News

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 March 2023

1

Deal ‘signals end of strikes’

A pay deal between health unions and the government “signals the end to a wave of public sector strikes”, said the i newspaper. The agreement, which includes a 6% lump sum for this year and close to 5% for the next financial year, will see NHS nurses and paramedics suspend strike action after months. Asked on LBC whether the deal could be the beginning of a wider settlement of public sector pay, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “I hope so.” However, noted the BBC, the British Medical Association and government are not yet in talks to resolve the doctors’ dispute.

The public sector strikes explained

2

Chaos as France forces pension reform

There were shambolic scenes in and outside parliament as the French government used controversial special constitutional powers to force through a rise in the pension age. Minutes before MPs were scheduled to vote on the controversial bill, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne invoked article 49:3 of the constitution – allowing the government to avoid a vote in the Assembly. Radical left MPs sang La Marseillaise to drown out her voice and police clashed with protesters outside. Le Monde described the move to avoid a vote as a “politically explosive tool”.

Macron’s pensions reform battle

3

‘Horrible’ report to criticise Met

An official report will say that the Metropolitan police service is riddled with deep-seated racism, sexism and homophobia and has failed to clean up its act despite several official reviews. Senior government and policing figures are aware of the contents of Louise Casey’s report, which is due next week, describing it as “horrible” and “atrocious”.  The force commissioned the report in 2021 after the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer, Wayne Couzens.

Can the Metropolitan Police rebuild public trust?

4

Braverman to visit Rwanda

The home secretary is to visit Rwanda as Britain’s £140m deal to send asylum seekers to the country remains stalled. Suella Braverman is to meet senior Rwandan politicians and visit facilities set up as part of the Migration and Economic Development Partnership, which is a pivotal part of the new Illegal Migration Bill. She will be accompanied by media representatives from outlets including GB News, the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph. However, the BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, Daily Mirror and i newspaper were not invited.

Why the UK chose Rwanda to process asylum seekers

5

Hong Kong arrests over kids’ books

Two men have been arrested in Hong Kong for the possession of children’s books that authorities regard as “seditious”. They are believed to be the first people arrested for merely owning the picture books after the publishers were jailed last year. The books feature stories about sheep trying to hold back wolves from their village, which have been interpreted as symbolising the people of Hong Kong and China’s government. Police claim that the books were “seditious publications that could incite others into using violence and disobeying the law”, said South China Morning Post.

Chinese censorship: what is banned?

6

Museums suffer from ‘long Covid’

Visitor attractions in Britain are suffering from “long Covid” because fewer tourists are travelling from abroad, an industry body has warned. Although millions returned to museums and galleries in 2022 as Covid restrictions were lifted, fewer international tourists meant visitor levels were still almost a quarter lower than before the pandemic, said the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. A spokesman warned the industry was “still experiencing the tourism equivalent of ‘long Covid’” because of fewer holidaymakers coming to the UK.

7

Fears over scramble for labs

Researchers said that a worldwide rush to build high-security laboratories raises questions over safety. A report revealed a dramatic increase in the number of labs being built to the maximum containment standard, known as BSL4. Seven countries – including Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan – are building their first BSL4 labs. The findings have sparked concerns that countries with “poor oversight measures, little transparency and limited experience” are embarking on potentially high-risk research, said The Times. Three quarters of existing labs are in densely populated areas, increasing the risk of spread if a pathogen escapes.

8

Head killed herself over downgrade

A primary school headteacher took her own life after learning that Ofsted planned to downgrade her school from Outstanding to Inadequate, her family has said. Ruth Perry, 53, principal at Caversham Primary School in Reading, was left a “shadow of her former self” after an inspection that she described as the “worst day of her life”, her family told the BBC. The “Caversham community” was “left devastated” by Perry’s death, said the Reading Chronicle.

Ofsted’s widespread downgrading of British schools

9

Goldberg sorry for racial slur

Whoopi Goldberg has issued an apology following her use of a Romani slur during a broadcast. While discussing Donald Trump on an episode of ABC’s The View, Goldberg used a derogatory term associated with Romani people, saying that Trump’s supporters are “people who still believe that he got gypped somehow in the election”. Writing on Twitter, she said: “I should’ve said ‘cheated,’ but I used another word, and I’m really, really sorry”. The incident comes a year after she was suspended from The View for two weeks for saying that the Holocaust “isn’t about race”.

‘Whoopi Goldberg’s Holocaust comments should be considered with nuance’

10

Dogs and cats disrupt your sleep

A study has found that dog and cat owners are more likely to have sleep disorders. After examining data for more than 5,000 people, Dr Lauren Wisnieski, of Lincoln Memorial University, Tennessee, found those with pets were significantly more likely to report poor sleep quality. Her findings showed that dog owners were 37% more likely to report trouble sleeping and 39% more likely to say they had a sleep disorder compared with those without dogs. Researchers did not ask whether owners allowed their dogs or cats to sleep in their bed.

Are you loving your pet too much?

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