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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 July 2023

1

Israel accused of war crimes

Palestinians have accused Israel of war crimes after the Israeli military launched a major operation in the Jenin camp in the West Bank. At least eight Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in the aerial and ground assault. A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called on the international community to “break its shameful silence and take serious action”, adding the attack “is a new war crime against our defenceless people”. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that “Jenin has turned into a safe haven for terrorism”. 

Israel launches large-scale military operation in West Bank

2

PM backs fuel price app

A scheme to allow motorists to compare local fuel prices will be set up after a report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that drivers were forced to pay an extra 6p a litre for fuel at supermarkets last year. The CMA said there should be a new, legally mandated system, requiring fuel providers to publish live data on fuel charges, enabling consumers to see petrol station costs in real time on their phones. Downing Street said it supported all the recommendations, including creating a public body to “ensure there is transparency” in pricing.

3

Javid calls for NHS commission

Britons are sicker than in many other western countries as a “direct consequence” of the way the NHS is set up, argued former health secretary Sajid Javid. Writing for The Times, Javid said that the “entire British state is on the verge of becoming a subsidiary of the NHS”, because the cost of healthcare has risen from 27% of day-to-day public spending to 44% since the turn of the century. He called for a “dispassionate and honest” assessment of the health service by a royal commission.

Britain’s missing workers

4

Unilever criticised for Russian trade

Unilever has been named “an international sponsor of war” by the Ukrainian government. The food giant was accused by Ukrainian veterans of “contributing hundreds of millions in tax revenues to a state which is killing civilians”. It said last year it would review its operations in Russia in the light of the invasion but it has continued to sell food and hygiene products in the country, with executives from the company saying earlier this year that “exiting is not straightforward”. Unilever “prides itself on its ‘social purpose’”, said The Telegraph but that goal has been criticised as a “meaningless platitude”, the paper added.

MAR 22: Big brand boycotts in Russia: who is in and who is out?

5

Climate change fuelled hot June

Climate change contributed to June being the hottest on record in the UK since records began in 1884, said the Met Office. The mean temperature of 15.8C was 0.9C higher than the previous record. “Alongside natural variability, the background warming of the Earth’s atmosphere due to human-induced climate change has driven up the possibility of reaching record high temperatures,” said spokesman Paul Davies. Meanwhile, the government is preparing for the potential of a drought.

The politics of drought: new crisis facing the EU

6

Minister intervenes on parole case

The government has asked the Parole Board to reconsider its decision to release Colin Pitchfork, a double child killer. The 63-year-old was jailed for life for raping and strangling Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, both 15, in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said it was vital that “every lawful step is taken to keep dangerous offenders behind bars”. Pitchfork, who was the first murderer to be convicted using DNA evidence, was released in September 2021, but two months later he was back in custody for breaching the licence conditions.

7

Labour wants nursery reform

More graduate teachers would be “parachuted into nurseries” under a scheme being considered by Labour strategists, said The Guardian. More nursery places could be introduced in primary schools as part of the opposition’s ambition to drive up standards and formally integrate early years in England into the education system. “We know that so much is determined for children early on and that you can make the biggest impact in the early years”, said shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson. Childcare is “expected to be a major battleground at the next general election”, said The Independent.

Childcare in Britain: a subject finally ‘worthy of political debate’

8

UK to raise AI nuclear threat

The prospect of artificial intelligence controlling nuclear weapons will be discussed by the United Nations Security Council. With “concerns growing about AI one day posing existential risks to humanity”, said the i news site, the UK is using its July presidency of the Security Council to hold an international debate on the issue. “There have to be concerns about how AI might be used in nuclear technology,” said Dame Barbara Woodward, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, and “whether any country with nuclear weapons would consider handing over the management of those weapons to AI”.

Pros and cons of artificial intelligence

9

Report finds shoddy broadband service

More than half of UK broadband customers have experienced problems with their connections, according to Which?. In a report, the consumer group said that telecoms providers are adding “insult to injury” by pushing through mid-contract price increases of up to 17.3%. Sky, Virgin Media and EE were found to be the “worst offenders”, said The Guardian, with 68%, 65% and 63% of their respective customers who were surveyed reporting problems with their connections.

10

Scientist suggests embryo editing

A controversial Chinese scientist has suggested modifying human embryos to help aid the “aging population.” He Jiankui proposed new research that would involve gene-editing mouse embryos and then human fertilised egg cells to test whether a mutation “confers protection against Alzheimer’s disease.” In 2019 he was sentenced to three years in prison in China for “illegal medical practices”. He also “sparked global outrage” in 2018 when he revealed that he had created the first gene-edited children, recalled CNN.

Pros and cons of gene-editing babies

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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 August 2023