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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 July 2023

1

New claim against BBC presenter

The BBC star at the centre of a “sex-pictures scandal” stripped to his underpants for a video call, the alleged victim’s mother has told The Sun. The woman said she saw the presenter on the youth’s phone — “leaning forward, getting ready for my child to perform for him”. The tabloid reported yesterday that the presenter gave the teenager more than £35,000 for explicit photos. BBC stars Rylan Clark, Jeremy Vine and Gary Lineker have all confirmed on Twitter that they are not the man involved in the scandal. 

2

Cheap alcohol blamed for cancer spike

Urgent action must be taken to reduce the “carcinogenic effects” of cheap alcohol and unhealthy food after a 40% increase in deaths from liver cancer in a decade, said a leading health charity. Liver cancer is now the fastest rising cause of cancer death in the UK, with mortality rates more than tripling since the early 1970s, said the British Liver Trust. The “key drivers” for the increase in cases and deaths are “alcohol and obesity”, said Pamela Healy, chief executive of the charity.

3

Starmer ‘hates tree huggers’

Sir Keir Starmer has declared that he “hates tree huggers”, said The Sunday Times. After Ed Miliband gave an “animated Powerpoint presentation” to the shadow cabinet on his revolutionary energy policies, he received a “lukewarm” response from Starmer, said a source. Starmer “said he wasn’t interested in hope and change, he was more interested in creating sustainable new jobs to replace jobs in old sectors”, claimed the source. “He then said he was not interested in tree-huggers, before adding to everyone’s surprise, ‘In fact, I hate tree-huggers’.”

4

Brexiter calls for more EU workers

A leading Tory Brexiter has admitted that the UK needs more EU workers. Speaking to The Observer, former Tory environment secretary George Eustice called on ministers to reopen the UK’s borders to tens of thousands of young workers from EU nations to tackle acute post-Brexit labour shortages that he blames for inflation. “My proposal is that we commence bilateral negotiations with EU member states”, he said, “starting with countries like Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states”, and “widen it to the whole of the EU eventually, to establish a reciprocal youth-mobility visa scheme”.

5

‘Big pharm’ seeks to influence NHS

“Pharma giants” are “pouring tens of millions of pounds into struggling NHS services” as they “seek to boost drug sales in the UK”, said The Observer. According to an investigation by the paper, drug firms are bankrolling groups that lobby for greater investment in their disease areas, and in some cases are paying “generous consultancy fees” to influential healthcare professionals, including GPs. “They are certainly not providing this funding as an act of charity,” warned David Rowland, director of the Centre for Health and the Public Interest thinktank.

6

‘Race-based’ waiting lists in NZ

Controversy has erupted in New Zealand over “race-based” waiting lists after several hospitals in Auckland used an algorithm that bumps Maori and Pacific Islanders up the queue for elective surgery. The approach has “become a flashpoint” in the run-up to this autumn’s general election, which is expected to be tight, said The Sunday Times. Medical staff were told the aim of the new approach is to iron out “entrenched inequalities” in the health system because Maori and Pacific Islanders have a lower life expectancy than white New Zealanders of European descent.

7

Activists disrupt Osborne wedding

Just Stop Oil protested at the wedding of former chancellor George Osborne by throwing orange confetti as he and his bride left the church following the service. The activist ambushed Osborne, 52, and Thea Rogers, 40, outside the 14th Century St Mary’s Church in the Somerset village of Bruton. The Telegraph said the stunt “failed to put a dent in the former Chancellor’s celebration” but former home secretary Priti Patel took against it, accusing Just Stop Oil of being “shameful, attention seeking, disrespectful low life”.

8

Deaths in Sudan airstrike

At least 22 people have been killed in an airstrike in the Sudanese city of Omdurman, reported Reuters. The paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces said that more than 31 people were killed with homes demolished and dozens of civilians injured. The group said it condemns “the most severe aircraft bombing”. Clashes between the group and the Sudanese Armed Forces erupted in April, killing hundreds and injuring thousands more, according to officials. Parts of the capital Khartoum have “become a war zone”, said CNN.

9

Jews fear France backlash

Jews in France are on “high alert” after the fatal police shooting of a teenager sparked days of riots across the country, said The Telegraph. A Holocaust memorial was defaced in the Paris suburb where Nahel Merzouk was killed. Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, said that “because Jews are often associated as being an ally of the government, and accused of being given special privileges by the state”, the community fears that “post-colonial speeches could designate us as a target as well”.

10

Elton John brings down the curtain

Elton John has concluded his epic farewell tour, telling his fans around the world that they would remain in his “head, heart and soul”.  At his performance in Stockholm, the singer said: “It’s been my lifeblood to play for you guys, and you’ve been absolutely magnificent”. The 76-year-old has won five Grammy awards in a spectacular career spanning 50 years and has delivered nearly 4,600 performances worldwide. He told the audience his “very first” show in Sweden was on July 7 1971, “so more or less 52 years ago to the day”.

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