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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 May 2023

1

Tory losses mounting up

The Tories are having a “really terrible” night, admitted Johnny Mercer, the veterans minister, as Labour and the Lib Dems make key gains following yesterday’s local elections. Labour have taken control of Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent, which were among their top targets. The Tories have lost control of councils including Tamworth, Brentwood, Hertsmere and NW Leicestershire. Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey said it had been a “groundbreaking night” for his party, PA reported. 

Local elections 2023: the seats in contention

2

Watchdog investigates AI

The British competition watchdog has launched a review of the artificial intelligence sector. The UK Competition and Markets Authority said it would look at the underlying systems – or foundation models – behind AI tools and publish its findings in September. The development comes at the end of a week in which a “succession of scientists and business leaders issued warnings about the speed at which the technology could disrupt established industries”, said The Guardian.

Geoffrey Hinton: the ‘Godfather of AI’ who quit Google to warn about technology

3

Anger at Shell profits

“Fatcat energy firms” have “faced fresh fury” after Shell posted record profits, with Rishi Sunak’s “refusal to hike windfall taxes” blamed for the “rampant profiteering”, said The Mirror. The oil company made a record £7.6billion in the first three months of this year, or £986 every second, and “showered shareholders with £4.8billion”, added the tabloid. Meanwhile, the inews site revealed that Shell force-fitted more than 4,000 prepayment meters in the UK last year. The company said the move is “always a last resort”.

Pros and cons of a windfall tax on oil and gas profits

4

Truss vs Sunak over China

Liz Truss is planning to try and derail Rishi Sunak’s policy on China, said the i news site. James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, is considering making the government’s first official visit to Beijing in five years, after he vowed to “engage” with China despite deepening tensions with the West. Truss, whose brief reign in Downing Street led to the UK’s “most hawkish stance on China for decades”, said the i news site, is expected to criticise any such visit in a speech at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in two weeks’ time.

China: the new rules of engagement for Britain

5

Second shooting in Serbia

Several people have died after a second mass shooting in Serbia in as many days. The gunman, who is reportedly still on the run, fired an automatic weapon from a moving vehicle near a village 60km (37 miles) south of Belgrade. On Wednesday, a teenager killed eight students at a school in Belgrade in the worst mass shooting to occur in Serbia in years. “Grieving Serbs” demanded the resignation of education sector officials following the school shooting, said Balkan Insight.

6

Prisoners ‘to plug job gaps’

Thousands of prisoners will be allowed out on day release to “plug labour shortages”, said The Times. After March’s budget identified labour shortages as a major threat to economic growth, ministers want to accelerate efforts to get former inmates into work by enhancing vocational training and allowing more prisoners out on licence to take up apprenticeships in sectors such as construction, haulage and hospitality. The paper noted that only 25% of those leaving prison have a job within six months.

Britain’s missing workers

7

Mobiles linked to blood pressure rise

A study has found that spending hours talking on mobile phones is bad for your blood pressure. When a team from the Southern Medical University in China followed 212,000 British adults, with an average age of 54, over a 12-year period, the risk of developing high blood pressure was found to increase the more time people spent on mobile phone calls. The researchers speculated that exposure to the low levels of radiofrequency energy emitted by mobile phones may raise blood pressure. “It seems prudent to keep mobile phone calls to a minimum to preserve heart health,” said one.

8

Starkey criticised for Sunak comments

The controversial historian David Starkey has been criticised after suggesting that Rishi Sunak has not engaged with the coronation because he is “not fully grounded in our culture”. Speaking to GB News, Starkey said the PM had been “invisible”, adding: “The prime minister, the man of immense talent, of extraordinary skill, but really, not fully grounded in our culture.” Nadhim Zahawi, the former chancellor and Conservative Party chair, said: “That is an ill-informed opinion. A racist opinion.”

The ‘diplomat monarch’: will King’s coronation revitalise British soft power?

9

World ‘not ready for next pandemic’

Governments and healthcare bodies are not ready for another pandemic, according to the boss of private healthcare firm Bupa. “We might face [another pandemic] soon,” said Iñaki Ereño. “The main question is: have we all [around the world] learned a lot, so next time we are ready? My belief is that is not the case,” he said. Speaking to the BBC, he said that hospitals must be ready to treat infected and non-infected people separately.

10

King wanted ‘hummable’ anthem

Andrew Lloyd-Webber hopes the coronation anthem he has composed for the King is sung in churches across the land. Speaking to The Telegraph ahead of its debut performance at Westminster Abbey tomorrow, he said that the monarch insisted the piece, called Make a Joyful Noise, be “hummable” and joyful. Last-minute preparations for the coronation are happening, and a “guessing game” is underway over which members of the Royal Family will be on the famous balcony of Buckingham Palace after the service, said the BBC.

King Charles coronation: the date, the details and some surprising guests

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