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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 February 2023

1

World marks Ukraine anniversary

The UN General Assembly in New York has backed a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago and calling for the withdrawal of troops from the country. Later, Rishi Sunak will urge allies to “move faster” in arming Ukraine, during a G7 meeting to mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion. China has called for peace talks in a 12-point position paper, which has been “greeted cautiously” by Ukraine, said The Guardian.

How the Ukraine war started and how it could end

2

Ministers to ‘soften’ on nurse talks

The government plans to soften its position towards striking NHS workers and invite other health unions in for talks, said the ipaper. Unite, GMB and Unison could be called in for discussions with Health Secretary Steve Barclay next week in a renewed bid to bring the dispute to an end. “The mood music is changing,” said a union source. The news comes a day after the Nursing Times reported that the government has recommended a 3.5% pay award for nurses and other NHS staff in England for 2023-24.

Strikes: will ‘divide and rule’ tactics break the impasse with unions?

3

Coffey mocked for turnip remark

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey has faced criticism and mockery after she suggested turnips could be a suitable alternative while other vegetables remain in short supply. Responding to a question in the Commons, Coffey said the UK should “cherish the specialisms” it has and a “lot of people would be eating turnips right now” under a seasonal food model – rather than thinking about lettuce and tomatoes. “Let them eat turnips,” said The Independent, while the Daily Star’s front page featured a “cut out and keep turnip for every peasant”.

The great British food shortage: what’s causing empty supermarket shelves?

4

Covid modelling used for bird flu

Health officials are “drawing up Covid-esque modelling” to see what would happen if the current bird flu pandemic jumped to humans, said The Telegraph. The UKHSA has formed a new technical group to create modelling for a potential human outbreak of bird flu, which includes external academics that were prominent in the Covid response. The most severe hypothesis would mean the virus had a fatality rate of around 2.5%, and a hospitalisation rate of one in 20. While some think the chance of human-to-human transmission is low, an outbreak among mink in Spain has caused particular concern.

H5N1: bird flu in mammals stoking fears of human ‘spill-over’

5

Crypto scheme linked to MPs ‘vanishes’

Investors fear they have lost tens of thousands of pounds after a cryptocurrency investment firm with links to two all-party parliamentary groups appears to have disappeared. Phoenix Community Capital was launched last year as a cryptocurrency project and investment scheme, claiming it was valued at $800m (£665m). It promoted itself online by boasting of links to the House of Lords, APPGs and parliamentarians but it now appears to have vanished, with its website going offline and the investment portfolios becoming inaccessible to an estimated 8,000 investors.

6

Camilla ‘criticises Dahl censorship’

The Queen Consort has apparently criticised the changes made to Roald Dahl books. In an address at a Clarence House reception to mark the second anniversary of her online book club, she told writers: “Please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination.” Looking up with a smile, she added: “Enough said.” Her remarks come days after The Telegraph reported that hundreds of changes have been made to Dahl’s original texts.

Rewriting Roald Dahl: ‘absurd censorship’ or a sign of the times?

7

Police shooting ‘shows dissident threat’

An off-duty police officer who was shot several times in Omagh, County Tyrone, has suffered life-changing injuries, said the chairman of Northern Ireland’s Police Federation. Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was shot by two gunmen after coaching children at football on Wednesday. The Belfast Telegraph said that the shooting is “a reminder that the dissident threat, while reduced, remains very real”, and The Guardian said that republican dissidents “lurk in the shadows hoping to be noticed”.

8

Offices going more casual

A growing number of companies are ditching formal dress codes for their office workers, research has found. Businesses have switched to a more casual dress code after workers spent more than two years spent working remotely in loungewear during the pandemic, found the job search website Adzuna,. Out of 3,663 jobs advertised this month, four in five listed a dress code that took a “relaxed” attitude to what employees could wear to work.

9

Indian politician arrested for Modi insult

A leading member of India’s main opposition party has been arrested for allegedly insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pawan Khera was arrested at Delhi Airport after he called Modi “Narendra Gautamdas Modi” – an apparent reference to business magnate Gautam Adani, who saw his net worth halved in less than two weeks after allegations of stock market manipulation and fraud. Adani, who denies the allegations, is seen as a close ally of Modi. Khera has been released on interim bail.

Gautam Adani: Asia’s richest man and ‘the largest con in corporate history’

10

Tom Cruise ‘saved the cinema’

Tom Cruise “saved” the film industry with his blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick, claims director Stephen Spielberg. Last year’s action sequel, released as cinemas struggled after Covid, became a “global smash”, said The Times, and has been credited with bringing older audiences back to cinemas. During an exchange that was caught on video at a Oscars lunch, Spielberg told Cruise: “You saved Hollywood’s ass, and you might have saved theatrical distribution. Seriously, Maverick might have saved the entire theatrical industry.”

Top Gun: Maverick review – Tom Cruise makes a thrilling return

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