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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 April 2023

1

Sunak to tackle ‘anti-maths mindset’

Rishi Sunak will say that adults who cannot understand basic maths ought to be embarrassed. In a “tough message” designed to change public attitudes towards innumeracy, the prime minister will take aim at the “anti-maths mindset” that he says is damaging the economy, reported The Times. In a speech later, he will argue that poor understanding of maths should not be “socially acceptable”. An advisory group will consider what maths skills students need, and whether a new maths qualification is necessary.

Rishi Sunak and the importance of maths

2

More violence in Sudan

Further clashes have erupted across Sudan as fighting between rival factions continues. At least 97 people were killed and up to 1,000 injured after violence broke out on Saturday in the capital Khartoum and across the country between armed forces and paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces. The violence began amid tensions over a proposed transition to civilian rule. The international community should take urgent action to call for an end to the violence, the thinktank Sudan Policy and Transparency Tracker told Sudan Tribune.

What’s happening in Sudan?

3

Nurses may strike until Christmas

Nurses have threatened to keep striking until Christmas and the NHS believes they might join forces with doctors for “months of rolling walkouts”, said The Times. When the next planned strike ends on 2 May, nurses will be “immediately” consulted over new six-month mandate for action, which “will mean further strike action right up until Christmas”, said Pat Cullen, head of the Royal College of Nursing. Polling for YouGov shows that the majority of voters continue to back the strikes, despite one in 10 people having treatment disrupted.

Why nurses are taking historic strike action

4

Business confidence bounces back

Business confidence in the UK has seen its sharpest rise since 2020, according to Deloitte. The group’s chief financial officers showed sentiment rebounded among finance chiefs at the UK’s biggest companies as their concerns about energy prices and Brexit problems eased. There are now 25% more chief financial officers feeling better about the future than worse, compared to 17% more feeling the opposite three months ago. “Not since the Covid vaccine rollout has there been such a swing in confidence,” observed the BBC.

Is the UK facing a ‘cost of doing business’ crisis?

5

Mass shooting at 16th birthday

At least four people were killed in a mass shooting at a 16th birthday party in the US state of Alabama. There were also dozens of injuries, some critical, after shots were fired at the Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio in the city of Dadeville on Saturday evening. The “joyful birthday party” of about 40 to 50 people “quickly turned into a chaotic and terrifying nightmare as party-goers ran for their lives”, said the New York Post.

Gun violence: why does the US have so many mass shootings?

6

Germany’s nuclear era is over

Germany’s final three nuclear power plants closed over the weekend, “marking the end of the country’s nuclear era that has spanned more than six decades”, said CNN. Nuclear power has “long been contentious” in the country, said the outlet, with opponents saying it is “unsustainable, dangerous and a distraction from speeding up renewable energy”. However, others insist it is a “reliable source of low-carbon energy at a time when drastic cuts to planet-heating pollution are needed”.

The pros and cons of nuclear power

7

Children denied mental health support

A quarter of a million children with mental health problems have been denied help by the NHS, according to research shared with The Guardian. As the health service struggles to manage “surging case loads”, some NHS trusts are failing to offer treatment to 60% of those referred by GPs, said the House magazine. There is also a “postcode lottery”, with spending per child four times higher in some parts of the country than others, and average waits for a first appointment ranging by trust from 10 days to three years.

How the NHS is failing children on mental health

8

PPE bill still ‘balloons’

PPE storage still costs British taxpayers £580,000 a day, according to new data released by the Labour Party. The government’s spending on storing personal protective equipment in China increased by £2.35m in the year to January. The taxpayer paid £23.5m from February 2021 to January 2022 – but in the same period the following year that had “ballooned” to £25.9m, said Sky News. John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “While costs are falling, the Covid hangover is still placing an enormous burden on taxpayers.”

Fact check: is PPE causing an environmental pandemic?

9

Hate crimes against ‘disfigured’ up

Reports of hate crimes against people with visible differences or disfigurements have increased since 2019, according to new research. The charity Changing Faces said a third of people (33%) with a visible difference said they had experienced a hate crime, compared to 28% of respondents in 2019. Some 49% reported negative interactions such as staring, comments, and intimidation, a figure that has been steadily rising from 34% in 2019 and 43% in 2021. There is “shocking prejudice” against people with visible differences, said chief executive Heather Blake.

10

‘Vasectomy revolution’ in the US

The US is now undergoing a “vasectomy revolution” that could have far-reaching consequences, said a urologist. Since America’s Supreme Court overturned the historic Roe vs. Wade ruling that made abortion a federally protected right, the SimpleVas clinic in Iowa saw a 100% rise in bookings. If maintained, this surge could “further exacerbate a decline in the US birth rate that is already putting long-term growth at risk in the world’s largest economy”, said The Telegraph. Today, those “getting the snip” are younger and much more likely to be childless.

Roe vs. Wade overturned: what the ruling means for other American rights

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