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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 January 2023

1

California shooter found dead

Police in California have found a gunman, suspected of killing ten people in a ballroom dance studio near Los Angeles, dead in a white van. Huu Can Tran, 72, had a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was declared dead at the scene, LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said. The shooting marked the nation’s “fifth mass killing in the new year”, said the New York Post, and “came on the heels of one of the worst years ever for US mass killings”.

2

Cold snap triggers discount scheme

The continuing cold snap in the UK will trigger a scheme that offers bill discounts for households who cut peak-time electricity use. The scheme, which is part of the National Grid’s efforts to avoid blackouts and has only been used in tests so far, will run between 5pm and 6pm. The move comes as temperatures are expected to drop to -2C, which could “ramp up pressure on Britain’s power network”, said The Telegraph.

Looming cold snap fuels fears of UK power cuts

3

Germany ‘won’t block’ tank delivery

The German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has said her government will not “stand in the way” of Poland sending its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine. But the Green politician stressed that “we have not been asked so far” by Poland for such permission. But Germany is “still dragging its feet”, said Politico, when it comes to the bigger question of whether it would be willing to send its own Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Ukraine has been appealing to Western nations to supply modern Western-made battle tanks in order to defend an expected Russian spring offensive.

The strategy behind Germany’s tank timidity

4

New pressure on Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi “wrongly told officials” that he had not exchanged WhatsApp messages with David Cameron during the Greensill scandal, “before it emerged that they had been deleted from his phone”, reported The Times. The revelations will add pressure on the Conservative Party chair after the BBC reported this weekend that Zahawi paid a penalty to resolve a dispute with HMRC over unpaid tax while in charge of the treasury. Zahawi said an error in his tax affairs was accepted by the taxman as having been “careless and not deliberate”. 

APR 21: Who’s who in the Greensill scandal

5

National power cuts in Pakistan

Pakistan has suffered a nationwide power breakdown due to a fault in the national grid, with power cuts reported in major cities from Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar to Lahore. Supply to some areas has been suspended by up to 90%, according to initial reports. The electricity distribution system in the nation is a “complex — and delicate — web”, said Pakistan Today, and “a problem in one section of the grid can lead to cascading breakdowns countrywide”. The power breakdown follows a 2022  blighted by some of the worst flooding the country has seen.

How Pakistan can recover from deadly flooding

6

Compensation claims down in UK

“Compensation culture” appears to be on the decline in Britain as nearly half of the public shuns the idea of making a claim, reported The Times. The number of claims for road traffic incidents, accidents or illness at work, slips, trips or falls in public places and medical negligence was down more than 40% last year. A study found that the reasons for the decline lay in the fact people were worried about stigma linked with making a claim, deterred by a fear that claims take too long, or held a fear of lawyers or the legal system.

7

Johnson rejects loan criticism

Boris Johnson has denied any conflict of interest over his role in appointing a new BBC chairman while prime minister. After it was reported by the Sunday Times that Richard Sharp helped Johnson with his personal finances during Sharp’s interview process for the role at the corporation, the ex-PM’s spokesman said Sharp had “never given any financial advice to Boris Johnson, nor has Mr Johnson sought any financial advice from him”. Amid growing scrutiny over his personal finances and rumours of a political comeback, Johnson made a surprise visit to Ukraine yesterday.

Three issues that could stop a Boris Johnson comeback

8

Pub boss warns of £27.50 pint

A brewery and pub chain boss has said that a pint of Punk IPA beer would cost £27.50 if prices were put up in line with rocketing energy bills. James Watt, CEO of BrewDog, also claimed that a burger and fries would set back diners “about £48.75” if prices matched those of rising energy costs. Calling for Jeremy Hunt to cut business rates, reduce tax and give a year-long VAT holiday to hospitality, he said the chancellor would “make the situation worse when he rows back support for business energy bills from April”.

The end of energy life-support: bad for business?

9

Brits move summer holidays to spring

British families are reacting to the cost of living crisis by booking holidays in spring. The travel industry said it has enjoyed an “incredible start to the year”, with bookings surpassing pre-Covid levels, but that there has been a change in when people book for. “Spring is fast becoming the new summer” said The Times, as most bookings made this month were for trips departing in less than eight weeks or for the Easter holidays, for which demand has risen by 47%.

10

Beyoncé criticised for Dubai gig

Beyoncé was paid $24m for a one-off concert in Dubai to celebrate the opening of a new hotel, according to reports. The fee amounts to nearly £250,000 for every minute she performed. However, she has been criticised for her decision to perform in Dubai, where homosexuality is illegal, and campaigners pointed out that her 19-song set did not contain any songs from her most recent album, which is a tribute to the LGBT pioneers of dance music. “Like many of her LGBT fans, I feel betrayed and angry,” said Peter Tatchell, the LGBT rights activist.

The countries where homosexuality is still illegal

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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 May 2023