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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 February 2023

1

Russia threatens UK over jets

Russia has threatened a “response” with “military-political consequences” if the UK supplies jet planes to Ukraine. In a visit to London, Volodymyr Zelensky said that the war could “stagnate” if jets are not provided by the West. Asked about the request, Rishi Sunak said “nothing is off the table”. In response, the Russian Embassy in London said Britain would be responsible “for another twist of escalation and the ensuing military-political consequences for the European continent and the entire world”.

Why is the West divided over fighter jets for Ukraine?

2

Erdogan blamed for earthquake response

The president of Turkey has defended his response to two catastrophic earthquakes, saying it was impossible to prepare for the scale of the disaster. Critics claimed the government was poorly prepared and the emergency services’ response was too slow. “If there is one person responsible for this, it is Erdogan,” said the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party. Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted the government had encountered some problems, but said the situation was now “under control”.

Turkey-Syria earthquake: ‘hope and despair’ in rescue effort

3

WHO warns of new pandemic

The planet must prepare for a potential human bird flu pandemic, warned the World Health Organization. The strain H5N1 has already jumped from animals to humans, being reported in otters, mink and foxes. During a virtual briefing, the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that although the risk of the virus jumping to humans was still low, we “cannot assume that will remain the case and we must prepare for any change in the status quo”. Currently “there is no evidence the bird flu virus can pass between humans”, said the New Scientist, but the virus is lethal, “killing 56% of people it does manage to infect,” said Forbes.

H5N1: bird flu in mammals stoking fears of human ‘spill-over’

4

Schoolgirl relative demands action

A relative of a victim of an attack outside a school in Ashford has demanded the teachers who “allowed” the violence to unfold are fired. Police are investigating after footage of a black schoolgirl appearing to be viciously assaulted, as a woman eggs on the attackers, caused anger online. On Twitter, the school said: “We can assure you that we are taking all necessary steps to ensure this isolated incident is dealt with and that student safety is our paramount concern.” Four people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted racially aggravated grievous bodily harm.

5

Kim Jong-un daughter set for power

North Korea has showcased what is believed to be a new, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile at a military parade attended by Kim Jong-un and his daughter. The night time event to celebrate the military’s 75th anniversary “kicked off around 10pm”, said The Telegraph, and the “formidable arsenal was unveiled to cheering crowds as the Kim family smiled and waved”. The parade follows a series of missile tests late last year which heightened tension between the hermit kingdom and its neighbours. CNN said the presence of his presumed daughter is “the latest sign the girl is possibly being groomed as his eventual successor in an authoritarian family regime dating back decades”.

Why is North Korea upping the pressure?

6

Johnson ‘earns £5m’ since standing down

Boris Johnson has earned nearly £5m since leaving Downing Street, according to The Times. The former PM has recently declared an advance payment of about £2.5m for speaking events, having previously declared just under £1.8m for speeches delivered since he left Downing Street in September. Together with a £510,000 advance for his memoirs, his earnings in the five months since he stood down are close to £5m. He has also declared the free use of accommodation provided by a wealthy Conservative donor.

Lord and Lady Bamford: who are the billionaire JCB-owning family linked to Boris Johnson?

7

Tory deputy chair backs death penalty

The new deputy chair of the Conservative party has backed the death penalty for its “100% success rate” in preventing reoffending. In an interview with The Spectator, Lee Anderson – who was was “voted favourite backbench MP of 2022 in a survey by Conservative Home”, said Sky News – backed the return of the death penalty, saying: “Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed. You know that, don’t you? 100% success rate.” The prime minister’s press secretary said: “Lee Anderson is a very hardworking MP. He’s very popular, particularly in his constituency, and he will do a fantastic job.” 

8

Black leader warns UK on race

A leading civil rights campaigner has criticised the UK’s “undeserved self-congratulation” on race. During a visit to London, Reverend Al Sharpton responded to the government’s recent boast about the UK’s “hard-earned global reputation” as “an open, tolerant and welcoming country”. Speaking to The Independent, he said: “Black people are still stopped and searched disproportionately in the UK; black people are still not in the higher levels of education to the degree that they should be”.

9

Small supermarkets ‘add hundreds to bill’

Smaller supermarket outlets like Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local can cost shoppers hundreds of pounds more a year. The consumer group Which? found that shoppers who buy regularly from local stores instead of bigger supermarkets could be spending an extra £15.73 a week on everyday items. For instance, 75 items including Anchor Spreadable Butter, a Hovis white bread loaf and own-brand milk bought from Tesco Express add up to £817.91 extra over a year. A Tesco spokesman said: “We work hard to ensure our customers get great value at Tesco.”

10

Three tonnes of cocaine found

Enough cocaine to meet demand in New Zealand for three decades has been found in bundles floating in the Pacific Ocean. New Zealand police commissioner Andrew Coster said the heavy haul weighed 3.2 tonnes and had a street value of around $316m (£165m). “We believe it was destined for Australia, where it would have been enough to service the market for one year,” Coster said. “It is more than New Zealand would use in 30 years.”

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