Telegraph.

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Who will win the next general election? The odds and polls

3. Ex-spy chief doubts AI threat

Warnings from scientists about the dangers of artificial intelligence cannot necessarily be trusted because some of them made incorrect claims about Covid-19, argued an ex-head of MI6. Richard Dearlove said that as “brilliant” scientists had gone “off piste” during the pandemic, he was now cynical towards experts telling him AI will destroy humanity. Dearlove, who was head of MI6 during the invasion of Iraq, said that the suggestion that artificial intelligence and human intelligence are the same is an “extreme interpretation”.

AI job fears: how can we regulate the ‘rise of the robots’?

4. Prigozhin ‘made mistakes’

Vladimir Putin has spoken about Yevgeny Prigozhin’s reported death after the Wagner chief’s private jet crashed. The Russian president said the head of the mercenary group was a “talented person” who “made serious mistakes in life”. There has been “frenzied speculation” about what caused the deadly crash said the BBC. The i news site said a “bomb” blew up the “Putin critic’s jet”, reporting US intelligence assessments that the Wagner boss was killed by an explosion on board his plane.

Yevgeny Prigozhin: will ‘predictable’ death of Wagner chief backfire on Putin?

5. Dozens poisoned by Canadian products

Eighty-eight people in the UK died after buying a poisonous substance from a seller in Canada, said the National Crime Agency. Kenneth Law, who was arrested in May, is accused of assisting suicide. The 57-year-old is thought to have run a number of websites selling equipment, including a poisonous chemical, to assist suicide. In total, 232 individuals in the UK were identified as having purchased products from the websites and 88 of those people have died. Law’s arrest “sent shockwaves through some of the darkest corners of the internet”, said CTV News.

6. Labour raises more from members

Labour raised eight times as much as the Conservatives from members last year, despite a falling membership. Annual accounts show the Labour Party declared £47.2m in income last year, while the Conservatives had £30.7m of income. The Tories have blamed last year’s “leadership turmoil” for increasing costs and “discouraging donors”, said The Times. A Labour spokesperson said that the party “saw significant financial growth throughout 2022, and our finances have gone from strength to strength this year”.

Keir Starmer’s transformation of the Labour Party

7. Another homophobic attack

Two men were hospitalised after a homophobic attack in London, the “second such incident publicised within the space of a week”, said the BBC. The couple, in their 30s and 40s, were assaulted on Saturday evening while waiting for a bus in Brixton, after spending the day at Black Pride. The attack happened less than a week after two men were stabbed outside the Two Brewers nightclub, just over a mile away. Sexual orientation hate crimes rose by 41% to 26,152 for the year ending March 2022 - the largest annual percentage increase since records began in 2012.

8. HMV tycoon eyes Wilko

The Canadian magnate behind HMV has launched a last-ditch bid to rescue the beleaguered retail chain Wilko, said The Times. Doug Putman, whose family also owns Toys R Us in Canada, is understood have made an offer that would involve keeping about half the discount retailer’s 400 shops and 3,000 to 4,000 of its 12,000 workers. However, the chain’s chief executive is believed to have said that the Putman deal is unlikely to happen because putting Wilko into liquidation would produce higher returns for creditors including Hilco, a restructuring firm.

9. Co-op kept Rose West

The Co-operative Bank allowed the serial killer Rose West to keep her bank account, said The Times. The financial institution considered closing West’s account during a review of customers with criminal records 10 years ago, but the murderer, serving a whole-life sentence after being convicted of killing 10 women and girls, was allowed to stay on as a customer. The Co-op, which has the slogan “ethical then, now and always”, thought that keeping West as a customer carried little risk to its reputation, said The Telegraph.

Whole-life sentences: when life in prison actually means life

10. NASA plans supersonic flights

NASA wants to take commercial passengers from New York to London in around 90 minutes. The space agency announced that it has been exploring “the business case for supersonic passenger air travel”. It promises “blistering speeds” between Mach 2 and Mach 4, or from roughly 1,535 to 3,045 miles per hour (mph) — easily over twice as fast as an F/A-18 fighter jet’s top speed of Mach 1.8 or 1,190 mph, said the Daily Mail. This would be almost twice as fast as Concorde, noted the paper.

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