UN ‘concerned’ by UK asylum policy
The United Nations refugee agency has said the UK government’s proposed asylum law is “very concerning” and would block even those with a compelling claim. After Home Secretary Suella Braverman was forced to admit that the Illegal Migration Bill was “more than 50%” likely to break human rights laws, the UNHCR said it was a “clear breach of the refugee convention”. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he is “up for the fight” to bring in the law and see off any legal challenges.
Ukrainians blamed for pipeline attack
An attack on the Nord Stream energy pipelines in September was carried out by a pro-Ukrainian group, said US intelligence officials. Kyiv has been opposed to the Nord Stream project over fears that it would be cut out of any transit agreements taking Russian gas to Europe. Washington believes that an independent group was responsible for the attack, but say there is no evidence they were assisted by the government in Kyiv, reported the New York Times. Some in the intelligence community have speculated that Moscow might have been responsible for the attack.
Whitty cited Covid’s ‘low mortality rate’
During the early days of the Covid pandemic, the Chief Medical Officer said a vaccine could not be fast-tracked because the virus had a “low mortality rate”, The Lockdown Files of leaked messages reveal. According to the Telegraph, Prof Chris Whitty wrote that diseases with a mortality rate in the range of one per cent would need a “very safe” vaccine and that the necessary clinical trials would be a “rate limiting step”. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has refused to say that Simon Case will remain the Cabinet Secretary, amid a growing backlash to messages he sent during the Covid pandemic.
White House backs TikTok bill
The White House has backed proposed legislation to give the administration new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats. Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who chairs the intelligence committee, said the law would also apply to foreign technologies from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. The American Civil Liberties Union said it opposed the bill, arguing it would curb free speech, noted Al Jazeera.
Rowling speaks out on transition
JK Rowling has spoken of her fears that decisions to change gender are being made too young. Speaking to The Witch Trials of JK Rowling podcast, the Harry Potter author said that the emotions she experienced as a teenager meant that she does not consider young teenagers to be properly equipped to be able make decisions about whether to transition. “I don’t believe that even a 14-year-old can truly understand what the loss of their fertility is,” she said. It comes just weeks after an intense debate online over whether to boycott a new Harry Potter video game due to its links with the author.
Warning on medical cannabis
Doctors have warned that the rise in people using cannabis to treat health conditions means patients are putting themselves at risk, reported Sky News. A new study has found that 1.8m people in the UK are using the illegal cannabis market to alleviate symptoms – up by 29% from 2019 – with around £3.57bn being spent each year on buying the drug. Cannabis has been shown to be effective in helping people with epilepsy, but some medics insist there is insufficient evidence over whether it helps other conditions.
Surge in dog attacks
Dog attacks recorded by police in England and Wales have risen by more than a third in the past five years, according to a new investigation by the BBC. During 2022, there were nearly 22,000 cases of out-of-control dogs causing injury. Up from just over 16,000 in 2018. The number of dogs removed from their owners by police has also risen: nearly 3,500 dogs were seized in 2022 across 33 force areas – up 36% from 2018 figures. Dr Rachel Casey – director of canine behaviour and research at Dogs Trust – says dog aggression normally happens because of anxiety.
Lineker warned on ‘1930s’ tweet
The BBC said that Match of the Day host Gary Lineker will be “spoken to” after appearing to compare the government’s rhetoric around its asylum policy to Nazi Germany. Writing on Twitter, the football broadcaster said the language in which the plans had been set out was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”. Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said Lineker’s remark was “foul, ill-conceived and disgraceful”, while another MP Jonathan Gullis urged the BBC to “remind him his job is to talk football, not politics”.
More bloodshed in West Bank
Six Palestinians were killed in the West Bank yesterday during a raid by the Israeli police’s special anti-terrorism unit, Yamam. The unit entered the Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin around midday. A Hamas gunman, believed to have fatally shot two Israeli brothers in Huwara last week, was among the dead, said the Jewish Chronicle. About 70 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed in West Bank and Jerusalem this year.The Palestinian Authority has called on the White House to pressure Israel to halt its raids.
Camilla tops influence poll
The Queen Consort has been named as the most influential woman of 2023 to coincide with International Women’s Day. Camilla tops The Independent’s Influence List 2023, which highlights 50 women who excel in their fields, including politics, culture, sport, law, business, health and the environment. She has “been on a long journey from one of the most controversial women in Britain to her place at the heart of soft power”, said the outlet, adding that she “illustrates how women should never be written off after a certain age, with her busiest years yet to come”.