Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 April 2023


Putin’s men ‘fight in Sudan’

Vladimir Putin’s “top mercenaries” are fighting in Sudan, said the ipaper. The Wagner mercenary group, which has been involved in heavy fighting in Ukraine, is also operating in Sudan, claimed the paper. The UK’s Ministry of Defence is tracking their activities, it added. The news comes as thousands of people are fleeing Sudan due to bitter battles between the army and the paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces. The UK government has U-turned and told NHS doctors in Sudan they can now catch evacuation flights out of the country.


More fruit and vegetable shortages

Consumers are being warned they face more fruit and vegetable shortages, as weather hits crops. Temperatures in Spain are soaring to unprecedented levels while the UK growing season has started late because of cold, overcast weather. Produce grown in Spain for the UK market includes tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuces, broccoli and citrus fruit. Meanwhile, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and aubergines are being planted later than usual in the UK. Sainsbury’s has warned of further shortages.


Biden ‘likely to die in office’

A Republican presidential contender has said that Joe Biden is likely to die in office if he is re-elected. Speaking to Fox News, Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and Donald Trump’s one-time ambassador to the UN, said: “I think that we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden, you really are counting on a President Harris, because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely.”


Covid masks ‘should return’

Some experts are calling for face masks to be worn again on public transport, as a new Covid variant continues to spread. Five people have died from the Arcturus straim, according to the UK Health Security Agency, and 135 sequences have been detected in the UK so far. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Professor Stephen Griffin, chair of Independent Sage, said: “If the government won’t act to enable everyone to ‘live’ with Covid, vulnerable people will continue to require precautions and, ideally, others will act with an appropriate level of altruism.”


Troll sparks probe into MP

A female MP was subjected to a social services investigation after a troll tried to get her children taken from her with a “vexatious complaint”, said The Times. Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, was made the subject of a safeguarding review by her local council after a man complained about her call to be allowed to take her breastfeeding baby into the voting chamber. Creasy was then told by police that they would not impose criminal sanctions on her harasser, because he was “entitled” to the view that her children should be taken into care.


Nuclear secrets found in pub loo

Secret plans from a nuclear submarine plans were found in a toilet cubicle at a Wetherspoons pub in Cumbria. The classified files on £1.3billion HMS Anson had been dropped in The Furness Railway “boozer” in Barrow, said The Sun. The files showed the inner workings of the ­torpedo-loaded vessel, including “key detail” on HMS Anson’s hydraulics, which control torpedo hatches, steering and buoyancy. Commenting on their discovery, a pub source said: “It was lucky it wasn’t some deep cover Russian spy.”


Lineker wades into Beeb row

Gary Lineker has commented on the row over the resignation of the corporation’s chairman, saying the government must not pick his successor. Richard Sharp stepped down after a report found he had failed to declare his involvement in facilitating a loan to Boris Johnson while he was PM. Lineker, who was at the centre of a political row last month when he compared the government’s rhetoric on small migrant boats to language used in 1930s Germany, tweeted that the BBC chairman “should not be selected by the government of the day… not now, not ever”.


AI ‘gives better answers than GPs’

ChatGPT can sometimes provide significantly better answers to health queries than doctors, according to new research. The researchers studied a database of thousands of real questions and answers from doctors, and then used AI to generate another set of answers to each question, and got a panel of qualified healthcare practitioners to rate the answers without knowing which was which. The artificial intelligence program’s responses were “medically correct,” said The Times, and they were also rated by other doctors as “more empathetic”.


Elephants ‘may get violent’

Elephants have lost almost two-thirds of their habitat across Asia, a new study has found. The Asian elephant, listed as endangered, has had its forest and grassland habitats eroded by more than 64%, the result of hundreds of years of deforestation and increasing human use of land for agriculture and infrastructure. The lead author, Shermin de Silva, a professor from the University of California, said she worries that “we are going to reach a tipping point in which cultures of mutual non-confrontation toward one another get replaced by cultures of antagonism and violence – by both species”.


Women ‘better than men at BBQs’

Women are “now in charge of the barbecue” as the “stereotype of a man at the grill” becomes “a thing of the past”, said the Daily Star. Women reckon they are “handier than blokes at the summer cooking staple”, said the tabloid, with “almost half saying they are better at cooking on coals”. Three-quarters of women also feel the stereotype of “manning the barbecue’’ is outdated and sexist, according to the research commissioned by No Meat May.



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