Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 31 March 2023


Trump to be charged

Donald Trump is to be charged over a hush money payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels. The former US president is expected to be arraigned in a New York court next Tuesday. Trump strongly denies the allegations and has called the indictment a “political persecution”. However, his attorney, Joe Tacopina, told NBC News that his client is expected to surrender to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office early next week. Trump is the first former president to be charged with a crime, and the development will “reverberate around the country”, said CNBC.

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UK to join CPTPP trade deal

The UK is expected to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in what the government says is its biggest trade deal since Brexit. The free trade agreement bloc includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. However, noted the BBC, the government’s own estimates show being in the bloc will only add 0.08% to the size of the UK’s economy.

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Government burns PPE stock

The government has burned nearly a billion pounds worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) it ordered during the Covid pandemic, reported the i news site. The destroyed items included more than 570 million aprons, more than 360 million eye protectors and more than 450 million face masks, government figures show. A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to sell, donate, repurpose and recycle PPE in the most cost-effective way.”


Bullying in fire crews

A report has found that a quarter of fire brigades in England have reported alleged racist, homophobic and misogynistic behaviour in their ranks in the last five years. His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, found bullying allegations in 11 out of 44 services – and inspectors say this could be “the tip of the iceberg”. A senior officer was accused of calling a black colleague the N-word and dismissing it as simply “having a laugh”, while homophobic abuse was found written on a firefighter’s locker and men in another brigade were found using women’s toilets and women not feeling confident to challenge this.


US reporter could be jailed in Russia

Washington has condemned Russia’s detention of a Wall Street Journal reporter after he was brought before a closed court in Moscow charged with espionage. Evan Gershkovich, 31, who denies the allegations, faces up to 20 years in jail. “At this stage”, said The Telegraph, “it seems completely clear that he has been fitted up for simply doing his job: asking people questions, and writing down what they say”. He is the first western reporter to be detained in Russia for spying since the Cold War.


MPs walk out of Zelensky speech

Far-right Austrian MPs walked out of parliament during a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The representatives from the Freedom Party said that Zelensky’s address violated Austria’s neutrality. While other MPs applauded Zelensky at the beginning of the speech, the far-right MPs produced placards with the inscriptions “Place for Peace” and “Place for Neutrality”, said The Local. Although Austria has said it cannot help Ukraine’s defence militarily, it does support Kyiv politically.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: from comedian to war hero


Branson firm lays off most staff

Richard Branson’s rocket company has announced that it will lay off 85% of staff after failing to secure new investment. Virgin Orbit will also cease operations for the foreseeable future, weeks after it paused operations in in a bid to shore up its finances. The company has sold $10.9 million in convertible notes to Branson’s Virgin Investments, according to filings. Virgin Orbit’s stock price dropped 16% to 34 cents, a record low, and fell more than 43% in after-hours trading, said Forbes. Virgin Orbit was the company behind the failed Cornwall satellite launch earlier this year.

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Paltrow wins ski crash case

Gwyneth Paltrow has won a court case against a man who claimed she crashed into him while skiing. The actress was awarded $1 in damages after the jury found retired optometrist Terry Sanderson was “100%” at fault for the skiing accident. Sanderson, who was seeking $300,000 (£245,000) in damages, said the verdict was “very disappointing”. In a statement on Instagram, Paltrow said: “I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity.”

‘Reckless’ Gwyneth Paltrow caused ski crash, US court hears


China threat over US visit

The leader of Taiwan has arrived in the US for a “provocative” visit, said The Times. President Tsai is spending two nights in New York on her way to central America, where she will pay state visits to Guatemala and Belize, two of the 13 countries that recognise her nation’s statehood. Beijing has threatened retaliation if US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets with her but the Biden administration is “going to unprecedented lengths to play down the importance” of the visit, said Bloomberg.

Will China invade Taiwan?


Young ‘find Friends offensive’

Jennifer Aniston said “a whole generation of kids” now finds Friends offensive. Speaking to Variety, the actress said working in comedy had grown increasingly difficult, as comedians were now “not allowed” to “make fun of life”. Previously, she said, you could “joke about a bigot and have a laugh” because “it was about educating people on how ridiculous people were” but “now we’re not allowed to do that”.



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