Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 November 2023

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

1. Kissinger dies at 100

The former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, has died aged 100 at his home in Connecticut. Kissinger served as America's top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations. He won a Nobel Peace Prize but his legacy was also "defined by his contempt for human rights and efforts to protect US corporate interests at all costs", said The Guardian, with "opponents across the world casting him as a war criminal". His recent comments on the Ukraine war were an example of the "emphasis on realism and de-escalation of tensions between great world powers" he often proposed, said the New York Post.

Is Henry Kissinger right about Ukraine? 

2. Gaza truce extended

The Israeli military said the six-day truce in Gaza would continue in light of mediator's efforts to continue the process of releasing hostages. Ten more Israeli hostages and four Thai citizens returned to Israel after their release from Gaza last night and Israel's prison service freed a further 30 Palestinian prisoners. Earlier, Hamas' armed wing had told its fighters to be ready to resume battles with Israel if the temporary truce was not renewed, noted Haaretz.

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Hamas to release Russian hostages as gesture of thanks to Putin

3. PrEP highly effective against HIV

A real-world study into the effects of PrEP, a drug which stops HIV infecting the body, has proven to be highly effective. "Thousands of people are already taking PrEP through sexual health clinics", said the BBC. The study of 24,000 people across England found that those using PrEP reduced their chances of getting HIV by 86%. UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which led the PrEP Impact Trial with the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said it was the largest ever real-world study of its kind.

4. A&E failures found

More than 50% of England’s A&E departments fail to meet minimum standards, said The Mirror. An investigation by the paper found that 106 out of 197 units were either rated "inadequate" or as "requiring improvement" to be good, painting an "alarming picture" of A&E wards that are increasingly "stretched to breaking point". The news comes as the NHS is expected to be "plunged into its worst winter crisis", it added.

5. Musk ads outburst

Elon Musk has told advertisers who deserted his social media platform after he was accused of amplifying antisemitic posts to "go f**k yourself". The owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, accused brands, including Apple, Disney and IBM, of attempted blackmail after they withdrew their advertising. "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f*** yourself," he said at the 2023 DealBook Summit in New York. "Go. F***. Yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is."

Elon Musk to X's fleeing advertisers: 'Go f--- yourself' and 'don't advertise'

6. Air pollution 'worse than thought'

A study in the British Medical Journal said that air pollution from fossil fuel use is killing five million people worldwide every year. The findings "show that the mortality burden attributable to air pollution from fossil fuel use is higher than most previous estimates", the researchers wrote. The "stark figures", published on the eve of the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai, will increase pressure on world leaders to take action, said The Guardian.

Cop28: is UAE the right host for the climate summit?

7. Cummings 'acted as PM'

Dominic Cummings acted as prime minister in all but name and was the driving force behind the big decisions during the pandemic, Sajid Javid has told the Covid inquiry. The former health secretary said there was a "toxic" and "feral" culture within No 10 during the crisis and said he had "not experienced that extent of dysfunction in any government before". He added that he felt Cummings "would not stop until he had burnt the house down".

Covid inquiry: is it working?

8. UK ship sent to Middle East

The UK will send a second warship to the Gulf, in response to "rising tensions in the Middle East", said the BBC. HMS Diamond will join the frigate HMS Lancaster after Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it was "critical that the UK bolsters our presence in the region". Washington "boosted its naval footprint in the region" soon after the Hamas-led attacks on 7 October, added the broadcaster, sending a US carrier strike group east of Suez, as well as placing a second aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean.

9. Diplomats' Rwanda warning

The government has been warned that Rwandan support for the UK's flagship migration scheme is at risk because of continued delays in getting flights off the ground. Senior diplomats have quietly told the Foreign Office that Rwanda's commitment to the scheme cannot be taken for granted because of growing questions about the scheme's sustainability. The plan to remove to Rwanda some migrants who arrive in the UK is "in stasis" more than 19 months after it was first announced, said The Times.

Pros and cons of the Rwanda deportation policy

10. Big bean breakthrough

The first tins of home grown baked beans are close after haricot bean crops were grown in the UK for first time. Three new varieties have been bred to cope with the cold and damp UK climate and are "candidates for large-scale planting", said The Times. "They're tasty. They're delicious. They're really very edible," said Professor Eric Holub of the University of Warwick, who has pioneered the development of the British baked bean.

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