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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 June 2023

1

Bank attacked as rate rise is due

The Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates for the 13th consecutive time today. After official data showed that inflation was stuck at 8.7% in May, the Bank is expected to announce a 0.25% rise in its benchmark rate from 4.5%. However, a bigger increase, to 5% is possible. The Bank is under pressure to “take tough action”, the FT reported, but The Times said that Jeremy Hunt’s economic advisers have “turned on the Bank of England” and accused it of “exacerbating the mortgage crisis facing homeowners”.

2

Sub ‘to run out of oxygen at midday’

The search for the Titanic sub has “entered a decisive phase”, said the BBC, as oxygen on the missing vessel is expected to run out around midday UK time. More noises have been heard by searchers, but it remains unclear what they are, said the US Coast Guard. Meanwhile, the scope of the search is being expanded and is now twice the size of the US state of Connecticut and 2.5 miles deep. A deep-sea robot that can function at lower depths than the Titanic wreck is the last chance, according to some reports.

‘Time is against us’: tapping heard in Titanic sub search

3

40C heatwaves ‘very unlikely’

Britain should expect a hot summer, but we are unlikely to see a repeat of last year’s 40C heatwave, said the Met Office. In its summer outlook, meteorologists said there was a 45% chance of a hotter-than-average summer. “It’s on the cards we will see more hot spells throughout summer,” said Will Lang, head of situational awareness at the Met Office. “It doesn’t mean it’ll be hot all the time.” A repeat of last year’s unprecedented heatwave is considered “very unlikely”.

In pictures: extreme weather events across the world in 2023

4

Lung checks ‘for all smokers’

Anyone who has ever smoked will be offered a lung check from middle age under a new NHS plan. The government is expected to support a recommendation from screening chiefs for a mass rollout of CT scans in mobile units and trucks in supermarket car parks. Pilot schemes found that three-quarters of lung cancer cases at early stages can be detected by the checks. Early detection boosts the chances of survival and saves money on treatment. Cancer Research UK said that implementing the recommendation would be “an important practical step”.

5

UK Covid death rates worse than neighbours

Death rates in the UK were among the worst of major European economies during Covid, according to the BBC. Overall death rates in the UK were more than 5% higher on average each year of the pandemic. That was above the increase seen in France, Spain or Germany, but “significantly lower than the US”, said the corporation. It would take “many inquiries” to “tease apart the effect of all the possible reasons behind every nation’s pandemic outcomes”, it added, with “preparedness, population health, lockdown timing and severity” among the factors.

Long Covid: a medical mystery

6

Del Monte farm faces violence claims

Security guards at a Del Monte pineapple farm in Kenya have been accused of “brutally assaulting and killing people suspected of trespassing on the farm’s land”, said The Guardian. Guards on the farm are armed with wooden clubs called “rungus”, but the claims suggest the guards’ use of violence has been “excessive”. The farm is the single largest exporter of Kenyan produce to the world. Del Monte, which supplies UK supermarkets, told the paper it had launched a “full and urgent” investigation into the allegations.

7

Wallace won’t run for Nato post

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ruled himself out of the race to become the next Nato chief. “It’s not going to happen,” he told The Economist when asked about rumours he might take the post when Jens Stoltenberg’s tenure ends in the autumn. “Maybe they want a prime minister,” he added. Confirming rumours that Washington has been privately lobbying Stoltenberg to stay on until next spring, the politician looked “visibly deflated”, said the magazine.

The race to replace Jens Stoltenberg as Nato chief

8

Settlers ‘cosy’ with Israeli army

Israeli settlers have attacked a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, setting fire to homes, cars and fields in a “rampage”, said The Guardian. The raid, by hundreds of settlers, many of them armed, left one Palestinian dead from gunfire and 10 others injured, according to Palestinian accounts. The dead man, Omar Abu Katan, 27, was shot by Israeli soldiers who entered after the settlers, said Palestinian medics. Rights groups often accuse the military of “enjoying a cosy relationship with settlers”, said the paper.

Israel to announce expansion of West Bank settlements, say sources

9

China restaurant blast kills dozens

Dozens of people were killed in an explosion caused by a leaking gas tank at a restaurant in northwest China. The blast in Yinchuan, the capital of the Ningxia region, came last night as crowds gathered at the barbecue restaurant for dinner on the eve of the Dragon Boat Festival public holiday. Some 31 people have been confirmed dead. Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged investigators to establish the cause of the incident and for those responsible to be punished, the South China Morning Post reported.

10

BBC ‘misled’ over Bashir health

The BBC misled the public about Martin Bashir’s health to conceal information regarding its “Panorama” interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, The Telegraph reported. Emails seen by the paper show that BBC bosses were in regular contact with the reporter in 2020, as accusations mounted about his use of forged bank statements to gain the princess’s trust. However, at the time, the corporation claimed it could not answer questions because Bashir was “seriously unwell”. The revelations could add “a further layer of controversy” to “one of the worst scandals in the corporation’s history”, said the paper.

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