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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 July 2023

1

Poll leaves Spain in ‘labyrinth’

Spain’s opposition conservative party has claimed victory in a general election, but without a majority. The country “appears headed for political gridlock” after the snap election left parties across the spectrum without a clear path towards forming a new government, said Sky News. With 100% of votes counted, the conservative PP had 136 seats in parliament while the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had 122 seats. While both can claim success, Spain is left in a political “labyrinth”, said El Pais.

Pedro Sánchez’s snap Spanish election gamble

2

Jets sent to rescue stranded Brits

Planes are being sent to Rhodes to rescue British tourists stranded after being evacuated after wildfires. EasyJet and Jet2 are sending planes this week, as holidaymakers forced to leave hotels over the weekend slept at the airport, in sports halls, conference centres and on the street. As tourists fled on foot in Rhodes, dragging luggage behind them under orange, smokey skies, the Daily Express described the scenes as “hell on Earth”.

3

Sunak in green pledge quandry

Rishi Sunak is to “ditch” green policies to win over voters as he comes under pressure from the right of his party, reported The Times. Although the prime minister is “planning to hold firm” on net-zero goals, he is “delaying or ditching” a host of measures that would impose direct costs on consumers, said the paper. Following last week’s by-elections, there are tensions in both main parties about the cost of environmental policies, it added.

Five key takeaways from 2023 by-elections

4

Government misses GP target

More than 38m patients in England have waited longer than two weeks for a GP appointment since the government vowed that everyone would be able to get one within 14 days. Last autumn, the government said patients would be able to see a family doctor within two weeks, with Thérèse Coffey, then health secretary, saying she had a “laser-like focus” on the issue. The Lib Dems, who commissioned the new analysis, said “people unable to get a GP appointment are being left waiting in pain, anxious about when they will get the care they deserve”.

5

Russia hits grain suppliers

Russia has attacked the Black Sea city of Odesa again and “kept up a barrage” that has damaged critical port infrastructure in southern Ukraine, according to Kyiv. The city has come under repeated attack since Moscow last week pulled out of a deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain. One site destroyed was a grain terminal owned by a leading producer. Officials said more than 60,000 tonnes of grain has been destroyed in the past week.

Two dead in Crimea bridge attack as Russia halts Ukraine grain deal

6

Taliban closes beauty salons

Hair and beauty salons across Afghanistan will shut in the coming weeks. Their closure, which has been ordered by the Taliban, will lead to the loss of around 60,000 jobs. The decision “further restricts spaces open to Afghan women”, said the BBC, as they are “already barred from classrooms, gyms and parks”. An Afghan women told the broadcaster that it’s “common” for men to ban their daughters from wearing make-up or going for a beauty treatment.

7

Periods worsen Long Covid

Long Covid patients have reported that symptoms can get worse just before or during their periods, said the i news site. Scientists at Imperial College London found that 70% of the 605 people surveyed said their Long Covid symptoms, including breathlessness and fatigue, varied in intensity and form with their menstrual cycles. The data provides “valuable new information” about both Long Covid and the way it interacts with the menstrual cycle, said the outlet.

Long Covid: a medical mystery

8

Badenoch denies trans ban

Kemi Badenoch has dismissed a claim that she is drawing up plans for new legislation that would ban children from changing gender at school. The government’s equalities minister said the claim that the laws were being drafted in Downing Street was “a legally incoherent, silly season story”. Ministers plan to consult on draft guidance to schools in England regarding children changing their gender. It is rumoured that schools may be told to tell parents if pupils are questioning their gender.

9

Lineker rejects Lynam criticism

The former football broadcaster Des Lynam has told Gary Lineker to “get on with the football” and avoid discussing politics. The 80-year-old, who presented Match of the Day between 1988 and 1999, said: “I like him as a chap, I like him as a broadcaster. But I think there are some areas that he should stay out of.” Responding on Twitter, Lineker wrote: “Des is entitled to his opinion… as, of course, am I.” Lynam endorsed Ukip in 2013, said The Times.

Politics and football pundits: should they stay on the sidelines?

10

Big weekend for UK cinemas

The concurrent releases of Barbie and Oppenheimer have delivered the biggest weekend for UK cinemas since the Covid pandemic. Screens were “packed with people clad in pink” for Greta Gerwig’s take on the iconic Mattel doll, said the i news site, while fans “embraced a decidedly bleaker aesthetic” for Oppenheimer, the “cinematic epic” on the development of the world’s first atomic weapons. Barbie made £12.69m in the UK across Friday and Saturday, while Oppenheimer had reported takings of £7.26m, according to provisional data.

J. Robert Oppenheimer: the real ‘father of the atomic bomb’ at centre of new blockbuster

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