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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 April 2023

1

Fear of Easter terror attack

Police in Northern Ireland said they have “strong” intelligence terror attacks are planned against their officers on Easter Monday. The Police Service of Northern Ireland has “serious” concerns that public disorder is planned for Londonderry on Monday aimed at “trapping police officers”, said the Belfast Telegraph. Last month, MI5 raised Northern Ireland’s terrorism threat level to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

2

Tories ‘fail to tackle Islamophobia’

There are claims of a “cover-up” of Islamophobia within the Conservative party after the former chief whip was cleared of rule-breaking over claims he said MP Nusrat Ghani’s “Muslimness” played a role in her sacking. After Rishi Sunak said there would be no further action against Mark Spencer, who is now an environment minister, an ally of Ghani criticised the Conservatives for failing to tackle the “stench of Islamophobia within the party”.

3

Israel bombs Lebanon

Israel bombed Lebanon and Gaza early this morning, in retaliation for rocket attacks it blamed on the Islamist group, Hamas. Tensions are high following police raids on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem this week. The mosque is Islam’s third holiest site. The Israel Defence Forces said the “terrorist” infrastructure of Hamas was hit in southern Lebanon. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said Palestinians would not “sit with their arms crossed” in the face of Israeli attacks.

4

Lords ‘needs more experts’

The House of Lords needs more independent, expert peers, said the lord speaker. As controversy mounts over plans by former PMs Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to stuff the chamber with dozens of political allies and donors, John McFall said that the upper house was in danger of becoming “out of sync”. Asked by The Guardian if the number of independent peers was in danger of falling too low, he said: “We’ve got to keep an eagle eye on that.”

5

Report links Covid with market

Scientists in China have published analysis of samples taken more than three years ago from the market linked to the outbreak of Covid-19. The first peer-reviewed study of biological evidence gathered from the market in 2020 revealed swabs that tested positive for the virus also contained genetic material from wild animals. Some experts cite this as further evidence that the disease was initially transmitted from an infected animal to a human but others have asked why it took three years for the genetic content of the samples to be made public.

6

Sun sets aside £127m for hacking

News Group Newspapers, the publisher of The Sun, has set aside £127m to cover the costs of phone hacking court cases, according to company filings. The BBC said a case brought by Prince Harry is among those covered by the sum. The company said the funding would resolve the “tail end of litigation” sparked by longstanding revelations that staff had intercepted voicemails of celebrities and others. However, it insisted the development was not a sign it accepted liability.

7

Royals open archives to slave probe

The King has not ruled out the prospect of reparations for the Royal family’s historical links to the slave trade after he offered his support to a new research project into the issue. The Royal household will allow a three-year project investigating the Royal family’s connections to slavery access to its archives. The decision has “set a precedent that could create a deluge of historical inquiries into the royal past”, said The Times.

8

Smart motorway pressure mounts

There are calls for smart motorways to be scrapped completely after a report that the government has paused plans to build new projects. Campaigners say there have been at least 79 deaths linked to smart motorways, but official figures show there were 38 recorded deaths between 2015 and 2019. “There’s no shadow of a doubt the government should abolish this failed experiment,” said Jack Gallowtree, who was severely injured in an accident on a smart motorway section of the M6 near Manchester in April 2021.

9

Daniels doesn’t want Trump jailed

Stormy Daniels said “the king has been dethroned”, in her first interview since Donald Trump’s indictment. The adult film star, who Trump allegedly made ‘hush’ payments to, said that while she wants the former president to be “held accountable” she doesn’t believe he should go to prison. “I don’t think that his crimes against me are worthy of incarceration,” she told Piers Morgan. “I feel like the other things that he has done, if he is found guilty, absolutely.”

10

Ancient humans raved in caves

Revellers were taking hallucinogenic drugs at rave-like cave ceremonies 3,000 years ago, according to researchers. Strands of human hair from a burial site in Menorca, Spain, show that ancient human civilisations used various hallucinogens derived from plants and bushes, said the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports. Professor Elisa Guerra-Doce, from the University of Valladolid in Spain, said users may have been in a “drug-induced altered state of consciousness”.

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