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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 February 2023

1

Will Sunak defy the DUP?

Rishi Sunak is willing to defy the DUP to get a Brexit deal on Northern Ireland over the line, according to a report. “In a challenge to the Conservative right”, the prime minister is “prepared to decide for himself whether the deal works for the province”, rather than relying on the backing of unionists, said The Times. However, The Telegraph said that Rishi the PM has been forced to “pause” his protocol deal “amid a backlash from senior Tories and unionists”.

Brexit deal: can Rishi Sunak win over the DUP?

2

Warning on ‘shattered’ health workers

Healthcare workers around the world are “absolutely shattered”, the World Health Organisation’s incoming chief scientist has told The Guardian. Jeremy Farrar said that, unless something is done to address a staffing, training and morale crisis among vital medical professionals, they “won’t be there when you need them”. As thousands of ambulance workers go on strike in the UK, the scientist said industrial action by UK health workers demonstrates that “morale and resilience is very thin”.

NHS in crisis: how can we fix the health service?

3

Anxious wait for Bulley relatives

Police searching for missing mother Nicola Bulley have found a body in the river. Lancashire Police said they “sadly recovered a body” after they were called to the River Wyre near Rawcliffe Road on Sunday morning. Relatives could be “waiting for days” to discover if the body is Bulley’s, said the Daily Mail. The 45-year-old disappeared during a riverside dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire three weeks ago.

Nicola Bulley: the latest theories on her disappearance

4

Iran disputes uranium claim

Iran has denied a report that it has enriched uranium to a purity of 84%. Bloomberg reported that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors had found uranium enriched to the purity of just below the 90% required for a bomb and were trying to determine if it was produced intentionally. However, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said “the existence of a uranium particle or particles with a purity of over 60% in the enrichment process does not mean that there has been enrichment over 60%”.

Should Britain help save the Iran nuclear deal?

5

Rushdie leads Dahl outcry

Salman Rushdie has described the rewriting of Roald Dahl books as “absurd censorship” committed by “bowdlerising sensitivity police”. The Telegraph reported that in new editions of Dahl’s stories, “Augustus Gloop is no longer fat, Mrs Twit is no longer fearfully ugly, and the Oompa-Loompas have gone gender-neutral”. Rushdie said “this is absurd censorship” and the publisher “should be ashamed”. Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of literature and human rights organisation PEN America, said she was “alarmed” at the changes.

6

Domestic abuse crackdown announced

The government has announced that the most dangerous domestic abusers will be monitored more closely and electronically tagged. Police forces will be required to treat violence against women and girls as a national threat that is as important to tackle as terrorism. Around 2.4m people in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the last year, with around one in five homicides related to it, according to the Home Office. Campaign group Women’s Aid told Politico that some domestic abuse services were struggling to stay afloat amid soaring energy costs.

7

Meta follows Musk’s footsteps

Facebook and Instagram users will now be able to pay for a blue tick verification, parent company Meta has announced. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive, said the development will improve security and authenticity on the social media apps. The company claimed it will offer “more protection from impersonation”. Meta Verified comes after Elon Musk made a similar move to give blue badges to users that subscribe to Twitter Blue. “The difference between Meta and Twitter’s approach is that the latter service doesn’t use an ID to verify its users,” noted Deadline.

Elon Musk’s charges for Twitter blue tick

8

Starmer pitches for rural vote

Keir Starmer will accuse the Tories of “giving up on farmers” as he promises a closer trading relationship with the EU and to protect high British food standards. The Labour leader will “make his pitch to the rural community” in a speech to the National Farmers’ Union this week, noted The Guardian, saying: “We’ll get 13,000 more police into our towns and villages, more police on countryside streets.”

How Britain’s food system is set to change

9

Fry faces complaints over Lord’s quips

A formal complaint has been made against Stephen Fry after he was accused of making misogynistic and racist jokes at a cricketing dinner at Lord’s. Speaking as president of Marylebone Cricket Club, the broadcaster allegedly joked about women “shagging” and linked Muslims and terrorists. One of the guests has called for disciplinary action to be taken against Fry, describing the quips as “egregious”. The Times said Fry “subsequently refused to apologise”, while some attendees said the jokes were “misheard or not said at all”.

10

War film breaks Bafta record

All Quiet on the Western Front has dominated at the Baftas, winning best film and six other awards. The tally of wins mean the World War One epic has broken the Bafta record for the most awards won by a film not in English. The Banshees of Inisherin also fared well, taking outstanding British film and two acting prizes. Turning to the guests, The Telegraph said that the Princess of Wales’s “BAFTA look” was “her most daring – and clever – red carpet appearance yet”.

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