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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 June 2023

1

Synthetic human embryos created

Scientists have created synthetic human embryos using stem cells in a process that sidesteps the need for eggs or sperm. The structures include cells that would typically go on to form the placenta, yolk sac and the embryo itself. The milestone could have implications for the “study of genetic disorders and the causes of recurrent miscarriages”, said The Guardian. It is expected to “raise moral and legal issues” though added the paper, as the science has moved faster than the legislation, meaning the lab-grown entities fall outside current legislation in the UK and most other countries. 

2

Johnson on the warpath

Boris Johnson has called for a Tory MP on the privileges committee to resign for “monstrous hypocrisy” over alleged Covid rule-breaking, just hours before the report into partygate is released. Johnson cited claims that Bernard Jenkin attended a birthday drinks in parliament during Covid restrictions, saying this showed a “total contempt of parliament” and meaning he has “no choice” but to step down from the panel. Senior Tories described Johnson’s outburst as “utterly desperate”. But The Telegraph said “the last-minute interventions “will – for Johnson’s supporters – cast further doubt on the committee’s work”.

Privileges committee: who are its members and what powers does it have?

3

Migrant boat disaster

At least 79 people have died after their fishing vessel capsized off the coast of southern Greece. More than 100 people were rescued but survivors and Greek officials said that hundreds more migrants were on board. The incident happened about 80 km (50 miles) south-west of Pylos after the coastguard said it had refused help. Ioannis Zafiropoulos, deputy mayor of the southern port city of Kalamata, where survivors were taken, told Greek newspaper Ekathimerini there were “more than 500 people” on board. It is the latest in a number of incidents of this year which has led to suggestions that the EU is facing a new migrant crisis this Summer.  

Illegal pushbacks and abandonment at sea: is EU facing a new migrant crisis?

4

Kremlin adviser goes nuclear

An influential Kremlin adviser has warned of possible nuclear strikes on Europe to “break” the West’s support for Ukraine, as Belarus begins taking delivery of Russian tactical nuclear weapons. Sergey Karaganov, a chairman at the Council of Foreign and Defence policy, said that Moscow should escalate its nuclear rhetoric, including by advising Russians living abroad to evacuate from areas near potential targets. Karaganov added that if this failed to “break” the West’s support for Ukraine, Moscow should carry out nuclear attacks on European cities. Elsewhere, Japan is in talks to provide artillery shells to the United States to bolster stocks for Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia, said The Wall Street Journal.

The Ukraine counter-offensive and its likely outcomes

5

Call for child vaping measures

Action must be taken to “nip child vaping in the bud”, said the head of NHS England. “While to many young people vaping can seem harmless with their deliberately appealing flavours . . . its use can lead to lung damage,” Amanda Pritchard told a conference in Manchester. “So it’s really important we nip this in the bud so we can keep young people out of hospital and prevent future health issues.” Ministers are “said to be keen to do more on vaping”, said The Times.

Pros and cons of vaping

6

Wildfire risk elevates in England

The risk of wildfires has been raised to “very high” over much of England and parts of Wales. The heatwave and lack of rain are combining to create “tinder-dry conditions” and it is “highly unusual” for the risk to be rated so high, so early in the summer, said Sky News. UK Wildfire Tactical Advisor, Craig Hope, said the risk had become “elevated” due to climate change. Scientists have long warned that climate change is making heatwaves and dry spells more prolonged, intense and frequent.

The climate change tipping points getting ever closer

7

Homeowners turn to Labour

Homeowners are turning their backs on the Tories as high interest rates increase the costs of their mortgages, according to the i news site. New polling done for the website by strategy firm Stonehaven, shows Labour holds a 15-point lead over the Conservatives amongst homeowners, “who are traditionally seen as Tory supporters”, said the website. The survey of more than 2,000 households at the end of May showed that 44% of mortgage holders say they would vote Labour if a general election were held tomorrow – up from 33% at the 2019 vote.

Who will get the blame for UK mortgage misery?

8

Marine indicted over subway death

A grand jury in New York has indicted a former US Marine who was filmed placing a homeless man in a fatal chokehold on a subway train. Last month, prosecutors charged Daniel Perry with second-degree manslaughter for killing street performer Jordan Neely but the grand jury decision was necessary for prosecutors to formally charge Perry, who is free on bail. Penny has insisted he was acting in self-defence during the incident last month. He “maintains that Neely was behaving erratically on the train and threatening to kill fellow passengers”, said CBS News.

Daniel Penny: subway killing of Jordan Neely opens new front in culture war

9

Ryanair dismisses chief pilot

Ryanair has sacked its chief pilot for after an inquiry found “a pattern of repeated inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour towards a number of female junior pilots”. An anonymous complaint against Aidan Murray, 58, was received late last month over inappropriate behaviour, said The Independent, followed by further reports from eight other female Ryanair flight crew of alleged unwanted approaches. Murray swapped rosters in order to fly with certain female pilots and is alleged to have sent inappropriate text messages.

10

Morgue chief sells body parts

A former morgue manager at Harvard Medical School has been charged over the theft and sale of human body parts. Court documents claim that Cedric Lodge, 55, of Goffstown, New Hampshire, stole dissected portions of corpses that were donated to the school between 2018 and 2023. He took some body parts, including heads, brains, skin and bones, back to his home and some remains were allegedly sent to buyers by post. His wife and three other people have also been charged.

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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 June 2023