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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 July 2023

1

Sunak’s inflation worry

The British public blames the government for high inflation, new polling for the i news site shows. Some 67% of those surveyed said the government had directly contributed to the stubbornly high rate of inflation either to a “great extent” or to “some extent”. Nearly six in 10 said they believed Rishi Sunak’s government has been “poor” in responding to inflation. The news comes six months after Sunak asked the country to judge him on his ability to deliver his five key pledges, including halving inflation.

Is Rishi Sunak delivering on his five pledges?

2

Israel bombs Palestinian camp

The Israeli army has launched a “massive military operation” on the Jenin camp in the northern West Bank, said the BBC, with multiple air strikes. The Palestinian Health Ministry said at least three Palestinians were killed and 12 others wounded but the Israeli military insisted that the camp was a “terrorist” stronghold. “Right-wing ministers and lawmakers had been putting pressure… on the security establishment to launch a large-scale military operation in the West Bank,” said Haaretz.

Israel to announce expansion of West Bank settlements, say sources

3

Hottest June ‘pounded nature’

Environmental groups have warned that the UK’s hottest June on record caused record deaths of fish in rivers and disturbed insects and plants. Nature is being “pounded by extreme weather without a chance to recover”, said the Wildlife Trusts. The Met Office will announce today if the high temperatures were linked to climate change. The meteorologist group said that “above-average temperatures” could be experienced from July 12 to July 26 with a “correspondingly higher likelihood” of heatwaves.

The climate change tipping points getting ever closer

4

Afghans SAS killing claims

Eighty Afghans may have been victim of summary killings by British SAS units, said lawyers representing grieving relatives. One elite soldier is believed to have “personally killed” 35 Afghans on a six-month tour of duty as part of an alleged policy to terminate “all fighting-age males” in homes raided, “regardless of the threat they posed”. The claims are made in a document submitted by lawyers to a new public inquiry into allegations of war crimes committed by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence has called for the details to be heard in secret but that request is being challenged by media organisations including The Guardian, the BBC, the Times and the Daily Mail. 

MoD vs BBC: Panorama stands by SAS death squads exposé

5

Minister hints at health breakthrough

The government said it is willing to give doctors a bigger pay rise and has called for an end to consultant strikes in order to resume negotiations. Health Secretary Steve Barclay told The Times that there needed to be movement from both sides in the industrial dispute. His remarks came after Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of NHS England, refused to rule out patients’ lives being put at risk by the seven days of strikes that the British Medical Association has called for this month.

6

Unrest quietens in France

Emmanuel Macron is set to meet the leaders of both houses of parliament today after violent protests over the police shooting of teenager Nahel M appeared to ease. Following five nights of unrest, that have seen thousands arrested, police made just 49 arrests nationwide on Sunday, down significantly from 719 arrests the day before, and 1,300 on Friday. Meanwhile, a relative of the French teenager shot by police has told the BBC the family did not want his death to spark riots.

7

Banks warned on free speech

Banks will be told by the government that they must protect free speech as controversy grows over alleged blacklisting of customers who hold contentious views. Jeremy Hunt is thought to be “deeply concerned” that lenders are closing down accounts because they disagree with customers’ opinions, said The Telegraph. Nigel Farage recently claimed his account had been closed by his bank due to “serious political persecution”, while a vicar claimed he was dropped as a customer after criticising his building society’s position on LBGTQ+ issues. However, the lender questioned his claim.

Nigel Farage claims ‘serious political persecution’ after bank account closures

8

Explosions in Washington

Explosive devices were detonated outside three businesses in Washington DC in the early hours of Sunday, said police. The devices exploded outside stores in the northeast of the capital within 15 minutes of each other but the businesses were closed at the time of the incident and no one was injured. Police said that the perpetrators appeared to have targeted commercial establishments, but not members of the public. Each of the targeted businesses is at least a mile from the US Capitol building, noted CBS News.

9

MPs warn Sunak on migration

Tory backbenchers have told Rishi Sunak to cut net migration by two-thirds before the next general election – or risk losing the trust of voters. In a report that “piled fresh pressure on the prime minister”, more than 20 MPs from the New Conservatives Group are calling on Sunak to “honour the party’s manifesto pledge to reduce net migration by the next election”, said The Telegraph. The MPs include the Tory party deputy chair Lee Anderson and the backbencher Miriam Cates “usually considered to be loyal to the prime minister”, noted The Guardian.

What should the UK’s net migration target be?

10

Should conspiracy theories be on curriculum?

Students should be taught how to counter conspiracy theories, said a University of Cambridge scholar. Prof Sander van der Linden, an expert on social psychology, said that one of the solutions to the flood of conspiracy theories could be to “implement this stuff in national education curriculums”. Noting that the Finnish government introduced an anti-fake news initiative in its schools from 2014, he said Finland scored highly on the ability to spot misinformation and that this was “because they are preparing kids, you know teenagers, on how to spot propaganda”. 

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