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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 February 2023

1

Turkey death toll ‘could rise eightfold’

A huge rescue operation is continuing across much of southern Turkey and northern Syria following a huge earthquake that has killed more than 4,300 people. Teams are scrambling to save people trapped beneath the rubble after thousands of buildings collapsed in both countries. The death toll is “steadily increasing” said The Times and the World Health Organisation warned that the total could rise eightfold. Turkey has declared seven days of national mourning, according to the Daily Sabah.

Huge earthquake on Turkey-Syria border leaves thousands dead

2

Rishi Sunak prepares reshuffle

Rishi Sunak is preparing a small reshuffle of his Cabinet to mark his 100 days in office and could announce the changes as soon as this morning. The prime minister has been looking for a successor to Nadhim Zahawi as the Conservative Party chairman and is expected by Whitehall insiders to make other changes. A “well-placed source” told the BBC they expected Zahawi’s successor to be the Trade Minister Greg Hands. Another government source told The Times that the reshuffle would be “relatively limited” but The Sun reported that it could be more extensive and include the merger of three government departments.

Rishi Sunak’s 100 days as PM: can he turn things around?

3

Energy bills ‘to fall in summer’

Two leading economic analysts have predicted that energy bills will fall this summer, helping to bring down inflation and reduce pressures on the cost of living. The Resolution Foundation said it expected the average bill to fall to £2,200 by October, while energy consultancy Cornwall Insight predicted that average bills could fall to about £2,360 over the summer. Emily Fry, an economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The cost of living crisis is far from over, but falling gas prices mean that it’s looking less bleak than just a few months ago.”

Will energy bills go down this year?

4

Man City’s rivals demand relegation

Premier League rivals are demanding Manchester City are relegated if the club is found guilty of breaking financial fair play rules. Following a four-year investigation, the club has been referred to an independent commission over 100+ alleged rule breaches between 2009 and 2018. City said they were “surprised” by the development and have a “body of irrefutable evidence” to counter the charges. However, said The Sun, others clubs are “demanding blood”. One club chief told the paper: “If these charges are proven there must be proper punishment – and the only fitting one is for them to be relegated.”

5

Truss ‘making life harder for Sunak’ say pollsters

Pollsters have warned that Liz Truss’s attempt at a comeback is damaging the Conservative Party brand. Speaking to the i news site, Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said “leaders that are brought down or resign not of their own volition tend to be a bit of a problem”. Chris Hopkins, political research director at polling firm Savanta, also told the paper that Truss “hanging around isn’t giving Sunak any space to try and carve out a niche for himself or to convince voters that he is different to what’s come before”. In her first interview last night since resigning as PM, Truss admitted her premiership was “tough” but she “just sort of got on with it”. “I went in with a very clear agenda about what we needed to deliver,” she told The Spectator, but “events took place which I wasn’t expecting”.

What does return of Liz Truss mean for the Tory party?

6

Study finds marriage lowers blood sugar levels

People who cohabit with a partner have lower blood sugar levels, found a study into the relationship between social isolation and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have found that happy marriages offer a range of health benefits compared with being single, including a longer life, fewer strokes and heart attacks, less depression and healthier eating. The new research, published in the British Medical Journal, found that being married or living together helps keep sugar levels under control. The findings appeared to be the same whether the relationship was “happy or under strain”, said The Independent.

Pros and cons of marriage

7

Prevent ‘treats extremists as victims’

Islamic extremists are being treated as victims, an official review into Prevent, the government’s anti-radicalisation programme, will warn. The report is expected to find that officials have been too focused on addressing the “personal vulnerabilities” of extremists, with terrorism treated as a mental illness. Seven of the 13 terror attacks in the past six years, including the murder of MP David Amess and the bombing of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, have been carried out by extremists who had been referred to Prevent, noted The Telegraph

OCT 21: Prevent: is the UK’s anti-extremist programme fit for purpose?

8

Digital pound ‘Britcoin’ could be close

The Bank of England and the Treasury are exploring the issues involved with creating a digital pound. Consumers could be using digital sterling as an alternative to cash by the end of the decade as ministers speed up their response to the rise of cryptocurrencies with a four-month public consultation process on a “Britcoin” kicking off this morning. However, said The Guardian, “after the volatility of cryptocurrencies and the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX”, the Bank and the Treasury will “seek to reassure the public that a state-backed digital currency would be as safe as cash”.

Does looming FTX collapse spell the end of crypto?

9

Harry Styles in white privilege row

Harry Styles has been accused of white privilege after claiming in a Grammys speech that “this doesn’t happen to people like me very often” while collecting an award that white men have won 32 times. The former One Direction star took the coveted album of the year, an award that has not been won by a black woman since Lauryn Hill in 1999. Podcast host Sam Sanders tweeted that Styles’s remark is “the most white privilege-iest thing to ever be uttered at an awards show ever for all time”.

10

Church considers ‘human composting’

The Church of England could consider “human composting” at funerals to help meet its net zero target. The process, which is not currently legal in the UK, sees microbes convert a deceased body into compost. It is “increasingly popular around the world amid a desire for environmentally conscious funerals”, said The Telegraph. Bishops are considering establishing a consultation group to assess the “theological considerations” of alternative means to dispose of human bodies.

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