News

Monday briefing: Benefit cuts risk 'levelling up' plan

Top story: poorer students at risk of ‘digital poverty’ Morning everyone: I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories to start your week. Boris Johnson has been urged not to go ahead with cuts to universal credit affecting 6 million families if he is serious about his “levelling up” agenda. The Resolution Foundation thinktank joined opposition parties, anti-poverty campaigners and many Conservative MPs in urging the government to extend the...


First stage of Jeremy Corbyn’s legal battle with Labour goes to High Court

Lawyers for the former opposition leader are applying for the disclosure of documents ahead of a possible legal challenge over his suspension.


Government would recover 81% of cost of pay rise for NHS England staff – report

A substantial pay rise for NHS staff in England battling the coronavirus pandemic would cost the exchequer only a fifth of the headline price tag and boost Britain’s struggling economy, according to a report. Setting out the economic case for raising the wages of England’s 1 million nurses, midwives, health professionals and NHS support staff, researchers from the London Economics consultancy said 81% of the cost of a 5% or 10% pay rise would be...


SKorean court gives Samsung scion prison term over bribery

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Billionaire Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong was sent back to prison on Monday after a South Korean court handed him a two and a half-year sentence for his involvement in a 2016 corruption scandal that spurred massive protests and ousted South Korea’s then-president. In a much-anticipated retrial, the Seoul High Court found Lee guilty of bribing then-President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante to win government support...


Rioters in Tunisia clash with security forces for third night

Clashes broke out for a third consecutive night on Sunday in several Tunisian cities, pitting stone-throwing youths against security forces despite a tight lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. In the working-class neighbourhood of Ettadhamen on the edge of the capital Tunis, young men hurled rocks at riot police who responded with volleys of tear gas. Authorities said they had arrested dozens of young people during consecutive nights of...


China's Kuaishou to open books for $5 billion Hong Kong IPO next week - sources

China's Kuaishou to open books for $5 billion Hong Kong IPO next week - sources


Uighur campaigners to target 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics sponsors

Campaigners fighting against the persecution of Uighur Muslims in China are to target private companies sponsoring the Beijing Winter Olympics in an attempt to persuade them to use their influence with the Chinese government ahead of the 2022 event. Uighur campaigners in 10 different countries are coming together to write to companies asking them to use their platforms to educate and inform the world of the persecution under way in Xinjiang...


UK's Strict Travel Rules Begin - One Year After The First Covid Case Was Detected In England

As of 4am on Monday morning, everyone who wants to travel to the UK will have to provide a negative coronavirus test. Proof of the test, taken up to three days before traveling, must be shown on departure. The rules also apply to British nationals, meaning any hoping to return home from abroad will not be able to if they test positive, unless they meet a very limited criteria for exemptions. It is the first time a negative test has been required...


Fewer than one in 10 police officers fired after gross misconduct finding

Fewer than one in 10 British police officers found to have potentially committed gross misconduct by the watchdog are dismissed, the Guardian can reveal. Figures released by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) show 641 officers in England and Wales may have so seriously breached standards that they were liable to be sacked between 2015 and 2020, but just 54 (8.4%) were fired after disciplinary action was conducted internally....


Shift to renewable energy eases key environmental burdens, EU says

Shift to renewable energy eases key environmental burdens, EU says


Moment the Trump baby blimp takes off

A giant Trump baby blimp has been launched over London by protesters.


Japan PM Suga: Will exhaust all means to protect pandemic-hit medical system

Japan PM Suga: Will exhaust all means to protect pandemic-hit medical system


Brazil approves two Covid-19 vaccines, kicking off long-delayed inoculation campaign

Brazil’s health regulator gave emergency approval Sunday for two coronavirus vaccines, kicking off a mass inoculation campaign amid a devastating second epidemic wave killing over 1,000 people in the vast South American nation daily. Monica Calazans, a 54-year-old nurse in Sao Paulo became the first person in Brazil to receive the Chinese CoronaVac jab after the Anvisa watchdog’s highly-anticipated ruling. Anvisa also approved AstraZeneca and...


Loved Bridgerton? The best historical novels to escape into another world

Along with the rest of “the Ton” I am enjoying the Netflix adaptation of Julia Quinn’s series of Bridgerton novels. What makes it so good is not a strict adherence to historical facts (guys, it’s not and never will be “Your Dukeship”) but producer Shonda Rhimes and her team’s understanding of storytelling. Had it been given a more traditional British costume drama treatment, Bridgerton wouldn’t work. Instead, in an early episode, the string...


'An unmitigated disaster': America's year of Covid

At around 5pm on 20 January 2020, Dr George Diaz received a call from the federal health protection agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bearing alarming news. They had just logged a positive test for a new strain of coronavirus in a 35-year-old man who had recently returned to Washington state from Wuhan, China. CDC officials wanted to bring the patient in to Diaz’s hospital, Providence Regional medical center in...


'Another rocky road': UK theatre bosses eye 2021 with resilience and realism

‘We won’t do work that is comforting or safe’ Nikolai Foster, Curve, Leicester Last year we cancelled five productions which was heartbreaking but we learned a lot about resilience and are so determined now. When we thought we were coming out of lockdown we planned to stage Sunset Boulevard. We have a 350-seat space and a 970-seat auditorium and are able to fly out the dividing walls to create a 1,500-seat arena with a socially distanced...


The presidency of Donald Trump in pictures


May all right thinking Stormont politicians try to stop the evil of abortion, which is happening in Northern Ireland

A letter from David Wilson:


Trump, in wave of Tuesday pardons, so far not planning to pardon himself - source

Trump, in wave of Tuesday pardons, so far not planning to pardon himself - source


NI today on cusp of new law criminalising ‘emotional abuse’

A law creating a new criminal offence of “domestic abuse” is set to pass what’s basically its final hurdle at Stormont today.


Who deserves the wifi? The war is on in my house – and I am losing

Last year – forgive me, you’ve heard it all before – working from home in a lockdown meant the perpetual shuffling and reshuffling of the family hierarchy, like being a croupier in a casino of the mundane. Who deserved the best Zoom background, the person meeting the NHS mental health commissioners, or the one interviewing a well-loved face from daytime TV? Who should stack the dishwasher, the person who tessellated the best, or the person who...


Rioters in Senate chamber look for evidence against 'these scumbags'

The New Yorker has released video of Donald Trump supporters that invaded the US Capitol inside the Senate chamber.


UK coronavirus LIVE: Covid vaccines for over-70s as new travel rules come into force

Millions of over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable Britons will begin receiving invitations to book coronavirus jab appointments today as the Government rapidly speeds up the UK’s mass-vaccination programme. The number of people to have already received their jabs, including the over 80s and NHS staff, is expected to exceed four million on Monday, as the shots are rolled out to the next two priority groups. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has...


Emicida, a rapper on a mission to recover Brazil's black history

When the black Brazilian rapper Emicida imagines his country’s whitewashed history, he sees a textbook missing a succession of key pages. In his songs and on stage, the São Paulo-born musician tries to correct that skewed telling, remembering the lives and times of black Brazilian academics, artists and activists in the hope of changing Brazil’s future. “If we’d been told about this story and these [black] contributions at school, we’d have a...


‘We The People’ concert: Connie Britton reveals moving moment with Joe Biden

In a moving speech, actress Connie Britton spoke at the Biden-Harris “We The People” concert, which kicked off the duo’s inauguration week on Sunday night (17 January). Recalling the day she attended the United State of Women Conference a few years ago, Britton described meeting then-Vice President Biden shortly after he gave a 45-minute speech about women’s empowerment at the event. Though the Vice President was about to be driven away after...


Everyone arriving in UK must now self-isolate as travel corridors close

Everyone arriving in the UK from abroad must now self-isolate as the government order shutting all travel corridors comes into effect.


Japan PM vows to press ahead with Olympics despite virus surge

UK-OLYMPICS-2020-SUGA:Japan PM vows to press ahead with Olympics despite virus surge


Apple's Cook says Parler could return to App Store with reforms

Apple suspended all downloads of the Parler app following the attack on the US Capitol on January 6.


Some Conservative MPs set to oppose withdrawal of benefits increase - FT

Some Conservative MPs set to oppose withdrawal of benefits increase - FT


UK Coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson claims ‘140 jabs a minute’ as 671 further deaths announced

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the UK is "nearly on the home straight" out of the pandemic as the vaccine rollout gathers pace. More than 324,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines were administered in the space of 24 hours, new Government statistics showed , with 3.5 million people in the UK now receiving their first dose of a vaccine, with new vaccination centres opening from tomorrow. But Government sources have “dismissed as speculation”...


Guatemalan security forces beat back caravan of Honduran migrants

Guatemalan police and soldiers launched tear gas and wielded batons and shields against a group of Honduran migrants that tried to push through their roadblock early Sunday. A group of about 2,000 migrants had stopped short of the roadblock the night before. The roadblock was strategically placed at a chokepoint on the two-lane highway to Chiquimula in an area known as Vado Hondo. It’s flanked by a tall mountainside and a wall leaving the...


Boris Johnson under pressure as Labour force vote on £20-a-week Covid-19 boost to Universal Credit

Boris Johnson will come under intense pressure to extend the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit when Labour forces a Commons vote on the planned cut on Monday. The Prime Minister has been warned by his opposite number Sir Keir Starmer that millions of families will be £1,000 a year worse off if the Government scraps the increase. He will also face calls to extend the uplift from Tory MPs as the Northern Research Group (NRG) said endling it...


Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter supporters clash at Utah rally

As pro-Trump extremists, which President-elect Joe Biden later would label “domestic terrorists”, laid siege to the Capitol building on Wednesday, similar “Save America” gatherings erupted across several US cities, from Atlanta, GA, to Topeka, KS — albeit on a less grand scale. Some 2,000 miles away from DC, Utah’s sleepy capital city — which as of late only pierces the national dialogue bubble when Mitt Romney or Real Housewives-related news...


FBI checks 25,000 National Guard over fears of insider attack at inauguration

Fears about a potential insider attack at Joe Biden's inauguration have prompted the FBI to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops who will be on duty.


Covid vaccines to be offered to over-70s and clinically vulnerable as jab roll-out continues

Over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable people will begin receiving invitations for coronavirus jabs this week in a “significant milestone” for the vaccination programme. More than 3.8 million people – including over-80s, care home residents and NHS and social care staff – have already received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but it will be rolled out in the next two priority groups from Monday. The Government said it would remain...


A timeline of Donald Trump's presidential relationship with the UK

The UK and the US have long been said to have a "`special relationship". Here is a rundown of how that bond has manifested itself in the four years since President Donald Trump's election in 2016.


China enters 2021 on rebound after recording lowest economic growth in 40 years

China’s economy picked up speed in the fourth quarter, with growth beating expectations as it ended a rough coronavirus-striken 2020 in remarkably good shape and remained poised to expand further this year even as the global pandemic raged unabated. The world’s second-largest economy has surprised many with the speed of its recovery from the coronavirus jolt, especially as policymakers have also had to navigate tense U.S.-China relations on...


Giant inflatable Trump blimp 'consigned to history'

The Donald Trump blimp, which depicted the US president as an angry baby wearing a nappy and clutching a mobile phone, has finally been "consigned to history".


Celebrities attending Biden’s inauguration (and performing!)


What Biden can and can't get from an evenly divided Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — So what does a 50-50 Senate get President-elect Joe Biden? Washington has barely had time to process the implications of Democratic control after two Georgia runoff elections that are delivering the Senate to Democrats. Hours after the races were decided, a mob of zealots ransacked the U.S. Capitol and reshaped the national and political landscape. The unexpected new balance of power giving Democrats only the barest control of...


When will lockdown end - and when will I get the vaccine? All the pledges this year

Here is your pocket guide to the dates when we've been promised things will happen this year by the Tory Government as the vaccine programme continues to ramp up


Sulawesi quake death toll at 81 as Indonesia battles series of disasters

Sulawesi quake death toll at 81 as Indonesia battles series of disasters


Now the vaccine is here, I feel a sudden urge to make the most of lockdown

For the last week or so, a new type of text has been reliably coming in, in various states of excitement and relief, from friends – medics, teachers – sending photos of their vaccination certificates. Some received stickers after the jab, rather as one does after voting, bearing the legend: “I got my Covid-19 vaccine”. One wonders if, in the design departments of the large New York hospitals, there was a temptation to round out that statement...


Saudis vowed to stop executing minors; some death sentences remain, rights groups say

Saudis vowed to stop executing minors; some death sentences remain, rights groups say


Starwatch: Orion's treats for the naked-eye star watcher

The mighty constellation of Orion the hunter is one of the greatest sights in the night sky. To those of us in the northern hemisphere, it is currently bolt upright in the south during the late evening. Orion’s right shoulder is marked by the red star of Betelgeuse, and his left foot is signified by the white star of Rigel. Fainter stars, Bellatrix and Saiph, mark out the opposite shoulder and foot. The three stars of Orion’s belt, Alnitak,...


BREAKING NEWS: Trump will leave the White House at '8am Wednesday'

Donald Trump is reportedly planning to leave the White House at 8am on Wednesday - the morning of Joe Biden's inauguration.


DOI's Rufus Hound hailed for shaming government over school meals disgrace live on air

Comedian Rufus, 41, used Dancing On Ice tonight to blast Tory MPs over the school meals scandal


Families of citizens dying after contact with police still await justice

Relatives of people who have died after contact with the police have told of their distrust in and dissatisfaction with the ability of the complaints system to help deliver justice. “I feel the IOPC is there to shut families up and make us believe there is a thorough investigation,” said Carla Cumberbatch, sister of electrician Darren, who died at the age of 32 in July 2017 after he was punched up to 15 times, beaten with a baton, sprayed with...


Your Morning Briefing

Good morning. Here’s what you need to know to start your day with our daily briefing.


What the papers say – January 18

Vaccines opening up to five million more Britons is among the stories on Monday’s front pages.