Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 September 2023

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

1. Al Fayed dies at 94

Mohamed Al Fayed has died aged 94. The tycoon built a business empire in the Middle East before moving to the UK in the 1970s. He owned Harrods but never realised his ambition to gain a passport for his adopted country. He “pulled off some of the biggest business coups of the 20th century” but will be remembered as “the grieving father of Princess Diana’s partner, Dodi Fayed”, said The Times. His passing comes almost 26 years to the day after the death of his son Dodi, in a car crash in Paris alongside Diana.

2. Pressure grows over schools

Headteachers and ministers are under growing pressure over the growing building safety crisis. Schools are scrambling to find temporary classrooms for thousands of children and the government is facing questions over why it was slow to shut buildings in more than 100 schools, said The Guardian. Pupils will be taught online, in temporary buildings, community centres and empty offices as more than 100 schools close. Ministers are now facing demands for a full audit of hospitals, courts and other public building.

3. Ticket offices may be saved

A public revolt could “derail” plans to axe railway station ticket offices, said The Times. Following an “unprecedented” revolt against rail industry proposals to close them, hundreds of ticket offices “could be given a stay of execution”, added the paper. More than half a million people have responded to a consultation on plans to shut almost 870 ticket offices, and sources said the “scale of opposition” to the plans had “defied expectation”. Transport Focus, the watchdog, is expected to ask for extra time to review responses to the consultation.

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4. Economy bigger than pre-Covid

The UK economy is bigger than before the pandemic, said the Office for National Statistics. The economy shrank less and bounced back faster during the pandemic, after previous assumptions were shown to be “too gloomy”, said the ONS. The group previously said the economy was still 1.2% smaller than before Covid, but revised figures add nearly 2% to the size of the economy as of the end of 2021, meaning Britain recovered to its pre-pandemic size almost two years ago.

5. Musk’s daughter inspired Twitter purchase

Elon Musk said he was inspired to take over Twitter because he feared his transgender daughter had been infected with a “woke mind virus” nurtured on the social media platform. He initially embraced the news when Jenna, formally known as Xavier, transitioned at 16. But she later cut him out of her life entirely and “went beyond socialism to being a full communist and thinking that anyone rich is evil”, he said. Speaking to Walter Isaacson for his upcoming biography of him, Musk said he saw the same mentality on Twitter.

6. Charges ‘boost Trump’

Donald Trump is more likely to win the presidential election because of the “nonsense” charges filed against him in the past five months, his son Eric told The Telegraph. The former US president faces 91 charges across four trials, but his son said that the more times his father is indicted, the stronger he becomes politically and financially. He claimed that Americans are “sick and tired of the weaponisation of politics” and are “infuriated” by how the former president is being treated.

7. Heatwave forecast next week

Temperatures could reach as high as 30c next week, according to predictions. Rainy weather is expected to clear from Sunday, with temperatures reaching into the high 20s or beyond in many parts of the UK. South and central parts of England will experience very dry conditions, as a result of an Iberian plume. But not everyone is convinced the hot conditions are well timed. “Summer is back again just as kids head back to school... typical!!!” said the Daily Star.

8. Botox plans made public

Plans to ban unlicensed Botox providers in England have been opened up for public consultation. Under the proposals, anyone carrying out Botox, breast or butt lift injections must be trained and licensed to do so. Industry bodies said it would be the “biggest shake-up of the industry in a generation”, but some say enforcing the regulations could be a “challenge”, noted the BBC. There has been an “explosion in cosmetic procedures in recent years”, it added,

9. Police shot pregnant black woman

Police in the US have released bodycam footage showing an officer fatally shooting a 21-year-old pregnant black woman. Ta’Kiya Young died on 24 August when she was shot while in her car outside a Kroger grocery store in Blendon Township, a suburb of Columbus. She was accused of shoplifting by an employee and tried to leave the scene, said CNN. The local police department has asked the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to look into the shooting.

10. India heads for the Sun

India has announced its first observation mission to the Sun, just days after the country became the first to land near the Moon’s south pole. Aditya-L1 is due to blast off from the launch pad at Sriharikota today, and is expected to take four months to reach its planned location. The projects sees the Indian Space Research Organisation “take aim at another milestone”, said the Hindustan Times.

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